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IHT: Visiting U.S., Berlusconi gets a warm endorsement from Bush

International For the full report go to Herald Tribune

Visiting U.S., Berlusconi gets a warm endorsement from Bush

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, who is fighting a bitter re-election campaign, was praised here Tuesday by President George W. Bush as a "strong leader" and a source of needed stability for the Italian government. While sidestepping an Italian reporter's question about how relations would be affected should Prodi win, Bush tip- toed close to an endorsement. "It's much easier to make common policy," he said, "when you're dealing with a person from one year to the next." - The siren call of economic patriotism

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The siren call of economic patriotism

Many continental members of the European Union are turning defensive against each other, not just the outside world. Signs of this have already surfaced in the Italian and Polish governments' attempts to thwart foreign bank bids, and in the dilution of legislation to free up the cross-border provision of services. But the protectionist wave is now cresting in the huge energy take-over moves, with Paris forging the all-French Gaz de France-Suez merger to keep Italy's Enel out, just as Madrid still backs Gas Natural's bid for Endesa to exclude Germany's Eon.The excluded are furious. Giulio Tremonti, Italy's economy minister, warned the rush towards protective barriers risks "an August 1914 effect". This is hypocritical hyperbole, and not just because in the banking field Italy was a sinner until the ousting of its protectionist central bank governor. EU states are not mobilising for all-out economic war. But there is a danger that the conduct of some EU states could roll back hard-won achievements in the Union's single market, and sap the market integration that underpins the euro.

Malaysia Sun: European Union resumes Aid to Palestinians

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European Union resumes Aid to Palestinians

The European Union agreed Monday to unblock short-term aid for the financially struggling Palestinian Authority. But, it remains unclear whether European financing will continue after the new Palestinian cabinet is sworn in. The roughly $144 million in European Union aid is expected to cover just the essentials for the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority. A large chunk is earmarked to pay the Palestinian government's energy bills. An even larger slice will be funneled through the United Nations to pay for things like education, health and social services in the Palestinian territories. Only a small percentage, about $21 million, will go to paying Palestinian government salaries. The short-term assistance from the EU, the Palestinian Authority's largest donor, comes as Palestinian officials are scrambling to find funding to bankroll their government. Israel recently cut off transfers of roughly $50 million a month in tax payments to the Palestinians. And Washington called on the Palestinian Authority to hand back another $50 million in donations.

Yahoo Financial News: ANSYS, Inc. Joins European SAFEDOR Project

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ANSYS, Inc. Joins European SAFEDOR Project

OUTHPOINTE, Pa., Feb. 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- ANSYS, Inc. (Nasdaq: ANSS - News), a global innovator of simulation software and technologies designed to optimize product development processes, today announced its selection as one of four software manufacturers providing expertise to the SAFEDOR project, which is charged with improving the safety, security, environmental impact and competitiveness of Europe's maritime industry. ANSYS will work in tandem with other SAFEDOR partners to develop innovations applicable to cruise ships, ferries, tankers and container ships.

Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention: Miami March 13 to 16 - Major European companies attending

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Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention Miami March 13 - 16, 2006 - Major European companies attending

Cruise line executives, delegates, and exhibitors are singing the praises of the Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention. Whether it’s networking, sourcing or catching up on the latest news and trends in the cruise industry, people from more than 100 countries around the world flock to Miami every March to be part of the cruise industry’s largest annual gathering.
For additional Info go to:

Carnival Craziness: Europe Erupts in Excess


"Europe Erupts in Excess

From Venice to Cologne, people are throwing on their party clothes for one last burst of overindulgence before Lent. While the weather forced the Europeans to wear more clothes than they do at Carnival in Rio, in spirit they are just as risqué.

Carnivale in Venice, Karneval in Cologne and Fastnacht in southwestern Germany and northern Switzerland all share the tradition of feasting on all the food that could spoil during Lent -- the 40 day period of fasting prior to Easter. The word carnival is derived from the Latin 'carne vale' or 'farewell to meat.' Actually the festivals have their roots in pagan celebrations, but the Christians successfully co-opted the traditions into their own liturgical calendar. "

The Daily Star - Bird flu, cartoons take toll on Turkey tourism

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Fewer tourists are flocking to Turkey this winter season, scared off by an outbreak of the deadly bird-flu virus and the violent protests by Muslims over publication in Europe of the Prophet Mohammad cartoons, tourism operators and officials say. The number of foreigners visiting Turkey last month fell 4.7 percent to 667,000, compared with January 2005, according to government figures. Even more disappointing, reservations for the summer season are down, according to hotel representatives and travel agents interviewed at a tourism conference in Istanbul on Friday. Reservations have fallen "by 25 to 30 percent compared with last season," said Fusan Kayan, sales manager at the luxury hotel chain Marti, which is based in Marmaris in the west and Antalya in the south.

"The season has gotten off to a bad start," said Yusuf Istanbullu, manager of the Orient Palace in Alanya in southern Turkey, reporting a 10-percent drop in reservations. Dozens in France Contract Tropical Virus

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Dozens in France Contract Tropical Virus

SAINT-DENIS, La Reunion — A few dozen people in mainland France who contracted a mosquito-borne virus on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion are being treated at a Paris hospital, officials said Monday. The chikungunya virus has struck 20 percent of the population of the Indian Ocean island and overwhelmed its medical system. Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said a few dozen people were treated at a Paris hospital after they were infected with the chikungunya virus while traveling to Reunion and other Indian Ocean islands.

The virus is usually not life-threatening but can cause muscle and joint pain, rash and fever. Chikungunya is a Swahili word meaning "that which bends up," a reference to the stooped posture some victims adopt because of joint pain.


Guardian Unlimited | Guardian: The propaganda we pass off as news around the world by David Miller

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The propaganda we pass off as news around the world by David Miller

A succession of scandals in the US has revealed widespread government funding of PR agencies to produce "fake news". Actors take the place of journalists and the "news" is broadcast as if it were genuine. The same practice has been adopted in Iraq, where newspapers have been paid to insert copy. These stories have raised the usual eyebrows in the UK about the pitiful quality of US democracy. Things are better here, we imply. We have a prime minister who claimed in 2004 that "the values that drive our actions abroad are the same values of progress and justice that drive us at home". Yet in 2002 the government launched a littleknown television propaganda service that seems to mimic the US government's deceptive approach to fake news.The British Satellite News website says it is "a free television news and features service". It looks like an ordinary news website, though its lack of copyright protection might raise some questions in alert journalists. Broadcasters can put BSN material "directly into daily news programmes". In fact, BSN is provided by World Television, a company that also makes corporate videos and fake news clips for corporations such as GlaxoSmithKline, BP and Nestlé. It also produced Towards Freedom Television on behalf of the UK government. This was a propaganda programme broadcast in Iraq by US army psychological-operations teams from a specially adapted aircraft in 2003/04.

World Television produces the fake news, but its efforts are entirely funded by the Foreign Office, which spent £340m on propaganda activities in the UK alone in 2001. A comprehensive post- 9/11 overhaul means that this figure has probably markedly increased since then.

Expatica: Holland 'brand' 10th in ranking of financial value

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Holland 'brand' 10th in ranking of financial value

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch see Holland as the number one country brand, while a new survey of 35 countries puts the Holland brand in 12th place. Britain is the world's top national brand, according to the fourth edition of the Anholt Nations Brand Index. The survey was created by Simon Anholt and is conducted by Global Market Insite (GMI).

This survey covers the first quarter of 2005. GMI said the index, launched at the beginning of last year, is the first analytical ranking of the world's nation brands. It questions a worldwide panel of almost 26,000 consumers every quarter on their perceptions of the cultural, political, commercial and human assets, investment potential and tourist appeal of 35 developed and developing countries.The top ten countries in the list of nation brands are: the UK, Switzerland, Canada, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Japan, France, Australia and the United States. Turkey is at the bottom of the list. Simon Anholt notes the tendency of the top 15 countries - the top 10 plus Spain, Holland, Noway, Denmark and New Zealand – to see themselves as the number one brand. He ponders whether the much lower self-rankings of the less powerfully branded countries is simply a realistic appraisal of the country's modest assets or is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. "It is noticeable that the two countries in the bottom 20 that do buck the trend and rank themselves first are also two of the fastest-growing economies: India (26) and Ireland (17)." While Holland is just outside the overall top 10 country brands, its showing does not indicate it has a huge appeal. "Holland's ranking is still mainly due to the lack of negatives and the rather generic positives (which all the wealthy, democratic European countries appear to acquire by default) rather than anything more exciting or positive," Anholt said. or the first time the report measures country brands in monetary terms. Not surprisingly the US is the undisputed winner in this category, with an estimated value of USD 17,893 billion.

Japan comes second with an estimated value of USD 6,205 billion. Germany is third with on USD 4,582 billion. The UK is fourth place on USD 3,475 billion. Holland as a brand name is worth USD 792 billion (EUR 664 billion), putting it in 10th place in this list.

The Register: Politically motivated attacks soar in 2005 Turkey tops cracker chart - by John Leyden

For more information go to The Register

Politically motivated attacks soar in 2005- Turkey tops cracker chart - by John Leyden

Web server attacks and website defacements rose 16 per cent last year, according to an independent report. Zone-h, the Estonian security firm best known for its defacement archive, recorded 495,000 web attacks globally in 2004, up from 393,000 in 2003.

Mass defacements (371,000) were by far the largest category in 2005. More targeted attacks on individual servers numbered 124,000. Zone-h reports an increase in politically motivated attacks. It notes a growing number of attacks were launched from Muslim countries, especially Turkey. By contrast, the majority of attacks launched in 2004 originated in Brazil. The most active defacer last year was Iskorpitx, from Turkey, who's bagged 90,000 websites over the last two years.

The security consultancy recorded 49 assaults on US military servers and 31 against NASA websites, a perennially popular target for attack.

Newsweek/MNBC: Cartoons: The End of Europe’s Tolerance?

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Cartoons: The End of Europe’s Tolerance?

March 6, 2006 issue - The world has long looked upon the Dutch as the very model of a modern, multicultural society. Open and liberal, the tiny seagoing nation that invented the globalized economy in the 1600s prided itself on a history of taking in all comers, be they Indonesian or Turkish, African or Chinese.How different things look today. Dutch borders have been virtually shut. New immigration is down to a trickle. The great cosmopolitan port city of Rotterdam just published a code of conduct requiring Dutch be spoken in public. Parliament recently legislated a countrywide ban on wearing the burqa in public. And listen to a prominent Dutch establishment figure describe the new Dutch Way with immigrants. "We demand a new social contract," says Jan Wolter Wabeke, High Court Judge in The Hague. "We no longer accept that people don't learn our language, we require that they send their daughters to school, and we demand they stop bringing in young brides from the desert and locking them up in third-floor apartments." Comment EU-Digest: "Let us put it this way... it's not an end to multiculturalism, but it finally could be an end to being the gravy train for immigrants (not only Muslims), who don't want to work. This readjustment of immigration policies in Europe has now been going on for several years and it is doubtful the cartoons, which were anti-Muslim, had anything to do with it. Contrary to the US, European Governments never do anything instantly or make hasty decisions based on shaky information. They usually deliberate frustratingly long about everything and take long-term decisions. European history has taught us that hasty decisions can have disastrous effects. Integrating large numbers of multi-cultural immigrants will take time, patience, education, and a more liberalized European business environment...but it will happen."

Europe vs. Radical Islam - Alarmist Americans have mostly bad advice for Europeans. By Francis Fukuyama


"Europe vs. Radical Islam
Alarmist Americans have mostly bad advice for Europeans.
By Francis Fukuyama
Posted Monday, Feb. 27, 2006, at 6:27 AM ET

The riots that consumed the French suburbs last November, and now the uproar over the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, have underlined for all to see that the ongoing struggle with radical Islamism (aka the 'war on terrorism') is if anything more of a problem for Europe than it is for America. For the United States, with a Muslim population of less than 1 percent of the total, radical Islam is an issue to be dealt with 'over there,' in dysfunctional areas of the Middle East like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. For Europe, however, it is a much more immediate and threatening crisis because it is domestic. In the Netherlands, 6 percent to 7 percent of the population, and as much as half the population of large cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, are Muslim. In France, the percentage may reach to 12 or 13 percent. Many of the organizers of recent terrorist incidents—including Mohammed Atta, the Sept. 11 ringleader; the March 7 Madrid bombers; Mohammed Bouyeri, assassin of the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh; and the July 7 London bombers—were radicalized not in the Middle East, but in Western Europe. Many, like Bouyeri and the London bombers, were second-generation citizens who spoke their adopted country's language fluently."

Forbes: Denmark ranked no. 1 nation on “Capital Hospitality Index”

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Denmark ranked no. 1 nation on “Capital Hospitality Index” presents the Forbes Capital Hospitality Index, a unique ranking of 135 nations that are qualified for, or receptive to, capital investment by foreign countries. According to the report, “The FCHI measures macroeconomic indicators like GDP growth and international trade, along with societal factors affecting investment, including poverty, bureaucracy, technological advancement and corruption.” The top five ranked countries are:

1. Denmark
2. Finland
3. Iceland
4. United Kingdom
5. United States

Mosnews: Russian Banks Plan Acquisitions in European Union

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Russian Banks Plan Acquisitions in European Union

Russian banks plan to buy old and create new banks in the European Union, said on Sunday, Feb. 26, head of Association of Russian Banks Garegin Tosunyan. He was speaking in Vilnius, Lithuania.

“There are plans not only to acquire, but also to establish new banks in the European zone,” Tosunyan said, quoted by the Interfax agency. “Many banks have such plans, and in the next few years we’ll see examples of this happening. Most likely, it will happen in Czech republic.”

The head of the Association also forecasted that Russian banks will become more active in Lithuania. “Lithuania interests our banks, first of all, because there is a minimal language barrier, and well-preserved warm relations which eliminate all barriers for the business. I am convinced that in the next few years we’ll see new banks that will come to Lithuania,” Tosunyan said.

TCS Daily - WTO and Biotech Food: Who Really Won? by Gregory Conko and Co-Authored by Dr. Henry I. Miller

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WTO and Biotech Food: Who Really Won? by Gregory Conko and Co-Authored by Dr. Henry I. Miller

The long-awaited World Trade Organization decision on biotechnology applied to agricultural products, finally released earlier this month, elicited a great deal of buzz throughout the business, financial and biotech communities. Most analyses scored it a resounding victory for the United States and its co-complainants, and a stinging defeat for European protectionism. The reality is that it is a partial and largely hollow victory. For not having achieved a more complete and meaningful success, the United States, Canada, and Argentina, which jointly filed the complaint, have only their own unscientific, excessively risk-averse regulatory policies to blame.

Details of the 1,000-plus-page decision are still largely confidential, but a leaked copy of the conclusions and recommendations section makes clear that the WTO bluntly scolds the EU for denying it had imposed a moratorium on biotech food approvals from 1998 to 2004. It is disappointing that the WTO did not condemn the clearly illegitimate European policies, but the WTO's actions were limited by the fact that the complainants did not even challenge them.

How can that be? Simple -- the United States, Canada, and Argentina didn't challenge those policies because they use the same flawed basic approach as the EU. Their regulations all discriminate against the products of gene-splicing. High Speed Trains of Europe

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High Speed Trains of Europe

This European High Speed Trains Information site provides the following information: History of the TGV | Advances in Technology | Positive Design Tradeoffs | Negative Design Tradeoffs | The Chunnel | High Speed Links -


Independent: French gas merger raises fresh fears of Fortress Europe by Philip Thornton

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French gas merger raises fresh fears of Fortress Europe by Philip Thornton

Fears of an outbreak of protectionism across Europe soared yesterday after Suez, the French energy giant, unveiled plans to merge with Gaz de France, in a move to fend off a hostile bid by an Italian company. The deal will be a fresh challenge to Charlie McCreevy, the EU commissioner in charge of the internal market, who intervened last week to force Spain to amend laws that would have enabled it to block a German takeover of Endesa, the energy company. The future of Guantánamo's prison

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The future of Guantánamo's prison - better detention policy needed for war on terror

More than four years after the first terrorist suspects arrived at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, there is still no answer to the question of how long the camp will remain open and under what circumstances.

Around the globe, the camp remains a lightning rod for those who complain about America's disregard for civil liberties. In this country, a number of court cases challenge the treatment of the Guantánamo inmates and their legal status. In Guantánamo, the detainees remain human guinea pigs in an experiment testing whether this nation can wage an effective battle against enemies who fly no flag except that of destruction. Given all this, how can we remain true to our fundamental principles of justice. When should this experiment be declared over? Even Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, a staunch administration supporter, conceded recently that the camp was an ''anomaly'' -- a departure from normal standards. Euro Likely to Gain as ECB Prepares to Raise Rates, Survey Says

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Euro Likely to Gain as ECB Prepares to Raise Rates, Survey Says

Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- The euro may advance versus the dollar on speculation the European Central Bank will raise interest rates this week for second time in four months, a Bloomberg survey shows. Forty-eight percent of the 48 traders, strategists and investors surveyed on Feb. 24 from Sydney to New York advised buying the euro against the dollar, compared with 42 percent who said to sell the 12-nation currency. The ECB is raising rates as the region's economy gains momentum and European inflation remains above the central bank's 2 percent target. Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said Feb. 20 that expectations for rate increases are ``reasonable'' and ``vigilance'' is needed to stem faster inflation.

The Australian: EU Power players making moves

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EU Power players making moves

IN MATTERS of energy and much else, Europe's political leaders resemble Starkadder of Cold Comfort Farm. Like the rusticated rural folk in Stella Gibbons's satirical novel, Europe's politicians are in love with the Continent's backwardness. Its lack of modernisation is lovable, pretty as an alpine cowshed and just as draughty. For a long time Europeans thought energy just happened at the turn of a switch. When they looked a bit closer, they found "something nasty in the woodshed", an OPEC or a Russian oligarch, causing them to shut the door in fright, hoping it would go away. Sadly, it has not gone away and Tuesday's E29.1 billion ($46 billion) bid by Germany's Eon for Spain's Endesa is another nasty power-grab to frighten Europeans already alarmed by the unexpected irregularity of Russian gas supplies. Eon's bid is a snub to Neelie Kroes, Europe's feisty head of competition policy, who took the initiative last week, waving a yellow card at Europe's energy monopolists, Gaz de France, EdF, Eon and ENI. If Kroes had her way, they would be broken up, their pipes and power grids stripped from them and their energy stockpiles sold to the highest bidder.


For the full report go to MichNews


France: Will make Muslims sign their names to a "Contract of Welcome and Integration." That will define their duties to the government. France outlaws "insular Muslim communities." Further, Muslims must show respect for French culture, including male and female equality. "If a wife is kept hostage at home without learning French, the whole family will be asked to leave [the country]," said hard-line Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, according to Lawrence Solomon of Financial Post via National Post. Danes: Proposing a total ban on Muslim immigrants. "Radical leaders (will be) stripped of citizenship and deported."Germany: Looking negatively on multiculturalism. It doesn’t work. "It was a mistake for us to bring guest workers from foreign cultures into the country at the beginning of the 1960s," said former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt. Germany's new Chancellor, Angela Merkel, shares his view: "The notion of multiculturalism has fallen apart," she said prior to her election. "Anyone coming here must respect our constitution and tolerate our Western and Christian roots." Netherlands: No longer kind toward immigration. Deports 26,000 "rejected asylum seekers and keeping new arrivals in detention camps." Muslim females cannot wear burka in public. "I believe we have been far too tolerant for too long, especially being too tolerant of intolerance, and we only got intolerance back," said Member of Dutch Parliament Girt Wielders, who has been forced to live in safe houses because of Islamist death threats. Belgium: Muslims are regarded as the chief enemy to the entire free world, according to Filip Dewinter, leader of The Flemish Interest, the nation’s most popular political party. He said: "It is an illusion to think that a moderate Islam exists in Europe." He states: "There are already 25 million to 30 million Muslims on Europe's soil, and this becomes a threat. It's a real Trojan horse." Switzerland: Muslims are a threat to the nation.

Italy: 50% conclude Islam to be "a religion more fanatical than any other."

CYPRUS-MAIL: Tales from the Coffeeshop

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Tales from the Coffeeshop

CYPRUS-FLAGGED ship, Abel F, was not allowed to dock in Mersin, Turkey on Wednesday, allowing our government to inform the European Commission that the Turks were not honouring their signature of the Customs Protocol and allowing Cyprus ships to use its ports. There is little doubt that the government set up this incident. No ship-owning company would waste money sending containers to Turkey on a Cyprus-flagged ship when it knew there was no chance the Turks would allow it to dock and unload its cargo.

In Greece, it is being said that the incident was not intended to expose Turkey – the Turks never said they would allow Cyprus-flagged ships into their ports. It was aimed at forcing Greece’s dovish new Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni to follow the confrontational policy towards Turkey that Tassos has chosen. The government in Nicosia had tried in vain to block the appointment of Dora, so it is now trying to dictate the foreign policy she should follow. This was why the Greek government had not been informed about the ship scheme and found out about it from the news. The hope is that this Turkish behaviour would force Dora, who has made the improvement of Greece-Turkey relations one of her main foreign policy priorities, to take a more Tassian approach to Ankara.

FIN FACTS: French Muslim leader attacks Multicultural Europe as intolerance and political correctness reign at Harvard and London by Michael Hennigan

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French Muslim leader attacks Multicultural Europe as intolerance and political correctness reign at Harvard and London by Michael Hennigan by Michael Hennigan

One example of out-of-control political correctness was on Friday when the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone was suspended from office for four weeks by a disciplinary tribunal for likening a Jewish newspaper reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard. The panel comprising a pensions ombudsman, a statistics expert and a retired civil servant said Livingstone should step down from his duties on March 1st. They ruled that his outburst last February had breached the Greater London authority code and damaged the reputation of his office. His treatment of Oliver Finegold, a reporter for the London Evening Standard, was "unnecessarily insensitive and offensive", the panel said.

On Monday, Lawrence Summers announced his resignation as the 27th president of Harvard University, America's oldest, in advance of a planned vote of no-confidence by academics whose world of intolerence, vested interest and egoism was under attack by the reformer who had served as US Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration.Summers who had made history by becoming the youngest tenured professor at Harvard University at the age of 28, had challenged several tenured professors to account for the direction of their research and teaching. He angered black studies professor Cornel West, when he suggested that the scholar take time out from writing rap songs to do some serious academic work. After some faculty had signed a petition urging divestment from Israel, he warned against the recurrence of anti-Semitism in a new guise. At an academic conference on the under-representation of women in science, he speculated on the implications of the differences between male and female test scores.

Chicago Sun Times: Needing to wake up, West just closes its eyes - by Mark Steyn

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Needing to wake up, West just closes its eyes - by Mark Steyn

n five years' time, how many Jews will be living in France? Two years ago, a 23-year-old Paris disc jockey called Sebastien Selam was heading off to work from his parents' apartment when he was jumped in the parking garage by his Muslim neighbor Adel. Selam's throat was slit twice, to the point of near-decapitation; his face was ripped off with a fork; and his eyes were gouged out. Adel climbed the stairs of the apartment house dripping blood and yelling, "I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven."

Is that an gripping story? You'd think so. Particularly when, in the same city, on the same night, a Jewish woman was brutally murdered in the presence of her daughter by another Muslim. You've got the making of a mini-trend there, and the media love trends. Yet no major French newspaper carried the story.

UPI Commentary: EU-U.S. trainwreck over Iran? by Arnaud de Borchgrave

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EU-U.S. trainwreck over Iran? by Arnaud de Borchgrave

In an otherwise flawless diplomatic performance, Secretary of State Rice threw a spark-plug wrench in the fragile machinery of trans-Atlantic rapprochement.Rice, the second woman to hold America's top diplomatic job, told a breakfast meeting in Paris, Iran is a "totalitarian regime" the United States would not talk to. Ranking officials rankled in all three European countries. Rice's position was deemed absurd. The United States holds the only sticks and carrots that might conceivably make a difference. Sticks, short of military action, would be a U.N. Security Council censure of Iran and economic sanctions. Iran can circumvent any sanction regime by buying whatever it needs across the Gulf, in Dubai or Oman, an emirate and a country that enjoy close relations with Iran. EU3 countries would continue trading - via Dubai.

2/25/06 - EU tries to calm trade partners over bird flu

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EU tries to calm trade partners over bird flu

PARIS, Feb 25 (Reuters) The European Union urged its trading partners today not to overreact to an outbreak of bird flu in France after Japan suspended all French poultry impors and threatened a similar ban on the Netherlands. Confirmation of the H5N1 strain in France, at a farm where thousands of turkys have died or now been culled, threatens to deal a severe blow to France's poultry indstry, worth 6 billion euros 7 billion dollars a year and the biggest in the 25-nation EU.

The Netherlands is the next biggest European producer, with exports of live birds, meat nd eggs worth about 1.5 billion euros a year.

Eurofighter Typhoon - Italian Eurofighter Typhoons Providing Air Cover for Turin Winter Olympics

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Following the commencement of operations in its Air Surveillance role with the Italian Air Force on December 16 2005, the Eurofighter Typhoon new generation combat aircraft has been tasked with providing airspace air defence coverage above Turin during the Winter Olympic Games over the next two weeks.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is already in operation as part of the Italian integrated air defence system from the main base of Grosseto, home of 4° Stormo. The Aeronautica Militare is the first air force in the world to operate the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft in a real operational scenario. The new Italian Eurofighter Typhoons form part of an air defence structure which has already been tested during events such as the Genoa G8 summit, Pratica di Mare NATO-Russia summit, the burial ceremony for Pope John Paul II and the coming into seat of Pope Benedictus XVI. The Eurofighter Typhoon has all the capabilities demanded of a world-leading new generation swing role aircraft. It has a powerful radar of impressive range, target tracking, and electronic-counter-countermeasures (ECCM) capabilities, as well as modern, beyond-visual range (BVR) missiles. Eurofighter Typhoon also has tremendous maneuverability and dynamic flight characteristics. The aircraft impressive acceleration, climb, and a wide flight envelope give it a commanding advantage in close-in air-to-air encounters.

Europa Press: Busy Year for Eurofighter Typhoon

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Busy Year for Eurofighter Typhoon

HALLBERGMOOS, Germany, February 20 /PRNewswire/ -- A busy year lies ahead for the four national Eurofighter Typhoon teams, as the programme has entered the final stages of the main development with more than two thirds of the flight test programme achieved so far. The testing of the air-to-air carefree handling Flight Control System software is almost finished, the last clearances for the so called Phase 4 software, necessary for the Block 2B standard aircraft will be finalized over summer. A new chapter in Eurofighter Typhoon's development has now been entered with testing of the air-to-ground Flight Control Software. This FCS Phase 5 software, written by a Joint Team headed by EADS Military Air Systems in Germany, will over the next months undergo rigorous testing in all four partner nations and will involve six aircraft for testing and validating the data required for the required clearances. After conclusion of the tests, the final clearances for the Full Operational Capability (FOC) specified with the Main Development Contract are expected in 2007 and then will be available in Block 5 aircraft. The first Block 5 aircraft is already in final assembly in Germany. Deliveries of Block 5 aircraft will start early 2007.

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) which produces the EURO Fighter plans to bid for a new jet fighter contract in India, the company's co-chief executive officer said. 'Yes we are going to compete,' Thomas Enders said on the sidelines of a media briefing here ahead of Asian Aerospace, the world's third-largest airshow which begins here Tuesday.

Although India is not yet accepting formal offers for the 126 multi-role fighters, the EADS Eurofighter is expected to be up against Lockheed Martin's F-16, Boeing's F-18, Sweden's Gripen and the Russian MiG, industry officials say. The Indian air force has been plagued by aircraft crashes among its ageing fleet, particularly MiG-21s. For technical details on the EURO-Fighter go to:

AllExperts- All you need to know about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

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All you need to know about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

Critics of the program maintain that the JSF suffers from ill-defined design goals; that it has insufficient internal fuel and weapon capacity to make a capable replacement for dedicated bombing aircraft; that its inability to supercruise limits it as an air defence platform, and that it is almost certain to suffer lengthy development delays and cost over-runs — meaning that interim types will have to be purchased to fill the gap between the end of useful life of existing fleets and the introduction of the JSF. Several nations, however, already have sufficient confidence in the design to have committed substantial sums to become minority partners in the JSF manufacturing team.

The program's advocates see the JSF as an opportunity to break out of the decades-old pattern of U.S. military aircraft procurement: instead of a traditional per-service design approach, the JSF is being developed jointly by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. This allows an estimated 80% commonality between the JSF variants for the different services, lowering procurement and service costs. This follows to a degree the philosophy behind the SEPECAT Jaguar and Panavia Tornado international development programs, the latter being called a multi-role combat aircraft (or MRCA) prior to service entry. Additionally, JSF is the first U.S. aircraft program to consider cost as independent variable (CAIV). In earlier programs, the aircraft cost has been a dependent variable — additional features have always increased the aircraft cost. Such design changes aren't being allowed during the JSF development.

Some of the international partners in the project have also become somewhat skittish, with Norway reportedly considering switching their purchase to the Eurofighter Typhoon or Saab Gripen because Norwegian industry had not been offered substantial enough involvement. The Australian government and defense establishment has remained solidly behind the project. However, a number of concerns about the state of the project have been raised in various media outlets. Firstly, the delays in the schedule have raised doubts that the aircraft will be ready in time to replace the aging Australian air force fleet of F-111 ground attack planes and F-18 fighters. The cost blowouts have also raised worries about the fleet's affordability. There has been considerable annoyance about the fact that the Australian planes will be less stealthy than the American versions, which, combined with concerns about the plane's short range, lack of supercruise and unproven dogfighting capabilities, have led to worries about its suitability to replace both the F-18 and F-111. The unproven dogfighting capabilities are a greater issue for minor partners than the USAF and RAF. Both of these services have next-generation advanced tactical fighters, with air-to-air capabilites superior to the F-35 (though with inferior air-to-ground attributes)."

Political Affairs Magazine - Plane Thinking - European taxpayers are propping up the US arms industry - by Eurotopia

Read the full report in Political Affairs Magazine

Plane Thinking - European taxpayers are propping up the US arms industry - by Eurotopia

"In 2001, when fear of a world recession was sweeping the Western world, many governments turned to the arms industry and military expenditure as a way to boost their economies. It was at this time that the US, UK and several partner countries decided to start developing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), a plane designed for close air support and tactical bombing as well as being capable of air-to-air combat, in order to replace the old-fashioned Harriers and the conventional A-10 Thunderbolt II, F/A-18 Hornet and the F-16 Fighting Falcon.The multi-billion dollar contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin Corporation. Lockheed, based in Maryland USA, is the largest arms manufacturer in the world – followed by Boeing (HQ Chicago) and Northrop-Grumman (LA) – and one of the Bush administration’s favorite corporations. Even though at that point another independent European strike fighter project, the Euro fighter Typhoon, involving the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain, was already in an advanced development phase, had superior capabilities and a lower cost, some European countries decided to turn to the new project. Thus, the US got the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway to commit funds to the JSF. Overall, the eight countries contributing to the first phase of the programme - the design and development of the technology - do so on three different levels. These depend on their financial stake in the project; the level of technology transfer and subcontracts open to bidding by national companies; and the general order in which countries will be able to obtain production aircraft. The UK is the sole level I partner, contributing a little over $2 billion. Italy and the Netherlands are level II partners, contributing $1 billion and $800 million respectively. At level III are Turkey ($175 million), Australia ($144 million), Norway ($122 million), Denmark ($110 million), and Canada ($100 million). Israel and Singapore are ’security cooperative participants’. It is the perfect deal - for the US. Five years into the development phase of the JSF, it is revealing that the only country still enthusiastic about the whole endeavour is the US. You can’t blame them. They got the Europeans to pay a considerable part of the development costs and at the same time retained complete control over the process and kept the relevant software even from its main ally, the UK. The juiciest research and development contracts have gone to Lockheed and a host of secondary US defence contractors. Meanwhile, the US has been able to boost its weak exports with the help of all those friendly European heads of state. And the ultimate bonus: the JSF undermined the independent European fighter project - the Eurofighter - thus averting an embarrassing situation whereby the European technological base for fighter planes would have out-manoeuvered that of the US.

The only clear winners in this game are the Bush administration and Lockheed Martin. For Europeans it’s been a doomed scenario from the start. Little return on investment; doubts about the eventual product; a lingering debate within the EU about loyalty... At the end of the day, the British, the Italians, Dutch, Norwegians and Danish have been betting on the wrong horse. But it’s not as if they were not forewarned. In all of those countries, strong opposition to the project pointed out all the dangers both before and during the political decision-making processes. Maybe it’s time the European Parliament and local parliaments face our governments, and ask them where our tax money has gone."

Yahoo News: Planet Earth Population to Hit 6.5 Billion Today

Read more about it in Yahoo News

Planet Earth Population to Hit 6.5 Billion Today

A population milestone is about to be set on this jam-packed planet of ours. Today, Feb. 25, at 7:16 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, the population here on this good Earth is projected to hit 6.5 billion people. Along with this forecast, an analysis by the International Programs Center at the U.S. Census Bureau points to another factoid, Robert Bernstein of the Bureau's Public Information Center advised LiveScience. Mark this on your calendar: Some six years from now, on Oct. 18, 2012 at 4:36 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the Earth will be home to 7 billion folks. - The Winter Olympics -Medal Count: European Union 101 - United States 23

Read about it in

The Winter Olympics - Medal Count: European Union 101 - United States 23

European Union participants in the Olympics swept in most of the medals with a total count of 101. The Olympics will be coming to a close this Sunday. EU member state Germany brought in 24 medals for the EU. Russia and Canada each came in with 20 medals and China with 9.

PAP SA: Kaczynski pleased after Chirac talks


Kaczynski pleased after Chirac talks

24.02.2006 Paris (PAP) - Recent tension in Polish-French relations are a thing of the past, visiting Polish president Lech Kaczynski said Friday after talks with French head of state Jacques Chirac. I am leaving this palace with a feeling of contentment. I believe our difficult time is over, Kaczynski told reporters. The Polish president said his talks with Chirac had centred on energy security, the EU constitution, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

2/24/06 SPAIN: Sos Cuetara expects EUR25m dent in Q4 earnings

SPAIN: Sos Cuetara expects EUR25m dent in Q4 earnings

Spanish food company Sos Cuetara SA said today (23 February) that it expects higher olive oil prices to reduce its fourth quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, or EBITDA by EUR25m (US$29.89m). The company is planning to raise the prices of olive oil products to bring profit margins in-line with levels of the previous year.

Luchtzak Aviation - Adam Air of Indonesia selects 30 Airbus A320s for fleet modernisation

Luchtzak Aviation

Adam Air of Indonesia selects 30 Airbus A320s for fleet modernisation

Adam Air, a rapidly growing Indonesian low-cost carrier has selected the Airbus A320 for a complete fleet modernisation by initially leasing six aircraft and confirming the intention to build-up a fleet of thirty aircraft over the next five years. The long term A320 fleet will comprise of both leased and purchased aircraft and will be used to totally replace the existing fleet of old generation Boeing 737s. The A320s will be deployed on Adam Air's domestic and international network that currently extends to 30 destinations in Indonesia and neighbouring south-east Asian nations.

Adam Air's A320s will be configured in a comfortable 180-seat layout with the biggest overhead bins and the most passenger space. The advanced A320 burns less fuel, has lower maintenance cost and better passenger comfort than any competing single-aisle aircraft. Firm orders for the A320 Family stand at more than 4,200, more than 2,600 of which have been delivered to more than 190 customers and operators around the world. In the Asia-Pacific region, 38 airlines operate almost 480 A320 Family aircraft.

The Globalist: Pascal Lamy — Managing Global Expectations by Pascal Lamy

The Globalist

Pascal Lamy — Managing Global Expectations

Who currently has the toughest job in the world? One candidate for a truly tough mission is Pascal Lamy, who has served as the WTO's Director General since September 2005. Many observers believe the current trade round cannot be brought to a successful completion. In this Globalist Interview, Mr. Lamy explains his own strategy and outlook.

Times Online: Britain - The semi-detatched Prime Minister looks to his future by Peter Riddell

Times Online

Britain - The semi-detatched Prime Minister looks to his future by Peter Riddell

Being Prime Minister is both different and difficult. That was Tony Blair’s message at his news conference yesterday, to human rights campaigners and to dissenting Labour MPs. He is now in an unusual limbo: between being a party leader with an eye on the next election and a not-quite-retired prime minister with an eye on his historical reputation. Mr Blair was robust on the deportation of suspects to their home countries, such as Jordan, Egypt, Libya and Algeria. Britain has been seeking memorandums of understanding that they will not be tortured, but this has been denounced by civil rights groups. The risk is of a stalemate where the suspects cannot be deported or successfully prosecuted in this country, even though they are seen as potentially dangerous. “I don’t see why we should not be able to deport people from this country who are nationals but have come here to cause trouble.” For Mr Blair, the argument is the wrong way round, ignoring the threat from terrorism. This sense of semi-detachment from the everyday party battle has made Mr Blair’s recent public remarks fascinating. If not yet in a valedictory mood, he has adopted a reflective tone, standing back to look at how problems appear from a prime minister’s perspective, as in his Oxford speech last month on Britain’s relations with the EU. All this is almost a trailer for his memoirs, without the personal bits. Brussels to press for US visa free entry to EU newcomers

Brussels to press for US visa free entry to EU newcomers

The EU is mounting pressure on the US to introduce a visa free regime towards the bloc's "new" member states. While American citizens can travel throughout the EU with no visa, the countries that joined the EU in May 2004 - minus Slovenia - have still not been accepted to the US visa-free regime for tourists staying in the country for up to 90 days.

Of the 15 "old" member states, Greece is also not a part of that regime. Norway to Challenge EU Price on Salmon

Norway to Challenge EU Price on Salmon

OSLO, Norway — Norway on Tuesday said it will challenge a minimum price for farmed salmon set by the European Union in the World Trade Organization. The EU last month extended the antidumping measure against Norwegian farmed salmon for up to five years to protect Scottish and Irish producers, who complained of being undercut by the Norwegians.

Fish farming is a key industry in Norway, with about 60 percent of its exports going to EU nations. Norway is not an EU member, but has close ties and virtually open borders with the bloc through the European Economic Area agreement.


CFP: Give Me Energy Security And I Will Give You A Foreign Policy by David J. Jonsson


Give Me Energy Security And I Will Give You A Foreign Policy by David J. Jonsson

The world stands today at the precipice dividing the eras of the post-Cold War which we have know since 1989–one of expanding democracy and free markets–and a new world order which is unknown and certainly a much less prosperous and friendly place. The Leftist/Marxist — Islamist Alliance through joining together a global cabal of nations for the control of the world’s energy infrastructure, finance, media and transportation assets present a real and current danger to the West. The cost of defending a policy of Energy Interdependence as a cornerstone of foreign policy is huge in terms of potential loss of lives and impact on our economy. The West and particularly America cannot maintain our economy by assuming that the developing world along with the "recycle" of oil wealth will continue to provide a market for debt and our energy resources without extracting the huge price of our security, freedom and liberty. Spreading democracy requires us to take responsibility for our financing and energy needs. A program leading to Energy Independence is both feasible and desirable. The risk of failing to act now are presented along with a proposed strategy for energy independence to make the world a safer and environmentally sustainable place for our children to grow up.

NZZ Online: Swiss cabinet approves EU cohesion fund deal

NZZ Online

Swiss cabinet approves EU cohesion fund deal

The Swiss cabinet has approved a SFr1 billion ($760 million) funding package for the new EU states over the next five years. The beneficiaries are limited to the ten new member states and the deal will be signed in Brussels on Monday.

Switzerland had promised to pay its contribution to the Cohesion Fund when it signed the second set of bilateral accords with the EU in May 2004. The Swiss economics minister, Joseph Deiss, said in Bern on Wednesday that the funding is allocated for a five-year period, but payments will probably be spread out over ten years.

Prague Daily Monitor: Havel warns young managers of confusing economics with accounting

Prague Daily Monitor

Havel warns young managers of confusing economics with accounting

PRAGUE, Feb 22 (CTK) - Former Czech president Vaclav Havel today told participants of the SEYS 2006 elite youth summit that perspective young managers should refrain from confusing economics with accounting. Havel explained his views on economic growth in a globalised world during his presentation. The SEYS 2006 conference began in Prague on Monday.

"The are incalculable profits that cannot be tracked by even the best accounting system and there are also many losses that cannot be tracked, either," stated Havel. Unfortunately, in today's globalised world, indirect longterm profits, which are not accessible to accounting, are marginalised or even ridiculed, he added. The effort to mine as much coal from north Bohemia as possible or to build cheap roofs that then collapse beneath the weight of snow are examples of cases when a desire for quick profits overshadows longterm values, reckons Havel.

"Has anyone ever heard of a roof of an old chateau or church collapsing?" asked Havel. "The roofs of these fraudulent temples of consumerism, based precisely on calculable profits," are the ones most likely to collapse, he suggested.

The Independent OP-ED: Middle East: Where are the blossoming roses? by DR FEISAL M CHOWDHURY

The Independent OP-ED

Middle East: Where are the blossoming roses? by DR FEISAL M CHOWDHURY

Some time ago, George W. Bush, the most powerful man in the world, while talking to the Palestinian delegation which met him at the White House, said that God had asked him to go and attack Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein. But God does not speak to anyone by Himself. He spoke directly only once to Prophet Moses. Hence it was Bush's bad dream. Taking the bad dream as the word of God, if one attacks a sovereign country and messes it up, then one can't blame God for it. One of Bush's favourite lines is also that 'Freedom and democracy are God's gift to mankind' "And I, George W. Bush, am merely the delivery man." The US President has indeed been making deliveries--planting seeds of democracy, at least rhetorically, wherever he goes. In Iraq, in the Palestinian territories, in troubled. Lebanon, even in politically stifled Egypt, the world is told, democracy is blooming like so many biblical lilies of the field.

Iraq is in deep turmoil. A country that had been no threat to world peace is now a country under foreign occupation, a country ripped apart by raging violence, turned into a magnet for terrorists, a once prosperous country with its economy and infrastructure utterly ruined by a war of occupation and its aftermath. Death, destruction and despair have combined to force Iraqis to live or breathe in a virtual hell on earth. Consider the election results in Iraq. US officials waxed hope that their man Allawi, the secular Shiite exile would be returned. Newcons in Washington also thought that the Pentagon favourite Chalabi might be on the verge of a dramatic comeback. Instead, the outcome stunned the administration. According to the EU foreign policy chief Solana, 80 per cent of Iraqis voted for religious candidates. The secularists favoured by US were marginalised. Allawi garnered mere 20 seats out of 275 in the new Iraqi parliament, while Chalabi's party was completely shut out. The broader reason for the rise of Islamic politics has been the failure of secular politics. Bush says one thing and then he suddenly swerves away from the line of thought, reverting to boiler- plate. He says elections are democracy and democracy is good but when it produced results in Palestinian polls unacceptable to US, he says Hamas government will lack legitimacy, as Hamas are terrorists. And US can't deal with them. In fact, Bush has boxed himself in an impossible situation. He promoted elections that have produced results opposite of the ones he wanted. Unless he gets over his confusion on democracy, a fatal paralysis will continue to afflict the region. - Iraq civil war fears as shrine is bombed - "this would not have happened under Sadam"

Iraq civil war fears as shrine is bombed - "this would not have happened under Sadam"

The bullet-riddled bodies of 50 people were recovered in Baghdad today after a night of sectarian violence in Iraq. Religious leaders in Iraq urged their followers to remain calm last night and not drag the country into civil war following the bombing yesterday of one of Shiite Islam's most sacred shrines. The bloodless attack at dawn on the Golden Mosque in Samarra provoked more retaliatory violence in Iraq than other Sunni rebel attacks that have killed thousands. Police said three Sunni clerics were among six people killed at 27 Sunni mosques in Baghdad. Much damage was minor but at least two mosques were burned out. There were sectarian clashes in other cities and in the capital, fearful residents rushed home before dark, some stocking up on food. Armed Mehdi Army militiamen loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took up positions on streets in Baghdad and Shia cities in the south, clashing in the British-controlled city Basra and elsewhere with Sunnis.

NEARLY 100 prisoners have died in United States' custody in the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan since August 2002, it was reported last night. The BBC2 Newsnight programme said the figures were obtained from the Pentagon by an organisation called Human Rights First. The programme said the figures show there have been 98 deaths in US custody. At least 34 of them are "suspected or confirmed homicides" - "that means caused by intentional or reckless behaviour", the report said. The report claims that 11 more are deemed suspicious and that between eight and 12 prisoners were tortured to death.

Prague Daily Monitor: Paroubek says EU should have single energy policy

Prague Daily Monitor

Paroubek says EU should have single energy policy

PRAGUE, Feb 22 (CTK) - The European Union should have a single energy policy, Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said today. "One big whole acts more efficiently than 25 independent countries," Paroubek told reporters during a NATO forum on energy safety, energy and the fight with terrorism today. He said he wanted to present his own strategy at a European Council meeting, and added the role of alternative energy sources would grow. But he added he also wanted to open the issue of nuclear energy, rejected by some EU countries including Austria. The war over gas prices between Russia and Ukraine at the beginning of the year showed that energy sources should be as diversified as possible. "It is important not to depend on one or two sources," Paroubek said. At present, the Czech Republic imports a quarter of its gas volume from Norway. The rest comes from Russia.




BRUSSELS, Belgium, February 23 /PRNewswire/ --
- 2006 EWEC Conference & Exhibition, Athens 27th February - 2nd March
"Wind. Power without Fuel" - This is the main message of a report released today by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA): "Europe's energy crisis: the No Fuel Solution" . The report is part of a broader campaign and outlines how wind can meet over one fifth of European energy needs, eliminate the economic risks of volatile and uncertain fuel prices, and provide an indigenous and practical solution to the current European energy crisis.
EWEA also unveiled full-page advertising campaigns in The Economist and the European Voice, two days before 2,000 delegates gather from the global wind sector for the annual European conference in Athens. "Europe has a worsening addiction to imported oil and gas, we are running out of resources, prices are rising, energy sources are becoming more volatile and demand is increasing", said Arthouros Zervos, President of EWEA. "Wind energy essentially eliminates these types of risks that exist with conventional fuels, because it delivers power without fuel - this means no geopolitical risk, no energy imports and dependence, no fuel costs and no fuel price risk". "Europe has a growing fuel supply problem, so it makes perfect sense to build power stations that need no fuel at all", Zervos said . The briefing shows that less than doubling the number of turbines currently installed in Europe would provide 11 times more electricity - and deliver over one fifth of European power needs by 2030, even with a 50% increase in demand by then

EU-Digest : Comerica: US economy for 2006: From Great to Good


Comerica: US economy for 2006: From Great to Good by Rick Morren

Dana Johnson, Comerica Senior VP and Chief Economist noted at a gathering of investors, business executives, and press in Fort Lauderdale that the US economy is "chugging along very well" and continues to show a lot of resilience, regardless of all the onslaughts it has had as a result of hurricanes and 9/11. For 2006 he predicted the economy would be going from "Great to Good" as he sounded a warning about the possibility of a decline in the housing market boom, which is presently fueling consumer spending. "The present high cost of homes also has a negative effect on the ability of less affluent people to buy homes", Johnson said. He also forecast that long term the dollar could possibly decline in favor of the Yen, the Euro or other currencies as investors switched to more lucrative market opportunities. Johnson called the appointment of 54 year old Ben Bernanke, a former Fed governor and economic professor, who replaced Alan Greenspan, the 79-year-old chairman at the central bank, an excellent choice to keep the economy on track. When asked what he thought about the US budget recently presented by the US administration Mr. Johnson noted: "US budgets always end up very different from how they are originally projected, just like this one will." Comerica Incorporated is a financial services company headquartered in Detroit. - Euro economy limps out of '05; optimism persists by Brian Love

Euro economy limps out of '05; optimism persists by Brian Love

PARIS — European economic growth shuddered to a near halt in late 2005 as healthy German exports failed to compensate for a chronically weak domestic market and France's export performance deteriorated. Details of what went wrong did little to dent a widely held belief that growth is picking up, however, and more up-to-date surveys of confidence in France and Italy in January and February lent some credence to that case. Germany's statistics office data on Wednesday explained why there was no overall growth in the last three months of 2005 in Europe's biggest economy — private consumption dropped and net exports lost their lustre. France, second biggest economy in the euro zone and third in Europe after Britain, fared little better, with GDP growth that slowed to 0.2% in the same period. But unlike in Germany, consumers were happy to spend and saved the day in France.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia: Foreign Minister invites Latvians living in Japan not to lose their national identity

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia: Foreign Minister invites Latvians living in Japan not to lose their national identity

On 21 February 2006, the Latvian Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks met with representatives of the local Latvian community in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. Minister Pabriks urged his countrymen not to lose their Latvian identity and emphasised the importance of teaching the Latvian language and traditions to children from mixed families. Although there are not many Latvians in Japan, it is important to raise interest in children about their national identity and culture.

The Foreign Minister urged Latvians living in Japan to support each other and to offer their advice to staff members of the newly opened Latvian Embassy in Japan on ways to develop bilateral relations between Latvia and Japan. "Latvia is a small nation, therefore good results can only be achieved by working together," said the Minister. Mr Pabriks also stressed that the embassy staff will always do their best to provide necessary assistance and advice. The representatives of the Latvian community expressed their pleasure at the Foreign Ministry's initiative in organising a meeting of this kind, as previously they did not have much information about one another. This was the first time when more than a dozen Latvians had an opportunity to come together.

They described the Japanese as a very disciplined and hard working people. Latvians who have been living in Japan for a longer period of time commented favourably on Latvia's accession to the European Union, noting that Latvia is not regarded as one of the former Soviet countries anymore, but more as a developed European country. They were also pleased about Latvia's rapid economic growth. - EU forecasts quicker growth for France, Germany and Britain by George Parker

EU forecasts quicker growth for France, Germany and Britain by George Parker

Mr Almunia predicted that EU growth would reach 2.2 per cent this year, up from the 2.1 per cent he predicted towards the end of last year. He warned that the outlook was not as good in Italy, Europe's fourth biggest economy. He revised Italy's growth forecast downwards this year from 1.5 per cent to 1.3 per cent, a gloomy message in the run-up to the country's general election.

The Badger Herald - Seaton speaks of rift between U.S., European Union by Angela Astrada

The Badger Herald

Seaton speaks of rift between U.S., European Union by Angela Astrada

Andrew Seaton, British consul general of Chicago, argued that relations between the European Union and other prominent nations, such as the U.S., are “interdependent and reciprocal” during a speech sponsored by the University of Wisconsen European Studies Alliance. “Geometry of difference nonetheless, you see transatlantic relations,” Seaton said to an audience of UW students, faculty and community members. As just one example of the European Union working with other international powers, Seaton said the union has sent the greatest amount of troops to Afghanistan.

According to Seaton, of the 10 countries that joined the European Union in 2004, eight were formerly part of the Soviet Bloc and are now transitioning to free market economies. He added countries are choosing to join the European Union through their own free will — not by military force — demonstrating the political freedom the union guarantees.

Heart Brakes: Hearts in European Union Invite Health Attention

Heart Brakes

Hearts in European Union Invite Health Attention

London: European Union has a huge health problem of having too many ailing hearts, making it the number one health ailment in the Union, that costed the bloc’s members, a whopping 169 billion euros in 2003, according to a study. Take a look at the annual statistics, but watch your heart before you read them. Cardiovascular disease ruled, making a dent of 230 euros on an average on Healthcare costs, per person. As a consequence, absenteeism from work amounted to 268.5 million lost working days, with 2 million people succumbing to it and 4.4 million debilitated, like living hell.

2/21/06 German budget shies away from cuts by Hugh Williamson in Berlin

German budget shies away from cuts by Hugh Williamson in Berlin

The German cabinet will on Wednesday endorse a 2006 budget that breaks the European Union's fiscal rules for the fifth year in a row, amid criticism that Angela Merkel’s coalition government is failing to meet its own target to cut spending.The €262bn draft budget allows for a deficit of 3.4 per cent of GDP, exceeding the 3 per cent threshold specified in the EU's stability and growth pact. The Bundesbank and opposition politicians have attacked the grand coalition for not fulfilling its pledge to treat budget consolidation as a key policy priority. Peer Steinbrück, finance minister, said that many savings measures were being postponed until next year in order not to jeopardise Germany's fragile economic recovery.

ESA - European Satellite data yields major results in Greenland glaciers study


European Satellite data yields major results in Greenland glaciers study

ESA's satellite radar imagery has played a central role in scientists’ findings on changes in the velocity structure of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Using satellite data collected between 1996 and 2005 by ESA’s European Remote Sensing satellites ERS-1 and ERS-2, ESA’s Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) and Canada’s Radarsat-1, scientists learned Greenland glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed. Greenland’s ice sheet has an area of 1 833 900 square kilometres and an average thickness of 2.3 kilometres. It is the second largest concentration of frozen freshwater on Earth and if it were to melt completely global sea level would increase by up to seven metres.The study, published in Science on 17 February 2006, found Greenland’s southern glaciers are now dumping twice as much ice yearly into the Atlantic as they did in 1996, accounting for nearly 17 percent of the estimated 2.54 millimetre annual rise in global sea levels.

New Europe keener to learn German than French

"New Europe keener to learn German than French
21.02.2006 - 15:09 CET | By Andrew Rettman

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - EU enlargement is pushing German ahead of French on the European language ladder, with non-indigenous languages such as Russian and Turkish also on the rise, a new European Commission study has shown.

The number of German speakers and English speakers jumped 6 percent each between 2001 and 2005, hitting 14 percent and 38 percent respectively, while the rate of French speakers rose just 3 points to 14 percent. "

The Statesman: France seeks to double bilateral trade with India

The Statesman

France seeks to double bilateral trade with India

France today sought to raise its economic relations with India to the same level as political relations, with its President Mr Jacques Chirac promising to work towards doubling bilateral trade over the next five years. “The aim may seem audacious, but it is realistic,” Mr Chirac said addressing the India-France economic partnership meet jointly organised by Ficci, Assocham and CII. Mr Chirac pointed to the seven per cent to eight per cent growth rate of Indian economy and said with its market of several hundreds of millions of consumers, a purchasing power multiplied by a factor of five in 25 years, India constituted one of the world’s main engines of growth.

Independent Online: New cars on old roads prove deadly for Eastern Europe by Stephen Castle

Independent Online Edition

New cars on old roads prove deadly for Eastern Europe by Stephen Castle

The European Commission will publish a road safety report this week which highlights the problems of the EU's former Communist members. Ministers will discuss the findings next month and the EU transport Commissioner, Jacques Barrot, is considering plans to boost car safety technology and road infrastructure, and to ensure that countries enforce penalties for driving offences imposed by other EU nations. The Commission document shows that France has cut road deaths by nearly one third since 2001 and that the UK has one of the best records, despite an alarming jump of 15 per cent in motorcycle deaths. Eastern Europe's dilapidated road network is being invaded by thousands of large, fast, cars leading to an spate of fatal accidents. Speeding, drink-driving and a failure to use seatbelts and child seats are being blamed for the huge human toll in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Roads accustomed to Soviet era cars are proving death traps for an affluent class of East European motorist. The countries that now make up the EU suffered 50,000 road deaths in 2001, and have set a target of reducing that by 50 per cent by the end of the decade.

EU initiatives to cut the figures include safety, including legislation on the rest periods for commercial drivers, research and subsidies for improving infrastructure.

EUROPA - Energy - Intelligent Energy Europe


Energy - Intelligent Energy Europe

Intelligent Energy – Europe is an EU programme to boost energy efficiency and the use of renewables. With a total budget of €250 million, it co-finances activities, which support the objectives of the programme and hence EU energy policy. Four types of activities are supported, usually covering up to 50% of the costs:
European projects (approximately 90% of the total financial support)
European events (e.g. conferences)
Start-ups of local/regional energy agencies
Concerted actions with participating countries

Globes - Israel Stagnant exports to European Union cause concern by Zeev Klein

Globes [online]

Israel: Stagnant exports to European Union cause concern by Zeev Klein

There are some worrying signs about Israeli exports. The export of goods, excluding diamonds, to the EU was unchanged in November 2005-January 2006, and exports to Asia fell by an annualized 10.2%, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported yesterday. Exports, excluding diamonds rose by an annualized 1.8% in December-January, thanks to a 7.9% rise in exports to the US and a 10% rise to the rest of the world group. Exports to the US rose by an annualized 12.9% in August-October 2005. The import of goods, excluding diamonds, fuel, ships and planes, from the US fell by an annualized 4.5% in December-January, and imports from the rest of the world group fell by an annualized 10.2%. This was offset by an annualized 6.2% rise in imports from the EU in November-January, and an annualized 22.9% rise in imports from Asia. Imports from Asia rose by 15.8% in August-October 2005.

Imports, excluding diamonds, totaled $3.3 billion in January. 39% of imports were from the EU, 19% from Asia, 13% from the US, and the rest from the rest of the world.


Businessweek: EU: China, Vietnam unfairly dumping shoes


EU: China, Vietnam unfairly dumping shoes

FEB. 20 6:51 A.M. ET The European Union said Monday it is considering imposing restrictions on imports of shoes from China and Vietnam after finding evidence that the Asian nations are unfairly dumping footwear on European markets. EU trade spokesman Peter Power said talks were under way among the 26 EU nations on possible antidumping measures which, if approved, could begin April 7. "There is evidence of both dumping and injury" to the European industry, Power said.EU officials said the bloc would seek urgent talks with the two countries to resolve the issue.

Jihad in Europe: Past as Prologue? by Andrew G. Bostom


"Jihad in Europe: Past as Prologue?
By Andrew G. Bostom | February 20, 2006

This past fall, after three successive weeks of rioting in France by predominantly Muslim youths, the violence ebbed, albeit to an uneasy level in excess of the early October 2005 “baseline” before the riots. For example, about 60 cars per night continued to be burned as of December 8, 2005, and the number soared to 425 New Year’s Eve 2006, in “troubled,” i.e., Muslim neighborhoods. Then on New Years Day, teenagers of Arab Muslim origin, rampaged through a train between Nice and Lyon, intimidating and robbing passengers, and allegedly assaulting at least one young woman, sexually, prompting the creation of a special French police force to ensure security for railway passengers. During the fall 2005 intifada, the overwhelmingly Muslim rioters engaged in acts of wanton destruction, punctuated by claims of “territorial control” over sections of various French cities. In the context of this havoc, one saw repeated references to the term “Eurabia” by journalists and other media and academic elites, who, almost without exception, had no idea about the concrete origins, or significance of this term."

EU to sign agreement with China on developing cleaner energy

Turkish Daily News Feb 20, 2006:

"EU to sign agreement with China on developing cleaner energy
Monday, February 20, 2006
BRUSSELS - The Associated Press

China and the European Union are scheduled to sign an agreement next week to encourage the development of cleaner coal-fired power plants, the EU said on Sunday.

The memorandum of understanding will be signed by EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and his Chinese counterpart at a meeting in Shanghai. It will aim to develop techniques to capture carbon dioxide emitted from coal-burning plants and store it underground to prevent it from polluting the air. 'Tackling carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants is an important step in improving the global environment,' Piebalgs said in a statement."

Uneven economic recovery in Europe may affect outbound travel demand

ITB Berlin - (Travel Daily News)

"Uneven economic recovery in Europe may affect outbound travel demand
Monday, February 20, 2006

One of the most important messages to come out of the IPK/ITB World Travel Trend Report is that the economic recovery in Europe has not been as strong as expected, due in large part to weak consumer demand. Forecasts from the International Monetary Fund made in October 2005, which were in line with projections presented at the Pisa Forum organised by IPK International the same month, pointed to growth of 2.5% in 2005 overall (down from 3.6% in 2004), and 1.2% for the eurozone (2.0%). And these have since been proved accurate. "

Economic Outlook: Banks ponder rates as growth quickens - Marketplace by Bloomberg - International Herald Tribune

International Herald Tribune

Banks ponder rates as growth quickens

FRANKFURT Declines in the euro and the price of oil, which have driven up profits at companies like the carmaker Porsche, are expected to have kept German business confidence near a five-year high this month, economists say. The Ifo confidence index should reach 101.4, compared with 102 in January, according to the median forecast from 37 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The institute, based in Munich, will publish the index, based on a monthly survey of 7,000 executives, on Thursday. Separate surveys show that French and Italian executives have also grown more optimistic. "The Ifo index should stay around the current high level," said Sylvain Broyer, an economist at Ixis CIB in Frankfurt. "The euro has fallen, which is good for exports, and with a pickup in investment, we should see more employment. The ECB will certainly hike rates by a quarter point in March." With more money for investment, companies are spending more on machinery, which could accelerate hiring. Signs of quickening growth will give the European Central Bank room to raise interest rates next month. The ECB president, Jean-Claude Trichet, has called such expectations "reasonable." He is scheduled to speak Monday to the European Parliament. Analysts said the U.S. Federal Reserve was feeling similar pressures. They predicted that consumer prices rose last month, while a gauge of future economic activity will signal vigorous growth ahead. A German investor-confidence indicator held near a two-year high in February, and the DAX stock index has risen 6 percent this year.


FinancialExpress: A big threat looms as bird flu spreads to West Europe


A big threat looms as bird flu spreads to West Europe

Avian influenza is no longer a largely Asian virus. It has struck in the heart of Western Europe and there is no saying where it will spread from there. The discovery of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain in wild swans in Greece and Italy earlier this week marks the virus’ arrival in the western world. The H5N1 strain has already killed over 90 people in Asia over the last three years, and subsequently spread to Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia last year. The last few months have seen the deadly virus afflict flocks of wild migratory birds in Romania, Turkey, Bulgaria, and even as far as Nigeria.

The Post.IE: Expert views on global economic threats

The Post IE

Expert views on global economic threats

George Soros: The financier has joined the pessimists of the world economy by warning that the Federal Reserve could trigger a collapse in house prices. AUS recession could loom next year if the Fed were to raise interest rates too quickly, said Soros. A US recession could overspill into a foreign exchange crisis and global instability as the value of the dollar drops. Commentators have pointed to the surging price of gold as evidence that investors are increasingly worried that the Soros scenario will become reality. Investors have, in effect, hedged their bets by buying gold as an insurance policy against their assets held in dollars.

Edmonten Journal: Protectionist EU chokes growth by Lorne Gunter

Edmonten Journal

Protectionist EU chokes growth by Lorne Gunther

"Beware the Polish plumbers." That was a popular enjoinder used by the "No" forces in last year's French vote on the European constitution.

French voters rejected the pan-European law partly because they feared an onslaught of Polish plumbers should the 25-member European Union adopt a single set of statutes. The French were not worried that Polish plumbers are less qualified than French ones, although that was suggested. Rather, they worried that a universal European constitution would force Paris to weaken protectionist laws against out-of-country labour. Then Polish plumbers and Czech hairdressers and Latvian truck drivers would flood France and threaten the jobs of notoriously underproductive and overpaid French workers, not to mention their 35-hour work week, lavish benefits and annual, month-long August vacations.

Foreign workers would upset French workers' cushy little apple cart by working longer, harder and for more rational wages. But it's not just the French. While the British and Irish strongly favour such EU trade-liberalization initiatives as the "services directive," which would ease rules for small businesses from one EU member state setting up in any other and eliminate most cross-border labour regulations -- France, Germany and Austria are adamantly opposed. And their adamantine position is one of the biggest reasons the economies of "old Europe" are so stagnant, why unemployment within Europe is twice or more what it is in North America.

During the past decade, Canada's economy has grown by 44 per cent and the Americans' 41. Meanwhile, France has seen a 22-per-cent rise and Germany only 14.

HOTELS magazine:Spain, the World's Second Most Popular Tourist Destination Accounted for over 53 Million Visitors. France number 1, USA 3

HOTELS magazine

Spain, the World's Second Most Popular Tourist Destination Accounted for over 53 Million Visitors - France number 1, USA 3

Research and Markets ( has announced the addition of Travel & Tourism International 2005 - Profile of Spain to their offering. Spain is, after France, the second most popular tourist destination in the world. In 2004, its arrivals market rebounded after a difficult 2003 to exceed well over 53 million, leaving the US in a somewhat distant third place worldwide. Above average growth in 2004 has strengthened the Spanish position, although an over dependence on the UK and Germany (the source of half of all its incoming market) remains.

During the period of heightened intra-regional tourism post-9/11, Spain found itself to be the chief beneficiary of the booming low-cost airline market and the burgeoning trend towards city breaks. These developments helped to sustain and grow traditional Northern European markets long tipped for stagnation, but the Spanish tourist authorities must also take some credit. In the new millennium they have succeeded in re-branding Spain and celebrating the diversity of a country that was in danger of becoming too readily associated with an increasingly outmoded sun and sea package product. Today, Spain attracts visitors with everything from its nightlife to its fiestas, its galleries to its football clubs, its beaches to its tapas and it has become a model for embracing the increasingly assertive independent market.


Seattlepi: Muscle-Flexing regions show divided Spain by Daniel Woolls


Muscle-Flexing regions show divided Spain by Daniel Woolls

MADRID, Spain -- To the doomsayers, it's a recipe for Spain to lose a piece of itself and eventually fall apart. To others it will be a milestone on Spain's long march out of a dictatorial past. The issue that is convulsing this nation of 44 million is a proposal by the legislature of semiautonomous Catalonia, the wealthy northeastern area centered around Barcelona, to gain an even broader degree of self-rule. Spain's Socialist government has agreed in principle. The battle is over where to set limits.

At a broader level, Catalonia's campaign is being watched by the European Union, where the idea of devolved regional power is viewed as a means of fostering local identity in a one-size-fits-all superstate of 25 nations.

CFP: Spare us, O' Lord - Appeasing Muslims, Europe and the West by Gary Reid


Spare us , O Lord - Appeasing Muslims, Europe and the West by Gary Reid

We are urged on all sides to appease Muslims.


Well, because they get angry and kill people. Not all of them, of course, just some of them. But, enough of them to matter. Mr. Garth Pritchard, CFP’s foreign war correspondent in Afghanistan, thinks we should appease Muslims because it undermines our military in that country. Apparently, doing the Canadian thing of waving and smiling is the way to go, the peace-keeping protocol. It is not a contest between Christianity and Islam. It is struggle between Islam and the secular west. We do not support censorship with respect to religion. We do not allow proponents of any religion to dictate what we can read, see, hear or write. That is what means to be a western civilization.

Mr. Pat Buchanan, well-known American conservative commentator, and two-time candidate for the U.S. Presidency, claims that the provocation of the Muslims by the Europeans has undermined all of America’s good work in ensuring that the American invasion of Muslim lands is not seen as a war on Islam. Buchanan thinks we need to appease Muslims to save America’s foreign policy, which is to "win the hearts and minds" of the moderate Muslims.

It was 36 years after the death of Mohammed (632 A.D.) that a Muslim army first laid siege to the eastern gateway to Europe, Constantinople (now Istanbul).
After that, Islamic armies battled Europeans in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Sicily, Austria, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Rumania, Wallachia, Albania, Moldavia, Bulgaria, Greece, Armenia, Georgia, Poland, Ukraine and Russia.

"From the fury of the Mohammedan, spare us, O’Lord," was a common prayer uttered in European churches for centuries. Spain was occupied by Muslims for 800 years, Portugal 600, Greece 500, Sicily 300, Serbia 400, Bulgaria 500 and Hungary 150 years. Western occupation of Muslim lands lasted less than 150 years. Muslims forced Europeans in conquered territories to renounce Christianity and embrace Islam. Muslims in territories occupied by Europeans kept their religion.* So yes, Mr. Buchanan, it is possible that Europeans might have a keener sensitivity to the Islamic dynamic than Americans. As clumsy and offensive as the Danish cartoon contest might have been, we owe a debt to the European media for reminding us who we are supposed to be. - Sagem Wins UAV Study Contract from EDA

Sagem Wins UAV Study Contract from EDA

The European Defense Agency (EDA) on Feb. 16 awarded a 750,000 euro ($891,000) contract to a consortium led by Sagem to conduct a study on sense-and-avoid technologies that would allow unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to fly in civil airspace, a spokesman for the French systems company said. The 18-month study will define requirements for equipment and systems that will permit UAVs to safely fly over inhabited areas, and define a protocol for integrating UAVs into current air traffic management systems. “This is an important study for the preparation of the future insertion of UAVs in civil airspace,” Sagem spokesman Jean-Charles Pignot said. Sagem will lead a consortium comprising French research institute Onera, Dutch institute TNO and Spanish company Espelsa.

The East Looks OK

Newsweek: International Editions -

"The East Looks OK
Worries about one set of immigrants—Muslims—are starting to ease resistance to those from New Europe.

Feb. 20, 2006 issue - For Vladimir Spidla, it was sweet vindication. Ever since the European Union took in 10 new members some 20 months ago, he has been preaching the merits of open borders to an audience that wouldn't listen. But earlier this month the EU's employment czar finally got the proof he needed: a 12-page report from the European Commission examining the record of the few countries that had taken in workers from the formerly communist east. Remember the outcry, those dismal forecasts of swamped and disrupted labor markets? Plain wrong. To the contrary, their willing hosts are happy—and thriving. "Individual countries and Europe as a whole have benefitted," Spidla boasts."

The New Anatolian-'Ankara will fill in grey areas itself'

"'Ankara will fill in grey areas itself'

Zeynep Gurcanli - The New Anatolian/ Ankara

Stung by backlash over Hamas visit to Ankara from both Turkish and intl actors, AK Party tries to save itself by forging new policies for the Mideast. 'Up to now we permitted others to fill in the grey areas in Mideast policy,' says high-ranking diplomat, referring to the US, EU and Israel, without naming names. 'Now it's time for Turkey to fill in the grey areas itself...'"

More:The New Anatolian

Sofia News Agency: "Public Opinion May Delay" EU Entry of Bulgaria, Romania

Sofia News Agency

"Public Opinion May Delay" EU Entry of Bulgaria, Romania

Public opinion is certainly to be "a factor" for both France and the Netherlands in handling the option for a delay of Bulgaria and Romania's accession to the EU. According to an online edition on EU affairs, despite the official line that timing depends purely on meeting EU standards, France and the Netherlands will take their enlargement-wary public opinion into account when deciding whether to delay with a year the entry of the two Balkan entrants. EUobserver has quoted a French source as saying that no country can disregard public opinion.

GameShout: Blair Pushed for EU Common Energy Policy


Blair Pushed for EU Common Energy Policy

In the first official visit to Germany since the conservative Merkel took office, Tony Blair said key energy issues included research and development of renewable sources, and interconnection of national power grids. Europe should come together and use its collective bargaining power in negotiating energy issues with the outside world, he said. The EU buys a quarter of its gas from Russia. Calls for a common energy policy have intensified since a gas price row between Russia and Ukraine in January which saw supplies to Europe drop. But there is little agreement on how to curb dependency on supplies from geopolitically unstable regions, particularly as EU member states pursue different approaches on nuclear power.

While France is strongly pro-nuclear, Germany's coalition government has agreed to phase out nuclear energy sources. The British government, faced by dwindling oil and gas supplies from the North Sea, is now looking into whether to build new nuclear power plants after launching an energy review in January.


Radio Polonia: Polish and Czech presidents say NO to gay rights

Radio Polonia

Polish and Czech presidents see eye to eye on Europe and say NO to gay rights

Polish president Lech Kaczynski has been having talks in Prague with his Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus. He told a press conference that he agreed with the veto of the same-sex registered partnership bill by Mr Klaus. Mr Kaczyński said that ‘if such a bill is passed in Poland, I would naturally veto it’.

Website Hosting: Instant Messaging Exchanges 10 Billion Messages Each Day

Website Hosting

Instant Messaging Exchanges 10 Billion Messages Each Day

Since its inception in 1996, with the launch of ICQ, instant messaging has become one of the most popular applications on the fixed web. It has in fact become a mass market, with over 10 billion messages being exchanged every day, and involving close to one in two web users in developed countries, in North America, Europe and Asia. IM is gradually nearing a relative saturation point in these countries, while still enjoying a steady rise in other countries, such as China.
-- All internet users are involved in the phenomenon, regardless of sex, education or socio economic status. Only the type of connection (broadband makes its use easier because of a lack of time constraints) and users' age create any real distinction.
-- The youngest Netizens, and teenagers in particular, are the most avid IM users, and often use it more than e-mail or their mobile phones to communicate with each other, in addition to taking advantage en masse of some of the newest features available.
-- In Europe, the average time spent using an IM tool already exceeded three hours a month, and five hours a month for users in the US, in 2004. Many youngsters chat over IM every day. Czech, Polish presidents aren’t fan of old EU constitution


Czech, Polish presidents aren’t fan of old EU constitution

The presidents of the Czech Republic and Poland said Friday that the European Union should start working on a new constitution instead of trying to save the current draft. "None of us is a fan of this document," Czech President Vaclav Klaus told a news conference after meeting his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski in Prague.He said that a new document should be worked out "which would better and more thoughtfully define the future of the European continent." "It is necessary to start working on a new draft, and the sooner it is ready the better," Kaczynski said. The draft constitution has to be approved by all member states in order to take effect. Several EU countries have postponed votes on the charter since the French and Dutch rejected it last year. Poland and the Czech Republic have not yet voted on the document.

EU economy: Opening up to eastern workers?


"EU economy: Opening up to eastern workers?
February 15th 2006


The issue of labour mobility in the enlarged EU is set to heat up in the coming weeks, as the governments in the old EU member states prepare to decide whether to renew restrictions on workers coming from the new eastern and central European members. Earlier this week, Finland became the latest country to say that it would consider opening its labour market to the new member states from May this year, joining Portugal and Spain. The announcement came days after the European Commission published a report arguing that concerns over a possible influx of workers from the east had not been borne out."

Times of India: India to sign N-deal during Chirac visit

The Times of India

India to sign N-deal during Chirac visit

NEW DELHI: A civil nuclear deal with the US may or many not happen, but India is getting ready to sign a civil nuclear agreement with French president Jacques Chirac on Monday. As with the US, India will commit to a separation of civilian and military nuclear facilities before such a deal can hit the ground.

But the civil nuclear agreement with France could theoretically open the doors to India being able to buy French nuclear reactors.

Telegraph: Services suspended in the European Union


Services suspended in the European Union

Freedom of movement for services is among the principles of the Treaty of Rome, the founding document of what is now the European Union. That sector has since grown to employ nearly 70 per cent of the EU's workforce and to account for two-thirds of its gross domestic product.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the European Commission saw the creation of a single market in services as a means of achieving the ambitious goal of the Lisbon Agenda. Launched in 2000, that aims to make the union the world's "most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy" by 2010.

However, a directive on services in the internal market, drafted by the former commissioner Frits Bolkestein, has provoked mass protests by trade unionists. At a EU summit last March, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder declared the proposal unacceptable, and yesterday the European Parliament passed an emasculated version of it. The new text, arising from a deal between the two main parliamentary blocs, the centre-Right European People's Party and the Socialists, will now go back to member states for approval.


BBC NEWS: DVD boom 'bucks European trend'


DVD boom 'bucks European trend'

Booming DVD sales in Europe have made it the most popular form of packaged entertainment, beating video and games. While the market for music, games and VHS has declined in recent years, DVD sales have rocketed by 20%, according to figures from Screen Digest. DVD sales in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy are expected to show a further 10% growth in 2005.

Irish Times - MEPs approve new EU services package

Irish Times Article

The European Parliament voted to open up the EU services market to competition yesterday in a controversial decision that overcame deep ideological divisions in Europe, writes Jamie Smyth in Strasbourg. MEPs voted by a majority of 179 in favour of a package of compromise amendments that should breathe new life into the services directive - a controversial piece of EU legislation designed to enable firms to offer services across all 25 member states. Following the vote, EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy said he would redraft the directive before the end of April and signalled he was now cautiously optimistic it would become law.