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3/31/09 He’s not the Barack Obama Europe Knew - by Abe Greenwald

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He’s not the Barack Obama Europe Knew - by Abe Greenwald

Where Ronald Reagan tore down a wall, Barack Obama has hit one – and it’s made of bricks. European support for the American president is suffering. As Gregor Peter Schmitz asserts in Der Spiegel, “it has become clear that the most contentious issues [between the U.S. and Europe] have been shelved.” This means Obama is no longer asking Europe to replicate his idea of a stimulus plan and he’s not pushing for military help in Afghanistan. On both issues European leaders have declared, “No we can’t.” When it comes to instituting a global stimulus plan, the American president is further to the Left than Europe -- and Europe still objects. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy say they favor more government regulation in lieu of more government spending. Obama sought to immediately clarify. He told the Financial Times on Sunday, "The press has tended to frame this as an 'either/or' approach. I have consistently argued that what is needed is a 'both/and' approach. We need stimulus and we need regulation." In other words, Europeans are choosing their statist options from an a la carte menu, but in the U.S. we’re going family style. Nevertheless in Europe putting blame for the global financial crisis squarely on America’s shoulders is a relished pastime, and no matter how statist Obama gets, the Continent can’t be seen to follow the U.S.’s lead.

GIZMONDO: IPhone Apps: Skype For iPhone Now Available in the US, Has VoIP over 3G With 3.0 Firmware - by Jason Chen


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IPhone Apps: Skype For iPhone Now Available in the US, Has VoIP over 3G With 3.0 Firmware - by Jason Chen

Apple's just about finished rolling out Skype for iPhone, and now US residents can go download the VoIP app for themselves. Our quick test showed that voice quality is quite good—definitely on par or better than actual 3G calling over AT&T's network—and connects rather quickly. It's unfortunate that 2.2.1 doesn't have background notifications, so there's no way somebody could Skype you unless you had the app open all the time.In an iPhone to iPhone Wi-Fi call test, Phone A heard Phone B perfectly clear, but the person on Phone A sounded like a robot with enunciation problems from Phone B's side. iPhone to Laptop worked perfectly fine, however.

Atlantic "An Opponent to Barroso Would Reduce EU's Democratic Deficit" - by Marek Kubista

Jose Manuel Durao Barroso

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"An Opponent to Barroso Would Reduce EU's Democratic Deficit" - by Marek Kubista

The European elections are fast approaching, yet there is little suspense in the air. Perhaps that’s because the outcome is pre-determined: the PPE will win and Jose Manuel Durao Barroso will be reappointed. In April, the left will be given a final chance to decide on a candidate and strengthen European democracy. The deal had been brokered three months before the actual elections: Barroso will stay in Brussels for another 5 years. During the European Council Summit on March 19, the French, German and Italian governments officially expressed their support to his reappointment. The British, Portuguese and Spanish governments did so months ago. What is striking is that leaders like Sarkozy showed little enthusiasm for the idea, but no other “rightist” candidate was acceptable to Member States.

This is surprising as Barroso's policy during his first term in office was one of the worst ever to be carried out from a European Commission President. Under his mandate, three different countries rejected both the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty. He has without doubt failed to justify and promote a new project for European citizens. Indeed, the few significant projects which he endorsed, like the energy-climate package, proved limited when adopted. Barroso's refusal to challenge Member States reveals the prioritizing of personal ambition over serving the European Commission's mission

Note EU-Digest: To some Mr. Barroso(53) never seems to show any form of charisma and appears more like a loyal civil servant trying to avoid controversy. On the other hand he has quite an interesting background. Barroso was the Prime Minister of Portugal from April 6, 2002 until the 29th of June 2004, before he took the Presidential position in the EU Commission from the previous president Italian Romano Prodi. During his tenure in Portugal as PM, Barroso supported the US war in Iraq which provoked much protest within the local society and government. Barroso became active in politics in 1974 when he joined the Carnation Revolution (25 April 1974) and has been a member of the Social Democratic Party since 1980. Barroso also was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Portugal from 1992 to 1995. In the year 1999 Barroso was elected president of the Social Democratic Party. Barroso became a member of the European Movement in 1991, a result of his interest in the EU, and prior to that he founded the University Association for European studies in 1979. Barroso graduated from the University of Lisbon with a degree in Law and received an MSC in Economic and Social Sciences at the University of Geneva in Switzerland.

DW: US Afghan envoy, Iranian minister meet in The Hague

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US Afghan envoy, Iranian minister meet in The Hague

Representatives from more than 80 countries have met in The Hague for a high-level conference on Afghanistan. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the NATO mission backs Afghan government efforts to work with moderate elements of the Taliban who reject violence. Afghan President Hamid Karzai stressed regional cooperation in tackling his country's problems. On the sidelines, US Afghanistan envoy Richard Holbrooke met with Mehdi Akhoonzadeh, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister, who pledged Iranian support for reconstruction and anti-narcotics projects in Afghanistan. He also warned that the proposed US troop surge there would be a mistake. In the Obama administration's first direct contact with Tehran, the United States also handed over a letter seeking help to resolve three separate cases involving Americans, one a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran two years ago.

USA Today: Kissinger works to bring World Cup to USA when he's 99 - by Kelly Whiteside

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Kissinger works to bring World Cup to USA when he's 99 - by Kelly Whiteside

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger joined U.S. Soccer's bid committee Monday to help bring the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to the USA. The sport's governing body, FIFA, will decide the hosts for both World Cups in December 2010. "I don't think we have a huge chance in 2018, I think it will probably go to Europe," Kissinger said. Since South Africa will host the tournament next year and Brazil in 2014, Kissinger believes Europe won't let three World Cups go by without securing a bid. "We will certainly contest for it. ... I think bidding for 2018 will give a great chance for 2022. I'll be 99 years old. So it's sort of an obligation to stay around." Kissinger, has attended every World Cup since 1974 except the 2002 tournament.

Czech leader on road to hell while great Dane heads for Nato

The Irish Times - Tue, Mar 31, 2009

"Czech leader on road to hell while great Dane heads for Nato

The differing fates of two EU leaders show personality still plays a key role in politics

SPECULATION ABOUT the fate of two prime ministers is gripping Brussels this week following Czech leader Mirek Topolanek’s spectacular fall from grace and Denmark’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s emergence as the clear favourite to become the next head of Nato.

The collapse of Topolanek’s government last Tuesday drew an almost uniform sigh of dismay and incredulity from other EU leaders, who are fearful of the debilitating effect it will have on the last three months of the Czech Republic’s presidency of the Union."

NYT/EU-Digest: Sarkozy and Merkel Try to Shape European Unity - by Steven Erlanger and Nicholas Kulish

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Sarkozy and Merkel Try to Shape European Unity - by Steven Erlanger and Nicholas Kulish

They are an extremely odd couple — he is short and hyperactive, she is dour and shy. He believes in the power of the state and big interventions; she believes in a softer role for the state, guiding and prodding the market. But the French president and the German chancellor find themselves in a forced marriage in these days of economic crisis. Responsible for the two largest economies among nations that use the euro, known as the euro zone, they are trying to shape European unity in the days before the Group of 20 economic summit meeting this week.

In general, when France and Germany agree, they bring the European Union along, so the two leaders’ relationship is crucial in a period of crisis. While they have produced very different national responses to the economic downturn — with Mrs. Merkel authorizing a larger stimulus package than France has — they have worked together to keep fiscal discipline in the euro zone, and resist American calls for even greater government spending. They have found common cause as well in a call for much tougher global regulation of financial markets, putting the blame for the crisis directly on the “Anglo-Saxons” — the United States and Britain, whose free-market practices, not widely copied in continental Europe, are viewed by France and Germany as not sufficiently disciplined by the state.

Note EU-Digest: The G20 could turn out to be very interesting, not only for the results it might produce, but also as it will be the first "match" opposing the eloquent populist US President Barack Obama, with his unique political showmanship qualities against the EU's pragmatic leadership team of Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy. To keep it in boxing terms, Obama might "sting like a bee", but Angela and Nicholas are the true "heavy weights" in this contest. Europe must rally behind them and win.


NYT: Europe’s Solution: Take More Time Off

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Europe’s Solution: Take More Time Off

While many European companies have long turned to shorter workweeks and mandatory time off in economic downturns, the idea has never really caught on in the United States. Despite reports of unpaid furloughs and wage cuts, American companies continue to rely heavily on layoffs to control labor costs. Much of this has to do with cultural differences as well as the social safety net that many European governments offer. For American employers, is one approach — layoffs versus shorter workweeks and wage cuts — better for the economy? Could it be true — as the Germans argue — that keeping more workers on the job is a good way to stimulate the economy in a recession?

Bloomberg: Erdogan Vote Shrinks in Election as Recession Bites - - by Mark Bentley and Steve Bryant

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Erdogan Vote Shrinks in Election as Recession Bites - by Mark Bentley and Steve Bryant

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lost votes in an election for the first time in his seven-year rule after the economy dived into recession, weakening his hand with secular rivals over Islam’s role in politics. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party won 39 percent of the vote in the municipal election with 97 percent of ballots counted, 8 points less than in a general election two years ago, according to unofficial results published by CNN Turk and NTV news channels. The secular Republican People’s Party was second with 23 percent. Erdogan’s party lost control of the mayoralty of the Mediterranean tourism hub of Antalya to the Republicans and gave up the southern city of Adana to the nationalist opposition.

Last year, Erdogan survived a move by prosecutors to ban him from politics and shut down his party for seeking to introduce Islamic law. The case, which cited Justice party legislation to lift the ban on Islamic-style headscarves at universities, failed by a single vote in the Constitutional Court.

The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room: U.S. couldn’t even join EU due to debt levels - by Michael O'Brien

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U.S. couldn’t even join EU due to debt levels - by Michael O'Brien

The United States wouldn't even be eligible to enter the European Union if it wanted to because of its debt levels, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) claimed Thursday. "We won't even be able to get into the EU if we wanted to," Gregg said this morning on MSNBC, "because our government is so large and so huge." The European Union's Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) adopted in 1997 requires a budget deficit to be less than three percent, and requires a national debt beneath 60 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Note EU-Digest: The EU has always taken fiscal responsibility very seriously, because fiscal responsibility has been essential to creating a better, stronger, more prosperous EU. Unfortunately the US mind-set in general does not possess this fiscal responsibility. Consequently the so-called "free market "philosophy has gone completely out of control. Statistics show that the wages at the bottom of the pay scale are 30% bellow what they were thirty years ago. We seemed to think children would be better off than their parents, but the children of the bottom are worse off!

Noble Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote: "what happened is also that in the United States we have this myth what we call Horatio Algier, a myth that everybody from anywhere can become president, wealthy, etc. The so-called "American Dream". And there are examples of that, but the statistics are against you. Statistics today show that the likelihood, if you are at the bottom, is that your children will also be at the bottom. Horatio Algier is becoming less and less true. And actually less true in United States than in some European countries."

PC World: Microsoft Hits Apple Where it Hurts - by Ian Paul

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Faster than you can say Red State vs. Blue State, Microsoft's latest ad has set off a class war between Windows and Mac fanboys. If you haven't seen the ad, basically, shopper Lauren tries to find a laptop under $1000 and ends up getting a Windows machine. As the battle waged it seemed we were doomed to witness further carnage. But then a glimmer of hope named YukonJack stepped in to calm the warring tribes, "This is an age old battle between "styles" in the old days before computers: there was and [probably] still is a battle going on somewhere between a Harley-Davidson owner and an Indian owner." Ah, yes, tell us, Yukon Jack, how this is such a silly argument with a sentimental anecdote from the annals of Americana: "The difference between them was the Indian owner had actually gone to school. Does this sound familiar?" Turns out YukonJack is a Windows man.

LA Times: EU - Obama at G-20 summit: Popular president, unpopular plan - by Christi Parsons

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EU - Obama at G-20 summit: Popular president, unpopular plan - by Christi Parsons

Across Europe, Obama's poll numbers are as high or higher than his substantial approval ratings at home. But neither popularity nor a more conciliatory approach has prevented some foreign leaders from brushing off Obama's proposals for recovery. German and French leaders have shunted aside the president's call for increased government spending to stimulate their economies. The Czech Republic's prime minister even characterized the U.S. proposal as charting "the road to hell." Instead of more stimulus spending, European and Asian leaders want more government regulation of the financial system. And they have been openly skeptical of Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner's regulatory plans, suggesting they don't go far enough. Nor have foreign leaders responded wholeheartedly to Obama's call for a greater commitment to the war in Afghanistan.

"European governments, for the sake of pleasing Obama, are not going to make concessions on these fundamental interests and political requirements," said Reginald Dale, director of the Transatlantic Media Network and senior fellow at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS.


The Canadian Press: Soccer - Netherlands defeats Scotland 3-0 in World Cup soccer qualifier

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Soccer - Netherlands defeats Scotland 3-0 in World Cup soccer qualifier

The Netherlands took a major step toward qualifying for the 2010 World Cup by edging Scotland 3-0 on Saturday. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar headed Mark van Bommel's cross from six yards to put the Netherlands in front after 30 minutes. Robin van Persie scored with another header from Arjen Robben's left-footed corner in first-half stoppage time, and Dirk Kuyt made it 3-0 in the 77th by converting a penalty after Christophe Berra had fouled Huntelaar in the area. The Netherlands leads Group 9 with 12 points from four games. Scotland is second with four points. Both sides play again Wednesday with the Netherlands hosting Macedonia and Scotland taking on Iceland. Soccer: Del Bosque Analyzes Spain's Turkey Win

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Soccer: Del Bosque Analyzes Spain's Turkey Win

Vicente Del Bosque enjoyed a successful return to the Bernabeu, as Spain claimed a 1-0 win over Turkey. After the match, he stressed his pride at the performance of his team. Speaking at the post match press conference, Del Bosque said, "It was a tough game because they played very well and offered a lot of resistance." "It wasn't as easy as on other occasions, but we deserved this win just as much. We controlled them well, albeit not with our usual style."

BBC NEWS: Spain court mulls US torture case

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Spain court mulls US torture case

Spanish judges have agreed to consider charging six former US officials with providing legal justification for alleged torture at Guantanamo Bay. Human rights lawyers brought the case against the six, who all served under former President George W Bush. Among those named was former defense official Douglas Feith, who said the charges against him "made no sense".


Daylight Saving Time starts today in Europe


Daylight Saving Time starts today in Europe

This weekend, the second of three time-changes for Spring 2009 will occur. Europe including the European Union and Turkey will go onto DST early Sunday morning. Other Daylight Saving Time changes occurring this weekend: Russia, and Western Australia will return to Southern Hemisphere Standard Time. The last time-change for Spring 2009 will occur one week from today, on Sunday, April 5 when New Zealand and South-Eastern Australia return to Southern Hemisphere Standard Time, and Mexico goes onto Daylight Saving Time. Obama not immune to criticism overseas -- by Christi Parsons

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Obama not immune to criticism overseas -- by Christi Parsons

At the heart of President Barack Obama's approach to foreign policy has been a promise to end the "unilateral" strategies of his predecessor and to heal bruised relations with America's allies. But as Obama makes his presidential debut on the diplomatic stage at the G-20 summit in London this week, he faces an array of world leaders from Europe and Asia who have already rejected some of his most important proposals for rescuing the global economy. That means Obama's vision of himself as the great conciliator will face severe challenges right from the start, despite the diplomatic niceties that will surround the sessions. As Obama is discovering at home, so in foreign affairs, enormous personal popularity does not automatically turn specific policies and proposals into reality. German and French leaders have shunted aside the president's call for increased government spending to stimulate their economies. The Czech Republic's prime minister and EU President even characterized the American proposal as charting "the road to hell." Instead of more stimulus spending, European and Asian leaders want more government regulation of the financial system.

' Blue-eyed bankers' prompt G20 divide - by Gaby Hinsliff

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Blue-eyed bankers' prompt G20 divide- by Gaby Hinsliff

The attack last week by Brazil's president, Luis da Silva, on "white blue-eyed bankers" revealed a new anger among some of the world's most populous countries at being dragged into a mess not of their making - and a determination to hold the west to account. India's prime minister will use the summit to challenge what it says is creeping protectionism costing Asian jobs. China will exact more influence over the IMF in return for bailing it out. Chile's Michele Bachelet used a joint appearance with Brown to stress how, unlike Britain, her country saved vast revenues "during the good times" - which it is now having to spend.

One key issue for debate on Thursday is what role the difference in saving and spending habits between the two economic powerhouses of America and China played in triggering the crisis. While Americans love to shop, often on credit, Chinese households traditionally put money aside. For years, China used those savings to invest abroad, particularly in US bonds - thus pumping billions into the US economy and helping fund more cheap credit. Many economists believe a recovery now requires bursting that artificial bubble and rebalancing the economy so that Chinese consumers are encouraged spend a little more - reducing America's trade deficit - and Americans a little less. Malloch Brown suggests Britons, too, will need to relearn the art of saving.

The Market Oracle: United States Economy, U.S. Dollar and the China Factor - by Jim Willie CB

The graphic on FOREX reserves firmly proves the point that the balance of power has shifted to developing nations. Wealth accumulation leads to shifts in bank power. If the existing structures do not incorporate and accommodate the new reality, then new structures will come into form and take root. The US and UK have given nothing but lip service to Chinese, Arab, and Russian demands, their creditors. The time for revolt is here.

For the complete report from the Market Oracle click on this link

United States Economy, U.S. Dollar and the China Factor - by Jim Willie CB

Foreigners are aghast at four new trends. They lose respect when the financial market rules change periodically, obviously to favor the insiders, elite, and connected. They lose respect when the approach taken by the Obama Administration is marred by lack of consistency, coordination, or even thorough research. They lose respect at the flow of $trillion$ in rescues and redemptions for failed institutions, most of which are responsible for the global crisis. They lose respect at the prospect of $trillion$ in ongoing federal budget deficits as far as the eye can see. They lose respect at the prospect of $trillion$ in monetized US$-based bonds, with the prospect of repeated announcements.

View Ben Bernanke, now turned commodity supplier. He is shoveling and humping around confetti laced with mold reinforced by a massive flow of swill, and does not even realize it! Forget the helicopter images. His partner ‘TinyTim' Geithner is an outright rookie with a very questionable past record, whose errors are too numerous to properly cite, starting with the ruinous decisions he recommended for Indonesia with the IMF during the 1998 Asian Meltdown. Details of harsh criticism, hardly reported by the US press networks, were delivered by former Australian Prime Minister Keating.

Acceleration in flow of funds is necessary to sustain a bubble, and a similar acceleration is necessary to prevent a bubble collapse. These are characteristics of a Third World nation's management of a currency that has the unique advantage of operating as the global reserve currency. Such a juxtaposition has never in modern financial history been witnessed before. The perceived abuse by the Untied States is incredible, as numerous syndicates continue to operate under the protection of the system's many appendages. It is no wonder that foreign creditors are both aghast at the situation in the Untied States, and mobilized to defend themselves.

The longer foreign nations wait to establish a multi-polar global reserve working alternative, employed broadly within their continental regions, laced within banking and commerce, the greater their loss will be to wealth funds and the greater the disruption will be to their entire economies, their standard of living, and their internal political stability. So let's see what China is up to.

Chinese leaders are openly critical and expressing deep anxiety. Debate is rampant inside China about the wisdom of continued support to purchase US Treasury bonds. These are preliminary tectonic shifts to be identified before important new financial structures come to fore. They will disturb the US Dollar system at its global foundation, with much inherent hegemony. The shock waves will come region by region, in a succession. By attracting a lot of attention to this issue, China has decided to attempt to gain influence at the G-20 meeting. The sequence is simple, from offshore manufacturer to trade partner to global adversary to large scale credit provider to angry creditor to credit master, and maybe to receivership committee governor.

BBC NEWS: G20 protesters to march in London

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G20 protesters to march in London

Thousands of people are expected to march through London later to demand action on poverty, climate change and jobs ahead of next week's G20 summit. The Put People First alliance of 150 charities and unions will march from Embankment to Hyde Park for a rally. Speakers will call on G20 leaders to pursue a new kind of global justice. A series of protests are planned around the London summit and police say the level of planned activity is creating an "unprecedented challenge".

Washington Post: USA Book Reviews - Can We Get Past Race? - by Adam Bradley

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USA Book Reviews - Can We Get Past Race? - by Adam Bradley

Wilson writes: "Among the many words that accompanied Barack Obama on his long road to the White House -- "hope," "change," "Clinton" -- none has proved more provocative than "post-racial." The idea is as seductive as it is simplistic: that in electing a black president we have settled our national debt to people of color. The notion that America is now a post-racial society embodies both idealism and cynicism: a hope that the nation has overcome its racist past, and a desire to avoid the unfinished work of achieving true equality." Among the skeptics of post-racialism is Tim Wise, a critic of "white privilege" (his own included) who looks on Obama's election with trepidation. He fears a blossoming of what he calls Racism 2.0, which allows whites to celebrate the achievements of an individual such as Obama while harboring deep prejudice toward minorities as a whole. The punning title of his book, "Between Barack and a Hard Place," belies the sobering material within. Wise paints a stark picture of racial inequality in the United States today.

A post-racial United States is an imagined country. Both Wilson and Wise describe a nation where race remains a controlling factor in the fates of individuals and communities. Despite their differences, both authors implore Americans to turn again to race -- not just as a way to look upon past abuses, but as the only way forward for a nation still in search of a more perfect union.


Dayton Business Journal: US Unemployment: Double-digit unemployment hits 7 states - by G. Scott Thomas

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Double-digit unemployment hits 7 states - G. Scott Thomas

US unemployment: Seven states posted unemployment rates above 10 percent in February, as Ohio inched toward the double digits, according to seasonally adjusted figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ohio's unemployment rate for February was 9.4 percent, an increase of 3.5 percentage-points. Michigan registered the nation’s worst rate, with 12 percent of its labor force out of work as of February 2009. Also in double digits were South Carolina (11 percent), Oregon (10.8 percent), North Carolina (10.7 percent), California (10.5 percent), Rhode Island (10.5 percent), and Nevada (10.1 percent). - US ‘top dogs’ in denial over public anger - by Chrystia Freeland

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US ‘top dogs’ in denial over public anger - by Chrystia Freeland

When Barack Obama, the president, meets the nation’s financial titans on Saturday, US populist rage should still be at the top of the agenda. This week was just a lull in the storm: the nation’s widespread and deeply felt anger at financial capitalists and capitalism remains the new and dominant fact of the country’s political life. So far, neither Washington nor Wall Street seems to have fully grasped this political sea-change, or figured how to deal with it. The US’s top dogs, they all would have us know, are meritocrats, not aristocrats. Their money, power and influence are the fruits of smarts, hard work and chutzpah, not an accident of birth. There is a lot of appeal – and some truth – to the country’s mass self-characterisation as a nation of Horatio Algers. But this populist iconography obscures the statistical fact that, over the past quarter century, US life has become much more stratified, especially at the very top. You may have gone to a public school and your parents may not have earned much more than the minimum wage, but if a combination of luck and talent have made you a plutocrat, your life experience is separated from that of ordinary citizens by a far wider gap than at any time since the Gilded Age.

Like all political revolutions, the privileged class is finding it hard adapting to this shift. But ignorance is dangerous: in the days after the Bolshevik revolution, Russia’s bourgeoisie didn’t think much had happened, either, and stock prices held steady on the Petrograd exchange. EU Presidency agrees insurance shake-up

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EU Presidency agrees insurance shake-up

The European Union reached a deal on Thursday to shake-up regulation of the insurance sector, the bloc's Czech presidency said after two years of tough negotiations bore fruit. "The final compromise solution was approved, on a preliminary basis, by the European Parliament and supported by the council" of EU governments, the Czech presidency said in a statement. The reform is supposed to update rules on how insurers set aside capital to cover losses and how the industry is overseen, by bringing 14 different existing texts into one sole European law.The presidency said that an agreement had been reached only by stripping the group/subsidiary issue out of the bill to be dealt with "in a few years". With a tentative deal in hand, EU governments are supposed to rubber stamp the text next Wednesday and the full European Parliament is to vote on the bill next month. The CEA European insurance and reinsurance federation welcomed the agreed bill as an "important and timely piece of legislation and any delay would have been most unfortunate in the current economic climate"

WSJ/EU-Digest: Obama to Woo European Public on Overseas Trip - by Jonathan Weisman and Stephen Fidler

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Obama to Woo European Public on Overseas Trip - by Jonathan Weisman and Stephen Fidler

Mr. Obama also intends to extend his efforts beyond official meetings. He will hold a town hall-style meeting at a sports arena in Strasbourg, France, European diplomatic officials said. And the White House is looking for a site in Prague for the first public foreign-policy speech of Mr. Obama's presidency, according to Petr Kolar, the Czech Republic's ambassador to the U.S. Turkish press reports say Mr. Obama's visit to Istanbul after the Prague summit will include a stop at the Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine-era church converted to a mosque under the Ottomans, and a stop at the national Sultan Ahmed Mosque.

The emphasis on including public events, a deliberate nod to Mr. Obama's successful tour through Europe as a presidential candidate, stands in contrast to the divisions that have opened on policy since he took office.

Note EU-Digest: Mr. Obama deserves a warm welcome from every European. He brings a refreshing opportunity for Europe and America to renew their historical close and friendly ties after the eight years of dogmatic Bush Administration policies, which in relation to the EU were based on divide and conquer tactics in relation to what the Bush Administration called the "old and new Europe". That policy has inflicted long term damage to the integration process of the new Eastern European member states into the EU family of nations. It has encouraged unilateral political, military and commercial deals between the US and the new Eastern European EU member states, without prior consultation with the EU Commission. This is still going on. In essence the US has never given any clear indication by its actions that it recognizes the EU and its institutions as a sovereign Union of Nation States. So when Mr. Obama visits Europe and politicians jockey to be seen by his side when pictures are taken they must also make sure that they ask themselves that the story they hear is not the same story "repackaged" with a more appealing ribbon around it.

NYT: The environment: Coca Cola Tests a Hybrid Truck in Bruxelles, EU - by James Kanter

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The environment: Coca Cola Tests a Hybrid Truck in Bruxelles, EU - by James Kanter

Beverage giant Coca-Cola has been delivering some of its products with hybrid electric trucks in North America for some time. Now the company says it will roll out the first hybrid vehicle of its kind to be used in a European city. Coke says the hold-up in Europe was a special formula – not for the famously secret recipe for its cola but for manufacturing hybrid engines for delivery vehicles in urban areas, where frequent stops and starts are common. The new Coca-Cola truck, which weighs 12 tons, will serve a 20-kilometer route in the center of Brussels running both diesel and electric engines. A battery feeds the electric motor to start and accelerate up to 20 kilometers an hour. Then the diesel motor takes over when the vehicle normally consumes the least fuel, at speeds over 20 kilometers an hour.

The pilot program, to run in Brussels until July, is part of Coke’s efforts at “developing a sustainable transport strategy across our European business,” Mr. Patricot said.

Time Magazine: Why Europe's Criticism of the Stimulus Got Out of Hand - by Douglas A. McIntyre

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Why Europe's Criticism of the Stimulus Got Out of Hand - by Douglas A. McIntyre

There are now divisions forming in the European Union based on whether the countries in that alliance should put larger and larger sums of money into the credit and banking markets and their budgets to help slow the recession, or keep stimulus activities modest and have faith that free market systems will cause the economy to recover on its own without taking the world to Hades in the process. The debate over the ideology of saving the financial world turned ugly as Czech Republic Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek described the Obama stimulus programs as the "way to hell." Whether the comments are repudiated by other members of the E.U. now or not, the cat is out of the bag. After behind the scenes conversations about the aggressiveness of the U.S. approach, the views of a number of American allies are now crystal clear — America is spending itself into a hole which it cannot get out of, and the nation is on a course which will eventually lead to socialism.

Note EU-Digest: reading this op-ed by Mr. Douglas McIntyre in Time Magazine you quickly realize that American arrogance and superiority complex is still alive and well. Unfortunately.


DW: West Favors Dane for Top NATO Post, but Turkish Hurdles Remain

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West Favors Dane for Top NATO Post, but Turkish Hurdles Remain

The United States gave its blessing to the appointment of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the next NATO secretary general in Brussels over the weekend, paving the way for him to take over the trans-Atlantic alliance's top civilian job in August. Washington also enjoys strong support for the choice of Rasmussen from its three biggest European allies in the alliance -- Germany, France and the UK. Although Rasmussen, 56, declined to publicly comment on the possibility of succeeding Dutch diplomat Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, he never officially ruled himself out as a candidate for a post that has traditionally gone to a European.

The main snag to Rasmussen's nomination, which needs to be approved by all members of the 26-nation alliance, is possible opposition to his candidacy from Turkey, a secular nation that is predominantly Muslim. "The cartoon crisis has a larger dimension than just Turkey," a Turkish official, who requested anonymity, told Reuters. "At a time when NATO is going to assume added responsibility in Afghanistan and Pakistan, having a secretary general with such an objectionable approach to billions of Muslims, is not the right approach to the Muslim world." Turkey has also attacked Denmark for failing to revoke the broadcasting license of a television station that Ankara has accused of being a mouthpiece for Kurdish rebels opposed to the government. Adding fuel to the fire, Rasmussen had publicly stated in 2003 that he opposed full EU membership for Turkey.

Note EU-Digest:
Turkey will certainly not be so foolish as to shoot themselves in the foot with a veto about a religious matter if they claim to be a secular state and say they believe in Freedom of Speech. Hopefully European NATO members, including the Turks will talk about more serious issues, like what purpose the NATO has now the cold war has ended and why it should become the world's policeman?

Forbes: China's Assault On The Dollar - by Gordon G. Chang

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China's Assault On The Dollar - by Gordon G. Chang

"I don't believe that there's a need for a global currency," said President Obama Tuesday night during his prime-time press conference. Well, the Chinese sure do. Zhou Xiaochuan, head of China's central bank, called for the replacement of the dollar in a text released Monday.Some economists, such as Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, have called for the replacement of the dollar. And concerns about depreciation of America's money are real and not just confined to the Chinese. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner inadvertently highlighted this widespread concern on Wednesday when he said Washington was "actually quite open" to the Chinese proposal. (He later backtracked after the dollar collapsed as a result of his ill-considered comment.

Beijing, by floating its proposal at this moment, is beginning a new round of debate about the future of the dollar and, by extension, the role of the U.S. in the global order.

Economist: Barack Obama's progress -- Coming down to earth

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Barack Obama's progress -- Coming down to earth

Two months after his inauguration, Barack Obama can already point to some impressive achievements. He has passed a $787 billion stimulus bill—the biggest in American history—and outlined an ambitious agenda for reforming health care and education, tackling entitlements and pushing “green” energy. He has also delighted his admirers at home and abroad by beginning to reverse George Bush’s policies on such controversial subjects as talking to Iran, global warming, the treatment of enemy combatants and stem-cell research.

Unfortunately, Mr Obama’s critics can also point to a striking record of failures. A startling number of his nominees for senior positions have imploded. The upper ranks of the Treasury remain empty in the midst of the most serious recession since the 1930s. Warren Buffett, an early Obama-supporter and a man legendary for holding on to stocks that he has backed, thinks that the president is taking his eye off the ball. Andy Grove, a former head of Intel, describes the administration’s performance as “ineffectual”. Even the commentariat, which swooned over Mr Obama’s campaign, is running out of patience.

Denmark, Sweden lead US in new global IT ranking report


Denmark, Sweden lead US in new global IT ranking report

Denmark and Sweden outscore the United States in their ability to develop information and communications technology, according to a survey published today (Thursday) by the World Economic Forum's "networked readiness index". The United States, which topped the list in 2006 before slipping down the rankings, climbed one place to third in the latest edition of the survey. The report covered 134 countries, with Chad, East Timor, Zimbabwe, Burundi and Bangladesh at the bottom. The study largely blamed poor political and regulatory environments in the United States for offsetting some of the benefits of having the world's most competitive economy. The index, which measures the range of factors that affect a country's ability to harness information technologies for economic competitiveness and development, also cited America's low rate of mobile phone usage, a lack of government leadership in information technology and the low quality of mathematics and science education.

Singapore, the top Asian country, and Switzerland ranked 4 and 5. Nordic nations Finland, Iceland and Norway followed, with Netherlands and Canada completing the top 10. China jumped 11 spots to No. 46, leading the group of big emerging economies. India was 54th, five places ahead of Brazil, while Russia was down at No. 74.


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Oxygen Media today released a study, conducted by TNS, into the minds of women (18-34) and their personal relationship to outer beauty versus inner beauty. Overall the study, which interviewed more than 2,000 adults, paints a surprisingly complex portrait of today’s women who sometimes walk a fine line of vanity and morality. The poll covers five key themes in women’s lives – appearance, fame & fortune, friendships, relationships and current events/finance. Surprisingly nearly 25% of women would rather win “America’s Next Top Model” than the Nobel Peace Prize. However, putting physical appearance aside, 75% of women said that they would be willing to shave their heads to save the life of a stranger. Body consciousness is still important with nearly 25% of women saying they’d rather be thin than smart.

And while tech savvy women live and die by their PDAs, an astonishing number — 88% of young women 18-34 — would give up their cell phone, jewelry and makeup to keep a friendship. Although loyal to their friends to the point where they’d give up their most prized possessions, there’s still 26% of women 18-34 who would make their best friend fat for life, if it meant they could be thin.

Sen. Gregg tells Lou Dobbs on CNN: "U.S. Heading to 'Banana Republic"


Sen. Gregg tells Lou Dobbs on CNN: "U.S. Heading to 'Banana Republic"

U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg told CNN’s Lou Dobbs last night (Wednesday) on the popular news program Lou Dobbs Tonight that the United States would be turned into a “banana republic” by the Obama administration’s budget plan. Gregg explained, President Obama's plan puts on the books a massive amount of debt. It doubles our national debt in five years, triples it in 10 years. And as far as the eye can see, essentially, it is running deficits of over $1 trillion a year.
Sen Greg a Republican from New Hampshire, who was Obama’s choice for Secretary of Commerce before withdrawing his name over what he described as philosophical differences. He also noted, “technically the US will get to a public debt ratio to GDP of 80 percent, which is about twice what most people think is sustainable. And if we maintain that level, which is projected in the president's budget, you basically -- you're running a banana republic is what it comes down to. You can't afford to pay those debts.”

Gregg also told Dobbs that, in addition to a fiscal document, the budget plan was very much an ideological blueprint that takes the country far to the left. Unlike President Bill Clinton, who raised taxes to help pay off the deficit, the Obama administration will use tax revenues to dramatically increase the size of the federal bureaucracy in areas like healthcare and environmental programs.

FORBES.COM: Dutch announce 11.5 bln euro jobless, local govt stimulus -

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The Dutch government said on Wednesday it would make an additional 10 billion euros ($13.50 billion) available for unemployment benefits, while local governments will add another 1.5 billion euros to its new stimulus package. This brings total new stimulus measures announced on Wednesday to 17.5 billion euros, including a 6 billion euro package unveiled earlier to be invested in civil projects. As a result of the overall package, the government's budget deficit will be 5.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2010, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende added. From 2011 an onwards, the government targets a reduction of the deficit of 50 basis points of GDP each year.

Note EU-Digest: in comparison the US budget deficit is presently estimated at 13% of GDP.


CBS News: E.U. President-Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek : U.S. Economy On Road "To Hell"

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E.U. President-Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek : U.S. Economy On Road "To Hell"

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told the European parliament in Strasbourg that the Obama administration's stimulus package and financial bailout risked undermining the stability of the global financial market. "The U.S. Treasury Secretary, talks about permanent action and we, at our spring council, were quite alarmed by that. He talks about an extensive U.S. stimulus campaign. All of these steps, their combination and their permanency is a way to hell.

"We need to read history books and revisit the lessons taught by history," Topolanek said, taking the E.U. presidency on a collision course with Washington over the economic options to solve the world economic crisis. The prime minister made the comments as he briefed parliament on the outcome of the EU's recent summit in Horsham, England.

Globe and Mail: EU rejects China's calls for global currency - by Joe McDonald

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EU rejects China's calls for global currency- - by Joe McDonald

The European Union's top economy official said Tuesday that the U.S. dollar's role as the international reserve currency is secure despite Chinese calls for a global alternative. EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia says he didn't see “major structural changes in the role the dollar plays today as a major reserve currency” following a call by China's central banker for a new global currency controlled by the International Monetary Fund.

Beijing has long been uneasy about relying on the U.S. dollar for the bulk of its trade and to store foreign reserves. Premier Wen Jiabao publicly appealed to Washington this month to avoid any steps in response to the crisis that might erode the value of the dollar and Beijing's estimated $1-trillion holdings in Treasuries and other U.S. government debt. “A super-sovereign reserve currency managed by a global institution could be used to both create and control global liquidity,” Mr. Zhou wrote. “This will significantly reduce the risks of a future crisis and enhance crisis management capability.” Mr. Zhou also called for changing how SDRs are valued. Currently, they are based on the value of four currencies — the dollar, euro, yen and British pound.

Businessweek: France threatens to curb executive pay

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France threatens to curb executive pay

France's government on Wednesday promised to crackdown on bonuses and other executive payments if business leaders fail to curb excesses amid growing public anger over company bosses' pay. Responding to outrage over the exit bonus paid to the former head of Valeo SA, an auto parts maker that received state aid, President Nicolas Sarkozy hit out at "dishonest" executives late Tuesday. He said there should be no more bonuses or stock options at companies that benefit from government help.

CSMONITOR: US and European paths to recovery diverge - by Robert Marquand

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US and European paths to recovery diverge - by Robert Marquand

President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and European leaders want the crucial April 2 London Group of 20 summit to end in a spirit of unity – a plan bold enough to check and reverse the global economic crisis. Yet a week ahead of the G-20 meeting, a fundamental difference in US and European priorities is intensifying in the public arena. The divide over the balance of stimulus and regulation reflects differences in Euro-American cultures, institutions, leadership – and not least, in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s concern about keeping voters happy ahead of September polls. Whether the sides can hammer out an agreement – and how final decisions will be presented – is the trillion-dollar question. A cacophony of top voices is rising. European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet opposes stimulus, as does the German finance minister, the British central bank chief, the European president, and others.

Note EU-Digest: The European approach to resolving the crises has far less risks than the US/British plan, which creates an enormous debt at the expense of the tax payer and with little guarantee that it will succeed. The European plan also calls for very strong controls toavoid the financial sector making the same mistakes. Romania Gets 20 Billion-Euro Bailout Aid From IMF, EU - by Adam Brown and Irina Savu

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Romania Gets 20 Billion-Euro Bailout Aid From IMF, EU - by Adam Brown and Irina Savu

Romania got a 20 billion-euro ($27 billion) loan from the International Monetary Fund, European Union and other lenders, the sixth eastern European nation to be bailed out as the region’s economies struggle to stay afloat. About 13 billion euros will come from the IMF and the rest from the EU, World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Washington-based fund said in a statement.

The “package should more than cover Romania’s financing needs this year,” said Ozgur Yasar Guyuldar, an emerging markets strategist in Vienna at Raiffeisen Centrobank, in an e- mail today. “The IMF deal will certainly bring some discipline to the budget. I view this aid package as a big relief.” The loan brings to more than $60 billion the total handed out to eastern Europe. Hungary, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia and Serbia have also sought bailouts to prevent defaults and aid banks.

Note EU-Digest: The next step is to closely monitor that these funds get properly allocated and not squandered away by corruption which has been a constant problem in Romania.



WASHINGTON D.C. (A.A) - 25.03.2009 - Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus President Mehmet Ali Talat is expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mid April, sources said on Tuesday."

More:(DIP) TURKISH CYPRIOT PRESIDENT EXPECTED TO MEET U.S. STATE SECRETARY - Turk.Net The Next Bubble: Obama's Budget Deficit - by Joshua Zumbrun

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The Next Bubble: Obama's Budget Deficit - by Joshua Zumbrun

As President Obama prepares to send his budget to the US Congress next week, he's run into a bit of a stumbling block. The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that the national debt under the president's budget will be $2.3 trillion deeper than the White House estimates. Now for the real bad news: Both estimates are optimistic. If the economy continues to deteriorate faster than economists project, those numbers will balloon further.Over the next decade, the CBO projects that the White House budget will run $9.3 trillion in deficits. The White House projection had been $7 trillion. The problem for Obama, as his budget moves to Congress: Lawmakers tend to trust CBO figures over all others.

The key metric, when determining if a deficit is controllable, is looking at the ratio of the debt to the country's GDP. If this ratio is shrinking, then the debt is manageable. The White House said this would happen by 2013. The CBO says this will not happen, even by 2019.


Times OnLine: EU presidency in turmoil after Mirek Topolanek Government collapse - by David Charter

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EU presidency in turmoil after Mirek Topolanek Government collapse - by David Charter

The leadership of the European Union was plunged into disarray last night when the Government holding the rotating presidency collapsed after losing a vote of no confidence in the Czech parliament. Mirek Topolanek offered his resignation as Prime Minister, although he was expected to stay on to ensure continuity for the EU presidency, not least because he was due to represent Europe's non-G20 countries at next week's London Summit - and host Barack Obama when he visits Prague.

The Economist: The Dutch and fiscal stimulus - Fingers in the dyke

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The Dutch and fiscal stimulus - Fingers in the dyke

The Netherlands typifies a European fear that any big fiscal stimulus might just benefit others. President Obama, no less, has decried as a “phoney debate” the idea that Europe and America disagree on the need for a fiscal stimulus to fix the economic crisis. The American president was reacting to headlines predicting a transatlantic row at the G20 summit in London on April 2nd. But senior European politicians and officials support him. When it comes to the case for stimulus spending, they say, transatlantic differences are small.

The Netherlands has an exceptionally open economy, exporting 70% of output, so it is a leading voice against protectionism of the sort that tempts some American congressmen. The Dutch are also famously thrifty. Raise Dutch wages or cut income taxes, and the new spending power will not just suck in imports, but “leak” into savings.Could Dutch politicians pull off these austerity measures? Other EU governments would hardly dare to mention them for fear of riots. The question points to one area where domestic pain can lead to national gain: some countries will emerge more competitive than others. If that hope prompts the Dutch to spend for Europe, that will be good for everybody.

Secretary Clinton will Travel to the Netherlands


The US Department of State Acting Secretary spokesman Robert Wood announced that at the invitation of Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to the Netherlands to attend the “International Conference on Afghanistan: a Comprehensive Strategy in a Regional Context” in The Hague on March 31. Building on the achievements of the Conferences held in Bonn, in London and, most recently, in Paris last year, The Hague Ministry will reaffirm the solid and long-term commitment of the international community to supporting the Government of Afghanistan in shaping a better future for Afghanistan and its people. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke will accompany Secretary Clinton. The ministerial discussion will be co-chaired by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan Kai Eide, Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Rangin Dadfar Spanta and Foreign Minister Verhagen.

While in the Netherlands, Secretary Clinton will also have a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Verhagen to discuss issues of mutual interest.

M@C: Obama launches media blitz ahead of G20, at home and abroad

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Obama launches media blitz ahead of G20, at home and abroad

Writing in 31 newspapers around the globe, Obama warned that it was up to world leaders holding an emergency summit in London next week to come up with a comprehensive solution to the global recession. Back at home, Obama planned to hold the second press conference of his presidency Tuesday night amid growing public anger over the government's bail-out of Wall Street firms considered critical to the survival of the US financial system. 'My message is clear: The United States is ready to lead, and we call upon our partners to join us with a sense of urgency and common purpose,' Obama wrote in the newspaper piece.

Rolling Stone: Inside U2's Plans to Rock Stadiums Around the Globe - by Brian Hiatt

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Inside U2's Plans to Rock Stadiums Around the Globe - by Brian Hiatt

Toward the end of U2's last tour, in November 2006, longtime show director Willie Williams presented the band with sketches of a four-legged monster — a massive structure with speakers mounted on each side that would allow the group to play stadium shows in the round. On the new U2 360° Tour, which hits the U.S. beginning September 12th, in Chicago (and kicks off in Barcelona, on June 30th), Williams' vision will finally come to life. "The band is just sitting in the palm of the audience's hand," says Williams. "It really works." Adds Bono, "It creates this real physical proximity to the crowd." With 120 trucks needed just to cart the stage around, the tour will be U2's most expensive ever — the band will defray costs in part by taking on a corporate sponsor for the first time, BlackBerry. (Conscious of its environmental impact, the group will be purchasing carbon offsets.)

NYT: NYTimes.China Urges New Money Reserve to Replace Dollar - by David Barboza

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China Urges New Money Reserve to Replace Dollar - by David Barboza

In another indication that China is growing increasingly concerned about holding huge dollar reserves, the head of its central bank has called for the eventual creation of a new international currency reserve to replace the dollar. China’s bold idea, released more than a week before world leaders are to gather in London for an economic summit meeting, also indicates that Beijing is worried that its huge dollar-denominated foreign reserves could lose significant value in coming years. China has the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves, valued at nearly $2 trillion, with more than half of those holdings estimated to be made up of United States Treasuries and other dollar-denominated bonds.

The timing of the Chinese announcement, analysts said, could also be aimed at giving Beijing more leverage to negotiate with the United States and other nations at the G20 in London on trade and on proposals about how to stabilize the global economy.

NYT/EU-Digest: World’s Cheapest Car: Boon or Bane? - by James Kanter

The Nano

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World’s Cheapest Car: Boon or Bane? - by James Kanter

For huge numbers of people in India the imminent introduction of the world’s cheapest car – the Nano – is a boon to families all over the developing world that currently speed around town on overloaded two-wheelers, often with an infant perched precariously on someone’s lap. People across India have been saving money for months with the goal of purchasing the car, made by Tata Motors, a branch of the Indian conglomerate Tata Group, and which will be priced at about euro 1,500 (US $2500). For many, it represents a leap, overnight, from the indignity of two-wheeled motor scooters to the relative luxury of four wheels and a roof.

Note EU-Digest: The specs of the Nano are: * Length: 3.1 metres* Height: 1.6 metres * Width: 1.5 metres * Engine: Rear-wheel drive, 2-cylinder, 623 cc, multi-point fuel-injection petrol engine. Engine is rear mounted. Tata said it was the first time a 2-cylinder gasoline engine was being used in a car with single balancer shaft. * Safety: Tata said the Nano has an all sheet-metal body, with safety features such as crumple zones, intrusion-resistant doors, seat-belts, strong seats and anchorages, and the rear tailgate glass bonded to the body. Tyres are tubeless. * Environment: Tata said tailpipe emission performance exceeded current regulatory requirements, and the Nano had a lower overall pollution level than two-wheelers made in India. It said high fuel efficiency (20 km/litre) ensured low carbon dioxide emissions.

CNBC:Switzerland - IATA says World Airline Industry to Lose $4.7 Billion in 2009

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Switzerland - IATA says World Airline Industry to Lose $4.7 Billion in 2009 says IATA

World airlines are set to lose $4.7 billion this year as a result of the global recession that has shrunk passenger and cargo demand, industry body IATA said. The International Air Transport Association had estimated in December the industry would lose $2.5 billion in 2009.IATA the Swiss-based body said its latest forecast was based on a view that the economy and air transport demand would hit bottom by mid-2009 and then start to recover.

"We do expect better prospects toward the end of this year or the beginning of 2010," Bisignani told a news conference at Geneva airport. Leading airlines have slashed fares to encourage continued travel and unveiled a range of cost-cutting measures to stay afloat throughout an economic slump. Fares should stay low throughout the year while airlines compete for the business that remains until global economic activity rebounds, Bisignani said. South Korea Nears Free Trade Pact With EU - by Tina Wang

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South Korea Nears Free Trade Pact With EU - by Tina Wang

South Korea is inching closer toward a historic free trade pact with the European Union, which means that the spotlight will be on Barack Obama's administration to figure out what it wants to do with its own stalled trade deal with Seoul. Seoul and the E.U. have worked out a "provisional" agreement to remove most tariffs on bilateral trade over the next five years, both sides' negotiators said Tuesday. A deal would offer some salve for South Korea's export-reliant economy, which is on the verge of its first recession on over a decade, as the E.U. is South Korea's second-largest trading partner and bilateral trade totaled $98.4 billion in 2008.Some details still have to be resolved by the G-20 meeting on April 2 in London, and success is "not guaranteed," the E.U. chief representative Ignacio Garcia Bercero said.

The Independent: Dollar's status under attack from China - by Sean O'Grady

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Dollar's status under attack from China - by Sean O'Grady

Another skirmish in the war of words in the most important economic relationship in the world – that between the US and China – broke out yesterday, as the Governor of the People's Bank of China called for reform of the IMF and the promotion of the fund's own longstanding but underused "world currency"– special drawing rights (SDR).

His remarks come as the managing director of the International Monetary Fund said that any plans, such as those being pursued by the G20, to stimulate the world economy would fail unless the banking system is repaired. Dominique Strauss-Kahn said: "You can put in as much stimulus as you want. It will just melt in the sun as snow if, at the same time, you are not able to have a generally smaller financial sector than before but a healthy financial sector at work." Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of the Chinese central bank, implicitly criticized the status of the dollar as the world's sole reserve currency. "The price is becoming increasingly high, not only for the users, but also for the issuers of the reserve currencies," Mr Zhou said.

The Independent: Britain, not Europe, will be the outsider at the G20 summit - by Mary Dejevsky

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Britain, not Europe, will be the outsider at the G20 summit - by Mary Dejevsky

Curl up in the warm cocoon of optimism and defensiveness being spun by Downing Street before G20 leaders convene next week in London, and quite soon you will feel a chill draught. The British are doing their utmost to save the world; they are best friends again with Washington, and most of the rest of the world is on their side. If only those pesky Europeans would see reason. If you dare, however, it is worth stepping outside the small world of British comfort-speak, and just listening. You will very quickly find – as I did, at a weekend meeting of EU politicians and others – that for many of those supposedly stubborn and suspect Europeans, it is the British who are out of line.The European misgivings are threefold. The first, and most immediate, relate to policy. The German and French governments adamantly oppose any international fiscal stimulus; they insist they have done enough to lubricate their own economies and want to wait to let the measures take effect. They worry about unleashing inflation – the same argument used a little half-heartedly by those in Britain opposed to increasing the money supply. If there is money to be contributed, the Europeans want to use existing institutions, such as the IMF – or, in the case of the ailing "new" European economies, EU mechanisms such as the European Central Bank.

Europe see in the whole British approach an arrogance quite insufferable, given Britain's role in what has happened and its abiding ambivalence towards the EU. They see it not just in our politicians, but still more in our diplomats and in the Foreign Secretary personally, for whose off-hand and didactic manner particular venom is reserved. They go on to cite two specific objections. London, they say, strove to be the global financial centre, without the national tax base to honour its international obligations.That the G20 summit will be held within sight of the bank towers of London's Docklands is an added irritation. As for anti-protectionism – the reserve summit theme if no international stimulus is agreed – they retort: What is the recent 30 per cent fall in sterling, if not protectionism by competitive devaluation?


China Europa TV – China-Europe 2009

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China-Europe 2009

As China, supported by its Ministry of Trade and its new Environment Ministry, is pursuing a two-pronged objective of increasing its European imports and further expanding its efforts in Sustained Urban Development, China Europa 2009 intends now more than ever to provide Chinese and European companies with opportunities for unique partnerships and business deals. As a pragmatic means of developing international exchanges, China Europa 2009 hinges on three leading professional events, guaranteed to deliver results that are quantifiable, qualified and appropriate:
* An exhibition area of 10,000 sq. m. available to companies and to public authorities seeking to promote their business and best practices, as well as receiving prospective customers and partners under optimal conditions
* A business convention offering over 5,000 prearranged business meetings to sell, export, produce, invest and initiate joint ventures in China and in Europe
* Conferences and workshops a practical means for the main Chinese and European experts in Sustained Urban Development channels to talk about news and development outlooks with respect to that issue throughout Europe and China.

The China-Europe portal is aimed at:
* Local public authorities seeking services relating to their development but also anxious to present their best practices in Sustainable Urban Development
* Professionals – SMEs and major groups – in sectors relating to Sustainable Urban Development seeking to export their know-how and their products to Europe and China
* Expert networks – teachers, researchers, architects, town planners and investors – seeking to offer a skills set relating to that issue

NYT: Europe 'living beyond its means' when it comes to water use - by Lauren Morello

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Europe 'living beyond its means' when it comes to water use - by Lauren Morello

More than 27,000 people -- including government ministers from more than 120 countries -- have gathered for the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. But in this ancient city, where the thin ribbon of the Bosporus divides Europe and Asia and massive Roman waterworks still dot the landscape, it's the Earth's shifting climate that is on delegates' minds. International ministers gathered in Istanbul will meet later this week to discuss strategies to help the water sector confront climate change, a pervasive lack of sanitation and drinking water in many developing countries, and increasing demand for water driven by a rising demand for food and the development of water-intensive energy technologies like biofuels.

Market Watch: Expert: U.S. economy to fundamentally shift

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U.S. economy to fundamentally shift

Economists say the era of the U.S. economy being consumer-driven may be over since many households are debt-strapped and unable to borrow against their homes. Experts say the shift away from a consumer-driven economy will mean changes in the way Americans live and do business. They say Americans will need to borrow and consume less, while saving, producing and exporting more than they do now. "We are going to need fewer malls and more factories," said Edward Leamer, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast, "and it's going to be a long adjustment."

Note EU-Digest: This trend of a consumer driven market, which also became more and more prevalent in Europe and other parts of the world can not be sustained and the end had to come. It is not clear what will replace it, but change will come and it will be painful.

EU-Digest: Europe’s Exports to U.S. Drop 4%, the Most in 5 Years - by Lorenzo Totaro

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Europe’s Exports to U.S. Drop 4%, the Most in 5 Years - by Lorenzo Totaro

European exports to the U.S. declined the most in five years in 2008 as the global financial crisis curtailed demand in the region’s main trading partners. Shipments to the U.S., the euro region’s second-biggest trading partner after the U.K., dropped 4 percent last year, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. Exports to the U.K. also fell 4 percent. Overall euro-area exports rose 4 percent in 2008, the smallest gain in five years.

The Independent: Spain's defence minister shot down over Nato gaffe - by Elizabeth Nash

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Spain's defense minister shot down over Nato gaffe - by Elizabeth Nash

On a morale-boosting trip to troops in Kosovo last week, Ms Chacón, Spain's first female defence chief and a star of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's majority female cabinet, declared: "The mission has been completed and it's time to return home." But her announcement burst like a bombshell among Nato officials, the US administration and senior diplomats who complained she had acted unilaterally and failed to inform them through the proper channels. The diplomatic gaffe is a reverse of fortune for Ms Chacón, 38, who made headlines when she took office last April and reviewed her troops while heavily pregnant. During a visit to Spanish soldiers in Afghanistan, images of this slight figure with her bump, her smock fluttering in the desert breeze, signaled a new mood of equality in Spain. She promptly purged the top brass, reformed and humanized Spain's discredited armed forces which became, within months, one of the country's most valued institutions. Spain has about 600 troops in Kosovo as part of a UN mission that includes some 15,500 soldiers from Nato members and allies.

Note EU-Digest: There is nothing wrong for a government official in making a gaffe every now and then when they are at least showing they are doing a good job for their country, which Ms Chacón certainly has done so far. As to NATO getting their feathers ruffled , who really cares?


Newsweekt: Economic Crisis Brings Sarkozy and Merkel Closer - by Tracy McNicoll

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Economic Crisis Brings Sarkozy and Merkel Closer - by Tracy McNicoll

For all the destructive power of the economic crisis, there's one bridge it's rebuilding: Franco-German relations. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are making good on their promise to present a united front against the financial fallout. In a joint letter to the EU presidency last week, the leaders asserted that regulation and fiscal discipline would be their priorities, not new stimulus measures—a position at odds with the U.S. Meanwhile, Berlin gave Sarkozy the green light to cut the value-added tax on restaurant meals, after years of French pleading. The pair will cohost April's NATO summit, with Sarkozy describing his decision to rejoin the allied command as a "great element of the Franco-German friendship." "It's a courageous decision," Merkel gushed back. "We are delighted."

EUobserver: EU expanding its 'sphere of influence,' Russia says - by Valentina Pop

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EU expanding its 'sphere of influence,' Russia says - by Valentina Pop

The Eastern Partnership is an EU attempt to expand its "sphere of influence" in the quest for hydrocarbons, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has said, in Moscow's first major broadside against the new policy. "We are accused of having spheres of influence. But what is the Eastern Partnership, if not an attempt to extend the EU's sphere of influence, including to Belarus," the minister said on Saturday (21 March) at the Brussels Forum, a high-level symposium.

VeloNews: Tour de France - Armstrong: ‘No guarantees’ to win Tour again - by Andrew Hood

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Tour de France - Armstrong: ‘No guarantees’ to win Tour again - by Andrew Hood

The seven-time Tour champion is confident he will attain a high level come July, but admitted he cannot take for granted he will be the same rider who won barnstormed to seven consecutive titles from 1999-2005. “It’s hard to say. In the past, I was always riding to win. We’re not there yet. Frankly, I don’t know if I will get back there,” he said Friday in a press conference. “This experiment, if you want to call it that, has never been attempted before. Would I like to be? Yes, I’d like to be competitive.”

At 37, and after more than three years away from competitive cycling, Armstrong cannot count on winning as dominantly as he did during his previous reign.

Telegraph: Hungary's prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany resigns - by Colin Freeman

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Hungary's prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany resigns- by Colin Freeman

Ferenc Gyurcsany, of the ruling Socialists, made the unexpected announcement at his party's congress, keeping a pledge he made in January last year to step down if his party's popularity failed to recover. It leaves him as one of the first major political casualties of the ongoing economic downturn, which has hit particularly hard in Eastern Europe. Last month Latvia’s centre-right government resigned after widespread street protests at alleged economic mismanagement.

Fidesz, the main centre-right opposition party, said it would propose holding early elections. "The Socialist government is the country's disgrace and early elections are in the country's interest," said the Fidesz party, led by former Prime Minister Viktor Orban.


Spiegel OnLine: Angela Merkel - German Newspapers - "Heroine of Brussels" Can Do No Wrong

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Angela Merkel: German Newspapers - "Heroine of Brussels" Can Do No Wrong

Germany's newspapers are so full of praise for Angela Merkel's mediating skills at the European Union summit in Brussels that she must be tempted to cut out the headlines and pin them up at home. How often does a politician get applauded by media commentators on the left and right, in Germany and across Europe, and by all other European governments as well?

Even the left-wing daily Die Tageszeitung can't help but laud her negotiating skills. "Angela Merkel, the Talented Tactician," reads the paper's headline. The editors laud Merkel's frugality and cite German politicians who praise her as the "new star in the European sky," who used female pragmatism to separate Europe's two most notorious squabblers, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac. She even managed to improve German-Polish ties by handing Poland 100 million euros in funds that had been largely earmarked for eastern Germany, writes the paper.

The closing document agreed on by European Union leaders gathered in Brussels reads like a German wish list. Chancellor Merkel was able to convince the EU to focus on financial-market regulation -- and to resist new stimulus programs. The EU will take an unusually hard line on regulating financial markets. Any participant who might represent a systemic threat -- "without exception and without regard for home nation" -- would have to be monitored, according to the EU's recommendation. This would apply to private capital firms as well as hedge funds, private equity companies and alternative investment vehicles. Tax evasion will be fought "forcefully." Offshore businesses will be placed on a blacklist and a "toolbox with sanctions" will be developed to pursue countries that serve as tax havens.

The Economist: Is America turning European? - More nonsense about Europe and America

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Is America turning European? - More nonsense about Europe and America

A spectre is haunting the United States—the spectre of Europe. Republicans such as Newt Gingrich, the grand old man of the party, and Mike Pence, one of its firebrands, say that Barack Obama’s Democrats are imposing “European-style socialism” on America. “As they try to pull us in the direction of government-dominated Europe,” says Mitt Romney, arguably the front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2012, “we’re going to have to fight as never before to make sure that America staysAmerica.”

Still, the two planets have a very long way to travel before they meet. There is nothing particularly “European” or “socialist” about Mr Obama’s stimulus package. Countries the world over are spending public money in a bid to boost demand and shore up the banks. Indeed, some of the most stubborn resistance to deficit financing has come from Europe, particularly from Germany and the EU finance ministers. Messrs Gingrich and Romney might note that the man who set this ball rolling was not Mr Obama but Mr Bush, the most un-European politician imaginable. For all Europe’s Obamamania Mr Obama is, in fact, one of the least European-minded of American presidents. JFK studied at the London School of Economics with Harold Laski, a leading British socialist. Bill Clinton went to Oxford University and surrounded himself with Rhodes scholars who liked to discuss the German educational model. John Kerry was famously not just French-speaking but also “French-looking”. Mr Obama’s roots lie in Kenya, Indonesia and Kansas—any continent but Europe. His two books hardly mention Europe at all.

The fury about “European socialism” is not just wrong as a matter of fact. It is foolish as a matter of policy. Europe has plenty of things to teach the United States (particularly about running a welfare state), just as America has plenty to teach Europe (particularly about igniting entrepreneurialism). Indeed, a more telling criticism of the Obama administration is not that it is borrowing too much from Europe but that it is learning too little.

Europeans and Americans are never likely to coalesce: their cultural traditions are too strong and their solutions to the problem of regulating capitalism too distinctive. But they nevertheless have plenty in common—ageing populations, exploding entitlements and above all, at the moment, a wrenching recession. Europeans have thankfully toned down the America-bashing that was popular a few years ago. Americans might consider returning the compliment.

Houston Chronicle: Obama leads way on Europe model for U.S. - by Jonah Goldberg

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Obama leads way on Europe model for U.S. - by Jonah Goldberg

In the 1950s, liberals insisted that right-wingers were paranoid because they feared a Soviet takeover. Today, pro-Obama intellectuals are desperate to make the case that 21st-century nutcases believe Obama is leading a French takeover. You would think liberals would be congratulating the right for not going overboard. For example, in a major address to the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Charles Murray said of Obama’s effort to emulate the European model: “There’s nothing sinister about that.” Obama and his advisers “share an intellectually respectable view that Europe’s regulatory and social welfare systems are more progressive than America’s and advocate reforms that would make the American system more like the European system.” Comandante Obama - by Peter Robinson

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Comandante Obama - by Peter Robinson

"It starts with a cult of personality," the Cuban explained. "One man declares himself the jefe, the caudillo, the big leader." Had Obama attempted to instigate something like a cult of personality? The American found the charge impossible to refute. During the campaign, Obama had failed to advance a genuine agenda, instead campaigning on "hope" and "change." In effect, he had asked Americans to turn the nation over to him on blind faith. He would, he promised, transcend racial and partisan divides in his very person.

Note EU-Digest: The Republicans are not only bad losers, but also will do everything in their power to topple Obama who in a way is trying to clear up the mess they created, say political insiders.

Spiegel: The Globalization of College: English Becomes Lingua Franca at Dutch Universities - by Marlies Hagers

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English Becomes Lingua Franca at Dutch Universities - by Marlies Hagers

As education becomes an export product, Dutch universities are increasingly switching to English as the language of instruction -- some say that higher education is suffering as a result.The proposal to make English the official language of instruction at Dutch universities was first introduced in 1990 by the country's education minister at the time, Jo Ritzen. If Dutch higher education wanted to continue to pull its weight in the sciences, Ritzen argued, it had to become more international.

Internationalization is the magic word everywhere. Education has become an export product and a university's competitiveness is measured, particularly by the executive boards, by the number of foreign students it hosts. At many faculties, deans are charged with tasks like organizing partnerships and student and faculty exchange programs with universities around the world. "It is part of globalization," says Gerry Wakker, deputy dean of education and internationalization in Groningen. "More and more people are working abroad for a long or short time or they are studying there for a year. We prepare them for that by creating groups of students that are as mixed as possible."

KompoZer - Easy web authoring - Open Source - Free web page editing

To download KompoZer - Easy web authoring click on this link

Easy web authoring - Open Source - Free web page editing

KompoZer is a complete web authoring system that combines web file management and easy-to-use WYSIWYG web page editing. KompoZer is based on Gecko, the layout engine inside Mozilla; it's a super-fast, very reliable, standards conformant engine maintained on a daily basis by a wide community of developers. Its remarkable support of XML, CSS and JavaScript offers the best authoring platform on the market. Its architecture based on XUL makes it the most extensible editing tool ever. KompoZer is designed to be extremely easy to use, making it ideal for non-technical computer users who want to create an attractive, professional-looking web site without needing to know HTML or web coding.

MSNBC: US Congressional Confusing Knee -Jerking Reactions - Is that AIG tax constitutional? - by Ken Strickland

"Some day my dear kids all this will be yours."

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US Congressional Confusing Knee-Jerking reactions - Is that AIG tax constitutional? - by Ken Strickland

While the US House acted at "warp" speed to pass a tax bill designed to recoup most of the bonus money given to AIG executives, expect the Senate Republicans to slow up the process next week -- some by echoing the Founding Fathers and the U.S. Constitution. The US Constitution addressing Congress directly says, "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed." (Article 1, Sec 9.)

In the simplest terms, that article prohibits legislation punishing or penalizing a specific person or group without trial. In the Federalist Papers #44, James Madison wrote in 1788, "Bills of attainder, ex-post-facto laws, and laws impairing the obligation of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation."

Alternative energy:/Windpower: Siemens Introduces New Wind Turbine


Siemens Introduces New Wind Turbine

Siemens Energy has introduced the SWT-2.3-101, which is ideally suited to sites with low to medium wind speeds, according to the company. With a rotor diameter of 101 meters, the new wind turbine is expected to provide more power at lower wind speeds, significantly increasing the return on investment of wind farms. The new SWT-2.3-101 wind turbine is ready for delivery. Low to medium wind market segments are expected to grow substantially in the future. The low-wind market alone is expected to represent one-third of the total global wind power market in the coming years.

"We are confident that the new machine will set the industry standard for quality and reliability in low to medium wind markets," says Andreas Nauen, CEO of Siemens' wind power business unit. "The new wind turbine will open up a range of potential new sites for our customers, as they can now generate higher returns in the increasingly important low-wind market segment."


CSMonitor: Alternative energy: Electric cars charge ahead - by Mark Clayton

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Alternative energy: Electric cars charge ahead - by Mark Clayton

Chevy Volt – Demo 2009, production November 2010
Saturn Vue PHEV – 2010. Note: GM has discontinued the Saturn line and the Vue’s fate in unclear.
EV – 2010
Plug-in Hybrid Prius – Demo 2010, production 2011
PHEV – 2010
EV Jeep – by 2013
EV Minivan – by 2013
EV Roadster – by 2013
Plug-in Hybrid Escape – 2012
EV Magna – 2011
e-Mini – 2009
A1 Sportback PHEV – 2011
PHEV Sonata – 2013
PHEV Golf – 2011

Plus, there are entrepreneurial companies:
Tesla (now and 2011)
Fisker (2009)
BYD (2009)
Bright Automotive (2012)
Miles (2009)
Aptera (2009)
Persu Mobility (2011)
Myers Motors (now)

And finally, PHEV conversions from:
Plug-in Conversions
3-Prong Power

The Media Line: Obama and Netanyahu: Idealism vs. Pragmatism - by Eytan Gilboa

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Obama and Netanyahu: Idealism vs. Pragmatism - by Eytan Gilboa

Clashes are inevitable between the idealist and pragmatic proclivities of the new Obama administration in foreign affairs. In fashioning Middle East policy, especially with regard to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Iran, Obama's idealism will face harsh realities that limit his policy options. Obama and Netanyahu may subscribe to different values and principles, but they are both pragmatic leaders capable of adjusting to realities; and thus can be expected to make efforts to avoid a major confrontation. Gordon Brown's and US plan for recovery rejected by Germany - by Ian Traynor and David Gow

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Gordon Brown's and US plan for recovery rejected by Germany - by Ian Traynor and David Gow

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, yesterday opened up a new rift with Britain and the United States ahead of the G20 summit in London when she delivered a blunt rejection of extra fiscal stimulus packages as advocated by Gordon Brown and the Obama administration.

Germany noted it had won the argument with the "Anglo-Americans" over how to regulate and supervise the financial markets. But differences persisted in Brussels, with No 10 insisting the supervision of financial institutions should remain "a national competence". France and Germany demanded "decisive steps towards a European regulatory framework" by June. "The Americans are claiming they are doing a lot more," said a European commission official. "We're telling the US, you need not give us lectures."


OnLine Journal: CIA involvement with religious groups not a new charge - by Wayne Madsen

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CIA involvement with religious groups not a new charge - by Wayne Madsen

Accusations that the CIA is involved with various religious movements, including the Nurcilar movement of Pennsylvania-based Turkish moderate Islamist leader Fethullah Gulen and the Unification Church of one-time Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) operative Reverend Sun Myung Moon, follow a long history of suspicions that the U.S. intelligence agency is deeply involved with some religious movements. The CIA has also been accused of using foreign missionaries as espionage agents. A 1975 report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities concluded that between the 1950s and 1960s, 21 missionaries were used as agents by the CIA. One of them was Roman Catholic missionary Reverend Tom Dooley who spied for the CIA as a doctor in Vietnam and Laos. He passed on information to the CIA about the political leanings of villagers and troop movements near the Laotian hospital where he worked as a doctor. The CIA recruited a number of their Chinese analysts from the families of U.S. missionaries in China. A religious charity, World Medical Relief of Detroit, was used by the CIA as a conduit to funnel millions of dollars in secret aid to Laotian Hmongs that made up the CIA’s secret army in Laos that fought against the Communist Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. Retired Air Force Brigadier General Harry Aderholt and former CIA station chief in Laos and Thailand Daniel Arnold admitted their role in funneling money to the Hmong through World Medical Relief in a November 1982 interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

More recently, the CIA has been actively recruiting Mormon missionaries due to their foreign language skills and supposedly “clean” backgrounds.