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YahooNews/Reuters: Germany, France target bank "excesses" for G20 meet

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Germany, France target bank "excesses" for G20 meet

The leaders of Germany and France took aim at the banking sector on Monday, pledging to check banks' power and push for limits on bonus payments at a Group of 20 summit next month. Chancellor Angela Merkel said bonus payments to bankers were "rightly driving a lot of people crazy" and that she and French President Nicolas Sarkozy wanted the G20 summit in Pittsburgh on September 24-25 to make progress on financial regulation. "No bank may become so big that it could get into a position where it could blackmail governments," Merkel told a joint news conference with Sarkozy in Berlin.

Germany and France regard financial market excesses as being the root cause of the global economic downturn and want tighter regulations to prevent a repeat of the biggest financial crisis since World War Two.

Note EU-Digest: They are absolutely right.

the Guardian: "Que se vayan todos! - that's the global backlash talking - by Naomi Klein

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"Que se vayan todos! - that's the global backlash talking - by Naomi Klein

Watching the crowds in Iceland banging pots and pans until their government fell reminded me of a chant popular in anti-capitalist circles in 2002: "You are Enron. We are Argentina." Its message was simple enough. You - politicians and CEOs huddled at some trade summit - are like the reckless scamming execs at Enron (of course, we didn't know the half of it). We - the rabble outside - are like the people of Argentina, who, in the midst of an economic crisis eerily similar to our own, took to the street banging pots and pans. They shouted, "¡Que se vayan todos!" ("All of them must go!") - and forced out a procession of four presidents in less than three weeks. What made Argentina's 2001-02 uprising unique was that it wasn't directed at a particular political party or even at corruption in the abstract. The target was the dominant economic model: this was the first national revolt against contemporary deregulated capitalism. It has taken a while, but from Iceland to Latvia, South Korea to Greece, the rest of the world is finally having its ¡Que se vayan todos! moment.

The pattern is clear: governments that respond to a crisis created by free-market ideology with an acceleration of that same discredited agenda will not survive to tell the tale.

The Jakarta Post: Love and coffee: Two things I could not live without - by Janet DeNeefe

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Love and coffee: Two things I could not live without - by Janet DeNeefe

Coffee in Bali has always been synonymous with chatting and no subject is taboo when armed with this precious brew. It opens the debate on all subjects from lovers to loans, from religion to rice fields. It has even been said to have played a part in world revolutions: Che Guevara drank coffee. For more than half a millennium, the fabled story of coffee as a beverage has been far more than just a drink. The dark liquid coaxed from the roasted beans of the Coffea Arabica tree still commands the attention of corporate executives, world leaders and an ever-increasing number of the global population. Legend has it that coffee was first cultivated in Ethiopia 1000 AD and then made its way to Yemen where members of the Sufi sect began consuming it regularly.

As with so many exotic ingredients in Bali, coffee is not native to the island. It was introduced to Indonesia by the Dutch, who transplanted - or smuggled - the trees from Yemen and cultivated them in the highlands of Java in the 1700s. After all, colonialism was always about trade and monopolizing world commodities. Sound familiar? By 1732, Indonesia was producing around 2.3 million pounds of coffee annually. It eventually became the drink of the masses. At a later stage, coffee trees were planted in Singaraja and Kintamani. Warung kopi were the original coffee houses for locals. In the early days, there was a certain quaint rustic charm about them, a touch of Balinese bohemia that became even more poetic at night under the light of a kerosene lamp. You could plan a revolution there, plot any kind of mayhem or discuss all things political. It was like a primitive Internet cafe or CNN with daily news updates, fired with a certain kind of liberalism that safely existed beyond the palace walls.

New Deal: US Politics - Obama's Squandered Honeymoon: How botched bailouts hamper healthcare reform - by Robert Johnson

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US Politics - Obama's Squandered Honeymoon: How botched bailouts hamper healthcare reform - by Robert Johnson

Has the Obama administration’s fumbling on finance led to a loss of faith that’s roadblocking healthcare reform? Roosevelt Institute Braintruster Robert Johnson explains what happens when a choice of government or free markets looks like no-win scenario, and calls on Obama to regain our trust. We live in an era where the effectiveness of government has been denigrated for more than 30 years. The echo chamber of the right, particularly since the election of Ronald Reagan, has sought to intimidate anyone who let the romantic notion into their head that government can help. They even denigrate the New Deal, like it was a bad dream rather than a series of programs that helped many people, and may have saved capitalism from itself. With the romance of government trampled, the void in social theory was filled by the romance of markets. The free market fundamentalists vehemently promoted the notion that markets were not just a means to achieve social goals. To their way of thinking, social goals themselves would have to be designed to curry favor with the “wisdom” of the market.

The Obama Administration’s credibility and ability to inspire has been damaged by their actions in the bailout arena. We are back to the place where we can envision good policies but no one trusts that our government can deliver and execute them. The public option suffers as a result. The Administration acts surprised –they rightly sense they have lost control of the process and are now back to beating up the left for making the public option their Waterloo. Connect the dots, ladies and gentleman of the Administration, You blew finance, so you lost control of health-care.

The Faster Times: The Jerusalem Puzzle: Jewish Enclaves in Arab Neighborhoods - by Dina Kraft

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The Jerusalem Puzzle: Jewish Enclaves in Arab Neighborhoods - by Dina Kraft

While most eyes are cast on the West Bank for a showdown over Jewish settlements there, there is another important battle going on - one that could also shape the future of the conflict’s resolution. It centers on the creation of Jewish enclaves in predominately Arab East Jerusalem. It has begun to heat up in the area in and around the Old City called the “holy” or “historic basin,” a patch of land chocker-blocked with sites holy to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The Israeli government says Jewish Israeli citizens are allowed to live in any part of the capital. Critics say it’s a cynical attempt to make East Jerusalem as “Jewish” as possible and foil any future attempts to divide the city as part of a future peace deal.

This week a plan for building a housing project with 104 apartments for Jewish Israelis was filed for approval with the city south of the Mount of Olives. Inside the complex are plaques thanking generous American donors like Irving Moskowitz, the Miami bingo parlor king who is one of the major backers of the drive to settle East Jerusalem with nationalist Jewish enclaves. About $25.4 million has been donated by Americans for the project of buying property for Jewish groups in East Jerusalem.

NZ Herald: US Economy: GDP shrinks 1pc, list of problem banks grows

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US Economy: GDP shrinks 1pc, list of problem banks grows

Separate figures showed 570,000 Americans filed claims for unemployment benefits last week, down from 580,000 a week earlier, according to the Labor Department. Helping stoke spending is the government's `cash-for-clunkers' program, which gives car buyers a discount of as much as US$4,500 to trade in older vehicles for more efficient models. Stocks on Wall Street edged up after the data and on a late rebound in crude oil. US Treasuries weakened and the greenback fell.The European currency's gains versus the dollar accelerated after breaking through a key level of $1.4280, according to BNP Paribas currency strategist Andrew Chaveriat, Bloomberg reported.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. added 111 lenders to its list of 'problem banks.' A total of 416 banks with assets of about US$300 billion have failed the FDIC's grading system. That's the most since June 1994 and will add to pressure on the FDIC's shrinking reserve fund after it increased loss provisions by US$11.6 billion. The US has taken over 81 banks this year.

8/30/09 : BAE Systems targets 300 Typhoon exports - Telegraph

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BAE Systems targets 300 Typhoon exports

The biggest potential export markets for BAE and its consortium partners, EADS and Finmeccanica, are India, Japan and Saudi Arabia, which is already buying 72 Typhoons. An order from Switzerland could come as soon as next year and the consortium is also pursuing sales in Greece and Romania. It also has long-term ambitions in Brazil, Malaysia and Finland. Typhoon's biggest competitor is the US, which sells the F15 and F18 to the export market; France's Rafale fighter which it built after leaving the Eurofighter consortium; and Sweden's Gripen plane. Its other competitor is another BAE product, the F35 joint strike fighter, which the company is building in a partnership led by Lockheed Martin of the US. Aircraft Industry - Boeing's 787 Dreamliner has a composite problem - by G Blass

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Aircraft Industry - Boeing's 787 Dreamliner has a composite problem - by G. Blass

What's more, he says, composites allow engineers to make custom shapes, but these custom shapes compound the already difficult modeling problem. "You have many more design options, which can be both a strength and a weakness. There are many more things I can do with composite materials--add strength in specific places, take it away--but then you have combinations of both the geometry and the particular layup of the composite materials" that are unique.

Boeing's mechanical stress tests start with representative pieces (known as coupons), then move on to progressively larger parts of the structure, and finally to the full structure. Boeing puts the structural parts into huge hydraulic machines that bend and twist them to mimic stresses that go far beyond worst-expected conditions in real flights. It was during such tests that problems emerged with structural spars in the wing box. Europe's Best Paid Cities - by Parmy Olsen

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Europe's Best Paid Cities - by Parmy Olsen

Like the feeling of a hefty wage packet? Move to Switzerland. That's where you'll find the two cities with the highest-paid workers in Europe, according to a new survey of wages that was released on Wednesday. Residents of Zurich, in the German-speaking part of the country, earn an average $22.60 an hour after taxes, while Geneva's French-speaking citizens earn an average $20.40 an hour. Salaries are not so first-rate in Kiev, Ukraine. It ranks last. Workers there earn a measly $2.40 an hour on average, or just over a tenth of what the Swiss earn.

The biggest faller in the pay rankings is London. Three years ago the British capital was in the No. 2 spot, but now it has slid 19 places, to 21. The reason? The falling pound has made London employees for multinational companies around 25% cheaper in first half of 2009 than they were three years ago.

TimesOnline: What's the healthiest way to drink alcohol?

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What's the healthiest way to drink alcohol?

The exact reason why a small daily tipple of beer protects bones is not known, but it may be down to the silicon that it contains, a trace mineral that is particularly easy for our bodies to absorb in the form in which it comes in liquids. Bone is a living tissue made of a protein-based scaffold on to which hard minerals such as calcium and silicon are deposited, like bricks being cemented on to a framework of steel. Having a regular daily supply of easily absorbed silicon could be crucial in maintaining the strength of this “brickwork”. Silicon is also in good supply in Fiji mineral water, and to a lesser extent San Pellegrino, and is also found in foods such as green beans, oats, muesli and melon.

Ottawa Citizen: EU eyes Europe-wide scheme for refugee resettlement - by Paul Harrington

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EU eyes Europe-wide scheme for refugee resettlement - by Paul Harrington

The EU this week unveils plans to boost and coordinate Europe's response to the waves of immigrants from Africa and the Middle East, seeking to polish its own international image at the same time. On Wednesday, the European Commission will get the ball rolling with a recommendation for a "joint EU resettlement program" under which nations would take in more refugees from poor and war-hit third countries. This scheme, though voluntary, is aimed at cutting the numbers seeking to reach Europe's shores aboard rickety boats or via unscrupulous people traffickers.


DW: An aggressive mosquito is spreading in Switzerland and Germany capable of spreading West Nile Virus

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An aggressive mosquito is spreading in Switzerland and Germany capable of spreading West Nile Virus - by Andreas Illmer

Swiss scientists say a mosquito capable of spreading the deadly West Nile virus has been detected in central Europe for the first time. Researchers at Zurich University say the Asian rock pool mosquito, aedes japonicus, has colonized an area of more than 1,400 square kilometers in central and northern Switzerland and parts of southern Germany. A parasite carried by the mosquito is responsible for West Nile virus, which can infect humans and farm animals with encephalitis, an acute inflammation of the brain that can be fatal.

Al-Ahram Weekly:Anatomy of Sufism

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Anatomy of Sufism

With its folk appeal, Sufism has had a vivid history in Islam from the time the movement was little more than sentimental leanings and yearnings filling the hearts of the pious to when it spawned institutions that prospered on a blend of faith and folk tales with an occasional flirtation with politics. For centuries, Sufism has defied predictions of its demise. It survived the harsh criticism of Islamist hardliners and withstood the waves of modernism that have swept over the Islamic world.

The buffalo bullet: You can take the boy out of the country but not the country out of the boy - Berlusconi in Italy and Tom Golisano in New York

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"You can take the boy out of the country but not the country out of the boy" - Berlusconi in Italy and Tom Golisano in New York - by Chris Stevensen

"So much for post-racial America. Are we there yet? Who could fathom that back in September 9 the New York Democrats would win the majority seats in the Senate 32-30, clearing the way for the first Democratic majority leader in 40 years and the first African American ever to take such a position. This saw the emergence of Smith. There was just one small problem, Smith had some ideas of his own-as all individuals do I hear-he wanted to make the Senate more open, more transparent and bipartisan according to a web bio. Powerful whites are getting enough of that today from Obama. Under Smith the new majority fired 4 men who were hired locally, as the saying goes, you can fire people but you can't fire money. Attempts to get the un-fantastic four rehired were unsuccessful, thus began the coup. At some point Tom Golisano (money) of Florida-and sometimes even New York I hear-became a Chile-Dog Democrat and began plotting with Puerto Rican American Senators Pedro Espada Jr. from the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens to break rank and join the republicans and get Dean Skelos appointed as Majority Leader. Obviously usurping Smith."

Note EU-Digest: "When you read Chris Stevensen's detailed and most interesting report one can see how much of what is happening politically in America is now also being copied in Europe. More and more Politicians are owned either by corporate or criminal money. Just take EU's member state of Italy, where you have PM Silvio Berlusconi. This is a 73 year old man leading Italy, who by his behavior has landed himself in hot water with almost all of Italy's EU partners and many world leaders. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, will not soon forget that at a recent Nato event, Mr Berlusconi kept her waiting by talking on his mobile phone with his back turned to her, or that he once taunted a German MEP by saying he was "perfect" material for a concentration camp guard.

A recent trial proved that Berlusconi had corrupted an English lawyer, Mills, to get a false testimony from him; a law masterfully crafted by Berlusconi's lacqueys only a year ago is now preventing his impeachment. Recently Berlusconi's wife Veronica Lario publically announced she is asking for a divorce, and claims Berlusconi is a "sick and sexually obsessed man" and should seek help. So far Berlusconi is getting away with all this because the Italians continue to support him. Unfortunately there is no equivalent of a Bill Maher in Europe, who is able to expose all the political "hankey pankey" going on in the EU empire, or to make a statement that Berlusconi is corrupt and should be thrown out by the Italian voters." Bill Moyers on the health care debate, Democrats, and Afghanistan - by Glenn Greenwald

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Bill Moyers on the health care debate, Democrats, and Afghanistan - by Glenn Greenwald

On what's really happening in the health care fight:
MOYERS: I don’t think the problem is the Republicans . . . .The problem is the Democratic Party. This is a party that has told its progressives -- who are the most outspoken champions of health care reform -- to sit down and shut up. That’s what Rahm Emanuel, the Chief of Staff at the White House, in effect told progressives who stood up as a unit in Congress and said: "no public insurance option, no health care reform. And I think the reason for that is -- in the time since I was there, 40 years ago, the Democratic Part has become like the Republican Party, deeply influenced by corporate money. I think Rahm Emanuel, who is a clever politician, understands that the money for Obama’s re-election will come from the health care industry, from the drug industry, from Wall Street. And so he’s a corporate Democrat who is determined that there won’t be something in this legislation that will turn off these interests. . . .

Money in politics -- you’ve had in the last 30 years, money has flooded politics . .. the Supreme Court saying "money is free speech." It goes back to the efforts in the 19th Century to give corporations the right of personhood -- so if you as a citizen have the right to donate to campaigns, then so do corporations. Money has flowed in such a flood into both parties that the Democratic Party gets a lot of its support from the very interests that -- when the Republicans are in power -- financially support the Republicans.

You really have essentially -- except for the progressives on the left of the Democratic Party – you really have two corporate parties who in their own way and their own time are serving the interests of basically a narrow set of economic interests in the US.

Note EU-DigestIn a way this is also happening in Europe and to a lesser extend in China. Politicians are no longer serving their constituents but mainly those wo fill their coffers.

Mediaite: USA - Conservative Bashing of Kennedy Before the Body Is Cold? - Will O’Reilly show some class? - by Joe Coscarelli

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USA - Conservative Bashing of Kennedy Before the Body Is Cold? - Will O’Reilly show some class? - by Joe Coscarelli

In a time of opinion journalism and partisan politics, it doesn’t take much to rile up internet commenters into a poison-spewing frenzy. Still, the online discourse can be telling, especially as you approach the political fringe. ”Hells awaiting,” read one particularly acerbic note on the popular conservative website this morning after reports surfaced late Tuesday that Senator Ted Kennedy succumbed to brain cancer. “If there’s any justice, he’ll finally get what’s coming to him.”

NOTE EU-Digest: The death of any person (in this case Ted Kennedy) is something that should be treated with respect. Even if it is the death of your enemy. Unfortunately some people today still exhibit the barbaric customs from the middle ages, when it was customary by some tribes to chop off the head of a slain hero and display it as a trophy in the market place.


Super-Europe no more

The Globe and Mail

"Doug Saunders
Super-Europe no more

How 2009 is cracking the EU's spine

There are few better ways to see the contrast between the Europe of 20 years ago and the Europe of today than by voyaging westward from Istanbul, on the northern Mediterranean coast, along the flanks of the continent's soft underbelly.

That is exactly what I am doing this week with a group of Globe and Mail readers and writers on the paper's Mediterranean cruise. It is a voyage from a chaotic old world of tariffs, visas, international borders, clashing currencies, anti-migration walls and inward-looking national politics, and into the stable, peaceful, borderless, homogenized sphere of a unified Europe.

Or so it appears at first."

The Daily Star - - NATO: Greece-Turkey row endangering troops

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NATO: Greece-Turkey row endangering troops

NATO’s chief pressed Greece Thursday not to hinder cooperation between NATO and the European Union in Afghanistan because of its differences with Turkey, saying the security of international troops was at stake. NATO and the EU, both present in Afghanistan, have so far failed to conclude a security agreement for better cooperation in the field. “The lack of this agreement might put our personnel on the ground at risk,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. “We have discussed that in detail, because it’s a real concern to me. We can’t allow a lack of security because of these political issues.”

Wine - Vive la France - reclaiming top wine output crown - by by Svetlana Kovalyova


Wine - Vive la France - reclaiming top wine output crown - by Svetlana Kovalyova

Reuters - France has regained its status as the world's biggest wine producer, after having been overtaken by Italy last year, Italy's largest farmers' association Coldiretti said Friday. France, with its expected 4.8 billion liter wine output in 2009, is set to surpass Italy, which is forecast to make 4.7 billion liters this year, Coldiretti said citing the French agency FranceAgriMer and Italian research published in July. Italian wine output has slowed this year after farmers dug up vines, wooed by incentives under the European Union wine sector reform, farmers' research center ISMEA and wine industry body Unione Italiana Vini (UOV) have said. Poland's economy stays afloat amid crisis - by Monika Scislowska

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Poland's economy stays afloat amid crisis - - by Monika Scislowska

Poland is showing economic resilience as its neighbors struggle with deep recessions. Robust consumer demand from a large domestic market of 38 million people is expected help growth reach around 0.5 percent year-on-year when second quarter figures come out Friday. That's not great by pre-recession standards. But it would put Poland, which didn't binge on debt during the credit boom, well ahead of other countries that joined the European Union along with it in 2004.

Breaking News 24/7: Diplomats from 5 European Union embassies visit wife of jailed Cuban political activist

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Diplomats from 5 European Union embassies visit wife of jailed Cuban political activist

Representatives from five European Union embassies in Cuba visited the wife of jailed political opposition activist Darsi Ferrer on Thursday, but insisted their visit was not political.Diplomats from Sweden, Great Britain, Hungary, Poland and Germany saw Ferrer’s wife, Yusnaimy Jorge Soca, at her Havana home and brought donated items including food and clothing. The group said it organized the visit on its own and had not been invited by the couple. “This is a gesture of solidarity; it’s not a political act,” said Ingemar Cederberg, deputy chief of the Swedish Embassy. He said keeping an eye on the country’s human rights situation is “part of our job here.”


Belfast Telegraph: 'Dirty timebomb' ticking in Russian nuclear dump threatens Europe - Rachel Shields

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'Dirty timebomb' ticking in Russian nuclear dump threatens Europe - Rachel Shields

20,000 discarded uranium fuel rods stored in the Arctic Circle are corroding. The possible result? Detonation of a massive radioactive bomb experts say could rival the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. A decaying Russian nuclear dump inside the Arctic Circle is threatening to catch fire or explode, turning it into a "dirty bomb" that could impact the whole of northern Europe, including the British Isles. Experts predict that a major explosion at Andreeva Bay could destroy all life in a 32-mile radius, including Murmansk and a sliver of Norway, whose border is only 28 miles away. But a much wider area of Norway, north-west Russia and Finland would be rendered uninhabitable for at least 20 years, and huge quantities of radioactive material would be dumped into the Barents Sea. "In the best case a small, limited explosion in just one of the stored rods could lead to radioactive contamination in a 5km radius," Aleksandr Nikitin, a Russian former submarine officer and nuclear safety inspector turned environmental activist, told the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. "In the worst case, such a single explosion could cause the entire tank facility to explode. We have no calculations for what that could lead to."

Mr Nikitin, whose work for Bellona led to continuing treason charges in Russia, added: "We are sitting on a powder keg with a burning fuse, and we can only guess about the length of the fuse." Nils Bohmer, nuclear physicist and head of Bellona's Russian division, told the newspaper: "It will at least, at a careful estimate, hit northern Europe. There are enormous amounts of radioactivity stored in these tanks." German court ruling calls into question the entire European project post Lisbon- by Struan Stevenson

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German court ruling calls into question the entire European project post Lisbon- by Struan Stevenson

A landmark legal ruling in Germany has sent the EU integration project into complete disarray. The German Constitutional Court examined the Lisbon Treaty – the successor to the infamous EU Constitution – and ruled the sovereignty of a member state (in this case Germany), must always take precedence over diktats from Brussels. The Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe effectively declared itself the highest supervisory body in conflicts between Germany and the EU, thus explicitly placing itself above the authority of the European Court of Justice. As Der Spiegel reported: "Thi s borders on a declaration of war on the European Court, which sees itself as the only authority capable of ruling on the validity and applicability of EU law." The German judges went further by ruling the German Parliament had been wrong in passing an "accompanying law" to the Lisbon Treaty, which determined the rights of the German parliament to participate in European legislation.

LANews: Obama's job approval rating falls to 50% in poll

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Obama's job approval rating falls to 50% in poll

President Obama, who won the White House with an electoral college landslide and enjoyed soaring public approval for the job he was doing in the weeks following his inauguration, has fallen to a 50% job approval rating in the newest daily tracking of the Gallup Poll released just now. The new low for Obama in the Gallup Poll, which measured the president's public job approval at a peak of 69% after his inauguration in January, tracks other national polls, which recently have gauged his approval ratings at 51%. It also coincides with apparent growing public concern about a protracted debate over health-care in Washington, Gallup and other pollsters have found.

EUobserver: US to abandon Polish-Czech missile shield, lobbyist says - by Andrew Rettman

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US to abandon Polish-Czech missile shield, lobbyist says - by Andrew Rettman

The United States has all-but abandoned plans to house anti-missile bases in Poland and the Czech republic, according to a senior White House lobbyist. Riki Ellison, the chairman of the 10,000 member-strong Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said in Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza on Thursday (26 August) that the US has changed its mind to avoid a rift with Russia and is now looking at Israel, Turkey, the Balkans or ship-borne facilities instead."The signals given by generals from the Pentagon are clear: the current US government is looking for different solutions on the question of missile defense than Poland and the Czech republic," he said.

"The new [US] team is paying more attention to Russian arguments," the lobbyist added.
"Obama's people believe that many problems in the world can be more easily solved together with Moscow ...It's a question of priorities. For many Democrats, the priority is disarmament and they are capable of sacrificing a lot in order to achieve a new agreement with Russia on the reduction of strategic [nuclear] weapons." No firm recovery for European economy says EU President Jose Manuel Barroso

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No firm recovery for European economy says EU President Jose Manuel Barroso

Europe's economy has not made a "firm recovery" from the crisis and the situation remains "very volatile" despite some encouraging signs, EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said on Tuesday. "The impact of the financial and economic crisis is still tangible in Europe and we have much still to do," he said at a joint press conference with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite. Lithuania is suffering the worst recession in the European Union. "Several European countries are seeing encouraging signs of recovery but firm recovery is not here yet," Barroso cautioned.

While Germany and France have pulled out of recession and have nearly managed to bring the rest of the eurozone with them, analysts say much of the recovery is due to massive government stimulus measures for businesses. Unemployment is also rising as companies struggle to stay viable.

Real US unemployment rate at 16 pct: says US Fed official


Real US unemployment rate at 16 pct: says US Fed official

AFP:The real US unemployment rate is 16 percent if persons who have dropped out of the labor pool and those working less than they would like are counted, a Federal Reserve official said Wednesday. "If one considers the people who would like a job but have stopped looking -- so-called discouraged workers -- and those who are working fewer hours than they want, the unemployment rate would move from the official 9.4 percent to 16 percent, said Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart. He underscored that he was expressing his own views, which did "do not necessarily reflect those of my colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee," the policy-setting body of the central bank. Lockhart, who heads the Atlanta, Georgia, division of the Fed, is the first central bank official to acknowledge the depth of unemployment amid the worst US recession since the Great Depression. - Russia deploys air defence over North Korea missile tests

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Russia is worried about North Korean missile and nuclear tests and has deployed sophisticated air defences in its Far East region to protect against any potential test mishap, Russia's top general said on Wednesday. "We have an S-400 division there," said General Nikolai Makarov, chief of staff of the Russian armed forces, confirming that Russia had deployed its most advanced anti-missile defence system near the border with North Korea. "We are indeed worried about the way testing, including tests of nuclear devices, is being conducted in North Korea," said Makarov, who was accompanying President Dmitry Medvedev on a visit to Mongolia.

TVNZ/Reuters: Mystery ship being checked by Russia for secret cargo

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Mystery ship being checked by Russia for secret cargo

Russia's top general said on Thursday the military would search the Arctic Sea for any possible secret cargo when it returned to Russia from a maritime odyssey that made headlines round the world. Russia says the Maltese-registered Arctic Sea, officially carrying timber from Finland to Algeria, was hijacked by eight men off the coast of Sweden on July 24. Russian warships found the ship in the Atlantic off the Cape Verde islands on Aug. 17. Russia has released little information about the ship and the eight men - citizens of Estonia, Latvia and Russia - suspected of hijacking it are in Moscow's high security Lefortovo prison. Piracy is extremely rare in well-policed northern European waters and maritime experts have asked why anyone would risk seizing an elderly ship carrying $US2 million worth of timber and then sail for Africa. "We do not rule out the possibility that they might have been carrying not only timber," Alexander Bastrykin, head of the the prosecutor-general's main investigations unit, said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta published on Wednesday.

YahooNews/Reuters: Russia eyes landmark purchase of French assault ship - by Denis Dyomkin

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Russia plans to buy an advanced warship from France this year, a top general said on Wednesday, in what would be the country's first major foreign military purchase and a blow to domestic arms producers. Gen. Nikolai Makarov, the chief of Russia's general staff, said that before the end of the year the navy planned to agree the purchase of a 21,300 ton Mistral-class helicopter carrier. The deal would be Russia's biggest one-off post-Soviet purchase of weapons abroad, representing a major departure for the Kremlin, which has traditionally been protective of domestic arms producers.

The Kremlin has made re-equipping the 1.1 million-strong armed forces a top priority after last year's war in Georgia revealed serious problems with hardware and electronic equipment. The appearance of NATO warships in the Black Sea during the war also highlighted the problem of upgrading Moscow's Soviet-era navy. But a series of accidents, including the sinking of the Nerpa submarine last year with the loss of 20 crew and five failed tests of the new Bulava intercontinental missile have exposed serious problems with Russian military technology.


Dagsavisen: CO2 in the atmosphere could be as much as 25% higher than previously supposed say Norwegian researchers

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CO2 in the atmosphere could be as much as 25% higher than previously supposed say Norwegian Researchers

According to researchers at the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, the environment is unable to take up as much CO2 as before, which will lead to much quicker climate change. The climate change simulation model used by the Bjerknes Centre will form the basis for the next report by the International Panel on Climate Change, which will be published in 2013.

Malnutrition: Europe`s Hidden Weight Problem - Medical Nutrition International Industry | Reuters


Malnutrition: Europe`s Hidden Weight Problem - Medical Nutrition International Industry

In Europe today, malnutrition is not always recognized and often neglected which makes the problem of malnutrition as serious as the health threat of obesity according to the new short film entitled `Malnutrition - Another Weight Problem`. Launched by the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolis (ESPEN), the European Nutrition for Health Alliance (ENHA) and the Medical Nutrition International Industry group (MNI), this film calls for a concerted action from governments,health institutions and professionals to address this issue. In Europe, malnutrition often affects the elderly living either at home or in nursing institutions, yet it is rarely recognized. It is estimated that up to 50 million Europeans (or people) are malnourished. Studies show that one third patients in hospital and nursing homes are malnourished as are 10 percent of individuals over the age of 65 in the European Union (EU).

In the film, ESPEN`s President and Co- Chair of the Alliance, Prof Olle Ljungqvist, calls for urgent and effective action: "Malnutrition is a major problem in the community, care homes and hospitals and has severe health implications. Individuals have a right to expect adequate nutritional as well as clinical care from healthcare professionals, yet this is not always addressed."

GN: Sweden tells Israel it can’t address ‘organ theft’ article and gives them lesson in democracy

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Sweden tells Israel it can’t address ‘organ theft’ article and gives them a lesson in Democracy

On Monday, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Europe for what is expected to be a tough round of bilateral talks with European leaders, Mr. Reinfeldt called for a ”toning down” of the debate surrounding an article by Aftonbladet, Sweden’s largest circulation tabloid newspaper.

Last week, the newspaper created an uproar among many in Israel, most notably the country’s foreign minister Avigor Lieberman, when it published an article suggesting the Israeli military had been involved in stealing the organs of Palestinians men in the early 1990s. Mr. Lieberman and others accused Sweden of antisemitism and compared the article to the medieval “blood libel” that accused Jews of bathing in the blood of Christian children. They demanded the Swedish government denounce the story, which hinged entirely on unnamed sources. But Reinfeldt, who currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said that the Swedish constitution prohibits his government from interfering in the country’s media or passing judgment on media reports. “I don’t think that democratic nations should demand one another to break their constitutional laws,” he told Swedish public television.

”When I follow the debate in Israel I feel a need to explain what type of society Sweden is, and that we do not have a uniform view of Jews or Muslims or of individual countries. We have a free and open debate - people think differently and that is permitted. Jews, Christians, atheists and Muslims live side by side in this country in mutual respect. That is something we value.”

MSNBC: U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy dies at 77 -

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Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate who lost two of his brothers to assassins' bullets, has died after battling a brain tumor. He was 77. For nearly a half-century in the Senate, Kennedy was a steadfast champion of the working class and the poor, a powerful voice on health care, civil rights, and war and peace. To the American public, though, he was best known as the last surviving son of America's most glamorous political family, the eulogist of a clan shattered again and again by tragedy. His family announced his death in a brief statement released early Wednesday.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said early Wednesday that both the Kennedy family and the Senate have "lost our patriarch." Reid promised that Congress, while mourning Kennedy's loss, would renew the push for the cause of Kennedy's life, health care reform. "Ted Kennedy's dream was the one for which the founding fathers fought and for which his brothers sought to realize," Reid said in a statement. "The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die."

8/25/09 Obama's wobbly August raises doubts -"Est-il faible?" Is he weak ?

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Obama's wobbly August raises doubts - "Est-il faible? Is he weak"?

Shortly after the G20 summit concluded in London in April, Nicolas Sarkozy blurted out to a small group of advisers a question that weighed on him as he watched U.S. President Barack Obama glad-hand his way through the gathering: "Est-il faible?" (Is he weak?)

Initial doubts about Obama's toughness went on the shelf at the Elysée Palace and elsewhere. But the Sarkozy question has abruptly been dusted off as Obama starts hitting resistance to some of his most ambitious goals, including health-care reform, Middle East peacemaking and engagement with Iran. Is Obama making tactical retreats to gain better position on these hard cases – or is he, well, weak? Air France sued over Airbus 330 crash investigation

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Air France sued over Airbus 330 crash investigation

A lawyer says the family of a French flight attendant who perished in an Air France plane crash on June 1 over the Atlantic Ocean is suing the airline to force it to release information on what caused the tragedy. The Airbus jet went down while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. All 228 people aboard were killed. The lawyer for Clara Amado's family says they have filed a civil suit against the airline. Jean-Claude Guidicelli says the family wants the company to disclose information on whether the plane's speed sensors were to blame for the crash.Air France declined to comment.

Energy Tribune - China’s Oil Power Play - by Michael J. Economides

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China’s Oil Power Play - by Michael J. Economide

If one is looking for a sign of the changing world order, the size and scope of recent Chinese moves in the energy field should serve the purpose. It was only a few years ago that the US and its oil companies, in their quest to secure vital oil and gas, were accused of all sorts of transgressions from imperialistic exploitation to coddling corrupt regimes to finding pretexts to invade Iraq, twice. In retrospect it is not quite clear how much of “always blame the Americans even if you are wrong you are right” was justified, but one thing is certain. The insinuations implied that the US government and its foreign policy understood the importance of energy supply to its economy. This is no longer the case, with the American national debate (and that of several other developed countries) consumed by climate change, carbon emissions, and the preposterousness of solar and wind energies as substitutes for real energy sources. While any realistic and even charitable estimate puts solar and wind as contributing less than 1 percent of world energy demand for the next 20 years, more than 85 percent will still derive from oil, gas and coal; this while world energy demand will increase by more than 40 percent. The lion’s share of the latter will go to China. - Germany seeks leadership in electric cars

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Germany seeks leadership in electric cars

Germany lawmakers on Wednesday (19 August) approved a plan to put a million electric cars on German roads by 2020, in a bid to become the worlds top market for electric vehicles.As part of the plan, the government will spend €500 million to develop battery technology and build a network of charging stations across Germany. The government's goal is thereby to place Germany at the cutting edge of innovation amid tough international competition. According to EurActiv Germany, automotive analysts acknowledge that Germany is behind the pace in the "green-car" race, with countries as diverse as China, Japan and the US investing heavily in electric and other alternative techologies. This week, the Japanese manufacturer Nissan unveiled its all-electric Leaf, scheduled for mass-production in 2012, and other big car-makers including Daimler, Mitsubishi and General Motors have models ready for production. In Europe, many countries have already introduced schemes, often more ambitious than the German one, to create markets for electric vehicles.

EUobserver: EU to table new immigration rules in September - by Lucia Kubosova

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EU to table new immigration rules in September - by Lucia Kubosova

Brussels is finalizing fresh proposals on European Union immigration policy, including a potentially controversial system of re-distributing refugees and asylum seekers among the 27 member states to lighten the workload of the bloc's border countries. Both the re-location policy, which could see the transfer of people who land on the shores of Mediterranean countries to other EU states, and asylum policy reform, which could set quotas on the number of refugees for member states, are to be presented in September, Swedish immigration minister Tobias Billstroem has said, according to Agence France Presse.The application of the proposed policies would be voluntary, the Swedish minister added. Sweden, currently chairing the EU, is planning to organise a first discussion on immigration reform among foreign ministers by the end of October.


Bloomberg: Opel Workers to Fight to End GM Control, Schild Says

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Opel workers plan to pressure General Motors Co. into accepting an offer to sell a majority stake to a group led by Canada’s Magna International Inc., a labor representative on the unit’s supervisory board said. “The parent needs to understand that there’s no going back,” Armin Schild, an official with the IG Metall union, said today in an e-mail. “Neither the continuation of the waiting game aimed at the unit’s insolvency nor a return to ‘un-independence’ will be accepted without opposition.” GM’s advisers are recommending that the board consider spurning a German-government backed sale of Opel in order to retain a bigger presence in Europe and Russia, a person familiar with the discussions said. The advisers suggest GM seek aid from other European countries to retain ownership of the division as an alternative to surrendering control, the person said. GM’s new board, dominated by members appointed after the Obama administration forced the company into bankruptcy, is questioning the decision made by previous directors to give up control of Opel.

ABS/CBN: Venezuela, USA have most Ms Universe winners

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Venezuela, USA have most Ms Universe winners

Miss Universe 2009 Stefania Fernandez, 18, brought home the crown for Venezuela, becoming the 6th Venezuelan titleholder in the entire pageant's history. The svelte Venezuelan model defeated favorites from Australia and Dominican Republic in the high-rated show broadcast live from Paradise Island in the Bahamas. The 1st runner-up was Miss Dominican Republic, Ada Aimee de la Cruz, while Miss Kosovo, Gona Dragusha, was 2nd runner-up. If Venezuela follows its winning streak next year, it might just be at par with the United States, which has had 7 contestants crowned as Miss Universe - by far the most number of wins by a country in the world.

Alternative Energy - Windpower: Chinese XEMC takeover Netherlands Darwind Wind Power Generating Business


Alternative Energy - Windpower: Chinese XEMC takeover Netherlands Darwind Wind Power Generating Business

Darwind which was on the verge of closing the business will now continue its operations through an asset transaction with XEMC Windpower Co., Ltd, from Xiangtan, Hunan Province in China. Previously, Darwind, an innovative Dutch developer of direct drive offshore wind turbines, was part of the former Econcern group. Following the Chinese takeover of the business CEO of Darwind, Mr. Vincent van den Brekel said: “We have been looking for a strong partner for a while, and as a company we are very happy to be able to continue our operations after the acquisition of Darwind by XEMC”.

With this acquisition, XEMC enters the European market, and acquires innovative and advanced 5 MW direct drive turbine technology, in addition to their successful 2 MW product line, which is based on the same technology. The newly incorporated company XEMC Darwind B.V. will develop two 5MW direct drive wind turbine prototypes and install these in 2010, upon which they will be certified. XEMC Windpower Vice-President Mr. Long Xin noted: “XEMC aims to continue the Darwind operations in the Netherlands in addition to our Chinese operations. We are confident about the innovative turbine concept and are looking forward to a bright future for XEMC Darwind”.

The Chinese XEMC Group is one of the largest manufacturing complexes in China, which enjoys a history of more than 70 years and possesses more than 1000 patents and intellectual property rights. XEMC employs more than 10,000 people and operates in businesses in manufacturing of electric machines, heavy trucks, ship propulsion systems, electric locomotives for mining industry, light rail vehicles for urban transportation, water pump, equipment for national defense and wind turbines.

As one of the fastest growing business sectors in XEMC Group, the wind group is one of the two leading suppliers of direct drive turbines on Chinese market. XEMC has produced and installed more than 150 units of 2MW turbines, and just in June, delivered 31 units. XEMC 2MW series turbines are, in China, the largest turbines in mass production.


China View: Berlin- China's Bai becomes youngest ever women's world marathon champion

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Berlin- China's Bai becomes youngest ever women's world marathon champion

China's Bai Xue had expected to win a medal but ended up with a historic gold and a record. After 40 kilometers when there were only three left in the leading pack and a medal had already been secured, she decided to fight her heart out for a gold. She then threw her hat away with one kilometers to go, overtaking her only rival Yoshimi Ozaki of Japan and winning the first gold medal for China at the 12th World Athletics Championships.

Temperatures at the start of the race were 19 degrees centigrade and rose to 23 by the finish. A total of 71 athletes started the race with 60 of them finishing. After 32 kilometers, only four remained in contention including Bai, Ozaki, Mergia and Russian Nailya Yulamanova, who was leading and pushing the pace. With three finishers in the top five, China dominated the World Cup race with a combined time of 7:17:02. Japan was second (7:22:15) with Russia (7:24:42) taking the bronze.

DW:Eurofighter contract signed in Germany

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Eurofighter contract signed in Germany

Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain, have decided to split the order for the third tranche of production of the Eurofighter into two parts for budgetary reasons. The contract, worth about eight billion euros ($11.2 billion), for 112 of the 236 planes in the third tranche, was signed at the Eurofighter consortium headquarters near Munich by Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain. The Eurofighter Typhoon, a multi-purpose combat aircraft, has been developed by a consortium of European aerospace companies - BAE Systems of Britain, the Italian company Alenia/Finmeccanica and EADS, which represents the industrial interests of both Spain and Germany.

Sky News: Spain's face transplant patient 'happy'

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Spain's face transplant patient 'happy'

Spain's first face transplant patient - the first anywhere to get a new tongue and jaw - is so pleased with his new appearance that he's smiling, hospital officials say.The 43-year-old patient, who underwent the surgery on Tuesday at La Fe hospital in the eastern city of Valencia, may go home in about a week, transplant specialist surgeon Pedro Cavadas said on Saturday. The man lost part of his face more than 10 years ago due to radiotherapy to treat an aggressive tumour. Cavadas said the patient will need to learn to eat and speak intelligibly again after more than a decade of not being able to, but he saw himself in a mirror and was so happy he smiled. ospital officials said on Saturday the patient, whose name has not been released, continues to make good progress.

AJC: US Politics - The return of the vast right-wing conspiracy - by Cynthia Tucker

Fox News: the Neocon News Channel

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US Politics - The return of the vast right-wing conspiracy - by Cynthia Tucker

Remember the vast right-wing conspiracy? It’s ba-a-a-ck, turning its considerable resources to ruining health care reform and wrecking legislation aimed at curbing climate change. Despite the insistence of Republican leaders that the tea-party crowd and the town-hall protesters are merely concerned individuals who have spontaneously made the decision to shout and yell threats at public meetings, the protests are, in fact, prodded by networks of conservative activists. Richard Mellon Scaife, a Pittsburg billionaire who is the financial lifeblood of ultra-conservative activism, is a contributor, according to The Washington Post.

Ideologues like DeMint and Newt Gingrich have made it pretty clear that they’re not interested in finding the best approach on public policy or in helping Americans cope with skyrocketing health care costs. They just want to win political battles. Some of the conservatives arrayed against Obama represent corporate interests. Armey’s FreedomWorks, for example, is funded by companies such as Philip Morris, which has fought government regulations on smoking for years now.

A conservative advocacy group called Americans for Prosperity, long known for denying the scientific findings on climate change, has started an offshoot called Patients First to fight health care reform. The Post reports that it receives funding from the Koch Foundation, affiliated with a huge Kansas-based oil-and-gas conglomerate called Koch Industries. (Koch owns Georgia Pacific.) The Koch Foundation undoubtedly believes that slowing Obama down on health care reform will help to defeat his energy bill, which aims to curb carbon emissions and would affect Koch’s businesses.

YahooNews/Reuters: USA - New deficit projections pose risks to Obama's agenda

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President Barack Obama's domestic policy proposals will face the reality of skyrocketing deficits on Tuesday when officials release two government reports projecting huge budget shortfalls over the next decade. The White House budget office and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a non-partisan arm of Congress, release updated economic forecasts and deficit estimates on Tuesday, providing further fiscal fodder to opponents of Obama's nearly $1 trillion health care overhaul plan. Many of the figures are already known.

The White House has confirmed that its deficit estimate for the 2009 fiscal year, which ends September 30, will inch down to $1.58 trillion from $1.84 trillion after eliminating billions of dollars originally set aside for bank rescues. Looking forward, an administration official told Reuters the 10-year budget deficit projection will jump by about $2 trillion to roughly $9 trillion from an original forecast of $7.1 trillion.

NYT/Reuters: German Blast GM For Delaying Opel Deal

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German Blast GM For Delaying Opel Deal

German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said he believed a deal was still possible and that talks would continue, but there were angry words from around the country where the carmaker has plants employing some 25,000. Juergen Ruettgers, premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state and home to the Bochum works, issued a statement saying the delay was "intolerable." "The United States government now shares responsibility for finding a way past GM's leadership weakness and helping us finally to reach a sustainable decision," he said. The German government, which is barely a month away from a federal election, has offered financial backing for Magna's bid because it believes it would be the best option to save jobs. Roland Koch, conservative state premier of Hesse, where Opel is based, said he was "extremely annoyed," by Friday's outcome. "All the relevant questions have been resolved between GM and Magna," he said. "There's absolutely no justification for this postponement."

Common Dreams: Officials: Lithuania Hosted Secret CIA Prison To Get "Our Ear" - by Mathew Cole

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Officials: Lithuania Hosted Secret CIA Prison To Get "Our Ear" - by Mathew Cole

A third European country has been identified to ABC News as providing the CIA with facilities for a secret prison for high-value al Qaeda suspects: Lithuania, the former Soviet state. Former CIA officials directly involved or briefed on the highly classified program tell ABC News that Lithuanian officials provided the CIA with a building on the outskirts of Vilnius, the country's capital, where as many as eight suspects were held for more than a year, until late 2005 when they were moved because of public disclosures about the program. Flight logs viewed by ABC News confirm that CIA planes made repeated flights into Lithuania during that period. The CIA told ABC News that reporting the location of the now-closed prison was "irresponsible."

Through their embassy in Washington, the Lithuanian government denied hosting a secret CIA facility. "The Lithuanian Government denies all rumors and interpretations about alleged secret prison that supposedly functioned on Lithuanian soil and possibly was used by [CIA]," said Tomas Gulbinas, an embassy spokesman.

One of the former CIA officers involved in the secret prison program allowed ABC News to view flight logs that show aircraft used to move detainees to and from the secret prisons in Lithuania, Thailand, Afghanistan, Poland, Romania, Morocco and Guantanamo Bay. The purpose of the flights, said the officer, was to move terrorist suspects. The official told ABC News that the CIA arranged for false flight plans to be submitted to European aviation authorities. Planes flying into and out of Lithuania, for example, were ordered to submit paperwork that said they would be landing in nearby countries, despite actually landing in Vilnius, he said. "Finland and Poland were used most frequently" as false destinations, the former CIA officer told ABC News. A similar system was used to land planes in Romania and Poland.


BBC NEWS:Muslims begin Ramadan holy month

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Muslims begin Ramadan holy month

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan has begun across most of the Muslim world, ushering in 30 days of dawn to dusk fasting and extra prayer. The timing of Ramadan varies according to the first sighting of the New Moon. The ninth month of the Muslim calendar, Ramadan marks the time more than 1,400 years ago when the first words of Islam's holy book, the Koran, are believed to have been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. During this month, the gates of heaven are said to open and the gates of hell are closed. The world's estimated one billion observant Muslims will abstain from food, smoking and sex during the daylight hours and hold extra prayers at night. Ramadan ends with the first sighting of the new moon and culminates in the three-day festival of fast-breaking - Eid-ul-Fitr. Russia dam disaster toll rises to 66

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Russia dam disaster toll rises to 66

The confirmed death toll from the disaster at Russia's largest hydroelectric plant rose to 66 on Saturday, with nine people still listed as missing, a spokesman for the search and rescue team said. "Two more bodies have been found which means that the death toll stands at 66," with nine people still missing, said the spokesman for the rescue operation at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power plant in Siberia, according to Russian news agencies. The catastrophe is believed to have been triggered Monday when a technical problem caused a massive surge of water in the turbine hall, engulfing around 100 workers. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who went to the site of the accident has said there is no hope of finding those listed as missing alive. Illegal immigration: new political dispute between Italy and Malta

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Illegal immigration: new political dispute between Italy and Malta

In what appears to be a new political dispute between Italy and Malta, Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini has appealed to the Maltese authorities to stop dragging its feet and shrink the Island’s Search and Rescue area by the end of the year.Minister Frattini’s call comes in the wake of 75 irregular immigrants feared dead in the Sicilian canal.The Italian Minister said that Malta’s SAR area, 250,000 square kilometres, was too large for a country, which was ill equipped to deal with the influx of irregular immigration. “Such tragedy does not have to repeat itself.” Asked if he was blaming Malta for the 75 dead, the Italian Minister said: “I do not have all the elements at hands to be sure. However, it is clear that they (Malta) do not have the equipment to control such an extensive area.” Mafia suspect arrested in Netherlands

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Mafia suspect arrested in Netherlands

A member of a notorious Italian crime syndicate, sentenced in his homeland to life imprisonment for murder, has been arrested in the Netherlands, Dutch prosecutors said Friday. The 29-year-old man, Gianluca Racco, was arrested Thursday in Aalsmeer in the west of the country. According to Italy's ANSA news agency, He is listed as one of Italy's 100 most wanted fugitives. Citing sources among Italy's caribinieri, it said he was linked to the Commisso di Siderno mafia family. He had "probably been hiding for some time in the Netherlands" and was living in the town of Hoofddorp, the prosecution office said in a statement. Racco is the third member of the 'Ndrangheta, considered to be among the most violent Mafia organisations, to be arrested in the Netherlands in the past nine months. In March, Dutch police arrested Giovanni Strangio, a key suspect of a deadly 2007 shooting in Germany in which six people were killed, at a town near Amsterdam. He was extradited Italy in May. His brother-in-law was arrested in November in Amsterdam. He had been sentenced in absentia in Italy to nearly 15 years in prison for drug trafficking.


USA Today: Air France - Research ship ends hunt for Air France - by Allen Levin

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Air France - Research ship ends hunt for Air France - by Allen Levin

The search for wreckage from the Air France jet that plunged into the Atlantic Ocean on June 1 has failed to find a trace of the airliner on the ocean floor, French investigators announced Thursday. A research boat spent weeks studying the ocean bottom with sonar in a circle 47 miles from the last known position of the Airbus A330 jet, said the French accident investigation agency, the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses (BEA). Searchers also used high-tech equipment to scan an even wider area in less detail, the BEA said. The French research vessel Pourquoi pas? that conducted the research is heading to port, leaving investigators to contemplate their next step, the investigative agency said. Over the next few weeks, the BEA will consult with international experts and plan for the next phase of the search, it said.

Jet manufacturer Airbus has said it will help pay for additional searches because finding what happened to the flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris is considered critical.

Greencastle Banner-Graphic: World War II - Story: History of the Buzz Bomb retold - by Maribeth Ward

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World War II - Story: History of the Buzz Bomb retold- by Maribeth Ward

One of the most unusual war memorials in the USA is located on the southwest corner of the Putnam County Courthouse. It is a WW II German Buzz Bomb. The story of how it came to Putnam County is almost as interesting as having a German bomb as a tribute to the many Putnam County residents who died in the war. Frank Durham was serving as a reservist in Maryland in 1946. He heard about a number of captured German armaments that had been shipped to the United States for storage. The government was about to junk them because of space issues. Durham, with the help of the Greencastle Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1550, managed to get a hold of the bomb. Making it into a war memorial would be a much more daunting task.

Yahoonews: Europe's biggest video games fair kicks off in Germany

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Europe's biggest video games fair kicks off in Germany

Europe's biggest video games fair, Gamescom, opened its doors in the western German city of Cologne on Thursday, with over 420 exhibitors from 30 countries showing off their wares. The four-day show is expected to draw some 200,000 visitors and features the global premieres of new versions of blockbusters like "Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) 10", "Fifa 10" and "Guitar Hero 5." The fair follows data last week showing Germany overtaking Britain as Europe's biggest gaming market after the recession sparked a 20-percent slump in sales in the British market.

8/19/09 Big Bang Healthcare - by Kevin Drum

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Big Bang Healthcare - by Kevin Drum

It's worth pointing out that most of the great universal healthcare systems of Western Europe took the slow route. The French, for example, began covering lost wages from illness in the late 20s, and then began constructing a genuine national healthcare system shortly after World War II. But that was just a start. It took nearly 50 years before it became truly universal. - Asian economies outpace US and Europe on growth track

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Asian economies outpace US and Europe on growth track

Asia is outpacing the United States and Europe in the rebound from the global economic slump, thanks to multi-billion dollar stimulus packages and robust demand from China, analysts said. Second-quarter indicators showed the region's recession-hit economies such as Singapore and Hong Kong have returned to the growth path despite sluggish demand from the US and European markets, their main export destinations. Countries with bigger domestic populations, including China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam, have been growing during the global downturn although the pace has slowed.

8/18/09 Dreamliner two years behind schedule: Questions raised about 787 outsourcing

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Boeing Dreamliner two years behind schedule - Questions raised about 787 outsourcing

A new problem with the Boeing 787 is just the latest setback in the effort to get the plane off the ground, and has some questioning the wisdom of sending some of the work overseas. The company has been forced to stop production of the airplane’s fuselage because of wrinkles found in its skin. An internal stiffener appears too thick and is distorting the outside of the plane. Boeing says a patch will fix the problem. Overall, the Dreamliner is two years behind schedule. The 787 is still on standby to fly for the first time, since engineers found a weakness problem with the plane's Japanese built wings in June.

Yahoo News: Airbus wins Turkish Airlines order for 7 jets

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Airbus wins Turkish Airlines order for 7 jets

Turkish Airlines has firmed up a preliminary order for seven Airbus 289-seat A330-300s, worth a total of euro1.4 billion ($1.97 billion) at catalog prices. Airbus said Tuesday that Turkish Airlines has signed a contract to expand its medium-haul network after announcing its intention to buy the planes at the Paris Air Show in June. Airlines often negotiate substantial discounts to the listed prices of planes, and the financial details of this order were not disclosed.

Daily News: Europe gets its first artificial surf reef off Bournemouth, England- by Tracy Miller

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Europe gets its first artificial surf reef off Bournemouth, England - by Tracy Miller

Surfers of the world have a new destination: the cloudy shores of Britain. Europe's first artificial surf reef, the fourth of its kind in the world, is set to open next month near Bournemouth on England's southern coast, ABC News reports.Built from geo-textile bags filled with sand that weigh up to 2,500 tons each, the man-made reef will boost the wave quality in the area, providing more consistent and somewhat larger waves as well as cleaner breaks, an easier ride and an extended surfing season. The reef, which cost $2.3 million to build, has been under construction since July 2008. In addition to the surfing benefits, it's expected to make the beach more family-friendly in July and August due to the flat, lagoon-like effect the reef will create alongshore. The surfing itself will take place further offshore and will not be suitable for beginning boarders, the Bournemouth Council warned.

Times Online: British Economy still contracting

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British Economy still contracting

the British economy is still contracting sharply. Provisional GDP figures for the second quarter showed a decline of 0.8 per cent from the first quarter. So is the Anglo-Saxon model of free- market economies now losing vigour compared with more state-directed forms of capitalism?The answer is no. The first reason is that recent economic statistics are provisional. The apparent superiority of the performance of other advanced industrial economies may prove illusory. Revised data may yet show a convergence of British and continental European growth.Second, the apparently poor performance of the UK economy is not necessarily rooted in its model. The constraints on the British economy are partly due to bad fiscal policy and partly reflect a weak banking system and an irrational stress on investment in housing. Those are serious deficiencies, but they are far from integral parts of a market economy. How then to explain the disparity in the figures, if indeed it exists? Germany’s return to growth in particular, given its reliance on manufacturing exports, suggests that the global economy may have rebounded from the pit of recession.

European Commission - EU Education - Erasmus Program

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EU Education - Erasmus Program

Erasmus is the EU's flagship education and training programme, enabling more than 180,000 students to study and work abroad each year, as well as supporting co-operation actions between higher education institutions across Europe. It caters not only for students, but also for professors and business staff who want to teach abroad and for university staff who want to be trained abroad.

The Program is named after the humanist and theologian Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1465-1536) whose travels for work and study took in the era’s great centers of learning, including Paris, Leuven and Cambridge. Like the man, the Erasmus program places great importance on mobility and furthering career prospects through learning. By leaving his fortune to the University of Basel, he became a pioneer of the mobility grants which now bear his name. Studies show that a period spent abroad not only enriches students' lives in the academic field but also in the acquisition of intercultural skills and self-reliance. Staff exchanges have similar beneficial effects, both for the people participating and for the home and host institutions. In addition to mobility actions, the Program supports higher education institutions to work together through intensive programmes, networks and multilateral projects.

Few, if any, programs launched by the European Union have had a similar Europe-wide reach. Around 90% of European universities take part in Erasmus and 2 million students have participated since it started in 1987. The annual budget is in excess of €440million, more than 4,000 higher education institutions in 31 countries participate Iraq War's Winners and Losers - by Sherwood Ross

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Except for some die-hard "neocon", it is widely recognized that the Iraq War has been a debacle for the United States – paid for in unnecessary loss of lives, international opprobrium, and the diversion of an astronomical sum of money from domestic priorities to warfare. However, some military contractors have done quite nicely; so too have many oil companies, even as the ancillary costs of the $1 trillion-plus war continue to ripple through a devastated U.S. economy, as writer Sherwood Ross describes in this essay.

8/17/09 - Obama's (Republican) foes turn to '60s radical for tactical tips - by Edward Luce and Alexandra Ulmer

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Obama's (Republican) foes turn to '60s radical for tactical tips - by Edward Luce and Alexandra Ulmer

Opponents of Barack Obama's healthcare proposals are using the tactics of Saul Alinsky, the renowned leftwing activist who helped inspire the US president when he was a young community organiser, says Dick Armey, head of Freedom Works, a group fighting against universal health care. Mr Armey, who was the Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives for most of the 1990s, said his group, which is behind many of the "tea party" protests that have disrupted town-hall meetings in the past two weeks, draws consciously on the forms of agitation pioneered by Mr Alinsky.

"What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander," said Mr Armey, who was one of the leaders of the "Contract with America" Republican landslide in 1994. Germany becomes Europe's largest games market - by Luke Gutridge

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Germany becomes Europe's largest games market

Germany becomes Europe's largest games market - by Luke Gutridge

According to the latest reports, Germany has just become Europe's biggest purchaser of videogame wares, when country to country sales were compared by Chart Track. report that UK games sales dropped 20 percent in the first half of 2009, with Germany moving up a place in the rankings. French and Spanish game sales also decreased, although sales were actually up in Sweden, Holland and Portugal. Wii Fit is apparently Europe's biggest release so far this year.

Bella Online: Environmentally Friendly Cut Flowers - by Connie Krochmal

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Environmentally Friendly Cut Flowers - by Connie Krochmal

The most earth friendly flowers are ones that are field-grown locally rather than those being produced in greenhouses. It takes a lot of energy to heat and run greenhouses for orchids and other tropicals. Cut flower growers can now have their operations certified by VeriFlora. This eco-label program is also used by growers of potted plants. The VeriFlora Certified Sustainably Grown label is used by those that meet the guidelines. At this point only large wholesale cut flower operations are using this eco-label. You can look on cut flower labels to see if the symbol is there. At this point, one operation in the U.S. is certified. The rest are in Ecuador.

The sustainability certification applies not only to questions of agricultural sustainability, but also to social responsibility regarding employees. These socially responsible organizations take further steps. For example, they may provide housing, medical care, day care, or similar benefits to workers. They also pay a living wage, which is based on the local cost of living.

ICT Results - EU: Sun, sea and sickness – Europeans can expect better healthcare abroad!

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EU: Sun, sea and sickness – Europeans can expect better health-care abroad

Whether it is for business, leisure, visiting friends and family or education, Europeans are frequent travelers – making hundreds of millions of trips abroad each year. This sort of mobility – of people, products and services – is enshrined in European Treaties. It is good for economies and good for everyone. But one area in particular still causes headaches. Getting health-care while traveling can still be tricky for many Europeans, despite a long-standing legal framework for health-care provision across Member States. The situation got better with the launch of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), entitling European citizens to equal access to healt-care in another Member State if needed. Awareness of its benefits is still quite low among Europeans. Meanwhile, support systems – administrative and technological – have struggled to keep pace with growing leisure travel and labor mobility.

But European initiatives are keen to do something about that. Two projects developing IT-based services for cross-border health-care provision, TEN4Health and NetC@rds eEHIC ID, have agreed on common European messaging standards that link hospitals and other health-care providers with health insurance organizations, and with national health-care IT infrastructure. The common web services agreed by the EU-funded projects are specified in WSDL, a web-services description language, and messaging is communicated through XML, a software mark-up language for documents containing structured information, like health-care records. The agreement is considered a major step towards full interoperability of web services throughout the European healthcare sector. "With this agreement, we are paving the way for a European standard supporting the necessary communication and data exchange processes for cross-border health-care in Europe," commented an EU official close to the projects.

It means if an Austrian or German breaks his leg on a jet ski in Italy or the Netherlands, he can get equivalent healthcare to what he might expect in his home country. And now the healthcare provider can reliably and quickly determine that the patient has valid health insurance, making reimbursements faster and less painful. TEN4Health and NetC@rds are both co-funded by the EU’s eTEN programme for market validation and initial deployment respectively.

Bloomberg: Eastern Europe Shows Green Shoots as Germany Recovers - by Zoltan Simon

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Eastern Europe Shows Green Shoots as Germany Recovers - by Zoltan Simon

East Europe’s economies, most of which endured record output declines last quarter, look poised to start recovering from recession in the second half as key export markets in western Europe return to growth. Industrial production contracted at a slower pace in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia in June, helping the Slovak and Czech economies to grow last quarter from the first three months of the year.

Eastern Europe’s export-reliant economies need a western European recovery to revive their manufacturing sectors and spur job growth. After Germany and France exited their recessions last quarter, prospects have brightened for a resurgence of demand that might help the region’s emerging economies expand. “We see a good chance that the economic decline has already bottomed out in the region,” said Laszlo Bencsik, Chief Financial Officer at OTP Bank Nyrt., the Hungarian lender with units in Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine.


AOL: Check out Europe's Contestants Miss Universe 2009: Miss Denmark, Miss Universe Albania, Miss Poland and more European Miss Universe Contestants

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Check out Europe's Contestants Miss Universe 2009: Miss Denmark, Miss Universe Albania, Miss Poland and more European Miss Universe Contestants

Make your choice who the next Miss Universe should be at this weeks Miss Universe 2009 contest on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

Sun-Sentinel : US Health Care Reform: Oh say, can you eat? Follow the Scandinavian example.

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US Health Care Reform: Oh say, can you eat? Follow the Scandinavian example.

If Americans could be weaned off greasy food and smoking, the resulting health benefits we'd enjoy would probably enable us to provide cradle-to-grave medical insurance for everyone in this country, without breaking the bank. The Scandinavians manage to do this, but then again, a Norwegian's idea of a Happy Meal is a plate of smoked herring. As they say in Oslo, "Fuggedaboudit."


The Daily Star - Obama is right not to spoil Israel in the same way that Bush did- by J.J.Goldberg

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Obama is right not to spoil Israel in the same way that Bush did- by J.J.Goldberg

Alarm bells have been ringing around the neighborhood pretty much nonstop since July 13, when President Barack Obama sat down to talk Middle East policy at the White House with a pack of leaders from a dozen American Jewish organizations. The meeting was supposed to help buff up Obama’s relationship with the Jewish community, which is bubbling lately with resentment at the president’s aggressive peace-processing. By reaching out to the community’s customary spokesmen, he hoped to build rapport and perhaps recruit a few backers for his policies. Instead, he unleashed a whirlwind of attacks against himself, his administration and the Jews who met with him.

Another frequent complaint is that the president or his buddies deliberately skewed the Jewish delegation by inviting Americans for Peace Now and J Street, “Israel-bashing groups” whose very “Raison d’être is to force Israel to make additional unilateral concessions,” or so former World Jewish Congress firebrand Isi Leibler wrote in The Jerusalem Post. But the problem with American Jews may run deeper than a few strays, columnist Caroline Glick warned in The Jerusalem Post. Israelis are wondering, she wrote, whether American Jews have already “abandoned Israel in favor of President Obama.” A Post survey in June found that only 6 percent of Israelis “view Obama as pro-Israel,” while a May Gallup tracking poll found that 79 percent of American Jews “support the president.”

The Independent: The brutal truth about America’s healthcare

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The brutal truth about America’s health-care

They came in their thousands, queuing through the night to secure one of the coveted wristbands offering entry into a strange parallel universe where medical care is a free and basic right and not an expensive luxury. Some of these Americans had walked miles simply to have their blood pressure checked, some had slept in their cars in the hope of getting an eye-test or a mammogram, others had brought their children for immunisations that could end up saving their life. In the week that Britain's National Health Service was held aloft by Republicans as an "evil and Orwellian" example of everything that is wrong with free healthcare, these extraordinary scenes in Inglewood, California yesterday provided a sobering reminder of exactly why President Barack Obama is trying to reform the US system.Although the Americans spend more on medicine than any nation on earth, there are an estimated 50 million with no health insurance at all. Many of those who have jobs can't afford coverage, and even those with standard policies often find it doesn't cover commonplace procedures. California's unemployed – who rely on Medicaid – had their dental care axed last month.

The National: Turkey woos Russia as EU hopes dim - by Thmas Seibert

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Turkey woos Russia as EU hopes dim - by Thmas Seibert

As the EU shows little interest in taking Turkey on board as a new member in the near future, Russia has emerged as a powerful new partner for Ankara, providing energy and trade deals and sending a growing number of holidaymakers to Turkey’s sunny coasts. The ever closer relations between Ankara and Moscow is a sign of weakened ties between Turkey and the EU, Nihat Ali Ozcan, an analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation, or Tepav, an Ankara-based think tank, said yesterday. “If things were better with the EU, Turkey would be part of the European approach. But because it is outside that approach, it plays more locally.” Nowhere is that trend more visible than in energy policy.

Note EU-Digest: the ultimate buyer of Russian energy supplies is the EU with its 500 million inhabitants. Turkey might be a player as a major "transfer station" of the Russian energy into the EU, but the the one paying the bills (the EU) for the energy from Russia will be the one calling the shots. Not Turkey.

Buzzle.colm:Turkey vs. France: a Clash – Part of the Freemasonic Plan for Europe

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Turkey vs. France: a Clash – Part of the Freemasonic Plan for Europe

As it is known, France advocates a special partnership with Turkey instead of full EU membership; what is not known is why the French pursue this policy. The explanation is simple. Turkey will never accept any sort of special partnership because this would simply consist in explicitly racist and unfair treatment, and at the same time it would be a national humiliation, following many decades of rapprochement and goals supposedly set for a final adhesion. In view of Turkey’s European identity and Turkey’s outperformance of several Balkan member countries (Bulgaria and Romania), a possible rejection of Turkey’s adhesion can be justified only through divergence at the level of legislation and the political life. With Turkey readjusting its economy and legislation, any European pretext will simply be a point of Anti-Turkish duplicity and mendacity.

With Turkey rejecting special partnership, the ridiculous pseudo-concept of a fake Mediterranean Union or any other type of association, and with the expected and methodically triggered deterioration of the Euro-Russian relationship, the way will be cleared for a great Turco-Russian alliance against Europe and Israel.

WAtoday: Automobile Industry Europe - Cash-for-clunkers lift Europe car sales

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Automobile Industry Europe- Cash-for-clunkers lift Europe car sales

New car sales in western Europe rose for the second month in a row in July driven by cash-for-clunkers government bonus programs. Sales of new cars in western Europe rose five per cent last month in a year-on-year comparison to 1.22 million vehicles, VDA said in a statement, as state subsidies helped to offset the global recession. However eastern Europe continued to suffer. Turnover in the former communist states of the European Union fell 21 per cent compared to July 2008 as the economic crisis continued to whipsaw through the region.

In June, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) reported a 2.4 per cent increase in new car sales in Europe, halting a 14-month decline. The VDA attributed the rise in turnover in July to "a stabilisation of conditions and several sales enticement programs."

Religion Dispatches: New Book Stokes Fear of a Muslim Europe- by Bruce Lawrence

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New Book Stokes Fear of a Muslim Europe- by Bruce Lawrence

This is a full-throttle polemic, a meanspirited book meant to raise alarms, stoke fears, and tame a danger at once unseen and misunderstood yet pernicious and widespread.The danger is Islam, the villains are Muslim immigrants, the terrain is the West, and the outcome is certain defeat for European culture—unless the tide of Muslim immigration, which threatens to become a tsunami, can be stemmed. But how? This book, despite the myriad cases set forth in its 350 pages of rant and rave, offers no explicit steps to stem the Muslim immigrant tide allegedly sweeping Western Europe, ravaging its European culture, and threatening the future of Western civilization.

For those who thought that Samuel Huntingon was an alarmist, Christopher Caldwell makes him look like a benign, minor prophet. The latter appears to be saying: “It’s not about the clash of civilizations, dummy, it’s about the near-term victory of the enemy stranger over the helpless native.

Alternet: 15 Horrifying Reasons to Never Let Anyone You Love Near a McDonald's | Health and Wellness - by Sarah Irani

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15 Horrifying Reasons to Never Let Anyone You Love Near a McDonald's - by Sarah Irani

The Golden Arches: the ultimate American icon. Super Size Me taught us that fast food culture brings obesity, heart disease, hypertension and a whole slew of other problems. How bad do you really want that Big Mac? Here are 15 reasons you’ll never let anyone you love get near those Golden Arches.

1. Real food is perishable. With time, it begins to decay. It’s a natural process, it just happens. Beef will rot, bread will mold. But what about a McDonald’s burger? Karen Hanrahan saved a McDonald’s burger from 1996 and, oddly enough, it looks just as “appetizing” and “fresh” as a burger you might buy today. Is this real food?

2. You would have to walk 7 hours straight to burn off a Super Sized Coke, fries and Big Mac. Even indulging in fast food as an occasional treat is a recipe for weight gain…unless you’re planning to hit each treadmill in the treadmill bay afterwards.

Even Prince Charles, while touring a diabetes center in the United Arab Emirates, commented that banning McDonald’s is key to health and nutrition. Don’t let the salads and chicken breasts fool you. The “chicken” at McDonald’s, by the way, comes with a whole lot more than chicken


Daily Mail: Russia - Putin's night out: Vladimir and Dmitry bond over pints and pistachios as they take in a football game - by Will Steward

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Russia - Putin's night out: Vladimir and Dmitry bond over pints and pistachios as they take in a football game - by Will Steward

Vladimir Putin has yet again brandished his macho image, strolling around Russia's top seaside resort watching the football with Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev - and posing for pictures with young blondes. The Kremlin prime minister went on a boys' night out with his protege, Dmitry Medvedev, dropping into a sports cafe in Sochi to watch the Russian national team play Argentina.The appearance of the men together was seen as a move to show Russians that they remain united despite rumours to the contrary. For their farewell, Putin gave Medvedev a bear-hug, making clear the premier was the senior partner in their relationship even though he holds the junior office. Medvedev smiled for the cameras. But as he turned away, Russian TV noted his smile evaporated as he took the wheel of his off-roading jeep.

FiFacts: Eurozone GDP falls only 0.1% in Q2 2009 following surprise growth in Germany and France

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Eurozone GDP falls only 0.1% in Q2 2009 following surprise growth in Germany and France

Eurozone GDP fell by 0.1% and by 0.3% in the EU27 during the second quarter of 2009, compared with the previous quarter, according to flash estimates published today by the EU statistics office. In the first quarter of 2009, growth rates were -2.5% in the Eurozone and -2.4% in the EU27. The German economy expanded slightly in the second quarter of 2009 for the first time since the first quarter of 2008, according to the German statistics office Destatis. Gross domestic product increased 0.3% in the second quarter of 2009 on the previous quarter.Compared with the second quarter of 2008, the price-adjusted GDP product was down 7.1%. Germany's economic performance decreased 5.9% on a year earlier. The French economy also expanded 0.3% in the latest quarter.

The Eurozone (EA16) consists of Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland. The EU27 includes Belgium (BE), Bulgaria (BG), the Czech Republic (CZ), Denmark (DK), Germany (DE), Estonia (EE), Ireland (IE), Greece (EL), Spain (ES), France (FR), Italy (IT), Cyprus (CY), Latvia (LV), Lithuania (LT), Luxembourg (LU), Hungary (HU), Malta (MT), the Netherlands (NL), Austria (AT), Poland (PL), Portugal (PT), Romania (RO), Slovenia (SI), Slovakia (SK), Finland (FI), Sweden (SE) and the United Kingdom (UK).

AFP/Yahoo: US economy- Weak consumer confidence raises alarm on US recovery

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US economy- Weak consumer confidence raises alarm on US recovery

A grim reading on US consumer confidence Friday darkened the outlook for economic recovery, while news of an industrial rebound and flat inflation underscored the depths of the long recession. The University of Michigan's report that consumer sentiment in August had unexpectedly headed south rattled US and European stock markets. The sentiment index dipped to a preliminary 63.2 from 66.0 in August, confounding most analysts who had expected it to rise to 69.0.

Brian Bethune, chief US financial economist at IHS Global Insight, said the report was "a sober reminder of how much pressure households are under." Bethune cited huge cumulative declines in household wealth since the recession began in December 2007, rising unemployment and underemployment, and downward pressure on wages, salaries and benefits as companies slash costs.

TimesOnline: Oil giants destroy rainforests to make palm oil diesel for motorists -

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Oil giants destroy rain forests to make palm oil diesel for motorists

Fuel companies are accelerating the destruction of rainforest by secretly adding palm oil to diesel that is sold to millions of British motorists. Twelve oil companies supplied a total of 123 million litres of palm oil to filling stations in the year to April, according to official figures obtained by The Times. Only 15 per cent of the palm oil came from plantations that met any kind of environmental standard. Much of the rest came from land previously occupied by rain forest. Vast tracts of rain forest are destroyed each year by companies seeking to take advantage of the world’s growing appetite for plant-based alternatives to fossil fuel. The expansion of the palm oil industry in Indonesia has turned the country into the third-largest CO2 emitter, after China and the US. Indonesia has the fastest rate of deforestation, losing an area the size of Wales every year. The expansion of plantations has pushed the orang-utan to the brink of extinction in Sumatra.

Biofuel can be derived from dozens of crops but many fuel companies choose palm oil because it can be cheaper than the more sustainable alternatives such as rapeseed. The Renewable Fuels Agency, the British government-funded watchdog that monitors biofuel supplies knows which companies are using palm oil, but is refusing to name them on the ground that the information is commercially sensitive.