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European Breakfast - Nov. 2

by Fran Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 11:22:00 PM EST

Love doesn’t make the world go ‘round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.

Franklin P. Jones

Teheran Times/Reuters: Berlusconi says U.S. wants him to win election

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Monday that Washington wanted him to win elections in April, though this did not mean the United States was interfering in Italy's domestic affairs.

"The American government fears a change of government in Italy," Berlusconi told Italian reporters after meeting President George W. Bush at the White House, according to the Italian news agencies ANSA and AGI.

"I assured him that we would win," the Italian prime minister said, adding later that the United States was not interfering in Italian political affairs.

"The president believes Prime Minister Berlusconi has provided strong leadership. Under his leadership Italy has been one of our closest allies and made enormous contributions to peace and security," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. Berlusconi is trailing center-left rival Romano Prodi in opinion polls ahead of April elections. Prodi has promised to withdraw Italy's forces from Iraq if he is elected.

Berlusconi is one of Washington's strongest allies. Although he did not send troops to join the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, he did send Italian forces after the fall of Baghdad.

by Fran on Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 11:26:21 PM EST
Okay, message to the Italian people: You CAN vote against the US, by voting against Berlusconi (thank you very much Berlu).

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 03:20:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Amazing that Berlusconi would brag about that at the same time that he is trying to distance himself from Bush's war in Iraq.

I will never understand politicians like him - and even less people that vote for him.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 06:40:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reuters: GLOBAL ECONOMY-Manufacturing activity picks up in Europe, Japan

LONDON, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Strong global demand boosted exports from the euro zone and Britain, pushing manufacturing sector growth in both areas to multi-month highs, surveys of purchasing managers showed on Tuesday.

The equivalent gauge for the euro zone climbed one point to a 13-month high of 52.7 in October, moving further above the 50 line between growth and contraction and strengthening the case for a hike in interest rates next month or in early 2006.

"This could provide a small additional backing to the idea that the euro zone economy is recovering and therefore might support an early hike," said Lorenzo Codogno at Bank of America, who last week changed his rates view and now sees a slightly greater than 50 percent chance of a hike as early as December.

However, others noted that domestic demand in the euro zone still remained weak. They said the ECB may be reluctant to hike rates from a historic low of 2 percent until the economy is less dependent on global demand -- especially as growth is expected to slow in many countries, including the United States.

by Fran on Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 11:30:39 PM EST
"cyclical" is the word to watch out for...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 06:41:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Merkel vows to form grand coalition despite strife

Angela Merkel insisted yesterday the Christian Democrats would form a grand coalition government with the Social Democrats, despite the decision by a key conservative powerbroker not to join her cabinet and a power struggle in the SPD that is threatening to derail power-sharing negotiations.

Only a few days ago the two parties, which won an overwhelming majority of seats in the Bundestag, looked as though they were making good progress on the coalition's policy platform.

But forging a working alliance between the largest parties of the left and right has been made significantly harder by power struggles that have emerged on both sides more than a month after voters delivered a hung parliament.

Opposition parties are calling for fresh elections. The liberal Free Democrats called for the CDU to join it in a "Jamaica coalition" together with the Greens, but the environmental party last night ruled this out. Volker Kauder, general secretary of the CDU yesterday dismissed both options. "There will be a grand coalition government in Germany," he said.

Yet behind the scenes, few doubt there is what one senior politician yesterday called "political chaos".

by Fran on Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 11:34:21 PM EST
Swissinfo: German coalition doubts mount

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's top parties pledged on Tuesday to press on with trying to form a government as fears grew that a leadership crisis in the Social Democrats and the withdrawal of a top conservative would doom coalition plans.

Efforts to forge a bipartisan "grand coalition" of conservatives (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD) suffered a major setback on Monday when SPD chief Franz Muentefering announced he would step aside as party leader.

Muentefering expressed a willingness to participate in a new government but his resignation sparked a leadership crisis within the SPD and prompted influential Bavarian premier Edmund Stoiber on Tuesday to abandon his plan to serve as economy minister, deepening the sense of crisis.

"The course of the SPD and its reliability is not so clear anymore," Stoiber told reporters on Tuesday after a meeting of his Christian Social Union (CSU). He said Michael Glos, a top CSU figure in parliament, would take his spot as economy minister in a new cabinet.

Stoiber has been one of conservative leader and chancellor-designate Angela Merkel's staunchest allies since an inconclusive September 18 election forced Germany's top two parties into coalition talks.

He had also played a leading role in the negotiations and his decision to back out could complicate her efforts to seal a coalition deal. From his stronghold in Munich, Stoiber may also emerge as a tough Merkel critic should she become chancellor as head of a fragile coalition.

by Fran on Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 11:35:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel stranded as ally quits grand coalition

· Elections loom after shock announcement by Stoiber
· Move could hurt Blair's plan to get EU budget deal

Germany was gripped by a fresh political crisis yesterday after a senior conservative announced he would not serve in a "grand coalition" under Angela Merkel.
Last night Edmund Stoiber said that the basis of the grand coalition had disappeared. His Bavarian party colleague Michael Glos would now take up the post of economics minister instead, he said. "I have come to the conclusion that as leader I can represent my party's interests better in Munich," he added.

His announcement came a day after Franz Müntefering, the Social Democrat chairman, plunged his party into disarray by announcing that he would step down. The resignation came after his preferred candidate for general secretary was beaten by a leftwinger, Andrea Nahles. Ms Nahles yesterday said she might resign as well.

Mr Müntefering had been leading coalition talks with Ms Merkel following September's deadlocked general election, when neither of Germany's big parties managed to win a clear majority.

Commentators yesterday said they had serious doubts whether a grand coalition led by Ms Merkel would now happen. It was also unclear if Ms Merkel would become chancellor on November 22.

All of this is bad news for Tony Blair who is trying to agree an EU budget deal next month. He had been hoping that Ms Merkel would have become chancellor by then. It now seems possible that Mr Schröder - who will carry on as caretaker leader - will carry out talks instead.

"There isn't much prospect now that Blair will get a deal," Prof Falter said. "I think the timetable for coalition negotiations will almost certainly slip ... Instead Blair will have to deal with the lame duck [Schröder] again."

by Fran on Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 11:41:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MSNBC: US steps up planning for a Cuba without Castro

US planning for Cuba's "transition" after the demise of Fidel Castro has entered a new stage, with a special office for reconstruction inside the US State Department preparing for the "day after", when Washington will try to back a democratic government in Havana.

The inter-agency effort, which also involves the Defense Department, recognises that the Cuba transition may not go peacefully and that the US may have to launch a nation-building exercise.

The US Institute of Peace, funded by Congress to work on conflict management, declined to lend its expertise to the Cuba project. "This was an exercise in destabilisation, not stabilisation," said one person involved.

Mr McCarry acknowledges wearing two hats: to help a post-Castro Cuba establish a democratic government and market economy, and to hasten that transition.

"The transition genie is out of the bottle," he said, referring to opposition activities inside Cuba, and a "broad consensus" reached with the exiled community. "They are the ones to define a democratic future for Cuba."

Officials say the US would not "accept" a handover of power from Mr Castro, who is 79, to his brother Raul, aged 74. While it is not clear what the US position means, Mr McCarry stressed the US would not "impose" its help.

by Fran on Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 11:43:34 PM EST
'No to Bush!' Castro salutes Maradona on TV chat show

Fidel Castro, the Cuban leader, has forged an alliance with an unlikely new friend, the former footballing genius Diego Maradona. Interviewed on the Argentinian television show that Maradona presents, La Noche del 10 ­ " The Night of 10" ­ President Castro praised his host for his plan to join an anti-US demonstration at a forthcoming summit. "We have struggled for various years against the United States," said the Cuban leader. " I'm happy you are going to be there."

Maradona has interviewed a number of celebrities on his show, including Pele and Robbie Williams, but the interview with Mr Castro was like no other.

Taped over five hours in Cuba, where Maradona was treated for several years for drug addiction, the interview focused on matters such as the legacy of Che Guevara and the Summit of the Americas, which will be held at the Argentine resort of Mar del Plata later this week.

President George Bush and the leaders of 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries are due to arrive later this week, but Mr Castro will not be there. He is not permitted to participate because Cuba is not a member of the Organisation of American States, which organises the summit.

by Fran on Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 11:56:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Am I the only one to find that slightly ominous (even if the State Dept., which seemed to have more realistic plans for Iraq, is involved)?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 06:39:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Officials say the US would not "accept" a handover of power from Mr Castro, who is 79, to his brother Raul, aged 74. While it is not clear what the US position means, Mr McCarry stressed the US would not "impose" its help.

I wonder what "not accepting" entails. On the other hand, it is entirely possible that the regime would crumble on its own after Castro dies.

The Cuban Revolution happened 46 years ago. It sould not be too hard to find a new leader who is younger than, say, 50. If a generation of leaders who did not live the revolution take power, you might have a peaceful transition like in Spain (the generation that lead the Spanish transition were the children of those who fought the war).

The US would probably not resist meddling in any case.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 06:48:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cuba, the 63rd state!

(After Alberta, British Columbia,
Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Yukon)

by asdf on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 10:16:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
CBSnews: TV Station Backed by Chavez Goes on Air
(AP) A map of South America flashed on the screen and theme music played as live news broadcasts began Monday on a new Latin American TV station backed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as an alternative to large corporate media outlets.

Telesur _ financed by mainly by Venezuela with help from Argentina, Cuba and Uruguay _ began with top stories on political tensions in Bolivia and Chavez's predictions of a hearty debate over U.S.-style capitalism at this week's Summit of the Americas in Argentina.

One news anchor proclaimed it "a great day for Telesur," which has been running taped programs and limited news segments since its July 24 launch.

The station promises to be a Latin alternative to large media conglomerates like CNN, and has taken on the slogan "News from the South."

Chavez proposed the idea of a region-wide TV channel in 2003, and his government is the largest sponsor _ providing more than half of the station's startup capital.

by Fran on Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 11:44:11 PM EST
BBC: Ukraine's heroes turn into foes

An Orange Revolution memorabilia stall on Kiev's chestnut-lined main street, the Khreshchatyk, says quite a lot about the current state of Ukrainian politics.

A t-shirt depicting the revolution's figurehead, Viktor Yushchenko - now the country's president - has stopped selling and will not be re-ordered, says saleswoman Viktoria Kucherenko.

But a t-shirt of the revolution's leading lady, Yulia Tymoshenko - recently sacked as prime minister by Mr Yushchenko - is selling briskly.

To be fair, the Yushchenko shirt is an older product and the Tymoshenko shirt is more popular partly because it is newer and more topical.

But the way the two of them are going head-to-head in the shirt market mirrors the personal rivalry that has now come out into the open and which could be Ukraine's big political story for years to come.

The Tymoshenko shirt carries a quotation from the first television interview she gave after her dismissal: "I'm not going to hide myself away - I'm not going anywhere."

by Fran on Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 11:46:18 PM EST
BBC: Former Mirror CEO takes on Berlin

"I learned German at school," said David Montgomery, the former chief executive of the Mirror Group.

I met him while he was on a visit to Berlin.
Mr Montgomery was in the city after the news broke that his consortium had bought a German publisher, the Berliner Verlag, which owns the Berliner Zeitung and its sister tabloid, the Berliner Kurier.

To his critics, David Montgomery is known as a cold, ruthless manager. In Germany, his new employees have already been on the attack.

The Berliner Kurier printed an upside down picture of the media mogul on its front page, with the headline, "No Sir. You are not going to get our paper."

"We looked hard on the internet, as we are also journalists, and we could not find a single good word about this man," Renate Gensch, the head of the Berliner Zeitung's works' council, told me.
"Staff are worried about job cuts. They do not trust Mr Montgomery when he talks about efficiency."

So why all the fuss? David Montgomery, the former chief executive of the Mirror Group, has bought the Berliner Verlag, which is Berlin's leading newspaper group.

by Fran on Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 11:47:43 PM EST
Guardian: Syrian Minister Sparks Dustup at U.N.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Syria's foreign minister sparked a diplomatic dustup in the U.N. Security Council on Monday, when he said that concluding his government knew about plans to kill a former Lebanon leader was like suggesting the U.S., Spain and Britain knew in advance about 9/11 and other major terror attacks.

Farouk Al-Sharaa made the claim after the Security Council passed a resolution and backed a U.N. report that said the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri could not have occurred without Damascus' approval.

His remarks drew heated denunciations from British Foreign Minister Jack Straw and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who called al-Sharaa's comments an ``unbelievable tirade'' and ``bizarre.''

The testy exchange between al-Sharaa and Straw punctured a morning of largely civil speeches once the Security Council passed a resolution demanding Syria cooperate with a probe into Hariri's assassination.

by Fran on Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 11:48:41 PM EST
Australian: US losing war on terror: authors

US terrorism experts Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon have reached a stark conclusion about the war on terrorism: the US is losing.

Despite an early victory over the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the two former Clinton administration officials said President George W Bush's policies have created a new haven for terrorism in Iraq that escalates the potential for Islamic violence against Europe and the US.

America's badly damaged image in the Muslim world could take more than a generation to set right.
And Bush's mounting political woes at home have undermined the chance for any bold US initiatives to address the grim social realities that feed Islamic radicalism, they said.

"It's been fairly disastrous," said Mr Benjamin, who worked as a director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council (NSC) from 1994 to 1999.

"We have had some very important successes getting individual terrorists. But I think the broader story is really quite awful. We have done a lot to fuel the fires, and we have done a lot to encourage people to hate us."

by Fran on Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 11:50:09 PM EST
BBC: Male mouse sings a song of love

Male mice serenade potential mates with ultrasonic love songs, a study by US scientists has revealed.

The research adds mice to the exclusive club of mammals that can sing, which has until now comprised only human beings, bats and cetaceans.

A Washington University, St Louis, team studied ultrasonic squeaks emitted by mice when they smelt a female and found that they formed complex songs.
They have published details in the scientific journal PLoS Biology.

Scientists have known for some time that mice emit sounds at a frequency outside the range of human hearing, but it was always possible that these could have been random vocalisations.

Washington researchers Tim Holy and Zhongsheng Guo now demonstrate that this is not the case.

by Fran on Tue Nov 1st, 2005 at 11:50:56 PM EST
DawnEurope's biggest oil refinery hit by strike

LONDON, Nov 1: More than 1,500 workers of Royal Dutch Shell went on strike on Tuesday at Europe's biggest oil refinery in The Netherlands, in protest at group plans to alter their pension rights, union leaders said.

Workers at the Pernis refinery, in the Dutch port of Rotterdam, and the petrochemical facility in nearby Moerdijk joined the strike that had begun late on Monday, a spokesman for Dutch union CNV said.

The walk-out was the first faced by the Anglo-Dutch energy giant in The Netherlands since 1979.

Those on strike meanwhile accounted for 60 per cent of the facilities' combined workforce of about 2,500.

The Pernis refinery normally produces 416,000 barrels of oil per day, while the Moerdijk facility produces about 900,000 tons of petrochemicals per year.

The (strikers') plan is to bring down (the operations) completely, the union spokesman said, adding that the total shutdown could be achieved in around a week's time.

Around 1,000 employees at a natural gas subsidiary owned jointly by Shell and US-based ExxonMobil, the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM), would join the strike on Wednesday, he added.

by Fran on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 12:01:50 AM EST
Pretty shocking: A US Gulag in Eastern Europe:


I have also set up a diary.

by Upstate NY on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 12:02:42 AM EST
BBC: Germany tests 9ft 'micro-house'

A "micro-house" created by British architect Richard Horden is being tested by students in Munich, Germany.

It has two bedrooms, a lounge, a dining room, a kitchen and a bathroom, and it is just 9ft by 9ft by 9ft.

The mini-home is already being looked at by a number of local authorities in Britain as way of dealing with short term shortages in accommodation.
It could also be a self-contained home for elderly relatives or teenagers and can be sited in a garden.
The structure has been designed around ideas from 200 architecture students and a small village is now being set up in the campus of Munich University.

The university is keen to test the idea as it has around 90,000 students and only around 10,000 apartments. It has already tried using sea containers as flats but the new micro-house is half their size.
The pods can be stacked on one another or laid out in small colonies.

The architects behind the scheme say they are perhaps too small to live in permanently but can offer everything someone would need for a few months before they find a permanent home.

by Fran on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 12:02:43 AM EST
Straw rules out `regime change' in Iran

LONDON, Nov 1: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Tuesday ruled out a policy of regime change against Iran amid mounting Western concern about Tehran's development of nuclear weapons and its stance towards Israel.

"I have to say to you that regime change in Iran is not part of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, nor do I think it would be wise," Mr Straw said during a question period in parliament.

He had been asked whether London still ruled out discussions with groups opposed to the Iranian government, and was responding to claims that internal regime change `could reduce the implied (nuclear) threat considerably'.

Mr Straw said Britain was working with other European countries as well as the United States and Russia to ensure that Iran complies with its nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations.

by Fran on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 12:05:16 AM EST
by citizen k (sansracine yahoo.fr) on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 09:52:06 AM EST
citizen k, I am not ignoring you on this topic. I've been trying to understand what's going on myself, and have not yet come to anything that I can confidently write about.

The underlying facts are horribly polluted by the quasi-open war between Sarkozy (who as Minister for the Interior has been taking an extremely aggressive and tough talking stance on this) and Villepin (who has been, like Chirac, remarkably silent in the past few days). The continued rioting seems to be a reaction to Sarkozy's over the top statements (of the "we'll come and get you, you fucking hoodlums" kind), but again, I can't tell for sure.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 10:03:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to throw petrol on the fire, but it would be interesting to expand the review to the entire EU: How fragile is the social stability in the lower economic areas in Europe?
by asdf on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 10:19:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there much debate about racism in France? The complication of accepted conditions with no jobs, and the Saudi financed extremism adds a certain additional layer of unpleasantness. But take the train out of central Paris past anywhere to the north, and enjoy the vista of terrible projects (HLMs), graffiti, broken windows, abandoned buildings and trash that is truly shameful in one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Not that the US has much to boast of in this field and the Pharisee party is busy cutting our minimal social welfare system to ribbons as we speak. They will, no doubt recoil in horror at the lack of civilization in their victims when they eventually start burning the place down.

I do like Sarkozy's "bring it on" moment. You can just imagine him attempting a Clint Eastwood grimace in front of the mirror before bed.

by citizen k (sansracine yahoo.fr) on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 09:30:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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