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9/30/11

Sarkozy and Morocco’s king kick off work on Africa’s fastest rail - By Yann Le Guernigou

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday inaugurated work on a future high-speed train link in Morocco, the first such project in Africa and the Arab world, and welcomed constitutional reform introduced by King Mohammed.

“France is determined to accompany Morocco politically of course but also economically,” Sarkozy said in Tangiers after talks with the Moroccan monarch, who in July won landslide approval for a referendum that explicitly granted executive powers to the government but retained the king at the helm of the cabinet, army, religious authorities and the judiciary.

The two countries signed an agreement four years ago to build a high-speed train network to link Casablanca, Morocco’s economic capital, with Rabat and Tangiers at a cost of 33 billion Moroccan dirhams ($4 billion).

For more: Sarkozy and Morocco’s king kick off work on Africa’s fastest rail

Europe Inflation Unexpectedly Quickens, Complicating ECB’s Task - by Simone Meier

European inflation unexpectedly accelerated to the fastest in almost three years in September, complicating the European Central Bank’s task as it fights the region’s worsening sovereign-debt crisis.

The euro-area inflation rate jumped to 3 percent this month from 2.5 percent in August, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today in an initial estimate. That’s the biggest annual increase in consumer prices since October 2008. Economists had projected inflation to hold at 2.5 percent, according to the median of 38 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

For more: Europe Inflation Unexpectedly Quickens, Complicating ECB’s Task - Businessweek

9/29/11

Multi-National Corporations: 25 CEOs Made More Than Their Companies Paid In Income Taxes -by Chris Morran

The Institute for Policy Studies has just released its 18th annual review of U.S. executive compensation and found that 25 out of the country's 100 highest-paid chief executives actually earned more in 2010 than their companies paid out in corporate income taxes.

In fact, only five of these 25 companies paid any corporate income taxes to the federal government. One business had a zero sum on income taxes paid, while the remaining 19 companies all received millions back from the government.

For more: 25 CEOs Who Made More Than Their Companies Paid In Income Taxes - The Consumerist

European Parliament adopts resolution, confirming Palestinian bid legitimacy - by by Alaa Ashkar

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on Thursday, confirming the legitimacy of the Palestinian-UN membership application, calling on the EU members to adopt a united decision which supports the Palestinian bid.

Palestine ambassador to the EU, Layla Shahid, praised the European Parliament’s resolution which confirms the Palestinian bid submitted by the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, last Friday to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon.

“The European House assured the support of the European peoples for the Palestinian bid at the international body. This support is shown through million-protest by Avaz Foundation, opinion polls and the demonstrations that took place in all parts of Europe on Sep 21, 2011 based on the national campaign: UN194 Palestine State ", said ambassador Layla Shahid

For more: European Parliament adopts resolution, confirming Palestinian bid legitimacy - International Middle East Media Center

The Netherlands now has 100 vineyards

The Netherlands now has 100 vineyards and the amount of land devoted to grapes has doubled over the past five years to 170 hectares, according to new figures from the national statistics office CBS.However, this year's harvest is expected to be of poor quality and very small because of the wet summer, the Telegraaf reports.

For the seventh year in a row, the share of French wines in total Dutch wine consumption is down, the CBS reported.

In total, the Netherlands imported 415 million litres of wine last year, up 4% on 2009. French wine still accounts for almost half total imports, with German wines in second place on 18%.

Note EU-Digest For more information about Dutch wineries go to: Vineyards in Holland and Belgium.


For more: DutchNews.nl - The Netherlands now has 100 vineyards

Russia: 52% Of The Americans Regard Vladimir Putin Unfavorably

While few Americans see Russia as an enemy of the United States, they still don’t have high opinions of the man who will likely reclaim his role as its president.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows that only 11% share even a somewhat favorable opinion of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. That includes just two percent (2%) who regard him Very Favorably. Fifty-two percent (52%) regard Putin unfavorably, with 23% who share a Very Unfavorable opinion of him. Another 36% don’t have an opinion of Putin, who announced last weekend that he will seek his second term as president. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Putin’s ratings among Americans are better than they were in February 2007, when 66% shared an unfavorable opinion of the Russian leader.

For more: 52% Regard Vladimir Putin Unfavorably - Rasmussen Reports™

Wall Street, Financial Market Traders - Its Not About You Or Rescue Packages - Its About Making Money For Themselves

People who believe Wall Street or the Financial Industry give one damn about the interest of the shareholder or for that matter the interest of any country, think again.  They don't. Specially today, the enormous volatility in the market is a day-traders wet dream. Due to today's market volatility, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a stock making a 10%-40% move in one day. You've got large numbers of companies stock like Goldman Sachs, making 30% moves in a few days. One often doesn't realize how incredible that is, major stocks like those mentioned aren't supposed to move like that, they're supposed to be steady, safe investments.

Today selling high, buying low and making a killing on the margins is the name of the game. Unfortunately most, if not all of the profits go into the traders and their company's pocket, not  in that of the shareholder.
Working in the financial Industry has also become extremely popular. Economics and Finance students at Cornell University say its a well known fact that after five years on Wall Street, you could expect to be making half a million a year in salary and bonuses; after 10 years you could expect a million or more.

Unfortunately as the size of the financial industry grew, the original purpose of banking to allocate capital to its most productive uses has been forgotten not only by the bankers, but probably by the public as well. According to Jeff Madrick, who wrote "The Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1920 to the Present", the current system that pushes the socially beneficial goals of the industry to the periphery only encourages greed. Now, banking shifts money around the world while rarely increasing market efficiency.

Financial advisors in major trading companies enjoy dealing with derivatives and often funneling income to offshore holding companies, so rich people and corporations don't have to pay taxes. These trading companies have lawyers on retainer in the Cayman Islands and Jersey – and a quick phone call to them will set it all  up, no more taxes for their clients. This is not what the financial industry should be doing, this is basically criminal behavior.

Like one Wall Street analyst said: "Governments don't control today's world, Goldman Sachs does."

To prove the above point also see the BBC news clip "Financial Armageddon Imminent 2011"

As for those who continue watching and listening to those fast talking, so-called, financial "Gurus" on Fox News, CNBC, CNN and other corporate owned News Media, please take it for what this really represents -Corporate Orchestrated Populist Financial Reality Shows.

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9/28/11

EU proposes 0.1 percent financial transaction tax

Reuters reported this morning that the EU's executive European Commission formally adopted on Wednesday plans for a financial transaction tax from January 2014, which it hoped would be extended worldwide.

The measure will need approval from EU states to become effective. "With this proposal the European Union becomes a forerunner in the global implementation of a financial transaction tax," EU Tax Commissioner, Algirdas Semeta, said in a statement.

"Our project is sound and workable. I have no doubt this tax can deliver what EU citizens expect -- a fair contribution from the financial sector. I am confident that our partners in the G20 will see their interest in following this path." Stock and bond trades would be taxed at the rate of 0.1 percent, with derivatives at 0.01 percent. The EU executive said the tax would be imposed on all transactions in financial instruments between financial firms when at least one party to the trade is based in the bloc.

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9/27/11

GOD OR GREED ? A Muslim view - by Chandra Muzaffar

Like in Christianity greed is a vice in Islam because a) it is an act of stark selfishness; b) it distorts and perverts one’s character. It makes one vain and arrogant; c) it makes one overly materialistic ; d) it leads to the spread of corruption in society ; d) it is the antithesis of sharing and giving; and e) it undermines a person’s love for God and subverts values such as justice, fairness and compassion.

In the Qur’an, the embodiment of greed is Qarun (28:76-82; 29: 39) who was preoccupied with the accumulation of wealth and riches, and cared little for his fellow human beings or for God.


Islam and Christianity concur on this fundamental belief: that the human being cannot serve both God and greed at the same time.  If we choose God then we should declare war on those structures and attitudes that allow greed to breed in contemporary civilization. As Muslims and Christians we should write, speak, organize and mobilize against greed.  In this monumental struggle we should work with people of other faiths and those who may not belong to a particular faith community.  The war against greed is putting into action God’s eternal message: Believe in God and do good.

For more: GOD OR GREED ? A MUSLIM VIEW

Survey: US Health insurance costs surge in 2011

Annual premiums for family coverage climbed 9 percent and surpassed $15,000 for the first time, according to a report released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust. Premiums for single coverage rose 8 percent compared to 2010.

That compares to increases last year of 3 and 5 percent for family and single coverage, respectively. The study shows that premiums for both family and single coverage have more than doubled since 2001, while worker wages have risen 34 percent.

Kaiser CEO Drew Altman said a number of factors may have played a role in this year's percentage jump. He noted that health care costs continue to rise, and insurer profits and the health care overhaul also have some impact.

For more: Survey: US Health insurance costs surge in 2011 | ajc.com

9/26/11

A pessimistic viewpoint: "The world’s problems are so big, and our politicians are so small" - by Margaret Wente

For the past 18 years, many of the world’s most powerful men and women have worked strenuously to impose peace on the Israelis and the Palestinians, who together occupy a piece of real estate that’s smaller than Nova Scotia. Yet, peace is as far away as ever. And nothing that happens at the UN is going to change that.

But it’s not just the Middle East they can’t fix. On the biggest issues of the day, our leaders seem more powerless than ever. The European Union is coming unglued. The United States is stuck in the slough of despond. Even if our leaders knew what to do, they seem incapable of doing it.

In the heroic version of history, extraordinary times produce extraordinary men. When the U.S. was on its knees, it produced FDR. When Britain was threatened by Hitler, along came Churchill. Today, great men are absent. Instead, the EU has faceless Eurocrats such as Jean-Claude Trichet, the man who runs the European Central Bank, and divided leaders who continue to insist that Greece will not default, even though everyone knows it’s just a matter of time.

Back in the days of 2008, people could at least count on the central banks to get together and figure out a bailout plan. This time, that’s not going to happen.

Note EU-Digest: Come on now...Any optimist will disagree with the above report by Margaret Wente. If life looked so grim, we could just as well all pack it in. The optimist will say: "When the going gets tough the tough get going"....now that's the right spirit.


For more: The world’s problems are so big, and our politicians are so small - The Globe and Mail

Religion: "Seven things" many pastors are afraid to say

When North Dakota, USA Pastor Walter Thomason's wife, Becky, suggested he write "Seven Things Your Pastor Wants to Tell You ... But Doesn't Have the Guts," he sat down and wrote it in just two hours.

In writing his "seven things," Thomason drew on his experience of being in, and knowing, clergy.

1. "The pastor is not responsible to do all your "Christian stuff" for you.
2. I can't treat you as more important just because you are rich.
3. You're still bigoted.
4. Your commitment to Christ is anemic and embarrassing.
5. You don't know your Bible from a cookbook.
6. You are not as loving as you think you are.
7. This Church is dying.

Stocks Advance on Europe Optimism; Commodities Reverse Losses - by Stephen Kirkland and Rita Nazareth

Stocks rose, rebounding from last week's decline, and Treasuries retreated as European officials discussed plans to tame the debt crisis. Commodities reversed earlier losses and the Dollar Index retreated.

The European Central Bank is likely to debate restarting covered-bond purchases and may discuss interest-rate cuts to ease funding strains, a euro-region central bank official said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's comments that leaders must erect a firewall around Greece prompted speculation about a European version of the U.S.'s Troubled Asset Relief Program after finance chiefs including U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner urged more efforts to prevent contagion.

Note EU-Digest: Instead of whining about Europe all the time why doesn't the US financial press watch their own backyard.

Golf: Solheim Cup -- Europe reclaims Cup with dramatic win over U.S.

After the Europeans had won the 12th Solheim Cup 15-13, they took the poster of Seve Ballesteros which had been in their locker room down to the 18th green. They wanted everyone to know the extent to which the Spaniard had been their inspiration.

The Americans, meanwhile, were still ruing what had been a wretched start to their day. Instead of having 12 players up and running, they were down a woman after Cristie Kerr got no further than the practice ground.

Kerr, a dogged little performer if ever there were one, had tendinitis in her right wrist, which had first manifested itself Wednesday. She answered Rosie Jones' call to play in all four matches over the first two days and, on Friday night, took anti-inflammatory tablets to ensure she would have no trouble playing one more time.

For more: Solheim Cup -- Europe reclaims Cup with dramatic win over U.S. - espnW

French Socialists seize Senate in blow to Sarkozy

France's left wrested the Senate from the right in indirect elections on Sunday, taking the majority of seats in the upper house of parliament for the first time in more than 50 years – a blow to conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Seven months before presidential elections, Sarkozy's party downplayed what it said was a narrow win – up to three seats, according to officials from the president's party.

The minister for parliamentary relations, Patrick Ollier, said the results had "no national political significance". Final results of the voting to fill half the seats in the 348-seat house were not in, but the Socialist's leader in the Senate announced the victory.

For more: French Socialists seize Senate in blow to Sarkozy | World news | guardian.co.uk

Israel likely to become “isolated”

Turkey and Israel are each increasingly angry at the other, after a long period of getting on well. This included trade and military cooperation ever since Turkey recognized Israel in 1948. The US largely encouraged the two countries’ ties in the interest of fostering greater regional stability.

But what Israel called ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in late 2008 pushed relations to breaking point. Israel’s attack on Gaza, saying it was to stop rocket fire into Israel and prevent weapons from getting into the Hamas-governed strip, included a heavy Palestinian civilian death toll.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan unleashed a fury on Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Davos forum: “You have a very strong voice,” he said. “I feel that you perhaps feel a bit guilty and that is why perhaps you have been so strong in your words, so loud. Well, you killed people.”

For more: Israel likely to become “isolated” | euronews, world news

Merkel warns against Greek default – but says ‘firewall’ is needed

Angela Merkel has said she still believes Greece’s burden of debt is sustainable – but that a ‘firewall’ is needed so that a potential default does not have a ripple effect among other Euro member states.

In an hour-long interview on Germany’s ARD television last night, Merkel said the Eurozone as a whole needed “to be able to put up a barrier” so that countries who defaulted did so on an individual basis without impacting on others.

“I don’t rule out at all that at some point we will have the question whether one can do an insolvency of states just like with banks,” Bloomberg quotes her as saying.

For more: Merkel warns against Greek default – but says ‘firewall’ is needed · TheJournal

9/25/11

Palestine’s moment of truth - by Tanvir Ahmad Khan

Exactly a year ago, President Barack Obama used the opening session of the UN General Assembly to express his hope that “when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the UN — an independent, sovereign state of Palestine”. He returned to the same podium on September 21 to do the opposite i.e. to voice uncompromising opposition to Mahmoud Abbas’s decision, succinctly set out in an article published by the New York Times on May 16, 2011 that he would come to UN to “request international recognition of the state of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations.”

The other transformation is that of Mahmoud Abbas. No other Palestinian leader has kept his faith in a peaceful negotiated settlement in the face of impossible odds. Most objective observers of the slowly dying 20-year-old Oslo process concluded years ago that Israel would never allow a viable Palestinian state even in what Abbas describes, with a touch of pathos, as “the remaining 22 per cent of our historic homeland”. The Oslo process only facilitated Jewish colonisation of occupied lands to a point where a Palestinian state became a geographical absurdity. Obama began by opposing more settlements but had by 2009 muted this idealism.

For more: Palestine’s moment of truth — I – The Express Tribune

US Republican Party: We need a ‘time out’ from regulations – ( who are they kidding ?)

For the second week in a row, Republicans called for the downsizing of federal regulations in the private sector.
“We Republicans say, enough is enough,” said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in the GOP weekly address Saturday. “America needs a ‘time out’ from the regulations that discourage job creation and hurt our economy.”

Her speech follows weeks of intense debate in Washington over ways to jump-start the economy, including President Barack Obama’s proposed $447 billion jobs plan. But Republicans insist that government “over-regulation” is perhaps the biggest factor standing in the way of job growth.

Note EU-Digest: "Who are they kidding? Have they forgotten what got the US into this mess?"

For more: GOP: We need a ‘time out’ from regulations – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs

The Netherlands: "Wall-street, the Financial Community and the Apostle James"

Watching the troubled worlds financial community these days and the fierce resistance to necessary change by corporations, extremely rich individuals and many politicians is an alarming experience to many people. It seems that a large number of people, for one reason or the other, never seem to learn from past mistakes.

Their motto is that its all about "the trickle down effect of capital". In other words, they say that if they make more profits, become richer,  everyone else will be better off.  On the other hand they also advocate that in case a financial institution collapses, even due to their own mismanagement, the taxpayer should bear the consequences. This group also opposes any kind of regulation that will avoid this to happen again.  

Does their theory make any sense, or for that matter has it ever worked? Unfortunately the answer must be, "absolutely not"..

Has mankind been warned about this excessive greed before? Oh yes they have. The response to this question, apart from continuously being discussed in the press, and aired on radio and TV, also came today, of all places, to Church goers at the New Day International Church, (NDIC) in the modern new Dutch City of Almere,  

In a sermon by NDIC Pastor Peter van der Meijden, entitled "Made to Last", he quoted to his congregation from James 5, verses 1-6 in the Bible, when James said: 

"Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 

Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you." 

More than 2000 years ago Apostle James wrote, and stated the above warning, as he talked about the need to close the gap between the enormous wealth of the rich and the heart wrenching poverty of the poor

Where do we stand today on this issue?  Not much has changed. It probably has even gotten worse because of the hypocrisy (even within religious circles) that has surrounded every financial crises the world has faced so far ,
Note: James, along with his brother John, is portrayed in the gospels as perhaps being more important than most of the other apostles. He was present at the resurrection of Jarius’ daughter, at Jesus’ transfiguration, and at the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus was arrested. According to Acts, James was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I who ruled over Palestine from 41- 44 CE . The painting of James in this report is a copy of a painting by Rembrandt ( July 6 , 1606 - Oct 4, 1669) , one of the Netherlands most famous painters.

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9/24/11

Grim Future for US Economy

The ratings agency lowered the senior debt rating of Bank of America two levels to Baa1 (equvalent of S&P's BBB+) from A2 (A). Long-term senior ratings were kept at negative, indicating that Moody's may consider another cut. Short-term debt for the bank was cut from Prime 1 (A-1+) to Prime 2 (A-2).
 

Wells Fargo's senior debt went down a notch from A1 (A+) to A2 (A), with its senior long-term ratings kept at negative. Citigroup's short-term ratings went from Prime 1 (A-1+) to Prime 2 (A-2), but the agency confirmed its long-term rating of A3 (A-) and Citibank NA's A1 (A+) long-term and Prime 1 (A-1+) short-term ratings.
 

Moody's explained its decision saying that the federal government is “more likely now than during the financial crisis to allow a large bank to fail should it become financially troubled, as the risks of contagion become less acute."

For more: PressTV - Grim future for US economy

Greece vows no default on loans at UN meeting

Greece's foreign minister has been telling leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly that his country is committed to paying back its loans and moving forward with economic reforms.

Stavros Lambrinidis said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday that he has also been raising concerns about what he described as Turkey's bellicose rhetoric on Israel and Cyprus.

Lambrinidis was referring to Turkish threats to provide military escorts to aide ships headed for Gaza, following a deadly Israeli commando raid in June 2010 on a Turkish boat containing pro-Palestinian activists.

For more: Greece vows no default on loans at UN meeting - seattlepi.com

Musical Chairs in Russia; Putin to run for Russian presidency in 2012

Vladimir Putin's decision to reclaim the presidency next year sets up the possibility that he could rule Russia until 2024 and foreshadows a continuation of the strongman rule that many in the West have called a retreat from democracy.

Although Putin departed the Kremlin in 2008 due to term limits and moved about two kilometers (1.5 miles) down the road to the prime minister's office, in a sense he never left at all. He cannily used Russia's state-controlled national TV channels to remain the country's pre-eminent political figure, with appearances portraying himself as a bold adventurer in Russia's wilderness, a vigorous advocate of the country's global importance and, occasionally, as a bit of a rogue consorting with scruffy motorcyclists.

In nominating Putin, his United Russia party also approved his proposal that Medvedev take over Putin's current role as prime minister, the No. 2 government position.

For more: Putin to run for Russian presidency in 2012 - Forbes.com

Obama, Abbas and Netanyahu squandered their golden opportunity ( or does the Jewish Lobby strike again? )

"There's a real world outside the Capital Beltway that encircles Washington and its internal politics. So the ceremonial triumph of this week must be used to show generosity and ingenuity and daring. It is high time to come up with a courageous Israeli initiative.

This historic moment is still dangerous. The mistakes of the past 30 months have created an abysmal gap between the Palestinians' expectations, the Israelis' needs and the international community's perceptions. This gap is asking for trouble. It could bring an end to the 18 years of Oslo. It could bring an end to the seven years of Abbas-Fayyad. It could turn a fragile stability into active instability. So today's speech-makers must come to their senses."

Note EU-Digest: "get real".


For more: The Jewish lobby strikes again:  Obama, Abbas and Netanyahu squandered their golden opportunity

9/23/11

Palestine UN bid spotlights some unlikely kingmakers

With Friday's Palestinian bid for statehood now official, the focus turns to the U.N. Security Council, and an array of unlikely kingmakers.

Gabon, Colombia, Bosnia-Herzogovina — these countries aren't usually associated with Middle East diplomacy, but they happen to be on the U.N. Security Council this year, meaning their votes would determine whether the Palestinian application wins approval.

If it does, the U.S. plans to veto it, but President Barack Obama is anxious to avoid an action likely to inflame the Arab world. The council consists of five permanent members — China, Britain, France, Russia and the U.S. — and 10 rotating, non permanent ones which can expect to be wooed and pressured by both sides as the vote approaches.

For more: Palestine bid spotlights some unlikely kingmakers | ajc.com

US presidental election campaign: Republican front runner Rick Perry's slick ad campaign- "will the American voter fall for the same nonsense again?"

In the first half of the ad clip President Obama's voice intones about the economy over grim, washed-out pictures of rain-drenched streets, empty rooms, boarded-up houses and peeling walls. Then news coverage of last month's jobs figures, with the spoken message "President Zero".

Then fade to black. The sound of galloping horses, a brief shot of thundering hooves, the stars and stripes, the Statue of Liberty and finally, pictures of Mr Perry.

As the music builds, a message comes across in full-screen: "An American". Another shot of Mr Perry, followed by another full screen message: "Who served America".

He talks about the need for a president who believes in America. A little boy plays with a toy fighter plane, while real ones fly over head.

For more: BBC News - Rick Perry: The Movie

Saudi Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel Lobbies For Women's Rights with great savvy

The uprisings in the Arab world this year that erupted along Saudi Arabia's borders have left Saudi Arabia largely  untouched but they may have helped inspire a quieter revolt.

This summer most women in the Middle East were following a campaign by Saudi women for the right to drive. Activists have posted videos of themselves driving. And recently a few dozen women defied their country's ban and drove on the same day in daylight. One of the most outspoken voices on women's rights in Saudi Arabia is the strikingly beautiful Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel. She's married to Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, one of the richest men in the country.

Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel hit the New York City "shores" this week, reminding us that there are gorgeous princesses on other continents as well, not only in Europe and Asia.

Princess Ameerah, a member of the Saudi royal family through her husband, HRH Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal (King Abdullah's nephew), is also the Vice Chairwoman of the Board of the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation.

This week she spoke at a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, which invited world leaders to discuss employment, sustainability and women's issues. The Huffington Post wrote about her: "We weren't too familiar with Princess Ameerah previously, but we were totally impressed by both her humanitarian interests as well as her chic style".

She was also interviewed on CNN by Pierce Morgan where her intelligence and savvy impressed just about everyone watching the program.

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Palestine fed up with waiting for EU common position - by Andrew Rettman

Palestine's ambassador to the EU has said her leader, Mahmoud Abbas will today (23 September) ask the UN Security Council for full UN membership despite last-minute British, French and US warnings not to go ahead.

Leila Shahid told EUobserver in an interview it remains unclear which EU countries will support the resolution or whether French President Nicolas Sarkozy's new three-step peace plan is an EU position or a purely French idea.

"The Europeans have been taken aback by our decision but we are going ahead because we see they cannot agree with each other ... We can't give up our rights while we wait for the Europeans to be united. And we can't give up our rights because [US] President Obama has a presidential campaign coming up and wants to win votes," she said.


For more: EUobserver.com / Headline News / Palestine fed up with waiting for EU common position

Erdogan Criticizes Israel at U.N. - Ahmadinejad Speaks, Too - by NEIL MacFARQUHAR

Evidently heedless of American attempts to engineer a thaw in Turkish-Israeli relations, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey used his appearance before the annual General Assembly on Thursday to enumerate a long list of grievances with Israel, a former regional ally.

Mr. Erdogan was the second major Middle Eastern leader addressing the General Assembly, with the widespread focus on the region’s most intractable problem, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, due to culminate Friday with speeches by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

Representatives of the so-called quartet — the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia — were still trying late Thursday to reach an agreement on a statement about moving peace negotiations forward, intended to counterbalance the controversial proposal for United Nations membership that Mr. Abbas has vowed to present. The future of the Quartet could be at risk, some diplomats suggested, with the Americans and the Europeans, close to an agreement, ready to abandon the other two members and issue a statement by themselves. It could go down to the very moment after the Netanyahu and Abbas speeches, the diplomats said.

Erdogan Criticizes Israel at U.N. - Ahmadinejad Speaks, Too - NYTimes.com

Palestine: US Republican front runner Rick Perry Gets it Very Wrong About Israel Palestine

Refusing to recognize the rights of the indigenous people of the so-called holy land is what has destabilized the Middle East.

As Israel’s nuclear whistle-blower, Mordechai Vanunu said, “Israel is not a democracy unless you are a Jew.”
 The “so called right of return” is what Zionists claim for any Jew without any historical connection to that land to come and colonize upon legally owned Palestinian property.

The establishment of the State of Israel was contingent upon upholding the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, which enshrines:

Article 13
  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
  2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
PERRY says : “The circumvention of serious negotiations by PA President Mahmoud Abbas demonstrates a basic failure of leadership and a betrayal of the true interests of the Palestinian people.”

THE PALESTINIANS want :

  1.  Ending the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall.
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
  3. Respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
Recognition of a Palestinian state in the UN will not end the military occupation, but it will gain virtual citizenship, a passport and sovereignty, legal protection against violence by Israeli settlers, the right to fight back in self-defense if attacked and potential backing for their claims from international tribunals such as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.

Note EU-Digest:: In our opinion Palestine should present its request to the General Assembly instead of the Security Council. Given they will certainly achieve a two thirds majority in that assembly Palestine can become a UN permanent associate member (same as the Vatican). 

Palestine's  permanent associate membership of  the UN and all the political and diplomatic privileges and clout this entails, including eventual full UN membership, will give it far more flexibility and independence on the world scene. 

On the other hand all Palestinians ( including Hamas) need to recognize Israels existence as a sovereign Middle Eastern state and pledge to refrain from, and outlaw, any terrorist or violent attacks on Israel from Palestine. 

Eventually any  agreement should also include for Israel to return all the occupied land on the West Bank, where over the years they have allowed more than 300.000 Jewish residents to settle. To expedite a speedy conclusion of the agreement between Israel and Palestine all economic and military aid (Israel), presently provided to both countries, except humanitarian aid, should be halted until this agreement is reached.


  •   For more: Palestine: US Republican Fontrunner Rick Perry Gets it Very Wrong About Israel Palestine - Salem-News.Com
  • 9/22/11

    Moody’s Bank Downgrades of Bank of America and Wells FargoAssailed as ‘Too-Big-to-Fail’ Persists - by Dakin Campbell and Donal Griffin

    Moody’s cut the long-term credit ratings for Bank of America and Wells Fargo yesterday and said the government is “more likely now than during the financial crisis” to let a large U.S. bank collapse, according to a statement. The ratings firm said the two banks and Citigroup Inc., which had its short- term rating downgraded, benefitted more than others from underlying government support.

    “They need to defend this move with logic, not just, ‘This is our methodology,’” said Nancy Bush, an analyst at SNL Financial, a bank-research firm in Charlottesville, Virginia. Moody’s likely is protecting itself “in case there is another downdraft, since they were caught absolutely flat-footed in 2008 by slapping AAA on everything,” she said.

    For more: Moody’s Bank Downgrades of Bank of America and Wells Fargo Assailed as ‘Too-Big-to-Fail’ Persists - Businessweek

    9/21/11

    Turkey: The Mideast's Real Revolution - by Eric S. Margolis

    The revolutions and uprising that have been sweeping across the Mideast are widely believed to have begun in Tunisia. In fact, the first seeds of revolution were planted in 2002 in Turkey, as its Justice and Development Party began the long, arduous battle against disguised military dictatorship.

    The 510,000-man Turkish armed forces, NATO's second biggest after the U.S., have mounted four military coups since 1950. Turkey's current constitution was written by the military after its 1980 coup.

    Ever since the era of national hero turned strongman Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey has been run by its powerful military behind a thin façade of squabbling politicians. In the process, it suffered widescale political violence, Kurdish secessionism, rigged elections, and endless financial crises.

    Americans always liked to point to pre-2002 as the ideal Muslim state. "Why can't those Arabs be more like the sensible Turks?" was a refrain often heard in Washington. Its proponents chose to ignore, or simply failed to see, that Turkey was an iron-fisted military dictatorship.

    Under AKP, Turkey has moved closer to the European Union's legal norms than, for example, new members Bulgaria and Rumania. But France and Germany's conservatives insist Turkey will never be accepted in the EU. Europe—particularly its farmers—don't want 75 million mostly Muslim Turks.

    Largely unseen by outsiders, AKP has relentlessly pushed Turkey's reactionary military back to its barracks. This long struggle culminated in attempts by the military, known as the Ergenekon affair, to again overthrow the civilian government.

    The plot was broken: numbers of high-ranking officers were arrested and put on trial. So were journalists and media figures involved in the plot—probably too many. Investigators are examining questionable arms deals between Turkey's military and Israel.

    For more: Turkey: The Mideast's Real Revolution

    Europe is 'fragile, but fixable' - by Gordon Isfeld

    Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney said Tuesday the economic deterioration in Europe is "fragile, but fixable" and that he does not expect the United States to fall back into recession "although the risk has clearly risen."

    In a speech to the Board of Trade in Saint John, N.B, Carney also called on European leaders to come up with a "comprehensive" plan to backstop the region's banks and restore investors' confidence.
    His comments came on the same day as the International Monetary Fund cut economic growth outlook for Canada and the world.

    9/20/11

    "Neocon" Republican candidate Rick Perry assails Obama over Israel - Beth Fouhy and Kasie Hunt

    "Neocon" Republican front-runner Rick Perry, the Texas governor, denounced the president's Israel policy as "misguided and dangerous," speaking to supporters in New York as the Obama administration worked a few miles away to thwart a U.N. vote to grant formal recognition to the Palestinian Authority.

    Perry also accused Obama of appeasement, as did Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who assailed the president from the Midwest.

    "Simply put, we would not be here today at the precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn't naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous," Perry said, flanked by U.S. and Israeli flags. The Obama administration has appeased the Arab Street at the expense of our own national security interests. They have sowed instability that threatens the prospect of peace."

    The Obama administration has appeased the Arab Street at the expense of our own national security interests. They have sowed instability that threatens the prospect of peace."

    Perry's chief rival for the nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, issued a statement accusing Obama of "throwing Israel under the bus."

    Note EU-Digest: If you thought that the Neocons had disappeared from the scene following the demise of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, think again. The Dutch have a saying: "Een ezel stoot zich niet tweemaal aan de zelfde steen" ...meaning: " One who makes the same mistake twice is a fool." One can only hope the US voter doesn't fall for the same Neocon nonsense again.

    For more: Republican candidates assail Obama over Israel - seattlepi.com

    Europe's 53 football countries hold two-day summit meeting

    Europe's 53 football countries will have the future and popularity of their national teams at the top of the agenda as a two-day summit meeting in Cyprus opened yesterday.

    Uefa member federations are under pressure from influential clubs to play fewer matches by scrapping some international friendly dates and cutting the size of qualifying groups for the World Cup and European Championship. Federation presidents and chief executives also will meet

    Europe's eight representatives on Fifa's 24-man executive committee four weeks before Fifa President Sepp Blatter unveils his detailed anti-corruption reforms to clean up world football

    For more: gulfnews : Europe's 53 football countries hold two-day summit meeting

    Switzerland rejects bid to ban investment banking

    SP parliamentarian Susanne Leutenegger Oberholzer on Monday asked parliament to discuss a ban on investment banking as part of a debate on tough new capital laws aimed at preventing a repeat of the government bailout of UBS in the financial crisis.

    "One of the large risks for the financial centre is investment banking," she told parliament, adding that the threat which a single staff member can pose to a large bank was clearly demonstrated by the UBS alleged rogue trade incident.

    But parliament narrowly rejected her bid to reopen the debate with 55 votes against the motion, 42 in favour and six abstentions, meaning she will have to present her proposal to ban investment banking in a new legislative process.

    For more: Switzerland rejects bid to ban investment banking | Reuters

    Eight Offshore Banks Probed Over Tax Rules in U.S. - by David Voreacos

    Eight offshore banks are under federal grand jury investigation for facilitating tax evasion by U.S. citizens as part of a probe the Justice Department said has dealt “fabled Swiss bank secrecy a devastating blow.”

    The department disclosed the probes on a section of its website detailing the Tax Division’s Offshore Compliance Initiative. In 2009, prosecutors charged UBS AG (UBSN), the largest Swiss bank, with aiding tax evasion by U.S. clients. UBS avoided prosecution by paying $780 million, admitting it fostered tax evasion, and giving the U.S. Internal Revenue Service data on more than 250 accounts. It later turned over data on another 4,450 accounts.

    Prosecutors opened 150 grand jury investigations of offshore-banking clients, charging 30 people, and indicting 13 other people who facilitated the hiding of assets offshore, according to the website.

    For more: Eight Offshore Banks Probed Over Tax Rules in U.S. - Bloomberg

    Will US Government twist:? Fed inflation hawks likely to temper pro-growth moves

    The threat of inflation is expected to temper any decisions on new pro-growth measures when Federal Reserve policy-makers meet Tuesday on the US economy's poor health.

    With growth stagnating and unemployment stubbornly above nine percent, analysts say they expect the Federal Open Market Committee to take some action to stimulate the US economy. But it is not clear how much stretching its meeting to two days will help the FOMC overcome divisions and send a clear signal of intent or even confidence, which analysts say the markets sorely need.

    While one camp on the Federal Open Market Committee is believed to favor a hopefully stimulative economic measure known as "Operation Twist," a group of vocal dissenters could block that or limit its size, shouting the alarm that easy money is pushing up consumer prices.

    For more: AFP: Fed inflation hawks likely to temper pro-growth moves

    Pressure grows on Greece, Italy hit by same credit downgrade as USA

    Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos held a teleconference Monday with officials from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Central Bank (ECB), to reassure international creditors providing the country with bailout funds.

    The emergency call came a few hours after Venizelos announced plans for Greece to speed up reforms aimed at bringing its debt crisis under control, but the country's creditors (on the other end of the telephone call) wanted to talk things through to make sure Greece's plans are on track.

    A decision on whether officials from the 'troika' (EU, IMF, and ECB) would need to pay a visit to Greece to sign off on Greece's belt-tightening efforts was put off until Tuesday evening, when the conference call would resume.

    In the meantime, rating agency Standard and Poor's said it had downgraded Italy's sovereign debt rating by one notch, from A+ to A, a similar level as the US. with a negative outlook, which indicates further downgrades in the future.

    For more : Home | Deutsche Welle

    9/19/11

    Revolution made in the USA: The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protests Drew Hundreds, Snarled Traffic

    It wasn't Tahrir Square, exactly, but the anti-Wall Street demonstration that began on Saturday succeeded in disrupting the Monday morning commutes of the area's workers. The J/Z Broad Street subway stop was shut down this morning, and the large police presence, along with chanting, meant that Wall Streeters had to pass a gauntlet of sorts to get to the office this morning. The turnout was lower than the organizers hoped for — "hundreds" seems to be the unofficial consensus for now, compared with the hoped-for 20,000.

    "This country is in decline," said Jack Laxson, an 18-year-old Hampshire College student who was carrying a sign that read, "Corporations Run This Country -- Let's Do Something About It."
    "Even with a good education, you don't have much to look forward to. No jobs, lots of debt."
    The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protests Drew Hundreds, Snarled Traffic -- Daily Intel

    American Dream ending? Fewer think they'll become millionaires in US economic doom

    Americans are becoming far less optimistic about their chances of making it big - with just one in five convinced they will become a millionaire in the next ten years.

    With economic gloom filtering into the American Dream mentality, almost two thirds of people in the U.S. said they felt it was extremely difficult to become a millionaire in the current climate.

    While cynical Brits are even less enthusiastic about their futures, the U.S. figure lags behind that of Australia, where almost a third of citizens believe they will strike it rich, a survey has found.

    American Dream ending? Fewer think they'll become millionaires in US economic doom | Mail Online

    Libyan forces say have captured parts of one of Qaddafi’s last strongholds

    Libya’s interim government said on Monday its forces had seized the airport and fort in Sabha, one of the last strongholds of forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi which also controls the main route south out of Libya.

    “Our forces are there in the airport and in the castle ... Our flags are flying there,” Ahmed Bani, a military spokesman for the National Transitional Council (NTC), told a news conference in Tripoli. It was not possible to obtain independent confirmation.

    Sabha, 770 km (480 miles) south of Tripoli and overlooked by an old fort built by Libya’s former Italian colonial rulers, controls the main trail south to neighboring Niger, an escape route used by members of Qaddafi’s entourage.

    For more: Libyan forces say have captured parts of one of Qaddafi’s last strongholds

    Turkey Predicts Partnership With Egypt as Regional Anchors - by Anthony Shadid

    A newly assertive Turkey offered on Sunday a vision of a starkly realigned Middle East, where the country’s former allies in Syria and Israel fall into deeper isolation, and a burgeoning alliance with Egypt underpins a new order in a region roiled by revolt and revolution.

    For more: Turkey Predicts Partnership With Egypt as Regional Anchors - NYTimes.com

    Europe's Dilemma: More Integration Or Less? by Tom Gjelten

    European governments seem to be having a hard time deciding whether to come together or drift apart at a time of economic uncertainty.

    Years from now, historians will no doubt say this was a crisis waiting to happen. The people who came up with the idea of a eurozone stopped halfway. The participating countries would use a common currency, but they wouldn't have common tax and spending policies — a monetary union but not a fiscal union. The debt crisis has now shown governments it's hard to have it both ways.

    Either they coordinate their tax and spending policies or they face a break up of their currency union. Jacob Kirkegaard of the Peterson Institute for International Economics says it's like the Europeans built only half a house — and half a house can't stand on its own. "Europe basically faces a choice," he said. "It can either dismantle the piece that they built earlier or they can build the other half of the house, so to speak."

    For more: Europe's Dilemma: More Integration Or Less? : NPR

    9/18/11

    Turkey: Erdoğan and the neo-colonialists - By Yusuf Kanlı

    The Turkish premier was not touring the region like a neo-imperial victor demanding to be awarded for what he has done for those people so far, but rather as a friend volunteering to help friends who are in need at this particular time. That was what Erdoğan stressed during the trip when he declared that Libya should not become a second Iraq. Rather than a greedy effort to siphon the resources of those lands as a reward to what was undertaken by his country yesterday, he was there to help out friends and brothers who need assistance building a new future for themselves.

    As yesterday’s “rebel leader,” today’s de facto and internationally acclaimed chief executive of new Libya, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil underlined in talks with both Erdoğan and in remarks to the media during the historic visit, even though we Turks might have some concerns regarding anti-secular developments in our homeland, the democratic setup and the [so far existing] secular atmosphere in Turkey constitute a golden example of how Islam and democracy can coexist.

    Whatever complaints critics might have against the AKP government in Turkey, probably most of them were delighted seeing the sharp differences exposed in the messages delivered in Libya by Erdoğan and the neo-colonialists.

    Note EU-Digest: This is a surprising comment coming from Hurriyet Daily News. They probably know better than anyone that Mr. Erdogan is a populist and opportunistic politician in most of the actions he undertakes. 

    When the rebels first started their actions against Gaddafi and France and Britain were there to help out the rebels from certain defeat and it was Mr. Erdogan who was against any military support from these countries and NATO In effect he made a strong case for negotiations with Gaddafi.  He quickly shifted this position when he realized that the Gaddafi regime was crumbling knowing that Turkey could lose all its major investments in Libya.  

    Regardless of his efforts in trying to project himself as the new political guardian of the "Middle East Arab Spring" Mr. Erdogan unfortunately has two strikes against him. One is Turkey's historical past when the Ottoman Empire controlled most of the area and as such is still not trusted there. The other problem is the fact that Turkey is not an Arabic country and that Mr. Erdogan does not speak any Arabic. 

    On the other hand, if Mr. Erdogan wants to prove to the EU that he is the leader of a country which can handle Europe's Middle East problems, he certainly is doing a good job. He must also be given credit for standing up against, what at times seem to be Israel's bizarre foreign policies when it comes to (Gaza) Palestine.

    FOR MORE: Erdoğan and the neo-colonialists - Hurriyet Daily News

    France: Strauss-Kahn acknowledges moral failings, maintains New York hotel maid 'lied' - by Jenny Barchfield

    In his first interview since his May 14 arrest over sexual assault accusations, Strauss-Kahn told France's TF1 television channel what happened between him and the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, "did not involve violence, constraint or aggression."Still, he acknowledged, it "was not only an inappropriate relationship, but more than that, it was an error."

    Strauss-Kahn, a Socialist politician who was widely considered a top contender in next year's presidential race until the case broke, said "it was a failing, a failing vis-a-vis my wife, my children and my friends but also a failing vis-a-vis the French people, who had vested their hopes for change in me.

    "I think it was a moral failing and I am not proud of it. I regret it infinitely. I have regretted it everyday for the past four months and I think I'm not done regretting it," he said at the start of the 20-minute interview. Much of the exchange came off as staged, with Strauss-Kahn appearing calm and unruffled throughout and not surprised by the questions.

    For more: Strauss-Kahn acknowledges moral failings, maintains New York hotel maid 'lied' - chicagotribune.com

    Geithner Warning of ‘Catastrophic Risk’ Highlights Gap With EU - Bby Rebecca Christie

    U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner’s 10-hour visit to Poland ended with European counterparts rebuffing his suggested fix to their debt crisis and some taking shots at the economic woes across the Atlantic.

    Geithner urged European leaders to set aside their differences to excise “catastrophic risks” from the markets. He also floated a variation of a 2008 policy he developed while at the New York Federal Reserve to expand the reach of Europe’s bailout fund that would use leverage in a partnership between euro governments and the central bank, said Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

    While U.S. and European officials such as Germany’s Wolfgang Schaeuble emphasized the benefits of trans-Atlantic communication, comments by Austria’s Maria Fekter and Sweden’s Anders Borg underlined a sense of mutual frustration.

    For more: Geithner Warning of ‘Catastrophic Risk’ Highlights Gap With EU - Bloomberg

    9/17/11

    Russia: Unreleased parking brake cause behind Yak-42 crash:

    Driving away without releasing the handbrake of the car is popularly known as the blonde's error', a similar thing happened while Yak-42 was taking off from the Tunoshna airport on September 7 near Yaroslavl about 300 north-west from here, 'Moskovsky Komsomolets' daily reported.

    "The commander of the Yak-42 was feeling unwell so he told co-pilot to take-off. But in any case it was the commander's job to release parking brakes. The crew realised during the takeoff run and released the parking brakes, but it was too late for the plane to lift off," the daily reported quoting a 'source close to probe'.

    For more: 'Blonde's error' cause behind Yak-42 crash: Report - Hindustan Times

    Eurozone in no mood for Geithner's mercy mission - by David Prosser

    Tim Geithner was polite enough to say that, given the economic problems back home, the US Treasury Secretary was notnecessarily in the best position to offer Europe advice on how to get out of its mess. Still, Mr Geithner must have wondered why he had bothered with a 6,000-mile round trip, given the Europeans' obvious distaste for any of his ideas.

    No, they said, to an expansion of the European Financial Stability Fund, whether directly or through leverage. No, they said, to stimulating European economies with more expansionist fiscal policy. And no, they said, to Mr Geithner's contention that a new tax on banks would not work.

    For more: David Prosser: Eurozone in no mood for Geithner's mercy mission - Business Comment, Business - The Independent

    9/16/11

    Separation of State and Religion: German Opposition to boycott Pope’s address to Parliament

    Dozens of German opposition MPs have announced plans to boycott next week’s address of Pope Benedict XVI to the Bundestag, the lower house of Parliament, in protest against “violation of state neutrality” by the head of the catholic church.

    The Left party, which is leading the boycott, said that most of its MPs will stay away when the religious leader of over 1.1 billion Catholics addresses the house on 22 September.

    Besides the Left party, several MPs belonging to the Social Democratic Party (SPD) as well as the ecological Green parts, also announced that they will be joining the boycott. Media reports said more than 100 of the Bundestag’s 620 elected representatives plan to stay away when the pope, a German national, speaks at the house as the first head of the catholic church to do so.

    The Vatican has reacted angrily to the boycott plans and said they will strengthen the image of “ugly Germans” abroad. Curial Cardinal Walter Brandmueller warned the members of German Parliament to be aware of the effects of their protests abroad.

    Note EU-Digest: keeping in mind that all the countries within the EU adhere to  a strict separation of State and Religion, no church or religious movement, including the Roman Catholic Church, has the right to tell its membership how to vote, and has no business telling elected officials how to conduct business of state, especially under pain of some religious sanction. No church also has the right to hold civil government hostage. In other words, civil law trumps religious law in the European Union. It seems, therefore, that the Pop,e who has a history of mixing politics with religion in his public speeches should not have been allowed to speak in the German parliament.

    For more: German Opposition to boycott Pope’s address to Parliament | Firstpost

    Denmark: Elections - Social Dems ‘did it’

    Social Democrat leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt put an end to a decade in opposition for her party tonight, when her centre-left coalition mustered enough votes to win a slim five-vote majority in parliament.

    The electoral win puts a woman in the prime minister’s office for the first time in Danish history while at the same time ousting the Liberal-Conservative government, and its backers in the right-wing Danish People’s Party.

    For more: Denmark Elections Social Dems ‘did it’

    Dutch burqa ban – maximum fine to be 380 euros

    Women wearing the Islamic burqa (full body cloak) or niqab (face veil) in public will soon be subject to a maximum fine of 380 euros. The planned measure is to be discussed by the Dutch cabinet on Friday.

    A ‘burqa ban’ formed part of the minority Dutch government’s program agreed with the populist Freedom Party (PVV) on whose parliamentary support the cabinet relies.

    Rather than singling out burqas and niqabs, the senior partner in the coalition, the conservative VVD, is in favour of a general ban on people wearing clothes that cover the face including balaclavas and helmets with opaque visors. On the VVD website, it is argued that people can find such clothing threatening. The extent of the ban will become clear after Friday's cabinet meeting.

    The Christian Democrats are the smaller party in the coalition and say: “Clothing covering the face makes it harder to indentify people, hinders communication and makes people feel less safe”.

    For more: Dutch burqa ban – maximum fine to be 380 euros | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

    Virtual Churches and Mosques - is it a new trend?

    Ever heard about virtual Churches and Mosques? It is  a religious experience totally through the Internet. People log into a website to watch and participate in the service on their computer screen.

    Some Christians and Muslims say the virtual place of worship may be helpful for people who are tied to a bed or can't go outside their home, or who have no place of worship in their area. Others don't believe it is a good choice, if you use it to avoid other fellow believers.

    Here are some virtual Churches  and Mosques you might want to check out.

    http://www.churchchannel.tv/watch/

    http://muxlim.com/

    http://www.virtualchurch.com/

    http://www.virtualmosque.co.uk/

    http://www.theonlineword.com/tv_schedule.html

    http://www.islamicity.com/IslamiTV/

    http://www.josephprince.org/web_broadcast.html

    EU-Digest

    No permission required to publish EU-Digest
    reports as long as EU-Digest is identified as the source.

    Following Sarkozy and Cameron Turkey’s PM to visit Libya:

    Turkey's prime minister heads to Libya on Friday, a day after the French and British leaders won a hero's welcome there for helping to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi and in the midst of a fierce battle over Gaddafi's home town.

    Tayyip Erdogan, on a North African tour to assert Ankara's regional influence, will be hoping to reap political and economic dividends from Libya's new rulers for his country's help in their struggle to end Gaddafi's 42-year grip on power.

    For more: Turkey’s PM to visit Libya: News24: Africa: News

    9/15/11

    European Automotive Industry: Small cars are big news at Frankfurt

    Germans car makers are unveiling a range of new small, fuel-efficient cars at the world's biggest motor show to challenge a market currently dominated by French and Asian rivals.

    In the past, they built their reputations on sleek sports cars and luxurious limousines that were generous in their fuel consumption. But with customers increasingly environment conscious and concerned about rising petrol prices, their launches at the IAA (Internationale Automobil Ausstellung) will mark their move into what is already a crowded market.

    This year, the main attraction at the stand of Volkswagen, maker of the iconic Beetle and Golf models, is its brand new city car, Up!

    For more: Small cars are big news at Frankfurt - Cars - NZ Herald News

    UEFA European Soccer League: AZ (Netherlands) , Anderlecht (Belgium), Beşiktaş (Turkey) hit the early goal trail

    Beşiktaş, AZ Alkmaar and RSC Anderlecht were the big winners as the UEFA Europa League group stage got under way while 2010 victors Club Atlético de Madrid and runners-up last season, SC Braga, also triumphed.

    Watch all Thursday night's goals on UEFA.com

    For more: The official website for European football – UEFA.com

    USA Inflation: Consumer prices up 3.8% from a year ago, biggest rise since 2008

    The US Fed got some bad news on the economic home-front today : U.S. consumer prices were up more than expected in August, lifting the year-over-year inflation rate to the highest level in three years.

    The Consumer Price Index rose 0.4% in August from July, seasonally adjusted. That was double the 0.2% rise that economists had expected in a Bloomberg News survey. Measured from a year earlier the CPI was up 3.8% in August, the biggest year-over-year gain since September 2008 -- just before inflation pressures eased as the economy crumbled.

    Price gains last month were “broad-based, with continuing increases in the indexes for gasoline, food, shelter and apparel,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its monthly report. Food prices overall were up 0.5% last month after a 0.4% rise in July. Energy costs climbed 1.2% in August, though that slowed from a 2.8% jump in July.

    Apparel costs were up 1.1% last month, used-car prices jumped 0.9% and medical-care services rose 0.3%. Higher rental costs also are biting, as more Americans stay in apartments rather than buy homes. The BLS' rental-cost index rose 0.4% in August, its biggest gain since June 2008.

    The “core” CPI, excluding food and energy prices, rose 0.2% last month from the previous month, in line with economists’ forecasts. But that was a slight acceleration from July, and lifted the year-over-year core inflation rate to 2.0% -- the highest since November 2008.

    For more: USA: Inflation: Consumer prices up 3.8% from a year ago, biggest rise since 2008 - latimes.com

    How Europe sees the US a decade after 9/11 - by Ariel Zirulnick,

    An annual survey of US and European public opinion on a variety of transatlantic issues was released today, highlighting American and Europeans takes on foreign policy, NATO, and rising economic powers, among other topics.

    The Transatlantic Trends survey "paints a picture of a complex relationship between the United States and Europe and how they respond to global challenges," particularly at the end of a chaotic decade of war, economic crisis, and a changing world order, according to the survey report. Contrary to popular belief, European support for the US is still strong.

    Nothing has been more emblematic of the transatlantic relationship than how Europeans related to the two US presidents of this time. The low approval of George W. Bush’s management of foreign policy quickly turned into euphoric optimism when Barack Obama was elected in 2008. This almost overnight change of public opinion toward the US president demonstrated that the basics of transatlantic cooperation remained strong and had not eroded during Bush’s presidency, despite his unpopularity among the European public.

    For more: How Europe sees the US a decade after 9/11 - CSMonitor.com

    9/14/11

    Conference call between leaders of France, Germany and Greece results in a huge Wall Street Rally

    It's too bad the world does not have financial media that's willing to explain what's going on in simple terms; Instead, we're deluged with daily data-points that have little meaning to the average working slob who just wants to know whether he's going to have a job tomorrow or if the company he works for is going to pack-it-in and head for La-La-Land..

    The fact that one conference call today between  the leaders of France, Germany and Greece makes the US stock market gain 140 points shows once again how totally messed up and unreliable the financial system  and Wall Street is..

    If you want to be amused, just watch the CNBC "Closing Bell" program and listen to all the non-stop verbiage their reporters are "pumping out" for their viewers.  .As their slogan goes "we help you get the information you need to succeed". Excuse me? Has anyone ever reported they .made any real money from the advice they got from these so-called analysts?

    GPS Systems: Europe's Galileo sat-nav spacecraft ready to fly - by Jonathan Amos

    The platforms passed a key technical review at the weekend, paving the way for their flight to orbit on a Russian Soyuz rocket on 20 October.One satellite has already made the journey to the launch complex in French Guiana; the second will ship this week.

    The European Commission is investing billions of euros in its own version of the American GPS system. It expects Galileo to bring significant returns to the 27-nation bloc's economies in the form of new businesses that can exploit precise timing and location data delivered from space.

    The In-Orbit Validation (IOV) spacecraft have been built by a consortium, including Europe's two heavyweight space companies - Astrium and Thales Alenia Space.


    For more: BBC News - Europe's Galileo sat-nav spacecraft ready to fly

    Libya: Saadi Gaddafi tracked down to playboy hideaway in Niger - by Damien McElroy

    After being flown to the capital on a military Hercules C-130 transport jet late on Monday, Saadi Gaddafi the former footballer was given luxurious lodgings in Villa Verde, a state guesthouse next to the presidential palace. The complex is now his well guarded refuge of calm from the war still waging in his homeland.

    He joined a clique of Libyan generals in the city. Among them are Gen Ali Sharif al-Rifi, Libya's ex-air force chief and Mansour Dao, its security supremo, who are ensconced in the nearby Villa du Conseil de líEntente, a high-walled hillside complex of bungalows boasting cool verandas and handsome colonnaded administration buildings.

    "Our understanding is, like the others, he's being detained in a state guest house," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said of Gaddafi's son on Wednesday. "It's essentially a house arrest in this government facility, is our understanding."

    Marou Amadou, Niger's youthful justice minister and government spokesman, said Niger is caught between a diplomatic rock and a political hard place by the arrival of Gaddafi's associates.
    "We don't know if they will stay in the long term because we did not invite them," he said. "But remember Libya is a country at war so we cannot throw them back. At the same time we will uphold international obligations not to allow anyone subject to a travel ban to leave to another country. So they are stuck."

    For more: Libya: Saadi Gaddafi tracked down to playboy hideaway in Niger - Telegraph

    USA politcs: Republican upset win in NY portends challenge for Obama

    It sounded improbable on the surface that a New York City congressional district where Democrats have a 3-1 registration edge and have held office for nearly a century could even come close to electing a Republican to the U.S. House.

    But voter frustration over the sour economy and President Barack Obama's policies made the improbable a reality, as a Republican political novice, Bob Turner, scored an upset victory in a special election Tuesday over David Weprin, a Democratic assemblyman from a prominent local political family. The surprising results in the Brooklyn and Queens-area district portend a perilous national environment for Obama as he prepares to seek re-election next year.

    For more: GOP upset win in NY portends challenge for Obama - CBS News

    TELEPHONE CONFERENCE: France, Germany, Greece say Greece staying in euro-zone -- By Christopher Noble

    Leaders of France, Germany and Greece agreed Wednesday that Greece will remain in the euro zone despite a spiraling debt crisis that is roiling the Greek economy and undermining confidence in the single currency bloc, Reuters reported. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, conferring by conference call on Wednesday evening, said they stood behind decisions reached in July by European leaders that are meant to save Greece from a disorderly default, Reuters reported citing a Greek government spokesman. During the call, Papandreou told the leaders that the country was determined to meet all its obligations and that recent austerity measures will help Greece meets its 2011-2012 fiscal targets.

    FOR MORE: France, Germany, Greece see Greece staying in euro - MarketWatch

    Why is Wall Street so afraid of Europe? - European Financial Crisis

    Because what happens in Germany and Greece is a bigger threat to the U.S. economy than anything Congress could do.
    • "I think we will do Greece the biggest favor by not speculating much, but instead encouraging Greece to implement the commitments it has made," Ms. Merkel told RBB Inforadio, a public broadcaster in the Berlin region. "What we don't need is unrest in the financial markets -- the uncertainties are already big enough," she said.
    • Merkel's promise calmed the waters -- for the moment. French bank stocks -- and the U.S. stock market -- suddenly rebounded.
    For more: Why is Wall Street so afraid of Europe? - European Financial Crisis - Salon.com

    Merkel Quells Speculation on Greek Default - by MARCUS WALKER and NOéMIE BISSERBE

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected suggestions that Greece could be forced into bankruptcy soon or even leave the euro zone, lifting European banking shares and broader financial markets that have been gripped in recent days by fears of an imminent Greek meltdown.

    For more: Merkel Quells Speculation on Greek Default - WSJ.com

    9/13/11

    Dangerous TB spreading at alarming rate in Europe says World Health Organization

    Multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis (TB) are spreading at an alarming rate in Europe and will kill thousands unless health authorities halt the pandemic, the World Health Organisation(WHO) said on Wednesday.

    Launching a new regional plan to find, diagnose and treat cases of the airborne infectious disease more effectively, the WHO's European director warned that complacency had allowed a resurgence of TB and failure to tackle it now would mean huge human and economic costs in the future. "TB is an old disease that never went away, and now it is evolving with a vengeance," said Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO's Regional Director for Europe.

    "The numbers are scary," Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership told a news conference in London. "This is a very dramatic situation."

    For more: Dangerous TB spreading at alarming rate in Europe-WHO | Reuters

    Turkey PM tells Arabs: Israel has isolated itself

    Turkey's prime minister has told Arab foreign ministers that Israel has isolated itself and must "pay the price" after refusing to apologize for its raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last year.

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke before the gathering at the Arab League Tuesday, part of a three-day visit to Egypt aimed at boosting his government's standing in the Arab world.

    Many in the Arab world have cheered Erdogan's tough stance on Israel. Turkey suspended military ties with Israel, expelled top Israeli diplomats, pledged to support the Palestinians' statehood bid and vowed to send the Turkish navy to escort Gaza-bound aid ships in the future.

    Note EU-Digest: While Turkish PM Erdogan seems to have the ambition of becoming the spokesperson for the Middle East he is neglecting that his Governments current account deficit, continued to widen, recording a deficit of $5.3 billion, Central Bank data show

     For more: Turkey PM tells Arabs: Israel has isolated itself - Forbes.com

    Germany's Angela Merkel soothes financial market fears over Greek default

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to quash talk that cash-strapped Greece might have to default soon or even leave the euro zone, rebuking her junior coalition partner for fuelling market speculation about Greece's fate.

    Ms Merkel's comments helped to calm jittery markets, and contributed to a sharp rebound in French banking stocks, which have been hammered recently by fears of a chaotic Greek default that could inflict painful losses on banks elsewhere in Europe.

    The chancellor stressed that Germany remains committed to financing Greece through the euro zone's bailout funds until Greece can repair its own finances through austerity measures.

    She gave a thinly veiled rebuke to German politicians -- including her own economics minister and deputy chancellor, Philipp Roesler -- who have suggested in recent days that Greece should be allowed to go bust.

    For more: Germany's Angela Merkel soothes financial market fears over Greek default | The Australian

    US Economic meltdown:: Poverty rate in US climbs to 27-year high with 1 in 6 Americans officially poor

    The number of Americans in poverty has jumped to an incredible 27-year high, with almost one in six people now falling into the bracket.More than 46 million people, or 15 per cent, are in poverty - which is up from 44 million, or 14 per cent, in 2009, the US Census Bureau said.

    The number of people lacking health insurance increased to 50 million, which is a new high after revisions were made to 2009 figures. Losses were due mostly to working-age Americans who lost employer-provided insurance in the weak economy. Main provisions of the health overhaul do not take effect until 2014.

    The median household income was $49,445, a 2.3 per cent fall from 2009. The 46.2 million people in poverty in 2010 represents the largest number in 52 years since estimates began. The U.S. poverty rate is only lower than three countries in 34 tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in France.

    For more: US poverty rate climbs to 27-year high with 1 in 6 Americans officially poor | Mail Online

    Europe has firepower to addrress debts-US official

    Europe knows it must do more to persuade financial markets it is coming to grips with its debt problems but there is no question it has the financial firepower to do so, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.


    Speaking on condition of anonymity after a day-long meeting of Group of Seven financial chiefs, the U.S. official said there had been a heavy focus throughout the sessions on Europe's debt woes.


    The official said Europe was eager to assure markets it could handle the debt problems and said there was no question that they had essentially unlimited capacity to address any funding needs of European banks.

    For more: Europe has firepower to addrress debts-US official | Reuters

    The Netherlands: Wilders booed by kids from a Helmond Primary School

    Support for anti -Islam  PVV  parliamentary leader Wilders does not seem to be there when it comes to some of the Netherlands youngest citizens.

    Dozens of school children of the Helmond Firebird primary school greeted Wilders with loud boos as they left their school just when Wilders was leaving a town hall meeting  with residents and workers of the downtown East neighborhood, from a building next to their school.

    A father who was picking up his 10 year old from school  noted: "it looks like our kids are more culturally integrated and have a better grip on reality than we have." 

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