Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

European Sunday Brunch - Dec. 4

by Fran Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:19:57 PM EST

Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness becomes sacred. In this light, no boundary exists between the sacred and the profane.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Guardian: Rice rejects EU protests over secret terror prisons

America does not break international law, Secretary of State insists

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will inflame the transatlantic row over America's alleged torture of terror suspects in secret jails by telling Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and other European officials to 'back off'.

Rice, who arrives in Brussels tomorrow for a meeting with Nato foreign ministers, has been under pressure to respond to claims the US has been using covert prisons in Eastern Europe to interrogate Islamic militants. Human rights groups have alleged the CIA is flying terror suspects to secret jails in planes that have used airports throughout Europe, including Britain.

Rice's refusal to answer detailed questions on what has become known as 'extraordinary rendition' will anger many in Europe. Last week Straw wrote to Rice asking for clarification about some 80 flights by CIA planes that have passed through the UK. European politicians and human rights groups claim the flights and use of a network of secret jails breach international law.

State Department officials have hinted that Rice's response to Straw and other European ministers will remind them of their 'co-operation' in the war on terror. She is expected to make a public statement today stressing that the US does not violate allies' sovereignty or break international law. She will also remind people their governments are co-operating in a fight against militants who have bombed commuters in London and Madrid. She will drive home her message in private meetings with officials in Germany and at the EU headquarters in Brussels.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:25:23 PM EST
Turkish Press: Reports of CIA flights to secret prisons discussed by NATO: US ambassador

PARIS - Reports that the CIA flew terrorist suspects to secret prisons in or via European countries has been discussed at NATO headquarters in Belgium, the US ambassador to the military organisation said Friday.

"I don't want to say it hasn't come up in Brussels, of course it's come up in Brussels, but it is not getting in the way of our work," Victoria Nuland told a media conference in Paris.

"And I think it is not getting in the way of our work because there is anticipation among our allies, and particularly among EU allies, that the questions that have been asked will be answered by my government," she said.

Nuland said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was expected to reply to the letter "in the near future -- today or some time during her European trip -- and I'm certainly not going to pre-empt her answer."
Rice is to kick off a four-country European tour starting next Tuesday that will end with her in Brussels for a NATO meeting.

"Obviously we don't talk about intelligence matters. That said, US activities and actions have been, and will continue in accord with our own laws, in accord with our international obligations and we obviously don't torture anybody," Nuland said.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:26:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kidnapping, detention, torture: US "renditions" scandal embroils whole of Europe

The Bush administration broke its silence on the unfolding international scandal only this week.
The State Department said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be prepared to address the allegations of secret CIA prison camps when she visits Germany, Romania, Ukraine, and Belgium for a NATO foreign ministers meeting next week. But Washington made clear that it would not retreat from its illegal policy. Rice herself told the press, "We have never fought a war like this before where... you can't allow someone to commit the crime before you detain them."

The Bush administration has one great advantage in taking a hard line in the face of complaints and inquiries by EU states. It knows well what others can only speculate about: how much the European governments knew and how complicit they have been in the criminal activities of the CIA.

The December 1 edition of the New York Times openly raises this issue, writing that anger in Europe is accompanied by "looming embarrassment, with suspicion that Americans, in many cases, operated with the knowledge or consent of local governments."

Daria Pesce, the lawyer for a former CIA station chief in Milan who is one of those accused of snatching Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, says, "Someone knew... I don't think that it is possible that an American comes into Italy and kidnaps someone. It seems really unlikely."

Giuseppe Cucchi, a former three-star Italian general and military representative to NATO, told the Times, "I don't see why they shouldn't have agreed with our secret services on an action like that... The condition often put on an action like that is that, `If something comes out, we will declare that we didn't know anything.'"

There is, in fact, no possibility that Europe's governments did not know of the CIA's activities. Extraordinary renditions are official US policy.

Reports and articles available on the Internet have logged the movements of planes run by the CIA ever since 2001, and the number of these aircraft has increased to over 26, with ten planes added since 9/11.
Last May, when Amnesty International condemned American human rights abuses carried out in the name of the "war on terrorism" and its secretary general called Guantánamo the "gulag of our time," the US government denounced the human rights organization. All of the European governments kept silent.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:28:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stuff: EU govts attacked for handling of CIA jail reports

BRUSSELS: European Union parliamentarians have accused leaders of the 25-country bloc of failing to press the United States hard enough on media reports of secret CIA jails holding terrorism suspects in Europe.

Members of the European Parliament said EU presidency holder Britain and the EU Commission had shirked a full investigation into allegations the CIA was running secret jails in Eastern Europe and covertly flying prisoners through EU airports.

"I am not reassured that there is sufficient determination by the Council (of EU states) to get to the bottom of these allegations," Liberal Democrat Sarah Ludford told a meeting of the Parliament's civil liberties committee.

Referring to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's move to write to Washington seeking clarification of the reports, she added: "That sounds to me rather less than zealous".

Austrian Green deputy Johannes Voggenhuber accused EU member states and the Commission, the EU's powerful executive, of having no interest in checking allegations which, if true, would be deeply embarrassing to the governments involved.

"I feel we are being held back by the Commission," he told the hearing, suggesting that the Commission was not making full use of its access to European air traffic data which could help clarify reports on the alleged CIA flights.

The European Parliament Socialist Group, the second largest group in the assembly, called on Wednesday for the US envoy to the EU to answer questions before the parliament.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:30:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Khaleej Times: CIA operated 400-plus secret flights in Germany: report

BERLIN - The German government has a list of at least 437 flights operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency in German airspace, the news magazine Der Spiegel claimed in its edition to be published on Monday.

The number includes both movements by planes of the CIA spy agency in German airspace and landings at German airports, it says.

"Such planes could be used to transfer presumed terrorists and place them in secret locations," Der Spiegel writes.

The report comes on the eve of a visit to Germany by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Der Spiegel says that in 2002 and 2003 two CIA aircraft alone accounted for 137 and 146 uses of German airspace or landings, chiefly at Frankfurt in the west, Berlin or the US base at Ramstein in western Germany.

Germany has the largest number of US bases in Europe.
In an interview published on Saturday in the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper the secretary general of the German branch of the human rights organisation Amnesty International claimed the German government knew of the CIA flights.

Der Spiegel said the government was worried that the affair could prompt a fundamental debate about the use of German airspace by US planes for the war in Iraq and the basing of US troops in Germany.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:31:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: CIA flights 'landed in Germany'

'Unfortunate timing'

The list of suspected CIA flights was handed over by German air traffic controllers at the request of the Left Party, Der Spiegel said in its latest edition to be published on Monday.

It said the aircraft had made landings in Berlin, Frankfurt and the US airbase at Ramstein.

However, the list has not shed any light on what the planes were carrying, the BBC's Tristana Moore in Berlin reports.

A German government spokesman said the list allowed only to know "how many times which planes of which companies flew in German airspace or landed at German airports".

The timing of the report is unfortunate for Ms Rice, as the issue is likely to be raised directly during her talks with new German Chancellor Angela Merkel next week, our correspondent says.

by Fran on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 01:27:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Courier mail: US to inspect suspect prisons

THE US military is planning unannounced inspections of suspected Iraqi detention centres to make sure prisoners are not being abused in other secret Interior Ministry facilities.

A US-led raid last month freed about 170 mostly Sunni prisoners from an Interior Ministry jail in Baghdad where at least seven detainees had been tortured and others deprived of food, water and medical care.

Lieutenant General Martin Dempsey said US military intelligence was drawing up a list of potential sites to be inspected by US and Iraqi inspector general teams.

"And it's going to focus initially in and around Baghdad, of course, but I also think it will take a look more broadly than that," he told reporters here in a video-teleconference from Iraq.

He said intelligence reports are being analysed for indications of other secret facilities like the one uncovered in the November 13 raid. Possible sites will be added to the list for inspection, he said.

The secret prison put a spotlight on the vulnerability of the 75,000-strong Iraqi police to subversion by militia groups even as the United States is planning to turn over greater responsibilities to Iraqi security forces.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:37:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dear European Friends, please telephone, write and email your parlimentary representatives to get the word to your Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers to totally oppose this piece of blackmail by the Bush Administration and Condi Rice.  It must be done in no uncertain terms. Please do it for Europe, your own countries, and for civilization. We have a fight against facism in the US, so do it for us too. I'm sixty years old and have been following politics since the 50s, I've never seen it so bad. Please tell you governments to tell Condi to go stuff herself.
by Rolfyboy6 (rolmsted@hawaii.rr.com) on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 12:34:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with Rolfyboy6. I'm 57, and I say also, it's never been this bad here in the US.

All the people (age range 25-75) I converse with who are politically active believe we are on the verge of fascism. There's little doubt in my mind that we will need international pressure to successfully confront this fascist trend.

NVA, a viable option when the political process fails.

by NorthDakotaDemocrat (NorthDakotaDemocrat at gmail dot com) on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 02:52:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Can I make you a question?

These conversations are with people from all stripes? I mean , is this something a good chunk of the population would say (I am talking about the huge majority that does not vote here, not the republicans) or it is more a liberal or independent (voters) stuff.

Thanks in advance.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 04:24:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And a Hi to you, kcurie,and thank you for your response.  

"Can I make you a question?"

Sure, feel free to question me at any time, here or via email.

"These conversations are with people from all stripes?"

No, actually not from all stripes.

I have not had a serious political discussion with a known Republican since Nov 3, 2004. If I could find a Republican who was able and willing to discuss political issues intelligently I would do so.

However, it seems all Republican supporters parrot the same talking points, (and I mean, word for word, phrase for phrase),  which they have received from either TV, generally FOX news (Bill O'Reilly), or talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh.

The Bush administration's propaganda scheme is very thorough, and very extensive. The media in my life time has never been under such total control of corporate and government interests as it is today.

I can't think of anyone I known who has claimed be an  Independent.

So the people (in person, not blogs) I converse with regularly on political issues and current event issues call themselves "progressives" (since the word "liberal" has become negatively tainted due to the opposition's propaganda effort), or call themselves Democrats.

Thus, the people I know who truly believe that we (USA) are on the verge of fascism, are most likely to be serious political activists or their peers.

I find that people who are getting a substantial percentage of their news from internet sources are generally very knowledgeable on the serious issues of the day. Those accessing the corporate media TV, radio, newsprint are ill-informed or uninformed.

For one example; I doubt 1 out of 100 people interviewed on the streets of any city in this country could give you the name of one neo-conservative. That in contrast to the reporting of the UK'S Guardian, which had extensive information on neo-conservative involvement in the Bush administration, from the very beginning of their ascent to power.  

So it unlikely that the vast majority of our citizens, particularly rural citizens, are aware of the degree of corporate control of their government, and thus they have little awareness as to the progression of fascism.

Until the last few years there has never been in my life time a concern as to the actual survival of this republic's democracy.

It is essential for the Democrats to gain control of at least the House in election of 2006, as then there will be some hope the proverbial pendulum will reverse direction. If not... well, I prefer not to think of, "if not"... due to such serious issues as climate change and Asian flu pandemic, to name a couple.    

Acckkk! I see I'm approaching diary length. Feel free to suggest a focus for a topic...

I truly feel that the only viable antidote to fascism involves the concepts I reference in a diary here.

NVA, a viable option when the political process fails.

by NorthDakotaDemocrat (NorthDakotaDemocrat at gmail dot com) on Mon Dec 5th, 2005 at 01:51:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems that Bush's "floor" of support is about 30 to 35%. A fascist regime with that level of support is close to unassailable, unless Bush loses the support of "his base" (the haves, and the have-mores).

I have no doubt in my mind that the republicans will retain the Congress in next years' midterm elections, by any means necessary. What I wonder is how they will engineer "succession" in 2008.

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 Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 5th, 2005 at 03:09:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru says,"It seems that Bush's "floor" of support is about 30 to 35%. A fascist regime with that level of support is close to unassailable..."

I'm not quite sure we're at the point of "fait accompli" with regards a fascist regime. And having no historical precedence for such here in the US, I'm somewhat at a loss as to which parameters one would use.

I'll quote myself as saying, "We're a couple of rungs up the ladder..." But that doesn't tell us much. I've yet to hear of a historical reference that would elucidate our present experience.

BTW, many of the "haves" in that 30-35% are rapidly trending to "have-nots" status...

And then there's nothing like $ 3.00/gal diesel fuel, $ 2.56/gal furnace oil, and $ 2-3/gal gasoline, as far as enlightening some of these dimwits who in the past voted against their economic interest for the sake of some "family values" issue. (...As a number of recent anecdotes have conveyed.)  

There would not even be the illusion of hope were it not for internet news dissemination and communication. If we lose that, then there'll be no argument from me that democracy has indeed faded from the scene.

NVA, a viable option when the political process fails.

by NorthDakotaDemocrat (NorthDakotaDemocrat at gmail dot com) on Mon Dec 5th, 2005 at 04:17:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And having no historical precedence for such here in the US, I'm somewhat at a loss as to which parameters one would use.
Try Umberto Eco's Eternal Fascism:
Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt
It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, "I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares." Life is not that simple.
As this article was written in 1995, it cannot be argued that it is an overreaction to Bush.

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 Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 5th, 2005 at 06:32:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Times: Condi goes on offensive over secret CIA jails

UNDER siege over allegations of secret CIA detention centres in Europe, Condoleezza Rice, the American secretary of state, is to go on the offensive when she meets European allies this week.  

Convinced that the media, rather than Europe's leaders, are making the biggest fuss about reports of "black sites" housing top Al-Qaeda prisoners, Rice has decided she can afford to brush off mounting criticism of America's human rights record.  

The White House adopted an aggressive tone when Scott McClellan, the presidential spokesman, said on Friday that George W Bush did not condone torture. "When it comes to human rights, there is no greater leader than the United States of America," he said.  


Straw is likely to accept Rice's assurances that human rights violations are not tolerated, despite the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and controversy over conditions at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. A British official said there was "an understanding that dealing with terrorists involves a constant balancing act that is difficult to get right".  


On Tuesday Rice will touch down in Bucharest to sign a deal opening American facilities in Romania that will provide stopover points for US missions in the Middle East and central Asia. One of them is likely to be the air force base of Mihail Kogalniceaunu, which has come under suspicion as an alleged "black site".  

Parts of Mihail Kogalniceaunu were off limits to Romanian authorities from 2001 to 2004, according to Ioan Mircea Pascu, the former defence minister. Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, visited the base in 2004 but the Romanian government has denied any knowledge of detention sites.  

Our governments are fully complicit.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 03:55:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, meant to add: via Chris in the dKos thread.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 03:56:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes... I can't really imagine a detention place not being known by the diverse Intelligence Services !

Several point thought... A flight plan can say "CIA moves" (for those who can read it) but not "prisoners in custody in the flight".
The first can be "natural" in an agreement while exchanging informations, the latter might not !
After all, most IS in EU would have liked to ask some questions to those prisoners too...!

A second point is that our countries' ISes interrogation techniques are not at the kindergarten level either... The crossing line between what is seen by most as "torture" and what is really done in a "heavy" questioning is very thin and blurry...!

International laws are the only, very thin, safeguards we have. They shouldn't be trampled at whim by any government, whitout a backslash... And at least, here, the media is doing it's job !

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 04:57:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is sad... How do you make human rights the #1 issue in an election? And, even if you did, scare-mongers have an easier time convincing voters.

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 Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 06:55:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More in this article

Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who will be chairing a Commons committee of MPs along with Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, has said Rice needs to make a clear statement. She 'does not seem to realise that for a large section of Washington and European opinion, the Bush administration is in a shrinking minority of people that has not grasped that lowering our standards [on human rights] makes us less, not more, secure'.

That's the heart of it.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 04:58:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Scoop: Climate change: EU on track to reach Kyoto targets

Press Release: European Commission
Climate change: EU on track to reach Kyoto targets, latest projections show

The EU is well on its way to achieve its Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases on the basis of the policies, measures and third-country projects already implemented or planned. This is the conclusion of a Commission report demonstrating EU progress under the Kyoto Protocol that is to be submitted to the UN climate convention. The latest projections from member states indicate that a combination of existing policies and measures, additional initiatives which are already in an advanced state of planning, and credits gained through the protocol's mechanisms for promoting emission-saving projects in third countries will reduce combined EU-15 emissions to 9.3% below 1990 levels by 2010. This clearly fulfils the 8% reduction target from 1990 levels that the protocol requires the EU-15 to achieve during 2008-2012. The projections show that EU-25 emissions would be cut by more than 11%. Seventeen member states with emission targets are currently projected to meet them, while the others are in the process of identifying further actions.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "The latest projections show that the EU has successfully transformed its commitment under Kyoto into policies and measures by which it will attain the emissions' reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol. And we have already reduced our emissions despite healthy economic growth. But that does not mean we can be complacent. We will need to fully implement the various emission reduction measures that we have signed up to under our climate change programme and make use of the Kyoto flexible mechanisms CDM and JI." These mechanisms allow for emission-reducing projects in other countries which generate emission credits.

As announced in June (IP/05/767), by 2003 - the latest year for which complete data are available - greenhouse gas emissions had been reduced by 1.7% in the EU-15 compared with base year levels (in most cases, 1990), while the economy had grown by 27%.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:38:36 PM EST
IHT: U.K. pushes plan to stop all subsidies to EU farms

Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the British Exchequer, said Friday that Europe must reform its common agricultural policy, which sets subsidies and protective tariffs, to help unlock stalled global trade talks.

By making his proposals at a meeting of Group of 7 finance ministers and central bankers, including the U.S. Treasury secretary, John Snow, Brown brought what has until now been largely an internal debate within the European Union onto the international stage.

In a 76-page document, Brown proposed that the European Union completely phase out subsidies, price supports and export refunds for farmers.

But the EU agriculture commissioner, Marian Fischer Boel, said in an e-mail statement to Bloomberg News: "This is not the right moment. We see this paper as the basis for longer-term deliberations."

Brown's plan come amid growing divisions in the Europe Union over economic policy. The EU has been unable to agree on a $120 billion budget for 2007-2013. The main obstacle has been a dispute on the support paid to European farmers, which accounts for just under half the budget.

Britain, which hold the EU's six-month rotating presidency until the end of the year, has refused to give up its $5 billion annual rebate without a major reform of the common agricultural policy. Prime Minister Tony Blair is facing pressure to give up part of the rebate as he tries to forge a budget agreement by the end of the year.

France, where farmers receive some of the largest handouts under the policy, did not immediately make an official comment on Britain's proposal. But a spokesman for the French mission to the EU in Brussels, Nicolas de la Grandville, said the latest position of the European Union's chief trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, "did not seem to be in line with the recommendations by Gordon Brown." France, the spokesman said, remains committed to its 2003 pledge to reform policy .

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:40:00 PM EST
Independent: Brown demands cut in French farm subsidy

Gordon Brown yesterday weighed into the EU budget row, urging France to make concessions on agricultural subsidies in response to Britain's offer to cut its rebate.

Tomorrow Tony Blair will formally present his proposal to secure a deal on the EU budget before European governments. It is expected to propose that Britain cut around €1.5bn (£1bn) a year from its rebate. The Prime Minister has abandoned hopes of getting a guaranteed cut in farm subsidies before 2013. But the Chancellor yesterday sought to depict France as isolated, and urged the French government to agree to lower subsidies. Speaking after a meeting of G7 finance ministers in London, Mr Brown said both Europe and the US would be prepared to lower their tariffs on agricultural goods at key trade talks about to start in Hong Kong. Brazil and India had signalled they would be prepared to compromise over tariffs on industrial goods at the World Trade Organisation meeting.

The Chancellor said yesterday that he regarded theirs as "very important statements", adding: "This is a matter now for the French to discuss with the European negotiators, but they did sign up to a statement which ... calls for significant progress in market access and in agriculture."

But ministers were downplaying expectations of a deal on the EU budget yesterday, and warned that Britain may not be able to clinch agreement, despite offering to give up as much as 15 per cent of its annual rebate. Douglas Alexander, the Europe minister, told Radio 4's Today programme that "it would would be greatly to our disadvantage" if Britain were unable to come to an agreement but it had to be "the right deal".

by Fran on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 12:12:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just a reminder that the UK rebate is, under present rules, going to rise each year. It's about €5bn for this year, and may rise to over €8bn by 2013. So it's trending strongly upwards.

On the other hand, since the 2003 reform, CAP spending is trending slowly downwards.

The UK's intention is to hold on to as much of the rebate rise as possible (knowing that the rapid rise will become highly visible and get fired on), while blaming the CAP for budget problems, and, of course, isolating the French.

the Chancellor yesterday sought to depict France as isolated

Full marks to that journalist. You won't read that everywhere in the British press.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 03:45:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: Blair says agreement is near on EU budget

Tony Blair, Britain's prime minister, on Friday emerged from bruising budget talks with the leaders of some of the European Union's poorest countries, convinced that a deal on the €800bn-€900bn package is within reach.

Mr Blair will table on Monday a draft EU budget for 2007-13 outlining cuts in regional support to the former Soviet bloc, but also accepting that Britain should give up between €6bn-€9bn euros of its controversial budget rebate.

Britain, which holds the rotating EU presidency, wants the final package to ensure rough parity between the net payments of UK and French taxpayers into the EU budget.

Mr Blair's aides were upbeat after talks in Budapest, claiming there was a "fighting chance" of agreeing a new seven-year EU budget this month, in spite of serious concerns in eastern Europe about his plans.

Leaders of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia warned Mr Blair they would not accept his proposal to slash 10 per cent from the proposed €160bn EU regional aid budget, which they need to fund transport and environmental schemes.

In spite of the tough talk in Budapest yesterday, the new EU members were careful not to jeopardise an eventual budget deal at the Brussels summit on December 16-17.

Failure to do a deal would dramatically slow the transfer of large sums of EU cash from western to eastern Europe and plunge the union into deeper political turmoil

by Fran on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 01:40:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times: New EU members link budget deal to reform

Four of the EU's newest members told Tony Blair, UK prime minister, on Friday they would not accept a cut in development funds under the next EU budget unless it was linked to broader reform.

Ferenc Gyurcsany, Hungary's prime minister, called for a review of Britain's budget rebate and the EU's system of farm subsidies.

"We are ready for reform if you are ready for reform," said Mr Gyurcsany, Hungary's prime minister, who was speaking also for Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Mr Blair met the prime ministers of all four countries in search of a compromise over the 2007-2013 EU budget. Britain holds the rotating EU presidency, and Mr Blair has tried to lay the groundwork for a budget deal at a summit of EU government heads in two weeks.

His proposals, which include a reduction in development aid for new EU members, have brought him under heavy attack at home and across Europe. He has also appeared outmanoeuvred by Jacques Chirac, the French president, who has jumped to the defence of the EU's poorest members.

by Fran on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 01:46:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brown brought what has until now been largely an internal debate within the European Union onto the international stage

Nonsense. Questions to do with agricultural trade and tariffs and subsidy systems (US and EU) have been very publicly on the table for quite some time. Is this hopeless newspaper (the International Herald Tribune) suggesting the entire Doha Round at the WTO has been an internal debate at the EU?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 03:51:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian: The inequalities that blazed in France will soon scorch the world

The tensions between a dispossessed underclass and the comfortable majority have only been repressed, not solved

It amazes me that people are surprised when underclasses rebel. The surprising thing is that they do not do it more often. The combination of the oppressiveness of poverty and racism and the lack of short-term, or even medium-term hope is surely a recipe for rebellion. What keeps rebellion down is fear of repression, which is why repression is usually swift. But the repression never makes the anger go away. Dominique de Villepin, the prime minister, says that this uprising was not as bad as those of Los Angeles in 1992, when 54 people died and 2,000 were hurt. Perhaps not, but that's hardly a basis for boasting.

Throughout the world today, metropolitan areas are filled with people who match the profile of the rebels in France: poor, jobless, socially marginalised and defined as "different" - and therefore angry. If they are teenagers they have the energy to rebel, and lack even the minimal family responsibilities that might restrain them. Furthermore, the anger is reciprocated. Those in the more comfortable majority fear these young people precisely for the characteristics they have. The better-off feel that the poor youths tend to be lawless and, well, "different". So, many of the better-off (but perhaps not all) tend to endorse strong measures to contain these rebellions, including total exclusion from the society, even from the country.

France is in some ways an exaggerated version of what we find everywhere, not only in North America and the rest of Europe, but throughout the south in countries such as Brazil, Mexico, India and South Africa. Indeed, it is hard to think of a country where this issue does not exist. The problem with France is that too many of its citizens have long denied to themselves that this is a French problem as well.

What was remarkable about the rebellion in France this time is that it did not focus on religious issues. For example, it did not result in anti-semitic tirades. Because France has a large number of poor Jews who live in the same housing complexes, there have been Muslim-Jewish, or rather Palestinian-Israeli, tensions for the past two decades. But that issue was shelved. The French rebellion was a spontaneous class uprising. And like most spontaneous uprisings, it could not be sustained for too long.

But also, like most rebellions, the possibility of recurrence will not disappear unless the gross inequalities are overcome. And it does not seem that too much effort is being made by the French authorities (or, for that matter, by authorities elsewhere in the world) to overcome inequalities. We are in an epoch of accentuating, not alleviating, inequalities. And therefore we are in an epoch of increasing, not decreasing, rebellions.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:42:22 PM EST
I think I will support that comment 100%.

Worth a reading.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 02:33:13 AM EST
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Pravda: Bosnia and Herzegovina still considered a thorn in EU's side

Corruption, arms smuggling and sex slavery are still prospering in the region and raise serious concerns with European politicians

The 10th anniversary of the Dayton agreements, which helped bring one of the bloodiest Balkan conflicts to an end, attracted the world's attention to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) again. The US administration believes that BiH are capable of solving the remaining problems for the sake of the cherished goal - the EU membership.

It may seem strange, but US officials with Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicolas Burns at the head, believe that the present-day triumvirate can be replaced with a centralized government and the parliament before the elections (slated to take place next year). Washington thus reminds that the Dayton agreements were only a transition stage on the way to the establishment of the Bosnian state structure and the republic's membership in the European Union.

Representatives of ethnic groups - Bosnians, Croatians and Serbs - came to agreement last week to change the national constitution by March of the next year. Statesmen have already started negotiations with EU officials to sign the agreement of stabilization and association.

Despite the gradual improvement of the general state of affairs in the country, none of the ethnic groups is ready to retrieve erstwhile relations, which used to be common in the 1990s. It could be explained with an aspiration of Croatian nationalistic groups to not to lose power in the country. The Serbs in their turn do not wish to be deprived of the rights, which they obtained as a result of the conflict in 1993-1995. More importantly, the Serbs stand firm for the Serbian Republic - their own territory, which appeared on the map of the world after the crisis in Yugoslavia.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:43:51 PM EST
BBC: Face op patient 'said thank you'

The first patient to undergo a face transplant thanked her doctors as soon as she came round after the operation.

The woman, who sustained her injuries when her dog mauled her is "doing well" and has been able to eat strawberries and chocolate, doctors say.

The medical team who carried out the operation on Sunday in Amiens, France, say they were justified in undertaking the ground-breaking surgery.

But one expert questioned if such a radical procedure was needed.

Laurent Lantieri, an advisor to the French National Consultative Ethics Committee, said the team who operated on the patient had violated the panel's advice by not attempting conventional reconstructive surgery first.

'Green light'
The team who carried out the pioneering operation - which altogether lasted around 21 hours - have been giving details of what they called an "exceptional case".

Facial tissue from a donor from Lille, who was brain-dead, was used to repair severe damage from the top of the woman's nose to her chin.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:44:56 PM EST
Hindustan Times: EU okays India joining ITER nuke reactor project

The European Union agreed on Friday to include India in a €10 billion project to build an experimental nuclear fusion reactor that in the long-run could provide virtually unlimited, cheap and clean energy.

The EU's willingness to work with India on a civil nuclear project comes months after the United States said it would support India's nuclear power development despite its refusal to sign a global treaty barring the spread of atomic weapons.

That move was seen as a dramatic policy shift as Washington had previously frowned on India's status as an unofficial nuclear power.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), is a project run at the moment by five partners apart from the EU -- China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States -- and all have to agree to let India into the club.

"By bringing in India, more than half on the world's population is represented at ITER," Antonia Mochan, the European Commission's spokeswoman on science and research, said.

"It's important to have such a scientific experiment which could have such huge ramifications for energy, and its important to do that with people who could bring so much scientific know-how."

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:46:16 PM EST
Independent: Who says I can't be English, Muslim and a beauty queen?

Hate mail and clerical condemnation will not stop her competing for Miss World

She couldn't care less about working with animals and children. She has already travelled the world. She doesn't appear in a bikini. And she speaks six different languages. Miss England is a lot more than just a pretty face.

Born in Uzbekistan, Hammasa Kohistani is the first Muslim to win the Miss England title. On Saturday she will represent her country against 103 other women, all competing to become Miss World. The pageant means that China is the 26th country she has explored. And she is prouder to be English than anyone in the world.

But it has not been an easy journey from Uzbekistan to evening wear: when Miss Kohistani was chosen as Miss England, she and her family were subjected to threats and abuse, and Muslim "leaders" condemned her. Rumours reached her that her A-level classmates were grumbling that she should not represent the English.

Hammasa, whose name means "ambition", was born in Uzbekistan because her parents were studying in the country. They returned to their native Afghanistan when she was one year old. Her memories of her childhood home are vague and few. "Once, when Kabul was being attacked, Mum sat me on the window sill and I could see bombs dropping and shooting," she recalls. "Mum started screaming because bullets began flying past our faces, so we all had to spend the night in the corridor as that didn't have windows or doors."

It was for their daughter's sake that the Kohistani family - a law lecturer and a government administrator - decided to leave Afghanistan in 1996, as the Taliban were rising to power. "Conditions had always been quite bad, but they became too bad to stay," she says. "My parents decided it was safer to leave, especially having a firstborn girl: those are not good conditions for girls." Her parents both have master's degrees and have always encouraged her academic achievements, and though she is only 18, she knows what she wants. She is taking a break from her four A-levels while she tours the world as Miss England, but when she finishes school she wants to work in advertising design - "on the other side of the lens".

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:49:29 PM EST
Turkish Press: Annan feuds with US envoy over UN budget, management reform

UN chief Kofi Annan and US Ambassador John Bolton have sparred over the stalled UN budget and the slow pace of planned reforms amid fears that the impasse could lead to a "financial crunch."

"There has been suggestion by some governments, or a government, that we should not be given the two-year budget but maybe a temporary three-month or so budget," Annan told UN staff, referring to a Bolton proposal.

"This doesn't work for the United Nations," said Annan, who cancelled an overseas trip this weekend to deal with the budget challenge.

Last month, Bolton, the US envoy to the UN, suggested that the world body adopt an interim budget only for three or four months pending the resolution of a stalemate over management reforms which Washington strongly backs.

But Annan Friday said not adopting a full budget for 2006-2007 would lead to "a financial crunch."
"The business of the UN is not reform, the business of the UN is carrying on the mandates that the General Assembly, ECOSOC (the Economic and Social Council) and Security Council have given us, so that business must continue," the US secretary general noted.

Annan called off a planned two-week Asian tour, including visits to China, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam, that was to have started this weekend.
"We are at a critical stage of the budget process... So I decided that it was important for me to work with member states to ensure that we get the budget approved."

Asked whether he was hopeful the two-year budget could be adopted by the end of the year, he replied: "Most of the member states understand the need for the budget."

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:55:00 PM EST
Arabic News: UN demands Israel fully withdraw from Syria's Golan

UN General Assembly has demanded Israel to fully withdraw from the occupied Syrian Golan to the line of June 4th 1967 in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.

The assembly said in a resolution adopted during its session held Thursday that Israel refused to implement any UN resolution including resolution no 497 which stipulates total withdrawal from the Syrian Golan.

"Occupying the Syrian Golan and imposing the Israeli will and laws there are null and totally illegitimate," the resolution said.

The assembly called upon all involved parties to resume the peace process in the region, and Israel to resume negotiations on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks and to respect all commitments reached during the last negotiations held between the two sides.

The UN.General Assembly expressed deep concern over Israel's reluctance to pull out of the Syrian Golan, "violating the international legitimacy as well as the UN resolutions." The majority of the General Assembly members stressed in the resolution that building Israeli settlements or carrying out other activities on Golan's land are considered illegitimate.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:55:46 PM EST
Khaleej Times: Chavez announces trip to Iran to boost "anti-imperialist" fight

CARACAS - President Hugo Chavez announced late Friday that he plans to visit Iran early next year to bolster the "fight against imperialism, US hegemonic pretensions and sole superpower" status.

Chavez said his government categorically rejects the US "aggression" toward Iran over its controversial nuclear program, which also has prompted concern from the European Union.

"Today we can say that Iran and Venezuela, the Iranian revolution and the Venezuelan revolution, are brothers; we have achieved it. And that brotherhood hopes for a world of equals," Chavez told local media.

Venezuela, which is independent politically but "very dependent technologically and economically," as such must defend Iran's nuclear program, Chavez said.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:56:44 PM EST
The Australian: Howard in a hole with Bush and Blair

TWELVE months after the last election, John Howard has fallen into a large polling hole. The Coalition's support is bouncing around and Howard's personal standing has been sliding for two months.

The Government is finding it difficult to fight on broken terrain and the Labor Opposition is finally defining the issues on which it intends to campaign.
Because of the electoral pressure over the proposed industrial relations changes, the political impact of every other event is magnified.

Superficially, the Prime Minister's decline in popularity in recent weeks has reflected the problems his successfully re-elected partners in the Iraq invasion have suffered.

US President George W. Bush, who is now polling disastrously, has been under pressure over an increasing American death toll in Iraq ever since his re-election at almost the same time as Howard.

But unlike Howard, Bush has been battling a burgeoning deficit and was then hit with the literal disaster of Hurricane Katrina. Katrina tipped the scales for a president already under enormous pressure in his last term. Bush has become a lame duck early.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has also had a decline in authority and stature as he goes into what is his self-declared last term.

The terror attacks on the London transport system have created a sense of uncertainty in Britain and the need for much tougher anti-terror laws.

For Howard, who may be in his last term, the challenges have been far less onerous than those faced by Bush and Blair -- and are also self-inflicted.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:57:54 PM EST
The Star Online: Myanmar says Suu Kyi detention extended by 6 months

YANGON (Reuters) - Military-ruled Myanmar said on Saturday that democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi's period of house arrest had been extended for six months, and not one year as originally reported.  
"Six months only, not one year," Information Minister Kyaw Hsan told reporters in Yangon.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:58:37 PM EST
Spiegel Online: The Snail-Paced Recovery of New Orleans

Three months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the city on the Gulf Coast is trying to get back on its feet. But will it be the same city after it is rebuilt? As historical structures rot and decay, officialdom moves forward at a snail's pace. The vultures are proving to be much quicker.

The future of New Orleans begins with large, plastic buckets. And inside each bucket is the same stuff: a bottle each of laundry detergent, cleaning fluid, and bleach, plus liquid soap, five scouring pads, seven sponges, a scrub brush, a laundry line, 50 clothes pins, 24 garbage bags, five dust masks, latex gloves, work gloves, mosquito repellent and air freshener.

They're called flood buckets. And they are on the front lines in the battle to rebuild a sunken city -- cobbled together with donations from churches, from the Red Cross, and from the generosity of concerned citizens.

Dozens of them are standing in front of the Preservation Resource Center -- an organization dedicated to the preservation of New Orleans architecture and neighborhoods -- located in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. Those who want to help save the cultural heritage of the city can just swing by and grab a bucket -- free of charge. In addition, do-it-yourself courses are offered in the back room every Thursday with tips from experts on how to repair flood damage.

New Orleans, three months after "Katrina": The metropolis on the Mississippi Delta remains largely a ghost town. Whole neighborhoods remain uninhabitable, without electricity or water and with heaps of trash piled up along the streets. Only about one tenth of the 500,000 inhabitants have returned and the sweet smell of decay hangs in the air. But a few determined individuals aren't giving up. While the officials squabble and financial aid runs dry they have taken the initiative into their own hands to save the 300 year old architectural heritage of their homeland -- with sponges, brushes and optimism.  

"An incredibly intense effort"

Ten thousands of buildings -- listed as historical monuments -- are threatened with demolition. And not just because of the storm but also because of greedy property speculators, who are exploiting the bureaucratic chaos. "It will take an incredibly intense effort to save our city," says Gay.

by Fran on Sat Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:59:20 PM EST
Independent: Whoa! Riding master gets hitched to the richest bride in the world

Athina Roussel-Onassis, 20, is worth £1.5bn. Her wedding yesterday was not a modest affair.

As high society weddings go, they don't come more rarefied than this. Yesterday, on a private estate in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the richest young woman on the planet married a bronzed, handsome Olympic medallist at an event so exclusive that 500 security guards were in attendance.

But beneath the glitz (the dress alone cost £20,000) and the sparkle (1,000 bottles of champagne stood on ice at the £40,000-a-day reception venue), there were enough lurking subplots to fuel a whole season of Shakespearean tragedies.

For this is not your average little rich girl getting wed. Her name is Onassis, and, for inheritance purposes, there is only one of those left in the world. On her 18th birthday in 2003, Athina Roussel-Onassis collected $2.7bn (£1.5bn), and next month, when she reaches 21, she inherits sole control of her own financial destiny and the chair of the fabulously rich Onassis Foundation. Not surprisingly, there is no shortage of speculation that the groom, Alvaro Afonso de Miranda, 32, known as Doda, is as smitten with Athina's worldly goods as he is with the 20-year-old herself.

And hovering over the reception, like a coachload of Banquo's ghosts, are the spectres of past Onassis marriages. There is Aristotle himself, shipping tycoon grandfather of Athina, whose first marriage ended when his wife found him in bed with Maria Callas, and who then married Jackie, the widow of John F Kennedy.

The couple met in 2002 at a riding centre in Belgium. She is a keen rider who hopes to represent Greece at the 2008 Beijing Olympics; he was the winner of an equestrian bronze at the Sydney Games. A year later, Onassis moved to Sao Paulo, where she shares a 10,650 sq ft apartment with Doda and Viviane, his six-year-old daughter from his previous marriage. The couple reportedly have a discreet lifestyle. Her new father-in-law, Ricardo Miranda, said: "She is not a stuck-up woman. She is a very intelligent woman who speaks Portuguese and likes to watch soap operas."

All I can add is WOAH!

by Fran on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 12:05:00 AM EST
I wonder how many pages the pre-nup is?  I'm imagining them wheeling it in on a dolly.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 12:33:48 AM EST
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What is a dolly?
by Fran on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 12:47:47 AM EST
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by NorthDakotaDemocrat (NorthDakotaDemocrat at gmail dot com) on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 03:10:12 AM EST
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Thanks, NDD -- you beat me to it and had a better explanation.  You didn't even have to drag cannibals into it!  I should use google more...

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 03:39:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a... hand truck?  Like what they tied Hannibal Lector to in Silence of the Lambs.  

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 03:14:48 AM EST
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Oh, and I just had a phantastic realisation. All I need do to be considered a intelligent woman is to learn Portugues and watch soap opera - gosh, why didn't I realise that before, could have saved myself lots of struggles! :-)
by Fran on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 12:54:29 AM EST
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You forgot the inheriting 2.7 billion bit... ;-)
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 04:01:11 AM EST
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VOA: New Poll Says Iraq is Defining How Arabs View US, Rest of World

According to a public opinion poll taken in six Middle Eastern countries, the conflict in Iraq is playing a major role in how the Arab world views the United States and the rest of the world.

One of those involved in the poll, University of Maryland Middle East expert Shibley Telhami, told a Washington news conference that the results of the poll, taken in October, should worry the United States. "Arabs are looking at the world through the prism of Iraq. That is a new prism and it's a troubling prism from the point of view of the U.S., because it's not a good prism for the United States of America today, and that explains a lot of the troubling answers from the point of view of American foreign policy," he said.

Mr. Telhami conducted the survey jointly with the U.S.-based polling group Zogby International. They interviewed a total of 39-hundred people in six countries -- Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

The margin of error was 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent in all the countries, except the United Arab Emirates, where it was 6.8 percent.

A majority of the respondents said they view Israel and the United States as the biggest threats to their nations, and while the United States says spreading democracy in the Middle East is its major goal there, most of those surveyed believe the United States' main objective in Iraq is oil -- not democracy.

Eighty-one percent said they think the war has brought less peace to the Middle East, while 77 percent said they believe the people of Iraq are worse off now than before the war. "Iraq is defining in some ways how people view the world, and particularly how they view the U.S., in a similar way that the Arab-Israeli conflict for a long time has defined the outlook of Arabs toward the U.S. and toward the rest of the world," he said.

by Fran on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 01:34:24 AM EST
Financial Times: Germany has no appetite for diningVAT cut

Angela Merkel's German government yesterday delivered a blow to the French stomach, saying it will block President Jacques Chirac's plan to cut value-added tax on restaurant meals.

French politicians have lobbied Ms Merkel to back the plan, which would have to be approved by European Union finance ministers in Brussels next Tuesday.

But Peer Steinbrück, German finance minister, told the Financial Times yesterday that Berlin was "very reluctant" to support a move which could open the floodgates to VAT on other EU services being reduced.

President Chirac promised to cut VAT on restaurant meals during his 2002 election campaign. French diplomats say the issue is a test of the "spirit" of relations between Paris and Berlin.

In France, hundreds of restaurant employees marched through Paris last week in support of a cut; the restaurant industry believes VAT at 5.5 per cent, rather than 19.6 per cent, would create 40,000 restaurant jobs.

Dominique de Villepin, prime minister, telephoned Ms Merkel on Wednesday to explain "what this means to our national economy".

While Germany says it supports the French plan in principle, it will not support the raft of other national proposals to extend reduced VAT rates, including hairdressing and bicycle repairs.

Mr Steinbrück fears he will be lobbied to extend the reduced rates to Germany, something his strained finances cannot bear.

by Fran on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 01:36:10 AM EST
Some clarifications:

In France, hundreds of restaurant employees marched through Paris last week in support of a cut;

It was hundreds of restaurant owners who made demonstrations in Paris... not employees!

...the restaurant industry believes VAT at 5.5 per cent, rather than 19.6 per cent, would create 40,000 restaurant jobs.

Since last year, to anticipate this VAT rate reduction, the restaurant industry has benefitted from an important reduction of the employer's social security contributions. Unlike what the employers had claimed before, it has created only a handful of new jobs and it has not contributed to lower the prices. That's the reason why the restaurant's employees trade unions are not supporting the employers claim unless there is a global agreement on wages.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Sun Dec 4th, 2005 at 08:31:50 AM EST
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