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Postby Laks » 07 Sep 2005 18:06

IHT: A push for closer EU-India ties
The European Union and India agreed Wednesday to promote business ties and expand cooperation in science and technology, including research on civilian nuclear energy.
The two sides also agreed to work together to find clean energy sources, and the EU pledged to press for India's participation in an international nuclear fusion research program.

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Postby Kakkaji » 08 Sep 2005 06:31

EU backs India’s entry into select n-fusion, tech club

Business Summit Joint Action Plan can raise ties to strategic level, we have very few such relationships: EU Commissioner

http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story ... t_id=77759

NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 7: Chances of India joining the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project brightened today with the European Union (EU) backing India’s bid. It also opened the doors for Indian participation in the EU-led Galileo project, Europe’s own global navigation satellite system.

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Postby Prateek » 08 Sep 2005 11:02

[url=http://www.thenextsuperpower.com/]
EU the next super power
[/url]

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Postby Kakkaji » 11 Sep 2005 07:23

$4 billion and thank you for France

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1050911/a ... 223968.asp

PRANAY SHARMA

New Delhi, Sept. 10: A $2-billion deal with Airbus in the bag and with another $2 billion in his pocket to buy Scorpene submarines, a confident Manmohan Singh leaves for Paris tomorrow to tell the French how much India values their friendship.

Airbus, a European consortium, has been engaged in a battle with its US rival, Boeing, for a major share of India’s commercial air fleet contracts. France not only has major stakes in Airbus but has also been keen to sell Scorpene submarines to India for some years now.

The Prime Minister will also assure the French government that its companies will get a fair share of the Indian nuclear civilian energy pie, and that there is scope for the two countries to strengthen trade and economic ties.

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Postby arun » 12 Sep 2005 10:18

Let me hope that this translates into robust, sustained and proactive action in Britain and the sobriquet Londonistan is buried for good :

Blair says world was reluctant to recognise Kashmir terrorism

Fri Sep 9, 2:23 PM ET

Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that the world had been reluctant to recognise the insurgency in Indian-ruled Kashmir as terrorism.

"Personally I have always condemned terrorism in respect of Kashmir," Blair told NDTV television in an interview recorded while he was in New Delhi Thursday for talks with Indian leaders but broadcast on Friday.
"But I think there has been a reluctance -- not confined to the UK alone incidentally -- to see this terrorism for what it is ... but the world has woken up." …………………………..

AFP


NDTV's take on the issue :

Blair admits error in Kashmir policyFriday, September 9, 2005 (New Delhi):


British Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted there were errors in UK's policies on Kashmir.

He told NDTV there has been a reluctance to see the terrorism for what it is.

Blair said: Now the world has woken up, terrorism, be it in Kashmir, Iraq or Chechnya - dialogue is impossible. ....................


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Postby Laks » 12 Sep 2005 15:15


davidn
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Postby davidn » 12 Sep 2005 15:30

Prateek wrote:[url=http://www.thenextsuperpower.com/]
EU the next super power
[/url]


Somehow, when 500 million people have so little taste for military activities that they can barely cobble together a paltry 2000 extra troops to *secure* the Afghan elections, I have to wonder at their superpower aspirations..

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Postby Laks » 12 Sep 2005 17:11


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Postby Laks » 12 Sep 2005 20:48


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Postby Kumar » 12 Sep 2005 21:55

http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1490073,0008.htm

France to help India develop nuclear energy
Agence France-Presse
Paris, September 12, 2005
France has agreed to help India develop its civilian nuclear energy programme and the two countries are looking at sealing a cooperation agreement in that sector, French President Jacques Chirac and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday after a meeting in Paris.

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Postby arun » 19 Sep 2005 09:44

"Merkel may favour India"

Vaiju Naravane

BERLIN: A conservative coalition between the Christian Democrats (CDU-CSU) and the Free Democrats (FDP) would, from the point of view of India's interests, be the best government to emerge from Sunday's election in Germany, according to diplomats and commentators.

"They are Atlanticists, pro-American and pro-business. If the U.S. decides to lift restrictions against India within the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a CDU-FDP government would not have a problem supporting that," Dr Jacques Schuster of the conservative daily Die Welt, told The Hindu .

Mr. Sebastian Edathy a member of Parliament from the Chancellor Schroeder's SPD party told The Hindu : "India's most promising prospect is renewable energy, especially solar energy and Germany, which has made great strides in developing this technology in the past decade would be very happy to offer cooperation in this sector."

© Copyright 2000 - 2005 The Hindu

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Postby rajkhalsa » 30 Sep 2005 20:13

U.S. Arms Sales to India Could Destabilize Region: EU Report
By BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS
The European Union should quickly pursue a strategic relationship with India to strengthen political ties and counter the effects of potentially destabilizing U.S. arms sales to the region, according to a new report by the European Parliament.

Adopted Sept. 29 by a large majority during the parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, the 30-page report, “EU-India Relations: A Strategic Partnership,” was authored by Emilio Menéndez del Valle, Spanish Socialist member of the European Parliament (MEP), who sits on the legislature’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

In his report, Menéndez del Valle recognizes the “legitimate aspirations of the United States to establish a strategic alliance with India,” but also said there is a need for a multipolar world.



Europe should move quickly to enhance its political and strategic relations with New Delhi in view of the “shared belief by India and the union that the world can be made a safer place through international relations based on multilateralism and respect for international law.”

Noting the U.S. administration’s planned strategic association with India provides for the sale of U.S. aircraft and the sharing of civilian nuclear technology, the report disapproves of Washington’s intention to sell F-16 fighters capable of carrying nuclear weapons to Pakistan, India’s arch rival.

Pakistan was supposed to buy the F-16 fighters in the late 1980s but was blocked when Washington later imposed sanctions against the country for to its nuclear weapon program. U.S.-Pakistani ties have improved since then, particularly in view of their joint efforts to combat terrorism since September 2001.

This led to positive signals earlier this year from top U.S. administration officials about allowing the fighter deal to go ahead.

The European Union “must encourage regional cooperation in southern Asia” by supporting projects that are peaceful in nature, said Menéndez del Valle. Noting the recent agreement by Iran, Pakistan and India to build a gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistani territory, the Spanish MEP said such endeavors “create a network of mutual interests, deterring the prospect of conflict between them, and encouraging regional stability.”

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Postby Ujjal » 03 Oct 2005 22:47

India, Romania see promise in defense, energy ties

October 03, 2005 21:04 IST Rediff

India and Romania on Monday discussed cooperation on energy and defence and the two sides felt there was tremendous scope for cooperation in these sectors.
During parleys with Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhavat, who is in Bucharest on a four-day visit, Romanian leaders also extended the country's support to India's candidature for United Nations Security Council. Romania is a non-permanent member of the Security Council whose term ends in December.

The Romanian Economy and Commerce Minister Loan Codrut Seres called on the Vice President during which both sides said there was scope for cooperation in energy, automotiaves, heavy machinery, pharamaceuticals and real estate.

The Romanian Minister, who will be visiting India from October 22, said that defence was also one such area, official sources said.

Seres said Indo-Romanian economic relations have been on an upswing in recent years with trade doubling each year in the last few years. It is expected to touch half a billion dollars in 2005.

He also recalled that Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer had visited Bucharest just a few months back during which four Memoranda of Understanding were signed in the hydrocarbon sector.

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Postby arun » 06 Oct 2005 10:47

Britain back to old games ? :

India objects to reported remarks of UK Defence Secy

KARACHI, OCT 5 (PTI)

India today strongly objected to British Defence Secretary John Reid's reported comments equating Jammu and Kashmir with Palestine problem, asserting there was "absolutely no parallel" between the two issues.

"We have seen news reports which quote the Defence Secretary of UK calling for 'resolution of political issues including Palestine and Kashmir'. If this is indeed what was said, then this unfortunate remark betrays lack of understanding of the J and K issue," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna told reporters here.

"There is absolutely no parallel between the Palestine issue and Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

Reid, who was in Islamabad, had reportedly made the comments there while talking to reporters.

Raju

Postby Raju » 06 Oct 2005 12:02

this technically falls under India-Eu relations ... no ??

Loud ***** gets man arrested in Gurgaon!

Associated Press
New Delhi, October 6, 2005

A Finnish man and his Indian girlfriend were arrested in India after neighbours complained that they were playing ***** movies with the volume turned up too loudly, a police officer said on Wednesday.

Exhibiting ***** and possessing ***** materials are illegal in India. If convicted, the two could face three months in prison and a fine.

The two were arrested on Monday night at the Finnish man's home in the town of Gurgaon, a center of India's information technology and outsourcing business, the officer said on condition of anonymity.

Aside from arresting the couple, officers also seized a television and CD player, he said.

The couple, who were not identified, were granted bail on Tuesday.

No date has been set for the hearing, said the police officer.

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Postby arun » 07 Oct 2005 17:59

Raju wrote:this technically falls under India-Eu relations ... no ??

Loud ***** gets man arrested in Gurgaon!



Good One!

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Postby arun » 07 Oct 2005 18:02

Britain's War on Pigs

By Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | October 6, 2005

Pigs are disappearing all over England, but not because of some porcine variant of Mad Cow Disease: rather, the most implacable foe of the swine is turning out to be multiculturalism.

The latest assault came in the benefits department at Dudley Council, West Midlands, where employees were told that they were no longer allowed to have any representations of pigs at their desks. Some had little porcine porcelain figurines. Others had toys or calendars of cute little pigs. One had a tissue box depicting Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. All of this had to go, not because of new some new anti-kitsch ordinance, but because Muslims might be offended — particularly now, what with Ramadan beginning. How could a pious Muslim in the Dudley Council, West Midlands benefits department redouble his efforts to conform his life to the will of Allah with all these…pigs staring him in the face? It was an insult!

This was not the first anti-pig initiative in Britain. In Derby, Muslims took offense at plans to restore the statue of the Florentine Boar, which had stood in the Derby Park for over a hundred years before it was decapitated by a German bomb in 1942. Recent plans to rebuild the Boar’s head ran into resistance from local Muslims. Suman Gupta, a local Council member, warned: “If the statue of the boar is put back at the Arboretum I have been told that it will not be there the next day, or at least it won’t be in the same condition the next day at least. We should not have the boar because it is offensive to some of the groups in the immediate area.” However, after more than 2,000 locals signed petitions in favor of the Boar, local authorities decided to bend to public opinion and go ahead with their original plans to restore the statue.

Elsewhere in England pigs did not fare so well. In March 2003, Barbara Harris, head teacher at Park Road Junior Infant and Nursery School in Batley, West Yorkshire, banned stories mentioning pigs. “Recently,” Harris explained, “I have been aware of an occasion where young Muslim children in class were read stories about pigs. We try to be sensitive to the fact that for Muslims talk of pigs is offensive.” Harris didn’t mention whether or not she intended to allow Muslim students to possess copies of the Qur’an at the school, despite its repeated mention of how Allah cursed Jews and turned them into apes and pigs (2:62-65; 5:59-60; 7:166).

Why have pigs become so unpopular in Britain? Mahbubur Rahman, a Muslim Councillor in West Midlands, summed it up in explaining why the toy pigs had to go: “It’s a tolerance,” he said, “of people’s beliefs.”

How’s that again? It’s “a tolerance of people’s beliefs” to deny to others the right to display harmless pictures and figurines? Mahbubur Rahman seems unacquainted with the dictum, widely attributed to Voltaire, that “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Yet this is what tolerance really is: the acceptance of the fact that in a free society, some will do and say things of which one may disapprove, and that one has no consequent right to command or force them to stop. If this is not recognized in any given society, that society is not in fact free at all — any more than Henry Ford’s offer that “You can have a car in any color you want, as long as it’s black” represented a genuine choice.

For Rahman instead to equate a British capitulation to Muslim sensibilities with tolerance indicates that he has confused Islamic supremacism with tolerance. This is perhaps not surprising given the near-universal tendency among Muslims and non-Muslims alike to laud Medieval Muslim Spain as a proto-multiculturalist paradise of tolerance, when actually it was a paradise for Islamic supremacists. Christians and Jews lived in harmony with Muslims only as inferiors. Historian Kenneth Baxter Wolf notes that the after the Muslim conquest, the conquerors imposed new laws “aimed at limiting those aspects of the Christian cult which seemed to compromise the dominant position of Islam.” After enumerating a standard list of the laws restricting non-Muslims (dhimmis) — no building of new churches, no holding authority over Muslims, distinctive clothing, etc. — he adds: “Aside from such cultic restrictions most of the laws were simply designed to underscore the position of the dimmîs as second-class citizens.”

Multiculturalism? Tolerance? Not by any modern standard. And neither are the disappearing pigs of Great Britain.

Link.

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Postby Tilak » 07 Oct 2005 18:45

Perils Before Swine

Image

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Postby Singha » 07 Oct 2005 21:43

> Christians and Jews lived in harmony with Muslims only as inferiors.

add in hindus, pre-islamic religions in various parts , buddhists, jains, sikhs, confuscians and one might approach the real picture.

Islamists always demand supremacy of their concerns over the rights of all others.

Europe appears ripe for demographic conquest in the bangladeshi sense.

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Postby Manu » 25 Oct 2005 07:37

Raju wrote:this technically falls under India-Eu relations ... no ??

Loud ***** gets man arrested in Gurgaon!

Associated Press
New Delhi, October 6, 2005

A Finnish man and his Indian girlfriend were arrested in India after neighbours complained that they were playing ***** movies with the volume turned up too loudly, a police officer said on Wednesday.

Exhibiting ***** and possessing ***** materials are illegal in India. If convicted, the two could face three months in prison and a fine.

The two were arrested on Monday night at the Finnish man's home in the town of Gurgaon, a center of India's information technology and outsourcing business, the officer said on condition of anonymity.

Aside from arresting the couple, officers also seized a television and CD player, he said.

The couple, who were not identified, were granted bail on Tuesday.

No date has been set for the hearing, said the police officer.


Now it is the turn of a Finnish Woman:

Link
JAIPUR, India (Reuters) - Indian police have brought charges against a Finnish tourist for bathing naked in a holy lake in a Hindu pilgrim town, a police officer said on Monday.

Police said the tourist walked to her hotel in the nude after taking a dip in the lake in Pushkar in the desert state of Rajasthan on Saturday, angering several local people and priests.

"We have framed charges of indecency against the lady tourist from Finland under section 294 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)," Sugan Singh, a police officer in Pushkar, told Reuters.

Under India's obscenity laws, the tourist can be imprisoned for three months or pay a fine.

Pushkar has a famous temple dedicated to Brahma -- the Hindu god of creation -- and is popular with foreign tourists who come for its desert ambience, camel safaris and annual camel fair.

Last month, an Israeli couple was fined 1,000 rupees after an Indian court found them guilty of obscenity for kissing during their marriage ceremony in Pushkar.

India has tough obscenity laws and kissing in public is frowned upon in the largely conservative country. Last October, local residents in the western state complained to authorities that a group of Israeli women had danced naked near Pushkar.

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Postby Vick » 25 Oct 2005 17:05

Wait a second! I had been to Gangamela multiple times and have been in and around Kolkata many times during it. There are lots of men running around with their wangs hanging out. There are also some women with very little modesty as well and can be considered "semi-nude". No one bothers to arrest them, let alone have it on the newswires.

But when a gora admi does it, suddenly "Hindu sensibilities" are offended and laws are broken?

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Postby Manu » 25 Oct 2005 17:23

Vick wrote:Wait a second! I had been to Gangamela multiple times and have been in and around Kolkata many times during it. There are lots of men running around with their wangs hanging out. There are also some women with very little modesty as well and can be considered "semi-nude". No one bothers to arrest them, let alone have it on the newswires.

But when a gora admi does it, suddenly "Hindu sensibilities" are offended and laws are broken?


Try to show some respect.

A Naga Sadhu or Digambar Jain is the same as a Skinny Dipping Finnish Tourist?

The newswire in question is India's friend, Reuters.

Any tormented "Gora" may please contact Vick to file a PIL in Indian Supreme Court.

:roll:

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Postby Vick » 25 Oct 2005 17:28

I will retract if Indian Law, on paper and not how it's executed, distinguishes between a Naga Sadhu and a plebeian (gora or not).

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Postby Laks » 25 Oct 2005 17:30

Was the tourist informed in advance? for eg. a simple board warning against nude bathing. They do that in Vatican: no shorts, no sleeveless, guards don't allow anyone who is immodestly dressed, whatever that means. Rural Rajasthan can come as a shock even for city-born desis, personal experience.

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Postby GDiwan » 26 Oct 2005 02:18

This kind of behaviour is not new for finns. Kimmi raikonen(F1 driver) strip teased in ...well strip club :lol: (but he was kicked out of there :D )Recently Estonians arrested group of finnish tourists for getting nude in a public place (terrace bar) and disturbing peace. These people dont respect local culture but lecture foreigners living in Finland to do so. I heard from a friend in Finland, that in an interview father of Finnish PM said that non-whites are stupid and incapable of handling intellectual tasks. And recent Polls shows that more then 70% of Finns between the age of 14-27 despise foregners.

Maybe misconception of Finnish superiority due to the spectacular success of Nokia and their relatively higher standard of living is leading to all this nonsense.

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Postby Singha » 26 Oct 2005 13:25

I believe the acceptance of nudity in society is highest in the nordic countries (including denmark). families often get in the hot tub together even if the kids are teenage(not babies) and at work also, more conservative expats are somewhat 'troubled' by the expectation of colleagues that they join their work pals in the communal hot tub. similarly in japan, nudity is mandatory in all public baths though male and female areas are separate. nordic army formations sometimes have common showers for male and female soldiers.
most of us have never lived in the nordic society, US is not a good benchmark for the upper end of the scale on this topic. in france there's some seaside nudist town with a floating population of 20,000.

however their tourists should respect local sensibilities or get into private resorts where outsiders need not face them. similar 'issues' have been reported from ASEAN tourist resorts also.

GOI could step in and designate certain beaches as clothing optional and ensure whoever goes in drops their shorts/panties first - indian or not. the enthusiasm of roadside romeos to ogle bideshi flesh goes down drastically if they have to drop their shorts and display their meager assets in the bargain. I predict not even one romeo will visit. regular indians might go there ofcourse, I have wanted to try that lifestyle in a 'safe' environment. one of my friends who rented a cottage deep in the woods of northern maine went around buck naked for a week without seeing another human.

people (indians) dont make a big deal about it if they are sure they wont
be stared at or ogled by romeos. lot of middle class women who will never wear a swimsuit/bikini in a public beach in this country readily do so in their own residential complex pools or on holidays to ASEAN/lanka/mauritius. trust me on this.

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Postby karan » 29 Oct 2005 01:11

GDiwan wrote:I heard from a friend in Finland, that in an interview father of Finnish PM said that non-whites are stupid and incapable of handling intellectual tasks. And recent Polls shows that more then 70% of Finns between the age of 14-27 despise foregners.

If these Finns were such intellectual, how come they have always lost to Russians in everything.

Maybe misconception of Finnish superiority due to the spectacular success of Nokia and their relatively higher standard of living is leading to all this nonsense.

This country is so small it only takes one company's success to bring prosperity to the nation of morons. Their high n mighty attitude speaks for itself, lets look at their record in world affairs, they have never volunteered in any of the hot spots of this world, yet they have acute sense of who is stupid and who is not. There is a reason why they are called "finish." :twisted:

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Postby Steve_S » 06 Nov 2005 04:39


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Postby Calvin » 06 Nov 2005 17:11

Before we trash the Finns, it might be good to have references other than from a "friend" who heard an interview by the "father" of the PM. Finland is a highly industrialized country where >80% of the people speak English. They will likely survive globalization quite well.

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Postby prahaar » 06 Nov 2005 17:44

Having stayed in Finland for a while, I would disagree that >80% speak English. Except for IT sector and other tech related fields, getting your way around with English is difficult and in some cases beyond difficult.

Nudity is not a big deal, even at work places in case of all-Finn work teams, common sauna for men and women is not uncommon. Relieving even on main street is common.

There IS animosity towards foreigners but doesnt manifest except weekends, when most if not all are drunk. Hard drinking culture and lack of respect for local sensitivities is what resulted in the lady's behaviour.

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Postby Calvin » 06 Nov 2005 17:56

Prahaar: I must defer to your judgement, as I have not lived in Finland for extended periods of time. However for the entire time I spent there, between Helsinki and Tampere, and in the hotels, trains, restaurants, shops I didnt have to use a word other than in English. Perhaps you refer to the boonies?

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Postby prahaar » 06 Nov 2005 18:20

Calvin: Yeah Helsinki and Tampere are quite "globalized" if you can call it that and moreso Helsinki. I agree, most of the places you mentioned have workable english or atleast they can get you assistance that speaks english. God forbid you need to visit a government Hospital or a govt. office say KELA(Social security) or Tax :-) you are in for some hard graphic gesturing to do :lol: . In small towns its even worse. Typically the young people are quite adept at English but middleaged and old dont speak at all. One good thing though I should point out, unlike other european countries (in my experience Italy, Swiss, Germany) Finns dont "pretend" not knowing english even if they can speak. BTW I couldnt get the boonies part!?!?!?

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Postby Div » 06 Nov 2005 20:56

Boonies = out in the middle of no where; not in the big cities; small towns; out in the country; etc.

Raju

Postby Raju » 11 Nov 2005 07:07

Abu Salem and Monica Bedi have been extradited to India reports Portugal's Lusa News Agency.

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Postby Ujjal » 03 Dec 2005 21:07

Nguyen Tuong Van was hanged in Singapore yesterday.

EU sleeping? :twisted:

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Vatican & War Criminals

Postby Sanjay M » 12 Dec 2005 04:26

Take a little look at this info - the Vatican was until recently hiding War Criminal and international fugitive General Ante Gotovina, and helping him to evade international justice:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/12/11/news/croatia.php

Intercepts of calls from Gotovina's cellphone stepped up the chase. At one point, the hunt for him even led to a public verbal dual between Carla Del Ponte, the tribunal's chief prosecutor, and the Vatican. In July, Del Ponte, a Swiss who is fluent in Italian, traveled to Rome and demanded the Vatican's cooperation because, she said, she knew that the fugitive was using Roman Catholic monasteries as hideaways.

The Vatican replied that it had no international obligations to help hunt war criminals.


They say they've no international obligations on war criminals, but they seem to demand and get various privileged observer status positions in international arenas that other sect-based institutions don't get.

The Vatican has a very loud voice when it comes to Graham Staines, Dara Singh, etc. I'm very curious what the Vatican has to say in defense of their conduct in the Gotovina case, since he has murdered far more people than Dara Singh. Perhaps the War Crimes tribunal should explore the Vatican's role here.

I wonder what Mother Teresa would say if she was alive? I'm afraid I've a good idea of what her saintly response might be.

Selective morality is not morality at all.

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Postby daulat » 12 Dec 2005 04:38

the vatican long supported fascist movements in europe, before and after ww2. during and after ww2, it helped nazis and croatian war criminals flee to south america

ofcourse if you go back far enough into history, the popes have also personally tortured and raped their enemies too, e.g. cesare borgia raping caterina sforza after she was captured in battle

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Postby Sanjay M » 12 Dec 2005 05:29

yes, but one would expect that they'd have reformed themselves since then (eg. 2nd vatican council)

apparently, old habits die hard. since their Euro-enmeshed byzantine policies continue to echo their ancient Holy Roman Empire roots, I'd say it's a good idea to make sure our own communities aren't ensnared into their survivalist game. this is why India needs to re-energize its own economic dynamism and cultural vortex, in order to facilitate assimilation and breakdown of any parochialist groups who might otherwise gravitate to extra-territorialist sentiments.

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Postby svinayak » 15 Dec 2005 07:05

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2005\12\15\story_15-12-2005_pg5_25

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What next for Europe?

By Charles Wyplosz

In many ways, 2005 has been Europe’s annus horibilis. It began well, when Spanish voters approved the draft European Union constitution, but it turned sour when French and Dutch voters spurned it soon after. Those votes partly reflected displeasure with domestic policies, and partly disappointment with the way governments conduct European affairs.

Governments promptly obliged with more of the same. Within days of the votes, they failed to agree on the EU budget for 2007-13. French and British leaders engaged in a heated quarrel that derailed the subsequent summit, before Britain assumed the rotating six-month EU presidency in July.

Normally, countries use their EU presidencies to display their ability to solve problems and move the Union forward. But, as of early December, Britain has remained dormant. Besides burying the draft constitution, it has largely sidestepped the budget issue. Chances that it gets the budget approved this year are slim, and, unless the dispute is resolved soon, the Union will not have an operational budget by 2007. Even if a budget is adopted, there is no lack of depressing business for the Austrian presidency, which starts on January 1. The deepest problem is Europe’s inability to grow at more than a snail’s pace and to provide jobs to its citizens.

This is mostly due to the Big Three – France, Germany, and Italy – which produce 70% of Europe’s GDP.
The collective response, adopted in 2000, has been the “Lisbon Strategy,” which aims at making the EU “the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world” by 2010. More realistically, it is designed to provide governments with the incentive to undertake the reforms that stimulate economic growth and productivity.

That means facing down the myriad interest groups – from industry lobbies to trade unions and entrenched bureaucracies – that have (so far) successfully protected their turfs. The strategy rests on peer pressure, naming and shaming governments that fail to make progress. In practice, however, peer pressure has become peer collusion.

When EU leaders met last spring to assess progress, they pitifully recognized that the Lisbon Strategy’s goal was unlikely to be met. The best that they could do now would be to dump the pretense of a strategy and carry on with the other business. Unfortunately, the host of the 2000 summit was José Manuel Barroso, then Prime Minister of Portugal and current President of the European Commission, who has staked his presidency on the Lisbon Strategy. Expect him to push on hopelessly.

One of the few good ideas contained in the Lisbon Strategy was to remove barriers to trade in services. Intra-European competition in services is restricted by innumerable national regulations that, for instance, strictly determine the requirements for becoming a hairdresser or a plumber. One of the defining features of the past decades is the sharp increase in services productivity in the US; none of that happened in Europe. Guess why.

Because services account for 70% of European GDP, the potential impact from enhanced competition is substantial. But removing protection is always politically difficult. The European Commission submitted a proposal in 2005 – just as the constitution was being put up for a vote. Not surprisingly, the proposal was quickly shelved. Now, with countless private interest groups trying to water it down into irrelevance, the battle will be firmly on the EU’s agenda in 2006.

At the same time, Europe is again blocking progress in the Doha round of world trade talks, with the farmers’ lobby fighting to preserve its subsidies. Many governments are so fearful of their farmers that they see no other option than to hold their ground, no matter what. Europe has agreed to a single trade policy. When disagreements run as deep as they do on agriculture, there can be no give-and-take of the kind that allows for successful negotiations. There is little reason for optimism.

And what next for the ECB, which has just nudged up interest rates by 0.25%, after 30 months on hold. Experts can disagree about whether the move was premature, but no one agrees with the many political leaders who have argued that the tiny hike will derail the timid resumption of economic growth.

The sharpness of political attacks on the ECB might trigger dangerous talk about restricting its independence. While such a move is out of the question – it would require a change in the European Treaty – the noise is unhealthy. It distracts the ECB, adds to the impression that Europe is bad, and, more importantly, will be used by ineffective governments as a scapegoat for their failings. Expect more ECB-bashing.

Is Europe stuck? The current team of leaders has been an enormous disappointment. But as they fade away, there could be some light at the end of the tunnel.


In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is obviously more positive on Europe and more pro-reform than her predecessor, but she is tied up in a grand coalition. In France, President Jacques Chirac, the epitome of a leader captured by his lobbies, is staggering impotently toward the end of his term in 2007. The two frontrunners to succeed him, Dominique de Villepin and Nicolas Sarkozy, both in government, compete on a reformist agenda, but pre-election years do not encourage bold moves.

Meanwhile, Italy must decide whether it replaces Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who displayed no interest in reform and European affairs, with the cautious Romano Prodi, the former European Commission President. Tony Blair, once an ardent pro-European (at least by Britain’s undemanding standards), might finally have to cede power to Gordon Brown, who is famously cold to European integration. Fortunately, Britain has always been an outsider. In the end, whatever light there is, it may not shine until 2007, after the French elections. dt-ps

Charles Wyplosz is Professor of International Economics and Director of the International Centre for Money and Banking Studies at the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva.

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Postby Rye » 16 Dec 2005 04:12

http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-20 ... 190740.htm

UK drops new powers to close mosques after Muslim opposition
London, Dec 15, IRNA

UK Powers-Mosques
The British government announced Thursday that it was shelving controversial proposals to give police new powers to close mosques after widespread opposition from Muslims, other religions and groups.

"The Government has decided not to introduce a new power in the legislation currently going before Parliament," Home Secretary Charles Clarke said.

"However, we will keep the situation under close review," he added in a statement obtained by IRNA.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) issued a strong rebuttal against the proposals put forward in October to include the new powers in the government's latest terrorism bill.

"We do not in the circumstances accept the logic or basis of the suggestion that places of worship are sources of extremism because to do so we would need to accept that worship or faith in itself is a form of extremism," the MCB said.

The Muslim News warned that the proposal to allow powers for a mosque closure, irrespective of whether a person was successfully prosecuted for failure to comply with an order, was a "kind of collective punishment."
"Provoking an issue with mosques is totally unwarranted and would send out further signals that the war against terrorism is against Islam," the monthly said in its October editorial.

The Church of England described the plans as "disproportionate" and challenged the government over why it was it is trying to single out places of worship in its campaign to root out extremism following July's bombings in London.

Clarke's announcement of dropping the proposal was seen as only one concession among a whole raft of measures the government is adopting following July's London bombings, in which 56 people were killed and hundreds injured.

His concession was accompanied with the confirmation that he had ruled out holding an independent inquiry demanded by Muslims into the series of attacks on the capital's transport system.

"The Government does not believe that such an inquiry would add to our understanding of the causes of those atrocities," he said in his statement.

"Additionally, to establish one would be to divert the attention of our police and security services during an extended period of time when they are still actively engaged in both the murder investigation which continues and the detection and prevention of further atrocities," the Home Secretary argued.

The MCB, which has been leading calls for a judicial
investigation, condemned the refusal and urged the government on Wednesday to reconsider its decision.

"It is vital that we try and fully understand what happened on July 7th and 21st and also why it happened so that we can learn appropriate lessons about how to reduce the possibility of similar events taking place in the future," MCB secretary general Sir Iqbal Sacranie said.

In his statement, the Home Secretary said that the government had made "very significant progress in tackling the scourge of terrorism and extremism, including strengthening the grounds for deporting and excluding extremists and bringing forward new laws to enhance our ability to deal with terrorism."
But Muslim leaders, including those selected by ministers to chair working groups to advise the government, have criticized many of the extreme measures being adopted.

In their report, the working groups blamed British foreign policy, especially in the Middle East as being a "key contributory factor" for the bombing."
"Most if not all the strands see that the solutions lie in the medium and longer term issues of tackling inequality, discrimination, deprivation and inconsistent government policy," they advised Clarke last month.


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