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bt - Alternative Energy Goes Mainstream - by James Chester

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Alternative Energy Goes Mainstream - by James Chester

The politics of power, literally speaking, is a complicated game. Forced to balance the needs of a population that cannot survive without subsidized energy, and at the same time facing the need to diversify energy sources, the government finds itself in a quandary. How to secure reliable power sources for the coming decades, while maintaining growth and conserving valuable oil and gas reserves? Renewable energy could be part of the solution. The target, set by the Supreme Council for Energy, is to have 20% of electricity generated from renewable sources (predominantly wind and hydroelectric power) by 2020. Although wind only accounts for 1.5% of electricity generated, Egypt already has more wind energy capacity (310 megawatts (MW) out of a total capacity of 23,000 MW from all sources) than anywhere else in the Middle East and Africa. Hydroelectric power provides up to 12% of electricity, and as a sun-belt country, the potential to generate solar energy is huge. Added to that, the political will finally exists to make green energy viable.

BBC NEWS: US Economy: Mood amongst US consumers worsens

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US Economy: Mood amongst US consumers worsens

US consumer confidence has unexpectedly dropped to a record low in December, in the face of the US economic slowdown and continuing job cuts. The index fell to 38, from November's revised 44.7 figure, though it had been expected to rise. The dismal job market appears to have outweighed falling oil prices in consumers' minds, analysts said. Meanwhile, October house prices in 20 US cities fell by a record yearly rate, according to a key home price survey.

NY Foreign Policy Examiner: Sarkozy Heading to Jerusalem to mediate between Israel and Hamas

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EU President Sarkozy Heading to Jerusalem to mediate between Israel and Hamas - by by Aimee Kligman

How lame is the US duck? Lame enough that we are witnessing a first. The President of Europe and France, together with his Foreign Affairs Minister, Bernard Kouchner, are heading to Jerusalem to mediate between the warring factions. This feels uneasy, though I am elated to see that at least one head of state stands behind his words. Everyone who has a voice around the world has been busy pontificating over what should be done, why and where. But the only man willing to put his money where his mouth is - is Nicolas Sarkozy.

Have we arrived at a world where the U.S. is no longer the peace maker, the relations promoter, the center stage power? Will France edge itself closer to Israel and its politics? Let us remember that Sarkozy has very deep Sephardic Jewish roots. Though this has not been emphasized in the English speaking press, it has been a very big deal in French speaking media. Remember that after the U.S., France has the largest size Jewish community.

USA Today: The Netherlands: 'Heineken Experience' reopens in Amsterdam - by Toby Sterling

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Heineken Experience' reopens in Amsterdam - by Toby Sterling

One of Amsterdam's most popular attractions among young adults, the Experience has reopened after a year of renovations. Long gone are the days when the tour, located on the site of Heineken's former brewery in Amsterdam, was mostly a way to drink unlimited amounts of booze. The remodeled version lives up to its name, a cross between corporate museum and a chance to achieve rapture with one of the world's most-recognized beer brands.

Though for cynics the Experience may feel like one long advertisement, for those who love the beer, it's "a pilgrimage," says Bob Rogers, a branding expert who advised Heineken on the museum's renovations. "We wanted to bring back the connection with beer-making, and the history of Heineken, to help people see it, touch it, taste it," he says. The new Experience updates its offerings with several high-tech exhibits targeting the "YouTube" generation. For instance, visitors can perform karaoke of the cheesy Dutch classic song Tulips from Amsterdam against a backdrop of canals — and instantly send a video clip of the event by e-mail to their friends. : The year in words: 2008's most overused clichés - by Jered Stuffco

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The year in words: 2008's most overused clichés - by Jered Stuffco

When the clock is ticking and developments on breaking stories come over the wires fast and furious, a well-placed cliché is a tried and true way of delivering up-to-the-minute information for readers young and old.Clichés even turn up in the work of great writers, broadcasters and columnists from time to time; not even the editors and writers at are immune to their time-saving charms. So, as part of a New Year's resolution to crusade against trite and untrue phrases, here's a rundown of some clichés that burrowed their way into the year's biggest stories and lingered like a bad hangover.By now, it would seem that many reporters have a single-keystroke shortcut for the misleading and overused term "bailout." Initially, we had the $700 billion Wall Street "bailout," and as 2008 ends, reporters and public policy people have again pulled out the term in relation to the Detroit automakers.Among the worst is the now-overused phrase "tough economic times" and its many derivatives, which have been bludgeoned to death by reporters, TV anchors and politicos. Stephane Dion dropped the phrase in his ill-focused and ill-timed address to the nation in early December, when he said: "We believe that in these tough economic times, the government has a role to play." Slovakia Is Counting on Euro to Shield It From Crisis - by Radoslav Tomek and Andrea Dudikova

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Slovakia Is Counting on Euro to Shield It From Crisis - by Radoslav Tomek and Andrea Dudikova

Slovakia, which becomes the 16th member of the euro region tonight, is counting on the currency to help shield it from the brunt of the global crisis that’s pummeling emerging markets. Slovakia, which joined the European Union in 2004, will be the second former communist country to make the switch after it held down inflation, debt and its budget deficit. The former Yugoslav republic of Slovenia was admitted two years ago. The nation is making the change while eastern European currencies and economies plunge because of the worldwide credit squeeze. The European Central Bank may balk at further expansion of the euro bloc for now, foiling other countries’ efforts to gain financial support and fend off deeper recessions.


The Local: Celebrating Silvester in Germany

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Celebrating Silvester in Germany

Why do Germans call New Year's Eve Silvester? And what's with all the mustard-filled doughnuts, firecrackers, and melted lead? Silvester is the German name for New Year's Eve – owing to the fourth century Pope Sylvester I. Eventually made a saint by the Catholic Church, his feast day is observed on December 31. St. Sylvester’s day became associated with New Year's Eve with the reform of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, when the last day of the year was fixed at December 31. But despite the holiday's Christian name, many German New Year's traditions can be traced back to the pagan Rauhnächte practices of heathen Germanic tribes, which took place at the end of December and beginning of January. As in many other countries, the Germans celebrate Silvester with fireworks, champagne, and boisterous social gatherings. Making noise is key: the ruckus of fireworks, firecrackers, drums, whip-cracking and banging kitchen utensils has been driving away evil winter spirits since the days of the Germanic Teutons. One of the most famous German firework displays takes place at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Private celebrations with Böllern (firecrackers) are also common.

EU-Digest/Xinhua: European Commission urges Hamas, Israel to immediately stop attacks

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European Commission urges Hamas, Israel to immediately stop attacks

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union (EU), on Tuesday urged Israel and the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas to immediately halt all military attacks affecting the civilian population. The commission also asked Israel to open up border crossings for humanitarian assistance. "The European Commission is deeply concerned by the situation in Gaza. The lack of access for humanitarian goods and relief workers creates a dramatic situation for thousands of civilians," the Commission said in a statement, adding that it was "extremely concerned" about the plight of civilians in the Gaza Strip.

Editorial Note EU-Digest: Instead of issuing warnings the most effective method would be to force ( not ask) Israel and other Middle Eastern regional powers to meet under the auspices of the UN to discuss all issues at hand, including the nuclear disarmament of Iran and Israel. It should also be made clear to everyone, that negotiating parties who obstruct the UN established guidelines for the meeting will face the possibility of a total boycott and blockade enforced by the US, the EU, China and Russia. To be more precise: belligerent parties who do not agree to the principles of a UN comprehensive peace accord covering the whole Middle Eastern Region will cease to exist as a credible nation. All this will take is for the US, the EU, China and Russia to put aside national political motives in favor of world peace. Anything else is just empty rhetoric.

News Hounds - Neocons alive and well-- Using Present Middle East Conflict To Push For War Against Iran - by Ellen

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Neocons alive and well-- Using Present Middle East Conflict To Push For War Against Iran - by Ellen

“Fair and balanced” FOX News offered (chicken)hawk John Bolton as its sole guest to discuss the latest Israeli conflict on last night's (12/29/08) Hannity & Colmes. As Jane Hamsher pointed out in an interesting post, the knee-jerk, pro-Israel American media response is beginning to change. But not on FOX News. In nearly three hours of prime time (I tuned out after On The Record began rehashing the white gal overboard story also discussed on H&C), only Alan Colmes cast doubt on Israel's tactics, though he was more skeptical than critical. Nobody else even went that far. But Bolton didn't just support Israel. As he has whenever the subject of the Middle East comes up, he used it as a rationale for ratcheted up militarism and a strike against Iran.

Bolton said, “every problem in the region that we have now gets worse once Iran gets nuclear weapons. And I'm afraid we are ever closer to that point... I don't think there's anything at this point standing between Iran and nuclear weapons other than the possibility of the use of military force, possibly by the United States, possibly by Israel. I don't see the Bush administration doing it. So it could well come down to Israel.”

RNW: Dutch 2009 fireworks already a problem

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Dutch 2009 fireworks already a problem

The Netherlands is gearing itself up for New Year's Eve, which people traditionally mark with firework displays. Last year, the Dutch spent between 60 and 65 million euros on fireworks. Despite the economic malaise, they are expected to top that amount this week.Fireworks can only be used between 10 a.m. on New Year's Eve and 2 a.m. on New Year's Day, but the police had already received over 200 complaints about the use of firecrackers and the like on Monday. In the city of Utrecht, more than 50 people have already been charged for incidents involving fireworks.

Herald Tribune: The Netherlands - From the left, a call to end the current Dutch notion of tolerance - by John Vinocur

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The Netherlands - From the left, a call to end the current Dutch notion of tolerance - by John Vinocur

Two years ago, the Dutch could quietly congratulate themselves on having brought what seemed to be a fair measure of consensus and reason to the meanest intersection in their national political life: the one where integration of Muslim immigrants crossed Dutch identity. In the run-up to choosing a new government in 2006, just 24 percent of the voters considered the issue important, and only 4 percent regarded it as the election's central theme. What a turnabout, it seemed - and whatever the reason (spent passions, optimism, resignation?), it was a soothing respite for a country whose history of tolerance was the first in 21st-century Europe to clash with the on-street realities of its growing Muslim population.

RIA Novosti - Iranian students signing up to fight Israel

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Iranian students signing up to fight Israel

Some 7,000 Iranian students in the city of Isfahan have volunteered to fight for Palestine against Israel while more students are signing up in Tehran, the Fars news agency said on Tuesday. On Sunday, Iran's religious leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a religious decree calling for a jihad against Israel for its air strikes on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip that started on Saturday leaving around 360 Palestinians dead and over 1,500 wounded. "In response to the supreme leader's orders for a jihad (holy war), students from the bassij militia are going to register . . . to go to fight in the occupied Palestinian territories," Fars cited Alireza Zahedi as saying on Monday.In response to Israeli air strikes, Palestinian militants launched over 80 rockets and mortar shells on southern Israel killing three people with over 35 others injured, some of them seriously.Iran does not officially recognize the state of Israel and finances the militant political faction Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

AFP: EU foreign ministers to meet on Gaza crisis

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EU foreign ministers to meet on Gaza crisis

European Union foreign ministers were set to hold an urgent meeting on Tuesday in Paris on the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip, the French foreign ministry announced. "The ministers will look into how the European Union can help ease the current crisis, along with the efforts of the international community, especially the secretary general of the United Nations," the ministry's statement said. The meeting was set to take place at 1730 GMT Tuesday and be chaired by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. Javier Solana, the EU's high representative for foreign policy and members of the European Commission were also expected to attend. It was likely to be the last major ministerial meeting before France passes on the rotating six-month EU presidency to the Czech Republic on Thursday. In the face of Israel's latest onslaught against Hamas in Gaza- Tariq Ali

Israeli Tanks ready to roll into Gaza

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In the face of Israel's latest onslaught against Hamas in Gaza- Tariq Ali

The assault on Gaza, planned over six months and executed with perfect timing, was designed largely, as Neve Gordon has rightly observed, to help the incumbent parties triumph in the forthcoming Israeli elections. The dead Palestinians are little more than election fodder in a cynical contest between the right and the far right in Israel. Washington and its EU allies, perfectly aware that Gaza was about to be assaulted, as in the case of Lebanon in 2006, sit back and watch. Washington, as is its wont, blames the pro-Hamas Palestinians, with Obama and Bush singing from the same AIPAC hymn sheet. The EU politicians, having observed the build-up, the siege, the collective punishment inflicted on Gaza, the targeting of civilians etc (for all the gory detail, see Harvard scholar Sara Roy's chilling essay in the London Review of Books) were convinced that it was the rocket attacks that had "provoked" Israel but called on both sides to end the violence, with nil effect.

Western enthusiasm for democracy stops when those opposed to its policies are elected to office. The west and Israel tried everything to secure a Fatah victory: Palestinian voters rebuffed the concerted threats and bribes of the "international community" in a campaign that saw Hamas members and other oppositionists routinely detained or assaulted by the IDF, their posters confiscated or destroyed, US and EU funds channelled into the Fatah campaign, and US congressmen announcing that Hamas should not be allowed to run.

Note EU-Digest: A lot of the above might be true, but Hamas certainly is not blameless. It has never recognized Israel as a State, never respected any ceasefire and incessantly fired rockets into Israel.


Vestas receives order for 10 V90-3.0 MW turbines in Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles

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Vestas receives order for 10 V90-3.0 MW turbines in Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles

Vestas has received an order for delivery of 10 units of V90-3.0 MW wind turbines for Wind Park “Vader Piet” in Aruba (Netherlands Antilles) from Hutting Windenergy and Bright Capital Partners. The contract includes supply, installation and commissioning. Delivery of the wind turbines will start in the third quarter of 2009 and the commissioning is planned for the beginning of 2010.

”This project is very special to us, caused by its extraordinary and exotic location. The transport to Aruba will take place by dedicated sea transport. Due to limited availability of heavy transport and crane facilities on the island, the transportation includes the necessary cranes and trailers as well as the turbines, towers etc. We are very proud that Hutting Windenergy and Bright Capital Partners have chosen to work with Vestas in the Netherlands Antilles. After several successful projects in the Netherlands, this means a large step forward in our fruitful relationship,” says Hans Vestergaard, Managing Director, Vestas Benelux B.V.

Daily Times - The euro ark - by Joaquín Almunia

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The euro ark - by Joaquín Almunia

The euro is celebrating its tenth anniversary against the background of the most difficult economic climate since its birth. The financial storm that swept in from the United States, and the onset of a severe economic downturn, confronts Europe with unprecedented challenges. Faced with the biggest test in its history, the euro is far from steering into disaster, as the Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman predicted ten years ago. On the contrary, Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union is proving a major asset in these tumultuous times.In ten short years, the euro revolutionized the global economic environment, rising to the status of the world’s second currency and rivaling the dollar as a medium for international trade and finance. The EMU is now the world’s largest market, and continues to grow.

With Slovakia’s entry on January 1, the euro spans 16 countries and 329 million citizens. The benefits of a monetary union based on a stable macroeconomic framework and governed by an independent central bank are manifest: the euro area has enjoyed low inflation and low interest rates for much of the last decade, a boost in trade and investment, and rapid integration of financial markets. Moreover, 16 million jobs have been created over the last 10 years, a record more successful than even the US. US Economic Meltdown: Recession Opens U.S.-China Rift - by Kevin Hamlin and Mark Drajem

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US Economic Meltdown: Recession Opens U.S.-China Rift - by Kevin Hamlin and Mark Drajem

Heightened tensions between China and the U.S. may worsen a contraction in world trade that already threatens to deepen and prolong the economic downturn. The friction comes as President- elect Barack Obama readies a two-year stimulus package worth as much as $850 billion that will require the U.S. to borrow more than ever from China, the largest buyer of Treasury securities. “The American economic slump is running into the Chinese economic slump,” says Derek Scissors, a research fellow at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation. “It's creating the conditions for a face-off between Beijing and the U.S. Congress, possibly leading to destabilization of the world's most important bilateral economic relationship.” In the U.S., business and labor groups, along with lawmakers, are pushing the new Obama administration to take a harder line with China than President George W. Bush did. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana, plans legislation that would raise tariffs on dumped imports from China and other nations. And newly elected Democratic congressmen such as Larry Kissell of North Carolina and Dan Maffei of New York have pledged actions to stop jobs from being shipped to China.

Officials in Beijing will push back, says James McGregor, chairman of Beijing-based research firm JL McGregor & Co. and author of the book “One Billion Customers,” about doing business in China. Chinese leaders “will do whatever they need to protect their interests and to say to the U.S., 'Do not mess with us on this one,'” he says. American businesses, labor unions and lawmakers are already gearing up to force Obama's hand. Steelmakers, paper producers and textile companies are preparing trade complaints that could lead to increased tariffs. Unions and lawmakers plan to push measures to force China to raise the value of its currency.

The Montley fool - US Economy - A Nightmare Which Started Before Christmas - by Peter Schiff

Peter Schiff - A Nightmare Which Started Before Christmas

When Barack Obama announced his intention to implement a New Deal-style stimulus and public works program. What he somehow forgot to mention is that the United States is wholly dependent on the willingness of foreign creditors to supply the funds. But a weakening dollar makes continued foreign purchase of U.S. Treasuries a much more difficult decision. Once the dollar begins to collapse beneath the weight of all this new deficit spending, accumulation of contingency liabilities, and the socialization of the US economy, commodity prices and interest rates will head skyward. In addition, once all the going out of business sales at U.S. retailers are over, and excess inventories have been reduced, watch for big price increases at the consumer level as well. Once the government runs out of foreign and private sector bidders for new treasuries, the Federal Reserve will be the only buyer, and the hyper-inflation cat will be completely out of the bag. Sensing this, the Fed has recently indicated a desire to begin issuing its own bonds. However, since dollars are already recorded as liabilities on the Fed’s balance sheet (dollars are in actuality Federal Reserve Notes) the Fed already issues debt. The difference now is that they are proposing to issue interest bearing debt. Perhaps the Fed feels this will make holding its notes more appealing. However, since the interest will be paid in more of its own script, it is unlikely this con will work.

Aero-News: Boeing To Announce Yet ANOTHER Dreamliner Delay

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Boeing To Announce Yet ANOTHER Dream liner Delay

To anyone at Boeing who may have snickered when rival Airbus experienced a number of delays in bringing its high-profile A380 superjumbo to market... one imagines if you didn't believe in karma then, you do now.The Wall Street Journal reports the American plane maker is poised to announce yet another delay to its troubled 787 Dream liner program, due to the recent strike by workers represented by the International Association of Machinists. Citing unnamed sources, the WSJ says Boeing will announce later this month first deliveries of the composite-bodied jet will be pushed to summer of 2010, with the possibility the aircraft's first flight may not happen until late 2009. "There is no question" the 787 will be delayed further, one source told the WSJ. "The real issue right now is that Boeing wants to make sure it has a believable date before going back to the customers with more bad news." Boeing's latest official statement about the Dream liner called for deliveries to start in the third quarter of 2009.

If the latest report is true -- and there's nothing to suggest it isn't -- the latest delay would mean the first 787 will delivered to launch customer All Nippon Airlines at least two years later than Boeing had originally hoped. Touted by Boeing as a revolutionary, highly-efficient airliner for a environmentally-conscious world, for the moment the Dreamliner has instead become the company's largest embarrassment since the Darleen Druyun fiasco.

SFGate: Europe's rail system moving full steam ahead - by Ed Perkins

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Europe's rail system moving full steam ahead - by Ed Perkins

High-speed rail is moving ahead at high speed in Europe. Railroads there keep adding new high-speed lines and increasing service, while here in the United States, we keep fretting about the need for better transportation but do little about it. If you're heading for Europe next year, you can try out several new lines, and additional lines will open by summer.Europe's latest opening is in Italy: a new dedicated high-speed line from Milan to Bologna. According to the Italian Railways' press release, nonstop trains can now make the Milan-Rome trip in 3 1/2 hours, although current schedules show only trains that stop in Bologna and Florence, taking three hours, 55 minutes. Still, that's pretty good time, and I assume some non stops will run by summer. The new segment leaves only a small gap between Bologna and Florence that, once filled, will provide high-speed tracks from Milan to Naples, about 530 miles. That final gap will close either next year or in 2010.

Rail travel is much greener than air or automobile travel - especially electrically driven rail travel, which is the norm for heavily traveled routes in most of Western Europe. In addition to investing heavily in rail, several European countries have imposed or are considering taxes or duties designed to discourage air travel. - Russia and Ukraine in talks to end gas deadlock - by Roman Olearchyk in Kiev and Isabel Gorst

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Russia and Ukraine in talks to end gas deadlock - by Roman Olearchyk in Kiev and Isabel Gorst

An energy delegation from Ukraine arrived in Moscow on Monday for last-ditch talks aimed at resolving a gas debt dispute with Russia that could disrupt the supply of gas to Europe. Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled gas group, has demanded that Ukraine settle $2bn of arrears for gas supplies this year or face a cut-off in deliveries from January 1.

The ex-Soviet countries are gearing up for a fourth energy stand-off in as many years, but have assured consumers in Europe that supplies will not be disrupted as happened during a 2006 dispute.

Reuters: Iran hardliners register volunteers to fight Israel

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Iran hardliners register volunteers to fight Israel

A group of Iranian hard-line clerics is signing up volunteers to fight in the Gaza Strip in response to Israel's air strikes that have killed at least 300 Palestinians, a news agency reported on Monday. "From Monday the Combatant Clergy Society has activated its website for a week to register volunteers to fight against the Zionist regime (Israel) in either the military, financial or propaganda fields," the semi-official Fars news agency said.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a religious decree to Muslims around the world on Sunday, ordering them to defend Palestinians in Gaza against Israeli attacks "in any way possible." A religious decree is an official statement by a high-ranking religious leader that commands Muslims to carry out its message. While there is no religious and legal force behind it, Khamenei is respected by many Iranian and non-Iranian Shi'ites.


Popular Mechanics: Can Offshore Grids Solve Our Wind Power Woes? - by Andrew Moseman

Offshore Wind Farm on Danish Coast

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Can Offshore Grids Solve Our Wind Power Woes? - by Andrew Moseman

The European Commission met last month to discuss linking all the European Union countries together in a continental supergrid. No, they're not planning to the spend millions (perhaps even billions) of Euros it would cost to install powerlines across land borders. Europeans are looking offshore—to connect their growing supply of offshore wind power with a grid spanning the Baltic Sea, North Sea and Mediterranean Sea. Europe is well on the way to its goal of drawing 20 percent of its total energy from renewable sources by 2020. Twenty-five offshore wind farms spread between Ireland, the U.K., Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands already produce 1100 megawatts of power, and more than 20 new projects have been approved in Germany. While winds are stronger and more consistent at sea, they're still not foolproof. If a breeze fails, a local grid can turn to other energy sources to bridge the gap. That won't work if a country draws a large proportion of its power from renewables, says Frauke Thies of Greenpeace's European Unit. Linking wind farms along the coast could solve this problem by offering some insurance against the vagaries of Mother Nature: Odds are good that, if wind stops blowing in one region, it will be windy somewhere along Europe's ample coastlines. On a small scale, this is already happening. An undersea transmission cable that cost nearly euro 600 million spans the 370-plus miles between Norway and the Netherlands, allowing the two countries to trade power. Thies's Greenpeace unit published a plan in September for a grid to link seven countries on the North Sea. Czech GDP growth to slow to 4.4 pct

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Czech GDP growth to slow to 4.4 pct

In 2009, Czech economy should grow by 3.6 percent, the EC said.The EC forecast is in harmony with the Czech Finance Ministry´s estimates. The ministry expects GDP growth at 4.4 percent this year, and at 3.8 - 3.6 percent next year. The Czech National Bank (CNB) says the growth may be even lower. In the whole EU and euro zone, economic growth will almost stop owing to the financial crisis, the forecast says. The EU´s GDP should grow by just 0.2 percent next year, and in the euro zone the growth should reach just 0.1 percent.

DW: EU Condemns 'Unacceptable' Palestinian Deaths

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EU Condemns 'Unacceptable' Palestinian Deaths

The European Union's top foreign-policy official on Saturday condemned as "unacceptable" the death of Palestinian civilians in Israeli air-strikes and called for an end to violence. The death toll is now over 270. "The current Israeli strikes are inflicting an unacceptable toll on Palestinian civilians and will only worsen the humanitarian crisis as well as complicate the search for a peaceful solution," EU High Representative Javier Solana said in a statement. "I call for an immediate cessation of military actions on both sides. The EU has repeatedly condemned rocket attacks against Israel," the statement said.

China View: Yearender: Marked changes in world's political, economic landscape - by Sun Ruijun and Bao Erwen

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Yearender: Marked changes in world's political, economic landscape - by Sun Ruijun and Bao Erwen

The world has undergone remarkable changes this year, but international security situation on the whole remained stable with "peace" and "development" prevailing as the themes of the times. In 2008, the world has continued moving toward multi-polarization, resulting in a distinctive shift of international forces. Globalization is developing in depth and regional cooperation is gathering momentum.The world has been confronted with one hotspot issue after another and non-traditional threats are increasing. The world economic growth took a turn for the worse due to the outbreak of the global financial crisis.

The United States has been acting as the world's only superpower in 2008, but the financial turmoil, which broke out in Wall Street in September, showed its vulnerability.Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) continued to enhance its independence and influence in international affairs. In March, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said their countries share a vision of a "global Europe."

LA Times: Iran, Arab world react to Gaza bombardment - by Borzou Daragahi

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Iran, Arab world react to Gaza bombardment - by Borzou Daragahi

Iran's highest political and religious authority made a provocative religious appeal today to Muslims worldwide, saying "true believers" were "duty-bound to defend" Palestinians suffering under two days of Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip. But Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's message fell short of a call to arms amid speculation about how Tehran and other allies of Hamas would respond to the ongoing attack on the militant group's facilities in the densely packed coastal enclave. It also did not meet the definition of a fatwa, a religiously binding legal ruling. "All true believers in the world of Islam and Palestinian fighters are duty-bound to defend the defenseless women and children in Gaza Strip and those giving their lives in carrying out such a divine duty are 'martyrs,' " Khamenei said in a statement, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

AP: Anti-Israeli protests across Europe

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Anti-Israeli protests across Europe

Protesters turned out across Europe Sunday to demonstrate against Israel's air assault on the Gaza Strip, while European leaders called on Israel and Hamas to end the bloodshed. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said this was a "dangerous moment" and called for an immediate cease-fire by both Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza. About 700 protesters descended on the Israeli embassy in London's Kensington neighborhood a day after the airstrikes on Gaza began. More than 280 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza health official Dr. Moaiya Hassanain.


M&C: European Union criticizes Israel for using disproportionate force against Hamas

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European Union criticizes Israel for using disproportionate force against Hamas

The European Union criticized Israel for using disproportionate force against Hamas and called for an immediate end to hostilities. The EU also called upon Israel to reopen borders into the Gaza Strip to fuel and food shipments, which have been disrupted since an economic and military blockade began in 2007. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko called on Israel to end its 'combat activities which have already led to great loss and suffering among the peaceful Palestinian population.'

Flightglobal: Spain receives first Tranche 2 Eurofighters - by Craigh Hoyle

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Spain receives first Tranche 2 Eurofighters - by Craigh Hoyle

Spain has followed Germany, Italy and the UK in receiving its first production examples of the Tranche 2 Eurofighter, with three of its 34 aircraft having been delivered to its Moron air base near Seville. Madrid had already received 19 Eurofighters under Tranche 1 production of the type, and its total commitment to the four-nation program totals 87 aircraft. Plans To Invest EUR2.8 Billion In Offshore Wind Park

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Germany's RWE AG's (RWE.XE) RWE Innogy Friday said it has acquired the project company ENOVA Energieanlagen GmbH, which is part of the ENOVA Group. This acquisition includes the rights to the offshore wind project North Sea Windpower 3 (NSWP3). Juergen Grossmann, Chief Executive Officer of RWE AG said, "Some 1,000 megawatts of windpower on the high seas - that is the largest single project RWE has undertaken so far in the area of renewables. Even in these times of economic crisis, RWE Innogy is consciously stepping up its investment pace." The wind farm will avoid approximately 2.6 million tonnes of CO2 annually, the company said. It will also make an important contribution towards achieving RWE's renewables targets. By 2012, RWE wants to have secured a power generation capacity of around 4,500 MW on the basis of renewables.

Chicago Tribune: Russian hackers target U.S., Europe for profit and politics -- by Alex Rodriguez

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Russian hackers target U.S., Europe for profit and politics -- by Alex Rodriguez

Not long ago, the simple, anonymous thrill of exposing chinks in American software was enough of a payoff for a Russian hacker. Today it's cash. And almost all the targets are in the United States and Europe, where Russia's notorious hackers pilfer online bank accounts, swipe social security numbers, steal credit card data and peek at e-mail log-ins and passwords as part of what some estimate to be a $100 billion-a-year global cyber-crime business. And when it's not money that drives Russian hackers, it's politics—with the aim of accessing or disabling the computers, Web sites and security systems of governments opposed to Russian interests. That may have been the motive behind a recent attack on Pentagon computers.

Cyber-crime, by some estimates, has outpaced the amount of illicit cash raked in by global drug trafficking. Hackers from Russia and China are among the chief culprits, and the threat they pose now extends far beyond spam, identity theft and bank heists.Today, however, most hackers in Russia are in it strictly for the money. Cyber-crime gangs approach computer programming graduates from Moscow's technical universities with offers of making sums of $5,000 to $7,000 a month, a far cry from Russia's average monthly salary of $640, says Nikita Kislitsyn, editor of Hacker, a glossy Russian magazine with how-to information for budding hackers.

DW: Russia Warns Gas Deliveries to Europe Could be Hit

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Russia Warns Gas Deliveries to Europe Could be Hit

Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom said on Friday, Dec. 26, that its dispute with Ukraine over payments could cause disruptions in deliveries to western Europe, a news agency reported. Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said that Gazprom head Alexei Miller had notified Europe's largest clients that it could not rule out the possibility of a cut off, according to Itar-Tass. "Gazprom is doing everything possible to avoid any disruption of gas deliveries to Europe," said Miller in the letter cited by the news agency.


Caribbean Net News: Trial of Suriname ex-dictator to resume - by Ivan Cairo

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Trial of Suriname ex-dictator to resume - by Ivan Cairo

A court here in Paramaribo has dismissed a motion filed by Suriname’s former dictator Desi Bouterse, who was seeking to remove the leading judge in his murder trial. The former army commander’s lawyer Irwin Kanhai submitted the motion on July 25th challenging the impartiality of the president of the Military Court, Cynthia Valstein-Montnor, while he was also seeking a court order to ban media from further covering of his murder trial.

Eric Margolis: Send America to Rehab

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Send America to Rehab

The US economy must be weaned off credit addiction. Pumping endless billions into the economy is like injecting more addictive drugs to a sick addict. The economy needs a period of austerity in which remaining credit bubbles, bad debt, and financial distortions are purged. This is called recession, and it's an essential part of the capitalist free market cycle. Without a period of pain, we can't restore economic health or sanity.But panicky American politicians plan to spend $8.5 trillion to try to combat this necessary, beneficial recession and fund government liabilities. Their misguided efforts risk igniting a future firestorm of inflation that will be far more dangerous and painful than any recession.I keep asking bankers, at what point will the printing of money spark hyperinflation? No one seems to have the answer.

The cautious European Central Bank, with vivid memories of the terrifying 1920's hyperinflation in Germany, when a loaf of bread went from pennies to 80 million marks, has resisted deep interest rate cuts and printing money. In the view of many Europeans, the same financial alchemists who led the US over a cliff are now running the so-called rescue program. The Fed's recent slashing of US interest rates to zero is a sign of utter desperation and an act of folly. Once investors realize that Europe, Canada and Asia are far safer investments than the US, watch for the US dollar to nosedive - as it should.

Alternet: Confessions of an Evangelical Tree Hugger - by Matthew Sleeth

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Confessions of an Evangelical Tree Hugger- - by Matthew Sleeth

It took us a thousand years to prove this biblical truth: that trees are, indeed, the breath of life. The transfer of life-giving gas from tree to human is not intuitive. Only in relatively recent human history was it discovered that oxygen comes not from rocks but from trees and photosynthesis. God is not subtle about his feeling for trees. “I love the tall cedars,” saith the Lord. Abraham plants an oak. The symbol of Christ’s birthday is a conifer. We decorate them and sing, “O Christmas tree.” Essays are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree. The kingdom of heaven is “like a tree,” Jesus said. So, yes, call me a tree hugger. So was my Lord.

Reuters: Stronger EU control needed: Mexican drug gang tentacles reach Europe, Africa - by Mica Rosenberg

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Stronger EU control needed: Mexican drug gang tentacles reach Europe, Africa - by Mica Rosenberg

Violent Mexican cartels that have killed thousands in a drug war at home this year are increasingly smuggling drugs to Europe by way of Africa.Under pressure from a government and army crackdown at home, the drug gangs are seeking new lucrative markets.

Cocaine can be sold for more than four times as much in Europe as in the United States and in 2005 some 80 percent of the drug not destined for the U.S. market went to Europe, according to the United Nations.

NOTE EU-Digest:

Controls must be strengthened to stop this flow of drugs reaching the EU and the rest of Europe through Africa.

EMCDDA: Drug use, a growing challenge for EU road safety

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Drug use, a growing challenge for EU road safety

As Europeans prepare for the festive season, the EMCDDA issued today its latest report on drugs and driving. While alcohol remains the number one substance endangering lives on European roads, more drivers are now found to be using illicit drugs and psychoactive medicines, presenting a number of challenges for policy-makers.

Estimates show that there are between 1.3 and 1.7 million problem opioid users in the EU and Norway, with heroin responsible for Europe’s largest drug-related health and social costs. New data published in the report call into question previous EMCDDA assessments of a slowly improving heroin situation and point to a 'stable, but no longer diminishing problem'. Record opium production in Afghanistan in 2007 has also heightened the agency’s worries over a potential knock-on effect on Europe’s heroin problem.At least 7 000 to 8 000 drug-induced deaths occur in Europe every year, with drug overdose one of the leading causes of death among young Europeans. Around 80 % of fatal overdoses are associated with opioid use, and the injection of these drugs is a major vector for spreading drug- related infectious diseases. It is estimated that some 3 000 new cases of drug-related HIV occur every year in Europe, and countries report that typically over 40 % of injectors are infected with HCV (hepatitis C virus). Substitution treatment for opioid use is now available in all EU Member States, Croatia and Norway, with around 600 000 opioid users receiving it annually.

12/25/08 US Economy: Home Prices Fall Near Depression Pace - Bob Willis and Shobhana Chandra

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US Economy: Home Prices Fall Near Depression Pace - Bob Willis and Shobhana Chandra

Sales of single-family houses in the U.S. dropped in November by the most in two decades and resale prices collapsed at a pace reminiscent of the Great Depression, dashing speculation the market was close to a bottom. Purchases of both new and existing houses dropped 7.6 percent from the prior month, the biggest decline since January 1989, to an annual rate of 4.43 million, government and industry figures showed today. A 13 percent drop in the median resale price from a year earlier was the most since records began in 1968 and was likely the largest since the 1930s, the National Association of Realtors said.

BBC NEWS: Brazil and France sign arms deal

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Brazil and France sign arms deal

Brazil has signed an 8.6bn euro ($12bn; £8.2bn) defence deal with France to buy 50 helicopters and five submarines. The deal includes transfers of technology intended to help Brazil develop its own arms industry. It was signed at the end of a two-day visit to Brazil by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

France will provide technology for the submarines, of which four will be conventional and the fifth will be nuclear-powered.

Washington Post: Expertsin the Netherlands Show That a Blind Man's Eyes Can Help Him Navigate - by Rob Stein

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Expertsin the Netherlands Show That a Blind Man's Eyes Can Help Him Navigate - by Rob Stein

After two strokes, he was completely blind, dependent on his cane and his wife's arm to safely walk down the street. But researchers had a hunch: They suspected that, unconsciously, the man might be sensing the world around him through his eyes better than anyone realized. "We were so excited," said Beatrice de Gelder, a cognitive neuroscientist at Tilburg University in the Netherlands and Harvard Medical School, who reports the experiment today in the journal Current Biology. "It was really quite amazing to see."

The first-of-its-kind case is providing doctors with new insights into how vision works, suggesting that even when the brain's primary vision centers have been destroyed, signals entering the eyes are still registering. Although no one thinks the findings could help make the blind see, they do indicate some blind people may have hidden capabilities.

Breaking News - Pope: God decides sex, not man

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Pope: God decides sex, not man

Pope Benedict XVI criticized homosexuals in his end of year address yesterday, saying that the confusion of the sexes is as great a threat to humanity as climate change. In other words sex change is as big a threat as climate change. The head of the Roman Catholic Church launched the attack against "the negation of natural laws" and caused many homosexuals in Europe to react with counter-accusations. The fresh condemnation of homosexuals from the Vatican comes only days after the state rejected the United Nations proposals to de-penalize universal homosexuality, presented last December 18 by 66 countries.


Popular Mechanics: Battery Supplier Problems For Hybrids and EVs - Are There Enough Electric Batteries? - by Eric Sorfge

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Battery Supplier Problems For Hybrids and EVs - Are There Enough Electric Batteries? - by Erik Sorfge

This past August, then-candidate Barack Obama proposed a 10-year, $150 billion energy plan that included an ambitious deadline: one million plug-in hybrids on the road in the United States by 2015. Of course, that was before gas prices plummeted to historic lows, before the mortgage implosion in September, and before the Detroit Three appeared before Congress, hat in hand. But even if President-elect Obama can overcome a raft of financial obstacles, the million plug-in plan or any other attempt to dramatically increase the nation’s fleet of hybrids, plug-ins and all-electric vehicles could face an unexpected roadblock—too much political will, and not enough batteries. Last week Brian Wynne, the president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA), told the Wall Street Journal that there are no companies in the United States currently producing the kind of batteries used in hybrids or electric vehicles. That appears to be true—for a few weeks, at least.

New York City–based Ener1, one of four domestic players in the automotive-battery market, plans to begin volume production of lithium-ion battery packs next month, as part of a deal with Norwegian electric vehicle (EV) maker Think. Having recently acquired a Korean battery manufacturer, Ener1 now claims to have a total production capacity of 450,000 hybrid-electric packs per year, or 45,000 EV packs (which require more cells per pack). The company plans to reach that capacity by 2011. And while not every U.S. battery maker is so forthcoming with its production numbers, even if all four major companies reached similar capacities, a battery crunch seems inevitable.

Mercopress:Forget Mercosur, sign trade accord with EU says Brazil Industry

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Forget Mercosur, sign trade accord with EU says Brazil Industry

A leading number of Brazilian businessmen belonging to the country’s powerful National Confederation of Industry, CNI, said it was time to sign a bilateral agreement with the European Union, --which would leave out Mercosur--, according to press reports in O Estado de Sao Paulo. CNI president Armando Montero Neto said Brazil must adopt a more “ambitious” position regarding trade agreements with the European Union. This week Rio do Janeiro hosted the two day EU/Brazil summit where it was agreed that both parties must speak “with one voice” in the coming Group of 20 major economies meeting on April in London. “Mercosur has become partly paralyzed and the feeling is that Brazil is shackled with limited movements; Brazil must reach bilateral agreements, Mercosur’s time is up, long overdue”, said Luiz Furlan president of the Sao Paulo based food group Sadia in an interview with O Estado de Sao Paulo.

Irish Times: The real message of Christmas - by Michael Smith

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The real message of Christmas -by Michael Smith

This Christmas as fear looms and time for listening is in short supply, Pope Benedict may offer some guidance in our search. Some time ago he put it simply and beautifully when he said: "Heaven does not belong to the geography of space but to the geography of the heart. And the heart of God stooped down to the stable." The events of the past year offer much scope for reflection. Many find the enormous and sudden change that has taken place hard to comprehend. From plenty, and even excess, we have moved rapidly to serious economic turmoil that is having a major negative impact on the lives of many. The voices - there were some - that kept saying it could not last were somewhat like St John the Baptist "a voice crying in the wilderness". About 15 years ago there was a major attack by currency traders on the Irish pound. One enterprising journalist sought a comment from both the Church of Ireland bishop of Meath at that time, Bishop Walton Empey, and myself. To his credit Bishop Empey's comments were more trenchant than mine. Both of us highlighted the lack of ethical and moral underpinning in financial trading. Profit seemed the only motivation - the welfare of people very much a secondary consideration.

The parable of Jesus about the house being built on sand is one we can easily identify with in these times. Self-interest and personal convenience are not the foundations that bring stability or hope. Truth about life, about its purpose and destiny manifested in the ever demanding search for the "definitive that is beyond the provisional" is central to the meaning of what we celebrate at Christmas.


Times Offshore Windpower: Senators want final report on Cape Cod wind farm proposal for 130 ocean towers: by Andrew Miga

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Two key senators are urging federal officials to complete their final environmental report in an "expeditious manner" on a proposal to put a wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod. Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and the panel's ranking Republican, Pete Domenici, also of New Mexico, have written a joint letter to the heads of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Minerals Management Service to press their case. "We see no reason for the agency to delay issuance of the (final environmental review)," the senators wrote.

Note EU-Digest: With the announcement of his new energy-environmental team last week, President-elect Barack Obama has signaled a clear intention of pursuing policies that differ sharply from those of his predecessor. His choice for secretary of energy, the highly respected Nobel laureate Steven Chu, is no fan of fossil fuels. Chu's statements and policy positions suggest that he favors a shift away from one of the nation's most important and strategic industries. If that is the case, it might be wise to consider how realistic such a shift would actually be. In speeches, Chu has called fossil fuels the "culprit" in climate change. He says there is a "very pressing need" to find alternatives to gasoline and advocates converting solar energy into automobile fuel. According to the Wall Street Journal, he has called for "gradually ramping up gasoline taxes" (a position Obama has rejected because of the "additional burden" it would place on families). Once, famously, he termed coal "my worst nightmare." We tend to agree with Mr. Chu on higher taxes for gasoline. It is the only way to wean the public off gas guzzlers and to finance alternative energy research.

M&C: German consumers defy global economic gloom

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German consumers defy global economic gloom

German consumers once again defied the global economic gloom with a key sentiment indicator released Monday coming in unchanged. The GfK marketing group's forward-looking German consumer confidence index remained unchanged at 2.1 in January. The release of the GfK survey also comes amid signs that German retailers have enjoyed healthy sales in the run-up to Christmas with the nation's retail traders' association reporting a rise in sales compared to the Christmas period last year.

Faxts News: Moscow eyes pan-European security - by Sergei Blagove

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Moscow eyes pan-European security - by Sergei Blagove

As Moscow's assertiveness is anticipated to continue in 2009, the Russian authorities have come up with an ambitious foreign policy initiative: The Kremlin insists that a new pan-European security treaty, suggested by President Dmitry Medvedev, will help to avoid conflicts like its August war with Georgia, as well as disagreements on issues like US missile defense plans. While the West has responded coolly to the initiative, Russia argues that Europe lacks a coherent security system and that Russia will be forced to deal with new threats on its own. Europe is yet to create a system of collective security, open to all and guaranteeing equal security for all, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in remarks published on 15 December, adding that NATO's eastward expansion continued to create problems for Russia and for Euro-Atlantic policies. Other officials were less diplomatic, indicating that Russia's traditional fears of western encirclement remained on the agenda.

Russian military officials insist the country's nuclear deterrent will be further developed to counter the US missile defense plans. The development plans include the deployment of new inter-continental missiles capable of overcoming the US missile shield, Russian Strategic Missile Forces Commander General Nikolai Solovtsov said on 1 December. He also said the Strategic Missile Forces aimed to hold 13 missile tests in 2009.


Seeking Alpha: U.S. Economy: Sinking in an Ocean of Newly-Minted Money

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U.S. Economy: Sinking in an Ocean of Newly-Minted Money

At one time or another we have all heard it said that "you cannot get there from here." Much the same can be said of the current state of the US economy. Every prominent economic pundit is focusing on falling demand as the economy's nemesis. Nouriel Roubini points out that "85 percent of aggregate demand — consumption and fixed investment — is now in free fall." It's even worse than that because final demand as it is calculated does not include inter-business spending (spending between the stages of production). If this were taken into account the picture would change from grim to downright scary. That Treasury bills have been trading at negative rates is evidence enough of the markets fearful state. In response to the crisis the fed forced the fed funds rate down from 1 per cent to between 0 per cent to 0.25 per cent. The real funds rate is now negative. (If the rate is 0 per cent and the inflation rate is 5 per cent then the real rate of interest is a negative 5 per cent). Some commentators feel that the present negative rate is not high enough and argue that it took a much higher rate to get the Reagan boom moving. But they overlook the obvious fact that a higher negative rate requires a higher inflation rate. It is clear that this view is based on the egregious error that money is neutral and that the successful manipulation of interest rates is one of the keys to maintaining a successful rate of capital accumulation. This is a very dangerous line of thinking and one that the fed adheres to.

To expand demand (a euphemism for an inflationary policy) the fed is engaging in what economists call "quantitative easing." In plain English, the fed is adding to its balance sheet by purchasing assets from the banks. When the fed does this it adds to the banking system's reserves and forces down the rate of interest. One can get a good idea of how much money the fed has injected into the banking system from the fact that since September the fed has accumulated more than $2 trillion in assets. This was supposed to stimulate business borrowing and hence investment. Well, it ain't working, which I think has Bernanke in something of a panic. However, as the eminent British economist D. H. Robertson observed 82 years ago:

Cleantech Group: Econcern partners on €863M Chinese wind farm deal

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Econcern partners on €863M Chinese wind farm deal

Netherlands-based Econcern has announced a partnership with subsidiaries of China National Offshore Oil and Sinohydro to invest €863 million ($1.1 billion) to build onshore wind farms in China. The four wind farms are expected to have a capacity of 720 megawatts. Construction is slated to begin in 2009. Econcern is partnering on three wind farms with CNOOC New Energy, a subsidiary of Beijing-based China National Offshore Oil New Energy, one of the largest state-owned oil giants in China. Election, Economy, War, and Peace - by Noam Chomsky

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The Election, Economy, War, and Peace - by Noam Chomsky

Looking at the US political scene today- A good question is why the margin of victory for Obama in the past election was so small, given the circumstances. One possibility is that neither party reflected public opinion at a time when 80% think the country is going in the wrong direction and that the government is run by "a few big interests looking out for themselves," not for the people, and a stunning 94% object that government does not attend to public opinion. As many studies show, both parties are well to the right of the population on many major issues, domestic and international. It could be argued that no party speaking for the public would be viable in a society that is business-run to an unusual extent. Evidence for that is substantial. At a very general level, evidence is provided by the predictive success of political economist Thomas Ferguson’s "investment theory" of politics, which holds that policies tend to reflect the wishes of the powerful blocs that invest every four years to control the state. More specific illustrations are numerous. To mention just one, for 60 years the US has failed to ratify the core principle of international labor law, which guarantees freedom of association.

Note EU-Digest: where we might see a few differences between between the two parties is in how the Democrats will deal with the Middle East. New York Senator Hillary Clinton, intend to revive international arms-control efforts, which have been on hold during the eight years of President George W. Bush's administration. Such initiatives inevitably arouse suspicion and testiness among Israeli officials, who are anxious about the erosion of their country's nuclear deterrent capability. Jim Hoagland, who writes a column on foreign affairs in The Washington Post, wrote that Obama should learn from president John F. Kennedy and call for worldwide nuclear disarmament. Hoagland's columns generally express the consensus of the U.S. foreign affairs establishment. Kennedy was the last American president to have tried to stop the Israeli nuclear project. He threatened that there would be serious ramifications vis-a-vis U.S. support for Israel if the reactor in Dimona was not opened to frequent visits by inspectors.

TimesOnline: British Expats in euroland shouldn't get depressed - by Rosemary Righter

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British Expats in euroland shouldn't get depressed - by Rosemary Righter

As for the 20 per cent fall of the pound against the euro, an overlooked factor is that, reflecting stronger growth in the UK than in core eurozone countries, the pound has been extremely strong in recent years (too strong, in terms of purchasing power parity, making London the most expensive city in Europe). The higher you climb, the farther there is to fall. When the City hit the rocks this autumn and “No more boom or bust” turned into “No more boom. Bust”, sterling was heavily hit. Logically enough: the UK's heavy reliance on financial services made it likely that it would suffer a particularly severe recession. In addition, investors were alerted to just how much of that seemingly impressive growth had been buttressed by public borrowing and a three-fold increase in household debt. The final straw, though, was yet again interest rates: once the Bank of England slashed rates to 2 per cent with further cuts expected, sterling assets looked decidedly unattractive.

Brits living in continental Europe have to put up not only with shrinking wallets, but a touch of condescension. The French feel vindicated in their distrust of le capitalisme sauvage (which really means distrust of capitalism). After a decade enduring lectures from Gordon Brown about their earthbound economy, the Germans are being less than tactful about their views of his housekeeping. And here in Italy, La Stampa gleefully calculates that, at the current exchange rate, Britain's GDP was lower than Italy's.

The Independent: Britain - On the frontline: Blue Christmas for Britain's high streets- by Cole Moreton

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This is the moment of truth for credit-crunch Britain. There are this morning, if forecasts are to be believed, just four economy-saving, cavalry-coming-over-the hill, belated binge-spending days until Christmas. VAT's come down; the shops have slashed their prices and started January sales earlier than ever before. "Half price" is the latest ticket to be glued to goods on the High Street. Many discounts reach 70 per cent. Hundreds of supermarkets are to open around the clock in the next few days. And, with thousands of jobs at stake, shopkeepers are putting all their faith in a last-ditch spending spree this weekend, traditionally the busiest of their year.

At the moment when sales were supposed to reach their peak yesterday, the signs were not looking good. Footfall was down 7 per cent on last year, according to experts at Synovate Retail Performance, and despite brave efforts by retailers to talk up the sales, shop workers said they were shocked at how quiet things were.

Indystar:: Lobster for Christmas dinner cheaper than ever: Economy pinches lobster market -by Kirk Moore

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Lobster for Christmas dinner cheaper than ever: Economy pinches lobster market-by Kirk Moore

Cheaper than a pack of hot dogs. That's how some Maine fishermen describe the prices they are getting for lobster, at $2.40 to $2.60 a pound, down from a $10 high in spring 2007. "Now it's getting to the point where your average consumer can afford to buy them," said John Godwin of Point Lobster Co. in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., as he looked over 10,000 pounds of fresh-caught local lobsters crawling in the company's indoor pound.

BusinessWeek: Financial meltdown slowing wind-power boom - by David Mercer

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Financial meltdown slowing wind-power boom - by David Mercer

Grain farmer Mike Doyle has grown to love the big, spindly wind turbines that rise from his central Illinois prairie.Doyle is paid just over $35,000 a month for the seven wind turbines in his soybean and corn fields. Those turbines and thousands others across the Midwest the past few years were part of an unprecedented build-out for the wind-power industry. That expansion is now drastically slowing as financing dries up for many projects because of the global economic crisis. Companies that bankrolled much of the boom -- the insurer AIG, now-bankrupt financial service company Lehman Brothers and Wachovia Corp. -- are among the meltdown's biggest losers.Noble Environmental Power, an Essex, Conn.-based developer with projects from Maine to Michigan, Wyoming and Texas, said last month it is cutting back development next year and laying off workers.Florida Power and Light, another major developer, has said it will slow down in 2009, too.And last month oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens famously delayed his massive Texas wind-farm plans, alternately blaming a lack of financing and declining petroleum prices.

The country's wind-power capacity has increased by 500 percent in the past 10 years, to just over 21,000 megawatts, according to the American Wind Industry Association. A one-megawatt wind turbine can generate enough electricity in a year to power up to 300 homes for a year.

Turkey's EU journey makes it into records


"Turkey's EU journey makes it into records
LUXEMBOURG - While Turkey continues to struggles with entry talks, the never-ending story of its journey to the European Union, it has already found its place in the union’s records under a title 'The Case of Turkey.'

Turkey's EU journey makes it into records The Virtual Research Center for Knowledge about Europe, or CVCE, in Luxembourg has allocated a file for Turkey that even includes some cartoons depicting its winding path. Turkey has a 49-year history with the EU, but started official discussions for full membership for the first time in 1987. The CVCE opened a special file in its archives for this long journey and characterizes Turkey’s case as a first in the EU’s history."


NYT: The Netherlands: The Carver, a Truly Lean Machine, Tilts on Turns - by Nick Kurczewski

The carver, no bargain at euro 48.000

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The Netherlands: The Carver, a Truly Lean Machine, Tilts on Turns - by Nick Kurczewski

Engineered in the Netherlands and built in Germany, the Carver One is promoted as the world’s only available tilting car. Its balancing act is controlled by a high-tech hydraulic system that Carver calls Dynamic Vehicle Control. Linked to the steering, it calculates a lean angle based on vehicle speed and the cornering forces on the front wheel. The Carver One tilts to a 45-degree maximum, which could be handy for picking up dropped change at a parkway toll booth or a fast food drive-thru. The Carver doesn’t come cheap. In the Netherlands a base model costs 48,000 euros, or roughly $68,000. - European Soccer -Beckham Back At Best With Milan? - by Andrea Canales

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European Soccer -Beckham Back At Best With Milan? - by Andrea Canales

Major League Soccer's biggest star, David Beckham, was presented as AC Milan's newest player. He will be on loan for the next couple of months in Italy. During the press conference welcoming him to the club, Beckham mentioned that he was proud to be part of the organization, saying that he had played for the best club in England (Manchester United), the best in Spain (Real Madrid) and now would be joining the best in Italy.

Noticeably absent from his list of "best clubs" was his actual current club, the Los Angeles Galaxy. At AC Milan, though, it's a good bet that Beckham will be more effective simply because of the higher caliber of players who surround him. After all, people have seen Beckham continue to have an impact with the English national team during his Galaxy tenure.

BBC News: Ariane makes final launch of 2008 - by Jonathan Amos

Ariane on launch pad

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Ariane makes final launch of 2008 - by Jonathan Amos

Europe's Ariane 5 rocket has wrapped up its 2008 campaign with another dual launch from the Kourou spaceport.It was the sixth flight for an Ariane 5, in a year that also saw the rocket start to service the International Space Station (ISS). Saturday's Ariane 5 mission marks the 42nd launch of Europe's workhorse rocket. In March, it lofted the "Jules Verne" freighter to the International Space Station. Next year's highlights include the dual launch of two European Space Agency telescopes - Herschel and Planck. Both will be sent out to an observing position some 1.5 million km from Earth, to study the Universe at far-infrared and microwave wavelengths.

Renewable Energy The Future of Wind Power: Perspectives on Global Wind

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The Future of Wind Power: Perspectives on Global Wind

A lack of policy leadership is still the most important single factor holding back the development of the wind industry in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, according to a recent survey of more than 1000 readers of Renewable Energy World magazine from throughout (greater) Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The group also identified the current high prices for conventional electric power and gas as key drivers behind the growth in wind power.

Poor policy leadership was cited by respondents as the single largest barrier faced by the wind industry – despite the fact that many of those replying came from EU countries which are subject to renewables targets. Both EU member countries and those replying from nations with no similar renewable energy targets, such as Algeria and Libya, believe that national governments are doing too little to encourage the development of wind power, suggesting that even where targets have been set they are viewed as inadequate by renewable energy experts. Some 63% of the respondents are directly involved in the wind sector. Of that group, over a quarter are project developers, while others work with utilities, own or operate wind farms, or are involved in turbine manufacture or R&D. Almost 95% of respondents agree that European Union renewable energy targets are helping drive forward the wind industry overall, whilst a similar number agree that a national renewable energy policy is an important factor in the growth of the wind industry in their own country.Slightly more than half of those polled agree or strongly agree that a current threat to the development of wind is the promise of carbon-free nuclear power (whether or not respondents agree this promise is well founded). However, almost half disagree, believing wind power does not face a threat from nuclear, either because the two technologies are established and independent, or that wind power has inherent advantages.

Daily News: Automakers say electric vehicles will soon become viable alternatives to gas-guzzlers - by Jeffry Steele

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Automakers say electric vehicles will soon become viable alternatives to gas-guzzlers - by Jeffry Steele

Choices, choices, choices. After a century of producing cars that ran solely on gasoline, the world’s automakers are working overtime to present a variety of options, including hybrids, biofuel-powered cars, and vehicles that run on hydrogen. Some of the biggest bets are riding on Americans getting charged up over the notion of mass-produced electric cars. Most eagerly anticipated is the 2010 Chevrolet Volt, which General Motors is calling an “extended range electric vehicle.” According to Rob Peterson, manager of electric vehicle technology communications with General Motors in Detroit, the Volt features a nearly 400-pound T-shaped lithium-ion battery that’s aligned down the vehicle’s center spine beneath the passenger compartment.

Note EU-Digest:The most important obstacle to making electric cars competitive is the cost of lithium battery. Every major car manufacturer is pursuing electrically-driven vehicles with lithium ion batteries as a solution to the problem of CO2 emissions and oil consumption.The presumption is that as more batteries are made in larger volumes the price will come down to a point where the cars might become profitable. It might not be, if extracting lithium from the ground becomes increasingly expensive in the same manner that oil is from older fields and other unconventional sources. There are also possibilities like silicon nano-wires or ultra capacitors that could dramatically increase energy storage density and reduce the size and requirement for materials like lithium.All this just goes to show the need for pursuing multiple parallel paths for energy diversity, because there doesn't appear that any one solution will be sufficient. Research must be stimulated and supported in these areas and we certainly are on the right track in taking the electric car from a fad to reality.

hybridcars: Mercedes Takes Swiss Army Knife Approach to Electric Cars

The Mercedes Blue-Zero concept elctric car

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Mercedes Takes Swiss Army Knife Approach to Electric Cars

The recently unveiled Mercedes-Benz BlueZero concept vehicles are built with the flexibility to insert electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel-cell technologies into the same exact vehicle design. It’s easy to dismiss the BlueZero sketches as just another cool green concept car that will never see the light of day, but it could be a glimpse into a future lineup of small Mercedes cars with varying degrees of electric power.


The Guardian: EU ministers to address economic crisis in Paris - by Anna Willard

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EU ministers to address economic crisis in Paris - by Anna Willard

European Union finance ministers meet at France's request on Thursday to take stock of measures to avert further financial crises of the kind that has sunk much of the world into recession. No-shows by key players risk limiting the clout of a meeting that takes place under the shadow of more trouble on Wall Street -- this time an alleged $50-billion fraud that may have gone undetected by U.S. regulators for as much as a decade. France, which hands the presidency of the 27-member EU over to the Czech Republic at the end of the month, wants the Paris gathering to assess where the EU stands on broader international pledges to improve regulation of high finance.

Disgraced Wall Street investment manager Bernard Madoff, accused of orchestrating a $50 billion fraud, was put under house arrest on Wednesday as French bank BNP Paris became the latest European bank to reveal that it got burned in the affair. "It is clearly an example of what we must absolutely avoid in the future," Lagarde said, adding that Madoff operated "at the margins of a system which was not properly monitored and for which the regulation was not appropriate".

IHT: Did Sarkozy's stint change the EU for good? - by By Stephen Castle and Katrin Bennhold

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Did Sarkozy's stint change the EU for good? - by By Stephen Castle and Katrin Bennhold

Six months after France illuminated the Eiffel Tower in a deep cobalt blue to open its European Union presidency, the Czech Republic - which takes over the job in January - asked privately if the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, would take part in a handover ceremony. Sarkozy, came the polite but firm reply, does not want to be the person who switches off the giant neon EU symbol on the famous Paris landmark.Sarkozy's leadership has helped to reconnect the French with the EU, just three years after France - a founding member of the bloc - shocked itself and others by rejecting the EU's constitution in a referendum. In a BVA poll published Tuesday, 56 percent of the French approved of Sarkozy's EU presidency, while his domestic policies remain deeply unpopular. Sarkozy has also surprised some by forging an alliance with Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, even inviting him to a meeting of countries that use the euro, which Britain has shunned.In some ways, Sarkozy has already forged a legacy. By lobbying for the G20 meeting in Washington in November and setting the stage for a follow-up in London in April, he has created a precedent that his successors cannot ignore.

If the global economy continues to deteriorate, his ability as crisis manager might be called on once more.

WSWS:The World Economic Crisis: A Marxist Analysis (part 1) - by Nick Beams

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The World Economic Crisis: A Marxist Analysis (part 1) - by Nick Beams

The following is the first part of a lecture delivered by Nick Beams, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) and a member of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site, to audiences in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney in November and December, 2008. Part 2 will be published tomorrow and subsequent parts over the next few days.On November 24, Bloomberg News reported that after the $306 billion bailout of the US bank Citigroup, organized at midnight the previous day, the US government had now committed itself to providing more than $7.76 trillion to the financial institutions and banks. This amount was the equivalent of half the American gross domestic product (GDP), or $24,000 for every man, woman and child in the US.Within 24 hours, however, the Bloomberg estimate was outdated after the Treasury announced that a further $800 billion was being deployed to support mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and launch a new initiative to provide credit to holders of student loans, auto loans and credit card loans.

One reads these figures and asks the question: who is going to bail out the United States? For part two of this report click on this link

Global Analysis : "The Final Absurdity" - J. R. Nyquist

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"The Final Absurdity" - J. R. Nyquist

On Tuesday President George W. Bush made a remarkable admission. He told CNN television, “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.” It is hard to believe, coming from a two-term Republican president. But there it is – proof positive that socialism is the wave of the future. President Bush does not believe in the free market. If he did, he would let the market function. He would have allowed the catastrophe to unfold according to market principles, trusting that the outcome would be better – in the long run – than the outcome of government intervention. For this is what market principles teach: that government planning cannot save an economy. The president indirectly proposes that the government knows better than the market. He is saying that the government knows how to save the market, namely, by violating the market. By way of analogy, this amounts to advocating promiscuity as a means for preserving virginity. It would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. “We’re in a huge recession,” said Bush, “but I don’t want to make it even worse.”

But President Bush has made it worse by throwing good money after bad, by redistributing the market’s losses, pronouncing in favor of moral hazard, and by making massive decisions for the market. What comes next is hyperinflation. According to a senior economist at Decision Economics, quoted in an AFP news story titled “Fed cuts rate to virtually zero, will expand stimulus moves,” the government is “pulling every lever and pulling them hard. They are going to print money until they get a reaction from the economy.” Well, the reaction has begun. The good faith and credit of the United States is over. Who is going to loan money to a government determined to inflate?

AHN: US economic meltdown: Economy At Risk Of 'Absolutely Tanking,' Biden Says

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US economic meltdown: Economy At Risk Of 'Absolutely Tanking,' Biden Says

Vice President-elect Joseph Biden said the U.S. economy is in danger of "absolutely tanking" and that a second stimulus package of up to $700 billion will be needed. Biden told his remarks to ABC's George Stephanopoulos, and the interview will be aired on his Sunday morning talk show, "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

"There is no short run other than keeping the economy from absolutely tanking. That's the only short run," Biden told Stephanopoulos.

EU-Digest: Wind, water and sun beat biofuels, nuclear and coal for clean energy

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Wind, water and sun beat biofuels, nuclear and coal for clean energy

The first quantitative, scientific evaluation of the proposed, major, energy-related solutions, has suggested that natural sources like wind, water and the Sun are much better than biofuels, nuclear and coal for clean energy. The evaluation was done by Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. Jacobson assessed not only the potential of major, energy-related for delivering energy for electricity and vehicles, but also their impacts on global warming, human health, energy security, water supply, space requirements, wildlife, water pollution, reliability and sustainability. His findings indicate that the options that are getting the most attention are between 25 to 1,000 times more polluting than the best available options.

Jacobson recommended against nuclear energy, coal with carbon capture and sequestration, corn ethanol and cellulosic ethanol, which is made of prairie grass. In fact, he found cellulosic ethanol was worse than corn ethanol because it results in more air pollution, requires more land to produce and causes more damage to wildlife.


Battery exec: Europe ahead of U.S. on electric cars - by Martin LaMonica

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Europe ahead of U.S. on electric cars - by Martin LaMonica

Cash-strapped U.S. auto companies are pushing into plug-in electric cars with the first models from General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford, starting in two years. But the overall environment for introducing electric cars is better in Europe, according to Kanode. "In Europe, the determination is absolute," he said. "They have had high energy costs our whole lifetime. Second, they want to decrease their reliance on foreign oil...And third, they are absolutely committed to improving their carbon footprint, both the public and the governments." He said there are already a number of hybrid electric vehicles coming to market in the form of fleets of buses and delivery trucks.

Both BMW and Mercedes are said to be developing all-electric cars. Last month, Mini unveiled the Electric Mini, which it started testing. General Motors, with its Chevy Volt, and Fisker Automotive have chosen gas-electric designs to ensure that cars have a longer driving range. Because of battery limitations, an all-electric car priced like a typical family sedan will have a shorter range.

WSJ: For Denmark's Entrepreneur of Year, Something Was Rotten - by Andrew Higgens

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For Denmark's Entrepreneur of Year, Something Was Rotten - by Andrew Higgens

At a banquet in Copenhagen late last month, accounting firm Ernst & Young feted a Danish software company for runaway growth under Stein Bagger, its dynamic chief executive. About a thousand guests, including Denmark's tax minister and leading business people, were there to applaud.But Mr. Bagger, the night's big winner, wasn't there to pick up the accolade of "Entrepreneur of the Year" and two other awards. He was busy fleeing from what investigators now describe as Denmark's biggest business scam in decades. Shortly before the banquet began, Mr. Bagger, 41 years old, vanished from a hotel in Dubai. He flew to New York, drove across America and then surrendered to police in Los Angeles. In the meantime, his award-winning company, IT Factory, declared bankruptcy. A liquidator has taken over IT Factory and is sifting through its affairs. Sent back to Denmark Tuesday, Mr. Bagger cried and pleaded guilty before a Danish court to charges of aggravated fraud and forgery, crimes that could land him in jail for eight years, according to his court-appointed lawyer, Jesper Madsen.

The saga has fascinated and appalled a nation that takes pride in its Nordic rectitude. The chief investigator estimates the swindle amounted to around $185 million, a modest sum next to the alleged fraud of America's Bernard Madoff but enough to fuel a jet-set lifestyle of sports cars and French Riviera holidays sharply at odds with the Danish norm.KPMG audited IT Factory's accounts from 2005 through 2007. Deloitte did the same in the previous two years. From 2003 through 2007, IT Factory reported that its revenue grew 69 times and its profit rose 288 times, to 121 million kroner ($22 million). This year, says Mr. Jensby, the chairman, IT Factory expected to roughly quadruple its profit. KPMG in Denmark says it is "shocked" and "cooperating with police." Deloitte's Danish unit said it has double-checked its 2003 and 2004 audits and found no problems.

Business Standard: Global insurance M&A deals touch record euro 106 bn - Netherlands No 1 M& A deals in Europe

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Global insurance M&A deals touch record euro 106 bn - Netherlands No 1 M& A deals in Europe

Global insurance M&A volume has reached euro 106 billion in 2008 year-to-date, up 34 per cent from the year-ago period," global deal tracking firm Dealogic said, adding that this is the "highest volume on record".

"Strategic activity accounted for 97 per cent of total activity in the industry so far this year, as compared to 83 per cent in 2007," the report added. The Netherlands has emerged as the most active acquirer nation in Europe as insurance deals worth euro 16.18 billion were announced. Insurance related transactions skyrocketed by 212 per cent from 2007.

StoptheDrugWar: EU: Leading Dutch Bank Shuns Cannabis Coffee Shop Accounts

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EU: Leading Dutch Bank Shuns Cannabis Coffee Shop Accounts

In yet another sign of the cross-currents buffeting the Netherlands' cannabis industry, a leading Dutch bank announced it was closing the accounts of people who owned coffee shops. The move comes as Dutch social conservatives, including members of the governing coalition, are making increasingly loud noises about criminality in the supply of cannabis to the coffee shops.Postbank announced the move last Friday. Part of the Dutch financial services giant ING Group, the Postbank has some 7.5 million private account holders and provides current and savings accounts, loans, mortgages, insurance, investments and pensions, making it one of the largest providers of financial services in the country. Postbank has no branches, but some services are available at post offices, and otherwise operates completely through land mail and telephone and electronic banking.

A bank spokesman said that facilitating the marijuana and hashish trade can no longer be considered responsible. In addition to closing existing accounts, the bank will now screen new customers to ensure they are not involved in the cannabis business.

Easy Bourse: Alternative Energy : RWE Plans To Invest EUR2.8 Billion In Offshore Wind Park

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Alternative Energy : RWE Plans To Invest EUR2.8 Billion In Offshore Wind Park

Germany's RWE AG's (RWE.XE) RWE Innogy Friday said it has acquired the project company ENOVA Energieanlagen GmbH, which is part of the ENOVA Group. This acquisition includes the rights to the offshore wind project North Sea Windpower 3 (NSWP3). The total investment for the project is around EUR2.8 billion. Following the acquisition, the wind farm will be renamed Innogy Nordsee U.S. forecasts strong growth in alternative energy, technology - John Funk

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U.S. forecasts strong growth in alternative energy, technology - John Funk

The U.S. Department of Energy said Wednesday that it expects virtually no growth in American oil consumption through 2030 - but strong growth in alternative energy and technology development. In the preliminary draft of its annual energy outlook, the department's Energy Information Administration projects a rebound in oil prices as soon as the global recession is over, with prices approaching $200 per barrel by 2030 ($130 in 2007 dollars).


BBC News: Sarkozy's big EU ambitions-by Mark Mardell

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Sarkozy's big EU ambitions-by Mark Mardell

Last week's summit of the EU's prime ministers and presidents ended in what Mr Sarkozy, at least, regarded as an historic triumph, with deals on climate change, the economy and the Lisbon Treaty. The presidency can be a rather weak excuse for a few "informal" meetings in the country holding the presidency, with a few pet ideas shoved on top of whatever is the main business of the day. This was dramatically different. There's no doubt Mr Sarkozy put his stamp on the presidency in a way that few manage, behaving as if he was indeed the President of Europe.

Note EU-Digest: Great job Mr.Sarkozy...most of wish you could stay on as President.

LA Times: The Pros and Cons of printing money to help the economy?

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The Pros and Cons of printing money to help the economy?

Today's question: Critics say that the Federal Reserve -- which will buy up to $800-billion worth of troubled mortgage and consumer-credit assets -- is effectively printing money to fix the economy. What's the wisdom behind the Fed's actions? Doug Henwood and Brian Doherty debate the consequences of federal monetary policy.

Note EU-Digest: This question should also be asked for the European economies,which are also doing the same.


The Detroit Free Press: Internet the last hope of Newspapers

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Internet the last hope of Newspapers

A "bold transformation" is how The Detroit News and The Detroit Free Press are trying to spin their decision to limit home delivery of their newspapers to three days a week. While both said Tuesday that they will continue to issue traditional newspapers at newsstands seven days a week, they are the first daily newspapers from a major city to cutback home delivery. "The dynamics of delivering information to audiences has changed forever due to technology," said a jointly released statement from the papers. "The economics of the newspaper business demand change to survive." The way the press release reads, The Free Press and the News are jumping out ahead of what will soon be the next step in the evolution of newspapers. Wrong, says Alan D. Mutter, a former journalist who is now managing partner of Tapit Partners, a group of information-technology consultants. He says the papers had run out of options and were down to two: Either jump to the Web or close.

AFP: In breezy Britain, wind farm cooperatives take off

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In breezy Britain, wind farm cooperatives take off

With annual returns of 10 percent coupled with low risk, wind farm cooperatives are drawing growing numbers of investors in Britain -- good news for Europe's hopes to lead the world in renewable energy. Along with being a safe investment during turbulent economic times, the cooperatives are drawing interest from those concerned not just with global warming and climate change, but also with energy security. "It's not only a climate issue, but it's also a problem with energy supplies," Clive Burke, a shareholder in the Westmill cooperative near Swindon, southwest England, told AFP. "We are exceeding the ability of our planet to support our energy needs."

The American Spectator : Windpower - Everywhere Except Here

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Windpower - Everywhere Except Here

The PowerGen Conference is a gathering of power generators from around the world sponsored by PennWell, the Oklahoma publishing empire. Its gathering in Orlando in early December was the largest ever, attended by 18,000 people. Energy is a hot topic these days. Windmill companies abounded. Vesta, the Danish supplier, had several scale models on the exhibition floor and did a wraparound cover over free copies of the Wall Street Journal. "Denmark's pretty filled up with windmills but we're moving offshore," explained a Vesta salesman, standing beneath a 25-foot replica of the 450-foot structures. "The wind over the ocean is stronger with less variation." But for all the contemporary appeal of wind, however, the underlying theme of the conference was how fast the revival of nuclear power is taking shape. "The nuclear renaissance isn't something in the far-off future," said J.M. Bernhard, Jr., CEO of the Shaw Group, in giving the keynote address. "It's already happening today. With greenhouse gases in the mix, we believe nuclear is where we need to go." Note EU-Digest: This is not the way to go when we compare the risks.