The frontlines have remained in stalemate for more than a month, with the city enduring nightly bombardments from rockets, and rebel fighters saying they lack the heavy weapons to break the ring of government forces around the city.
"We are in discussion with France to supply us with the guns," said rebel military spokesman Ibrahim Betalmal. "We are trying to do our best to get ammunition and guns from France and inshallah [God willing] we are going to get those guns. These are negotiations with France, not with Nato."
French military spokesman Colonel Thierry Burkhard said on Wednesday that France had airlifted weapons to Libyan civilians in a mountain region south of Tripoli. The deliveries of guns, rocket-propelled grenades and munitions took place in early June in the western Nafusa mountains, when Gaddafi's troops had encircled civilians.
For more: Libyan rebels hope French weapons will break Misrata stalemate | World news | The Guardian
The EU’s sixth largest country is at long last punching its weight as a regional power. It was the bloc’s only economy to grow throughout the crisis. That Poland has built better relations with Germany and Russia than at any time in history makes the country pivotal for EU policy towards Moscow. But Poland shows that national assertiveness is compatible with European unity.
For more: Poland’s solidarity message to Europe - FT.com
Among the group’s main findings:
- The U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan will cost between $3.2 and $4 trillion, including medical care and disability for current and future war veterans. This figure does not include substantial probable future interest on war-related debt.
- More than 31,000 people in uniform and military contractors have died, including the Iraqi and Afghan security forces and other military forces allied with the United States.
- By a very conservative estimate, 137,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by all parties to these conflicts.
- The wars have created more than 7.8 million refugees among Iraqis, Afghans, and Pakistanis.
- Pentagon bills account for half of the budgetary costs incurred and are a fraction of the full economic cost of the wars.
- Because the war has been financed almost entirely by borrowing, $185 billion in interest has already been paid on war spending, and another $1 trillion could accrue in interest alone through 2020.
- Federal obligations to care for past and future veterans of these wars will likely total between $600-$950 billion. This number is not included in most analyses of the costs of war and will not peak until mid-century.
For more: Optimism on Greece Pushes Stocks Higher - NYTimes.com
A boom economy based on construction, tourism and real estate is now in shambles. One in eight Floridians is unemployed and nearly 1 million state residents are now collecting food stamps. Bankruptcy attorneys and debt collectors are extremely busy here.
The foreclosure crisis has transformed neighborhoods and condo developments into slums; skyrocketing property taxes and insurance eats away at the disposable income of struggling Florida residents (and negates any advantage from a lack of state income tax), and boarded-up strip malls and stores are popping up daily. People and jobs are now leaving Florida. Office Depot just announced that 80 jobs in Boca Raton are being moved offshore to Guatemala, where it is cheaper to do business.
For more: Florida economy New York: Florida's economy is more a state of depression than sunshine - South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com
Before Europe's fiscal crisis erupted last spring, many insurance companies gorged on bonds issued by governments and banks from around the euro zone. It seemed like an easy and low-risk way to generate higher returns for investors and policyholders. Today, though, Greece is teetering on the brink of default, and many investors fear that Ireland, Portugal and even Spain could follow suit. Meanwhile, troubled banks increasingly are imposing losses on bondholders as a way to avoid taxpayer bailouts.
The result: Some European insurers face the prospect of heavy losses, which could erode their financial strength and trickle down to customers who hold life-insurance policies, according to industry executives, regulators and analysts. And because of the industry's limited disclosures, it is hard to pinpoint individual insurers' vulnerability.
Analysts say that among the most exposed companies is Dutch-Belgian insurer Ageas NV, which until last year was known as Fortis. Other companies holding large quantities of government bonds from risky euro-zone countries include Germany's Allianz SE, Italy's Assicurazioni Generali SpA and France's Groupama SA.
For more: Some European Insurers Could Face Heavy Losses - WSJ.com
Women had significantly better one-year survival and freedom from cardiovascular hospitalization, as well as larger gains in quality of life, Ulrika Birgersdotter-Green, MD, of the University of California San Diego, reported here at EHRA EUROPACE, the meeting of the European Heart Rhythm Association.
For more: Medical News: EUROPACE: CRT of More Benefit to Women than Men - in Meeting Coverage, EUROPACE from MedPage Today
In its annual report on US economic policy, the IMF cited “unfavourable fiscal outcomes” as one of the key dangers to the country’s economic outlook.
In its report, the IMF said striking the right balance on fiscal policy represented the main challenge facing US economic officials. The fund said fiscal consolidation needed to proceed and losing fiscal credibility could be very damaging, and is recommending that deficit reduction should begin next year – with the overall effort to include both spending cuts and tax increases through the elimination of special incentives and deductions.
For more: IMF warns US of debt ‘shock’ - FT.com
Your phone can even be turned into a surreptitious microphone. "When the phone is off — in a pocket, purse or on a table — it can remotely be turned on so conversations around the phone can be heard," says Tim Wilcox, owner of International Investigators Inc., an Indianapolis security firm.
The world now has about 370 million smartphones, according to ABI Research, an Oyster Bay, N.Y., firm that studies wireless communications. They include BlackBerrys, Androids, iPhones and others that easily accept apps and have ample processing power. Security experts say millions of them may already be infected with spyware; the risk for basic "dumb" cellphones is far less.
Mobile phone spyware is illegal in the United States but is sold by websites operating overseas. With at least 600 variations of the app out there, all it takes is a credit card to make an instant wiretapper. Often that person is a suspicious spouse, an overly protective parent or a jealous coworker. "But it's certainly possible for scammers to use it for identity theft," says Wilcox.
For more: Scam Alert: Smartphones Tap Into Your Conversations With Spyware; Wiretap - AARP Bulletin
“These days, ‘Europe’ and the benefits it brings have come to be taken for granted,” Trichet said in a speech in Brussels last night, according to a text provided by the ECB. “Thanks to the success of European integration, the threat of war has become a memory of the past for many Europeans, in particular the younger generation. This makes it all the more urgent to develop a renewed vision of the kind of Europe we want and indeed need -- a vision that is easily understood and shared among European Union citizens.”
For more: Trichet Urges New Vision of Europe - Bloomberg
However, the bill must still pass the senate and the government says it may be unenforceable in its current form.
The threat of a ban led to outcry from Jewish and Muslim groups who say it infringes their right to freedom of religion. They argue ritual slaughter – done by swiftly cutting animals' throats with a razor-sharp knife – is no worse than stunning.
For more: Netherlands parliament rules against ritual animal slaughter | World news | The Guardian
For more: Lagarde wins 5-year term as head of IMF - MarketWatch
Mr Cameron told MPs: "The Council agreed a declaration confirming its full support for UN Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973, and the efforts our brave servicemen and women are undertaking to implement them."
He added: "The wider world is turning against Gaddafi too, recognising that the Transitional National Council are the only credible diplomatic body which can represent the people of Libya right now."
For more: BBC - Democracy Live - David Cameron hails EU 'unity' on Gaddafi
Fitch cut the outlook on Danske’s long-term issuer default rating to “negative” from “stable” while keeping the Copenhagen- based bank at “A+," it said today in a statement.
“The negative outlook reflects some uncertainty in the development of the Danish and Irish economies,” Andrew Shenton, an associate director at Fitch in London, said in the statement. “The ratings are likely to be downgraded if Fitch anticipates the bank’s earnings capacity to materially suffer from continued asset quality erosion, particularly in Denmark and the Republic of Ireland.”
Denmark’s economy slipped into recession in the first quarter, joining bailout-reliant Portugal as the only other European nation to suffer more than a quarter of contraction. The decline was led by a drop in consumer spending as the property market stagnates and the government plans budget cuts.
For more: Danske Bank Outlook Cut to ‘Negative’ at Fitch on Danish Economy - Bloomberg
Stock investors don’t care about sovereignty. They rarely think about anything but making a buck. They rarely actually think! The chart below is the Dow Jones Greek Index. Why do I bring it up. Yes, it is down some 80% from its highs of a few years ago but I think it is a good example of a drowning market. Let us remember that Greece has a GDP of about $300 billion (US) and their economy is shrinking by better than a 4% annual clip. The government has already cut wages and benefits as the government controls more than 50% of the overall economy. The new austerity rules will increase the tax rate on the population by 1% to 5%. The threshold of income that begins taxation will drop from $12k per year to $8k per year. Even the poorest people will feel the oppression of higher taxes. Business owners will be accessed and extra $300 euro penalty for being stupid enough to own a business and hire workers. Like Americans to the American government, the Greek citizens are now enemies of the state.
For more: Greek Stock Market, the Moments Before Drowning :: The Market Oracle :: Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting Free Website
“The German government welcomes it when proposals come from the private sector, including those on private-creditor participation that are now coming out of France,” German Finance Ministry spokesman Martin Kreienbaum told reporters in Berlin today.
French banks and insurers proposed rolling over 70 percent of their holdings of Greek debt, President Nicolas Sarkozy said, adding that he hopes other countries will join the proposal.
For more: Germany Welcomes French Bank Proposals on Greek Aid Role - Bloomberg
The other common denominator was the fear that an overwhelming victory would reinforce what the Financial Times called the AKP’s “unsettling authoritarian tendencies”. This was demonstrated when The Economist recommended that Turks voted for the opposition CHP (Republican People’s Party) to put a brake on Erdoğan’s autocratic style of government.
The reaction was not long coming. Erdoğan blasted The Economist for being part of “a global gang” which took its orders from Israel, and for good measure blasted the CHP’s leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for also being “a project of international gangs”. The Wall Street Journal in turn accused Erdoğan of “reviving the crackpot anti-Semitic media theories of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad”.
According to Burak Bekdil, a Turkish columnist, Turkey behaves like a nouveau riche businessman. “With a newly-gained self-confidence and the deep layers of an inferiority complex that stems from a past full of poverty and disgrace, he insults, provokes, agitates and tests the limits of his powers.”
Turkish columnist Semih Idiz recently mooted the notion that Ankara’s relations with Europe should be based more on economic self-interest than integration, and called for the establishment of a new “modus vivendi” and a new narrative between Turkey and Europe.
Now that a number of European and Turkish politicians are no longer labouring under the illusion of Turkish EU membership, this might be an opportune moment to reassessthe situation.
“The more liberal elements will lose as time goes on. The more hard-nosed Islamists will gain ground. They will get more and more militant. We could be at risk of a replay of the Iraqi situation,” Salameh Nematt, a Jordanian and founder of Pillar Seven, a regional communications consultancy, told The Media Line.
For more: Is Syrian unrest an invitation for al-Qaid... JPost - Middle East
Soros spoke at a conference in Vienna on Sunday. According to several reports, he said Europe was "on the verge of economic collapse" and that the likelihood of countries leaving the euro currency "is probably inevitable."
But some market experts think Soros is, at best, a bit premature with this gloomy prediction.
"Soros has obviously gained a lot of credibility on calling currencies that he thought would decline, devalue or go away," said Rob Stein, senior portfolio manager with Astor Asset Management in Chicago. "But I don't think the euro is going away. I don't see how that would benefit Greece, Portugal or others."Stein said that Greece leaving the euro would be like a teenager who runs away from home thinking that they can support themselves -- and comes sheepishly back once they realize that a roof over their head and three square meals a day is worth putting up with their parents.
"Greece would become a Third World country very quickly if it left the euro," Stein claimed.
For more: George Soros talks down euro again. But why now? - The Buzz - Jun. 27, 2011
Yes, the brain at middle age has lost a step. Our problems are not imaginary, and our worries are not unreasonable. But neuroscientists have found that the middle-aged brain actually has surprising talents. It’s developed powerful systems that can cut through the intricacies of complex problems to find concrete answers.
It more calmly manages emotions and information and is cheerier than in younger years. Indeed, one new series of fascinating studies suggests that the way our brains age may give us a broader perspective on the world, a capacity to see patterns, connect the dots, even be more creative.
“From what we know now,” says Laura Carstensen, PhD, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity at Stanford University, “I’d have to say that the middle-aged brain is downright formidable.”
For more: How the Brain Benefits With Aging | Reader's Digest Version
Concerning Israel, the Jews and what may be said about them in The Netherlands, this judgment could invite very problematic consequences - says the Jewish Newspaper Ynetnews. The charges included a long list of statements by Wilders, one of which was: “The Koran is the Mein Kampf of a religion which aims to eliminate others and which calls the others - the non-Muslims - unreligious dogs.” On another occasion he had said: “The core of the problem is that fascist Islam, the sick ideology of Allah and Mohammed, as written down in the Islamic Mein Kampf, the Koran.”
Regarding Muslims, Wilders had said inter alia: “Close the borders. No more Muslims should be let into the country, many Muslims should leave the Netherlands and criminal Muslims should lose their Dutch nationality.”
Note EU-Digest: Freedom of expression is one of the best guarantees to keep Democracy on track. Even if it is used and abused by political populist opportunists like Geert Wilders, it all still is power to the cause. Fortunately it also provides others the freedom to express their uncensored observations about Mr. Wilders. Like the fact that Mr Wilders marriage to a Jewish diplomat and his years spent in Israel could be another cause for his many racially and culturally abusive remarks about Muslims.
Even though Israel is still the only true democracy in the Middle East, they do happen to have pretty controversial methods in dealing with their fellow neighbor countries.
For more: Wilders, Israel and the Jews - Israel Opinion, Ynetnews
"In recent years we have increased by quite a big margin our holdings of government bonds. We will consistently continue to support Europe and the euro." He added: "China is ready to work with Europe to share opportunities,cope with challenges and achieve common development and to make unremitting efforts for stable development of the world economy and an in-depth development of China-Europe ties."
For more: Eurozone relief as China pledges debt bailout - Telegraph
While other European leaders pushed Friday for some kind of political solution in Libya, the French leader strongly defended the NATO-led military operation -- and NATO itself. He refuted comments by U.S. Defense Minister Robert Gates that the alliance's future could be in doubt because of European reluctance to exercise military might.
"I wouldn't say that the bulk of the work in Libya is being done by our American friends," Sarkozy told reporters in Brussels at a European Union summit. "The French and English and their allies are doing the work."
Seven NATO members are now participating in air strikes: Britain, France, Belgium, Canada, Norway, Denmark and Italy. But, as Gates said, most of NATO's 28 members, including Germany, have refused to join the strike mission in Libya.
For more: Sarkozy lashes at U.S., defends Libya campaign - Libya - Salon.com
Equally significantly the China leader arrived in the UK not to crowd adulation but to a car factory – landing at the country’s second city Birmingham where Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation owns the old UK state car company Rover. China’s push towards ultra low cost cars (sub-$2,000) will wreak havoc on western auto markets but this present danger to large US and Europe auto makers is unlikely to figure in the public agenda of Wen’s visit to Birmingham.
For more: Obama to Europe: Do You Think I’m Sexy? China to EU – We Will Save the Euro - Haydn Shaughnessy - Re:thinking Innovation - Forbes
US Oil Reserves: Before Oil Reserves Move, a Secret U.S. Delegation to Saudi Arabia - by Carol E. Lee
Mr. Obama and his top economic and national security advisers began discussing how to cope with the economic impact of higher oil prices in late January, as U.S. gasoline prices began rising above $3 a gallon for the first time since 2008. White House officials became more concerned after civil unrest in Libya disrupted oil shipments from the North African nation in late February.
Libya was exporting about 1.5 million barrels a day of light sweet crude, mostly to Europe. The disruption of Libyan oil heightened concerns on both sides of the Atlantic, because it cut deeply into the thin margin by which supply exceeds demand in the world oil market.
Note EU-Digest: unfortunately the Wests unsatisfiable thirst for oil and their incapacity to get alternative energy resources up to speed is forcing them to sell their soul to the devil. Eventually they will pay the price for their shortsightedness. and greed.
For more: Before Oil Reserves Move, a Secret U.S. Delegation to Saudi Arabia - WSJ.com
A day after the US state department said it was handling the issue through "quiet diplomacy" and not public pronouncements, Clinton praised the protesters, but stressed they were acting on their own behalf, not at the behest of outsiders such as herself.
"What these women are doing is brave and what they are seeking is right, but the effort belongs to them," said Clinton. "I am moved by it and I support them, but I want to underscore the fact that this is not coming from outside of their country. This is the women themselves, seeking to be recognized."
For more: Hillary Clinton backs Saudi Arabia women's right-to-drive campaign | World news | The Guardian
Lilly, based in Indianapolis, and Boehringer Ingelheim, headquartered in Germany, said the European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use recommended approval of 5-milligram tablets of the drug. The European Commission, which approves medicines for the European Union, usually makes a decision on these recommendations in two or three months.
For more: Lilly, Boehringer diabetes drug endorsed in Europe - BusinessWeek
The deal was not only a bad one for Denmark but it also set off an outcry in the European Union as tiny Denmark became the first member to seriously challenge the union’s major achievement: the free movement of goods and services across borders. As for Denmark, which in the past also did not accept the euro currency, they can expect to feel more economic pain, with traders and tourists now starting to avoid Denmark like the plague.
The Ottoman Caliphs viewed Alawis as infidels and agents of the Shiite Persians, and thus were denied recognition as a millet, an official religious self-governing body under the Ottomans. The French Republic took control of Syria and Lebanon as Mandates of the League of Nations and created a Troupes Speciales du Levant. The Alawi minority took advantage to join the military in large numbers.
When Syria gained independence in 1946 Alawi officers also joined the secular Baath (Arab Renaissance) Party founded by the Christian Michel Aflaq aiming to unity among all Arabs regardless of sects. Alawis, Christians, and Druzes joined the Baath party to escape Sunni domination. Sunnis represent 70% of Syrian population, Alawis 12%, while Christians and Druzes the remainder. Viewing Nasser’s Arab Socialism as Sunni hegemony, the Baath Party seized power in Syria in 1963 making Hafez al-Assad air force commander.
For more: Alawis – The Secretive Ruling Sect in Syria – Atlas Network
Geographically, the AKP’s electoral hold reached the Aegean. The party gained considerable ground even in the West, the country’s contested territory. Conventional wisdom holds that the economy was, again, the major factor in the AKP’s success. This is likely true, at least up to a point, but one shouldn’t discount the competence of the AKP’s electoral machine in winning votes. The AKP has indeed presided over a long period of economic growth, but Turkey hasn’t become as wealthy as outside media tends to assume. It is still a poor country. Most people here have difficult lives. AKP politicians are good at talking to poor people and making them feel as if they care. The opposition hasn’t mastered this yet.
Probably, the AKP is now Turkey’s permanent ruling party. Students of politics call it a “dominant party system,” one in which one party consistently obtains twice as much of the electoral pie as the runner-up. That seems to describe Turkey. From my distant perspective in the Baltics, I was struck by the rest of the world’s indifference. Few knew these elections were taking place; few cared. It’s widely believed in Turkey that foreign powers are eternally meddling in Turkish politics. Meddling? They’re oblivious.
For more: The Sound of Turkey Clapping by Claire Berlinski - City Journal
For moreL Airbus soars over Boeing, saleswise, at air show - TODAY News - TODAY.com
For more: Oil prices plunge As U.S., Europe tap strategic reserves - KansasCity.com
"Save the Euro!
By Christian Reiermann
The euro zone needs a new approach to fighting the Greek debt crisis.
There are plenty of ideas going around for how best to save the euro. But most importantly, politicians must finally tell their voters the truth: We must help the Greeks and it will be expensive -- for everybody involved.
After over a year of futile attempts to rescue the euro , it would be difficult for even the most ardent supporters of the common currency to avoid coming to the same conclusion: The euro zone is anything but an optimal currency area."
He targeted the EU, which recently imposed sanctions on Syria and President Assad for violence against protestors. Moallem said Syria was freezing its membership in the Euromed alliance, and that: Sanctions target the livelihood of Syrian people, and that amounts to an act of war. We will forget that Europe is on the map and we will look east, south and toward every hand that is extended to us. The world is not just made up of Europe."
How serious can one take this statement from Pimco? Business Insider noted recently : "Bill Gross (aka the bond king) is starting to get a little desperate. Several months ago we asked, Did PIMCO call a bottom in Treasuries? Since then USTs have gone up — and yields have fallen substantially.
This made the bond king look bad — especially when it came out that PIMCO had a net short position (later clarified to be via swaps). Either way, though, Gross has been pounding the table for how lousy Treasuries are. As USTs went up, seemingly mocking the king, he pounded the table even harder. This week, he really started stretching it."
Pimco and its duo Bill Gross and Mohamed El-Erian who have been pushing their, what they call “new normal” nonsense now for the past 3 years and should be taken with a grain of salt.
More than half the deputies in the 300-strong parliament backed the socialist government of prime minister George Papandreou, who reshuffled his cabinet last week to stiffen resolve behind a painful new austerity program.
For more: Greece wins confidence vote - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Europe’s ambition for a spacecraft to return autonomously from low orbit is a cornerstone for a wide range of space applications, including space transportation, exploration and robotic servicing of space infrastructure.
For more: ESA Portal - ESA reentry vehicle on track for flight in 2013
In a statement on Libya, the 27 European Union ministers said the bloc "acknowledges the urgent financial needs of the [opposition] Transitional National Council.”
They also welcomed specific cash contributions by Italy and France, which is releasing frozen funds to the rebels.
“Our position is constant: Settlement building is illegal in the eyes of international law, in the West Bank as well as in East Jerusalem,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.
Jerusalem’s municipal council Sunday approved the expansion of 2,000 homes in the settlement district of Ramat Shlomo, allowing each home to add a room. The Ramat Shlomo neighborhood lies in an area of Arab East Jerusalem, which Israel captured during the 1967 war and later annexed in a move not recognized by the international community.
There are not a lot of beaming smiles to be seen on occasions like this. But Minister for Finance Michael Noonan could not conceal his delight yesterday as his counterparts lifted preferred creditor status from the permanent euro-zone bailout fund should Ireland, Portugal or Greece need aid.
In theory at least, this should make it easier for Ireland to regain access to private debt markets next year. It should also improve the Government’s prospects of avoiding aid from the European Stability Mechanism fund, which comes into operation in mid-2013. Noonan believes the theory. “This is very good news for Ireland,” he said.
For more: Chink of light for Ireland amid gloom over solution for Greece - The Irish Times - Tue, Jun 21, 2011
The global lender headquartered at Washington, forecast that U.S. GDP (gross domestic product) would grow a moderate 2.5% this year and 2.7% next year. The forecast it made 2 months back spoke of 2.8% and 2.9% growth expectations respectively. The Fund said in an unhurried tone that the retarded growth of the past few months should be “short-term” considering the overall global
Drawing attention to 4 countries, Vinals said that the United States, Japan, Ireland and Greece would have to restore their public finances to a bearable condition with relation to debt levels. Greece, an indebted country, is on the verge of non-payment as the officials in the euro zone have disagreed to plan another aid package for it.
For more: International Monetary Fund Slashes Growth Forecast of US, Cautions of Crisis
The rallying slogan of protesters is A Europe for its Citizens. They fear that the Euro-pact, which is intended to improve eurozone competitiveness, will mean more cuts.
Note EU-Digest: the voters in Europe should not be surprised to get austerity measures when they vote for conservative leaning parties.
For more: BBC News - Spain: Madrid 'Euro-pact' protesters take to streets
There may be $2 trillion sitting on the balance sheets of American corporations globally, but firms show no signs of wanting to spend it in order to hire workers at home, however much Washington might hope they will. Meanwhile, the average American is feeling poorer by the week. "If one looks at unemployment and housing, it's clear that for all practical purposes, we have yet to fully get out of recession," says Harvard economist Ken Rogoff, summing up what everyone who doesn't live inside the Beltway Bubble is thinking.
The Republicans have pulled off a major (some would say cynical) miracle by convincing the majority of Americans that the way to jump-start the economy is to slash taxes on the wealthy and on cash-hoarding corporations while cutting benefits for millions of Americans. It's fun-house math that can't work; we'll need both tax increases and sensible entitlement cuts to get back on track. Yet surveys show 50% of Americans think that not raising the debt ceiling is a good idea — that you can somehow starve your way to economic growth.
For more: What U.S. Economic Recovery? Five Destructive Myths - TIME
Last week, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates told a European think tank during his swan song in that continent – before Leon Panetta assumes that misnamed post (Minister or Secretary of War would be a far more appropriate title), that future leadership in America may not consider this NATO-US relationship a worthy investment. And it was during this 11-day trek overseas that he pointed out his displeasure in what he considers weaknesses and failures within the alliance.
For more: .:Middle East Online:.De-linking Europe’s Security from America’s
His position is a sharp turnaround from 2008, when Washington enacted a US$700-billion (S$860-billion) bailout for banks, the car industry and the giant insurer AIG at the height of the financial crisis. Policy makers argued that they had no choice but to rescue the firms because they were so large and interconnected that their collapse would have caused the nation's economic downfall.
"Such a presumption reduced market discipline and encouraged excessive risk-taking by firms," Prof Michael Barr, a former assistant Treasury Department secretary who is now a law professor, told the subcommittee.
After the financial crisis, Prof Barr was a leading architect of the Dodd-Frank Act, which aimed to rein in derivatives trading, mortgage securities and other risky Wall Street businesses.
For more: TODAYonline | Business | Wall Street is not too big to fail, insists regulator
Throughout the last six months of unprecedented turbulence in the Middle East the elephant in the room has been Saudi Arabia. What have the ultra-conservative Saudi royal family and the country's influential clerics had to say about the demands for democracy and human rights being heard in neighbouring nations all around them?
The answer is, as little as possible. Instead, the authorities have stamped down on the smallest efforts to push for change in their own country. There have been arrests of those behind attempts to found a new political party - the Islamic Umma Party - arrests of individual clerics who have called for political reforms, arrests of Shi'a protestors in the Eastern Province, arrests of human rights activists and arrests of female Women2Drive campaigners - in their high-profile effort to challenge the ban on women driving in the Kingdom.
For more: EU turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia - Public Service Europe
In 2002, an economic collapse in Turkey led to elections and the removal of an unpopular government supported by an irresponsible military. The Turkish people brought the conservative Justice and Development (AK) Party into power. Despite several setbacks, chief among them threatening declarations from the military and the arrest and jailing of their leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the AK Party focused on transforming Turkey into a stable and progressive regional powerhouse.
On June 12, in Turkey’s general elections, the AK Party was elected to a third consecutive term as the single party in government, after it received 49.91 per cent of the vote. The party continues to remain popular and that is primarily due to its ability to turn Turkey’s fortunes around. Prior to 2002, for years the country had double-digit inflation. You bought a cup of tea for two million liras. Now, inflation is below that of the United Kingdom. In 2010, the Turkish economy grew at 8.9 per cent. This year, the growth figure is supposed to top that.
Political and social advancement has followed economic progress. The civilian-military tension exists to some extent, but the military now maintains its constitutional role while allowing the democratically elected government to govern. The situation did not reach this stage by blatant disregard and disrespect of the military, but rather after recognition of the uniquely influential roles of both the military and civilian leadership. Politicking motivated by self-interest is no longer an issue. With a single party government, decision-making is far easier. Tourism is flourishing — Turkey is showcasing itself to the world on a daily basis.
From the time Israeli sanctions began in 2006 up until the second half of 2010 (when the statistics for the report were compiled), real wages fell in Gaza by 35.4 percent. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, stood at 45.2 percent. as of last summer, one of the worst marks in the world.
"It is hard to understand the logic of a man-made policy which deliberately impoverishes so many and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution," Chris Gunness, an UNRWA spokesperson, said in a statement.
"These are disturbing trends and the refugees, who make up two-thirds of Gaza's 1.5 million population, were the worst hit," Gunness said.
For more: The real winner in Israel's Gaza blockade: Hamas - Israel - Salon.com
The legislation is expected to be approved of by the Dutch government next Tuesday, following a vote.
Net neutrality is a principle which advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers or governments on consumers' access to networks that participate in and on the Internet. Specifically, network neutrality would prevent restrictions on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, or the modes of communication.
Net neutrality advocates have been calling for a law that would ensure that people get access to all Web content equally without additional surcharges, while many Internet service providers (ISPs) prefer a two-tier model.
The two-tiered approach has various forms in different parts of the world. In the industrialized world, where there is now frequently limited telecommunications competition as a result of cartel forming (AT&T and T-Mobile in the US) or Government intervention (most Middle East countries), these countries have begun blocking internet telephony services like Skype, Fring and other applications or charge extra fees for using these and other applications. Obviously the telecommunications industry wants to further monetize and monopolize the surge in online activity. They are saying that over the top players like Facebook and Youtube have done well in providing their services on the mobile networks, without investing in their own ISP infrastructure, even though mobile and internet providers (ISP's) are already charging customers extensive fees just to connect to the Internet.
Unfortunately even as the legislation was moving through the pipeline and gaining momentum with lawmakers, telecommunications providers were making attempts to bypass the proposed new rules. KPN, a Dutch telecommunications company, competing with Facebook, Twitter, and Instant Messaging, moved forward with a plan to charge its customers extra for using VoIP, streaming video, and sending instant messages. KPN admitted it was using deep packet inspection to monitor all Internet activity, and then classify it by application so as to make the charge-for-service scheme work. Vodaphone has admitted to using deep packet inspection as well.
European Commissioner Neelie Kroes (from the Netherlands) has spearheaded the European movement against Internet providers who want to charge more for using particular applications or services which compete with their offerings. More EU countries are expected to follow suit.
Netherlands Insurance Industry Intermediary Agent Sector (NIIIAS) concerned about discriminatory approach Government towards the sector
"I believe the meeting today will yield a solution," Hoyer told German public TV station ZDF. "I am sure that they will come to a compromise."
"The aircraft's bionic structure mimics the efficiency of bird bone which is optimized to provide strength where needed," said Airbus.
Charles Champion, Airbus executive vice-president engineering: "Our research shows that passengers of 2050 will expect a seamless travel experience while also caring for the environment." Different class cabins are eliminated and replaced with different zones for relaxation or work. Passengers would even be able to play holographic games while on board.
For more: PICTURES & VIDEO: Airbus unveils 2050 concept cabin
Netherlands: Dutch will only agree to further funding for Greece if private investors participate in Greek bailout
The government has relied on the opposition Labor and left-liberal D66 parties to push previous aid payments through parliament. But in recent weeks Labor has become increasingly critical of the bail-out strategy.
Parliament’s finance committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to respond to Mr De Jager’s report.
Some economists believe a default by Greece would not only be the best solution for Greece and the EU, but also serve as an example to the other EU-member states, which have received EU bailouts, to take austerity measures very serious. It would certainly not cause the EU to fall apart as some people say, but rather strengthen the monetary and political union by getting rid of those member states ( bad apples), which are not taking the rules and regulations of EU membership they agreed to seriously. As to present hysterical reactions by the financial community and Wall Street to avoid the above scenario, these are quite normal, they are purely based on self interest, and not to forget, their insatiable greed.
Former public order minister Giorgos Floridis announced his resignation Thursday, hours before Prime Minister George Papandreou announces a cabinet reshuffle.
Surprise coalition talks between the government and rival conservatives collapsed Wednesday.
For more: Greece: Leading Socialist quits ahead of reshuffle - Forbes.com
"I will continue on the same course," said Mr Papandreou in a TV address on Wednesday evening. "This is the road of duty, together with Pasok's parliamentary group, its members, and the Greek people."
For more: BBC News - Greek PM George Papandreou to form new government
For more: Greece deadlock and weak US data chill global markets - Citywire
OIL Industry: US Taxpayers Subsidize Big Oil, World’s Most Profitable Industry - Rinaldo Brutoco and Madeleine Austin
The Congressional votes create a strong contrast between the US and other countries, including Germany, China, the Scandinavian countries, and most recently, Japan, who are leading the way to a new planetary fuel system that will replace oil and nuclear energy with renewable energy. In response to its nuclear disaster, Japan has renounced its plans to build new nuclear plants and announced it will redo its energy system “from scratch.” Germany is using the Fukushima disaster as an opportunity to curtail nuclear power and boost its strong clean technology export sector. Other countries have curtailed or suspended their nuclear plans. But the United States, once a leader in science and technology that beat other countries to the moon, remains controlled by money politics, Big Oil, and climate deniers.
The oil industry is the most profitable industry in the world. US oil companies earn about $3 billion in profits every week, yet get $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies every year. In the first quarter of 2011, Big Oil’s profits were up 38% from the first quarter of 2010.
For more: Taxpayers Subsidize Big Oil, World’s Most Profitable Industry - Bulatlat
Frontex said a total of about 33,000 migrants were detected trying to enter the 27-nation bloc in the first three months of the year, more than double the figure for the same period of 2010. Over two-thirds of this number - 22,600 people - were found at Italy's borders, mainly in the area around the tiny southern island of Lampedusa, said Frontex deputy director Gil Arias Fernandez.
Greece, whose frontier with Turkey was previously the main entry for people seeking to cross into the EU, saw 7,200 illegal entries in the same time period compared with 13,100 in January-March 2010 after border patrols were strengthened, according to Frontex. More than 41,000 migrants have reached Lampedusa since the start of the year, including over 1,600 last weekend.
For more: EU: Italy now chief route for illegal migration to Europe - Adnkronos Security
The massive show of force appeared to have quelled the rioting, which began in the Xintang district on Friday night after security guards pushed to the ground a pregnant migrant street vendor from the western province of Sichuan as they tried to move her food stall off the street.
Official statistics show that anti-government protests have been on the rise in China over the past five years, but the simultaneous unrest in several Chinese cities over the last three weeks is unusual, analysts say.
The timing of the disturbances is troubling for the Chinese government, too, as it is in the midst of a sustained crackdown on dissent after online calls for a Mideast-style uprising in China.
The Communist Party is also trying to project an image of stability in the lead-up to the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party on July 1, and a once-a-decade leadership change next year.
For more: Chinese Police Restore Order to Restive Town - WSJ.com
The developments came as Syrian troops are reported continuing their crackdown on opponents of Assad's regime, with forces moving through villages near the northeastern town of Jisr al-Shugur.
Turkey's Anatolian news agency said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan telephoned Assad and urged him to end the violence and draw up a timetable of reform. Turkey says more than 8,500 refugees from the Syrian violence have so far entered Turkey.
Note EU-Digest: the UN should also take immediate action to condemn and apply sanctions against the Syrian Government.
For more: Turkey Calls For Halt In Syria Violence - Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty © 2011
In Athens, protesters gathered outside Parliament as lawmakers began to debate budget cuts and asset sales that are conditions of the aid. Ports, banks, hospitals and state-run companies were paralyzed by strikes today while a Papandreou ally said he won’t support the austerity measures and another bolted his Socialist Party.
Assad’s grip slips in Syria as humanitarian crisis grows | The Periscope Post
The Wall Street Journal was quick to point out that according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistic U.S. airlines earned $958 million last year, meaning their 2010 profit could be construed as entirely fee-based.
Delta alone collected $952 million in baggage fees last year, far more than any other U.S. airline, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That's also nearly double the baggage fees Delta collected in 2009. Atlanta-based Delta has increased its baggage fees over time and currently charges $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for the second checked bag on domestic flights.
The BTS statement said that airlines collected $3.4 billion in baggage fees in 2010 and $2.3 billion in reservation change fees. Baggage fees were up nearly a quarter from $2.7 billion in 2009.
For more: $5.7 Billion in Airline Fees Keeping Industry Afloat - AOL Travel News
The opposition initiated the polls which propose to overturn legislation passed by the government. The turnout of around 57 per cent is more than the 50 per cent required to validate the result.
One voter said “as far as nuclear power is concerned, I voted yes to the cancellation, because we can use alternative forms of energy.”
For more: Berlusconi woes mount as Italians say ‘no’ to nuclear | euronews, world news
It began as a run-of-the mill altercation that erupted Friday night when city authorities tried to clear away migrants from Sichuan province who were hawking produce in front of a supermarket in Zengcheng, in the outskirts of Guangzhou. But the ferocity of the rioting over the weekend exposed the fragility of social order.
The Chinese government has reason for concern. Last week, migrants from Sichuan battled police and overturned cars in Chaozhou, about 210 miles east of Guangzhou, after a worker demanding two months of back wages was attacked by the boss of a ceramics factory where he had worked. In Lichuan, Hubei province, people have been rioting over the death in prison of an anti-corruption crusader.
A sociologist at Beijing's Tsinghua University reported earlier this year that China has experienced 180,000 "mass incidents" in 2010, double the number from 2006. "There are a lot of resentments built up among ordinary people who are frustrated trying to get by on a daily basis with prices going up and the difficulty of young people in finding decent jobs," said Geoffrey Crothall, an analyst with the Hong Kong-based China Labor Bulletin. "Any little spark can set things off."
For more: China riot: Migrant workers riot in China - latimes.com
It’s all in the technocratic language of macro economics — Brad DeLong approves and will likely retranslate later — but here, I think, is the gist: It seems the financial and housing collapse crushed demand, and it has to be rebuilt with jobs and economic growth over a very long period. And until you do that, you can’t expect deficits to come down, so it’s way premature to pivot to reducing the deficit. Instead we need more stimulus to increase demand, restore jobs and boost the economy.
And this is a great time to invest in infrastucture, education, and so on, because we have lots of people who can do that work who need jobs, we need the infrastructure, and interest rates on borrowing are near historic lows. Oh, and we need to restore confidence. Most of that could have been written by Paul Krugman, the guy the Administration ignored for three years, or by DeLong and many critics of the Adminstration’s far too tepid economic policies.
In fact, it has been written by them. So is this Larry’s mea culpa? Larry Summers is the guy who, when presented in early 2009 with a set of calculations and projections from Christine Romer that showed we needed a stimulus about twice the size the one Summers ultimately proposed to the President, said we should limit fiscal stimulus policy to a mere “insurance policy” against the possibilitiy of another Great Depression. That would be enough to produce a self-sustaining recovery, he told President Obama.
For more: Larry Summers Tells Us How to Fix the Economy He Helped Mess Up | MyFDL
However, Mr Erdogan, who said his party would be ''humble'', promised to seek consensus in writing a new constitution and said that his victory on Sunday would invigorate pro-democracy movements in the Middle East.
''We'll go to the opposition and we'll seek consultation and consensus to draft a constitution that will satisfy all sections of the population,'' Mr Erdogan said in a victory speech in Ankara.
Note EU-Digest: it is difficult to see how a new Constitution, which is expected to turn Mr. Erdogan into a President for life, would invigorate pro-democracy movements in the Middle East. If he really wants to show he is in favor of Democracy and freedom of expression his government should release the more than 66 locked-up journalists and provide open access to the internet for everyone.
With 99 percent of the votes counted, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) was leading with 50 percent of the vote for a third straight win, according to results on television channels.
It was the party’s highest electoral score since it came to power in 2002 but appeared to fall just short of the 367-seat majority in the 550-member parliament it was seeking to unilaterally amend the constitution, the legacy of a 1980 military coup.