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EuroPDB: February 8, 2006

by soj Wed Feb 8th, 2006 at 07:51:25 AM EST

Welcome to the "Euro PDB", a briefing paper on today's events affecting Europe and European interests.

Today's big stories... the WTO rules that Europe cannot ban genetically-modified foods... a huge explosion kills 12 in Chechnya... and Sweden announces plans to be oil-free in 15 years...

In English

This is huge - the WTO announced yesterday that the European Union's restrictions on genetically-modified food are in violation of trade rules. The decision can and will be appealed, so this isn't the final determination.

The Forgotten War in the North Caucuses heats up as an explosion last night at a military base in Kurchaloi, Chechnya has killed at least 12 people and injured 28.

Next week, the very first oil will be pumped for export in fun-lovin' Mauritania. The military junta running the country says they will manage the oil income "responsibly" but I've yet to see a case where a poor country ever got any richer from selling oil. I mean the people, not the scumbag cronies lining their pockets.

Voters in Slovakia will go to the polls on June 17 for general elections, which could mark a shift in which the opposition Social Democrats gain power.

The fun-lovin' government of Tajikistan's Interior Ministry has opened an "analyis center" with a lot of assistance from the American Embassy, which has kicked in about 1.5 million dollars in total. The goal of the center is to reduce human trafficking.

The parliament in Georgia will vote on February 15 on whether to formally request that Russian peacekeepers be removed from South Ossetia. This is likely to pass but will not be binding, yet it will ramp up the pressure in the self-declared autonomy.

Bad news as there was an accidental explosion at the AQ Khan nuclear fuel enrichment facility in Pakistan. The good news is that it seems the explosion was caused by conventional (non-nuclear) materials.

Ecuador's state-run oil company has announced it will suspend exports because of strikes against American oil firm Occidental that have shut down its only pipeline. Protesters took over a key pumping station.

Sweden has announced it wants to be completely free of oil in 15 years, focusing on biofuels to power its vehicles.

A Turkish citizen and an Indian citizen and 1 local were killed in western Afghanistan when their truck drove over a roadside bomb.

After tens of thousands of chickens have died in northern Nigeria, the government is testing to see if this is an outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu, which would be the first incident in Africa. The WaPo is now saying that bird flu has been confirmed.

The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, is in Spain today for a state visit.

It looks like the speaker of Kyrgyzstan's parliament, Omurbek Tekebayev, will resign later this week as part of MP's squabbling with President Bakiyev over the budget.

German daily Der Spiegel has an (English-language) interview online with American General James Jones, the NATO commander in Europe. Definitely interesting.

If you read one article about the origins and implications of the Danish cartoon controversy, read this one. Written by a Danish reporter, who does a fantastic job of explaining everything.

And last but not least, the CSM has an overview of Europe's laws and rules about free speech and religious tolerance, which are somewhat contradictory and arbitrary.

Does the freezing cold in South Eastern Europe count? God, I hate those SUNNY but cold freezing days... you get fooled so easily and always bring a spring jacket with you... hoping that it really is warm outside...  It seems like I want spring to start now, but forget about the fact that it is only the beginning of February!!! :(
by AmonRa on Wed Feb 8th, 2006 at 08:09:06 AM EST
it's like this in central italy too.
pretty mild winter so far, though all kinds of surprises are possible till april's over.
when that north wind (tramontana) blows down from siberia, it clears the sky to an impossible blue and firewood is crackling dry, but it has a wicked edge!

what altitude are you at?  

hang in there!

fuck the wto and the corporate resource rape of the planet!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2006 at 09:09:19 AM EST
The weather has been crazy here in North Florida, too.  It was 75 degrees a few days ago.  This morning, it was 25, plus wind.  I, literally, lost the feeling in my hand while smoking a cigarette over a period of about five minutes.  (Needless to say, I wasn't expecting it to be that cold.)  We get massive temperature swings throughout the day -- 30s in the morning, 60s and 70s in the afternoon, and 30s and 40s again at night.  It's like living on Mars.

I love it, though.  Give me cold weather, anyday.  I lived in South Florida long enough to never want to live there again, based on the 90-degree temperatures and my militant hatred for palm trees.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Feb 8th, 2006 at 11:40:08 AM EST

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