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The Japan Times: Calmer tack with Russia

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Calmer tack with Russia

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is pushing a proposal for a Euro-Atlantic security pact. This has apparently been prompted by the NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, formerly Russia's sphere of influence; the U.S. plan to use sites in the Czech Republic and Poland for missile defense; and Russia's own wish to mend relations with the West after it invaded Georgia and recognized the independence of the two breakaway enclaves South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Mr. Medvedev's eyes are clearly set on the new U.S. administration to be led by President-elect Barack Obama. Hours after Mr. Obama's election as the next U.S. president, Mr. Medvedev threatened to deploy Iskander missiles (300- to 500-km range) in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad between Poland and Lithuania. He later said Russia could cancel the deployment if Mr. Obama abandoned the missile-shield plan in Europe. Mr. Obama has not yet made clear his stance on the issue. While the United States says the missile shield is a defense against "rogue states" such as Iran, Russia suspects that the shield is designed to destroy its strategic missiles.

Help for Russia came from French President Nicolas Sarkozy during a Russia-European Union summit in mid-November. He supported Mr. Medvedev's call for a new "security architecture," and both suggested that talks on the proposal be held by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The French president also questioned the U.S. missile-shield plan, saying deployment "would bring nothing to security in Europe" and "complicate things."

Radio Netherlands: Romania: Social Democrats win Romanian elections

For the complete report from Radio Netherlands click on this linkRomania: Social Democrats win Romanian elections

The Romanian parliamentary elections have been won by the Social Democratic opposition party PSD. Voters cast their ballots for both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The PSD has taken about 35 percent of the seats in both houses of parliament. President Traian Basescu's conservative PDL-L party won about 31 percent of the votes; Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu's ruling Liberal Democratic PNL party won 20 percent. Observers say the formation of a coalition government could be a long and difficult process. Romania, which joined the European Union in 2007, has been hit hard by the financial crisis and tens of thousands of people could lose their jobs. During the election campaign, the Social Democrats tried to capitalise on these problems by promising tax cuts and benefits for the poor.

AFP: Barroso says crisis has brought Britain closer to euro

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Barroso says crisis has brought Britain closer to euro

The international financial crisis has set off a radical change in thinking in Britain about the euro, EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said Sunday. While acknowledging the majority opposition in Britain to embracing the euro, Barroso told French radio: "We are now closer than ever before." He added: "I'm not going to break the confidentiality of certain conversations, but some British politicians have already told me: 'If we had the euro, we would have been better off'."Barroso pointed to the case of Denmark, another EU state which has so far refused to accept the euro but is considering holding a new referendum on the single currency. The Danish voted against joining in 2000.

Robert Fowke: A European caliphate?

Comment is free |

"A European caliphate?
Would Islam really manage to convince us Europeans to give up alcohol and segregate the sexes?

o Robert Fowke

What would happen if Islam manages to convert Europe? An improbable turn of events but not completely inconceivable.

The problem is that religions adapt and mutate as they cross cultural boundaries. For instance, when Catholic missionaries converted the Aztecs to Christianity they were obliged to tolerate a cult of death involving sugared skulls deriving from worship of the goddess Mictecacihuatl; this despite Jesus never saying anything at all about sugared skulls. And the Christianity of Catholic Europe was itself far removed from early Middle-Eastern Christianity. The practice of modern American evangelicals is even further removed from the source. Cultures get hold of a new religion and twist it into a shape which suits. If Islam were ever to take hold in the densely populated countries of Europe it would undergo a similar process of adaptation. It may be instructive to consider what this process might entail."

The Sydney Morning Herald: Czech Republic - Vaclav Klaus: Beware the church of climate alarm - by Miranda Devine

Czech President Vaclav Klaus "Dr. Strangelove"

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Czech Republic - Vaclav Klaus: Beware the church of climate alarm - by Miranda Devine

"As the Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, an economist, anti-totalitarian and climate change sceptic, prepares to take up the rotating presidency of the European Union next year, climate alarmists are doing their best to traduce him. The New York Times opened a profile of Klaus, 67, this week with a quote from a 1980s communist secret agent's report, claiming he behaves like a "rejected genius", and asserts there is "palpable fear" he will "embarrass" the EU. But the real fear driving climate alarmists wild is that a more rational approach to the fundamentalist religion of global warming may be in the ascendancy - whether in the parliamentary offices of the world's largest trading bloc or in the living rooms of Blacktown."

As the global financial crisis takes hold, perhaps people are starting to wonder whether the so-called precautionary principle, which would have us accept enormous new taxes in the guise of an emissions trading scheme and curtail economic growth, is justified, based on what we actually know about climate.

Note EU-Digest: The viewpoint of Sydney Morning Herald's Miranda Devine is a typical conservative corporate reaction, protecting corporate interests above the environment and long term human needs. The fact is that Mr. Klaus, the ceremonial non-universally elected President of the Czech Republic, is considered a "Dr.Stangelove" by many politicians in Europe and by a large number of people in his own country. Unfortunately the Czech Republic will take over the 6 months rotational EU Presidency from France in January. This will provide Mr. Klaus with a "soap-box" to spout all his nonsensical theories about the EU, politics and the environment. But.... eventually its all to the benefit of freedom of expression, still alive and well in Europe.

The Market Oracle: The Hyperinflationary Depression - by Eric deCarbonnel

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The Hyperinflationary Depression - by Eric deCarbonnel

Federal bailouts have worsened things. Dollar creation exploded. Crisis has been pushed into the future. Its enormity will be far greater, and foreign investors will get stuck with a lot of it. When it arrives in strength, capital outflow will follow, and dollar valuation will plunge with it. Williams believes that “both central bank and major private investors know that the dollar is going to be a losing proposition. They either expect and/or hope that they can get of (it) in time to lock in their profits (or for central bankers) that they can forestall the ultimate global economic crisis” as long as possible. Dollars are very vulnerable in this environment. If Treasuries are dumped, the Fed will monetize debt to make up the difference. Inflation will then accelerate, multi-trillion dollar deficits will worsen things, and a “self-feeding cycle of currency debasement and hyperinflation” will follow. Cash as we know it will disappear. A barter system and black market will replace it or possible introduction of a new currency. Since most money today is electronic, not physical, chances of it adapting “are practically nil.” With hyperinflation, electronic commerce would completely shut down and economic collapse would follow. Gold and silver will be invaluable. Holders could exchange them for goods and services.

Physical goods will also be precious for survival and as a medium of exchange. Anything with a long shelf life may be stocked in advance, and providers of essential services could barter them for goods and other services. Forewarned is forearmed. Safety and liquidity are crucial. Anything retaining value is essential. Real estate, other currencies for example. Foreign equities and debt to a small degree because US financial assets hammering will spill everywhere.

Businessweek: The Return of High Oil - by Steve LeVine

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The Return of High Oil - by Steve LeVine

Demand in China, India and elsewhere in the developing world is probably going to roar back and outstrip supply in 2011 or beyond. That alone will push prices back up. But oil companies also are now responding to $50 oil by shelving oilfield development projects. So, as Jesse told me, “In 2010 or 2011, we will be in the same situation as [the high prices of] last year. Then we will start all over again [in an energy crisis], but it will be much more difficult.”

11/29/08 EU gives Haiti emergency aid - by Melisa Bryant

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EU gives Haiti emergency aid - by Melisa Bryant

The European Union (EU) has pledged Euro6.08m(US$7.7m)in emergency food aid to Haiti.The funds are meant to provide food for around one million people. The aid will also be used to pay for public health measures, to provide clean and safe drinking water, sanitation and promote better hygiene. The EU has already donated Euro20.34m(US$25.8M) in humanitarian aid to Haiti this year following a series of devastating storms and hurricanes that resulted in over 800 deaths and destroyed thousands of homes and farms. In a report released on Nov. 28, the EU revealed that about three million Haitians are facing acute food shortages and that 23 percent of the country's population suffers from malnutrition.

EU-Digest / Weekly Standard: Haiti - Crushing poverty and despair - by Nicholas Eberstadt

Poverty stricken Haitian cooking food for family

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Haiti: Crushing poverty and despair - by Nicholas Eberstadt

Haiti--the beautiful, perpetually tormented tropical purgatory that occupies the western third of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola--cannot help but focus the comfortable and well-fed foreign visitor's attention on two profound issues of the modern era: the reasons for the persistence of so much misery in an ever more affluent world, and the practical measures that might permit our world's poorest countries to escape from the heart-rending deprivation that they continue to suffer. With an area comparable to the state of Maryland and a population (at about eight and a half million) roughly the size of New York City's, Haiti is closer to Florida--just an hour and a half from Miami by jet--than is Washington, D.C. But in a very real sense, the distance between the United States and Haiti is almost unimaginable. By the yardstick of income, Haiti is by far the poorest spot in the Western Hemisphere, and in fact one of the very poorest places on the planet. State Department and CIA guesses put the country's per capita income at about $550 a year, or about a dollar and a half per day--but these formal, exchange-rate based estimates are highly misleading, if not meaningless. (Could anyone in the United States today survive for a year consuming no more than $1.50 worth of goods and services a day?) A better sense of Haiti's plight comes from comparisons of purchasing power. Perhaps the most authoritative global estimates of this sort have been done by Angus Maddison,the eminent economic historian. At the start of this decade, according to Maddison, Haiti's per capita output was thirty-five times lower than that of the United States. To get a sense of what this means: Think how things would go for your family if you had to get by for the entire year on just ten days of your current earnings. Many Haitians have to eat dirt "cookies," a mixture of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening, just to survive

Note EU-Digest: Adding to the misery in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation are hurricanes -- Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike this year left 790 people dead and hundreds more injured, and now facing life-threatening food shortages. Haiti’s development has also been fettered by an ongoing cycle of corrupt regimes, debilitating natural disasters, lack of institutional planning and organization and the non-regulation of the use and distribution of natural resources. It is amazing to realize that a country which is so close to the US homeland and a part of the US controlled Organization of American States is being allowed to slip so deep into despair and poverty while it could be a showcase of US ingenuity and support.

Greentech Media: Portugal, Renault-Nissan Set Electric-Car Plan - by Ucillia Wang

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Portugal, Renault-Nissan Set Electric-Car Plan - by Ucillia Wang

Portugal, Renault-Nissan Set Electric-Car Plan - by Ucillia Wang

Four months after signing an electric car deal with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, Portugal has come up with a more concrete plan for charging these cars when they arrive.Under the plan, 320 charging stations will be in place and ready to serve by the end of 2010, and 980 additional stations will be added by the end of 2011. Portugal plans to offer income tax credits, write-offs and parking credits to consumers and businesses to encourage electric transportation. These tax incentives will kick on by late 2010 and last at least five years, according to Renault-Nissan. Portugal also wants 20 percent of its public vehicle fleets to consist of zero-emission cars starting in 2011. Renault-Nissan plans to begin selling electric cars in Portugal and select markets in early 2011.

MSN Autos: Electric Vehicles: Fantasy or Reality? - by Lawrence Ulrich

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Electric Vehicles: Fantasy or Reality? - by Lawrence Ulrich

Before you EV fans strap me to a 10,000-volt chair, let me be clear: I’m convinced that electricity will play a bigger near-term role than, say, hydrogen fuel cells. But I’ve long argued that 100 percent battery-powered cars face a psychological barrier, far beyond what hybrids face. What really scares consumers, beyond the unfamiliar technology, is the idea of being stranded miles from home and the nearest electrical outlet. General Motors has come up with a name for it: range anxiety. It’s the reason that GM and Toyota have no interest in following Tesla’s lead with a pure EV. The audience is just too limited. Are you really ready for a car that might travel 200 miles at best, and then need up to eight hours to fully recharge? Be honest. If you are, you better call grandma and tell her you’re going to be late. If you’re an urban apartment dweller, as many green-minded folks are, you probably have no convenient outlet to recharge. Parking garages and curbsides could be wired up someday, but that day isn’t now. All those New Yorkers and San Franciscans who might love an EV probably couldn’t take the plunge, lacking a handy way to charge it.

Note EU-Digest: The article- by Lawrence Ulrich shows once again how the US automotive industry is behind the times. In contrast the European Commission on Wednesday offered five billion euros (6.5 billion dollars) to help European auto makers make safer and greener cars, an initiative to be funded by the EU, industry and member states. EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso without explicitly citing the United States, took a swipe at US measures to boost the ailing car industry across the Atlantic. "We are not proposing an old-fashioned industrial plan for the car industry. We believe it is counterproductive to have this sort of thing. Smart investments in tomorrow's skills and technologies will accelerate Europe's drive ... to become a dynamic low-carbon economy," Barroso said.

EU-Digest: The road to financial disaster? - by Rick Morren

EU-Digest editorial on the US economic struggles

The road to financial disaster? - by Rick Morren

A report on Wednesday from Bloomberg which showed that the US Fed is prepared to lend another $7.4 trillion on behalf of U.S. taxpayers to "further" rescue the troubled US financial system, got my attention. According to that story, this $7.4 trillion dollar amount is half of the value of everything produced in the US in the past year! This enormous pledge of funds includes $2.8 trillion already siphoned off by financial institutions in the most important response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The commitment also dwarfs the only plan that was actually approved by the US Congress, the so-called Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), better known before as the bail-out plan. The report also notes that the US Federal Reserve lending last week was 1,900 times the weekly average for the three years before the crisis.

When Congress approved the TARP on Oct. 3, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged the need for transparency and oversight. Now, as regulators commit far more money while refusing to disclose loan recipients or reveal the collateral they are taking in return, you can only wonder why this is happening. Worse, it is happening without much or any reaction from the Congress or the Public at large.

You don't need to be an Einstein to see that there seems to be something "fishy in Denmark", as to the huge amounts of liquidity the Bush Administration is pulling out of the US national coffers at warp speed before they leave office? Whether it’s lending or spending, it’s tax dollars that are going out the window and the US taxpayer is apparently ending up holding "collateral" they don’t know anything about. Shouldn't the "Obama team" start blowing the whistle? Where is all this transparency we were promised by all of them.

RNW: Most Western leaders stay away from UN aid summit except EU

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Most Western leaders stay away from UN aid summit except EU

A four-day United Nations conference is getting under way in Qatar's capital Doha to seek ways to limit the impact of the financial crisis on developing countries. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the world's poor countries had been especially hard hit by the widening crisis.Few Western leaders are attending the summit. The heads of the World Bank and the IMF are also absent. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is the only leader of a rich country to be there as well as EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso. Developed countries have so far committed to pay less than 20 billion dollars per year, far short of the 130 million per year set for 2010 by the UN's Millennium Development Goals.

Note EU-Digest: EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso called in Doha on Friday for a "human rescue" plan alongside financial rescue packages, as aid agencies rapped most other major world leaders for staying away from a UN summit on aid. Barroso, who unveiled on Wednesday a 200-billion-euro ($254 billion) stimulus package to revive Europe's ailing economy, said it would be "obscene" to discuss responses to the global financial crisis without also discussing the "human crisis." Speaking on the eve of a UN Conference on Financing for Development, he said it is important to keep on schedule toward achieving the UN's Millennium goals for aid to developing countries.


IHT: EU regulators raid drug makers in Europe - by James Kanter

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EU regulators raid drug makers in Europe - by James Kante

European Union regulators have conducted a second round of raids on pharmaceutical companies this week, days before findings from a broad investigation into allegations of anti-competitive practices in the sector is to be released. The EU competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes, began the investigation in January with a series of raids on major drug companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis, on suspicion that they and other companies were slowing the availability of generics and new medicines.The new raids come as Kroes prepares to outline on Friday her preliminary conclusions on the pharmaceutical sector, which has sales of about €200 billion annually in Europe. It is not yet known whether Kroes will identify particular companies. A determination that companies that make and sell medicines are using unfair practices could lead to large fines, as happened already to AstraZeneca in 2005. Kroes could also recommend changes to the way the industry operates.A spokesman for Kroes, Jonathan Todd, would not identify the companies that were raided this week. He said they were "separate and distinct" from the larger inquiry but may have stemmed from knowledge gathered in it.

Generics makers in Europe have broadly supported the inquiry begun in January. They are trying to get rules changed to make it easier for generics companies to place their products on the market as soon as patents expire, and to raise the hurdles for big pharmaceutical companies to sue makers of generics drugs for suspected patent violations. Note EU-Digest: Great going Mrs. Kroes - this is another positive example of one of the many benefits EU citizens and consumers have in the European Union. Keep up the good work.

M&C: EU trade delegation in Mumbai safe, delegate says

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EU trade delegation in Mumbai safe, delegate says

A delegation of 13 European Parliament representatives who were caught in the Mumbai terrorist attacks are safe, a member of the delegation told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa on Thursday.Parliamentarian Daniel Caspary, a member of the parliament's trade committee, told dpa by telephone that he, six fellow members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and six support staff had managed to escape to the French consulate in Mumbai. France currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.

Times of India: China pulls out of EU summit to protest Dalai-Sarkozy meet

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China pulls out of EU summit to protest Dalai-Sarkozy meet

China has pulled out of a summit with the European Union in Lyon in France next Monday to protest against a planned meeting between
French president Nicolas Sarkozy with the Dalai Lama on December 6. The Chinese leadership decided to forgo a major opportunity to forge an economic partnership with the EU to make its point that no government leader should meet the Tibetan leader. The meeting was expected to resolve trade differences between the two sides and work jointly to counter the global slowdown. China, which regards the Dalai Lama as a separatist politician trying to wreck the nation, had earlier warned world leaders like the German chancellor and Australian prime minister of severe consequences to bilateral relationship if they meet the Tibetan leader. But they went ahead and met the Dalai Lama.

The Oregonian:Vaclav Klaus-Meet the new face of the European Union - danger looms ahead for EU - by Rick Attig

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Vaclav Klaus-Meet the new face of the European Union-danger looms ahead for EU - by Rick Attig

When Vaclav Klaus, the Czech president, swept through Portland a month or so ago on a tour to promote his new book on how global warming is a "myth," he paused long enough to share a friendly pint with the newspaper's beer columnist and lecture three Editorial Board members about climate change and European politics. It is his views on the EU that has Klaus in the international news this week, because the Czech Republic, and thus Klaus himself, are next in line to assume the rotating presidency of the EU. He assumes that role Jan. 1, replacing the union's departing leader, Nicolas Sarkozy of France. Klaus couldn't be more different than Sarkozy. As The New York Times reported Monday, there are fears that Klaus will embarrass the world's largest trading bloc, and derail its efforts to respond to the economic crisis and to the risks posed by climate change. He will, at least, be the first EU president to have called for it to be "scrapped" and to compare the organization to a "communist state," a claim that prompted the Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, to say that Klaus is critical of the EU because he does not fully understand how it works. There's that wink again. During the interview in Portland Vaclav Klaus batted away questions like they were annoying insects, and we got a glimpse or two of the leader that a British historian, Timothy Garton, called "one of the rudest men I have ever met."

NYT: The Era of Consumption Is Over - Dying of Consumption - by Stephen Roach

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The Era of Consumption Is Over - Dying of Consumption - by Stephen Roach

"It's game over for the American consumer. Inflation-adjusted personal consumption expenditures are on track for rare back-to-back quarterly declines in the second half of 2008 at a 3.5 percent average annual rate.There is a deeper, potentially positive, meaning to all this: Consumers are now abandoning the asset-dependent spending and saving strategies they embraced during the bubbles of the past dozen years and moving back to more prudent income-based lifestyles. This is a painful but necessary adjustment. Since the mid-1990s, vigorous growth in American consumption has consistently outstripped sub-par gains in household income. This led to a steady decline in personal saving. As a share of disposable income, the personal saving rate fell from 5.7 percent in early 1995 to nearly zero from 2005 to 2007.

Alternet: Mumbai Attacks: 'If You Go After the Wrong People, You Convert Moderates into Extremists' - by Deepak Chopra

For the complete report from AlterNet click on this link - by Deepak Chopra

Mumbai Attacks: 'If You Go After the Wrong People, You Convert Moderates into Extremists' - by Deepak Chopra

There are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world. That's 25 percent of the population of the world. It's the fastest-growing religion in the world. We cannot, if we do not appease and actually recruit the help of this Muslim world, we're going to have a problem on our hands. And we cannot go after the wrong people, as we did after 9/11, because then the whole collateral damage that occurs actually aggravates the situation.India at this moment has to contain any reactive violence from the fundamentalist Hindus, which is very likely and possible. So India has to condemn that by not blaming local Muslims. They have to identify the exact groups. And the world has to be very careful that they don't go after the wrong people. Because if you go after the wrong people, you convert moderates into extremists. It happens every time, and retribution against innocent people just because they have the same religion actually aggravates and perpetuates the problem." Note EU-Digest: "This morning when Special Forces from the Indian military were interviewed they disclosed the terrorists not only carried a large arsenal of munition and explosives, but also US dollars and CitiBank credit cards."

11/27/08 Euro Trades Near Three-Week High Against Dollar as Stocks Rise and unemployment drops in Germany - Andrew MacAskill

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Euro Trades Near Three-Week High Against Dollar as Stocks Rise and unemployment drops in Germany - Andrew MacAskill

The euro traded near a three-week high against the dollar as European stocks advanced for a fourth day and a report showed unemployment declined in Germany, the region’s largest economy. The currency shared by 15 European nations gained versus the Brazilian real and Canadian dollar as every major stock market in the region rose. German unemployment dropped in November, withstanding the worst recession in 12 years. Indian rupee forwards fell on speculation overseas investors will shun the nation’s assets after terrorist attacks in Mumbai prompted regulators to shut markets.

MRZINE: Desperate Need for Serious Change in Transatlantic Foreign Policy - by Ali Fathollah-Nejad

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Desperate Need for Serious Change in Transatlantic Foreign Policy - by Ali Fathollah-Nejad

Almost eight years of the Bush/Cheney Administration have plunged the world into a deep political, economic, and moral crisis, whose overcoming will probably require decades if a sharp turn does not immediately take place. That is why the newly elected Obama/Biden Administration must bring about serious change.For the time being, until Barack Obama's inauguration in January, American and European decision-makers would be well advised to undertake every necessary step to dissuade the current Bush/Cheney Administration from deepening the Middle East quagmire by launching another preventive war against its proclaimed Iranian archenemy -- a war which veteran U.S. foreign-policy expert William R. Polk characterized as a "great and present danger." India's peaceful illusion has been shattered - by Dibyesh Anand

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India's peaceful illusion has been shattered- by Dibyesh Anand

The attacks in Mumbai raise the question: is a secular democratic setup sufficient to tackle religious extremism? Yet another terrorist attack in an Indian city punctures any illusions Indians and foreigners may harbour about economic growth leading to more peace and stability. The coordinated violence directed at symbolic targets and real people reflect careful planning of a kind hitherto unseen from indigenous extremist movements. The primary aim was to instill overwhelming terror and get maximum publicity. Why target UK and US passport holders and not all westerners? We need to wait for more confirmation but one can guess that the backers of the perpetrators would be using the invasion of Iraq as a defining moment for themselves. The clearest example of the international character of terrorism is not so much the two luxury hotels frequented by foreigners, but holding hostage a Jewish Rabbi and reportedly many other Israelis. In India's domestic scenario, it makes no sense for terrorists to target Jews or Israelis; Israel is not a factor within Indian politics and India has always had close relations with Arab countries.

The only conclusion one can hazard is that like most other Islamist radicals, the actors sought to scavenge upon real and imaginary grievances of Muslims throughout the world. This international jihadi nature of violence, which cannot be described as anything except terrorism, has never manifested itself so visibly in the world's largest democracy. How can any state respond to extremist movements who see their struggle merely as a local chapter of a global war?

France 24 - India -Mumbai - Citizen journalism' offers intimate view of Mumbai attacks

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India -Mumbai - Citizen journalism' offers intimate view of Mumbai attacks

From Twitter to Youtube, online platforms enabled Internet users to read and watch first-hand reports on the series of deadly Mumbai attacks that rocked the Indian financial capital within a few hours of the first blasts. Internet users were able to read and watch first-hand reports on the series of deadly Mumbai attacks that rocked the Indian financial capital within hours of the first blasts, a sure sign that the World Wide Web is revolutionising the way information reaches readers. Online blog and chat service Twitter gathers fresh news from dozens of commentators every few seconds. Some use the chat to reassure their friends and family: “In Mumbai and safe”, wrote user s4ur4bh at 2h50 am. Others offer their analysis on the nature of the little-known Deccan Mujajideen terrorist group, whose members claimed responsibility for the attack. An entry on the attacks was quickly created on the collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia, with fresh updates that provided more detailed reports than many traditional media sources could offer. “Attacks took place in South Mumbai, at the crowded Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station; two five-star hotels, the Oberoi Trident and Taj Mahal Palace & Tower; the Leopold Cafe, a popular tourist restaurant; a hospital; and the police headquarters where at least three high-level officers, including the anti-terrorism chief, were killed by gunfire,” it stated late on Wednesday.

MSN: Consumer Credit cards - Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights: What it means for you - by Karen Datko

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Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights: What it means for you - by Karen Datko

While the $700 billion bailout and presidential election have dominated the news, the U.S. House passed a major piece of credit card reform legislation. The Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2008 passed the House on Sept. 23 by a vote of 312-112 (with nine members not voting). The bill, which still needs to pass the Senate before heading to the White House, would have a major impact on everything from how credit card issuers apply cardholder payments to outstanding debt to limits on interest rate increases.

The Dallas Morning News: Vatican - Pope's comments seem to throw cold water on worth of interfaith dialogue - by Bruce Tomaso

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Vatican - Pope's comments seem to throw cold water on worth of interfaith dialogue

No one who knows anything about Pope Benedict XVI believes he is ever going to be enthusiastic about interfaith discussions if they put the various faiths involved on equal footing -- if, in other words, an underlying assumption of such talks is that Islam, or Judaism, or Buddhism, or whatever, is as valid a way of expressing human understanding of God as is Christianity. In Benedict's mind, that is simply not the case: The pope, make no mistake, is Catholic.

Benedict praised a forthcoming book about Christianity, saying it "explained with great clarity" that "an inter religious dialogue in the strict sense of the word is not possible." In theological terms, he added, "a true dialogue is not possible without putting one's faith in parentheses." His comments were contained in a letter to Marcello Pera, the author of the new book, "Why We Must Call Ourselves Christian," which argues that Europe should stay true to its Christian roots. That's a point Benedict has made many times, even as Europe at once grows more secular, and more religiously diverse.

Note EU-Digest: Faith is not what the Pope or any other religious leader tells us, but faith is what you feel in your heart. Religious "man-made" doctrine has been a curse to the world, history proves that.

Boston Globe: US POLITICAL DCEVELOPMENTS- Obama betraying the left defends experienced, centrist team - by Joseph Williams

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US POLITICAL DCEVELOPMENTS - Obama betraying the left defends experienced, centrist team - by Joseph Williams

President-elect Barack Obama, rejecting liberals' criticism of his emerging Cabinet, yesterday strongly defended his decision to choose more experienced, centrist aides for his inner circle, arguing that the nation needs sure hands in a time of turmoil - and that it's his job to bring the change he promised voters.Liberal activists contend that Obama so far has gone too far in one direction, bringing in too many of the same Washington insiders and undermining his own message of change. Obama, they complain, hasn't given a top Cabinet job to a true liberal, and grumble about the expected appointments of rival Hillary Clinton - a centrist Democrat - as Obama's secretary of state an of Robert M. Gates, a Republican appointed by President Bush, to stay on as defense secretary for at least a year.Liberal bloggers, who helped fuel Obama's grass-roots fund-raising and volunteer armies, are particularly vocal in their critique of Obama's choices so far.

Bloggers on the left are also taking credit for forcing John Brennan, a former top CIA deputy in the Bush administration and Obama’s national security adviser during the campaign, to withdraw Tuesday from consideration as the next CIA director. In recent weeks, the bloggers mounted an online campaign sharply criticizing Brennan, associating him with Bush's decisions on harsh interrogations and torture though he publicly opposed waterboarding and questioned other interrogation methods.

Times online: Iraq delays vote on US forces - Deborah Hayenes

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Iraq delays vote on US forces - Deborah Hayenes

The Iraqi Parliament yesterday delayed a historic vote on the future of US forces in Iraq by 24 hours because of last-minute haggling between different political factions that could end up postponing the decision by another fortnight. As part of the deal-making, MPs agreed to put the US-Iraqi accord, if approved, to a public referendum. The pact sets out a timetable for US troops to leave Iraq within three years after withdrawing from towns and cities by the middle of 2009.Muwafaq al-Rubaie, Iraq’s national security advisor, said: "It is not only the Iraqi Parliament that has a role in overseeing this agreement, but the Iraqi people, who will have a referendum on July 30 so they can see if the agreement is correct or not, six months after it comes into effect."

Trend News : EU condemns "heinous" Mumbai attacks, sends aid

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EU condemns "heinous" Mumbai attacks, sends aid

The European Union's top officials on Thursday strongly condemned the "heinous" Mumbai terrorist attacks that have killed 101 people and vowed to send immediate aid to European citizens caught up in the attack. The justice ministers of the bloc's 27 member states interrupted a scheduled meeting in Brussels to hold an emergency discussion on the attacks, officials in the EU capital confirmed, reported dpa. The ministers "condemned the attacks most strongly, conveyed their condolences to the families of the victims ... and expressed their solidarity with the Indian authorities under these tragic circumstances," a statement said.

Previously, the European Commission had issued a statement condemning "in the strongest terms the heinous terrorist attacks."

"Terrorism is never justified and is no means to achieve any goal. We stand by the Indian government in its fight against terrorism. Our thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones and we wish a speedy recovery to those injured," the statement by the EU's executive arm said.

11/26/08 Legal fight to overturn Israel's Gaza media ban - by Roy Greenslade

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Legal fight to overturn Israel's Gaza media ban - by Roy Greenslade

Rory McCarthy wrote last week about Israel's ban on journalists entering the Gaza Strip. He reported that international media companies had sent a letter of protest to Israel's prime minister. Two days ago the Foreign Press Association (FPA) took the matter a step further by appealing to Israel's supreme court to overturn the government's ban. The court petition, which names Gaza's military commander, the defense minister and the interior minister, claims the ban constitutes "a grave and mortal blow against freedom of the press and other basic rights and gives the unpleasant feeling that the state of Israel has something to hide." The Tel Aviv-based FPA represents foreign correspondents working in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and has about 460 members from 32 countries, representing print, TV and radio. "We believe the Israeli government has an obligation to keep the Gaza border open to international journalists," says Steven Gutkin, the FPA's chairman and Jerusalem bureau chief of Associated Press. "The foreign media serve as the world's window into Gaza and it's essential that we be allowed in." Israel's defence ministry says foreign journalists will not be allowed in until Gaza militants stop shooting. But a ministry spokesman, Shlomo Dror, suggested Israel was not happy with press coverage from Gaza. "Where Gaza is concerned, our image will always be bad," he said. "When journalists go in it works against us, and when they don't go in it works against us."

Note EU-Digest: Journalists can be wrong sometimes, but they can not be wrong all the time. Europe's €200bn recovery plan targets energy-efficiency - by Richard Wilson

For the complete report from the ElectronicsWeekly click on this link

Europe's €200bn recovery plan targets energy-efficiency - by Richard Wilson

A €200bn recovery plan announced by the European Commission will include a major economic stimulus to the European technology sector including energy-efficient electronic systems. One aspect of the recovery plan is a bid to boost efforts to tackle climate change while creating much-needed jobs at the same time, through for example strategic investment in energy efficient buildings and technologies."The Recovery Plan can keep millions in work in the short-term. It can turn the crisis into an opportunity to create clean growth and more and better jobs in the future,” said Commission President José Manuel Barroso. The plan includes short-term measures to boost demand, save jobs and help restore confidence. A further strategy for what the EC calls “smart investment" will look to generate loner term growth.

According to Brian Halla, CEO of National Semiconductor this spells a re-birth for the semiconductor industry. “I'm wildly optimistic about the future of our industry."

Space Daily: Europe earmarks nearly 10 billion euros for space exploration

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Europe earmarks nearly 10 billion euros for space exploration

Ministers from 19 countries on Wednesday agreed to commit nearly 10 billion euros (12.8 billion dollars) to Europe's space program, it was announced here. The decision by the 18 members of the European Space Agency (ESA), along with Canada, included a compromise on spending for the International Space Station (ISS), which will become ESA's biggest budgetary item, sources said. ESA Director General Jacques Dordain said ministers approved spending of 9.65 billion euros to maintain current programs and launch future projects, added to which were 300 million euros in outstanding commitments.

OilVoice: Denmark - DONG Energy to Build New Windmills at Avedøre Holme

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DONG Energy to Build New Windmills at Avedøre Holme

DONG Energy has decided to invest in the construction of three new windmills at the Avedøre plant in Hvidovre outside Copenhagen. The project, which will attain a combined between 10 and 15 MW, will be built in two stages, with two windmills coming into operation in 2009 and one in 2010. The total anticipated investment is euro 24.82 million(DKK 185 million). In connection with the building of the three new windmills between 20 and 100 metres out to sea, 13 old windmills - which are situated on land and have a combined capacity of less than 5 MW - will be disassembled.

Latin Business Chronicle: The New Latin America presents many opportunities ( also for Europe) - By R. Viswanathan

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The New Latin America presents many opportunities ( also for Europe) - By R. Viswanathan

One would have expected the Latin American economies to come crashing down as a fall-out of the historical crisis in the united States and Europe. Not a single bank or financial institution went bust in the region while the United States and Europe faced collapse of companies and banks with turnover of more than that of the GDP of many of the Latin American countries.

None of the Latin American countries have gone to the IMF for rescue, even as some East Europaen countries have done so. While Iceland, situated far from the epicenter (USA) of the financial earthquake collapsed and had to seek rescue from Russia, none of the Latin American countries, which are in the proximity of the earthquake zone have suffered serious damage. There has been no panic summit meetings or rescue packages or nationalization of banks in Latin America.

In their October report the ECLAC (UN Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean) noted: "The economic slowdown and financial crisis in the United States will have a relatively modest impact on the Latin America and the Caribbean region in 2008, except for its exports. Compared to previous shocks in the United States economy and the world at large, Latin America and the Caribbean(LAC) is much less vulnerable than in the past, with a current account surplus, sounder public finances, a lower level and better profiles of public and external debt, and larger international financial reserves. Considering the severity of the global shocks, LAC economies are, on average, weathering the crisis significantly better than in the past." Despite the financial crisis, the region’s economic growth is projected to be 4.6 percent in 2008 and around 3.6 percent in 2009. Argentina's GDP will show a growth of 6.5 percent in 2008 and 3.6 percent in 2009. Brazil´s growth in 2008 is projected to be 5.2 percent in 2008 and 3.5 percent in 2009 while Mexico will have lower growth of 2.1 percent in 2008 and 1.8 percent in 2009. The growth of the region is sustained by a strong domestic demand. When the US sneezes the Latin American Region does not catch a cold anymore.


BBC NEWS: Venezuela welcomes Russian navy ships

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Venezuela welcomes Russian navy ships

Russian warships have arrived for joint exercises with Venezuela's navy, the first deployment of its kind in the Caribbean since the Cold War.The naval squadron, including a nuclear-powered cruiser, sailed into view at the port of La Guaira. The exercises will coincide with a two-day visit by Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev, which starts on Wednesday. The Russian vessels are set to begin manoeuvres in port on Wednesday, the day Mr Medvedev is due to arrive in Caracas. President Medvedev is expected to visit the ships with his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, before he continues on to Cuba. The Russian president's aim is to show Washington that if the US does things in Europe near Russia's borders which Moscow does not like, then Russia can pursue its own policies in a region long seen by Washington as its backyard. More important for the Russian president during his talks is boosting bilateral trade between Russia and Latin America, which could reach euro 13bn(US$15bn this year. - Malta wants cruise passengers to stay a little longer - by Fiona Galea Debono

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Malta wants cruise passengers to stay a little longer - by Fiona Galea Debono

The Malta Tourism Authority will be embarking on a drive to promote the cruise-and-stay niche market in the coming months, Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism Mario de Marco said yesterday. Speaking about the importance of the resilient and growing cruise lining industry from aboard the MSC Poesia, which was on its maiden call in Grand Harbour, Dr de Marco said the plan was to have passengers starting or ending their trip in Malta, rather than just staying for a couple of hours. He said the intensified marketing initiative was being undertaken with the collaboration of Malta International Airport, Viset and cruise liner operators. Three major operators have already confirmed they would be selling cruise-and-stay packages, using Malta as a departure.

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IC Publications: Turkey, Cyprus tensions rise over oil spat

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Turkey, Cyprus tensions rise over oil spat

Tensions increased on Tuesday as Cyprus accused Turkey of adopting 19th century gunboat diplomacy in a spat over oil exploration off the divided Mediterranean island. Ankara hit back by accusing a Greek Cypriot oil search mission of violating its territorial rights and vowed to make its own protests to international bodies over the dispute. Turkey was adopting "politics of the 19th century," Cypriot Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou charged. "No modern state, especially one that wants to join the EU, sends out warships to impede the (legal) exercise of rights."

President Demetris Christofias, the Greek Cypriot leader, also condemned the latest incident off Cyprus's south coast during which Nicosia says a Turkish warship turned back a Norwegian-flagged exploration vessel on November 13. "We are determined to defend the sovereign rights of the Cyprus Republic," said the president. "We have lodged protests with the United Nations and European Union over these provocations by Ankara." He was speaking to reporters before a new round of UN-brokered talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat aimed at reuniting Cyprus after decades of division.

Xinhua: Greece - Hu Jintao's visit highlights friendly ties between China, Greece and Greece and sign euro831.2 million Port deal - by Liang Yeqian

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Greece -FM: Hu Jintao's visit highlights friendly ties between China, Greece and Greece - by Liang Yeqian

Chinese President Hu Jintao's ongoing official visit to Greece reflects the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said Monday in an interview with Xinhua. She said current Greek-Chinese relations, strong as they are, could be further strengthened through enhanced cooperation in the fields of commercial shipping, tourism, culture and education, and people-to-people exchanges. Bakoyannis said Greece has particular strength in the merchant shipping sector as it has the busiest ports in southeast Europe and the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Greek ship-owners are currently the biggest and most important customers of Chinese shipyards, and nearly 50 percent of merchandise traveling to and from China are transported by Greek merchant fleets, she went on to say. She said the strategic partnership between Greece and China also includes their cooperation in international affairs, adding that her country supports increased dialogue between China and the European Union.

Note EU-Digest: Chinese President Hu Jintao has promised to expand maritime trade with Greece after finalizing a euro831.2 million (US$1b) container-port concession deal Tuesday. Under the agreement, China's Cosco Pacific Ltd. will receive a 35-year concession to manage two container terminals at Greece's main port of Piraeus.The agreement was signed after Hu met Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for talks. Karamanlis said Greece will become a key transit point for Chinese goods bound for southeast Europe and the eastern Mediterranean.

EU-Digest: Italy to veto new EU climate targets if there are no concessions - by Robin Pomeroy

EU-Digest: Climate changes - Pollution controls

Italy to veto new EU climate targets if there are no concessions-by Robin Pomeroy

(Reuters)Italy's environment minister said today his country will veto new European greenhouse gas limits for 2020 unless it gets concessions,suggesting the EU might have to wait a year before adopting new climate change policies. French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants a European Union summit he will chair next month to agree a 20 percent emissions cut, something the EU would use to press other countries for a new global treaty for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Most EU diplomats believe Italy is posturing to try to eke out a better deal for its industry and that Berlusconi would not dare risk the stigma of torpedoing the EU's long-held and self-declared role as global leader in climate change policy.

Without a deal at the December 11-12 Brussels summit, there is practically no chance the EU could agree in time for a climate change conference in December 2009 where the world is supposed to define a post-Kyoto treaty. Spain to present 2-yr plan to boost demand

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Spain to present 2-yr plan to boost demand

Spain's government will present a two-year plan on Thursday to boost demand in the country's flagging economy, the prime minister said on Tuesday. The measures would be aimed primarily at 2009 and 2010, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told a forum organized by The Economist magazine in Madrid. He also said any breaches of the European Union's Stability Pact should be temporary. His comments came after he said last week that Spain will exceed the European Union budget deficit limit of 3 percent as it spends more to tackle the economic crisis. Last week, an OECD survey said Spain's economy would contract in 2009 due to falls in house building and consumer spending and would make a slow recovery in 2010 as financial turmoil recedes and world growth resumes.

Fair Home: Portugal Commits To Huge Electric Vehicle Deal - by Alan Harten

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Portugal Commits To Huge Electric Vehicle Deal - by Alan Harten

Nissan and Renault France have signed a historic agreement with Portugal for the sale of electric vehicles, in order to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emission levels by around 20%. This would assist the country in reaching the European Unions emissions regulations by 2020. The deal calls for the two car manufacturers to begin delivery of large numbers of electric vehicles at the beginning of 2011.

As part of the agreement, Portugal will build over 300 charging stations which will be completed in 2010 before the first vehicles arrive, avoiding the chicken and egg situation that is prevalent in most other countries where electric vehicle sales are held back by a lack of places to charge the cars.

M&C: Latvia's IMF handout could total euro 1.92 billion dollars

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Latvia's IMF handout could total euro 1.92 billion

Latvia could be in line to get around euro 1.92 billion(US$2.5b) from the coffers of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) according to an economic expert on the Baltic states. Over the weekend, the IMF confirmed that the Latvian authorities had asked it to provide 'technical and financial support' and that it stood 'ready to rapidly assist their efforts in the context of a comprehensive economic program.'

Twin City: Automotive Industry: The Czechs do it with Skoda, so should Detroit - by Bernard Avishai

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Automotive Industry: The Czechs do it with Skoda, so should Detroit - by Bernard Avishai

It has become conventional wisdom that the reeling U.S. auto industry desperately needs to innovate. The hard part for Detroit is working out how. There is hope, even for an entrenched, sprawling company such as General Motors. Take Skoda, the Czech auto manufacturer (slogan: "Simply Clever"), which in 1991 became a part of the Volkswagen Group, the largest car manufacturer in Europe. Skoda is thriving today because its elegance-minded Bohemian designers have learned to exploit the access VW management has given them to virtually the entire spectrum of the conglomerate's components. At first, Skoda also simply put a Czech skin around the German-engineered Golf. But today, the company creates original cars for low-end, low-tech markets whose boundaries are carefully negotiated with other VW Group members (it reportedly exports 80 percent of its vehicles to 92 countries). Skoda's former CEO, Detlef Wittig, told me that his firm's latest model, the adorable Roomster, would break even after selling only 60,000 units a year. He said that Skoda now accounts for about 20 percent of VW Group profits. (In case you're wondering: Yes, the Roomster may take some customers away from the VW brand, but the VW Group as a whole will be better off for it. And no, Skoda's competitive advantage is not cheap labor: Czech labor is no cheaper than South Korean.

Government — or, more precisely, governments — can help only if they grasp the way manufacturing companies work. The shakiest firms will need a tariff regime that permits an auto group to import components from the country where they are designed or most competitively produced. The European Union's trade rules were a huge help in making it possible for Skoda to acquire components from VW Group companies, including the Spanish firm SEAT. Federal and state governments should help jump-start a grid for electric cars, as Israel is doing. Most important, perhaps, Washington should move to stimulate innovation in entrepreneurial companies along the whole supply chain — companies aspiring to provide new generations of components.

Market Watch: Hungary unexpectedly lowers interest rates - by Polya Lesova

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Hungary unexpectedly lowers interest rates - by Polya Lesova

Hungary's central bank unexpectedly cut its benchmark interest rate on Monday, saying that economic growth and inflation may be both sharply lower than expected. Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund approved a $15.7 billion loan for Hungary aimed at restoring confidence in its financial markets. The IMF loan is part of a $25 billion financing package to which the European Union has committed $8.4 billion and the World Bank $1.3 billion.
"The crisis hitting the international financial system has caused a fundamental change in the path of the Hungarian economy in recent months," the central bank said in a statement Monday.

EU-Digest: Romanian group to build euro60 million wind farm

EU-Digest - Windfarms

Romanian group to build euro60 million wind farm

(AP)Blue Planet, part of Romanian group Blue Investments Holding, is to build a euro60 million (US$77 million) wind farm in the east of the country by the end of next year, the company said Tuesday. It will be Romania's first wind farm and comes as the European Union sets targets for the country to provide more of its energy from renewable energy sources, said Emilian Jianu, general manager of Blue Planet. The wind farm will be located in the town of Baia, near the Danube Delta. The EU says that by 2012, 8.3 percent of Romania's energy consumption must come from renewable energy. Greenlanders Vote on Autonomy as Slump Clouds Independence Plan - by Christian Wienberg

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Greenlanders Vote on Autonomy as Slump Clouds Independence Plan - by Christian Wienberg

Greenlanders vote today on a proposal to wrest more autonomy from Denmark, an effort at increasing control over their natural resources that may founder in the face of the global economic slump. The referendum, which polls show is likely to be approved, would give the 56,000 mainly native Inuit citizens of Greenland full control over deciding whether they want to secede from Denmark. Currently, the government in Copenhagen would have to approve such a move. It would also for the first time mandate a division of income from natural resources with Denmark, which has ruled the territory since the 18th century.“The prospects that Greenland will become a natural resource-based economy certainly haven’t improved,” said Lars- Emil Johansen, former premier of Greenland, and one of the lawmakers who drafted the bill that’s up for vote. Greenland is also rich in diamonds, iron ore, lead, zinc and uranium. Greenland entered the then European Community -- now the European Union -- with Denmark in 1973. It quit the bloc in 1985 in a dispute over fishing quotas, making it the only region to ever withdraw from the EU, which now has 27 members. Passage of today’s referendum would presage a vote on full independence, government officials and trade union leaders say.

Premier Hans Enoksen has said Greenland may hold a referendum on full independence by 2020, while SIK, Greenland’s biggest labor union, has said it wants a vote in 2012.

EU-Digest - Largest ever Dutch Trade delegation visits Turkey - The Netherlands one of Turkey's most important investors

Largest ever Dutch Trade delegation visits Turkey - The Netherlands one of Turkey's most important investors

The Largest ever Dutch trade delegation is in Turkey this week - A truly Dutch economic invasion of Turkey. The delegation includes a total of 134 company representatives ranging from Personnel Management to Environmental Companies, and every other category in between. One newspaper reported that even some buses in Turkey are carrying banners with the slogan "Holland Pioneers in International Business".

The Dutch delegation is headed by his Excellency Frank Heemskerk, the Dutch State Secretary of Economic Affairs. Turkish PM his Excellency Recep Erdogan was so impressed by the size of the delegation that he changed his agenda to be able to receive the delegation later this week in Ankara.Yesterday the Dutch delegation cruised the Bosporus.

The Netherlands is one of the most important investors in Turkey. Last year Dutch investments in Turkey amounted to approximately euro 8.45 billion (US$11b. Turkey is also the 4th most important non-EU member trading partner of the Netherlands after Russia, Switzerland and the US.

The Turkish-Dutch who are citizens of the Netherlands of Turkish ancestry numbered 357,900 people in 2006, according to the Dutch Census Bureau. They make up 2.2% of the total population. The majority of Dutch Turks live in the four major cities of the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht). The first Turks arrived in the 1960s and 1970s as workers to fill up the labor shortage during that time in the Netherlands, as well as in other Western European countries. The majority of Dutch Turks adhere to Sunni Islam, although there is also a considerable Alevi fragment. A number of Turkish-Dutch writers have come to prominence. Halil Gür was one of the earliest, writing short stories about Turkish immigrants. Sadik Yemni is well known for his Turkish-Dutch detective stories. Sevtap Baycili is a more intellectual novelist, who's writing is not limited to migrant themes. Nebahat Albayrak (born April 10, 1968 in Şarkışla) is a Turkish-Dutch politician in the Netherlands. She is the current State Secretary of Justice in the Netherlands. US economy: Gloom pervades AICPA business survey - by Alan M.Wolf

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Gloom pervades AICPA business survey by - by Alan M.Wolf

In a survey of 1,606 financial officials conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School showed that only 9 percent expect the economy to begin to improve before the second half of 2009. And 48 percent see no improvement until 2010 or later. They blame the credit crisis, increasing unemployment and declines in consumer spending and consumer confidence.

"CPAs are trained to be objective and analytical and are not prone to hype and emotion, so when they foresee our economic problems extending well into 2009 and beyond, it is a troubling forecast," said Arleen Thomas, AICPA senior vice president, in a prepared statement.

EUobserver: Mick Jagger in Brussels for online retailing chat with Neelie Kroes and Charlie McCreevy - by Leigh Phillips

Mike Jagger in Bruxelles

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Mick Jagger in Brussels for online retailing chat with Neelie Kroes and Charlie McCreevy - by Leigh Phillips

The original "street-fightin' man" Mike Jagger no longer needs to throw cobblestones to get the attention of the centers of power like his 1968 incarnation. These days he is warmly invited to the top floors of the EU Commission building for a friendly chat with Europe's competition guardian Neelie Kroes and a host of other key figures in the business of commerce on the web. Ms Kroes is worried that shoppers frequently find themselves up against barriers to buy what they want online, for items they would have little problem purchasing in the real world."Why is it possible to buy a CD from an online retailer and have it shipped to anywhere in Europe, but it is not possible to buy the same music, by the same artist, as an electronic download with similar ease?" Ms Kroes asked the knighted pop star and other guests.

Ms Kroes told the rock star and the merchants: "The world is always more complicated than we would like it to be. But that is no excuse for inaction," adding that she intends to look "very carefully" into online retailing practices.

SShe warned that the commission will step in if musicians, record labels and retailers do not overcome their differences and produce a more consumer-friendly environment for the distribution of digital music.


rationalrevolution: Trickle Down economics was (and still is) a Trojan Horse - by David Stockman

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Trickle Down economics was (and still is) a Trojan Horse - by David Stockman

"The most important issue is that, even if you take the Reagan “Trickle-Down” policy at face value it’s still horribly flawed as a policy that will provide economic growth that benefits everyone. There is no realistic way for "Trickle-Down" economics to work and increase the income of the working classes of America. In fact I am certain that the developers of the theory of "Trickle-Down" economics were fully aware of this and that "Trickle-Down" has in fact worked as intended. This means that the intent behind implementing "Trickle-Down" was to benefit the wealthiest Americans at the expense of working class Americans. "Trickle-Down" hasn't failed, as many modern economists have suggested, it has succeeded in its goals, which is the increase of economic inequality and the shift of a greater portion of America's wealth into the hands of the wealthiest Americans.

The general economic policy of "Trickle-Down" that was put in place by Reagan has gone fundamentally unchanged since it was adopted by the country in the 1980s. The claim of Reagan was that "all boats would rise" by giving huge tax cuts for the wealthy. This did not happen. The majority of boats stayed the same or sank, while only between 5% and 1% of the boats actually rose. The effects of "Trickle-Down" policy are evident. As would be expected from the policy, the largest beneficiaries of the "Trickle-Down" system have been the wealthy.

Note EU-Digest: The trickle-down theory, which is supported neither by theory nor evidence continues to be applied by the governments in the US and Europe. It does not work and needs to be abandoned today, rather than tomorrow.

IHT: Europe is waiting to see how Obama plays Iran - John Vinocur

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Europe is waiting to see how Obama plays Iran - John Vinocur

What worries the Europeans, but particularly the French, who hold the European Union's rotating presidency until Jan. 1, is what Obama intends to do once he is in the White House.Wary of challenging Obama's current reservoir of international prestige and support, the European leadership's concerns on Iran are only half-articulated.But they go to fears of being cut out of the process in the direct U.S.-Iran talks Obama has promised and losing a means to bring pressure against eventual military action.

What do Obama's campaign pledges about talking to Iran "directly" and "without preconditions" mean now? And how influential are U.S. experts who argue he should run around Russia's chokehold on the UN Security Council's initiatives and sanctions by starting head-on, "all options on the table" negotiations with the mullahs?

Multi-National Monitor/Alternet: The 10 Worst Corporations of 2008 - by Robert Weissman

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The 10 Worst Corporations of 2008 - by Robert Weissman

There never has been a year like 2008. The financial crisis first gripping Wall Street and now spreading rapidly throughout the world is, in many ways, emblematic of the worst of the corporate-dominated political and economic system that is exposed in the annual 10 Worst corporations list. The "winners" this year are:

AIG: "Money for Nothing" (USA)
Cargill: "Food Profiteers" (USA)
Chevron: "We can't let little countries screw around with big companies" (USA)
Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)."Fueling Violence in Darfur" (CHINA)
Constellation Energy: "Nuclear Operators" (USA)
Dole: "The Sour Taste of Pineapple" (USA)
GE: "Creative Accounting (USA)
Imperial Sugar: "13 Dead" (USA)
Philip Morris International: Unshackled. Philip Morris USA sells cigarettes in the US and
Philip Morris International tramples over the rest of the world. (USA)
Roche: Saving Lives is Not Our Business (Swiss)

Corporations dominate the policy-making process, from city councils to global institutions like the World Trade Organization. Over the last 30 years, and especially in the last decade, Wall Street interests leveraged their political power to remove many of the regulations that had restricted their activities. There are at least a dozen separate and significant examples of this, including the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, which permitted the merger of banks and investment banks. In a form of corporate civil disobedience, Citibank and Travelers Group merged in 1998 - a move that was illegal at the time, but for which they were given a two-year forbearance - on the assumption that they would be able to force a change in the relevant law.

What is most revealing about the financial meltdown and economic crisis, however, is that it illustrates that corporations - if left to their own worst instincts - will destroy themselves and the system that nurtures them. It is rare that this lesson has been so graphically illustrated. It is one the world must quickly learn, if we are to avoid the most serious existential threat we still have to face: climate change. - EU prepares massive growth plan worth €130 billion

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EU prepares massive growth plan worth €130 billion

The 27 EU countries will be asked to give away 1% of their GDP to contribute to a Europe-wide economic stimulus package, including loans for automakers, aimed at helping restart the economy and weather the effects of the recession, it emerged yesterday.Speaking on German television on Wednesday (19 November), Michael Glos, the German economy minister, said the package would involve contributions by member states of about 1% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

A decision on the precise nature and amount of the package will be taken by EU heads of states and government during a summit in Brussels on 11-12 December.

Washington Post: Georgian, Polish Presidents Say They Were Shot At Near Russian Checkpoint - "Most people doubt the validity of the report" by P.P.Pan

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Georgian, Polish Presidents Say They Were Shot At Near Russian Checkpoint - "Most people doubt the validity of the report" - by P.P.Pan

The presidents of Georgia and Poland said they encountered gunfire while attempting to visit a Russian checkpoint near the South Ossetian border on Sunday, an assertion Russia immediately denied and described as a provocation and "wishful thinking."

"It seems to be another attempt by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to shore-up his dwindling credibility at home and in the EU", said a European diplomat stationed in Georgia.

Forbes: US Economy - Uncle Sam Pumps Up CitiGroup -

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US Economy - Uncle Sam Pumps Up CitiGroup

The federal government stepped in Sunday night to bail out Citigroup and restore confidence in the financial system, promising to protect the banking giant against losses on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of troubled assets. The U.S.Treasury guarantees the bank against losses on $300 billion of its riskiest assets and injected another $20 billion in capital.


Telegraph: Europe - Winter arrives and temperatures plunge below freezing - by Caroline Gammell

"A snowy scene in the Netherlands"

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Winter arrives and temperatures plunge below freezing - by Caroline Gammell

"The big change will be caused by these winds coming straight down from the Arctic that will bring with them the chance of some of the white stuff. "If people are watching sporting events outside, it is definitely worth putting on an extra layer - winter is on its way." Snow fell all over Europe this weekend.

Religious Intelligence - Dutch take Islamic festival Ramadan as their own - by Paolo Gallini

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Dutch take Islamic Ramadan festival as their own - by Paolo Gallini

According to a new poll, the Dutch have adopted the Sugar Feast, which marks the end of the Islamic fasting month Ramadan, as one of their favorite cultural traditions.The choice of the festival followed a poll by the Dutch Center for Folk Culture. It came 14th in the list of 100 top traditions. The center (Nederlands Centrum voor Volkscultuur, NCV) asked several thousand people to name traditions that they considered important for themselves or for the Netherlands as a whole. No shortlist of options was drawn up in advance. Queen Beatrix in Hilversum unveiled the top 100 at the opening of the Year of the Traditions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top choice in the poll was the feast of Sinterklaas. This Dutch precursor of Santa Claus, celebrated each year on December 5, is followed on the list by the decoration of a Christmas Tree. In third place is Queen's Day on April 30.

EU-Digest: The Netherlands: Sinterklaas comes to Almere

Sinterklaas and his helpers arrive in Almere, Europe's most modern City"

Special report on Sinterklaas

Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas, is an annual European event which has been uniquely Dutch and Flemish for centuries. The actual St. Nicholas' celebration, December 6th, is observed in most Roman Catholic countries primarily as a feast for small children. But it is only in the Low Countries - especially in the Netherlands - that on December 5th, the eve of his birthday, it is celebrated nationwide by young and old. Christian and non-Christian all having fun, without any religious overtones. The Sinterklaas celebrations on December 5, when St Nicholas visits children accompanied by his Moorish servants called Zwarte Piet, is the most important Dutch tradition, according to a poll for the Dutch folk culture centre NCV. Although Sinterklaas always wears the clothes of the bishop he once was, his original status as a canonized saint has little to do with what the Dutch think of him. To them he represents a kind benevolent old man, whose birthday is observed by exchanging gifts and making good-natured fun of each other. It so happens that the legend of St. Nicholas is based on historical facts. He did actually exist and lived from 271 A.D. to December 6th, 343. People still visit his 4th century tomb in the town of Myra, near the city of Anatolia in present-day Turkey, which was recently excavated has by archaeologists. Santa Claus the fat, jolly man wearing a red coat and trousers with white cuffs and collar, and black leather and who became popular in the United States in the 19th century is a commercial offshoot of ST.Nicolas, maintained and reinforced through song, radio, television, and films. In Europe he is called Father Christmas.

In the Netherlands, Sinterklaas made his early appearance at the end of November in Europe's most modern City Almere, to the delight of the children and of course the shopkeepers. Wealthy South Africans choose Malta as stepping stone to EU

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Wealthy South Africans choose Malta as stepping stone to EU

Malta is becoming the gateway for wealthy South Africans to secure quick residency in the European Union, according to South African online news site IOL. The website, probably referring to Malta’s permanent residence scheme for foreign nationals, reported that South Africans can bypass red tape when applying for permanent residence in the EU through Malta. The website said that well off South Africans who earn at least EUR 22,792 per year or have a net worth of at least EUR 341,873 can get permanent EU residency in just four months, and that successful applicants do not even have to live in Malta for a minimum amount of time to qualify. The applicants will also be required to lease or buy property in Malta and bring a certain amount of money into the island each year. The Schengen treaty, which Malta is a signatory to along with 26 other European countries, allows people who have permanent residence in one country to move freely across all signatory countries without having to apply for visas.

Europe, Turkey and the Debate on Values - OhmyNews International

Europe, Turkey and the Debate on Values - OhmyNews International:

"Europe, Turkey and the Debate on Values
[Analysis] Overcoming the difference by dialogue

Published 2008-11-23 11:11 (KST)

In terms of football, Turkey is already a European country. Turkey participated in the UEFA European Championship in June, although Turkey's participation in Europe's political and economical body, the European Union, is controversially being discussed both within the EU-member states and in Turkey. To understand this debate, it seems important to reconsider the cultural gap between Europe and Turkey, that rises from divergences in religion and tradition. I want to address this topic, focusing on the important question of human rights, emanating from a certain concept of human dignity, that can be called 'European' due to its roots in Christian religion and in enlightened philosophy."


TechCrunch: EUROPEANA - EU Presents Ambitious Open-Source Library Digitization Project -Site Promptly gets 10 million hits per hour and crashes

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EUROPEANA - EU Presents Ambitious Open-Source Library Digitization Project - Site Promptly gets 10 million hits per hour and crashes

A cadre of European politicians gathered Thursday at the Museum of the 18th century in Brussels to launch Europeana, a digital museum that allows visitors to explore classic paintings, photos, recordings and texts in the same manner in which it is possible to search, say, Trying to access Europeana on the day of its launch, though, was akin to navigating the Vatican Museums in the tourist-thick month of August. It was impossible to see anything, as the project’s three servers were totally overwhelmed. The Commission said Saturday in a press release that the site received about 10 million hits per hour throughout Thursday - double server capacity.

The site was taken down Friday evening and is expected to be back up in mid-December.

Technical challenges included harvesting and normalizing metadata from more than 1,000 different museums and libraries from around Europe. Half of participating cultural heritage institutions so far are French. The Louvre in Paris, the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (which contributed footage shot on French battlefields in 1914) and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are three of the biggest participating museums.

Europeana, which is still in beta, was programmed using only open source applications. Everything on Europeana is allowed to be downloaded. Europeana’s three servers are located in the Hague, where the project is headquartered, but programmers plan eventually to put mirror servers around the world.

Alternet: US economy - America in Free Fall - by Robert L. Borosage

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US economy - America in Free Fall-by Robert L. Borosage

The U.S. has lost private sector jobs for 10 straight months. One quarter of all businesses in the U.S. plan to cut payroll over the next year. Retail sales fell in October by the largest monthly drop on record. Auto sales have collapsed, driving the auto companies towards the precipice. Unemployment is up to 6.1 percent, with most analysts predicting it will soar past 8 percent over the next year. (That translates into unemployment among young minority men at rates of 50 percent or more). States are now facing $100 billion in deficits in operating budgets for the next fiscal year. Twelve million homes are "under water," worth less than their mortgages.

A stunning report by Eric Lotke at the Campaign for America's Future details the staggering investment deficits that have accumulated over the last 30 years. For decades, we've chosen to cut taxes on the wealthy while starving vital public investments. The result is an America that is literally falling apart, while much of the private wealth was squandered in the speculative frenzy that now has leveled our economy. Rather than adding to that folly, we should be focusing on strategic public investments that will put people to work in the short term while contributing to a more competitive economy, a better-educated citizenry and a cleaner environment.

BBC: Kennedy shot dead in Dallas - November 22 , 1963

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Kennedy shot dead in Dallas

Remembering November 22, 1963 - The President of the United States has been assassinated by a gunman in Dallas, Texas. John F Kennedy was hit in the head and throat when three shots were fired at his open-topped car.Dallas Times Herald photographer Bob Jackson was in the motorcade close behind the Democrat leader's car and heard the shots as it entered Dealey Plaza. "As I looked up I saw a rifle being pulled back from a window - it might have been resting on the windowsill - I didn't see a man," he said.The president was alive when he was admitted, but died at 1400 local time (1900 GMT) - 35 minutes after being shot.

Note EU-Digest: "There are crazy and fanatic people out there and it pays more than ever to be vigilant".

Time: Europe's Road Ahead - "Europe needs to get over its crush on Obama" - by Michael Elliott

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Europe's Road Ahead - Europe needs to get over its crush on Obama - by Michael Elliott

"In the case of Turkey, the question for Europe is not, as with Russia, how to avoid a dangerous rivalry. It is, rather, how to institutionalize relations with Turkey so that it can be Europe's partner in a dangerous neighborhood. At a recent World Economic Forum conference in Istanbul, I was struck both by how creative Turkish diplomacy now is in the whole ring of instability to its east and south, from Armenia right round to Syria, and how much Turks wanted to work with Europeans to extend the area of peace and economic integration which has, since the Treaty of Rome 51 years ago, steadily moved from the North Sea eastwards.

It will take skillful diplomacy and sustained political and economic engagement for Europe to find new and better relations with Russia and Turkey. And here is the key thing: the U.S., however charismatic its new President may be, will be little or no help.

Russia and Turkey are Europe's neighbors, not America's. Washington will always see relations with its former superpower rival differently from the way Europe does — as, indeed, was demonstrated in its reaction to the Georgian war.And that, perhaps, is the best of all reasons why Europe needs to get over its crush on Obama. In the things that really matter to Europe, it doesn't help. Love is a fine thing; but as all who have loved know, it does not solve all the problems that life throws our way."

TIME: Europe's Road Ahead - by Michael Elliott

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Europe's Road Ahead - by Michael Elliott

If Obama is as wise as he seems, non-Americans will appreciate soon enough that he has just been elected President of the United States, not Secretary-General of the United Nations. For Europe's great and good, this will not be easy. Europeans love thinking about America, part in longing, part in envy, part in disdain. You could spend a nice year trotting from Ditchley Park in Oxfordshire to Salzburg, from the Italian lakes to German castles, doing nothing but ponder in earnest detail the state of the Atlantic alliance. It's a monumental waste of time. Nearly six years after those passionate disagreements on the invasion of Iraq, U.S.-Europe relations are just fine, with a clutch of Atlanticists heading the governments of Britain, France and Germany — and leading the European Commission in Brussels, too. The thing now is to figure out what the world's collection of rich democracies can do with their substantial power. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the New York Times recently that she once said to European leaders, "Can we take the trans-Atlantic relationship off the sofa? And stop analyzing it and analyzing whether it's healthy, and actually put it to work in common causes?" She has a point.

Many in Europe know just what to do with this peace and prosperity: lie back and enjoy it. As Gideon Rachman argued in a provocative column in the Financial Times in May, Europe has become a "giant Switzerland." Its people do not consider themselves threatened by the turmoil in the world around it, and see little point in going out looking for dragons to slay. Barack Obama may be Europe's darling, but he will find that his suitor's ardor cools pretty quickly the moment he asks European parents to volunteer their sons and daughters to beef up NATO forces in Afghanistan.

NYT - US political Developments: Obama Tilts to Center, Inviting a Clash of Ideas - by David Sanger

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US Political developments: Obama Tilts to Center, Inviting a Clash of Ideas - by David Sanger

President-elect Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination with the enthusiastic support of the left wing of his party, fueled by his vehement opposition to the decision to invade Iraq and by one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate.Now, his reported selections for two of the major positions in his cabinet — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state and Timothy F. Geithner as secretary of the Treasury — suggest that Mr. Obama is planning to govern from the center-right of his party, surrounding himself with pragmatists rather than ideologues. The reason, several of Mr. Obama’s transition team members say, is that they believe that the new administration will have no time for a learning curve. With the country facing a deep recession or worse, global market turmoil, chaos in Pakistan and a worsening war in Afghanistan, “there’s going to be no time for experimentation,” a member of the Obama foreign policy team said. That explains Mr. Obama’s first selection: Rahm Emanuel, another centrist Democrat and former member of the Clinton White House, as his chief of staff.

In some ways, the choices made so far are reminiscent of the way the last senator to be elected president, John F. Kennedy, chose a cabinet. As president-elect, Kennedy soon picked three top officials significantly more conservative than he was: Dean Rusk as secretary of state, Robert S. McNamara as secretary of defense and C. Douglas Dillon, a Republican, as secretary of the Treasury. They helped him navigate the Cuban missile crisis, but also got him bogged down in Vietnam.


NIC: Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World

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Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World

Some of the NIC preliminary assessments are:
* The whole international system—as constructed following WWII—will be revolutionized. Not only will new players—Brazil, Russia, India and China— have a seat at the international high table, they will bring new stakes and rules of the game.
* The unprecedented transfer of wealth roughly from West to East now under way will continue for the foreseeable future.
* Unprecedented economic growth, coupled with 1.5 billion more people, will put pressure on resources—particularly energy, food, and water—raising the specter of scarcities emerging as demand outstrips supply.
* The potential for conflict will increase owing partly to political turbulence in parts of the greater Middle East. Netherlands to Spend EU6 Billion to Stimulate Economy

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Netherlands to Spend EU6 Billion to Stimulate Economy - by Fred Pals and Jurjen van de Pol

The Dutch government will spend more than 1 percent of gross domestic product, or about 6 billion euros ($7.5 billion), to stimulate the nation's economy. The government measures will include temporarily subsidizing company payrolls and speeding up infrastructure spending, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said at a press conference in The Hague. ``A lot needs to be done, and it is a tough time,'' Balkenende said today. ``Europe has been hit by the financial crisis and there's clearly an influence on the real economy now.''

The Dutch economy came to a standstill in the second and third quarters. It still outpaced the economy of the 15-nation euro region, which slipped into its first recession since the 1999 introduction of the single currency. The European Union is working on a 130 billion-euro ($163 billion) stimulus package to bolster growth, German officials have said.

BBC NEWS: Sweden ratifies EU Lisbon Treaty

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Sweden ratifies EU Lisbon Treaty

Sweden has become the 24th of the EU's 27 member states to ratify the controversial Lisbon Treaty. Sweden's parliament backed the new reform treaty after a late-night debate, with 243 votes in favour, 39 against and 67 deputies absent or abstaining.

Businessweek: EU/France - All Aboard: High-Speed Train Gets Wi-Fi - by Nathasha Lomas

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EU/France - All Aboard: High-Speed Train Gets Wi-Fi - by Nathasha Lomas

French train operator SNCF is to roll out onboard wi-fi across its entire TGV Est fleet by the end of 2010, following a successful trial of the technology. SNCF said a paid-for wi-fi service for first and second class passengers will launch in autumn 2009 on a number of trains, with a full rollout on all TGV Est departures in France, Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland by the end of 2010.

Earlier this year the operator trialled a free wi-fi service on three TGV trains, travelling at speeds of up to 320km/h, including an international service to Switzerland.

EU-Digest: EU-35 years of successful Eurobarometer polling

35th anniversary

A special EU-Digest report on the 35th anniversary of Eurobarometer

EU-35 years of successful Eurobarometer polling

To mark this important event, the European Commission (with the support of the EC Representation in Paris), in cooperation with the French Presidency, the European Parliament and Sciences Po is organizing the anniversary conference in Paris today November 21 and tomorrow.

The main objective of Eurobarometer as a polling tool, founded in 1973, is to identify and analyze trends in public opinion in all Member States and in the Candidate Countries. The Paris conference aims to discuss the role of public opinion polls in developing a European public sphere. The conference will focus on several crucial topics, like: the upcoming EP elections, lessons learned from European referenda, public debate on tomorrow's Europe, Eurobarometer's methodological challenges.

The event today brings together representatives of significant influence and expert knowledge from EU institutions, EU member states, politicians, academics and journalists. Among the many confirmed keynote speakers are: Margot Wallström, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, Nicole Fontaine, Jacques Santer, Noëlle Lenoir, Henning Christophersen, Gijs de Vries, Thierry Saussez, and Jacques-René Rabier.