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11/30/11

US Economy: Economists fear US recession unless tax deal agreed - by Andrew Beatty

Economists are warning US growth could stall and the United States could even tip back into recession if Congress fails to extend tax cuts and unemployment benefits before the end of the year.

It seems like round 12 of the tax and spending fight between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Yet with less than a year before voters adjudicate the winner, some are increasingly worried that spectators -- rather than one of the fighters -- is about to get knocked out.

For more: Economists fear US recession unless tax deal agreed - Yahoo! News

Euro Strengthens as Six Central Banks Ease Funding; Yen and dollar Weaken - by Catarina Saraiva

The euro gained the most in a month against the dollar after the Federal Reserve and five other central banks acted to make more funds available to lenders as Europe’s debt crisis threatens global economic growth.

The dollar fell against all of its 16 most-traded peers and the yen declined as investors sought higher-yielding assets. China lowered reserve requirements for banks earlier for the first time since 2008. Australia’s dollar and South Africa’s rand climbed.

For more: Euro Strengthens as Six Central Banks Ease Funding; Yen Weakens - Businessweek

Global Warming: Europeans, Africans and nonprofits attack US for holding back UN climate talks

Leading American environmentalists complained to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Wednesday that her negotiators at U.N. climate talks risked portraying the U.S. as an obstacle to fighting global warming because of its perceived foot-dragging on key issues.

Separately, European delegates and the head of the African bloc at the 192-party talks also denounced U.S. positions at the talks, which are seeking ways to curb the ever-expanding emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

For more: Europeans, Africans and nonprofits attack US for holding back UN climate talks - The Washington Post

Britain: Strike 1: UK civil servants cripple country

More than 2 million participants put the public sector on hold in the UK, as unions stage a massive public sector strike. It is the largest of its kind in 30 years.

­A public services strike called for by the United Kingdom’s Trades Union Congress (TUC), has taken effect on Wednesday, the largest work stoppage of its kind in more than 30 years. The strike targets public schools, the health sector, UK court systems and transportation systems as well. More than 2 million workers are expected to participate, in rallies and picket lines all across the country.

At the heart of the issue are cuts to public sector pension programs asking workers to contribute 3% more of their own money into the system, raising the retirement age to the age of 66 by the year 2020 and to amend pensions to be based on the average of a career rather than the final salary. Unions are strongly against the proposed reforms which the TUC argues would make workers pay more and work longer for fewer benefits.
­These changes in the pensions will mean a lot to public sector workers, public sector teacher Preeti Pancsar told RT.

For more: Strike 1: UK civil servants cripple country — RT

Britain:: "Damp Squib" : David Cameron Dismisses Strikes And Brands Ed Miliband As 'Left Wing And Weak'

David Cameron has branded the public sector strikes as a "damp squib" after attacking Labour leader Ed Miliband for being "irresponsible, left wing and weak."

In a vicious war of words at PMQs he lashed out at the opposition with some commentators tweeting saying he was "trembling with rage".

According to the PM around 40% of schools are open, only 18 out of 930 job centres are closed and only a third of the civil service is on strike.

During the tense exchange the prime minister hit out at the industrial action which had led to his own press secretary volunteering to man a border at Heathrow airport.

"I don't want to see any strikes, I don't want to see schools close, I don't want to see problems at our borders", he told MPs.

Note EU-Digest: Temper, temper.....Mr. Cameron better get used to the fact that ordinary people are fed up always having to pay for the mistakes of the greedy financial industry and the Government.

For more: Damp Squib: David Cameron Dismisses Strikes And Brands Ed Miliband As 'Left Wing And Weak'

11/29/11

Dutch PM Rutte meets Obama at White House - Netherlands Investments in the US provide America with more than 600.000 jobs

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte met with US President Barak Obama for thirty minutes at the White House on Tuesday afternoon. At the beginning of the meeting, President Obama told the Dutch leader that the Netherlands was America's "most important ally."

The two leaders also discussed the worlds economic crises and jobs.  The Netherlands (17 million inhabitants), and a member of the EU, is the 3e most important investor in the US and the ninth largest importer of US products.

Dutch investments provide jobs for around 625,000 Americans.

Of the more than 5 million Americans employed in the United States by foreign companies, roughly 3.1 million (58 percent) worked for EU companies. With a payroll of more than $194 billion, EU companies on average paid U.S. workers 18 percent more than workers were paid at other U.S.owned firms.

The European Union (EU) and United States are each other’s largest foreign investor. The stock of EU direct investment in the United States reached $1.11 trillion, accounted for almost half of the total stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. EU investments represented approximately 42 percent of global investment flows to the United States.

EU-Digest

Eurozone finance ministers try to beef up rescue fund, give Greece $10.7 billion cash lifeline

Eurozone nations are calling for more IMF resources to help out their embattled currency.

The 17 eurozone finance ministers on Tuesday agreed to seek new ways to increase the resources of the International Monetary Fund through bilateral loans that could be used to protect EU nations facing financial trouble.

The ministers meeting in Brussels also agreed on options to give the rescue fund more leverage power and build up its resources so it can help bigger troubled EU members such as Italy and Spain

For more: Eurozone finance ministers try to beef up rescue fund, give Greece $10.7 billion cash lifeline | CanadianBusiness.com

Fish Farming: GE salmon approval creates growing list of 'what if' scenarios

News that the U.S. government is close to approving the first genetically engineered animal – AquaBounty’s Atlantic salmon – for production and consumption has upset biotech naysayers and kicked off a lengthening list of “what if” scenarios.

Derisively labeled “Frankenfish” by biotechnology opponents, genetically engineered (GE) fish are nonetheless circling closer to U.S. dinner tables. News that the U.S. government is close to approving the first genetically engineered animal – AquaBounty’s Atlantic salmon – for production and consumption has upset biotech naysayers and kicked off a lengthening list of “what if” scenarios.

For more: GE salmon approval creates growing list of 'what if' scenarios | Government content from Western Farm Press

EU tightens regulations on Chinese GM rice imports - by Mark Astley

European Union controls on Chinese rice product imports will be tightened in response to an increasing number of food alerts and border rejections of genetically modified (GM) contaminated products.

For more: EU tightens regulations on Chinese GM rice imports

Genetically modified food: GMO Lobbyists Costs Reach Over Half a Billion Dollars - by Dr. Mercola

In Europe genetically modified foods and ingredients have to be labeled.

In the United States, they do not. But the truth is, if and when GM labeling is finally required in the United States, you're going to see changes to the majority of food labels in your supermarket, as GM foods already widely appear in our food supply. Most people are not aware that nearly EVERY processed food you encounter at your local supermarket that does not bear the "USDA Organic" label is filled with GM components. This is due to the amount of GM crops now grown in the United States (over 90 percent of all corn is GM corn and over 95 percent all soy is GM soy).

In just over a decade, the food and agriculture biotechnology industry has spent more than $572 million in campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures, according to an analysis by Food & Water Watch. Key among the goals of this intense lobbying effort is to prevent GM food labeling and keep Americans in the dark about the contents of their food.

Over 95 percent of Americans polled said they think GM foods should require a label, stating it's an ethical issue and consumers should be able to make an informed choice. Like people in Europe, Americans are suspicious of GM foods, and a large part of why many continue to buy them is because they are unaware that they're already in the food. A prominent GM food label would be a death sentence to U.S. GM crops, which are right now enjoying a free for all when it comes to entering the food market.

It takes only a flick of biotech's wrist to move Congress' regulatory arms, and the truth is the revolving door between the two is spinning so fast that the line between industry lobbyists and legislators is permanently blurred.

As the Food and Water Watch report also  noted:
  • Clarence Thomas, who did not withdraw himself from a Supreme Court decision on genetically engineered alfalfa last year, used to be the general counsel for Monsanto.
  • Michael Taylor, who was formerly the vice president of Monsanto, is now the Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner for Foods.
  • Roger Beachy, the former director of the Monsanto-funded Danforth Plant Science Center in Saint Louis, is now the director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
  • Islam Siddiqui was vice president of Monsanto and Dupont's funded pesticide-promotion group CropLife. He is now the agricultural negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative. In other words, he is the enforcer for U.S. foreign policy that countries have to accept our genetically engineered exports.
  • Rajiv Shah is the former Agricultural Development Director for the pro-biotech Gates Foundation, who are frequently partnering with Monsanto. He served as Obama's USDA undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics.
  • Elena Kagan has served as President Obama's Solicitor General. She took Monsanto's side against organic farmers on the roundup ready alfalfa case.
  • Ramona Ramiro, corporate counsel to Dupont, another biotech bully, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as general counsel for the USDA.
In the US this is one of the few issues where Republicans and Democrats have found that the economic benefits of backing GMO products are more important than the moral and health issues. As Cummins noted in his report, both parties are guilty.

Note EU-Digest: Unfortunately some EU parliamentarians and EU member state officials are also being "arm twisted" by US Food and Agricultural lobbyists. France's highest court on Monday overturned France's ban on growing a strain of genetically modified maize (corn) developed by U.S. biotech firm Monsanto, saying it was not sufficiently justified. France, the EU's largest grain producer whose citizens are among the staunchest biotech skeptics, banned growing of such crops in 2008 after protests by local green groups, citing a "serious risk to the environment.Having tried and failed to force several EU countries to lift their cultivation bans, last year the Commission proposed letting member states decide themselves whether to grow or ban GMO crop cultivation.

Under European Union law, only two GMO varieties are approved for cultivation.

 For more: GMO Campaign Costs Reach Over Half a Billion Dollars

The 17th London Turkish Film Festival 24 Nov – 8 Dec 2011

A showcase for outstanding and innovative Turkish film both contemporary and classic, the 17th London Turkish Film Festival promises to deliver a programme of films that will challenge, entertain and inspire. With an enviable line up that also includes the latest films from established directors such as Nuri Bilge Ceylan (‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’); Dervis Zaim (‘Shadows and Faces’) and Sedat Yilmaz (‘Press’), the emphasis this year will be on emerging talent, providing an important platform for a new generation of Turkish film-makers working both at home and abroad.

Festival director Vedide Kaymak comments ‘Over the last decade, Turkish filmmakers, not only in Turkey, but also those living in the rest of the world, have found new creative directions, making critically acclaimed films, and winning awards all over the world. The LTFF has always had an inclusive approach towards programming, and I am especially excited by our programme this year. Now in its 17th year, our festival has grown from a small three-day event to a full-scale two week festival and this year we have been able to push the boundaries further than ever. We are privileged to be able to open up the new trans-cultural Turkish cinema to new audiences in venues across London.’

Gracing the red carpet for the Opening Night Gala was the legendary Italian actress Claudia Cardinale, star of classic films by Fellini, Visconti and Leone. Cardinale stars in Ali Ilhan’s delightful first feature ‘Being Italian with Signora Enrica’, a heart warming comedy-drama about an elderly Italian woman who takes in a young Turkish exchange student.

Other highlights of the festival include Tayfun Pirslimoglu’s ‘Hair’, which won both best Turkish Film and best Director at the 2011 Istanbul Film Festival; ‘September’, the first feature from photographer Cemil Agacikoglu; ‘Do Not Forget Me Istanbul’, a portrait of Istanbul as seen through the eyes of six young International directors and ‘Home’, the first feature from actor Muzatffer Ozdemir, best known for his role in Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s ‘Distant’, for which he won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival.

For more: The 17th London Turkish Film Festival 24 Nov – 8 Dec 2011

11/28/11

Egyptian elections: Female Salafist candidate is using her husband’s photo on campaign posters

A female candidate in Egypt from the conservative Salafist party al-Nour is campaigning in an interesting manner: instead of putting her face on her campaign posters, she is using the likeness of her husband.

Marwa Ibrahim al-Qamash, who is running in the ad-Adaqahliyah province, initially used a flower as her campaign photo, but after sarcastic remarks about the campaign appeared on Twitter the flower picture was removed from her posters and her husband’s photos appeared. However, replacing the flower photo with her husband’s picture did not stop Egyptians from deriding and ridiculing the woman and her campaign, again, on twitter. The woman is said to have a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies.

A salafi is a follower of the puritanical Islamic movement Salafiyyah, which follows the examples of the Salaf, or predecessors, who lived during the early period of Islam, allegedly imitating the Prophet and his companions. There are now 14 Islamist parties in Egypt, a marked difference from less than a year ago; the parties were banned under Hosni Mubarak’s rule.

"It is however feared that if radical Muslims win in Egypt and Sharia gets imposed upon women, as well as upon non-Muslims in Egypt, they will get a subjugated second-class citizen status", says Jihad Watch.

For more: Female Salafist candidate is using her husband’s photo on campaign posters

Egypt holds historic elections, voters turn out in droves

Shaking off years of political apathy, Egyptians turned out in long lines at voting stations Monday in their nation's first parliamentary elections since Hosni Mubarak's ouster, a giant step toward what they hope will be a democracy after decades of dictatorship.

The vote promises to be the fairest and cleanest election in Egypt in living memory, but it takes place amid sharp polarization among Egyptians and confusion over the nation's direction. On one level, the election is a competition between Islamic parties who want to take Egypt in a direction toward religious rule and more liberal groups that want a separation between religion and politics.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest and best organized group, along with other Islamists are expected to do well in the vote.

For more: Egypt holds historic elections, voters turn out in droves - NY Daily News

Germany: Nuclear waste train nears journey's end - by Frederic Happe

A shipment of radioactive waste was nearing its final destination in Germany Monday on a five-day odyssey from France marred by sometimes violent clashes between police and demonstrators.

The train with 11 containers of nuclear waste arrived in the northern town of Dannenberg shortly after 0400 GMT after running a gauntlet of protesters trying to block its progress along the 1,200-kilometre (750-mile) route.

The authorities were unloading the waste on to trucks for its final 20-kilometre leg by road to a storage facility in Gorleben, a former salt mine, a process likely to take several hours.

Note EU-Digest: German police temporarily detained 1,300 protesters who blocked a train carrying nuclear waste on Sunday. On Sunday, protesters staged a sit-in on the tracks near Dannenberg, 12 miles away from the train’s final destination. Some people fastened themselves to the rails.About 150 people, mostly demonstrators, were injured in scuffles with police, according to German  security forces. The nuclear waste was coming from France. The german Government had prviously agreed to ban all nuclear plants on its territory by 2022.

For more: AFP: Nuclear waste train nears journey's end

11/27/11

Russia: Putin's Bid for Kremlin Sealed - by Nikolaus von Twickel

In a show of unity amid sagging ratings and growing public dissatisfaction, United Russia on Sunday nominated its leader Vladimir Putin as its presidential candidate Soviet-style — with 614 of 614 ballots cast in his favor.

The somewhat raucous party convention at the packed Luzhniki sports complex, which also kicked off the campaign for the March presidential election, was largely a Putin love-fest. But the ostentatious, sports stadium-like atmosphere left observers wondering whether it were staged to counter embarrassing reports last week that fans greeted Putin with boos and catcalls at a mixed martial arts fight at the city's Olimpiisky stadium.

The convention came as two leading pollsters announced that United Russia would lose its constitutional majority in the next State Duma. Perhaps in reaction to this, Putin reverted to old alarmist rhetoric, accusing Western powers of meddling in Russian elections.

Germany, France examine radical push for euro zone integration

Germany and France are exploring radical methods of securing deeper and more rapid fiscal integration among euro zone countries, aware that getting broad backing for the necessary treaty changes may not be possible, officials say.

Germany's original plan was to try to secure agreement among all 27 EU countries for a limited treaty change by the end of 2012, making it possible to impose much tighter budget controls over the 17 euro zone countries - a way of shoring up the region's defences against the debt crisis.

But in meetings with EU leaders in recent weeks, it has become clear to both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy that it may not be possible to get all 27 countries on board, EU sources say. As a result, senior French and German civil servants have been exploring other ways of achieving the goal, one being an agreement among just the euro zone countries. "The goal is for the member states of the common currency to create their own Stability Union and to concentrate on that," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told ARD television.

Another option being explored is a separate agreement outside the EU treaty that could involve a core of around 8-10 euro zone countries, officials say.

US Presidential elections: The 4-Letter Word That Can Boost Obama's 2012 Chances: V-E-T-O - by Ben W. Heineman Jr.

Can the veto help Barack Obama win re-election? If Republicans were to retain the House, retake the Senate and regain the presidency, the nation would again face a one-party government -- as it has many times in the past, including in 2009. As well, a "conservative" Supreme Court is not likely to impose constitutional constraints on "conservative" congressional or executive initiatives.

One way to block future Republican legislation repealing or altering current law is, of course, the filibuster (which can only be ended by 60 Senate votes). A second and more powerful check is through a presidential veto, which can only be over-ridden by a two-thirds vote in each house (e.g. 67 Senate votes).

At the moment, Republicans appear highly likely to retain control of the House, with 214 seats safe or leaning Republican (compared to 172 seats safe or leaning Democratic) and the GOP needing only 4 of 49 current toss-ups for a controlling majority, according to the current Real Clear Politics analysis. 

The 4-Letter Word That Can Boost Obama's 2012 Chances: V-E-T-O - Ben W. Heineman Jr. - Politics - The Atlantic

EU Leaders to Argue Europe Is Doing Its Part With Debt Crisis—Is U.S? - by George E. Condon Jr.

President Obama can’t seem to get his fill of summits. Monday he hosts yet another one, capping a month in which he has attended seven summits on four continents. This time, he gets to stay in the White House and the leaders he will meet aren’t exactly household names. But the topics – the European debt crisis, China, Syria, and Egypt – are the same that headlined the earlier summits.

The occasion is the annual U.S.-EU summit and representing the European Union’s 27 countries are European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. The leaders will meet for about two hours in the Roosevelt Room before continuing talks over lunch in the Cabinet Room and a concluding press conference. The meeting also comes at an unfortunate time for Obama who at the G-20 summit in Cannes pressed the Europeans to take bolder steps to deal with their debt crisis. But with last week’s very-public collapse of the super committee’s work here, Obama is certain to face questions from the Europeans about whether Washington is capable of similarly bold action to confront American debt.

The central message they will take to the Oval Office, said the ambassador, is “Europe is doing its homework. Individual countries are doing their homework. They are painfully implementing measures that are not politically easy.”

In return, of course, the president can expect the visiting leaders to ask him what he is doing on this side of the Atlantic to match the European actions. Many of them were dismayed at the debt ceiling debacle. And nothing that occurred with the supercommittee did anything to allay their concerns.

For more: EU Leaders to Argue Europe Is Doing Its Part With Debt Crisis—Is U.S? - George E. Condon Jr. - NationalJournal.com

Arab League Approves Syrian Sanctions - by NEIL MacFARQUHAR

The Arab League approved tough economic sanctions against Syria on Sunday because of its violent crackdown against antigovernment protesters, an unprecedented step against an Arab country.
The sanctions included a travel ban on officials and politicians, a halt to all dealings with the Syrian central bank and the cessation of all Arab projects in Syria.

The finance ministers drafted the sanctions on Saturday at a meeting in a hotel in the Cairo suburbs rather than the league’s headquarters in Tahrir Square, the scene of clashes last week between security forces and protesters seeking to hasten civilian rule in Egypt. The sanctions will be another blow to the Syrian economy, which is already suffering from sanctions by the European Union and the United States.

Syria depends on its Arab neighbors for half of its exports and a quarter of its imports. Its two most vital sectors, tourism and oil, have ground to a halt in recent months.

For more: Arab League Approves Syrian Sanctions - NYTimes.com

Middle East Online::Moroccan Elections: A Barometer of Reform? - by Muqtedar Khan

In Morocco the monarch is also the Ameer-ul-Momineen (Commander of the Faithful). The King of Morocco therefore is both the head of state and head of religion. He thus enjoys a unique form of legitimacy and allegiance that is not available to other monarchs and emirs in the Muslim World. Even the King of Saudi Arabia, who is richer, more powerful and has done much more for his population, and has also co-opted religion does not enjoy the same degree of legitimacy and support that is extended to the King of Morocco.

Unlike the King of Saudi Arabia who has tried to buy an extension to his lease on power with a sixty nine billion dollars aid package for his people, the King of Morocco like his fellow impoverished King of Jordan, has chosen to deal with the widespread discontent through political reforms. Moroccan reforms were rushed through in the Summer of 2011 with much heralded constitutional changes ratified by a national referendum in June. The reforms were supposed to make the elections fairer, reduce the King’s control in several areas and give the elected parliament and ministers real power to make policies. There are three areas however in which there were no changes and the King retained complete control over national security, foreign policy and religious affairs. 

While the changes did not satisfy most of the regime’s critics they have succeeded in keeping the public discontent at manageable levels. There is a prodemocracy movement, ‘February 20 movement’, which feels that reforms have not gone far enough and along with the banned Islamist party Adl wa Ihsan (Justice and Excellence), have called for a boycott. The current elections and their outcome, therefore are critical to cementing the legitimacy of the reforms as well as that of the regent. 

For more: Middle East Online::Moroccan Elections: A Barometer of Reform?:.

11/26/11

Germany slams Barroso joint bonds as irresponsible by Erik Kirschbaum


Roesler, German Vice Chancellor and also Economy Minister, said in a radio interview that European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso made a mistake last week by suggesting euro zone bonds could be issued once new, intrusive laws to ensure budgets of euro zone countries do not break EU rules are in place.

"I find it irresponsible of Mr. Barroso to re-open this discussion on euro zone bonds again," Roesler told Berlin's InfoRadio network, using language that went beyond Chancellor Angela Merkel's term "extraordinarily inappropriate."

Roesler, leader of the Free Democrats (FDP) junior coalition partners to Merkel's conservatives, said joint bond issues would be wrong for Germany and Europe because they would ease the pressure on indebted countries to reduce their deficits.


For more: Germany slams Barroso joint bonds as irresponsible | Reuters

How the eurozone crisis undermines EU power « Neighbourhood

How the eurozone crisis undermines EU power « Neighbourhood

How the eurozone crisis undermines EU power

It is clear that the Euro-crisis has and will have huge implications for EU foreign policy. A lot depends on what happens in the next months – the solution to the Greek or Italian problems, the contours of a multi-speed Europe and how messy a solution or non-solution to the euro-crisis will be. Things can get worse, or they can get better. But it is already possible to take a snapshot of the foreign policy implications of the Eurozone crisis. The picture contains a push to the background of all foreign policy issues, followed by fewer foreign policy resources and a coma for EU soft power, made worse by the fact that the EU understanding of power is so unhedged.

1) Less time for foreign policy

When your house is burning, this is a bad time to be chatting or engaging neighbours. When political leaders and administrations are engaged full time in managing the economy – saving the Euro, reducing public spending or stemming the tide of unemployment, foreign policy is pushed even more to the bottom of the list of priorities. Leaders simply have less time and desire to understand or strategise about how to react to foreign policy events – be it Putin’s return to the presidency, the latest turn in the political mess of Egypt, Tunisia or Ukraine. And foreign policy issues which sometimes need not just competent diplomatic management, but also high-level political drivers, is relegated to working level – where many issues cannot be solved. Foreign policy matters are then seen like issues that need to be put aside, postponed, thrown under the carpet and get out of the way until more urgent problems are solved.

11/25/11

Eurozone split over private sector role in debt rescue fund

The eurozone's northern and southern nations are locking horns over whether the private lenders should automatically participate in bailouts of distressed nations, diplomats said Friday.

France, Italy and Spain want to remove a clause from the EU's future, permanent rescue fund that would make private sector investors take losses as part of bailouts, the sources said, confirming German newspaper reports.

"We have always said that we should not add uncertainty in the markets," said a diplomat from one of the countries reluctant to force banks and investment funds to be attached to debt rescues.
The diplomat said that insisting on making the private sector participate in a second Greek bailout at a July summit had increased tension on the markets.

Note EU-Digest: there they go again...financial sector wants to make the profits, but when their wheeling and dealing goes sour they want the taxpayer t0 pick up the tab.


For more: Eurozone split over private sector role in debt rescue fund - The Economic Times

US Economy: Black Friday, a dying institution of American capitalism? Are deals really worth it?

Is Black Friday worth it? Not only have brick-and-mortar retailers felt the push of Cyber Monday sales, but some companies like Amazon and eBay are beating in-store retailers to the punch by opening for business Thanksgiving morning. The lure and ease of the Internet has also evolved e-commerce and altered the shopper’s frame of mind, which all might be heralding the end of Black Friday as we once knew it. Is e-commerce turning Black Friday into a quaint antiquity, or does the tradition of sidewalk camping still yield the best deals.

“I personally would never advise someone to shop in-store on Black Friday,” says DealNews CEO Dan de Grandpre. “The savings are great. The question is: How much money are you saving for getting something and giving up a vacation day, versus buying one online and staying home?”

There are more than a few reasons to sit out Black Friday: the cold, the crowds, the pushing, the shoving, the general hysteria. “What is your time worth to you?” de Grandpre asks, suggesting you’re likely to find the same item online within $50 to $100, or even the same price. “The trend every year is that the deals online are almost as good, if you look at them as a whole.”

For more: Are Black Friday deals really worth it?

Egyptians rally on 'last chance Friday'

Thousands of Egyptians demanding an end to military rule converged on Cairo's Tahrir square on Friday in what activists say will be the biggest day yet of protests in a week of violence that has seen at least 41 people killed.

The generals who have governed Egypt since people power toppled President Hosni Mubarak on February 11 are facing a major challenge to their authority.

Activists who accuse them of trying to cling to power have once again turned Tahrir into a centre of mass demonstrations, producing scenes similar to the uprising that toppled Mubarak.

Note EU-Digest: Egypt's military rulers rejected calls Thursday to delay parliamentary elections scheduled to take place next week and issued a strongly worded statement that has the potential to further polarize the country as it reels from a week of violent protests.

For more: Egyptians rally on 'last chance Friday'| News24

Moroccan elections challenged by voter mistrust - by Joe Dyke

Moroccans head to the polls tomorrow for the first time since King Mohammed VI offered significant concessions towards democracy, with continued scepticism about the extent power has shifted to the people. Social activists have announced a boycott of the elections and turnout is expected to be low, with the Islamic PJD party tipped to emerge as the largest party.

With dictatorial leaders falling in nearby Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, Morocco’s elections are a testing ground both of the King’s reforming credentials and of the theory that Arab countries can achieve democracy without major change at the top.

Note EU-Digest: there are some 3.2 million Moroccans living in the European Union.

For more: Moroccan elections challenged by voter mistrust - Africa - World - The Independent

11/24/11

France seeks Arab backing for Syria intervention

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who first floated the proposal for a humanitarian intervention on Wednesday, gave more details of the plan and said he would propose it to a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers gathering in Cairo to discuss Syria.


After months in which the international community has seemed determined to avoid any direct entanglement in one of the core countries of the Middle East, the diplomatic consensus seems to be changing. The Arab League suspended Syria's membership two weeks ago, accusing Assad of failing to fulfill a November 2 pledge to halt the violence and withdraw troops from cities.


This week, the prime minister of regional heavyweight Turkey - a NATO member with the military wherewithal to mount a cross-border operation - compared Assad to Hitler, Mussolini and Gaddafi, and called on him to quit.


For more: France seeks Arab backing for Syria intervention | Reuters

Eurozone versus Atlantic Alliance

In looking at the Eurozone crises it is interesting to note that many reports in the corporate Anglo-Saxon press do not cover some of the real underlying reasons for the present stress within the Atlantic Alliance ( Britain, EU and the USA).

One should not underestimate that the EU has become one of the most important, if not, the most important economic powerhouse (GNP) in the world and slowly but surely also has become more assertive on the world stage . 
Consequently, what is considered a financial crises in the Eurozone is seen by some insiders as just one of the many issues in a power struggle, based on the differences of economic and political philosophy between the existing Anglo-Saxon financial/political establishment and the EU. These differences are now not only apparent in the Eurozone economic sector but also in the approach to Middle East political strategy, human rights, and world trade. 


The result of this struggle is not clear yet and could take quite a while before the EU either becomes more unified or falls back into the US sphere of influence

France recognises Syrian council, proposes military intervention

In a direct echo of previous events in Libya, France has formally recognized the opposition Syrian National Council and proposed that international troops create a secure zone for civilians.

French foreign minister Alain Juppe signalled the change in policy at a high-profile meeting with SNC leader Burhan Ghalioun in Paris on Wednesday (23 November). "The Syrian National Council is the legitimate interlocutor with which we will continue to work," Juppe told press. He noted that a Libya-type no-fly zone is "not on the agenda" because "an armed reaction could provoke a real civil war."

But he added: "We will ask our European partners about the possibility of launching humanitarian operations to alleviate the suffering of the population ... Should we create humanitarian corridors, or humanitarian zones?"

For more: EUobserver.com / Defence / France recognises Syrian council, proposes military intervention

Who will save Europe this time?

Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, argues this is the first time since the Second World War that no single country or bloc has the political and economic weight to push an international agenda. They’ve dubbed this the G-Zero era. One of the main consequences of a leaderless world, as Gordon and Bremmer warned in a recent editorial in the International Herald Tribune, will be “messier outcomes” when crises hit.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the eurozone’s inability to fix its finances. Italy’s bond prices have been soaring of late, making it increasingly likely the country will need outside funding to avoid default. The problem is, Italy might be too big for Europe to save. And with no one rushing to Europe’s aid, the situation may get very messy indeed.

Note EU-Digest: in looking at the Eurozone crises it is interesting to note that the report above does not cover some of the underlying reason for the present stress within the Atlantic alliance. 

One should not underestimate that the EU has become one of the most important, if not, the most important economic powerhouse in the world. 

Consequently, what is considered as a financial crises in the Eurozone is seen by some insiders as one of the many issues in a power struggle, based on the differences of economic and political philosophy between the existing Anglo-Saxon financial/political establishment nd the EU. These differences are now not only apparent in the Eurozone economic sector but also in the approach to Middle East political strategy. 

For more: Who will save Europe this time? | CanadianBusiness.com

11/23/11

Reality Check: comparing the US Economic Crises with that of the Eurozone

With the Anglo-Saxon financial  sector's level of badmouthing  the Eurozone's economic problems reaching hysterical levels it might a  good idea to look at the reality of the situation.

Yes the Eurozone is experiencing a major crises, but looking at what has been happening so far this negative situation has definitely peaked.
 *new governments in Greece, Italy and Spain have adopted draconian economic deficit reduction measures,.
 *Ireland is back on the right economic track with all indicators showing positive signs.
 *Eurozone member states close to agreeing on a unified and central financial structure

In the US and Britain we see a more challenging situation than in the Eurozone;
* latest economic forecasts for all EU states place Britain 20th out of 27. The chancellor is on even weaker ground when he vaguely attributes Britain's problems to the state of the world.
* failure of the comically mis-named "super-committee" of Congress to come up with even the modest debt reduction package is the latest proof of the dysfunctionality of America's political system
* today the ratio of US federal debt to GDP is currently close to 100% and no one in the political establishment is able or willing to do something about it.

Bottom line: its time to stop the blaming game and start doing something more productive to benefit the consumer

EU-Digest

EU-Digest reports can be used 
without permission  as long as EU-Digest
is identified as the source 

US Economy: Not Enough U.S. Debt? - The ratio of U.S. federal debt to GDP is currently close to 100% - by David Andolfatto

One way to measure the ability to service debt is to compute a debt-to-income ratio. Suppose, for example, that your income is $50K per year, that your home is worth $200K, and that you have a $150K mortgage. Then your debt-to-income ratio is 150/50 = 3; or 300%.

Similarly, one way to measure the ability of a country to service its national debt is to compute debt-to-GDP (a measure of domestic income) ratio. The ratio of U.S. federal debt to GDP is currently close to 100%

For more: Not Enough U.S. Debt?

Britain: Excuses, excuses, excuses – the chancellor is running out of alibis- by Andrew Rawnsley

What do the following have in common? Angela Merkel, cold weather, Ed Balls, Silvio Berlusconi, the wedding of William Windsor and Kate Middleton, British civil servants, Brussels bureaucrats, people concerned about global warming, employment tribunals, trade unions, banks, bank holidays, Liberal Democrats, energy prices, Gordon Brown and the world?

The answer is that they have all been deployed as excuses by members of the government for why the economy is so dire. The proliferation of alibis offered by ministers, and their inability to stick to the same one, is a symptom of increasing desperation about the unravelling of their economic strategy.
The latest economic forecasts for all EU states place Britain 20th out of 27. The chancellor is on even weaker ground when he vaguely attributes Britain's problems to the state of the world. Much of the globe is still growing quite vigorously.

Anxiety is certainly an understandable response and panic might be a more appropriate one to the release of the latest slew of dismal economic data. Unemployment in the three months to September rose at the fastest rate in 17 years. The number of the young jobless has surged over a million, rightly stirring fears of a Generation U going from school into long-term unemployment without ever knowing work. "The lost generation charge is very dangerous for us," says one government strategist. "That gives Labour a really good line of attack." It is agitating ministers as unalike in so many other respects as Nick Clegg and Iain Duncan Smith. One of the odder alliances within the cabinet, they have joined forces behind the scenes to press for much more government activity to stem the flow of the young straight on to dole queues. Whatever schemes they come up with, and even if some are admirable, these will be palliatives, not cures, for the curse of youth unemployment.

For more: Excuses, excuses, excuses – the chancellor is running out of alibis| Andrew Rawnsley | Comment is free | The Observer

USA: Thanksgiving 2011 Myths and Facts

An estimated 248 million turkeys will be raised for slaughter in the U.S. during 2011, up 2 percent from 2010's total, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Last year's birds were worth about U.S. $4.37 billion.

About 46 million turkeys ended up on U.S. dinner tables last Thanksgiving—or about 736 million pounds (334 million kilograms) of turkey meat, according to estimates from the National Turkey Federation. (See the Green Guide's suggestions for having a greener—and more grateful—Thanksgiving.)

Minnesota is the United States' top turkey-producing state, followed by North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Virginia, and Indiana.

For more: Thanksgiving 2011 Myths and Facts

Immigration flood to spell end of Europe?

As the far-right Freedom Party takes the lead in Austria’s general election, its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, has told RT what he thinks of EU immigration policy and expansion plans, and explained why he wants a national debate on Islamization.

For more: Immigration flood to spell end of Europe? — RT

Britain caught between its debt and a hard place - by Eric Reguly

As the chief executive officer of Fiat, one of the world’s biggest auto groups, Sergio Marchionne isn’t prone to taking swipes at Britain, where he builds no cars. But he couldn’t resist doing so at the Confederation of British Industry conference in London.

Britain, he said Monday in his keynote speech, made a fundamental mistake in the 1980s with its “conscious decision” to ditch grubby, large-scale engineering and manufacturing so it could concentrate on services such as banking. Industries that took decades, even a century or longer, to develop – machine tools, cars, trains, ships – melted away. “The equilibrium of the entire [British] economic system has been undermined,” he said to an auditorium of executives and entrepreneurs.

For more:: Britain caught between its debt and a hard place - The Globe and Mail

11/22/11

A dangerous stalemate for the US economy


The failure of the comically mis-named "super-committee" of Congress to come up with even the modest debt reduction package required of it has been a racing certainty for weeks in Washington. Nonetheless, Monday evening's admission of that failure – the latest proof of the dysfunctionality of America's political system – is not only shameful. It is also dangerous.

The 12-person committee, split equally between Republicans and Democrats, was not being asked to remake the universe. Its task was to find $1.2 trillion of savings over 10 years, or barely 0.5 per cent of total GDP for that period, just a fraction of the $4trn worth of deficit reduction that most economists deem necessary for the nation's finances to be put in order.

The group was, moreover, given exceptional powers, including fast-track voting, decisions taken by a simple majority and no filibusters. Even so, it could not get the job done. The stumbling blocks were the usual ideological ones: the Democrats' reluctance to make meaningful cuts in public health and pensions programs, the Republicans' refusal to countenance any tax increases, even for the very rich. What happens now? The short answer, almost certainly, is nothing, at least until the 2012 presidential elections are out of the way. Theoretically, mandatory cuts, affecting even the normally sacrosanct Pentagon budget, will kick in automatically – but not until January 2013.

In political terms, the most obvious "winner" from the debacle is Mr Obama himself. Wisely, he declined to get involved in a doomed venture. Instead, he has to all intents and purposes launched his re-election campaign, portraying Republicans as the heartless party of "fat-cat" America and weighing into a "do-nothing" Congress.

For more: Leading article: A dangerous stalemate for the US economy - Leading Articles - Opinion - The Independent

Syria`s UN Envoy: EU is "suffering from Syria-phobia"

Syria’s UN envoy on Monday slammed a draft UN resolution that aims at condemning the Syrian government’s eight-month crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. Syria's U.N. ambassador accused Britain, France and Germany of declaring political and diplomatic war against his country by sponsoring a U.N. resolution that would condemn Syria's human rights violations calling it a “declaration of war” on Damascus.

For more: Syria`s UN Envoy: EU is "suffering from Syria-phobia" | English | NEWS | DayPress

Egyptian Revolution Relaunched:

As tens of thousands pour into Tahrir in preparation for a million man march, and as demonstrations erupt throughout the country, Ahram Online provides a blow-by-blow account of a new day in Egypt's ongoing revolution.

Egyptian Revolution Relaunched: Live updates from Tarhir and around the country - Egypt - Ahram Online

USA: Super committee squandered a rare opportunity to take major action against the United States' fiscal problems

One thing is that is absolutely certain is that Democrats and Republicans will use the super committee's dead end for political gain. Democrats are saying the outcome is further evidence Republicans just want to protect the rich from sharing the burden of deficit reduction. Republicans will argue that, once again, Democrats fail to grasp the gravity of escalating costs of healthcare benefits.

The White House has been bracing for days for the committee's failure and believes President Barack Obama can weather it without major political fallout and that he may even be able to score points against Republicans as he seeks re-election. Aides believe Obama will be able to seize the chance to further paint Republicans as obstructionist, a strategy they hope will be more potent because of polls showing most voters back his proposal to increase taxes on wealthier Americans.

The committee's failure could trigger another downgrade of the U.S. credit rating. Rating agencies, however, have said they will look at a range of factors in making any decision but that the committee's washout will not be decisive.

One thing is certain: The super committee disbanding without having agreed on one penny of deficit-reduction. Instead, it will have actually contributed to the government's $1 trillion-a-year budget deficits, having spent government funds paying for staff and other expenses.

Note EU-Digest: Watching CNBC Squawk Box this morning in trying to get some more insight as to the Super Committee's collapse it was surprising to see how little discussion there was about what, without doubt, is a major setback for the US economy. Instead the Squawk Box TV commentators seemed more interested to talk and joke in detail about the quality of their $70.00 hair cuts. Maybe it shows how irrelevant the political establishment has become in comparison to the the financial community ?

EU-Digest

Poll: Choose Your Candidate : Recep Tayyip Erdogan - should PM of Turkey be TIME's Person of the Year 2011 ?

From tsunamis to budget battles to revolutions, 2011 has been a tumultuous, news-packed year. Who influenced the news most, for better or worse? Tradition dictates that TIME's editors choose the Person of the Year, but we want to know: if you were in charge, who would it be? And remember, a person's inclusion as a candidate in the poll doesn't mean he, she or they are serious candidates to be named Person of the Year by the magazine.

By going to the link below you can participate in the poll.

Free press on trial in EU aspirant Turkey - by Andrew Rettman

The trial of 11 journalists - including Turkey's "last investigative reporter" - begins today, Tuesday (22 November) in a country which says it wants to join the EU.


Nedim Sener, Ahmet Sik and nine other journalists will face the court after spending six months in pre-trial detention on charges they support Ergenekon - an alleged conspiracy against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan named after a fairy tale palace. If convicted, they will join the 63 newspaper men and women who are already in prison or the 50 journalists who live under threat of prison due to suspended sentences.

The trial comes one month after Turkey arrested Ragip Zarakolu, an eminent intellectual and free speech campaigner, on charges that he collaborates with an illegal Kurdish movement, the KCK. It also comes the same day the government launches a Chinese-style Internet filter designed to block access to thousands of websites containing pornography or Kurdish "separatist propaganda."
 
For more: EUobserver.com / Enlargement / Free press on trial in EU aspirant Turkey

11/21/11

Poland: Walesa unveils statue of Ronald Reagan in Warsaw

Former Polish president and anti-communist leader Lech Walesa unveiled a statue of Ronald Reagan on an elegant Warsaw street on Monday, honoring the late U.S. president for inspiring Poland's toppling of communism.

Though Reagan's legacy is mixed in the U.S., across much of central and eastern Europe he is considered the greatest American leader in recent history for challenging the Soviet Union.

The moniker he gave it - the "evil empire" - resonated with Poles, who suffered greatly under Moscow-imposed rule.

US Economic and Political Crises: Super Committee announces it failed to compromise on deficit

The bipartisan leadership of a special congressional committee — assigned the task of slashing more than $1 trillion dollars from the U.S. deficit — announced Monday that the panel failed, unable to bridge bitter ideological differences separating Republicans and Democrats in the run-up to presidential and legislative elections next year.

Republicans refused to cross their ideological line against increasing taxes. Democrats refused to allow cuts in popular programs that serve the elderly and poor without a compensating growth of government income, especially from the wealthiest Americans.

Picture insert: Jeb Hensarling Republican Vice co-chair Super Committee

Note EU-Digest : In response to the Super Committee’s failure, Sen. Bernie Sanders put out a statement blasting the GOP for refusing to do what Americans really want, raise taxes on the wealthy.

For more: Supercommittee fails to compromise on deficit – USATODAY.com

US Republican Party: The Pledge: Grover Norquist's hold on the GOP

As head of Americans for Tax Reform since 1986, Grover Norquist has transformed a single issue - preventing tax hikes - into one of the key platforms of the Republican Party. As Steve Kroft reports, his biggest coup was getting more than 270 members of Congress, and nearly all of the 2012 Republican presidential primary candidates, to sign a pledge promising never to vote to raise taxes. But some opponents say the pledge may be hindering a solution to America's debt crisis.

For more: The Pledge: Grover Norquist's hold on the GOP - CBS News

USA - Super Committee turns into Super Disaster: World markets turn attention from Europe to US, where talks to reduce deficit near collapse - by Carlo Piovano

Fears that talks to reduce the U.S. deficit will collapse added to existing worries about European debt to push global markets lower on Monday.

A special deficit-reduction supercommittee in Washington was expected to admit failure in its quest to agree on how to improve government finances by $1.2 trillion over the coming decade. The main hurdle in the bipartisan panel's negotiations was how much to raise in new taxes.

The panel's failure would trigger about $1 trillion over nine years in automatic across-the-board spending cuts that some investors fear might not be tuned well enough to sustain growth and create jobs.

For more:"World markets turn attention from Europe to US, where talks to reduce deficit near collapse | CanadianBusiness.com

Blind to Extremism: How Germany Overlooked the Threat from the Right

A horrifying trail of blood extends across the entire country -- and perhaps the most spine-chilling aspect of all is that so few people have noticed it. It's been a long time since Germans have staged candlelight vigils in memory of the victims of far-right violence. This gives the impression that politicians and the general public were busy with more important things than this form of murderous, everyday violence. But perhaps simply no one, aside from a small circle of committed citizens, saw the connection -- the hate that tied all the crimes together.

Now, Germany has been startled from its slumber. Ever since the discovery of an underground far-right terror group which apparently targeted Turkish small businessmen all across Germany for many years, the law enforcement agencies have been asking themselves how they could have overlooked something that is actually impossible to overlook.

There's a deep sense of shock and dismay. German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of a "disgrace for Germany" and German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich warned of "enormous damage to the trust that people have in our law enforcement agencies" in an interview with SPIEGEL. On Tuesday, the German parliament, the Bundestag, will deal with the issue. On Friday of last week, a large crisis summit was held in Berlin. Participants discussed every option that could be quickly implemented: a new joint center to curb far-right violence, more staff members for the special units of police and the public prosecutors' offices and a renewed attempt to ban the NPD. The government is trying to calm the public -- and also itself.

For more: Blind to Extremism: How Germany Overlooked the Threat from the Right - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Euro Crises - the Netherlands: What have the Dutch ever done for us? - by Peter de Waard

Peter de Waard writes in the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant: "In the current crisis, the Dutch tend to pontificate about the citizens of ill performing countries like Greece and Italy. But as recession now looms, they should keep in mind that their prosperity isn’t just due to their own virtuousness.

What have the Romans ever done for us?”, asks John Cleese in the famous Monty Python satire Life of Brian to his resistance group. “The aqueduct”, whispers one. “And...sanitation”, another. “Roads.” “Irrigation.” “Medicine.” “Education.” “Wine.” “Clean water.” “Yes, but apart from aqueducts, sanitation, roads, irrigation, education, wine, medicine, clean water?” calls out a despairing Cleese. “Eh...public baths.”

A large proportion of Dutch people want to first get rid of the Greeks, then the Italians. And actually the Spanish and the Portuguese as well. Maybe it would be better for the French to leave the eurozone too. And the Belgians.

Since World War 2, there has never been so much stereotyping of European peoples as in the past weeks. The suggestion is that there is an unbridgeable culture gap between the hard working North Europeans and the lazy souls in the south.

The past is quickly forgotten. In 2004 and 2005, praise was heard from all over Europe for Spain and Ireland for having the most successful economies of the entire continent. The Netherlands could consider itself lucky to be associated with the Spanish wonder child and the Celtic Tiger. Spain, Portugal and Italy were at the heart of the new Europe.

In the seventies, though, it was the Netherlands that was the pariah of Europe. In 1977, British weekly The Economist ran a cover on The Dutch Disease – the deindustrialization of the industrial sector and the squandering of income from natural resources, the gas from Slochteren, in favour of social provisions and leftist projects.

It still appears as an economic model in Wikipedia and is used in the UK and US, whether relevant or not, as a metaphor for economic processes that are in the doldrums. It is much more familiar than the “polder model” that twenty years later made the Netherlands a model nation.

But while the Netherlands boomed with the polder model in the eighties and nineties, Sweden experienced a banking crisis. Meanwhile, Germany struggled to emerge from the depths into which it had sunk following reunification. The point is that economic success is not linked to a nation. It is rather a question of the “Law of the Handicap of a Head Start' as the historian Jan Romein described it in 1937. Over time a head start turns into a handicap.

We deduct our mortgage repayments from our tax returns, have expensive healthcare and pensions to pay. These all hang like a millstone around the neck of the Netherlands. With a recession looming, maybe in years to come the Greeks and Italians will then wonder what the Dutch ever did for Europe. “The windmill.” “The polder.” “The cassette deck.” “Eh... the CD player.” Cleese would then say: “But which of those things are still actually useful today?”

EU-Digest

Global Warming: World carbon dioxide emissions data by country: China speeds ahead of the rest

World carbon dioxide emissions are one way of measuring a country's economic growth too. And the latest figures - published by the respected Energy Information Administration - show CO2 emissions from energy consumption - the vast majority of Carbon Dioxide produced.

A reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions is not only the goal of environmentalists but also of pretty much every government in the world. Currently 192 countries have adopted the Kyoto protocol. One of the aims is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% of the 1990 levels by 2012 collectively for countries starred on this list.

On pure emissions alone, the key points are:
China emits more CO2 than the US and Canada put together - up by 171% since the year 2000
• The US has had declining CO2 for two years running, the last time the US had declining CO2 for 3 years running was in the 1980s

For more: Datablog badge new 620

Debt crisis strikes at heart of Europe

Spaniards gave the People's Party a clear mandate for more austerity against a background of 21 per cent unemployment and one of the highest budget shortfalls in the region.

"We will stop being part of the problem and will be part of the solution," party leader Mariano Rajoy said after the vote. Analysts said they expected Rajoy, who will not be sworn in until December, to move quickly to turn the economy around.

"This could calm markets but until the new government does what it says it is going to do, nothing will change," said Angel Laborda, analyst at Madrid think-tank Funcas.

For more: Debt crisis strikes at heart of Europe - World News - IBNLive

11/20/11

EU: Analysis: Populists exploit euro zone crisis to gain influence - by Sara Webb

As the euro zone shudders, Europe's populist politicians from the Netherlands to Austria and Finland are exploiting its woes to build up support and even threaten some governments.

For more: Analysis: Populists exploit euro zone crisis to gain influence | Reuters

Thousands rally against German neo-Nazis in Hamburg

There has been a massive rally in Hamburg to commemorate a string of immigrant murders blamed on neo-Nazis.

Members of the city’s Turkish, Greek and Jewish communities joined the silent march.

It follows revelations that three neo-Nazis had been killing immigrant shopkeepers for years and police have failed to connect the murders to right-wing extremists.

For more: Thousands rally against German neo-Nazis | euronews, world news

Britain will join the Euro says Lord Heseltine

The staunch Europhile ex deputy prime minister and long term supporter of the Euro, Lord Heseltine, said on the BBC’s Politics Show that “I think we will join the Euro”. This declaration by the Tory Grandee comes straight after the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, said last week that the UK would join the single currency “faster than people think”.

Lord Heseltine said that, even though it had problems, the ‘chances are’ that the Euro would survive due to the sheer determination of the Germans and the French to maintain its ‘cohesiveness’..

For more: Britain will join the Euro says Lord Heseltine | The Economic Voice

Spanish Elections: Exit poll results - its Mariano Rajoy

Voting stations in Spain have now closed, and exit polls suggest a landslide victory for Popular Party President, Mariano Rajoy.

The poll showed the centre-right party winning 181 to 185 seats in the 350 seat lower house, or 43.5 percent of the votes. This gives them the absolute majority they need to form a government.

It also indicated that the Socialists, lead by Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, would fall to just 115 to 119 seats, or a 30 percent share of the votes.

Note EU-Digest: Europe is sharpening its teeth - Sarkozy, Merkel, Rajoy, and Mark Rutte ain't your US style bought out conservatives. They are pro EU, Euro and ready to "kick Ass"... US (Wall Street) better watch out.

For more: Spanish Elections: Exit poll results | euronews, world news

Eurozone crisis: "The size of the solution has to be in proportion to the problem we're solving." - by Robert Schuman

Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg and current president of the Euro-Group, once joked: "We all know what to do, but we don't know how to get re-elected once we have done it." The quip has gained a frightening new relevance ahead of a "great leap forward" to an economic union that can keep the markets at bay. The hardcore eurozone countries, led by Germany, have made it clear that the sovereign debt crisis leaves politicians no room for manoeuvre, however far their poll ratings fall.

The constant refrain from Berlin is that the laggards at the back of the eurozone class need to start doing their homework. In Rome, Madrid and elsewhere, the sums relating to national debt, budget deficits and state spending need to start to add up. The days when governments could go their own sweet way, ignoring treaty agreements and responsible only to their electorates, have gone.

Without a new disciplinary apparatus, designed to keep the "reckless and feckless" on the straight and narrow, and policed by the European commission, there is not a chance that Berlin will compromise its own finances by pooling its debt with beleaguered neighbours. It would far prefer to strike out in a new elite monetary grouping, probably including the Netherlands, Austria and France. And Merkel will not countenance a massive and inflationary intervention by the European Central Bank.

As to Britain , their prime minister will have discovered that, as the European dream of integration via monetary union teeters on the brink of catastrophe and the concerns of the semi-detached (like Britain) are at the top of no one's agenda. The UK's decision not to directly assist bailout funds for Greece and Portugal went down badly; the subsequent exhortations from Downing Street to sort the euro mess out were greeted with exasperation.So Downing Street will be no more than a spectator as the eurozone launches itself, in the context of crisis, into a new era.

Will the eurozone's population ultimately be reconciled to emasculated national parliaments enacting austerity programs that may take their countries back into recession? Barroso has taken to quoting the wisdom of another of the founding fathers of the EU, Jean Monnet: "People are ready to change when they understand there is no alternative."

For more: Eurozone crisis: European Union prepares for the 'great leap forward' | Business | The Observer

Polling: 73% Think Most Bailout Money Went To Those Who Caused Economic Crisis

Americans believe more strongly than ever that most of the government bailout money for the financial industry went to those who caused the economic meltdown and that the government hasn’t tried hard enough to bring Wall Street criminals to justice.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 73% of American Adults now think most of the bailout money went to the people who created the economic crisis.

For more: 73% Think Most Bailout Money Went To Those Who Caused Economic Crisis - Rasmussen Reports™

US Presidential Elections: Republicans blast Occupy movement at debate

"Go get a job right after you take a bath," Newt Gingrich told the audience at the "Thanksgiving Family Forum," when asked about activists protesting over the last two months in major US cities including New York and Washington.

The forum, organized by a number of right-wing Christian organizations, was attended by candidates Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, both Mormons and more moderate candidates, did not attend. 

The protesters seek an overhaul to what they see as major socioeconomic inequalities fostered by mainstream US politics and systems of finance.

Another frontrunner in the race, former pizza boss Herman Cain, slammed the OWS movement by claiming that "freedom without responsibility is immoral."

For more AFP: Republicans blast Occupy movement at debate

US Autumn Revolution: UC Davis chief won't quit over pepper spray

The chancellor of the University of California, Davis on Saturday afternoon called video images of an officer calmly pepper-spraying a line of student protesters a day earlier "chilling" but said she would not step down.

Linda Katehi, who earlier Saturday said in a letter that she was forming a task force to investigate the incident, told an afternoon news conference that what the video shows is "sad and really very inappropriate."

The events surrounding the protest have been hard on her personally, but she had no plans to resign, she said.

Note EU-Digest: What is happening to US Democracy and Freedom of Expression?

For more: UC Davis chief won't quit over pepper spray - US news - Life - msnbc.com

Spain poised to undergo Europe's next leadership shake-up - by Henry Chu

Reporting from Seville, Spain — The tsunami of political shake-ups sweeping across debt-ridden Europe is about to crash on Spanish shores, and a visit to Antonino Parilla Villar's ice cream shop offers a clue to why.

"Working harder to earn the same amount is tough," said Villar, 58, who puts in 16 to 17 hours a day behind the counter of his brightly lighted store in downtown Seville, whipping up new flavors for the customers who sometimes saunter in well after midnight. "The question is, do the politicians do the same as we do?"

11/19/11

US Presidential Elections: Prepare Yourself for Obama's Second Term

For some time now, many conservatives have thought that President Obama is the Second Coming of Jimmy Carter. They think that chronic 9% unemployment, creeping inflation, and a foreign policy of self-abasement and weakness will doom Obama to a single term, and that he'll slink off with his tail between his legs in disgrace, just like Carter did after the election of 1980.

Maybe they should be thinking about the election of 1996 instead.Does anyone remember the disaster that was Bill Clinton's first term? The first attempt to put gays in the military, the first attack on the World Trade Center by Muslim fanatics, and the "Assault Weapons" Ban? The proposal to raise taxes, increase spending, and downsize the military? Hillary arrogantly proclaiming that she was no little Tammy Wynette by her man and baking cookies? That she would revamp the entire health care system, by herself, in secret, without congressional input? Does anyone remember the Waco debacle, which led directly to the Oklahoma City bombing, and Clinton's allegation that it was the fault of talk radio? Does anyone remember the landslide Republican victory in the House in 1994, breaking forty straight years of Democratic control -- a massive rebuke of the Clinton administration?

And yet...Clinton got re-elected in 1996. He didn't just squeak by, either -- he won a crushing 379-159 victory in the Electoral College and beat the Republican ticket by eight and a half percent in the popular vote.Conservatives were in shock. How could this happen.

For more: Articles: Prepare Yourself for Obama's Second Term

EU calls on Libya to cooperate with ICC on trial of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi

The European Union Saturday described the capture of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi as "a significant development," and said he was a key player in the former regime.

Michael Mann, spokesman of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, in a statement here tonight said Saif Al-Islam also faces serious charges including allegations of crimes against humanity committed during the Libyan revolution.

"It is of utmost importance that Saif Al-Islam's safety is now ensured and his due process rights guaranteed so that he can be delivered to justice, in accordance with Libya's international obligations and the National Transitional Council's public commitments to respect the rule of law," said the statement.

For more: EU calls on Libya to cooperate with ICC on trial of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi - الشؤون السياسية - 19/11/2011

Gaddafi's son captured in Libyan desert without a fight

Reuters reports that Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam has been captured, scared and with just a few thousand dollars, in the Libyan desert by fighters who vowed to hold him in the mountain town of Zintan until there was a government to hand him over to.

( illustration shows captured Saif al Islam on flight to Zintan)

The Zintan fighters, who make up one of the powerful militia factions holding ultimate power in a country still without a government, said they planned to keep him in Zintan, until they could hand him over to the authorities. 

Prime minister-designate Abdurrahim El-Keib is scheduled to form a government by Tuesday, and the fate of Saif al-Islam will be an early test of its authority. Libyans want to try him at home before, possibly, handing him over to the International Criminal Court which accuses him of crimes against humanity.

EU-Digest

Wilders slams Dutch-Turkish celebrations

Anti-Islam Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders says next year’s celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Dutch-Turkish relations should be called off. His comments which appear in the opinion section of Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant on Saturday have been published online.

He writes that Turkish President Abdullah Gül is not welcome on a state visit to the Netherlands. He says there’s nothing to celebrate.

“Gül’s Islamic regime and his party colleague, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, are no friends to the West and therefore neither to the Netherlands. President Gül is not welcome. Turkey has no place in the community of European values and there’s no reason for a party.

“Whoever looks further than his nose can see that the regime of Gül and Erdogan is busy killing off Turkey’s secular constitution in order to re-Islamize the country."

Note EU-Digest: The 400th anniversary of Dutch-Turkish relations has nothing to do with the internal policies of the present Turkish government of Mr. Erdogan and its Islamization policies. Again not wisely chosen words by Geert Wilders, considered more and more by Dutch citizens and politicians alike as the internationally and nationally embarrassing "L'enfantTerrible" of the Dutch Mark Rutte government.

For more: Wilders slams Dutch-Turkish celebrations | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Turkey: current account deficit swells by 80%

Balance of payments data released on Tuesday in Turkey revealed that, far from narrowing, the country’s current account deficit remains as hefty as ever.

The deficit was $6.8bn for September, about 80 per cent greater than the same month a year before, bringing the rolling deficit for the previous 12 months to a new record, at $77.6bn.

This is not the script that was written by the Turkish central bank, which has been confidently predicting in recent months that demand growth would slacken, so reducing the deficit and so lessening Turkey’s vulnerability to external shocks. Nor was the sheer size of the deficit the only issue of concern in the latest figures.

As Ozgur Altug of BGC Partners in Istanbul notes, there was a net outflow of portfolio funds of more than $3bn in September, because of a sell-off in the bond market.

Despite an increase in foreign direct investment to more than $9bn for the first nine months of the year (more than double the previous year’s tally), portfolio funds remain a main source of financing of the deficit. Their recent volatility only highlights the vulnerability some economists are so worried about.

For more: Turkey: current account deficit swells | beyondbrics | News and views on emerging markets from the Financial Times – FT.com

11/18/11

Mexican Drug Cartel Tries To Silence Internet - by AP

Mexico's hyperviolent Zetas drug cartel appears to be launching what may be one of the first campaigns by an organized crime group to silence commentary on the Internet.

The cartel has already attacked rivals, journalists and other perceived enemies. Now, the target is an online chat room, Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, that allows users to comment on the activities of the Zetas and others in the city on the border with Texas.

Already, three apparent site users have been slain, and a fourth victim may have been discovered Wednesday, when a man's decapitated body was found with what residents said was a banner suggesting he was killed for posting on the site. Chat room users said they could not immediately confirm the victim's identity, because people all post under aliases.

Drug cartels in Mexico have frequently attacked traditional print newspapers, by tossing explosives at their offices or killing, kidnapping or threatening reporters. Violence against journalists in Tamaulipas state, where Nuevo Laredo is located, has led local media to censor themselves, leaving residents on their own to separate fact from pervasive rumors spread on social networks.

For more: Mexican Drug Cartel Tries To Silence Internet : NPR

EU tightens noose on Syria, urges UN action - by Claire Rosemberg

The European Union tightened the noose on Syria on Monday, slapping new sanctions on Presidant Basahar al-Assad's regime and urging the UN to act to protect civilians after eight months of bloodshed.

Foreign ministers stepped into talks in Brussels lauding the Arab League's decision to suspend Syria for failing to implement a plan to end violence which has left 3,500 dead since mid-March, according to the United Nations. "Today the time has come to see how we can better protect the population. I hope the Security Council too will finally take a position," French Foreign Minister Juppe said after denouncing "the bloody stubbornness" of Damascus.

Sweden's foreign minister said one option to protect civilians could be to despatch UN observers.

Britain 'will join euro before long’, says German finance minister - by Bruno Waterfield and Christopher Hope

Wolfgang Schäuble said that, despite the current crisis in the eurozone, the euro will ultimately emerge as the common currency of the entire European Union. He said he “respects” Britain’s decision to keep the pound, but insisted that the survival and eventual stabilization of the euro will convince non-members to join the currency club. “This may happen more quickly than some people in the British Isles currently believe,” he added.

Mr Schäuble also said Germany will stand firm on its call for a financial transaction tax that Britain believes would badly harm the City of London.

Meanwhile, a leaked document seen by The Daily Telegraph yesterday showed Berlin has drawn up radical plans for an intrusive new European body which will be able to intervene directly in beleaguered countries.

For more: Britain 'will join euro before long’, says German finance minister - Telegraph

U.S. ‘super committee’ on deficit inches closer to abject failure

A high-profile effort to trim stubborn U.S. budget deficits appeared near collapse on Friday as Democrats and Republicans were unable to agree on tax increases and benefit cuts.

A 12-member “super committee” in Congress has until midnight on Wednesday to strike a deal that would save at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Members say they think a deal is still possible, but aides privately are more pessimistic. Friday is shaping up to be a make-or-break day, one super committee member said.

“We should know by end of today, and I’ll give myself until 11:59 p.m., as to whether or not there will be a deal,” Democratic U.S. Representative Xavier Becerra said at a renewable-energy conference.
Congress is already facing rock-bottom approval ratings after a year of down-to-the-wire budget battles, and failure to reach a deal would likely incite further disgust among voters as the 2012 election season heats up.

For more: U.S. ‘super committee’ on deficit inches closer to abject failure | News | National Post

Spain to Vote for Cuts on Sunday as Polls See Conservative Rajoy Win - Angeline Benoit

Spaniards, already reeling from the austerity measures that followed the worst recession in 60 years, are poised to vote for more economic pain on Nov. 20.

Voters may hand the opposition People’s Party the largest majority any party has won since 1982, polls indicate. PP leader Mariano Rajoy has promised “restraint and rigor” to shrink the euro area’s third-largest deficit by about a third to 4.4 percent of gross domestic product next year.

“We have to put up with this so the situation improves,” said Goyi Bohoyo, a 61 year-old widow in Madrid whose pension is frozen as part of Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero’s May 2010 budget-cuts package. “We are used to worse austerity. Spain was much poorer before the democracy was born and we don’t want to go back by 40 years.”

For more: Spain to Vote for Cuts as Polls See Rajoy Win - Bloomberg

EU steps up attack on major credit ratings agencies - by David Gow

The EU is to set out contentious plans to clamp down on the "oligopoly" of the three main credit ratings agencies and encourage newer European rivals.

On Friday the author of the proposals, EU internal market commissioner Michel Barnier, fired a shot across the bows of the dominant US trio of agencies after the hugely embarrassing error committed by Standard & Poor's on Thursday, when it issued a downgrade of French sovereign debt by mistake.

Barnier, who will unveil his plans on Tuesday, said pointedly that they would create a European framework for civil liability "in the case of serious misconduct or gross negligence" indicating that this was especially relevant in the current case.

"This incident is serious and shows that in the current tense and volatile market situation, market players must exercise discipline and demonstrate a special sense f responsibility," he said. "This is all the more important since we are not talkig about just any market player but one of the biggest rating agencies."

Note EU-Digest: Great initiative by EU internal market commissioner Michael Barnier It is also recommended that not only the credit rating agencies should be scrutinized but also the Anglo Saxon corporate controlled financial communication/news agencies who are continuously on the war path against the EU while downplaying the problems in their own market areas. Its high time we get some balance in financial reporting.

For more: EU steps up attack on major credit ratings agencies | Business | The Guardian