We will have a mirror site at http://nunezreport.wordpress.com in case we are censored, Please save the link

Monday, October 31, 2011

Coast To Coast AM - 30.10.2011 - The War in Heaven

German Constitutional Court Halts Special Euro Panel

Justices on Germany's Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe

Germany's Federal Constitutional Court on Friday expressed doubts about the legality of a new panel of lawmakers set up by the German parliament to reach quick decisions on the release of funds from the euro bailout mechanism, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). The court issued a temporary injunction banning the nine-person committee in the Bundestag from taking any decisions on the EFSF's deployment of German taxpayer money.

The special committee was recently created in order to be able to provide a quick green light for EFSF aid in especially urgent situations in which it wouldn't be feasible to put the issue up for a vote before the full parliament. The decision from the court, located in Karlsruhe, could also slow down Bundestag approval of the further application of German credit guarantees within the scope of the euro backstop fund.

Peter Danckert and Swen Schulz, two members of parliament with the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), submitted their complaint on Thursday, expressing their concern that the nine-member panel might violate their rights as members of the legislative chamber.

The committee had been scheduled to convene its very first meeting on Friday. In September, Germany's highest court ruled that the Bundestag must be given a greater say in euro bailout decisions given the degree to which the common currency rescue could impose on parliament's right to create Germany's budget.

In response, the Bundestag on Wednesday moved to include provisions for parliamentary co-determination of positions taken by Germany on the euro bailout at European Union summits in Brussels. Under the multilevel process -- depending on their importance, urgency and confidentiality level -- decisions can either be approved by the entire 620-member Bundestag, the 41-person budget committee or the nine-member special panel.

'The Bundestag Cannot Be Replaced'

But the SPD members are contesting the law. "The Bundestag cannot be replaced by a nine-member committee on such important issues," Schulz told SPIEGEL ONLINE. Schulz argues that, at a minimum, the Bundestag's budget committee should be included in all decisions.

The politicians have based their complaint on expertise provided by the Bundestag's own research service, which advised that the special panel transfers responsibility to a few and hinders all members of parliament from participating in the shaping of policy.

On Wednesday, the Bundestag tasked the committee -- whose meetings are closed to the public and confidential -- with a supervisory role for the billions of euros in German taxpayer money that are being deployed by the EFSF. It includes members of all of the German political parties represented in parliament and includes an equal number of politicians representing the parties in government and those in the opposition.

Who Control The Price Of Commodities

Welcome to the real world of commodities trading. Home to firms like Vitol and Trafigura, who trade more oil than Saudi Arabia and Venezuela can produce.

In a new report, 18 Reuters' reporters and editors profiled 16 giant commodity companies that often go unnoticed. Combined, they generate annual revenue of $1.1 trillion. The top five pull in $629 billion, rivaling the five largest financial institutions on the planet.

What they learned: They're massively profitable. They disrupt markets. Government's have little ability to police them. And they have ambitious plans to grow.

Civil disobedience gathers steam in Athens

An anti-tax rebellion is brewing in Greece, where the embattled government continues to bring in new spending cuts and tax rises. Now, even elected local officials are joining the fray in a seemingly random but increasingly prevalent wave of civil disobedience.

Working on the theory of strength in numbers, authorities in the sizeable Nea Ionia district of Athens are urging residents not to pay a hated new property tax which is charged through electricity bills. The local council has now posted instructions on its website on how to pay an electricity bill without handing over the levy.

Furious at a plan that, they say, turns them into back-up tax collectors, employees of the state power company have vowed to prevent people having their electricity cut off – and to reconnect vulnerable groups, such as the elderly or unemployed, if need be. Legal help could be on hand soon, too. The Athens Bar Association appealed to the Council of State last week to have the law repealed.

And Nea Ionia is not alone. Groups of lawyers, trade unions and campaigners have tried to derail government efforts to suspend tens of thousands of civil servants on partial pay. State buildings have been occupied, municipalities have stalled in ordering strikers back to work and state enterprises have refused to hand over lists of employees eligible for suspension.

The backlash comes alongside strikes so frequent that everyone from rubbish collectors to bakers, dentists to air traffic controllers, has walked off the job at some point.

The Independent

Euro crisis 'could lead to social unrest'

AFP - The eurozone debt crisis could lead to a decade-long recession and rising social unrest, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has warned, according to a German media report on Sunday.

"The next few months will be decisive in terms of avoiding a dramatic decline in employment and a further sharp increase in social unrest," news weekly Focus reported, citing the ILO's new annual report on the labour market.

Without counter-measures, the crisis might unleash a recession that could last a decade, as governments find themselves powerless to act due to pressure to reduce their debts, Focus said, citing the ILO document.

The ILO was not immediately available for comment.

The greatest risk of social unrest exists in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Estonia, France, Slovenia and Ireland, according to the weekly.

The debt crisis has already sparked several incidents of social unrest, with strikes in Greece against austerity measures turning bloody and a violent protest in Rome injuring more than 100 people.
France 24

Europe Tries To Kick The Can Down The Road But It Will Only Lead To Financial Disaster

Have you heard the good news?  Financial armageddon has been averted.  The economic collapse in Europe has been cancelled.  Everything is going to be okay.  Well, actually none of those statements is true, but news of the "debt deal" in Europe has set off a frenzy of irrational exuberance throughout the financial world anyway.  Newspapers all over the globe are declaring that the financial crisis in Europe is over.  Stock markets all over the world are soaring.  The Dow was up nearly 3 percent today, and this recent surge is helping the S&P 500 to have its best month since 1974.  Global financial markets are experiencing an explosion of optimism right now.  Yes, European leaders have been able to kick the can down the road for a few months and a total Greek default is not going to happen right now.  However, as you will see below, the core elements of this "debt deal" actually make a financial disaster in Europe even more likely in the future.
The two most important parts of the plan are a 50% "haircut" on Greek debt held by private investors and highly leveraging the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to give it much more "firepower".
Both of these elements are likely to cause significant problems down the road.  But most investors do not seem to have figured this out yet.  In fact, most investors seem to be buying into the hype that Europe's problems have been solved.
There is a tremendous lack of critical thinking in the financial community today.  Just because politicians in Europe say that the crisis has been solved does not mean that the crisis has been solved.  But all over the world there are bold declarations that a great "breakthrough" has been achieved.  An article posted on USA Today is an example of this irrational exuberance....
Investors — at least for now — don't have to worry about a financial collapse like the one in 2008, after Wall Street investment bank Lehman Bros. filed for bankruptcy, sparking a global financial crisis.
"Financial Armageddon seems to have been taken off the table," says Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.
Wow, doesn't that sound great?
But now let's look at the facts.
You can't solve a debt problem with even more debt.  But that is what this debt deal is trying to do.
The politicians in Europe did not want to raise more money for the EFSF the "hard way".  Voters in Germany (and other European nations) are overwhelmingly against contributing even more cash to a fund that many see as a financial black hole.
So what do you do when more money is needed but nobody wants to contribute?
You borrow it.
Essentially, this debt deal calls for the EFSF to become four or five times larger by "leveraging" the existing funds in the EFSF.
But isn't that risky?
Of course it is.
There are some leaders in Europe that recognize this.  For example, an articlein The Telegraph notes the reservations that the president of the Bundesbank has about this plan....
Jens Weidmann, the president of the Bundesbank and a member of the European Central Bank, sounded the alarm over the plan to “leverage” the fund by a factor of four to five times without putting any new money into the pot.
He warned that the scheme could be hit by market turbulence with taxpayers left holding the bill for risky investments in Italian and Spanish bonds.
So who is going to fund all of this new debt?
Well, it turns out that the Europeans are counting on the same folks that the U.S. government is constantly borrowing money from.
The Chinese.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has already spoken directly with Chinese President Hu Jintao about funding this new bailout effort.
So is borrowing money from the Chinese to fund bailouts for Greece and other weak sisters in Europe sound policy?
Of course not.
And the sad thing is that this expanded EFSF is still not going to be enough to solve the financial problems in Europe.
According to an article in The Telegraph, a recent survey of economists found that most of them do not believe that this new plan is going to raise enough money....
The plan to increase the European Financial and Stability Facility to €1  trillion on paper was attacked by economists as not enough to “stave off” worsening debt problems in Italy and Spain.
In a survey of economists, 26 of 48 thought the firepower was not enough.
But the worst part of this new plan is the 50 percent "haircut" that private investors are being forced to take.
This is essentially a partial default by the Greek government.  A lot of folks are going to get hit really hard by losses from this.  Instead of making financial institutions in Europe stronger, these losses are going to make a lot of them even weaker.
Normally, in the event of a default, credit default swap contracts would be triggered.  But apparently because this was considered to be a "voluntary" haircut, that is not going to happen in this instance.
Bloomberg article explained this in greater detail.  The following is a brief excerpt....
The EU agreement with investors for a voluntary 50 percent writedown on their Greek bond holdings means $3.7 billion of debt-insurance contracts won’t be triggered, according to the International Swaps & Derivatives Association’s rules.
That means that investors and financial institutions all over the world are just going to have to eat these losses.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is already acknowledging that a number of Greek banks will have to be nationalized because of the severity of this "haircut".  A recent CNBC article detailed this....
The haircut is expected to impose big losses on the country's banks and state-run pension funds, which are up their necks in toxic Greek government bonds of about 100 billion euros.
The government will replenish pension funds' capital, but banks may face temporary nationalisation, Papandreou said.
"It is very likely that a large part of the banks' shares will pass into state ownership," Papandreou said. He pledged, however, that these stakes will be sold back to private investors after the banks' restructuring.
So where will the Greek government get the funds to "replenish" the capital of those banks?
That is a very good question.
But we haven't even discussed the worst part of this "debt deal" yet.
If you don't remember any other part of this article, please remember this.
The debt deal in Europe sends a very frightening message to the market.
The truth is that Europe could have totally bailed out Greece without any sort of a "haircut" taking place.
But they didn't.
So now investors all over the globe have got to be thinking that if they are holding Portuguese bonds, Italian bonds or Spanish bonds there is a really good chance that they will be forced to take a massive "haircut" at some point as well.
At this time last year, the yield on two year Italian bonds was about 2.5 percent.  Now it is about 4.5 percent.  As investors begin to price in the probability of having to take a future "haircut" on Italian debt, those bond yields are going to go much, much higher.
That means that it is going to become much more expensive for the Italian government to borrow money and that also means that it is going to become much more difficult for the Italians to get their financial house in order.
In essence, the haircut on Greek debt is a signal to investors that they should require a much higher rate of return on the debt of all of the PIIGS.  This is going to make the financial collapse of all of the PIIGS much more likely.
Remember, about this time last year the yield on two year Greek bonds was about 10 percent.  Today, it is over 70 percent.
As I wrote about in a previous article, the western world is in debt up to its eyeballs right now and trying to kick the can down the road is not going to solve anything.
Our leaders may succeed in delaying the pain for a while, but it most definitely is coming.
Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Italy all have debt to GDP ratios that are well over 100% right now.  Spain is in a huge amount of trouble as well.
When you add up all the debt, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain owe the rest of the world about 3 trillion euros combined.
If Italy or Spain goes down, the rest of Europe is going to be helpless to stop it.  There simply is not going to be enough money to bail either one of them out.
That is why this "debt deal" is so alarming.  All investors in Italian or Spanish debt will now have to factor in the probability that they will be required to accept a 50 percent haircut at some point in the future.
If the markets behave rationally (and if the ECB does not manipulate them too much), it appears inevitable that bond yields over in Europe are going to rise substantially, and that will put tremendous additional financial strain on governments all over Europe.
Basically, we have got a huge mess on our hands, and this debt deal just made it a lot worse.
Yes, a financial collapse has been averted in Greece for the moment, but the truth is that there is no real reason to be celebrating this deal.
A massive financial storm is coming to Europe, and this "debt deal" has made that all the more certain.
Once again, politicians in Europe have tried to kick the can down the road, but in the end their efforts are only going to lead to complete and total financial disaster.

Economic collapse

Asian shares dip and dollar hits record low vs yen

TOKYO, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Asian shares fell on Monday, taking a breather from a nearly 10 percent rally last week after Europe laid out a basic framework to tackle its debt crisis, but the euro held steady while the dollar dropped to a record low against the yen.

Investors were shifting their focus for now from Europe to key events such as the Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting and U.S. economic data, including jobs, due later this week to gauge the state of the world's largest economy.

Despite easing equity markets, investors' appetite for some riskier assets remained, with Asian credit markets stabilising and easing demand for protection in the options market against losses.

The CBOE Volatility index VIX -- a 30-day risk forecast of volatility in the S&P 500 -- fell on Friday to its lowest in nearly two months.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.2 percent on Monday, after posting its best week in nearly three years as a long-awaited plan to resolve the European debt crisis sparked a huge relief rally.

The Nikkei opened down 0.4 percent, weighed by the yen's persistent strength and worries about Japanese companies' earnings.

"The Nikkei ended at a two-month closing high on Friday, so it's difficult for the market to push it up too far, but it's unlikely that there will be a sell-off, either," said Yumi Nishimura, senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities.

MSCI's all-country world stock index was up 0.5 percent late on Friday, after hitting its highest level in nearly three months and posting its best week since July 2009.

U.S. stocks ended mixed on Friday, closing out a fourth week of gains. October also was on track to be the best month for stocks since 1974, supported by strong earnings. Merck & Co Inc and Chevron Corp both topped expectations with financial results on Friday.

But a weak sale of Italian bonds on Friday underscored fragility of the euro zone's debt progress. The 10-year yield gap between Italian and German bonds widened after the auction to 378 basis points, about 10 bps wider on the day.

Italy paid record high cost of more than 6 percent to borrow on the debt market, in the first euro zone bond auction after policymakers struck an agreement on Thursday to slash Greece's debt burden and strengthen the European Financial Stability Facility, the region's rescue fund.

Details to implement the agreement remain unresolved, with one of the key issues being raising funds for the bailout vehicle.

The head of the EFSF played down hopes of a quick deal with China to throw its support behind efforts to resolve the crisis.

But a rise in riskier assets helped ease strains and stabilise Asian credit markets, with the spreads on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment grade index , a gauge for whether investor risk appetite is returning, little changed early on Monday.

The euro held on to most of last week's gains against the dollar, but uncertainty about a possible interest rate cut on Thursday by the European Central Bank could limit its upside for now.

The single currency reached a seven-week high around $1.4247 last Thursday, and looked set to end the month up nearly 6 percent for its best monthly performance in just over a year.


Farage and Duncan clash on Europe referendum

Portugal wants U.S. help in euro crisis

(Reuters) - Portugal asked Mexico on Saturday to tell fellow G20 members next week that the United States should offer "financial help" to resolve the euro zone sovereign debt crisis, describing it as a "systemic and global" problem, a Portuguese government source said.

Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho asked Mexican President Felipe Calderon to convey the message during the G20 meeting in Cannes next week, the source told reporters after the two leaders met at the Ibero-American summit in Paraguay.

"The crisis isn't in the euro zone. It is a systemic and global crisis and we hope that other big G20 countries intervene," the source told reporters in the capital Asuncion, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The source added that Washington should help resolve the crisis "by boosting trade and also with financial help."

No one from Calderon's delegation in Asuncion could immediately be reached for comment.

Financial markets rallied strongly this week after European leaders hammered out a deal to recapitalize their banks, boost the firepower of a euro zone rescue fund, and impose hefty losses on holders of Greek debt.

However, economic analysts quickly warned that details of the rescue could still take weeks or even months to work out.

Portugal is suffering a deepening recession as it implements painful austerity measures under a 78-billion-euro ($110.3-billion) EU/IMF bailout.

Survivalists fear currency crash

To survive a feared currency crash, some people are going for gold.

"People are frightened, pensions are at risk because of this devaluation and printing that's going on and the debt thing is a monster," said John Budden, a veteran market analyst based in Ottawa. "Have some gold - physical gold. By that I mean bullion or coins, tucked away. Maybe bury it in the garden."

Budden says Canada is generally a safe place to stash money for an emergency, but the value for precious metals as currency is still lost on many.

"Canadians, North Americans, just don't have a clue - they have never had to get their families across a border in the middle of the night using gold as a bribe, when no one will take any paper currency," said Budden.

Demand for gold and silver has jumped since the 2008 recession. Many fear the fiat currency, one not backed by gold deposits, will eventually collapse, leading to a worthless paper dollar in the United States, akin to the Weimar Republic in Germany after the First World War.

Republican leadership candidate Ron Paul advocates a return to the gold standard, and wants to allow independent mints to produce their own coins, altering legal tender laws.

The state of Utah changed its law this year and now allows shoppers to use gold and silver to do business, with several states thinking of following suit.

Survivalists are stocking up on so-called "junk silver," for trading after a crash and some businesses are asking to be paid in it already.

Canadian dimes and quarters minted prior to 1966 contain 80% silver and 20% copper. American coinage is similar. With the date stamped on them, survivalists say this junk silver has clear precious metal value and could be used as hard currency in a crisis.

"It protects your money. They see the future coming," said Frank Rossi, part owner of Universal Coins in Ottawa. "Everybody remembers in Germany when you could buy whole buildings for an ounce of gold, and if they don't remember, they should.

"A quarter in 1966 would buy you a Coke and chips. That same quarter today buys you a Coke and chips, but a 2011 minted quarter buys you nothing."

Toronto Sun

Celente with Jimmy Cefalo

Toxic Assets is The Financial Equivalent of Plutonium with Max Keiser

Listen and understand how it works......

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Occupy Oakland makes plans for citywide general strike

OAKLAND -- Occupy Oakland protesters debated Thursday evening the practical difficulties of organizing a citywide general strike with the aim of shutting down the city of Oakland on Nov. 2. Speakers urged teachers, students, union members and workers of all stripes to participate in whatever way they could, and said the entire world was watching Oakland. "Oakland is the vanguard and epicenter of the Occupy movement," said Clarence Thomas, a member of the powerful International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union who urged the hundreds of assembled people to support the strike.

Protesters said the aim of the strike was to involve Oakland more aggressively in the global Occupy movement, and to help mobilize millions of Americans to protest against what they see as the excesses of Wall Street, unfair banking regulations and disparities in the nation's health care system.

The call for a strike originated Wednesday evening during a General Assembly which drew at least a thousand people from all walks of life to Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza, which protesters had turned into a de-facto camp site before police kicked them out last week. Many people said they felt mobilized to participate after seeing videos and pictures from Tuesday night's violence, when at least 200 riot police from around the Bay Area clashed with protesters, lobbing tear gas, flash-bang grenades and so-called "nonlethal" projectiles to attempt to corral and contain them.

San Jose Mercury News

Friday, October 28, 2011

Is An Ice Age Coming?

US solar physicists announced in June 2011 that the Sun appears to be headed into a lengthy spell of low activity, which could mean that the Earth—far from facing a globalwarming problem—is actually headed into a mini Ice Age. The announcement came from scientists at the US National Solar Observatory (NSO) and the US Air Force Research Laboratory. Three different analyses of the Sun’s recent behavior all indicated that a period of unusually low solar activity may be about to begin

Fred Dardick reports, “We are in the midst of the convergence of three major solar, ocean, and atmospheric cycles all heading in the direction of global cooling. Last year the Southern Hemisphere experienced its coldest winter in 50 years and Europe just went through two particularly cold winters in a row, and the cooling trend has just begun. The likelihood of a repeat of the great frost of 1709 is growing every day. (2) This was the time of the Maunder Minimum (1645-1715) and for periods either side of it, many European rivers which are ice-free today—including the Thames—routinely froze over, allowing ice skating and even for armies to march across them in some cases

More recently other papers confirm that solar effects could bring on little ice ages. Sarah Ineson and her colleagues report that changes in the Sun’s emissions of ultraviolet radiation coincided with observed cold winters over southern Europe and Canada between 2008 and this year.

And Katja Matthes and colleagues report that simulations with a climate model using new observations of solar variability suggest a substantial influence of the Sun on the winter climate in the Northern Hemisphere.

Couple this with scientists saying an anticipated cold blast will be due to the return of a disruptive weather pattern called La Nina. Latest evidence shows La Nina, linked to extreme weather in America and with a knock-on effect on Britain, is in force and will gradually strengthen as the year ends. This climate phenomenon, characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Pacific, was linked to Britain’s icy winter last year—one of the coldest on record.

“However, the BBC when reporting on this story took great care to pay due respect toglobal warming orthodoxy with the statement, ‘The researchers’ emphasize there is no impact on global warming.’ Of course not- what can the sun possibly have to do with warming the planet?”
Canada Free Press

Huge Asteroid to Creep Near Earth on Nov. 8

In April 2010, this radar image of the near-Earth asteroid 2005 YU55 was taken by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. On Nov. 8, 2011, this large space rock zips by Earth again and will be surveyed by radar, visual and infrared equipment.

Mark Nov. 8 on your calendar. A huge asteroid that could potentially threaten Earth in the far future will pass close by as astronomers around the world watch and measure.

This space rock is asteroid 2005 YU55, a veritable mini-world roughly 1,300 feet (400 meters) wide — nearly four football fields across — that will zoom by Earth inside the orbit of the moon.

At its closest approach, the asteroid will pass within 201,700 miles (325,000 kilometers) of Earth at 6:28 p.m. EDT (2228 GMT) on Nov. 8. The average distance between Earth and the moon is 240,000 miles (386,242 km).

Asteroid 2005 YU55 is set to become the object du jour for ground observers. An extensive campaign of radar, visual and infrared observations is being staged to survey this cosmic interloper.

Due to its size and proximity, YU55 was classified as a "Potentially Hazardous Asteroid" several years ago. Its upcoming flyby is another wake-up call — an express mail reminder that humanity resides on a sitting duck of a planet.

Asteroid 2005 YU55's pass by Earth will be closest to date by an object this large that we know about in advance. A smaller asteroid, called 2011 CQ1, actually came closer to Earth without hitting – a record-setting approach to within 3,400 miles (5,471 kilometers) — but it was not seen in advance.

The asteroid's near-Earth flyby is also the first since 1976 that astronomers have known about in advance for such a large object. The next known flyby with a big space rock will occur in 2028, NASA scientists said.

This still from a NASA animation by Jon Giorgini of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory shows the trajectory of asteroid 2005 YU55 as it passes between Earth and the moon on Nov. 8, 2011.

NASA Issues Image Of El Hierro Volcanic Eruption

On October 23, 2011, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color view of El Hierro and the North Atlantic Ocean surrounding it. A milky green plume in the water stretches 25-30 kilometers at its widest and perhaps 100 kilometers long, from a large mass near the coast to thin tendrils as it spread outs to the southwest. The plume is likely a mix of volcanic gases and a blend of crushed pumice and seafloor rock.

Tremors were reported for the past several months from seismic stations on El Hierro, particularly in the northwest of the island. Then on October 12, 2011, the strength of the tremors significantly decreased while foaming, rock-strewn plumes appeared in the sea to the south of the island. The underwater plume of volcanic debris has persisted for nearly two weeks and has been mixed and dispersed by ocean surface currents. The eruption is occurring in water that is tens to a few hundred meters deep.

Geologist and blogger Erik Klimetti offered this analysis: “It looks like the main fissure might be 2-3 kilometers in length and is close to on strike with the rift axis for the main El Hierro edifice. Ramon Ortiz, coordinator of a government scientific team, said that if/when the eruption reaches shallower water, we should expect to see the surface water start to steam, followed by explosions of steam and magma and finally the emergence of an island.”

Irish Weather

Pope to promote peace in talks with world religious leaders

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI has invited 300 religious leaders to a meeting in Assisi in Italy to repudiate “violence in the name of God” amid growing tensions fuelled by fundamentalists across the world.

The day of interreligious council, which will be held on Thursday in St. Francis of Assisi’s birthplace, is intended to be a “journey of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world,” the Vatican said.

Over 50 Islamic representatives are expected to attend the talks from several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran.

They will be joined by Rabbis, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, a Zoroastrian, a Bahai and representatives of Taoism and Confucianism as well as of other traditional religions from Africa and America.

For the first time, four atheists will also attend the meeting, which is traditionally organised so as not to coincide with the Muslim day of prayer on Friday, the Jewish one on Saturday or the Christian one on Sunday.

However, the Imam from the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, a heavyweight authority on Sunnism, will not be coming, having fallen out with the pope after he urged Egypt to protect Christians from attacks by radical Islamists.

The meeting is being criticised by Catholic fundamentalists who are strongly against the idea of dialogue with other religions. French fundamentalist Regis de Cacqueray said 1,000 masses would be needed to be said in reparation.

The event marks the 25th anniversary of the first interreligious meeting in Assisi, organised by John Paul II in 1986 as a “day of prayer” inspired by the United Nation’s proclamation of an International Year of the Peace.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, chose not to attend because of concerns shared by traditionalists that it risked mixing religions into a vague common belief.

While guests attending this year’s encounter — the third in Assisi — will in principle follow a “common course”, those who wish to pray will do so separately, according to their beliefs, the Holy See has said.

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who helped organise the first Assisi day in 1986, said John Paul II had been careful to avoid mixing beliefs, and Benedict XVI was no different.

“Interreligious dialogue has spread” over the last 25 years, and the pope sees it “as a common, irrevocable heritage of Christian sensibility,” he said.

The pope’s main aim is for participants to agree to “a common commitment to reject the instrumentalism of religion and the use of violence in the name of God,” said a Vatican insider.

Number two of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Pier Luigi Celata, said the problems that particularly concern religions are immigration, cultural diversity, religious liberty and the defence of the family.

“These issues oblige faithful people from different religions to look for common solutions,” he said.

At the end of the day of talks, the main participants will renew their commitment to peace in the square in front of St. Francis’ Basilica.

A burning torch will be symbolically presented to the delegations in the hope that they will take the message back with them to their communities.

A glimpse into the future from Microsoft and (maybe) RIM

Predicting what the next generation of technology will look like is something on which multibillion-dollar companies are based.

That is, if their predictions are accurate.

In the first video embedded below, Microsoft Corp. provides its vision of the world five to 10 years from now. The world’s largest software company, continuing in its long-established tradition of crystal ball gazing, clearly foresees a future where intelligent systems bringing humanity all the information it needs anywhere, at any time, without the recipient ever being aware of the technologies involved.

In the second and third videos — rumoured to be commissioned by Research In Motion Ltd. — the fortune-telling is focused on mobile devices. The videos were posted by the gadget blog PocketNow on Thursday, which claims they were commissioned by RIM and then posted to an online portfolio site before being marked private.

We reached out to RIM to verify the authenticity of the videos, but so far have not heard back from the company.

The videos showcase full touchscreen handheld devices capable of interacting with what seems to be virtually everything they might encounter in nature, similar to the Microsoft notion of technology fading into the background of daily life while at the same time permeating everything.

Financial Post

Video of nYPD brutality at occupy Oakland

We need discipline and more integration, says Barroso

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso hailed the eurozone debt deal on Thursday but said its implementation is still needed to rescue debt-hit Greece. In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24-RFI on Thursday, Barroso called on member states and financial institutions to follow through on measures to write off 50% of Greek loans, as was agreed at a crisis summit earlier in the day.

At the end of grueling eight-hour-long negotiations in Brussels that continued overnight into Thursday, eurozone leaders struck a deal with private banks and insurers to write off half of Greece’s bond debt. Under the deal, the private sector agreed to voluntarily accept a nominal 50% cut in its bond investments to slice off €100 billion from Greece’s overwhelming €350-billion debt pile, cutting its debts to 120% of GDP by 2020, from 160% now.

“A lot was done, the results were rather impressive, better than expected frankly, but we have to concentrate on the implementation of the measures,” Barroso said.

The EU commissioner added that handing a lifeline to Greece was only a part of the deal. “The recapitalization of banks, measures to enhance the stability and growth perspectives, reinforcing governance in the eurozone – all those points were covered,” Barroso argued.

Getting back to growth

In return for the banks’ write-off, EU leaders agreed to re-inject public cash into the region’s banking sectors. The European Banking Authority has estimated that €106 billion were needed by banks. However, the International Monetary Fund has suggested more money was needed.

Under the latest negotiations, eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund will also provide an additional €100 billion in rescue loans as a second bailout package for Greece. The country’s troubled economy is heading into a fourth year of recession, with unemployment at 16.5% and taxpayers struggling to cope with a barrage of new taxes on property, purchases and their shrinking incomes.

Barroso said providing new public investment was also key to Greece’s recovery. “At the same time I am speaking about fiscal consolidation and debt reduction, I’m insisting to have measures for growth,” he told FRANCE 24 on Thursday. “Without growth we will not be able to overcome the current situation.

Eurozone leaders also agreed to boost their debt rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), to €1 trillion in order to provide risk insurance on new bonds issued by fragile governments in a bid to reassure investors and encourage them to continue to invest in them.

European countries also decided to appeal to emerging countries to help resolve their debt woes. A second fund, linked to the EFSF, will be created to attract private and public investors, including the likes of China and Russia. The investment vehicle might also be routed via the IMF.

‘Integrating’ economic policy

Barroso also said that the EU Commission would get serious about punishing member states that did not abide by economic agreements and commitments. “It is important to have a system of sanctions to be credible, but not only that. We need discipline, but also convergence and more integration.”

France 24