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8/31/11

Wireless Networks: US Dept. of Justice Files Antitrust suit against At&t buy out of T-Mobile

Earlier this year At&T and T-Mobile stuck up a deal. The deal was for ma bell would buy out T-mobile USA and all would be well. The deal was for $39 billion dollars. If the deal was to fall through or not get approved due to legal or any other reasons, At&T would have to fork over 3 billion in cash a piece of their spectrum and most likely a host of other goodies.

It seems that in their attempt to move to mobile dominance At&T has just hit another road block. Those $39 billion dollar buyouts are not like going to the corner store. Hell there is probably not even a receipt. When mergers and buyouts like this go down there is a bit of arbitration that occurs on the governmental side of things. Unfortunately for both parties Bloomberg has reported that the Department of Justice has moved to block the buyout by filing an antitrust suit against At&T’s plan. This suit was filed in federal court this morning and moves to prove this buyout would break U.S antitrust laws as well as block any current dealings of the transaction. A quote from the filing reads “AT&T’s elimination of T-Mobile as an independent, low-priced rival would remove a significant competitive force from the market”.

Note EU-Digest: this is a good move by the US Government and if it passes should favor a more open competitive communications industry instead of jusAtt two giant controlling networks.

For more: DOJ Files Antitrust suit against At&t T-Mobile Buy Out | WirelessGround.com Blog

European Soccer Transfers: get the latest transfer news now for free with apps for your iPhone & iPad

Want to get up to the minute news on the latest  top soccer players transfer moves on the last day of the transfer window and keep up to date with continuous news on the latest deals going on around the world.  Get useful apps that can come in handy. Download free iPhone and iPad apps here  that will keep you up to date.

EU-Digest

'Italy Is Burning and No One Is Putting It Out'

With a players' strike currently occupying the thoughts of soccer-mad Italians, it's perhaps appropriate that Silvio Berlusconi has moved the goalposts over the debt-ridden country's austerity package. The Italian prime minister and his coalition have agreed to a raft of changes to the proposed budget, including scrapping a tax on the rich, in a move which has led to confusion in the financial markets and could well result in a confrontation with the European Central Bank.

Berlusconi and his allies issued a revision of the proposed austerity measures late on Monday following widespread public anger over the original plans. There were already more than 1,000 amendments by Tuesday morning. The changes include reducing cuts to municipalities, decreasing the amount of lawmakers and changing the way pensions are calculated, which would delay retirement for many Italians.

With a players' strike currently occupying the thoughts of soccer-mad Italians, it's perhaps appropriate that Silvio Berlusconi has moved the goalposts over the debt-ridden country's austerity package. The Italian prime minister and his coalition have agreed to a raft of changes to the proposed budget, including scrapping a tax on the rich, in a move which has led to confusion in the financial markets and could well result in a confrontation with the European Central Bank.

Berlusconi and his allies issued a revision of the proposed austerity measures late on Monday following widespread public anger over the original plans. There were already more than 1,000 amendments by Tuesday morning. The changes include reducing cuts to municipalities, decreasing the amount of lawmakers and changing the way pensions are calculated, which would delay retirement for many Italians.

German commentators on Wednesday were united in their scorn for Berlusconi's actions, arguing that the Italian leader is acting out of self-preservation rather than seeing the bigger picture.

For more: The World from Berlin: 'Italy Is Burning and No One Is Putting It Out' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

France: Actions of Syria’s Assad ‘irreparable’: Sarkozy

In his annual address to France’s top diplomats, Sarkozy said France will do whatever is “legally” within its power in order to ensure a victory of Syria’s pro-democracy movement over Assad’s regime. “What the Syrian president has done is irreparable. France, with its partners, will do all that is legally possible in order that the Libyan people’s hopes for freedom and democracy are triumphant.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared on Wednesday that the actions of Syrian strongman Bashar Al-Assad had caused “irreparable” damage to his rule and vowed to support his overthrow. Sarkozy was making the speech on the eve of a Paris conference to mark the victory, with French and NATO military and diplomatic support, of Libya’s pro-democracy revolution against Moamer Kadhafi’s regime.

"The regime in Damascus wrongly believes it is safe from its own people,” Sarkozy said, referring to Assad’s ongoing battle to suppress pro-democracy street protests that have erupted in Syrian cities. He made no threat to repeat France’s Libyan military intervention in Syria, but made it clear Paris stands on the side of Arab peoples demanding freedom.

For more: Actions of Syria’s Assad ‘irreparable’: Sarkozy

Libya: Secret files show how US officials during Bush Presidency aided Gaddafi - by Jamal Elshayyal

Documents were found a few days ago of a Libyan Government building destroyed by NATO warplanes of minutes of a meeting between senior Libyan officials – Abubakr Alzleitny and Mohammed Ahmed Ismail – and David Welch, former assistant secretary of state under George W Bush. Welch was the man who brokered the deal to restore diplomatic relations between the US and Libya in 2008.

Welch now works for Bechtel, a multinational American company with billion-dollar construction deals across the Middle East. The documents record that, on August 2, 2011, David Welch met with Gaddafi's officials at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo, just a few blocks from the US embassy.

During that meeting Welch advised Gaddafi's team on how to win the propaganda war, suggesting several "confidence-building measures", according to the documents. The documents appear to indicate that an influential US political personality was advising Gaddafi on how to beat the US and NATO.

Minutes of this meeting record his advice on how to undermine Libya's rebel movement, with the potential assistance of foreign intelligence agencies, including Israel.

For more: Secret files: US officials during Bush Presidency aided Gaddafi - Features - Al Jazeera English

Libya: Gaddafi's son Saadi wants to surrender, rebel officer says

One of Muammar Gaddafi's sons has offered to surrender and join the movement which ousted his father if his security is assured, a Libyan military commander said in remarks broadcast by Al Jazeera International television on Wednesday.


Abdel Hakim Belhadj, the chief of anti-Gaddafi forces in Tripoli, said Gaddafi's son Saadi had contacted him offering to surrender and that he plans to follow up on the offer.


"Today I had a phone conversation with Gaddafi's son, Saadi, where he asked to be part of the revolution and to get guarantees to come back to his people and to Tripoli," according to an English voice-over of an interview conducted by Jazeera with Belhadj in Arabic.

For more: Gaddafi's son Saadi wants to surrender, rebel officer says | Agricultural Commodities | Reuters

8/30/11

As Austerity Bites, Europe's Rich Speak Up to Be Taxed - by Julia Weldigier

Calls from wealthy Europeans asking to pay more taxes are getting louder, with high earners from Italy, Germany and France joining in urging their governments to raise top rates or enact special levies as a way of reducing burgeoning deficits.

For more: As Austerity Bites, Europe's Rich Speak Up to Be Taxed - NYTimes.com

Libya: Dutch Playboy model gives insight into Gaddafis

Dutch model Talitha van Zon, who has become caught up in the unrest in the Libyan capital Tripoli, has given an insight into the Gaddafis in an interview to British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph. She says she was shocked when she saw Mutassim Gaddafi last week.

The model was in Tripoli at the invitation of Gaddafi's son when rebels more or less took over control of the capital this week

Fearing for her life, she broke her arm when she jumped from a balcony trying to flee the rebels. In the newspaper she described her former boyfriend as a changed man: "He had a beard, he was sitting on a couch strewn with automatic weapons, and he was guarded by unsmiling 16-year-old boys with sub-machine guns."

The newspaper describes how journalist Nick Meo found the former Playboy centre-fold alone and frightened in a hospital in Tripoli. She has now been evacuated by a humanitarian ship possibly to Malta. The evacuation was organized by the Hungarian embassy - the only embassy still open in Tripoli..

In the interview, she gives a unique insight into the last weeks of the Gaddafi regime and describes her decision to visit Tripoli as a big mistake. She says met Mutassim only once for a drink a day before the rebels reached Tripoli. “He was not afraid that the regime would fall to the rebels.” He also praised his late brother, Saif al-Arab Gadaffi, who was killed in a NATO bombing in April, calling him a martyr. "He worshipped his father. He talked a lot about Hitler, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez. He liked leaders who had a lot of power. He always said 'I want to do better than my father'."

Ms van Zon met Mutassim Gaddafi in an Italian night club in 2004. During a three-month relationship he showered her with expensive trips and gifts. She ended the relationship after she realized he was seeing other women, but the two remained friends.

For more: Dutch model gives insight into Gaddafis | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Russia teams up with European Space Agency in bid to launch first manned mission to Mars

Just three weeks after Nasa's 30-year shuttle programme finally came to an end, it looks like the space race might already be back on.

Russia is teaming up with the European Space Agency (ESA) to launch the first manned mission to Mars.

Speaking at an air show at Zhukovsky, near Moscow, ESA chief Jean-Jacques Dordain said his agency and Roskosmos will 'carry out the first flight to Mars together.

For more: Russia teams up with European Space Agency in bid to launch first manned mission to Mars | Mail Online

PIMCO's Bill Gross: "Stay Out Of Euro-US-China Menage A Trois"

The global economic system has become a “tri-party disharmony teetering on divorce,” according to the bond king, Bill Gross. Co-CIO at PIMCO, Gross sees Europe as tearing itself apart internally due to cross border struggles and the U.S. suffering from a “thinly disguised battle between labor and capital,” with China and the Asian economies progressively getting more and more tired of so-called debt-financed consumerism.

For more: PIMCO's Bill Gross: Stay Out Of Euro-US-China Menage A Trois - Forbes

Europe’s small steps and giant leaps

The world was expecting Eurobonds to come out of last week’s Franco-German summit; instead, the eurozone will get economic governance. According to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the great leap forward to the creation of Eurobonds would perhaps be the culmination of that process, but for the moment small steps remain the order of the day. The question, obviously, is whether or not these small steps serve any purpose.

For more: Times of Oman

One killed in shooting between Pakistani's near Copenhagen mosque

A shooting outside a Copenhagen mosque killed one person and wounded another Tuesday as Pakistani worshippers were celebrating the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, police said.

"I can confirm that one person has been killed and another wounded," Copenhagen Police Chief Inspector Lau Thygesen told national daily B.T.

"The incident is related to the people who were present in the mosque, but not necessarily anything to do with the mosque or prayers. It is probably an internal dispute between people of Pakistani origin," Thygesen told another national daily, Politiken.

For more: One killed in shooting near Copenhagen mosque - FRANCE 24

Libya leader gives Gaddafi loyalists surrender deadline

Libya’s interim leader on Tuesday gave forces loyal to deposed ruler Muammar Gaddafi a four-day deadline to surrender towns still under their control or face military force. A spokesman for the National Transitional Council said it would seek to extradite Gaddafi’s relatives from Algeria, which is alone among Libya’s neighbors in not recognizing the NTC.

Nearly 60 countries have acknowledged the NTC as Libya’s legitimate authority. Algeria, Russia, China, India, South Africa, Venezuela, and Brazil are among those which have so far withheld recognition.

For more: Libya leader gives Gaddafi loyalists surrender deadline | News | National Post

8/29/11

Aircraft Industry: Boeing 787 Dreamliner finally approved to fly by FAA, EASA

Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner won approval from US and European Union regulators on Friday, setting the stage for the first delivery of the aircraft to Japan's ANA after three years of production delays.

Boeing has 55 customers for more than 800  Dreamliner planes.

The first airliner to be built primarily out of carbon-fiber plastic composite will be delivered to Japan's All Nippon Airways next month. Regular commercial service would begin Nov. 1.

Europe:Economy Not That Bad Actually - by Elliott Gue

From the outset of the EU sovereign-debt crisis, we’ve maintained that Greece, Ireland, and Portugal’s fiscal woes would have scant effect on the EU and global economy. The three bailed-out nations’ gross domestic products (GDP) accounted for only 6% of the Eurozone’s GDP in 2010.

But Italy is a different story. With a government debt-to-GDP ratio of 119% at the end of 2010, the country faces the second-largest debt burden of the fiscally weak PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain). To worsen matters, Italy is the EU’s third-largest economy, and last year contributed about 16.8% of the Eurozone’s overall GDP.

But fears that the Italian government will default on its debt are vastly overblown. Cynical investors have fixated on financial Armageddon rather than current conditions on the ground. Although Italy is encumbered with an elevated debt-to-GDP ratio, the government’s 2011 budget deficit amounts to about 4% of its economy. Compare that to more than 9% for the US, about 8% in Greece, and 10% in Ireland.

For more: Europe: Not That Bad Actually - MoneyShow.com

Libya: Evidence Suggests Gaddafi Khamis Brigade Killed 45 Detainees

Members of the Khamis Brigade, a powerful Gaddafi military force run by Muammar Gaddafi’s son Khamis, appear to have summarily executed detainees in a warehouse near Tripoli on August 23, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. Within three days the same warehouse was set on fire but the cause is unknown, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch inspected the charred skeletal remains of approximately 45 bodies, still smoldering, on August 27. The remains were spread throughout a warehouse in the Khalida Ferjan neighborhood in Salahaddin, south of Tripoli, adjoining the Yarmouk Military Base. At least two additional corpses were seen lying outside, unburned.

“Sadly this is not the first gruesome report of what appears to be the summary execution of detainees in the final days of the Gaddafi government’s control of Tripoli,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “These merciless murders took place in the midst of Ramadan and those responsible should be brought to justice and punished.”

For more: Libya: Evidence Suggests Khamis Brigade Killed 45 Detainees - Politics - iloubnan.info

Europe snubs IMF call to force-feed bank capital

The European Commission said there was no need to recapitalize the banks over and above what had been agreed after a recent annual "stress test" check of their ability to withstand economic and financial market headwinds.


"I don't think so. This discussion has already taken place between the EU and the IMF, and the IMF is well aware of the results and the follow-up decided after the stress-tests," Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj said., EU


Lagarde, speaking at an annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Saturday urged politicians to "act now" or risk seeing the fragile recovery derailed.


For more: Europe snubs IMF call to force-feed bank capital | Reuters

8/28/11

Recession? Three years after Lehman, a new debt crisis looms - by Larry Elliott

The F word is back. Back in the financial markets, back in the conclaves of central bank governors, back among the manufacturers and the high-street retailers. The four-letter word is fear.

Back in the spring, few imagined that we would be approaching the third anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers on 15 September with such a sense of unease. The belief in early 2011 was that economic recovery was now well enough embedded for central banks to start raising interest rates and for finance ministries to crack on with the job of reducing budget deficits.

Although pockets of optimism remain, the mood today is different. Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, has said the US central bank will discuss possible ways to stimulate growth when it meets next month. The Bank of England appears to be heading in a similar direction. There is anxiety at the International Monetary Fund that blanket austerity will tip fragile western economies back into recession. Concerns are once again being expressed about the health of the banks, about America's national debt and, above all, about whether the eurozone can survive its current crisis intact.

For more: Three years after Lehman, a new debt crisis looms | Business | The Guardian

EU: Baltic Economy doing well

This corner of the European Union is an exception to the economic doom and gloom crippling other parts of the eurozone. The three Baltic nations, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, look at their southern European partners now struggling with cutbacks and think, “we’ve seen worse.” According to an old Estonian pledge: eat potato peelings if you must and just get it done.

They did. This past weekend, luminaries gathered in Tallinn to celebrate the Baltic states’ declaration of independence from the Soviet Union 20 years ago..

“I remember the days when the counters of the shops in Tallinn were empty and the people were starving. The economy more or less had to be rebuilt from scratch,” recalled Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, a longtime Baltic supporter. If you had asked people on Aug. 20, 1991 whether in 20 years “Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania would be seen as economic success stories in Europe, would be full members of NATO, full members of the European Union,” Blidt asked, “if anyone had said yes, that person would have been seen as a fairly likely candidate for lunacy.”

Baltic Economy | Estonia | Latvia | Lithuania | Former Soviet Union

Libya: Fugitive Dictator Al Qathafi 'still in Libya' Offers to Negotiate

The whereabouts of the former leader of Libya, Muammar Al Qathafi, who is on the run, hiding himself and without any power to do anything, still makes believe that he can still dictate, or that the people of Libya, let alone the world is still listening to him.

Al Qathafi is certainly not in a position to negotiate, therefore his latest 'offer' to negotiate with the rebels to form a transitional government has not been taken seriously.

Moussa Ibrahim, who till a few days ago was the Libyan government's official spokesman and information secretary, a position he was appointed to during the conflict, like Al Qathafi, appears to have lost his teeth. Right now, he has become the fallen dictator's chief spokesman.

For more: Fugitive Dictator Al Qathafi 'still in Libya' Offers to Negotiate

ECB: Achieving maximum long-term growth by Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the ECB

From the speech of Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the ECB
at the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium
Panel: Setting priorities for long-term growth
Jackson Hole, U.S.A., 27 August 2011.

"Fundamentally, technological progress and innovation are, over the long run, the prime drivers of economic growth and also important reasons for differences in international economic performance, even though demographic differences are also very relevant. Higher growth rates of technical innovation raise output and can lower the non-inflationary rate of unemployment.

But what is technical change? Cracking open the Solovian black box of technical progress has taken us from theories of learning-by-doing, to the impact of R&D on product variety and quality. The latter theories being underpinned by Paul Romer’s reflection on the fact that ideas are fundamentally non rival. This concept, by the way, was not really new. The famous letter of Thomas Jefferson to Isaac McPherson expressed it very clearly in 1813. The bottom line in all of this is that knowledge spillover between open, dynamic economies could benefit everyone. Not surprisingly, these new developments in growth theory came replete with policy prescriptions.

A more recent but allied literature suggested the following: how close an economy is to the technological frontier and whether its institutions facilitate convergence to that frontier are vital considerations. In effect, a laggard country gains by implementing (or jumping to) frontier technologies. But an economy near the frontier – or with an appetite to define that frontier – should increasingly favour innovation over imitation.

Like many close to European policy , I find this an attractive framework. Indeed, following World War II, the European economies were remarkably catching up in productivity and technological terms and today are leaders in many fields, in particular as concerns the embedding of technological innovation in manufacturing processes. Yet, there is still an enormous potential to tap, to reform our economies and boost their growth potential and job creation.


Since the introduction of the single currency in 1999, the euro area has experienced a per-capita growth rate that, at around 1% a year, is comparable to that in the United States (1.1%). This is the first fact that is often overlooked in international comparisons. In such comparisons, we often look at headline growth numbers; yet, demographics are very different. Adjusted for population growth, there has been virtually no difference between US and euro area growth over the first decade since the introduction of the single currency. The euro area, though, has created more jobs: 14 million compared with 8 million in the US. Further, over recent decades differences in country and state dispersion rates of growth and inflation in the euro area and US are remarkably similar. On employment, moreover, it will be interesting to compare our different evolutions in the coming years. What we all want to avoid is excessively volatile employment where human capital is all too easily lost and inequality deepens."

For the complete speech and charts go to: ECB: Achieving maximum long-term growth

USA: Tropical storm Irene floods New York

Rainfall overflowed sewers and seawater lapped at sidewalks at the edges of New York City. Seawater cascaded toward Wall Street which has a labyrinth of cables and pipes beneath it and has been fortified with sandbags.

"Flooding is going to be the biggest problem," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told CNN.

The storm that marched up the East Coast pounded the region with torrential rains and fierce winds and has been blamed for at least nine deaths and power outages involving 3 million homes and businesses.

For more: Tropical storm Irene floods New York – USATODAY.com

8/27/11

Capping budget deficits - Spain versus the USA - by RM

Recently a friend of mine asked me why it had been possible in Spain but impossible in the US to get the right and left to agree and vote in favor of a constitutional change to cap the budget deficit.
 
The reason that what has happened in Spain could not happen in the US is that unfortunately today the US Congress and Senate do not stand for what is good for the people but rather who wins. This problem gets even more complex by the fact that most of the Congressmen/women and Senators have very intimate relations with special interest groups who obviously have a different agenda than serving the people.. 
Tragically this has resulted in the fact that the US continues to operate with an unfair tax system which favors the rich and multi-national corporations, based on the myth that they are the source of job creation. In reality, more than 60% of  the largest US corporations operate abroad and pay no US taxes, or for that matter, very little, or no taxes at all. So far no one has also come up with any convincing and reliable statistics that a wealthy US citizen who pays little or  no taxes at all assists in creating US jobs.

The sad fact is that the US national and personal debt now exceeds GDP and that this just can't be blamed on Obama or the Democrats alone. Even the great GOP Guru Ronald Reagan is to blame, as a matter of fact he might even have been the "founding father" of the US economic demise.  
The recent downgrade can therefore only be seen as a vote of no confidence in the leadership of the US, across the board, Democrats and Republicans, the Banks and Wall Street, the Regulators and the Fed.  In a European style parliamentary government, the leadership of the US would have fallen immediately.

Unfortunately the US is stuck with a two party political system which has reached the limits of its potential. 
Last but not least, let us not forget the repeal of Glass-Steagall and the growth of unregulated financial products, the co-opting of the regulatory agencies, the growth of corporate influence in Washington, and two unfunded and very costly wars of long duration, founded largely on lies and distortions , following a despicable terror attack by a small group of people,  and tax cuts for the wealthy.
Sadly the US for several years now has been run by forces which have nothing to do with "a Government by the People for the People".
The rot has gone very deep and the US population is in denial. Maybe its time for another revolution....but will we "oldies" be able to get the kids to look up from their IPADS and convince them that its all about them and that they should take action?

USA: Hurricane Irene threatens to plunge US east coast into major power blackout - by Suzanne Goldenberg and Dominic Rushi

The sweep of the US east coast from North Carolina to New England is bracing itself for a hurricane of historic magnitude this weekend, with power cuts and public transport shutdowns anticipated that could last for days or even weeks.

As many as 65 million people could be in harm's way as hurricane Irene begins its slow crawl along the entire east coast.

Irene was downgraded to a category two storm early on Friday, with 105 mph winds, but authorities said repeatedly it would be folly for people on its path to think they were in the clear. Meteorologists warned them for people on the east coast, this would be the storm of their lifetimes.

For more: Hurricane Irene threatens to plunge US east coast into major power blackout | World news | guardian.co.uk

Libya: Has Gaddafi fled to Algeria?

Egyptian state news agency MENA quoted a rebel source as claiming that a motorcade of armored cars accompanied by loyalist forces had been seen crossing into Algeria. It is believed that the six vehicles that entered the Algerian town of Ghadames could have been carrying officials from the former regime - or even Gaddafi himself.

Earlier Libyan rebel forces captured a border post to Tunisia thought to be a possible escape route for fugitive leader Moammar Gaddafi late on Friday. A Tunisian official said that pro-Gadhafi loyalists had fled as more than 100 rebels arrived and raised their flag over the frontier post.

EU-Digest

Libya: African Union refuses to recognize Libya's new TNC government - by Richard Hall

Libya's transitional National Council (TNC) suffered a setback in its pursuit of legitimacy yesterday when the African Union (AU) refused to recognize it as being the country's legitimate government.

The TNC has been recognized by more than 40 countries, including some African states, but divisions remain within the African Union, some members of which were heavily bankrolled by the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi until he was ousted by the rebels earlier this week. 

For more: African Union refuses to recognise Libya's new TNC government - Africa, World - The Independent

A Few Reasons Why The U.S. And Europe Are Not "Turning Japanese"

The US and Europe clearly have problems, and excess debt is a serious part of that problem, but not all excess debt is the same, and the underlying causes of their debt crises are fundamentally different from the underlying causes in Japan. For that reason the resolution is likely to follow a very different path.

For more: A Few Reasons Why The U.S. And Europe Are Not "Turning Japanese"

Google TV heading for Europe

Google TV will launch in Europe early next year, with the UK market one of Google's "top priorities," the company's chairman Eric Schmidt has confirmed.

Schmidt unveiled the plan during the keynote Mactaggart lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, as C21 reported this morning.

Speaking on stage this evening, Schmidt said Google TV could create "more value for all" and could spark new innovation for television in the same way that smartphones did for the internet.

For more: C21Media:

8/26/11

Spain changes constitution to cap budget deficit - by Giles Tremlett

Spanish politicians took a dramatic step to try to win back market confidence by agreeing on a reform of the country's constitution to introduce a cap on future deficits.

The socialist party (PSOE) of outgoing prime minister José Luis Zapatero and the conservative opposition People's party (PP) said the cap would come into effect in 2020. The limit will be set at 0.4% and will effect all levels of Spain's highly devolved administration, including the regional governments that run health and education.

The move came at the end of a month that has seen Spain's sovereign debt under severe pressure in the markets, amid fears that it might need a bailout similar to those of fellow eurozone nations Portugal, Greece or Ireland.

It also came a week after Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Nicolas Sarkozy called for eurozone countries to establish legal limits on their deficits to integrate their economies. So far only Germany has such a cap.

For more: Spain changes constitution to cap budget deficit | Business | The Guardian

Natural Disasters: Washington D.C. Hit by Quake and Hurricane in Same Week?, Christian News

The magnitude 5.8 earthquake that originated in Virginia on Tuesday caused only minor damages and moderate inconveniences in our nation's capital compared to other earthquake's that the world has witnessed recently. But now those in Washington, D.C., are bracing themselves and wondering what impact hurricane Irene will have on the city.

For more: Unnatural: Washington D.C. Hit by Quake and Hurricane in Same Week?, Christian News

Libya: British jets bomb Gaddafi's hometown

British warplanes have bombed a bunker in Moamer Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, as rebel fighters grouped for another push on one of the last major holdouts east of Tripoli, and attempted to consolidate their grip on the capital.

"At around midnight, a formation of Tornado GR4s... fired a salvo of Storm Shadow precision-guided missiles against a large headquarters bunker in Gaddafi's home town of Sirte," the defence ministry said in London.

Sirte remains one of the few remaining pockets of forces loyal to Gaddafi, who still remains at large despite a $1.7 million price on his head.

For more: British jets bomb Gaddafi's hometown - ABC Melbourne - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Ben Bernanke offers no hint of new Fed action to aid economy in Jackson Hole speech - by Neil Irwin

The recent swings in world financial markets pose risks to growth, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said Friday, and the Fed must be “responsive to changes in the economy.” But he offered no hints that any specific action by the central bank is on the way.

Bernanke did not spell out what any new steps by the Fed to bolster the economy might look like, saying only that the central bank will “employ its tools as appropriate” and adding that the next Fed policy meeting, in September, has been extended from one day to two to allow a fuller discussion of options.


For more: Ben Bernanke offers no hint of new Fed action to aid economy in Jackson Hole speech - The Washington Post

8/25/11

US: Killer hurrican Irene aiming for US East Coast

With Hurricane Irene aiming for the U.S. East Coast, the head of FEMA told those who live in its path to prepare in advance and get information now that is needed should evacuation orders be issued for their local areas.

"A lot of areas may be at risk, a lot of people that may have to make decisions" on clearing out, said Fugate. "You don't want to wait until the last minute. Be ready to go, and heed the advice of your local officials," Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said on CBS' "The Early Show." "You don't want to wait until it's too late.

FEMA: Take steps now before you evacuate Irene - CBS News

Libya: Will Sarkozy get a statue in Tripoli?

How was this great uprooting of a dictator achieved? There will be huge pride inside the country that the people carved out their own destiny, that this rebellion was made in Libya rather than in the think-tanks of Washington. Yes, it was an Arab uprising, but it could not have succeeded without outside help.

But if ever new statues are erected in Tripoli, French President Nicholas Sarkozy may just find a niche or a plinth. For internationally, this was his war. The French president is never shy in playing the leading role in any situation. Over Libya, he was roused by the activist-philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy.

The argument was simple. The West faced a moment of choice. A moral choice. It could stand by, as it had in Rwanda, and watch a massacre in Benghazi or it could intervene.

Inside France, there is pride at the outcome. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe summed it up on seeing the liberation of Tripoli: "This is a subject of great satisfaction. France took risks, calculated risks, but the cause was just." if the scenes of jubilation in Tripoli have a single western author, it is Nicolas Sarkozy.

For more: BBC News - Will Sarkozy get a statue in Tripoli?

China Reiterated Faith In Europe Economy

China's President Hu Jintao on Thursday reiterated its faith in European economy but reminded his counterpart French President Nicolas Sarkozy to protect China's investment.

Speaking at a meeting with Sarkozy, who is on a five-hour trip to Beijing, Hu said China still has faith in the European economy and the euro, and "China believes that Europe is wise and able to overcome the current difficulties and to maintain the economic stability and growth."

For more: China Reiterated Faith In Europe Economy - WSJ.com

Syrian protesters chant "Bye Gaddafi, Bashar next" by Khaled Oweis

Syrian protesters chanted "Bye, bye Gaddafi, Bashar your turn is coming" overnight, but President Bashar al-Assad showed few signs of cracking after months of demonstrations and his forces raided an eastern tribal region again on Thursday.

The new chant, inspired by the apparent collapse of Muammar Gaddafi's rule in Libya, was filmed by residents in the Damascus suburb of Duma after prayers on Wednesday.

But in eastern Syria, tanks and armored vehicles entered Shuhail, a town southeast of the provincial capital of Deir al-Zor, where daily protests have taken place against Assad's rule since the start of the fasting month of Ramadan, they said.

For more: Syrian protesters chant "Bye Gaddafi, Bashar next"

US Economy: Warren Buffett to invest $5 billion in Bank of America "and makes out like a bandit " - by Ben Berkowitz and Joe Rauch,

Buffett and the Bank of America said he made an unsolicited call to the bank on Wednesday morning, offering to make an investment. Even though the bank has said it did not need to raise capital, investors widely believed the bank needed more money and to show it could raise funds easily. The deal proved again that Buffett has become something of a lender of last resort to the financial system, as he did with Goldman and also GE. Buffett’s role in aiding the economy and the financial system has become symbolically important given the lack of policy options left for the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve to stimulate demand.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway will in many ways make out even better financially than the Bank of America did in the deal. Berkshire had a position in the bank that he sold in the fourth quarter of 2010 when the stock had an average price of $12.24. The warrants to buy 700 million shares of common stock he gets in this deal are priced at just over $7.14 per share, with an unusually long 10-year exercise period.
One long-term Berkshire shareholder said the warrants were the best part of the deal by far. “He could well make a 100-per-cent return on his investment in a few years,” said James Armstrong, president of Henry H. Armstrong Associates.

For more: Warren Buffett to invest $5 billion in Bank of America

Arab, EU, USA Libya Contact Group Says Qaddafi Must Surrender Immediately - by Emre Peke

The Libya contact group, which includes the U.S., European and Arab nations, said Muammar Qaddafi must surrender “immediately” to prevent more bloodshed and damage to the country’s infrastructure.

Representatives from 28 countries and seven international organizations including the United Nations, the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization agreed to press for a UN Security Council resolution to unfreeze Libyan assets in “an expedited manner” to provide the National Transitional Council with financial support, the contact group said in a statement after meetings in Istanbul today.

For more: Libya Contact Group Says Qaddafi Must Surrender Immediately - Bloomberg

Privacy: Location Apps on your cell phone and other electronic devices generate privacy concerns

A day after a report that the Apple iPhone and iPad 3G are storing data about users’ locations, a new report from the market research firm Nielsen said many Americans have strong concerns about losing some privacy by using location-based mobile services.

Authors of the report said that although some Americans happily engage with a new crop of location-based applications, many “are reticent to share information about their geographic location.Location-based services, including, Google Maps, Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places, have seen heavy adoption in recent years as more Americans have moved from standard mobile phones to smartphones that come with GPS. But not everyone is persuaded of their benefits.

If you are concerned about the infringement on your personal privacy by corporations or the government through these tracking programs you might want to consider removing them from your cell phone. Go to the listing of your installed apps on your cell phone and look for apps which say "share location" or anything related to that effect and remove them. Removing these apps will not affect your cell phone or the other programs you use. As the manufacturers of cell phones become more and more sophisticated to hide or embed these programs into your electronic devices, request your cell phone provider to give you a list of all the programs, including tracking devices apps installed on your phone.

EU-Digest

8/24/11

Doomsday Tsunami Scenario: Canary Island Mega Tsunami to destroy most of US East Coast.

Usually from October to February, many Europeans look towards the Canary Islands for a sunshine break. What most don't know, however, is that on one of the Canary Islands lies a major global catastrophe in the making, a natural disaster so big that it could flatten the Atlantic coastlines of Britain, parts of continental Europe, North Africa and the USA, and cause enormous material damage and loss of life.

Recently, scientists have come to the conclusion that the next Mega Tsunami is likely to begin on one of the Canary Islands, off the coast of North Africa, where a wall of water will one day race across the entire Atlantic Ocean at the speed of a jet airliner to devastate the east coast of the United States, the Caribbean and Brazil.

Dr Simon Day, who works at the Benfield Greig Hazards Research Center, University College London*, says that one flank of the volcano on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, is unstable and could plunge into the ocean during the volcano's next eruption.

Dr. Day says: "If the volcano collapsed in one block of almost 20 cubic kilometres of rock, weighing 500 billion tonnes - twice the size of the Isle of Wight - it would fall into water almost 4 miles deep and create an undersea wave 2000 feet tall. Within five minutes of the landslide, a dome of water about a mile high would form and then collapse, before the Mega Tsunami fanned out in every direction, traveling at speeds of up to 500 mph. A 330ft wave would strike the western Sahara in less than an hour."

Most of mainland Europe would be protected from the fiercest force by the position of the other Canary Islands, but the tsunami would still bring 33ft waves to Lisbon and La Coruña within three hours. After six hours it would reach Britain, where waves up to 40 ft high would hit southwest England at 500 miles per hour, travel a mile inland and obliterate almost everything in its path

However, the destruction in the United Kingdom will be as nothing compared to the devastation reeked on the eastern seaboard of the United States. Dr. Day claims that the Mega Tsunami will generate a wave that will be inconceivably catastrophic. He says: "It will surge across the Atlantic at 500 miles per hour in less than seven hours, engulfing the whole US east coast with a wave almost two hundred feet high, sweeping away everything in its path up to 20 miles inland. Boston would be hit first, followed by New York, then all the way down the coast to Florida, the Caribbean and Brazil.

Millions would be killed, and as Dr. Day explains: "It's not a question of "if" Cumbre Vieja collapses, it's simply a question of "when".

For more: EU-Digest

Europe stocks defy declines in US, Asia - by Gabriele Steinhauser

Stocks in Europe rose Wednesday, defying declines in the U.S. and Asia, as investors awaited potential new action from the Federal Reserve to kick start the world's largest economy.]

In a sign of the wild movements seen on financial and commodities markets in recent weeks, the price of gold, which had surged in recent weeks as investors fled into save-haven assets, plummeted 4.4 percent to $1,779, more than $100 below a new record reached just days ago.

Markets are likely to continue fluctuating ahead of Friday's speech by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke at an economics conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Investors hope Bernanke will signal a third round of massive bond-buying to boost the faltering U.S. recovery.

For more: Europe stocks defy declines in US, Asia - BusinessWeek

USA: East Coast earthquake rattles region, does little damage

Tremors from an earthquake that struck Virginia on Tuesday reached residents of Dutchess County, but aside from giving folks a jolt, the impact was minimal.The far-reaching impact of the magnitude 5.8 earthquake briefly shut down rides at the Dutchess County Fair, damaged a gas line at Sam's Club in Fishkill and prompted hundreds of workers at the Westage Business Center office park in the Town of Fishkill to evacuate buildings.

The most powerful earthquake to strike the East Coast in 67 years shook buildings and rattled nerves from Georgia to Maine. Frightened office workers spilled into the streets in New York, and parts of the White House, Capitol and Pentagon were evacuated. There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries.According to the White House, there were no reports of major infrastructure damage — including at airports and nuclear facilities — from the earthquake, which was centered northwest of Richmond, Va. The Federal Emergency Management Administration said there were no requests for assistance triggered by the earthquake, which the U.S. Geological Survey said was 3.7 miles deep.

For more: East Coast earthquake rattles region, does little damage | The Poughkeepsie Journal | poughkeepsiejournal.com

France does not recognize Azerbaijan's sovereignty over Nagorno Karabakh

The Foreign Ministry of France issued a strongly worded response to the diplomatic note, presented by the embassy of Azerbaijan in Paris over the French Deputies' visit to Nagorno Karabakh, making it clear France does not view Nagorno Karabakh's future status within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

For more: France does not recognize Azerbaijan's sovereignty over Nagorno Karabakh

Qaddafi’s fall could be economic boon for Europe - by Matthew Lynn

Germany is edging back to recession. France is getting caught up in the euro zone’s crisis. Greece is close to default, and may take a bank or two down with it. Good economic news is in painfully short supply in Europe right now.

But the fall of Col. Muammar Qaddafi is one event we can celebrate. For Europe, it opens up huge new growth possibilities. With Qaddafi gone, we have now seen new regimes installed in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Syria can’t be very far behind. The Arab Spring is morphing into an Arab Autumn, with clear victories for the modernizers. 

This is opening up a vast new market, and it is right on Europe’s doorstep. Two of these are big countries. They all have young populations. A few at least have a lot of natural resources. And they all have deep historical links with the main European nations — France, Italy, and Britain in particular. 

For more: Qaddafi’s fall could be economic boon for Europe - Matthew Lynn's London Eye - MarketWatch

8/23/11

Strauss-Kahn set for return to France after case dismissed

A New York court has thrown out the criminal sex assault charges against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss Kahn.
 It came after prosecutors said they had doubts about the credibility of his accuser.  The man once seen as a leading French presidential contender should be free to return to France. 
 
For more: Strauss-Kahn set for return to France after case dismissed | euronews, world news

Venezuela's Chavez says Gaddafi still Libya's leader

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday he will only recognize a Libyan government led by his friend and ally Muammar Gaddafi and accused the United States of inciting the country's civil war.

For more: Venezuela's Chavez says Gaddafi still Libya's leader | Reuters

Europe's central bank buys $20B in bonds

The European Central Bank disclosed Monday it spent €14.3 billion ($20.3 billion Cdn.) last week buying government bonds.

The move was an attempt to stem Europe's government debt crisis until the eurozone's newly-strengthened bailout fund can step into the role. The purchases were less than the previous week's €22 billion but close to what markets had expected.

Buying Italian and Spanish bonds on financial markets has pushed down borrowing rates that could have financially ruined those countries.

For more: Europe's central bank buys $20B in bonds - Business - CBC News

8/22/11

Germany Next Stop On Woody Allen's European Tour?

Woody Allen is doing his version of the grand European tour.

His Midnight in Paris is still in theaters, the director is still shooting The Bop Decameron, set in Rome, but Allen is already making plans to head to Germany for his next project.

Bavaria studios in Munich is in negotiations with Allen to play the backdrop for his next, still-untitled project, which would shoot next summer.

For more: Germany Next Stop On Woody Allen's European Tour? - The Hollywood Reporter

Libya: France leaves David Cameron struggling to regain initiative- by Henry Samuel, and James Kirku

Mr Sarkozy, the French President, announced he was inviting Libyan rebel leaders to Paris for talks this week.
Alain Juppé, his foreign minister, also called for an international “contact group” meeting on Libya’s future next week.

Neither of the French announcements was co-ordinated with the British government, and British officials last night admitted they were still seeking more details from Paris about the French plans. Mr Sarkozy was the first Western leader to call for military intervention in Libya in February this year, and France was the first Western national to recognise the Libyan rebels as the country’s legitimate government. 

Note EU-Digest:Congratulations to the people of Libya,  bravo France, bravo Britain, bravo EU - Job well done.....and now lets put Syria in shape.
For more: Libya: France leaves David Cameron struggling to regain initiative - Telegraph

EU leadership needs to go against the grain with debt crisis by Barry McKenna

When economic historians examine the wreckage of 2011, a fateful milestone will stick out: Jean-Claude Trichet’s April 7 decision to raise interest rates in the euro zone.

Like kicking a guy when he’s down, the European Central Bank’s move was a classic pro-cyclical policy response. The rate increase, which took the ECB’s key lending rate to 1.25 per cent from 1 per cent, compounded the downward spiral in the euro zone by ratcheting up the stress on the region’s most indebted countries and their ailing banks.

The conditions are as good as they get right now for printing money. The euro zone enjoys a current account surplus, low inflation and an overvalued currency. Demand from fast-growing China and India is lapping up the excess supply of everything the world’s wealthy countries can produce.

Governments have shown a willingness to bail out systemically important companies. The ECB should treat euro-member countries the same way.

For more: EU leadership needs to go against the grain with debt crisis - The Globe and Mail

Libyans Jubilant As Gadhafi's Capital Falls : NPR

With euphoric Libyan rebel forces in control of large parts of Tripoli early Monday, Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year rule appeared to be disintegrating. The Libyan leader issued defiant statements on Sunday, but his whereabouts were not known as the sun rose over his capital.



"Euphoric Libyan rebel forces celebrate in Tripoli"
Credit: Alexandre Meneghini/AP

The rebels met little resistance as they raced into Tripoli on Sunday. The fighters celebrated into the night with residents of the capital in Green Square, the symbolic heart of the fading regime.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told the Associated Press early Monday that "rebel special forces" had arrested Seif al-Islam Gadhafi. Seif Gadhafi was indicted with his father and Libya's intelligence chief earlier this year for allegedly ordering, planning and participating in illegal attacks on civilians in the early days of the violent crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

For more: Libyans Jubilant As Gadhafi's Capital Falls : NPR

France salutes Libyan rebels, reaffirms support

French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute on Sunday to Libyan rebels battling Muammar Gaddafi's troops in and around the capital Tripoli and reaffirmed France's full support for their cause.

"At the moment when decisive events are taking place in the Tripoli region, in Tripoli itself, and elsewhere in Libya, the president salutes the courage of the rebel fighters and of the Libyan people who are rising up," Sarkozy's office said.

"He assures them once more of the full support of France to achieve the liberation of their country from oppression and dictatorship," it said in a statement.

For more: France salutes Libyan rebels, reaffirms support | News by Country | Reuters

8/21/11

Libya: Gaddafi’s sons arrested and pro-Gaddafi Forces Capitulate

Libyan rebels said on Sunday night that two sons of embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had been arrested, the broadcaster Al Jazeera reported.

Seif al-Islam and Al-Saadi were arrested in a tourist village in western Tripoli, Abu Bakr al-Tarbulsi, a rebel spokesperson told Al Jazeera from the Libyan capital.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil - Leader of the Libyan Revolutionary Council: "Muammar Qaddafi: the time has come for him to surrender".

There was no word on the whereabouts of Gaddafi. Meanwhile, rebels said they had entered the Green Square near Gaddafi’s compound. They said pro-Gaddafi forces retreated, and many of them were captured. 

For more: Gaddafi’s sons arrested - report - Africa | IOL News | IOL.co.za

Germany:Are German Soldiers Secretly Helping Fight Gadhafi?

German soldiers are more directly involved in NATO air attacks against military forces of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi than was previously known. In response to a specific inquiry recently submitted by Hans-Christian Ströbele, a Green Party member of parliament, Germany's government acknowledged that 11 German soldiers currently stationed at NATO facilities in Italy are performing duties including ones "in the area of so-called target selection" for NATO airstrikes. However, the Defense Ministry documents obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE also note that the German soldiers do not hold any "leadership or decision-making positions."

The very skeletal information the ministry provided could become politically explosive. In early 2011, Germany openly opposed international military actions against Gadhafi, an act that triggered much criticism from around the world, particularly from the United States and France. It has already been known for weeks that, as part of Germany's obligations as a member of the NATO alliance, its soldiers have been assigned to work as parts of military staffs actively involved in the Libya mission. Nevertheless, Ströbele believes it is scandalous that German soldiers are also participating in selecting targets for upcoming attacks. "With these activities," he says, "we are secretly taking part in the Libyan war."

The German participation that Ströbele's very precise questions first brought to light once again illustrate the difficult balancing act Germany's government has to perform owing to its official stance toward the mission. Indeed, Germany's position already became tenuous, if not hollow, when it emerged that -- after having voiced such passionate opposition to the mission -- Germany was also supplying bomb parts for the Libyan war. The new details only strengthen the beliefs of those who dismiss Germany's refusal to participate in military actions as transparent political maneuvering.

For more: The War in Libya: Are German Soldiers Secretly Helping Fight Gadhafi? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Analysis: Libya rebels seek to avoid Tripoli battle


Libya's civil war so far has involved some serious urban fighting in towns such as Misrata, but most battles have been relatively small skirmishes.

If Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi retains the loyalty of large numbers of security forces in the capital, the ragtag opposition forces could struggle and there would be little NATO air strikes could do without risking civilians.

"I'm assuming the Tripoli fighting could be the fiercest," said Hayat Alvi, lecturer in Middle East politics at the United States Naval War College. "The wild card will be the Tripoli public. True loyalties will have to finally manifest themselves. I'm predicting in the rebels' favor, but we don't know what Gaddafi and his sons have up their sleeves."
For more: Analysis: Libya rebels seek to avoid Tripoli battle | Reuters

8/20/11

Libya's former number 2 left for Italy via Tuniesia

Abdessalem Jalloud, who was a former prime minister ostracized from Moamer Gaddafi's regime, had earlier been reported to have fled to rebel-held territory.

He took "a plane for Italy from Djerba airport at 3:40 am (0240 GMT)", an airport official on the resort island told AFP.

The government official said "Jalloud left Djerba airport for Italy at dawn on a Maltese plane with his family".

For more: Libya's former number 2 left for Italy via Tunisia - Region - World - Ahram Online

Florida's Port Everglades courts Spanish ferry to Bahamas, later to Cuba? – by Doreen Hemlock

Florida's Broward County’s Port Everglades is courting a Spanish company to operate fast-ferry service to and from the Bahamas.

The Balearia company’s Bahamas Express ship, which can carry up to 463 passengers and up to 80 vehicles, docked at the Fort Lauderdale area seaport Thursday on a test run, port officials confirmed.
The ship had been slated to start operations this summer between the Port of Miami and the island of Bimini in the Bahamas. But plans have been delayed, partly because the Bimini seaport needs to be dredged and its pier improved to handle the fast-ferry, said Balearia executive Victor Terricabras.

Port Everglades has been courting ferry companies from Europe and South America for months to consider service with Cuba, once U.S. regulations allow ferry service to the communist-led island.

For the complete report go to: Port Everglades courts ferry to Bahamas, later to Cuba? – Travel – Sun-Sentinel

8/19/11

Britain is in last chance saloon, says Iain Duncan Smith - by Andrew Sparrow

he work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has said Britain is in the "last chance saloon", with the riots a warning that social problems could get worse.

In an interview with the Spectator, Duncan Smith said: "This is our warning. That wasn't the crisis, but the crisis is coming. We can't let this go on any more, and I think the prime minister sees that."

The former Conservative party leader also said dealing with the causes of the riots would define Cameron's premiership in the way that responding to 9/11 defined Tony Blair.

For more: Britain is in last chance saloon, says Iain Duncan Smith | Politics | guardian.co.uk

US Outlook: Even Slower Growth With Significant Downside Risk

This week marks the third straight week of disturbing economic data, leaving some to wonder about the health of the United States economy. The national economic measures and the U.S. financial markets have begun to point towards an increased recession probability. Concerns first began to intensify with the revised GDP data which showed not only that the hole left by the Great Recession was deeper than originally thought but also that the economy has been much slower to recover since real GDP bottomed in mid-2009.

For more: US Outlook: Even Slower Growth With Significant Downside Risk

Netherlands: Chinese-community schoolkids beating the Dutch

Children from the Chinese-Dutch community are doing so well at school, that they are getting better results than Dutch-background children.

Two thirds of pupils with Chinese immigrant backgrounds go on to the two highest levels of secondary education, whereas only half of Dutch-background pupils do. Out of all the population groups in the Netherlands, it is the Chinese that most often go on to higher education after school, according to the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP).

Chinese-background people are also successful in the Dutch labour market. They are often employed in high-powered jobs and unemployment in the group is relatively low. The Institute of Social Research says this is because the Chinese attach great value to education and hard work.

An estimated 110,000 Chinese live in the Netherlands. Previously many of them worked in restaurants, but nowadays only 43 percent go into catering. Chinese people are more likely to become self-employed than someone with a Turkish, Surinamese, or Dutch background.

For more: Chinese-community schoolkids beating the Dutch | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Cyprus riles Turkey with oil and gas exploration plans

A dispute is brewing on the divided island of Cyprus over plans to begin oil and gas exploration in the east Mediterranean.

The Greek Cypriot government in Nicosia is planning to start drilling in six weeks, but Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island have strongly objected. They fear any potential revenue from oil and gas will be solely for the Greek side of the island.

Turkey also claims the Turkish Cypriot community has not been represented in Cyprus' drilling agreements with its neighbors. Kudret Ozersay, chief aide to Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, said unless Nicosia delays the start of drilling, they will start their own exploration scheme.

Cyprus riles Turkey with oil and gas exploration plans | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 19.08.2011

Economy: More pain as Europe fails to kick the blues | Herald Sun

Fears of a global recession as the European debt crisis accelerates have sent share markets into a full retreat ahead of what may be weeks of intense volatility yesterday.

Investors again flooded out of the market yesterday, spooked by Europe's deepening woes and omens of another perilous credit crunch. Australia's benchmark index, the ASX 200, tumbled 3.5 per cent - its biggest single-day slide since "Freefall Friday" two weeks ago - to 4101 points.

It came after Wall Street markets tumbled and a sharp spike in US unemployment combined with an increase in inter-bank lending rates undermined investor sentiment.

The rise in inter-bank lending rates - a measure of banks' willingness to lend to each other - came after a bank tapped the European Central Bank for US dollars for the first time since February.

For more: More pain as Europe fails to kick the blues | Herald Sun

8/18/11

Anger over Finnish deal on Greek bailout

A Finnish deal to get collateral from Greece to secure its rescue loans to the debt-ridden country has angered other eurozone nations and could complicate the implementation of the euro109 billion bailout.
Estonian Finance Minister Jurgen Ligi said Thursday that Finland's bilateral agreement with Greece is "a deviation from the common policy of the eurozone."

A European Union official warned that the Finnish deal "creates asymmetries in the support provided to Greece and it opens the door" for special requests from other countries.

For more: Anger over Finnish deal on Greek bailout - Forbes.com

Is Saudi Arabia leading the counter-revolution against the Arab Spring ? - by Bernard Haykel

Saudi Arabia is widely perceived as leading the counter-revolution against the Arab Spring uprisings. In reality, the Kingdom’s response is centered, as its foreign and domestic policy has long been, on “stability.” The Saudis don’t want anti-Saudi forces, including such enemies as Iran and Al Qaeda, to increase their influence in the Middle East.

Some of the older Saudi leaders have seen this movie before. The nationalist revolutions of the 1950’s and 1960’s, inspired and galvanized by Gamel Nasser’s Egypt, nearly toppled the House of Saud. Nonetheless, today’s Saudi princes appear to recognize that something has genuinely changed in the Middle East: The younger generation of Arabs is no longer prepared to accept unaccountable, corrupt, and brutal governments.

Saudi Arabia, a self-proclaimed bulwark of Islamic conservatism, where popular democracy has never been considered a legitimate form of rule, has been more aggressive in some arenas than in others. Domestically, the royal family struck quickly, adopting a ban on public demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience. The Kingdom’s traditional interpretation of Islam construes political legitimacy in terms of a ruler’s proper application of Islamic law. In return, his subjects owe him obedience within the constraints of Sharia religious law.

For more: Saudi Arabia vs. the Arab Spring - Bernard Haykel - Project Syndicate

Libyan Embassy Reopened in US

Ali Oujali Libya's Ambassador to the United States has reopened the Libyan Embassy in the United States on behalf of the Libyan Transitional National Council.

The embassy which is located outside the Watergate building in Washington was closed in March after all diplomats loyal to the Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi by the State department.

The ambassador resigned from his post in February after serving for the Qaddafi regime and has represented the TNC since in Washington. On August 15, Mr. Aujali was re-accredited by as Libya's Ambassador by the United States.

S&P affirms France to keep AAA rating

Credit-rating agency Standard and Poor's has affirmed its AAA rating for France's sovereign debt remains stable with a positive outlook.

S&P made the statement Thursday in the midst of speculation that France could face a downgrade in its rating. Earlier this month S&P downgraded the sovereign debt rating of the United States from AAA to AA+ for the first time.

The reason for speculation about France's rating was caused by the nation's deficit and debt-to-gross domestic product ratios, which are higher than the other five triple-A rated nations in Europe.
 
For more: S&P affirms France to keep AAA rating | AHN

World Economic Crises: "The bell must be put on the US cat"

Lets face it, the crisis today is a result of a lack of regulations in the US and their failure of the Government to stand up to powerful banks.

It also is the result of cutbacks by state and local governments in the US, whom have all but negated the US federal government’s original stimulus, and no one in Washington is talking seriously about a second. The pitiful showdown over increasing the debt limit has produced the opposite: a Rube-Goldberg-like process for capping spending rather than increasing it, and a public that’s being sold the Republican lie that less government spending means more jobs.

Policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic for some reason seem to have forgotten that economic growth is the most important tonic to stimulate a job creation..

With anemic growth in America, the Japanese economy comatose, European austerity programs, and emerging markets (including China) pulling in their reins, the vicious cycle could become worldwide. If global demand for goods and services continues to fall behind the potential supply we’ll see unemployment rise further and growth slow even more — especially in Europe and the U.S.

Central banks may try to reverse this course. Ben Bernanke and company at the Fed have committed themselves to near-zero interest rates for the next two years. This obviously is not exactly a rousing endorsement of America’s economic prospects in the near term. Without an expansionary fiscal policy, low interest rates have little effect. Companies won’t borrow in order to expand and hire more workers unless they have reasonable certainty they’ll have customers for what they produce. And consumers won’t borrow money to spend on goods and services unless they’re reasonably confident they’ll have jobs.

Fiscal austerity is the wrong medicine at the wrong time and the US Republican majority in Congress and their T-Party cohorts are not only on the wrong track but also giving the wrong economic signals to the world. It is a recipe for disaster.

EU-Digest


Entitlements: Riots in Britain raise questions about whether America could face similar violence

A black man killed by police. Mobs of looters. Cities charred and shaken. The riots in London mirror some of the worst uprisings in modern U.S. history.

And there are more parallels: Stubborn poverty and high unemployment, services slashed due to recessionary budget cuts, a breakdown of social values, social media that bring people together for good or bad at the speed of the Internet. And finally, there are a handful of actual attacks, isolated and hard to explain, by bands of youths in U.S. cities.

As Americans look across the Atlantic, a natural question arises: Could the flames and violence that erupted in Britain scar this country, too?

"History shows that the social tinder for such eruptions of massive violence and looting is usually widespread poverty without hope, and the spark is typically an incident of police brutality in the absence of a culture of police accountability," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, CEO of the NAACP. "Such conditions exist in almost every major American city."

Others, like British Prime Minister David Cameron, blame "criminality, pure and simple." That echoes descriptions of some recent episodes of mob behavior in places like Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Chicago and Ohio. Stores have been pillaged, passers-by robbed, and random victims brutally attacked by dozens or occasionally hundreds of youths summoned through tools like Facebook and Twitter.

For more: Riots in Britain raise questions about whether America could face similar violence - 8/13/2011 2:08:28 PM | Newser

Aircraft Industry: Russia's Aeroflot eyes A380 - ZHUKOVSKY

The Russian national carrier Aeroflot is interested in the purchase of the Airbus A380, Airbus Vice President Chris Buckley said on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters at the MAKS air show near Moscow, vice president Chris Buckley said the company had "started a communication with the airline."

Russia's RBC business daily said the carrier, already an A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner customer, was considering purchasing five A380s by 2015 to help update its fleet and reach a target of 70 million passengers a year by 2025.

For more: Russia's Aeroflot eyes A380 - Airbus | Business | RIA Novosti: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

8/17/11

Norway: Statoil makes largest North Sea find ‘for 30 years’ - by Gareth Corfield.

"Norway has not seen a similar oil discovery since the mid-'80s," said Tim Dodson, Statoil's executive vice president for exploration. The new oilfield is connected to the Aldous and Avaldsnes prospects, meaning that the total yield of all fields is expected to be between 500 million and 1.2 billion barrels of oil.

Although Statoil had announced the discovery of a new profitable field off the NCS over a week ago, it only recently found out that this new field was linked to existing prospects, making recovery of the oil a much more attractive proposition than previously.

The well was drilled by the Transocean Leader drilling rig, which discovered a 65-metre oil column in Aldous Major South well 16/2-8 in the North Sea. Oil from the well is said to be of good quality, contained in Jurassic sandstone.

For more: Statoil makes largest North Sea find ‘for 30 years’ / News / The Foreigner — Norwegian News in English.

US Economy: Crumbling Infrastructure Symbolizes U.S. Economy - by Jeff Nielson

Like most people, I was already aware that the infrastructure of the United States was rapidly decaying. However, seeing some hard numbers actually quantifying the severity of this problem was nothing less than shocking.

Remember all of that "infrastructure spending" which was (supposedly) part of the stimulus package, which in turn supposedly led to a "U.S. economic recovery"? It never happened. Just like the supposed "recovery" itself, it was nothing but smoke and mirrors. No recovery, no investment in infrastructure. Only the debts from all that "stimulus" were real.

In fact, while the U.S. government was pretending to be attending to its neglected infrastructure, the U.S.'s global ranking for the quality of its infrastructure was plummeting lower. A Reuters article reveals that in a mere four years (from 2007 to 2011) the U.S.'s ranking fell from 6 to 16.

Crumbling Infrastructure Symbolizes U.S. Economy - TheStreet

EU: Blaming the Periphery: Right-Wing Populists Stoke Anti-Southern Rage - by Alexander Jung and Bernhard Zand

Right-wing populists in the Netherlands, Austria and Finland are stoking anger against people in debt-laden southern European countries. Experts say they are taking advantage of the debt crisis to gain popularity.

Distrust towards states along the Mediterranean Sea is spreading, especially in the northern countries where stability has not been questioned by ratings agencies. The mood is being fueled by three right-wing populists who are targeting recession fears. Along with Strache, Timo Soini from the True Finns party and Dutchman Geert Wilders are trying to take advantage of the situation.

Some particularly cruel comments have emanated from right-wing populist Dutch politician Wilders. "We work while they eat souvlaki and drink ouzo," he said of the Greeks. Not a single cent would be seen again, the blond radical said, and the Greeks should be kicked out of the community.

For more: Blaming the Periphery: Right-Wing Populists Stoke Anti-Southern Rage - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Can Turkey under Erdogan be trusted ? - by Emerson Vermaat

Thomas Bruning, the general secretrary of the Netherlands Union of Journalists (NVJ), is rather pessimististic about press freedom in Turkey. In March alone, eight journalists were arrested in Turkey. Two prominent investigative journalists, namely Ahmed Sik and Nedim Sener, were among them. Some 60 Turkish journalists are in prison now, just because of what they wrote or on fake charges. "In view of the persecution and intimidation of journalists and the lack of transparency questions can be raised about the state of Turkish democracy," Bruning wrote in April (2011). "In a country that calls itself democratic and wants to join the European Union, free reporting is essential. Press freedom is democracy's greatest good."

Since Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan came to power in 2002 Turkey gradually moved away from its traditional secularism. Turkey's new rulers belong to the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which initially presented itself as a moderate and pro-Western Muslim party – even though it was unprecedented for prime minister of Turkey to have a veiled wife. Emine Erdogan is a woman who proudly wears the Islamic headscarf calling on other women to follow her example. The AKP no longer is as moderate as it initially claimed to be. It was under Erdogan that Turkey opened a new page with Iran and its Muslim fundamentalist dictators who deny the Holocaust. Nationals from neighboring Muslim countries (notably Iran, Iraq and Syria) no longer need a visa to enter Turkey. Erdogan's new enemy now is Israel, pro-Iranian Hamas and Hezbollah, though, are seen as new allies. As the "Jerusalem Post" noted recently, "Erdogan's anti-Israel rhetoric cannot be seen in isolation from his oppressive policies at home and his pursuit of Islamist allies."

Turkey's current foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu published a book in 1994 entitled "Civilizational Transformation and the Muslim World." He argued, writes Gareth, "that the world was divided according to value systems and, even though they might have fallen behind the West economically and technologically, Muslims remained morally superior and would eventually become the 'determinant civilization' in the world as soon as they were able to 'operationalise their value structure as a social and economic form.'" He believes in the revitalization of the universal Muslim Brotherhood or "Ummah," "Dar-al-Islam, as a world order and the caliphate as the political institutionalization of this world order." Before he became foreign minister in May 2009, Davutoglu was Erdogan's most important foreign policy advisor. He is on very close terms with the Iranians.

In September 2010, the London "Daily Telegraph" reported that Iran donated $ 25 million to Turkey's ruling party. "Western diplomats say they are alarmed by reports that Mr. Erdogan has negotiated a deal with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Tehran to make a substantial contribution to the campaign funds of Turkey's leading Islamic party." Turkey later denied this claim. In August 2010, European intelligence sources asserted that Erdogan's Turkish government "has quietly agreed to an Iranian proposal meant to help Hezbollah. The sources said Turkey has agreed not to block Iranian weapons shipments to Lebanon and Syria destined for Hezbollah," "Geostrategy-direct" reported.

For more: The Trouble with Turkey-by PipeLineNews.org

Turkey:Fetullah Gulen: Interfaith peacemaker or the new Ayatollah?

It all started in 2007 when an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the government in 2002 was discovered, followed by a new conspiracy theory in 2010. Many Turkish and Western pundits believe that the plot called Ergenekon was a fabrication to enable the government to get rid of opposition. Hundreds of detainees included not only officers but unlikely plotters such as leftist journalists, politicians, academics, and labour activists. Some detainees died in jail without knowing the charges against them. The latest raid against journalists was carried out to prevent the publication of a book titled “The Imam’s Army”, copies of which circulate on the Internet. It was rumored that even Wikileaks took an interest in the book and was going to release it on April 11th.

The Imam referred to in the book is Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim missionary that has been living in exile in the United States to avoid indictment on sedition charges by Turkey’s former secularist government. Gulen has a well-financed organization with religious schools and followers in every major city in Canada, United States, Europe and Central Asia. Nobody knows the source of his funds although many Turks believe it’s the CIA. Secularist Turks fear that Gulen’s followers in Turkey have infiltrated key positions of the police and bureaucracy and that he will make a spectacular comeback to declare an Islamic Republic like Ayatollah Khomeini after the last obstacle, the secularist army officer corps, has been neutered.

Apparently nobody is safe from being named a suspect of conspiracy to overthrow the AKP government. A 76-year-old woman that ran a school for the education of underprivileged women was arrested and jailed for six months. She died shortly after being released. Canada has started to receive a new wave of refugee applications from Turkey. Some claim they are wrongfully hounded as Ergenekon conspiracy suspects, while others claim that women’s rights are being abrogated by the Islamist government. Under Turkish law suspects can be detained for up to 10 years without a trial. Ironically, the Turkish military is the victim of the same obsolete laws from the Mussolini era that the secularist establishment used against opposition in the name of national security, and which the AKP government has shown no intention to reform. While PM Erdogan owes his popularity and latest election success to his pro-democracy rhetoric, he’s on record as having declared in 1998 that democracy is not an end in itself, but merely a vehicle for a higher purpose.

For more: Turkey’s Silent Civil War: Top Military Commanders Resign: "Fetullah Gulen: Interfaith peacemaker or the new Ayatollah?


Aircraft Industry: Russia's new stealth fighter debuts

Russia's new stealth fighter jet, the Sukhoi T-50, made its public debut Tuesday at the MAKS-2011 air show near Moscow.

The jet, also called the PAK FA, will enter service in 2014 or 2015, Russia's air force chief said Tuesday, RIA Novosti reported.

"We will receive a T-50 prototype in 2013," Gen. Alexander Zelin, air force commander in chief, told reporters. "Mass produced aircraft will not arrive until 2014-2015." The jet is being developed in partnership with India.

Libya: Is the total surrender of pro-Gaddafi forces imminent?

Nato claims that anti-Gaddafi forces are "assuming control of the key approaches to Tripoli". The Alliance's military spokesman on Tuesday argued that these advances represent the rebels' "most significant territorial gains for months".

The fighting is now some 40km to 60km (25 to 37 miles) from the Libyan capital. To the west, forces loyal to the rebels' National Transitional Council (NTC) have advanced on Sorman and Zawiya, two towns on the coastal road leading west from Tripoli towards the Tunisian border. A little to the south of Tripoli rebel troops are reported to have entered Gharyan.

These advances are of crucial strategic significance. Zawiya is the location of Col Muammar Gaddafi's regime's only functioning oil refinery.

For more: BBC News - Libya conflict: Beginning of the end?

Alternative Energy: Tapping into the power of the sea brought to a halt by David Cameron in Britain


In Great Britain and other European countries, companies are preparing to use the energy of ocean waves and tides to produce electricity. The UK is hoping to produce as much as 5 percent of its electricity needs with tidal power plants.

Great Britain had hoped to soon be able to take the global lead in tapping the power of tides and produce clean energy. This single power plant was expected to cover 5 percent of the country's electricity needs by providing 8.6 gigawatts of CO2-free electricity, the equivalent of about eight nuclear power plants -- but without the pesky waste.

The tidal range at the mouth of the Severn, Britain's largest river, is 15 meters. The previous British Labour government of Gordon Brown had wanted to put this enormous force to use with its Severn Barrage project. The barrage was planned to hold back water at high tide like a dam, and 216 giant turbines -- each about 9 meters in diameter -- and to be powered up as the water ebbed.

Tidal power could also be put to good use in Germany, argues Kai-Uwe Graw, a professor for hydraulic engineering at the University of Leipzig. Graw says sufficient flow velocities -- around three meters per second is optimal -- can be found on parts of the island of Sylt near the German-Danish borner.

Graw began raising awareness about tidal power's potential back in the 1990s. In his opinion, tidal power plants can easily be compatible with coastal conservation efforts. One benefit is that the facilities extract some of the energy from tides, which could help to reduce the kind of beach and coastal erosion that has been a major problem for Germany on North Sea islands like Sylt in recent years.

Unfortunately the new British Conservative government of David Cameron sounded the death knell for the world's largest tidal energy project – to be built across the Severn estuary between Somerset and south Wales – when it recently ruled out the use of public funding for this, what they considered,  controversial euro 23B plan.

The announcement obviously pleased some environmentalists, who were worried about the impact on bird life in the estuary, but others say such spending cuts made a mockery of David Cameron's pledge to be the "greenest government ever".

For more: EU-Digest