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10/31/11

Occupy Wall Street Deserves Our Respect - by Ralph Gomory

There is something about Occupy Wall Street that makes me think of the American Revolution. Not the fully developed American Revolution complete with an army, George Washington, and Valley Forge; I'm thinking of the earlier days, when there were only sporadic protests and occasional clashes. George Washington was against having political parties; he thought that people could simply vote and elect those they thought best suited to run the government. This was easier to imagine in the agriculture-dominated world in which he lived than in today's complex society. However, even in that simpler world, political parties sprang up almost immediately and they have been with us ever since.

The US is no longer a nation of farmers; today the US is a nation of corporations. In today's world, unlike the world of 1776, there are many centers of economic power. And those centers, such as the major banks and great corporations, use the power of money on a large-scale to affect the actions of government.

Occupy Wall Street has brought to our attention the goal of lessening the concentration of economic and political power. In short form, they are for Democracy not Plutocracy. Doing something about the concentration of power is not a subject discussed in Washington. But sometimes a country needs worthwhile goals, even worthwhile goals without a plan. It is up to us to find ways to get there.

For more: Ralph Gomory: Occupy Wall Street Deserves Our Respect

US and Europe play the blame game

In the European debt crisis, blame is being passed back and forth across the Atlantic between the US and European nations themselves. But this week's crisis summit in Brussels relieved some of the tension.

Benn Steil is a colleague of Mallaby at the Council on Foreign Relations, and he sees some correlation between the problems in the US and those in Europe.

"The problems in the US housing market were a decisive trigger for the current crisis in Europe," he said. "It revealed the significant underlying problems with the European financial market, which is very dependent on the banks."

For more: US and Europe play the blame game | World | Deutsche Welle | 28.10.2011

US Presidential Elections: Washington Poll takes first look at 2012 – Obama leads both Perry and Romney

Two possible presidential matchups were tested: Obama leads Romney 50-41 and leads Perry 54-41. When asked whether they had confidence in Obama or the Republicans, 41 percent of voters said Obama and 37 percent said Republicans.

Pollsters interviewed 938 registered voters between Oct. 10 and 30 and used both land-line telephone and cell phones. The margin of error is 3 percentage points. The Washington Poll is administered at the University of Washington Center for Survey Research and directed by Matt Barreto, an associate professor of political science.


For more: Washington Poll takes first look at 2012 – McKenna leads Inslee; Obama leads both Perry and Romney | Political Buzz

Economics bloggers share gloomy outlook on U.S. economy

Using words like “uncertain,” “fragile” and “weak,” 96 percent of top economics bloggers now share a gloomy outlook on the U.S. economy. According to a new Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation survey released today, respondents’ expectations of higher annual deficits and top marginal tax rate increases, coupled with recession concerns, are a “depressing surprise.”

For more: Economics bloggers share gloomy outlook on U.S. economy | TechJournal South

Halloween | Do They Celebrate Halloween in Europe?

Why yes, they do. In fact, the whole Halloween thing seems to have be the results of combining the ancient Roman Feralia, commemorating the passing of the dead, with the Celtic Samhain. It seems to have passed from Europe to the US with Irish immigrants. Although Halloween isn't celebrated as lavishly as it is in the US, Halloween is making an upsurge in Italy, and is celebrated there and in the UK, Ireland, and France.

For more: Halloween | Do They Celebrate Halloween in Europe?

10/30/11

Pet owners could become famine relief donors - by Rick Morren

While there are 925 million people in the world who go to bed without food tonight (1 out of 7 of the world population) the pet food industry and related supply and services in Europe had a combined annual turnover of about €24 billion (US$32.8 billion). In the US this figure is € 66 billion (US $ 93.6 billion)

To make matters worse, world wide 13% of dogs and 21% of cats are considered obese or overweight by their veterinarian.

A suggestion would be to automatically charge pet owners an additional 6% famine relief tax on the pet food they purchase to benefit famine relief programs around the world. Based on the present  combined pet food industry turnover in Europe and the US this could net approximately € 5.4 billion (US 7.56 billion) per year for famine relief programs.

Bottom-line, don't get rid of your pet, but also think about and give to those who can't live the life of luxury and comfort your pet does.

60 percent of Europe’s mineral water reserves are in Romania says Rio Bucovina

Romanians drink on average 50 liters of water per capita each year which is half of the European average, according to data from Rio Bucovina, one of the main mineral water bottlers in the country.

The potential to go beyond this level is high, especially when considering the fact that 60 percent of the mineral water reserves in Europe can be found in Romania but only 20 percent of the springs are exploited, argue Rio Bucovina representatives.

About 11.3 million hectoliters of water are bottled in Romania each year but consumption could well go beyond 35 million hectoliters estimates the company, albeit the annual growth is a modest 5 percent.

For more: 60 percent of Europe’s mineral water reserves are in Romania says Rio Bucovina - News - Business Review

10/29/11

Social evils wrought by capitalism, unchecked by government - by Rick Lowe

Neither the Democrats or the Republicans pass the smell test on this one and the sooner they admit to Washington's culpability in the whole mess the better. Turning it into a tax the rich campaign is just foolhardy. David Brooks of the New York Times is reported to have said that even if the US government taxes away 50% of the income of those that earn $1 to $50 million, the national debt will only be reduced by 1%.

Yet, the Democrats are pushing even more crony capitalism to fix the problem that it created in the first place. Go figure?

To suggest that capitalism is unchecked by government laws and regulations is just bunkum.

For more: Social evils wrought by capitalism, unchecked by government - WeblogBahamas.com

Don’t forget – the clocks go back tonight in Europe

Summer Time ends at 2am tonight in Europe, when the clocks will go back one hour.

Winter Time officially kicks off once more at 1am Greenwich Mean Time in the early hours of Sunday 30 October.

The Road Safety Authority has also taken the time to urge road-users to ensure they can be clearly see when on the roads as the days get darker.

For more: Don’t forget – the clocks go back tonight · TheJournal

Koch Industries: manipulation of corporate ethics, illegal sales and political involvement

A Bloomberg Markets investigation has found that Koch Industries -- in addition to being involved in improper payments to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East-- has sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism.

Even a decade after former President Bill Clinton banned US companies from trading with Iran, Koch Industries continues to cut deals with a nation that was considered by America to be a threat to national security.

Charles, 75, and David Koch, 71, each worth about $20 billion, are prominent financial backers of right-wing groups including the Republican, T-Party and others which believe that excessive regulation is sapping the competitiveness of American business.

In 1980, David Koch ran for vice president on the Libertarian ticket, pledging to abolish Social Security, the Federal Reserve System, welfare, minimum wage laws and federal agencies -- including the Department of Energy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Koch-Glitsch is part of a global empire run by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who have taken a small oil company they inherited from their father, Fred, after his death in 1967, and built it into a chemical, textile, trading and refining conglomerate spanning more than 50 countries. Koch Industries is obsessed with secrecy, to the point that it discloses only an approximation of its annual revenue -- $100 billion a year -- and says nothing about its profits.

Sources interviewed by Bloomberg have said that employees of Koch Industries are lectured on “the Koch method” while conducting business, which broadly referred to lessons in cheating to make the most for the company. One former employee even added that she was told to lie about cancerous emissions that the corporations were aiding in pumping into the atmosphere but refused to alter data.

Interesting was that when John Boehner became the speaker of the House esarlier this yesr, following the Congressional elections victory of the Republican/T-Party, the first "guests" to visit him in his new Chambers were the Koch brothers.

EU-Digest

Unemployment: Whirlpool to cut 5,000 jobs in US and Europe amid weak demand

Whirlpool plans to cut 5,000 jobs, about 10% of its workforce in North America and Europe, as it faces soft demand and higher costs for materials.

The world's biggest appliance maker also on Friday cut its 2011 earnings outlook drastically and reported third-quarter results that missed expectations, hurt by higher costs and a slowdown in emerging markets.

For more: Whirlpool to cut 5,000 jobs in US and Europe amid weak demand | Detroit Free Press | freep.com

10/28/11

USA: Wall Street protesters prepare for winter weather - by ERIKA NIEDOWSKI

Wall Street protesters around the country who are vowing to stand their ground against the police and politicians are also digging in against a different kind of adversary: cold weather.

With the temperature dropping, they are stockpiling donated coats, blankets and scarves, trying to secure cots and military-grade tents, and getting survival tips from the homeless people who have joined their encampments.

"Everyone's been calling it our Valley Forge moment," said Michael McCarthy, a former Navy medic in Providence. "Everybody thought that George Washington couldn't possibly survive in the Northeast."

For more: Wall Street protesters prepare for winter weather - Yahoo! News

Why is the North of England so Eurosceptic? - by Ed Jacobs

Northern England's three regions benefit from stacks of EU funding, but polls show little gratitude. A "ticking time bomb" is how one Yorkshireman has previously described the issue of Europe for the Conservatives. In the week that the Prime Minister saw the largest post-war rebellion on Europe over whether to hold a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU, it would be difficult to disagree with the Foreign Secretary and Richmond MP, William Hague's advice to David Cameron.

As rebel upon rebel on the government benches in the House of Commons argued on Monday that it was time the people had their say, and were given an opportunity to decide for themselves about the UK's future relations with Europe, both the Government and opposition front benches had a clear argument: in the week that EU leaders faced what were billed as crunch talks to address the crisis engulfing the euro-zone, the top priority was avoiding a full scale economic and financial meltdown across the continent.

Yet despite the argument that the country does not need the distraction of a referendum, polling carried out by ComRes for ITV News this week clearly showed a deep rooted euro-scepticism across northern England. Asked about their attitude towards referendum, 69% of those questioned across the three northern regions supported a vote. Only the two Midlands regions matched that.

For more: Why is the North so Eurosceptic? | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Calling Bankers’ Bluff, Merkel Won Europe a Debt Plan - STEVEN ERLANGER and STEPHEN CASTLE

In the end, it was Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France against the European banking establishment — and the bankers blinked.

They knew how badly the European leaders needed a deal, and how much financial experts feared a disorderly, involuntary default. That could set off a “credit event,” throwing world financial markets into turmoil, much as the collapse of Lehman Brothers did in the fall of 2008.

But Mrs. Merkel called the bankers’ bluff, said officials present at the discussions. Accept the 50 percent write-down, she told the bankers, or bear the consequences of default. In effect, she was willing to risk a credit event, and to place the blame for any fallout on them.

Note EU-Digest: Lets hope the European leadership will continue to keep the pressure on the financial community and not the other way around.

For more: Calling Bankers’ Bluff, Merkel Won Europe a Debt Plan - NYTimes.com

New Social Justice Index Places U.S. Near Bottom - by Dan Froomkin

A central concern for those in the Occupy movement -- that the economic system in the U.S. is rigged in favor of the well-off -- has been corroborated by a major new survey of developed nations.

When it comes to social justice -- defined here as the ability each individual has to participate in the market society, regardless of their social status -- the United States ranks near the bottom of 31 developed countries, the Thursday report from Bertelsmann Foundation found.

It's one thing if you live in a market economy where everyone has the same shot at success. It's quite another if fortune favors the fortunate. And the new survey found that when it comes to "equal opportunities for self-realization," the U.S. ranks 27 out of 31 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member states, well behind not just Northern European countries like Norway and Denmark, but even countries like Hungary, Poland, Italy and France. The only countries whose citizens fare even worse are Greece, Chile, Mexico and Turkey.

For more: New Social Justice Index Places U.S. Near Bottom

Summit by summit, EU slouches slowly toward unity

The European Union's plan to solve the worst financial crisis in its 50-year history may prove the tipping point for the continent's political journey from a collection of sovereign states into what some leaders hope will be a single world superpower.

The struggle to keep the euro together has been creating huge tensions between countries, causing some to believe the currency union could not last much longer.

But in the early hours of Thursday morning, EU leaders reached an agreement that suggested they are so committed to their common currency that they would rather give up some of their sovereign decision-making powers than see their economic union unravel.

Note EU-Digest: bravo Europe - this is the way to go. Listening to the Eurosceptics and reading the stories about the "downfall" of Europe in their British mouthpieces such as the the Telegraph and the Daily Mail, one can only get a feeling of disgust at the delight they express in the potential of failure of the greatest European political experiment at unity ever attempted.

For more: Summit by summit, EU slouches slowly toward unity - seattlepi.com

China welcomes consensus reached at EU debt talks


Beijing, with its big holdings of European sovereign debt, is one of the main bystanders waiting to see if Europe can provide debt relief for Greece, which risks a default that could trigger a deeper crisis in Italy and other bigger euro zone economies.

After a summit in Brussels, European governments announced an agreement under which private banks and insurers would accept 50 percent losses on their Greek debt holdings in the latest bid to reduce Athens' massive debt load to sustainable levels.

In a telephone conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday, President Hu Jintao said that he hopes Europe's deal to tackle the sovereign debt crisis will help the region's economic recovery, China's state television reported.
For more: China welcomes consensus reached at EU debt talks | Reuters

10/27/11

European Insurance Watchdog Backs Bermuda

European insurance watchdog EIOPA has said Bermuda’s regulatory regime for big insurers mostly complies with the European Union’s own strict Solvency II rules, Reuter is reporting, easing fears of a mismatch that could have hindered Bermudian players’ access to the European market.

“EIOPA’s advice is that Bermuda meets the criteria set out in EIOPA’s methodology for equivalent assessments under Solvency II,” EIOPA said on Wednesday [Oct. 26] in a submission to the European Commission.

The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority is a European Union financial regulatory institution that replaced the Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Supervisors (CEIOPS). It is established under European Union regulations.

Bermuda, a major centre for the global reinsurance industry thanks to its favourable tax regime, is home to reinsurers who account for 40 percent of the European property catastrophe reinsurance market, EIOPA said. Bermuda-based insurers include Montpelier Re , Hiscox , Catlin , Validus and Endurance .

EIOPA also said Switzerland — a non-EU member — and Japan’s regulatory regimes mostly complied with Solvency II, a set of rules aimed at bolstering European insurers’ capital expected to come into force in 2014.

For more: European Insurance Watchdog Backs Bermuda : Bernews.com

EURO Summit - banks received an offer they could not refuse- "but do the political leaders have the backbone to control Financial Industry?" - by Nicholas Comfort, Gavin Finch and Liam Vaughan

European bank stocks jumped after leaders agreed to bolster lenders’ capital and boost the region’s rescue fund in a bid to stem the debt crisis. European leaders agreed to boost the firepower of the region’s rescue fund to 1 trillion euros ($1.4 trillion) and persuaded bondholders to accept a 50 percent loss on their holdings of Greek government debt. Banks will, as part of the plan, need to raise capital to insulate themselves against losses on government debt. Still to be decided are the details of the haircut, what assets banks can count as capital, how banks will raise it, and whether future bank debt is backed by a national or European guarantee.

The world’s biggest banks bowed to what German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the “last word,” agreeing to write down their Greek government debt by half in the pivotal piece of the euro area’s bid to stem the financial crisis. The Institute of International Finance, which represents 450 financial firms, agreed to “develop a concrete voluntary agreement” on a 50 percent haircut on Greek debt, Managing Director Charles Dallara said in a statement e-mailed at 4:26 a.m. in Brussels.

Euro-area leaders who called Dallara into a meeting at about midnight, forcing a break in their 10-hour summit, said that while the bond transaction will be voluntary, the decision resulted from an offer he couldn’t refuse. “It was the fiercely delivered wish by Merkel, Sarkozy, Juncker, that if a voluntary agreement with the banks was not possible, we wouldn’t resist one second to move toward a scenario of the total insolvency of Greece,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters. That “would have cost states a lot of money and would have ruined the banks.”

Note EU-Digest: European Political leaders must understand they will be held accountable if they let the World Banking and Financial Industry try and maneuver out of this agreement. Up front the Financial Industry must also be made very conscious of the fact that any possible future bank debt can in no way or form be propped up by taxpayers supported Government guarantees.

If once again the political leadership and the financial industry make a mess of things, the results will be catastrophic and the public reaction violent to the point where the Wall Street Occupation Movement will look like a "baby shower party" in comparison.

For more: Bank Stocks Jump as EU Deal Eases Debt Crisis Concern - Bloomberg

10/26/11

EU Van Rompuy: S-Term Bank Recap Needed In Current Circumstances

The following statement was issued by the EU President Mr. Van Rompuy at the EU Summit in Frankfort Germany:

"At today's meeting, I informed the members of the European Council about the state of preparations of the Euro Summit that will take place later in the day. We discussed the situation and all leaders underlined their common resolve to do their utmost to overcome the crisis and to help face in a spirit of solidarity the challenges confronting the European Union and the Euro area.

The members of the European Council welcomed the consensus on measures to restore confidence in the banking sector reached by the Council (ECOFIN) on 22 October. The banking measures form part of a broader package, alongside the decisions to be taken by today's meeting of the Euro Summit, and are subject to its full approval. The Council (ECOFIN) will finalise the work and adopt the necessary follow up measures. The consensus concerns both the banks' short-term and longer-term needs. The overarching goal of the exercise is to foster confidence in the European banking sector.

Improved access of the banks' medium- and long-term funding is essential to avoid a credit crunch and to safeguard the flow of credit to the real economy. States will provide guarantees enabling banks to raise term funds. We decided to rely on a truly coordinated approach at EU level regarding the conditions and criteria.

Short term recapitalisation is needed in the current exceptional circumstances to create a temporary buffer allowing the banking system to withstand shocks in a reliable manner. Agreement has been reached that banks should be required, by 30 June 2012, to have 9 % of the highest quality capital. This figure should take into account a marking down for sovereign bond holdings against current market prices (as of 30 September 2011). Banks should raise capital in the first place from private sources, and only if that is not possible, seek support from national governments. If the latter support is not available without creating systemic risks for the Eurozone, the EFSF should provide the loans for recapitalisation.

Any form of public support, whether at a national or EU-level, will have to comply to the rules of the state aid crisis framework. The Commission has indicated it will be applied with the necessary proportionality in view of the systemic character of the crisis. With these measures, we restore confidence and put Europe's banking sector on a sound footing."

For more: EU Van Rompuy: S-Term Bank Recap Needed In Currnt Circumstnces | mninews.deutsche-boerse.com

Turkish earthquake death toll rises to 459

Hope of finding people alive under rubble fading; residents anger at gov't response: "The prime minister Erdogan runs for help when it's Palestine". 


Rescuers pulled a two-week-old baby girl alive from a collapsed apartment block on Tuesday as they battled to find survivors of an earthquake in eastern Turkey that killed more than 400 people and made tens of thousands homeless. The baby's mother and a grandmother were also brought out alive on stretchers to jubilant cries from onlookers who followed the dramatic rescue under cold, pouring rain.

"It's a miracle!" said Senol Yigit, the uncle of the baby, Azra, whose name means "purity" or "untouched" in Arabic. "I'm so happy. What can I say? We have been waiting for two days. We had lost hope when we first saw the building," he said sobbing.


For more: Turkish earthquake death toll rises to 4... JPost - International

Muslim Holiday: Greater Eid - November 6 - 9

From November 6 through 9 Muslims worldwide celebrate the "Festival of Sacrifice" or "Greater Eid" to commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a ram to sacrifice instead. The meat of the Ram is divided into three parts. One third is given to the poor and needy; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and one third to the direct family.

Given the thought behind this particular Muslim holiday, Muslims and non-Muslims are encouraged to generously donate funds to their local relief organizations on behalf of the thousands of victims of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Ercis, Turkey, on October 25, 2011.

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Dutch parliament may not approve eurozone reforms - by Philip Ebels

The Dutch minority government might not be able to find a majority in parliament to approve the big eurozone reforms expected to be negotiated today in Brussels as both government and parliament during a six-hour long debate Tuesday refused to be specific about what would be acceptable.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte will not be able to count on the support of hard-right MP Geert Wilders and his Party of Freedom (PVV), the government's usual parliamentary partner, who made it clear it would oppose any new rescue package. Instead, it is going to take the support of the Labour Party (PvdA) to tip the balance.

But Labour MP in turn are “not at all convinced that the cabinet will come home with a credible reform package”, Ronald Plasterk, the party’s finance spokesman, said.

10/25/11

USA: Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party: United In Distrust

Members of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party may disagree on many issues, but there's one thing that unites both groups: distrust in concentrated power.

At both Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests, you might hear similar opinions on the 2008 bank bailout, the federal deficit and government spending, and the influence of corporations and money on Congress. Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig says there's good reason to this visceral sense by both the left and the right that there is too much power in too few hands — whether it's the government or corporations.

For more: Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party: United In Distrust : NPR

Occupy Wall Street and the End of Crony Capitalism? - by David Knox Barker

Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are sweeping the globe. Universally, demonstrators recognize that there is something fundamentally flawed with the current system of international political economy. Most interesting, the left and the right agree on a few key issues. For decades, big business has bought and paid for political favors that have undermined the system, rotting the foundation of international free market capitalism. Hard work, individual responsibility and accountability are now optional. Just reward for success and the consequences of failure are now subject to political caprice. A civilization built on essential but abandoned principles is coming apart at the seams.

For more: Occupy Wall Street and the End of Crony Capitalism

US Senate elections: Elizabeth Warren a rising democratic star:’Wall St. broke this country’ - by Tim Mak

Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren came out swinging against the financial industry in her first U.S. Senate primary debate, arguing that “the people on Wall Street broke this country.”

In a debate that focused on criticism of those not in the room — notably Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Wall Street honchos — Warren drew applause when she took on investment firms and banks.

“The people on Wall Street broke this country, and they did it one lousy mortgage at a time. It happened more than three years ago, and there has been no real accountability, and there has been no real effort to fix it. That’s why I want to run for the United States Senate,” she said,

For more: Elizabeth Warren:’Wall St. broke this country’ - Tim Mak - POLITICO.com

Switzerland's right wing is in retreat - by Daniel Binswanger

Parliamentary elections in Switzerland this week could mark the end of an era. The trend in Swiss politics in the last two decades can be summarised as the unstoppable rise of the populist rightwing SVP, the Schweizerische Volkspartei or Swiss People's party. Now, however, the party's programme – consisting of ironclad rejection of the EU, a bitter fight against immigration of all kinds and the demand for uncompromising tax cuts – has lost its popularity. Voters are deserting the SVP for the first time in 20 years.

For more: Switzerland's right wing is in retreat | Daniel Binswanger | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Another EU summit: A step in the right direction?

A debt write-down for Greece, bank recapitalization, and leverage for the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) are all included in a raft of measures Europe is considering as it prepares to tackle the debt crisis. The proposals are the result of a three-day marathon of European Union talks, the likes of which Brussels had never seen before.

The measures are not only about managing sovereign debt and shoring up the financial sector. They could also decide European Union's long-term fate, which is why policymakers are under pressure to unveil something special when they present their official proposal for adoption at the next summit on Wednesday.

Michael Hüther, the head of the Cologne Institute of Economic Research, said an end to the eurozone crisis could be in sight - as long as Europe honors the suggestions put on the table on Sunday.

For more: Another EU summit: A step in the right direction? | Business | Deutsche Welle | 25.10.2011

Insider describes Gaddafi son's escape from town - by Maria Golovnina and Taha Zargoun

Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam called his father frequently on the telephone and became increasingly feared being hit by a mortar as he tried to escape from the besieged town of Bani Walid last week, an officer who had been with him told Reuters on Tuesday. An NTC official told Reuters on Monday that Gaddafi's fugitive son was near Libya's borders with Niger and Algeria and planning to flee the country using a forged passport. 

Muammar Gaddafi the father of Saif al-Islam was buried today in an unmarked grave in the dessert.

For more: Insider describes Gaddafi son's escape from town | Reuters

10/24/11

EU ‘saddened’ by Turkey quake, NATO offers help

The European Union expressed its condolences to Turkey after a major earthquake Sunday while NATO offered help to recover from an event that authorities fear may have left hundreds under rubble.  Our thoughts are with the injured and the families of the victims and we should like to convey our condolences to the people and authorities of Turkey,’ they said in a joint statement. 

‘We are greatly saddened by the news of the terrible earthquake that has struck the Van province in south-east Turkey,’ said EU president Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso. 

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also expressed sadness over the 7.3-magnitude earthquake in Turkey, which is a member of the 28-nation alliance. ‘NATO stands ready to assist our ally Turkey, if needed', said Rasmussen

For more: EU ‘saddened’ by Turkey quake, NATO offers help

Turkish earthquake survivor search may end Tuesday

Rescue workers in eastern Turkey are racing to find survivors trapped in the wreckage of buildings and mud-brick homes after a 7.2-magnitude quake that killed nearly 300 people.

But Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said he expected search-and-rescue efforts after Sunday's quake to end as early as Tuesday.

Bodies were still being pulled from the rubble late Monday. Dozens were placed in body bags or covered by blankets, laid in rows so people could search for their missing relatives, The Associated Press reported.

Turkish earthquake survivor search may end Tuesday - World - CBC News

EU summit eyes Lisbon Treaty change

While the meeting of the European leaders in Brussels has postponed the final decision on the struggling Greek economy until Wednesday, their plan to establish a joint economic government might lead to an architectural update of the European Union.

­The much-heralded summit in Brussels has failed to come up with a solution to the EU's spiraling debt crisis. Another assembly of the European Council has been scheduled for Wednesday to precede the eurozone leaders meeting. The day will be mostly dedicated to “the agreements on Greece, on banks, on leveraging the EFSF (European Financial Stability facility) and governance," the European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, told the press conference after the Sunday summit.

Still, some agreement seems to have been worked out during the Sunday meeting. Athens is pushing to receive more funding, while private holders of Greek debt are to see mandatory “haircuts”, or losses. The discussions now put the haircut between 30 per cent and 50 per cent.


As the EU leaders seek “economic convergence”, they have agreed to establish a joint economic government to be headed by Herman van Rompuy, the current president of the European Council. The idea of joint economic government was first proposed by France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy some three years ago.

For more: EU summit eyes Lisbon Treaty change — RT

India: Combat aircraft deal: EU's Eurofighter and Dassault Rafale shortlisted

The Defence Ministry has invited Eurofighter and Dassault Rafale - the two European shortlisted vendors in the multi-billion dollar combat aircraft deal - on November 4 to open their commercial bids after which a final decision on giving the contract will be taken.

The two shortlisted vendors have received a letter from the Ministry and have been informed that commercial bids for procuring 126 Multi-role Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) tender will be opened on November 4, industry sources told PTI here.


After the bids are opened, the Defence Ministry will be able to determine the lowest bidder in the deal and decide who will ultimately get the contract, described as the "mother of all deals", they said.



Eurofighter and Rafale were shortlisted for tender after four companies including American Lockheed Martin and Boeing, Russian MiG 35 and Swedish Saab Gripen were ousted from the race in April.

For more: Combat aircraft deal: Eurofighter, Dassault Rafale shortlisted - The Economic Times

European Summit: More Talk Needed, but Something Emerging

The European debt crisis turns two years old. On average there is a crisis management summit a little more frequently than every other month on average. The most concrete and certain thing to emerge from the weekend's summit is that there needs to be at least one more before the November 3 G20 summit, which is a deadline of sorts for a resolution. The rhetoric of a "durable" or "comprehensive" solution again, proved more difficult in implementation than in declaration as did similar claims this part March and July.

Nevertheless, there has been some important progress over the weekend and additional developments are likely in the days ahead. At the same time, we note a frequent pattern in the currency markets in which Monday activity often sees follow through from Friday, before a consolidative or corrective phase ensues. The euro closed firm near its recent highs before the weekend and sterling and the Australian dollar made new highs in the recent advance. The developments over the weekend may not stand in the way of this pattern.

10/23/11

The US Banking Industry: Which Bank Is the Worst for America? 5 Behemoths That Hold The US Political System Hostage

Big Finance has a long history of working hard to deregulate the American economic system on behalf of global capitalism run amok. One of its biggest coups was the overturning of the Glass-Steagall Act, a Depression-era law that created a firewall between investment banking and the commercial banks that hold deposits and make loans.

The first victory in the quest to overturn this major protection came in 1986. Under intense pressure from Wall Street, the Federal Reserve reinterpreted a key section of Glass-Steagall, deciding that commercial banks could make up to 5 percent of their gross revenues from investment banking. After the board heard arguments from Citicorp, J.P. Morgan and Bankers Trust, it loosened the restrictions further: in 1989, the limit was raised to 10 percent of revenues, and in 1996, they hiked it up to 25 percent.

Then, according to a report by PBS' Frontline, “In the 1997-'98 election cycle, the finance, insurance, and real estate industries (known as the FIRE sector), spen[t] more than $200 million on lobbying and [made] more than $150 million in political donations” – most of which were “targeted to members of Congressional banking committees and other committees with direct jurisdiction over financial services legislation.”

For more: Which Bank Is the Worst for America? 5 Behemoths That Hold the US Political System Hostage | | AlterNet

US Elections: Maher on How the GOP Misunderstands Occupy Wall Street: Not the Counterculture, It's the Culture

Bill Maher's "New Rules" segment on his "Real Time" show this past Saturday addressed what he saw as the GOP misunderstanding "Occupy Wall STreet," its eagerness to live in the past by branding the protesters as hippies who will leave, in Limbaugh's words, when the free drugs and sex wins out.

"Republicans are still fighting the culture wars of the 60s, said Maher, but that war is over--"that's why Rick Santorum will never be President and a black guy who snorted cocaine is."

And besides, he added, these protesters "don't want free love, they want paid employment."

For more: Maher on How the GOP Misunderstands Occupy Wall Street: Not the Counterculture, It's the Culture | AlterNet

Exclusive: Berkeley temperature study results "confirm the reality of global warming and support in all essential respects the historical temperature analyses of the NOAA, NASA, and HadCRU"

Since 1950, the planet released about 20 percent of the warming influence of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to outer space as infrared energy. Volcanic emissions lingering in the stratosphere offset about 20 percent of the heating by bouncing solar radiation back to space before it reached the surface. Cooling from the lower-atmosphere aerosols produced by humans balanced 50 percent of the heating. Only the remaining 10 percent of greenhouse-gas warming actually went into heating the Earth, and almost all of it went into the ocean.

For more: Exclusive: Berkeley temperature study results "confirm the reality of global warming and support in all essential respects the historical temperature analyses of the NOAA, NASA, and HadCRU" | ThinkProgress

Occupy Wall Street: Outrage! and the Movement's European Roots - by Daniel Tovrov

At its onset, the Occupy Wall Street movement was designed to mirror the Arab Spring protests of 2011, in particular the regime-toppling demonstrations in Egypt's Tahrir Square. But despite the creators' intentions, Occupy has much more in common with a growing European unrest that started in France in 2006, then spread to England, Spain and across the continent.

The current Eurozone crisis has shown that the United States is not alone in its financial woes. Spain -- like Greece, Ireland and Portugal -- is massively in debt, and unemployment has risen to 20 percent -- the highest jobless rate in Europe. Nearly 50 percent of all young Spaniards out of work.

Additionally, much of Occupy's rhetoric can be found in a small, 2010 French book by Stéphane Hessel titled "Time for Outrage!" Hessel, whose impressive resume includes the Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights and working with Eleanor Roosevelt to edit the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was a French resistance fighter in WWII who was tortured in Nazi concentration camps.

For more: Occupy Wall Street: Outrage! and the Movement's European Roots - International Business Times

Berlusconi under fire at EU summit

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi came under heavy pressure at the EU summit Sunday as eurozone partners demanded a radical overhaul of his struggling country's strained public finances.

As European leaders opened crunch talks on the debt crisis, Berlusconi was also trying to defuse a row with France over Rome's over-representation, at the expense of France, on the board of the European Central Bank.

Berlusconi arrived at the summit venue well ahead of his 26 counterparts for a tete-a-tete with European Union president Herman Van Rompuy.

10/22/11

Alternative Energy: Hello Cheap Energy, Hello Brave New World - by Mark Gibbs

In summary, the E-Cat is a cold fusion (CF) device (the inventor, Andrea Rossi, prefers to term the technology “Low Energy Nuclear Reaction” which appears to be the same thing as CF but a less contentious phrasing). I’ll refer you to my Network World column for a more long-winded explanation of the background and theories about the device.

The problem with Rossi’s system is that it is too good to be true. It is claimed that the E-Cat only requires some initial heating to start after which the reaction is self-sustaining. The reaction uses a secret catalyst to transform nickel into copper with heat being produced which can be used to make steam, drive a Stirling engine, or be used for whatever you please.

If this device works as claimed, the world will change and not just a little but hugely and at every level of how we’re organized, how we make stuff, how we travel, and how wealth is distributed. And those changes won’t just impact the US or the Western hemisphere; they will transform the entire world because incredibly cheap energy is the ultimate game changer.

For more: Hello Cheap Energy, Hello Brave New World - Forbes

Merkel Confident of ‘Ambitious’ Result at EU Summit on Oct. 26 - by Tony Czuczka

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she is confident that European Union leaders will produce an “ambitious” result at their summit on Oct. 26.


Talks are about “issues that in some cases are very complicated,” Merkel told reporters today in Brussels. She said “final decisions” will not come tomorrow’s meeting of EU heads of state and government; they will be taken at the follow-up session on Oct. 26, she said.

“I believe the finance ministers have made progress and that we will achieve ambitious goals on Wednesday,” Merkel said. “Still, these are difficult talks and it is important that Germany and France in particular take a very active part in the preparations. We are doing that.”

For more: Merkel Confident of ‘Ambitious’ Result at EU Summit on Oct. 26 - Businessweek

Give me a crash course in . . . tomorrow's EU summit - by Caroline Madden

Why all the fuss about the EU meeting tomorrow? The euro zone has been in a state of chassis, as Sean O’Casey might say, for almost two years, with Greece, Portugal and Ireland all having to be bailed out. Fears have grown in recent months that the region’s sovereign-debt problems could spread to larger European countries, such as Italy and Spain, and the weakness of European banks has cropped up as another major cause for concern. After much dithering, two weeks ago Europe’s leaders finally pledged to agree on a comprehensive plan to save the single currency. The deadline for cobbling together a deal was set for tomorrow’s European Council summit in Frankfurt.

For more: Give me a crash course in . . . tomorrow's EU summit - The Irish Times - Sat, Oct 22, 2011

10/21/11

Middle East: Next Arab domino may be Algeria - by Reuel Marc Gerecht

The death of Muammar Gaddafi is a cause for joy in Libya, and for concern. Some worry that the ruling National Transitional Council will force its way to permanent power; others that Islamist elements will seek to put the country under Syariah law; and there is also the danger of the nation splitting into three parts.

But there is another tremendous threat to Libya's progress waiting quietly next door. Algeria's military junta is terrified that a rebellious spirit may finally cross its borders. Ever since the Tunisian revolt dethroned President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Washington's foreign-policy establishment has paid little attention to Algeria, the lodestar of "the Arab West".

That's a mistake. With Gaddafi's fall and next week's elections in Tunisia, the odds are decent that the Great Arab Revolt will start to shake Algeria. The country is now surrounded by states in transition: Libya, Tunisia and Morocco, where the king just might be laying the groundwork for the Middle East's first real constitutional monarchy.

For more: TODAYonline | Commentary | Next Arab domino may be Algeria

Europe Launches Two Galileo Satellites to Cut Reliance on GPS - by Makiko Kitamura

Europe’s Galileo global navigation system launched its first two satellites today as part of a project that may generate 90 billion euros ($124 billion) in economic and social benefits over two decades.

The satellites rode a Russian rocket launched from a space port in Kourou, French Guiana, to an altitude of 23,000 kilometers (14,300 miles), the European Commission said in a statement. While 4.5 billion euros have been allocated to develop and build the system for the period ending in 2013, another 7 billion euros will be needed for the budget cycle through 2020 to finish building the system and keep it operating, said Ingrid Godkin, an official at the commission.

Satellite technology is used for applications including in- car navigation, time-stamping transactions at banks and powering telecommunications. Unlike the Global Positioning System, developed by the U.S. military, Galileo is designed for civil purposes and aims to end Europe’s reliance on GPS. Galileo will also have a commercial, fee-based service for high-precision, guaranteed signals for use in areas including mining, surveying and mapping, which GPS doesn’t offer.

Galileo also will provide “a guaranteed system that won’t be vulnerable to being shut off for political or military reasons,” Godkin said.

Germany’s OHB System AG will build the first 14 satellites, and France’s Arianespace made the launchers. The system will start operating in 2014 and will be available free of charge.

“We are following it closely,” said Kristina Nilsson, a spokeswoman for TomTom NV, in the Netherlands, Europe’s biggest maker of portable navigation devices. “GPS is accurate, but we always track all new technical developments.”

 For more: Europe Launches Two Galileo Satellites to Cut Reliance on GPS - Businessweek

Europe agrees to Greek loan - by Roddy Thomson

Europe approved Friday fresh funding to keep debt-stricken Greece afloat for another while as ministers tried to overcome "disastrous" divisions on how to resolve the eurozone debt crisis.

Eurozone ministers agreed the first step in efforts to tame a crisis now threatening a fresh global recession, clearing their 5.8-billion-euro contribution to 8.0 billion euros of Greek aid blocked since mid-September.

With the crunch issue being what to do about Greece's unsustainable overall 350-billion-euro debt mountain, the International Monetary Fund now has to sign off on its 2.2-billion-euro sh

For more: AFP: Europe agrees to Greek loan

Gadhafi's death energizes Syrian, Yemeni protests

Energized by the killing of Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, thousands of protesters in Syria and Yemen poured into the streets Friday and said their longtime rulers will be next. The uprisings in Syria and Yemen have proved remarkably resilient even as the governments relentlessly try to crush the revolts. The U.N. estimates the Syrian crackdown has killed some 3,000 people since March; in Yemen, the figure is believed to be around 500 since late January.

For more: Gadhafi's death energizes Syrian, Yemeni protests | ajc.com

10/20/11

What the World Needs Is a Third Industrial Revolution - by Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Rifkin doesn’t paint such a rosy picture for the U.S. in his book but bluntly states that the “upshot of eighteen years of living off extended credit is that the United States is now a failed economy.”

However, he includes a section in the book about the consultation work he has done for San Antonio, a Texas city with the goal of a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 20 percent increase in renewable energy generation by 2030. If San Antonio invests the “equivalent of one year of its economic development money over the next twenty years, a total of $16 billion spread out over 20 years, it could become the nation’s first low-carbon Third Industrial Revolution city,” Rifkin states in the book.

Germany is leading the way when it comes to the TIR. “Germany is the model,” Rifkin said. It is the “economic engine and the most powerful single player” in the EU.

For more: What the World Needs Is a Third Industrial Revolution

Gaddafi Dead | Libya Leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi Dead

A spokesman for the National Transitional Council (NTC) in Benghazi, Jalal al-Galal, said a doctor who examined the fallen strongman in Misrata found he had been shot in the head and abdomen. Jerky video shown on Al-Jazeera showed a man looking like Gaddafi, with distinctive long, curly hair, bloodied and staggering under blows from armed men, apparently NTC fighters.

"They captured him alive and while he was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed," one senior source in the NTC told Reuters. "He might have been resisting."

Driven in an ambulance from Sirte, his partially stripped body was delivered to a mosque in Misrata. Senior NTC official Abdel Majid Mlegta told Reuters that DNA tests were being conducted to confirm it was Gaddafi. He would be buried in Misrata, most likely by Friday according to Muslim custom.
Officials said his son Mutasin, also seen bleeding but alive in a video, had also died.

Another son, heir-apparent Seif al-Islam, was variously reported to be surrounded, captured or killed as conflicting accounts of the day's events crackled around networks of NTC fighters rejoicing in Sirte.

For more: Gaddafi Dead | Libya Leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi Dead

Illustration: Reuters

Airlines rake in billions in add-on fees - by Rob Lovitt

A $10 in-flight meal here, a $25 bag fee there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money. As in $32.5 billion, which, according to a just-released analysis, is the estimated amount the global airline industry will make in ancillary revenues this year.

According to the Amadeus Worldwide Estimate of Ancillary Revenue for 2011, that’s a 43.8 percent increase over the year before.

“Half of the increase is a result of the airlines doing better year over year,” said Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks, which co-authored the report. “The other half is because the airlines are clearly becoming better retailers, increasing revenues of existing activities and adding more of them.”


For more: Overhead Bin - Airlines rake in billions in add-on fees

10/19/11

“In Morocco, journalism is the only opposition to tyranny” - by Ihor Samokysh

Over the recent 20 years Morocco has become a more liberal country than it was three decades ago. Small political parties have sprung up, which are less dependent on the regime in power. The independent press and Internet media are performing the function of the opposition, standing up for freedom of speech and defending prisoners of conscience. But not all is good.

For instance, a certain Moroccan woman journalist was assaulted by a secret police agent after she published an article about the disappearance of an opposition politician. Investigative journalism isn’t typically practiced in Morocco. Presently Morocco doesn't have journalists who specialize in investigating economic problems. It is dangerous, besides, media workers cannot get hold of any documents or data on transgressions of the law. Ministers and civil servants will not comment on anything in the media.

On July 2011, Moroccans voted for their new constitution [the document, despite partly limiting the monarch’s rights, still vested the king with full power. – 99.8 percent of the population supported the new constitution. However, it was said that the number is unreal and essentially anti-democratic, even if the King were popular.

For more: “In Morocco, journalism is the only opposition to tyranny” /ДЕНЬ/

France: Carla Bruni-Sarkozy baby: How to cope with giving birth in your 40s - by Linda Blair

Carla Bruni, wife of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, has just given birth. She’s 43 and has a ten-year-old son from a previous relationship. Her husband, who’s 56, has three sons from two previous marriages.

In this report psychologist Linda Blair asks what it’s like to have a child when you’re in your 40s and there are other children in the family.

For more: Carla Bruni-Sarkozy baby: How to cope with giving birth in your 40s | Mail Online

Sarkozy flies in for emergency euro talks to cement rescue deal - by David Gow

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, held emergency talks in Frankfurt to try to cement a full-scale deal to save the eurozone from meltdown.

As around 100,000 Greeks staged violent protests in Athens at the austerity measures being imposed to prevent their country sliding into bankruptcy, Sarkozy underlined the scale of the crisis by flying straight to Germany's financial capital rather than stay with his wife, Carla, for the birth of their first child.

The French president and German chancellor held talks with Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, Jean-Claude Trichet, outgoing European Central Bank president, and other EU leaders.

For more: Sarkozy flies in for emergency euro talks to cement rescue deal | Business | The Guardian

The Occupy Wall Street image that marks the end of the global consensus - by Jonathan Jones

A New York police officer leans forward and yells as if attempting, with the sheer force of his anger, to hold back time. His rage is understandable for, in this photograph, you can actually see the world turn upside down and all that was solid melt into air. This truly is a picture of a turning point in the history of the world.

For more: The Occupy Wall Street image that marks the end of the global consensus | Jonathan Jones | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Turkish troops enter northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish terrorists

Turkish commandos supported by bombers and helicopter gunships have crossed into northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish guerrillas who killed 26 soldiers and wounded at least 18 others in co-ordinated attacks on military outposts.

Fifteen militants from the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' party) were killed when Turkish troops advanced about two miles into Iraqi territory, in Turkey's first major ground offensive in the region since 2008.

"No one should forget that those who make us suffer this pain will be made to suffer even stronger," President Abdullah Gül said on Wednesday. "They will see that the vengeance for these attacks will be immense

For more: Turkish troops enter northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish rebels | World news | The Guardian

EU adopts stricter rules on short selling

The European Union agreed Tuesday to more strictly regulate the short selling of shares and bonds and to ban so-called "naked" credit default swaps on government bonds, moves officials said will contribute to financial stability.

After long discussions, representatives of the European Parliament and EU member states reached a compromise on the new rules, which restrict practices critics say have exacerbated financial crises and market selloffs.

The regulation seeks to differentiate between investors who use short-sales as a legitimate tool to hedge, or insure, potential losses on other assets like shares or bonds, and speculators, who may be trying to make a profit by influencing market moves.

For more: EU adopts stricter rules on short selling - CBS News

Occupying Wall Street: An Inevitable Consequence of Uncontrolled Deregulation - by Azeem Ibrahim

According to Guardian writer David Graeber, the young people protesting in the financial districts of cities all over the United States are there "to reclaim the future." Young, educated and unemployed (or underemployed), the protesters are reacting to "the results of colossal social failure." Their banners say they are against corporate greed, unfair taxation, loss of trust in the government and the economy, but like similar movements across the Middle East and Europe, Occupy Wall Street represents a widespread revolt against the failure of global economic justice.

Unchecked capitalism has failed to provide a viable, sustainable system that includes the younger generation. Above all, its leaders have shown a dangerous failure of imagination by allowing international finance to destroy the social contract between the governing and the governed.

Britain and the United States have suffered for the last thirty years from the effects of uncontrolled deregulation, with a brutal loss of jobs and the elites turning away from core civic values in the pursuit of profit. Corporate greed has exacerbated social and financial inequality and corporate money has distorted politics, particularly in the U.S., where corporations are now deemed to be "people" with freedom of speech, that is, freedom to buy congressional seats. European politics, too, have lurched from one financial scandal to the next, and there too the fabric of social democracy is showing signs of wear.

For more: Azeem Ibrahim: Occupying Wall Street: An Inevitable Consequence of Uncontrolled Deregulation

Europe Banks Vow $1 Trillion Cuts as Recapitalization Looms - BusinessWeek

European banks, assuring investors they can weather the sovereign debt crisis by selling assets and reducing lending, may not be able to raise money fast enough to prevent government-forced recapitalizations.

For more: Europe Banks Vow $1 Trillion Cuts as Recapitalization Looms - BusinessWeek

10/18/11

Europe's debt crisis sticks around, and shares fall - by Christine Hauser


Despite strong gains in the previous week, stocks on Wall Street retreated Monday, following European markets lower as the outlook for a broad solution to the European debt crisis appeared to wane. 

It was a quiet start after Friday's upswing, which pushed the Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq indexes above their levels from the start of the year. The broader market, as measured by the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, rallied nearly 6 percent last week. 

For more: Europe's debt crisis sticks around, and shares fall - San Jose Mercury News

10/16/11

Occupy Wall Street: Outrage! and the Movement's European Roots - by Daniel Tovrov

At its onset, the Occupy Wall Street movement was designed to mirror the Arab Spring protests of 2011, in particular the regime-toppling demonstrations in Egypt's Tahrir Square. But despite the creators' intentions, Occupy has much more in common with a growing European unrest that started in At its onset, the Occupy Wall Street movement was designed to mirror the Arab Spring protests of 2011, in particular the regime-toppling demonstrations in Egypt's Tahrir Square. But despite the creators' intentions, Occupy has much more in common with a growing European unrest that started in France in 2006, then spread to England, Spain and across the continent.

Like with Occupy Wall Street, the protests are organized using participatory democracy, and there is no organized leadership. And the Occupy protestors would be encouraged to know that the 15-M Movement seems to be working. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has called for elections to be held four months ahead of schedule with hopes that a new government and fresh start will being to solve the country's economic catastrophe.


"This is good news because it's what most Spaniards want," Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy said at a news conference in July.

Rome rioting said to cost euro1 million or more

Rome's mayor said Sunday that it could cost at least a euro1 million ($1.4 million) to recover from the havoc wreaked by rioters who smashed windows, tore up sidewalks and torched vehicles after breaking off from a peaceful protest.

The estimate came as clean-up work continued in damaged neighborhoods, where many charred vehicles remained parked along the streets.

For more"Rome rioting said to cost euro1 million or more - CBS News

10/15/11

Einstein can relax |

It looks like those sneaky neutrinos aren’t traveling faster that light after all. That’s the gist of an argument from a physicist in the Netherlands.

A few weeks ago, the science world was abuzz about an experiment that showed neutrinos going faster than light. The ghostly particles apparently arrived at their destination (an underground detector) 60 nanoseconds faster than photons of light would have done. If true, this would have shaken some of the foundations of physics, since Einstein determined over a century ago that the speed of light (approximately 186,000 miles per second) is the ultimate speed limit.

FOR MORE: Einstein can relax | Observable Universe | a Chron.com blog

APA - "Occupy Norway" protest held in Oslo

A few dozens of "Occupy Norway" protesters gathered on the square in front of the Norwegian parliament building in Oslo on Saturday, joining the global agitation to show solidarity with the U.S. "Occupy Wall Street" protesters against what they called the corrupt financial system represented by the Wall Street financial institutions, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The peaceful demonstration began at 12 o’clock local time (1000 GMT) as police kept a close watch from nearby.

The protesters belong to different groups. Some called for taxing financial speculations globally and using Norway’s oil fund for alternative energy projects while others questioned the relevance of the Western political system of representative democracy.


For more: APA - "Occupy Norway" protest held in Oslo

Air France pilots knew they were going to crash in 2009 flight

The pilots aboard the doomed Air France passenger jet that plunged into the Atlantic more than two years ago knew they were going to crash only seconds before they hit the water, according to transcripts of their exchanges recently published for the first time.

“We're going to crash,” says one co-pilot of Flight 447, which went down en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. “It's not true!” “But what's happening?” asks the second co-pilot.

Less than three seconds later, the recording stops as the plane crashes, killing all 228 passengers and crew on board.

FOR MORE: Air France pilots knew they were going to crash in 2009 flight - latimes.com

EU commissioner warns over China's investment climate

he Belgian commissioner told participants at a European Policy Centre debate on the future of EU-China economic relations that there was a "vast untapped potential" between the two regions. "Important sectors in China remain capped or closed for foreign investment," he said.

"The fundamental imbalance between our openness and China's restrictiveness plays into the hands of those in Europe who see Chinese investments as a threat and argue that we should therefore selectively screen Chinese investments in the EU."

For more: EU commissioner warns over China's investment climate: theparliament.com

USA Autumn Revolution: 'Occupy' protests swell nationwide; scores arrested

Protests swelled in cities nationwide Friday as police forces struggled to either corral or remove demonstrators from downtown parks and plazas in the latest development of the month long Occupy Wall Street movement.

Scores of protesters were arrested in Denver, Seattle, San Diego and New York, though reports of violence were rare. CNN reporters have sent in photos and video from "occupy" protests across several American cities.

For more: 'Occupy' protests swell nationwide; scores arrested - CNN.com

Europe rejects U.S. approach to financial crisis, stirring doubts about plan - by Howard Schneider

European officials working to address the region’s financial crisis have rejected key recommendations from the United States and the International Monetary Fund, casting doubt on whether an emerging plan will be as broad or fast-acting as hoped.


As crisis negotiations continued this weekend, European officials said they had reached general agreement on a response they were confident would restore faith in European banks and government finances.

For more: Europe rejects U.S. approach to financial crisis, stirring doubts about plan - The Washington Post

10/14/11

Obama dispatches 100 troops to Africa

President Obama notified Congress today that he is sending about 100 U.S. troops to central Africa to help battle a rebel group known as the Lord's Resistance Army.

For more Obama dispatches 100 troops to Africa

U.S. retail sales rise, consumer sentiment slips

Retail sales grew at the fastest pace in seven months in September as consumers shook off concerns about a weak stock market and political gridlock, giving a bit more momentum to the economic recovery.

Consumer sentiment, however, unexpectedly slipped in early October as worries about declining incomes drove a measure of expectations to the lowest level in more than 30 years.

For more: U.S. retail sales rise, consumer sentiment slips

French Socialists Set to Pick Candidate to Challenge Sarkozy - Businessweek

France’s Socialist Party supporters will choose their candidate on Oct. 16 to challenge President Nicolas Sarkozy in the May 2012 elections. Francois Hollande, 57, the race, having gotten the most votes in the first round of the party’s primaries. His rival for the party’s nomination, former Labor Minister Martine Aubry, 61, has criticized him for his lack of experience. Hollande has never served in a government.

For more: French Socialists Set to Pick Candidate to Challenge Sarkozy - Businessweek

Dutch Court Denies Samsung's Request to Ban Apple's iPhone | News & Opinion - by Sara Yin


A Dutch court on Friday denied Samsung's request to ban Apple mobile products from the Netherlands, adding another major blow to Samsung in a global patent war between the two rival manufacturers. 

According to Reuters, a judge at the district court in the Hague ruled that Samsung's 3G patents were "essential" patents for any mobile device running 3G, and therefore cannot be used as a reason for banning an infringing party's cell phones.

Instead the settlement must meet FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing obligations, like a reasonable royalty. Read more about the principals of FRAND in the latest blog post by technology patent expert Florian Mueller.

For more: Dutch Court Denies Samsung's Request to Ban Apple's iPhone | News & Opinion | PCMag.com

10/13/11

Segolene Royal to back former partner in bid to beat Nicolas Sarkozy - GlobalPost

Former French presidential candidate Segolene Royal is backing her former partner, Francois Hollande in the second round of the Socialist presidential primary.

The pair, who were together 29 years and have four children together, split acrimoniously in 2007 after Royal's failed bid as Socialist party candidate to defeat Nicolas Sarkozy. They had never married, reportedly considering it "too bourgeois."

Royal was forced to abandon her bid for the candidacy to take on Sarkozy in the 2012 presidential election when she took only 6.9 percent of the vote — or fourth place behind Hollande, Martine Aubry and Arnaud Montebourg— in the first round of the primary election Sunday.

For more: Segolene Royal to back former partner in bid to beat Nicolas Sarkozy - GlobalPost

Europe moves ahead on debt-crisis plan requiring banks to raise more capital - by Howard Schneider

European banks will be forced to write down the value of their holdings of government bonds and raise perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars in additional capital under plans intended to quell the euro region’s financial crisis.

The plan, outlined Wednesday by the European Commission, marks a direct acknowledgment that the government bonds purchased by banks as safe, low-risk investments are in some cases not worth what was paid. Recognizing that means banks will need more capital to absorb potential losses, and European officials — after skirting the issue for months — on Wednesday said the euro area’s financial system cannot be fixed otherwise.

For more: Europe moves ahead on debt-crisis plan requiring banks to raise more capital - The Washington Post

10/12/11

Occupy Wall Street goes International and reaches The Hague

Occupy Wall Street, the US protest against the financial elite and the banking sector, is spreading around the world. There are demonstrations planned for London’s financial district – and also for The Hague and Amsterdam. Occupy The Hague is demanding attention for a gamut of economic and political problems.The Wall Street protests, which began last month, against “corporate greed and corrupt politics” have not only been repeated elsewhere in the country, in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston, the movement has spread to Canada and Europe.

Demonstrations are planned for 15 October in The Hague and a day later in Amsterdam. But Occupy The Hague goes beyond a protest against the financial system. “The protest has scope for a range of opinions and interests,” spokesperson Robin van Boven says, “varying from the economic crisis to the Libyan uprising.”

“All these things are cause for concern. The point is that we want people to be aware of the problems that exist, and join us in looking for a solution. We think that at the moment politicians haven’t taken enough action.”

The Amsterdam stock exchange was picketed last month, under the name "Yes we camp", by a modest encampment of demonstrators and more protests are set for 16 October.

For more: Occupy Wall Street reaches The Hague | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

WSJ Europe publisher quits amid ethics row - by Mark Sweeney

Andrew Langhoff, the top European executive at News Corporation's Wall Street Journal, has resigned over a breach of ethics relating to a commercial deal designed to boost the newspaper's circulation.

Langhoff, who was promoted to publisher of the Wall Street Journal Europe and managing director of parent Dow Jones's EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) interests in 2008, resigned after an internal investigation showed that two articles in the paper had been written because of an agreement with a Dutch consultancy.

In an internal email to staff, Langhoff said there should be an "inviolable boundary between our commercial relationships and the content we produce".

For more: WSJ Europe publisher quits amid ethics row | Media | guardian.co.uk

US Economy: Obama jobs bill: Plan B after Sen. defeat

U.S. President Barack Obama moved to Plan B Wednesday after the Senate defeated his $447 billion jobs bill by refusing to let it come up for a vote.

The package of tax cuts and new spending was blocked Tuesday night by the chamber's Republican minority 50 to 49, 10 votes short of the 60 it needed to advance in the full 100-member Senate.
Two moderate Democrats facing difficult re-election campaigns, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jon Tester of Montana, joined Republicans, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in opposition.

For more: Obama jobs bill: Plan B after Sen. defeat - UPI.com

From the frying pan into the fire: Al-Qaida chief urges Islamic rule in Libya

Al-Qaida's new leader is calling on Libyan fighters who overthrew Moammar Gadhafi to set up an Islamic state and urges Algerians to revolt against their longtime leader in remarks in a new Internet video.

Ayman al-Zawahri warns Libyan revolutionaries to protect their gains against "Western plots," claiming NATO will demand that Libyans give up their Islamic faith.

Al-Zawahri also urges Algerians to "revolt against the tyranny" of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and follow the examples of Arab uprisings.

For more: Al-Qaida chief urges Islamic rule in Libya

Europe 'alarmed' by deadly Egypt Christian clashes

European leaders expressed alarm Monday at sectarian clashes overnight in Egypt that killed 24 people, mainly Coptic Christians, and urged post-revolution authorities to uphold religious freedom.

"I am very concerned, very alarmed about the clashes in Cairo", British Foreign Secretary William Hague said as he arrived in Luxembourg for talks with his 26 European Union counterparts, where the events in Cairo suddenly took centre-stage.

"It is very important that the Egyptian authorities reaffirm the freedom of worship," he said after the clashes that broke out during a Coptic protest against a recent attack on a church in the southern city of Aswan.

For more: Europe 'alarmed' by deadly Egypt Christian clashes

In Europe, economic meltdown tears at unity – by Jabeen Bhatti and Nikolia Apostolou

Many Greeks are not happy that they are being ordered by Europe to abolish their generous welfare state to rescue the European banks that have lent them billions of dollars. On Tuesday, trash filled the streets below the Acropolis as teachers, garbage haulers and government workers demanded that their socialist leaders refuse Europe's deal.

In Germany, people are furious that while they saved their money, the Greeks spent theirs, and it is Germans who must largely bail out the accused freeloaders or risk economic ruin.
"I take responsibility for myself without the state having to help me," said Mathias Böhmers, 56, an electrician in Berlin. "And while I could support us helping a few people, rescuing an entire country is a bit too much."

For more: In Europe, economic meltdown tears at unity – USATODAY.com

10/11/11

US Senate Republicans poised to kill Obama's jobs plan

President Obama's $447 billion jobs plan faces an important test on Capitol Hill today. Democrats plan to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote, even though it is already in jeopardy.

Mr. Obama has been waging a campaign-style effort to rally public support behind the American Jobs Act. The plan combines payroll tax cuts for workers and businesses with $175 billion in spending on roads, school repairs and other infrastructure, as well as unemployment assistance and help to local governments to avoid layoffs of teachers, firefighters and police officers. The package reprises parts of President Obama's 2009 stimulus measure and a Social Security payroll tax cut enacted last year. The jobs measure would be financed by a 5.6 percent surcharge on income exceeding $1 million, raising more than $450 billion over a decade.

The bill requires 60 yes votes to overcome a Republican filibuster, and CBS News Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes reports that's not likely to happen.

For more:US Senate Republicans poised to kill Obama's jobs plan - CBS News

Europe hits banks with tougher capital test

Reuters reports that the European Banking Authority (EBA) wants banks to hold a minimum core Tier One ratio of 7 percent under a recession scenario, and those who fail will be asked to bolster their capital position, two banking sources told Reuters.

The data was requested on Friday and banks have been asked to submit it by the end of Tuesday, three sources said. The data is based on the end of June.

"A significant number of banks are expected to fail the stress tests," one of these sources said.

EU-Digest

10/10/11

What does it mean to be a dual citizen?

In recent years in the Netherlands two state secretaries have come under fire for having double citizenship. The right-wing PVV argued that a member of cabinet with two passports ‘therefore’ had two potentially conflicting loyalties.

In their view, this was not reconcilable with the exclusive loyalty a cabinet member should have towards his or her own government. The first state secretary had Dutch and Turkish citizenship and the second one was Dutch-Swedish. Some people argued there was a difference between those two cases since Sweden is a member of the EU and Turkey isn’t.

In the end, neither case was perceived as a large enough problem to warrant more than a short-lived news item, and both state secretaries were allowed to remain in office.

According to the Lisbon Treaty, a ‘citizen of the Union’ every person holding the nationality of an EU Member State shall be a citizen of the Union.
This ‘Union citizenship’ shall be additional to and not replace national citizenship.

For more: What does it mean to be a dual citizen? - The Local

10/9/11

Libya's Coming Islamist Government - by Daniel Wagner

Like the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings this year, the Libyan uprising presented a liberal, democratic face to the world, leaving the impression that what will replace the ancien regimes in these countries would be roughly representative not only of western-style democracies, but also of the aspirations of the average person in the street. Now that the dust has mostly settled, this appears not to be the case. Not only is it clear now, as in the case of Egypt, the military-led 'transitional' government intends to cling to power for at least another year, but the newly installed government in Tripoli may end up fulfilling the worst fears of the West by becoming an Islamist-led government.

Islamists appear to be gaining control -- or have already gained control -- of the emerging government in Libya. The new Tripoli Municipal Governing Council is led by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood -- Abel al-Rajazk Abu Hajar. The country's most influential politician -- Ali Sallabi -- is an Islamic scholar. And the country's most powerful military leader -- Abdel Hakim Belhaj -- is the former leader of a group believed to be aligned with Al Qaeda. Belhaj is seeking to unseat the nominal prime minister of the interim government, Mahmoud Jibril, the U.S. trained economist who has criticized the Islamists. Is there any real reason to believe that the evolving government is likely to be either moderate or democratic? The 'democratic' forces within Libya have already appear to have been crushed.

For more: Daniel Wagner: Libya's Coming Islamist Government

US Presidential Elections: Perry fundraising raises questions on relief funds usage

A national audience got a look last week at Gov. Rick Perry's fundraising prowess. Perry reported raising $17 million in the month and a half since he announced his presidential bid. But that knack for fundraising has raised both questions and eyebrows when big Perry contributors obtain state contracts.

The American-Statesman's Brenda Bell reported last week that a contract to manage more than $1 billion in federal disaster funds granted to HNTB, a firm based in Kansas City, Mo., is not performing. Bell reported that HNTB has been paid $45 million so far to process infrastructure grants. The amount the firm has collected comes close to depleting the money budgeted for administration and planning. Only 20 percent of the money released to help repair damage inflicted by Hurricanes Dolly and Ike in 2008 has been distributed.

Perry is scheduled to face his Republican rivals again Tuesday in a New Hampshire debate to be broadcast by Bloomberg Televison and co-sponsored by The Washington Post. It represents not only an opportunity for Perry to regain momentum, but for his opponents to question the governor on his record of managing public funds.

Bell's article was zipping through cyberspace last week and led to some speculation as to whether the Republicans (and Democrats)would start asking questions about Perry and his contributors. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but it's a question that will loom large in the general election campaign should Perry win the GOP nomination.

For more: Perry fundraising raises questions on relief funds