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Italy calls for euro bonds as UK backs fiscal union

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Italy's Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti looks down during a news conference at Chigi Palace in Rome August 13, 2011. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

By James Mackenzie

ROME | Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:56pm BST

(Reuters) – Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti stepped up calls for a more coordinated response to the euro zone debt crisis, including the creation of euro bonds, ahead of a crucial Franco-German summit next week.

Tremonti returned to proposals for jointly-issued bonds that would effectively make individual governments’ debt a common burden, saying they were the “master solution” to the euro zone debt crisis.

“We would not have arrived where we are if we had had the euro bond,” he said on Saturday.

However the idea was immediately rejected by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who said such bonds would undermine the basis for the single currency by weakening fiscal discipline among member states.

“I rule out euro bonds for as long as member states conduct their own financial policies, and we need differing interest rates so that there are possibilities of incentives and sanctions to force fiscal solidity,” he told Der Spiegel weekly.

“Without that kind of solidity, there is no foundation for a joint currency,” he added, according to extracts of an interview released ahead of publication.

The comments underline the sharp divisions hampering efforts to coordinate a response to the euro zone debt crisis, which escalated dramatically last month as markets turned their fire on Italy, one of the bloc’s most heavily indebted countries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are due to meet in Paris on Tuesday, with what Tremonti called “strong expectations” hanging over the encounter.

Underlining the concerns about the spreading euro zone debt crisis which have grown outside the currency bloc, Britain’s Finance Minister George Osborne said some kind of fiscal union may now be needed for the 17-member euro area.

Asked if the only answer for the euro zone was some form of fiscal union, he told BBC radio: “The short answer is yes.”

What is at stake was highlighted by a new poll for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Saturday which showed 31 percent of Germans believe the euro will be gone by 2021.

EURO ZONE

“A lot depends on the choices which may be made about Europe and for Europe in the coming days,” Tremonti told a news conference. He detailed some of the steps contained in a 45.5 billion-euro austerity package unveiled by Italy late on Friday.

The package, a painful mix of spending cuts and tax increases, was passed largely at the insistence of the ECB, which demanded action in return for agreeing to protect Italian bonds by buying them on the market.

Italy has the second highest public debt burden in the euro zone at 120 percent of gross domestic product but had until recently stayed out of the crisis thanks to a relatively modest budget deficit and a generally conservative financial system.

However doubts about its chronically slack growth and its divided centre-right government led to a sharp turnaround in market sentiment last month.

Although markets have not had time to react to the latest austerity package, the surge in bond yields which had driven Italy’s borrowing costs to unsustainable levels has eased since the ECB began buying Italian bonds on Monday.

As the crisis has spread from smaller countries like Greece and Ireland to big economies like Italy, the prospect of an emergency that would overwhelm all existing bailout tools has brought more radical solutions, including euro bonds, more sharply into focus.

 

Italy calls for euro bonds as UK backs fiscal union

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Italy's Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti looks down during a news conference at Chigi Palace in Rome August 13, 2011. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

By James Mackenzie

ROME | Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:56pm BST

(Reuters) – Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti stepped up calls for a more coordinated response to the euro zone debt crisis, including the creation of euro bonds, ahead of a crucial Franco-German summit next week.

Tremonti returned to proposals for jointly-issued bonds that would effectively make individual governments’ debt a common burden, saying they were the “master solution” to the euro zone debt crisis.

“We would not have arrived where we are if we had had the euro bond,” he said on Saturday.

However the idea was immediately rejected by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who said such bonds would undermine the basis for the single currency by weakening fiscal discipline among member states.

“I rule out euro bonds for as long as member states conduct their own financial policies, and we need differing interest rates so that there are possibilities of incentives and sanctions to force fiscal solidity,” he told Der Spiegel weekly.

“Without that kind of solidity, there is no foundation for a joint currency,” he added, according to extracts of an interview released ahead of publication.

The comments underline the sharp divisions hampering efforts to coordinate a response to the euro zone debt crisis, which escalated dramatically last month as markets turned their fire on Italy, one of the bloc’s most heavily indebted countries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are due to meet in Paris on Tuesday, with what Tremonti called “strong expectations” hanging over the encounter.

Underlining the concerns about the spreading euro zone debt crisis which have grown outside the currency bloc, Britain’s Finance Minister George Osborne said some kind of fiscal union may now be needed for the 17-member euro area.

Asked if the only answer for the euro zone was some form of fiscal union, he told BBC radio: “The short answer is yes.”

What is at stake was highlighted by a new poll for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Saturday which showed 31 percent of Germans believe the euro will be gone by 2021.

EURO ZONE

“A lot depends on the choices which may be made about Europe and for Europe in the coming days,” Tremonti told a news conference. He detailed some of the steps contained in a 45.5 billion-euro austerity package unveiled by Italy late on Friday.

The package, a painful mix of spending cuts and tax increases, was passed largely at the insistence of the ECB, which demanded action in return for agreeing to protect Italian bonds by buying them on the market.

Italy has the second highest public debt burden in the euro zone at 120 percent of gross domestic product but had until recently stayed out of the crisis thanks to a relatively modest budget deficit and a generally conservative financial system.

However doubts about its chronically slack growth and its divided centre-right government led to a sharp turnaround in market sentiment last month.

Although markets have not had time to react to the latest austerity package, the surge in bond yields which had driven Italy’s borrowing costs to unsustainable levels has eased since the ECB began buying Italian bonds on Monday.

As the crisis has spread from smaller countries like Greece and Ireland to big economies like Italy, the prospect of an emergency that would overwhelm all existing bailout tools has brought more radical solutions, including euro bonds, more sharply into focus.

German government no longer rules out euro bonds – report

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A sculpture showing the euro currency sign is seen in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt, April 1, 2010. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN | Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:19pm BST

(Reuters) – The German government no longer rules out agreeing to the issuance of euro zone bonds as a measure of last resort to save the single currency, conservative newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported on Sunday.

Even though Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and Economy Minister Philipp Roesler again spoke out against euro zone bonds and debt collectivisation, Welt am Sonntag reported the German government is nevertheless considering that and other measures.

“Preserving the euro zone with all its members has absolute top priority for us,” according to a government source quoted in the newspaper under the headline: “Government no longer excludes European transfer union and joint euro bonds as last resort.”

FTSE falls on global growth worries 16 08 11

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BP PLC
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Royal Dutch Shell Plc
RDSA.L
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People walk through the lobby of the London Stock Exchange August 5, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

By Joanne Frearson

LONDON | Tue Aug 16, 2011 9:41am BST

(Reuters) – The leading share index fell on Tuesday, snapping a three-day rally amid worries about a slowdown in global growth after weaker-than-expected German GDP data, with commodity stocks the worst performers.

Investor worries that global growth was slowing down were compounded when German GDP dropped to 0.1 percent compared to Reuters consensus forecasts of 0.5 percent and was at its lowest since it posted a negative reading in the first quarter 2009.

Commodity stocks, whose performance is highly correlated to economic growth, were the main drag on the index.

Heavyweight oil stocks BP (BP.L), Shell (RDSa.L) and BG Group (BG.L) down 0.7 to 1.4 percent, while miners Rio Tinto (RIO.L), Anglo American (AAL.L) and Xstrata (XTA.L) fell 1.7 to 2.6 percent.

“We are back in negative territory after the rally,” Peter Dixon, economist at Commerzbank, said. “German growth disappointed and that is going to weigh on the market. “It has punctured the already fragile confidence.”

Parma: a place much liked by its overseas visitors

Visitor arrivals from Russia and China Presented in the report of 2011 ‘Province of tourism’

Figures for arrivals continued to increase since 2006 not only in the capital of Parma. 

 

“tourism is an important sector for our economy”

Agostino Maggiali

Parma has bucked the trend in overseas tourism data. In a difficult time, marked by the crisis, with fewer resources available for holiday vacations, tourism in Parma marks the steady increase of OS visitors since 2006, and last year attendance rose from 19.6% to 23.3%. Not only in the capital, but throughout the territory we saw a broader spectrum of  French, German, American and English tourists along with Russian and Chinese visitors. Many visitors now arrive throughout the year and not limited to the traditional high season of the summer months but also across the low seasons and venturing further afield.

The data emerged during the morning presentation of the 2010 report.  Generally it did not bode well for the broader industry, but here in the land of Verdi, Castles, and the Spa of ‘Apennines the growth comes with some mark of satisfaction.

In the words of Maggiali Augustine, the provincial councilor for Tourism: “The Province of Parma appeals to the international market and this is a positive factor to consider because visitors are a valuable asset. Not everyone maintains that tourism is an important segment for our economy. I think that view is a mistake and tourism is a road ahead that could provide real opportunities for our territory which we must convert.”

Remember there are great opportunities ahead: “2013 Green”, a unique opportunity for all and I regret that has not been carried out nationally and bestowed specifically for the bicentennial.”  There is also the Expo 2015 which focuses on nutrition, a subject  which the Parma has much knowledge.  Continuing Maggiali states, “Parma must have the strength to grasp the ‘attention of millions of visitors.”

DATA 2010 – The downside is slight: 517,874 arrivals (-0.9% compared to 2009, an increase compared to 2006-7)

Attendance 1,521,812 (+0.6%) thus recovering but not yet to pre- crisis because 2008 was the Parma ‘year of the great exhibition of Correggio’.

The decline of Italian tourists (-3.2% -3.9% arrivals and attendance duration), is offset by overseas visitors which increased (+7.6% + 19.4% more than in 2009)

A Good result for the capital (arrivals and presences +2.6% + 13.7%) while the sector continues to show a suffering vacation Spa result with Salsomaggiore and Parma cities ‘art’ scene down with Apennines tourism (arrivals and -7.9% – 7.4% attendance).

Breaking down the data between the Western and the Asian Eastern clients, the latter shows a remarkable growth over the past 12 months, which has even better data rates throughout the remainder of the country, confirming a positive trend continuing now for some years.

Overnight stays shows a favourable growth for B & B, villas, camp sites, which all showed a significant increase in arrivals (+9%) and a 2.7% increase in visitor attendance duration.

Hotels saw a fall of about 2% of arrivals and attendance duration of overall stability (+0.1%). A reflection this situation is derived from the data on accommodation facilities. In the last 5 years 4-5 star hotels have increased in number, while a fall of two stars and extra-hotel facilities, increased by 33%, 25% the total number of beds available. The greatest positive development has focused mainly on B & B sector, enjoying an increase of nearly 60%, with agriturismo farms growing by almost a third.

From the point of view of ‘monthly trend; from spring until June 2010 there were overall increases in attendance durations, compared to 2009; May 2010, the month of Cibus, showed a  +10.3% attendance. Increases were also recorded in November and December, while other months have recorded fluctuations.

(July 19, 2011)

 from UK/USA tourism articles

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Just what is Manhattanhenge?

By Virginia BrownBBC News Magazine

Sun setting

New Yorkers have witnessed an urban solar phenomenon, with the Sun setting in alignment with the city’s skyscrapers and giving an effect fans say is reminiscent of Wiltshire’s Stonehenge. Welcome to Manhattanhenge.

Twice every year amateur photographers gather in carefully-selected spots to set up tripods and wait to capture the ultimate sunset.

On Wednesday night at 2025 local time (0125 BST), the east-west lying streets of the city’s famous grid system neatly framed the setting sun, creating golden glows New Yorkers rarely see.

During the phenomenon, the Sun appears to be nestled perfectly between the skyscraper corridors, illuminating the north and south sides of the streets.

Crowds shoot down a crowded street Crowds gather for photographs on 34th Street

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson coined the term Manhattanhenge in 1996, inspired by its likeness to Stonehenge, where the sun aligns with concentric circles of vertical stones on each of the solstices.

“As a kid, I visited Stonehenge in the Salisbury Plain of England and did research on other stone monuments across the British Isles. It was deep within me,” says deGrasse Tyson.

“So I was, in a way, imprinted by the emotional power that terrestrial alignments with the Sun can have on a culture or civilization.”

After coining the term, deGrasse Tyson later published dates and times in Natural History magazine.

Cars crossingEast-west streets like 34th Street perfectly framed the Sun

Similar “henge” phenomena also occur in other cities with large numbers of skyscrapers and long straight streets – such as Chicago, Montreal and Toronto.

As far as sunset goes – which is the fans’ true Manhattanhenge – the event happens in May and July, and for two nights each. There’s also the winter version, but that’s sunrise.

New York-based photographer Emon Hassan has celebrated Manhattanhenge in his work.

“You’ll see photographers on both sides, lined up, just waiting. In one area, I could go in the middle of the street and get the shot. Photographers risk their lives to get the perfect shot.

Shots of cars in silhouetteSkyscrapers along 42nd Street form another impressive view

“It’s cut-throat. You only have a 15 to 20 minute window. It happens pretty quick after you consider dodging traffic.

“I don’t even know how to articulate that feeling. It’s almost like seeing an eclipse.”

Getty photographer Mario Tama shot the event earlier this year. He says the event provides residents with a moment of clarity and beauty in a chaotic world.

“Basically, people in Manhattan are trapped in an island of tall buildings and sometimes can’t even see the sky really.

A crowd of photographers (pic: Mario Tama)The occasion is a red-letter day for both amateurs and professionals

“It’s a brilliant moment when Manhattanites can connect with the rest of the world and with the Earth. If you get out of the subway at 34th Street, you’ll see two or three hundred people with tripods jumping in the street. Usually when this happens, there has been a shooting or something, so this is really a beautiful thing,” says Tama.

The event has become a social phenomenon in New York City.

“Amateur and professional photographers can meet up, they tag each other’s work on Twitter and meet other people – people with other interests,” says Hassan.

“Manhattan is one of the most fascinating places and this is such a unique event.”

Its distinctiveness lies in the positioning of the city’s layout.

View of the Empire State BuildingThe Empire State Building and the 34th Street corridor view

Manhattan’s Commissioner’s Plan of 1811 established its grid system, which is rotated 29 degrees from true east-west. If Manhattan’s streets were perfectly laid out on an east-west grid, Manhattanhenge would occur facing both east and west on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

It also has the advantage over other skyscraper cities because of a relatively clear view to the horizon down some of its streets.

For photographers and people taking an early evening stroll, it is just a beautiful effect of light.

But for astronomers, it’s something more – a chance to engage laymen and enthusiasts with the studies of the cosmos.

DeGrasse Tyson uses the event to make people more interested in astronomy.

“I’ll take any excuse I can get to get people to look up and notice our cosmic environment,” deGrasse Tyson recently told PBS television.

The best vantage point to view the event, which he describes as “the greatest of the cosmos together with the greatest of our urban icons”, is on Park Avenue and 34th Street, looking west, he says.

14 July 2011 Last updated at 14:13 GMT

Italian Senate passes austerity package

Shops for rent in Rome (13 July 2011)The measures aim to balance the budget by 2014

The Italian Senate has passed a tough austerity budget, including cuts of 48bn euros ($67bn; £42bn) over three years.

The lower house must also adopt the measures in a vote on Friday. Correspondents say that is likely.

Italy has one of the largest debt mountains in the eurozone and wants to avoid any need for a bail-out.

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has said Italy is on the front line of the eurozone’s economic difficulties.

Italy raised 2.97bn euros ($4.2bn; £2.6bn) through a sale of 15-year government bonds on Thursday, but had to offer a 5.9% rate of return – an all-time high for such bonds.

Frugal Mamma arrives in Italian Paradise

…we arrived at this sort of utopia on the coast of Sardinia.

As we drove into the resort, past the riding horses and the team of golf carts that take people to their rooms, some clinging like cacti to the mountainsides, I felt peace.

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‘Mad Men,’ ‘Mildred Pierce’ Get Top Emmy Nods

by: Lynn Elber, Associated Press

The cast of “Mad Men”AMC”Mad Men,” the sharply observed drama of a changing 1960s America, captured 19 Emmy nominations Thursday morning to lead the series pack, with the melodramatic miniseries “Mildred Pierce” starring Kate Winslet grabbing a top 21 bids.

“Mad Men” has a chance to repeat for a fourth consecutive year as best drama. “Modern Family,” last year’s top comedy series, was the most nominated sitcom with 17 bids.

Other leading nominees include the Prohibition-era drama “Boardwalk Empire” with 18 nominations, “Saturday Night Live” with 16 and 13 bids each for the sex-and-swords fantasy “Game of Thrones” and the sitcom “30 Rock.”

Press Releases

New Study Proves Tourism Promotion Campaigns Increase Visitation

Comprehensive Analysis of Michigan and Philadelphia Programs Reveal Increases in Jobs; State and Local Tax Revenue

JULY 6, 2011

Washington, DC – Reducing state and local tourism marketing programs in the name of saving taxpayer dollars impedes economic growth, according to new research conducted by Longwoods International and commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association. A comprehensive analysis of recent campaigns by the State of Michigan and the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) reveals that marketing programs drive greater visitation, generate new tax dollars and create jobs for states and local communities.

“There’s a reason that America’s most prominent brands continue to increase their marketing budgets: it works,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “This study proves that destinations must operate like Nike, Apple and similar businesses that have followed the marketing path to success. Substantial cuts to destination marketing programs are counterproductive and will have long-term negative economic consequences.”

U.S. Travel Plan to Create 1.3 Million Jobs

Increasing travel to the United States is the most effective form of economic stimulus—supporting communities, injecting billions into the U.S. economy and creating millions of new American jobs.

Recapturing America’s historic share of worldwide overseas travel would create up to 1.3 million U.S. jobs by 2020 compared with 2010 and produce $859 billion in cumulative additional economic output.

U.S. Travel has conducted the first comprehensive review of the negative impact that inefficient and unpredictable U.S. visitor visa and entry processes have on U.S. jobs, economic growth and exports.

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Fly Guy: Frequent flier tips that only the pros know

By George Hobica, Airfarewatchdog.com

Updated 06/28/2011 10:20 AM

I don’t know how some frequent fliers manage. Travel can be so discombobulating and disruptive, yet some road warriors spend half their lives on planes, sometimes just to collect miles and attain elite frequent flier status. But with the work comes the perks, as that same group knows how to make the best of it, collecting as many frequent flier miles as possible and using the status they earn from traveling so much to their advantage. Here are some of their tricks that any flier can put to good use.

  • Hostess Svetlana Shapiro serves a glass of wine to Brian Lannutti, of Seattle, as he waits for his flight in the British Airways Terraces first class lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in January.By Stephen Brashear, for USA TODAY

  • Hostess Svetlana Shapiro serves a glass of wine to Brian Lannutti, of Seattle, as he waits for his flight in the British Airways Terraces first class lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in January.

By Stephen Brashear, for USA TODAY

Hostess Svetlana Shapiro serves a glass of wine to Brian Lannutti, of Seattle, as he waits for his flight in the British Airways Terraces first class lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in January.

1. Getting into business class lounges even if you’re in economy class 

Airports aren’t much fun, but one way to make the whole flying experience more pleasurable is to wait for your flight in an airline lounge. Savvy fliers know that even if they are flying in economy class, they can access business class lounges when flying overseas. If you’re a member of Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge, Continental’s Presidents Club, the United Red Carpet Club, or the US Airways club you can access any Star Alliance business class lounge when flying internationally. No matter what class of service you are flying or elite status, show your club membership card and you gain access to alliance member lounges across the globe.

2. Getting elite status 

Elite status is an important tool in every road warrior’s bag of tricks, but achieving status can be troublesome if your travel patterns change each year. But did you know that most airlines award elite status for life upon reaching the one million miles flown mark? Sure, it takes a lot of flying to get there, but you are a road warrior and you will live a long time.

Most airlines are very specific about what miles they count towards the accrual of elite status, usually including only flown miles on the airline and its alliance partners. However, American stands out of the crowd to include any miles earned (such as credit card spending and promotions) towards its AAdvantage program as part of its million mile status calculation. This makes it the easiest program in which to earn lifetime elite status. United counts elite levels from only its own UA-coded flights towards elite status whereas airlines like Delta and Continental also count its alliance partners’ flights towards lifetime accrual.

Read previous columns

Prince to duke it out on horseback

APBy NOAKI SCHWARTZ,THOMAS WATKINS | AP – 4 hrs ago

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  • Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, look on during a private reception at the British Consul-General's residence in Los Angeles, Friday, July 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Matt Baron, Pool)

    Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, look on during a private …

  • Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, mingles with soccer player David Beckham at a private reception at the British Consul-General's residence in Los Angeles, Friday, July 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, mingles with soccer player David Beckham at a …

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The prince will duke it out in the game of kings.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are making a recreational detour on their busy weekend business trip to Los Angeles on Saturday, when they will attend a charity polo match near the swanky seaside city of Santa Barbara.

Both Prince William and his brother, Prince Harry, regularly play polo during the summer months. The horseback sport, sometimes referred to as the game of kings, is known for its fast pace, dangerous maneuvers and exclusivity.

Saturday’s match will take place at the posh Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. For the price of a $4,000 ticket, guests can perhaps meet the prince and princess and watch William lead his fellow polo players into competition. The duchess will present the trophy to the winning team.

Those who can’t afford to chow down with the royal couple can purchase a $400 ticket that will get them admission to the grandstand, a box lunch and a souvenir program. Proceeds will go to charity.

Former first lady Betty Ford dies, age 93

ReutersBy Bob Tourtellotte | Reuters – 15 hrs ago

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  • Handout of Betty Ford hugging her husband in the Oval Office of the White HouseHandout of Betty Ford hugging her husband in the Oval Office of the White HouseBetty Ford, the wife of the late President Gerald Ford, who overcame alcohol and prescription drug addictions and helped found a rehabilitation clinic that bears her name, died on Friday at the age of 93.

“I was deeply saddened this afternoon when I heard of Betty Ford’s death,” another former first lady, Nancy Reagan, said in a statement confirming Ford’s death.

Ford once was dubbed the “fighting first lady” by Time magazine because of her outspoken political views, which often differed from those of her husband’s Republican Party.

She strongly supported women’s rights while her husband was president from 1974 to 1977, working the phones in a vain attempt to get states to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which sought to give women and men equality under law.

The space shuttle Atlantis lifted off Friday morning on the final mission of America’s 30-year space-shuttle program..The four-member crew blasted off on a 12-day mission just before 11:30 a.m. The four — all shuttle veterans — are on their way to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

Meanwhile on the jobs front in the wake of Friday’s (July 8) woeful jobs numbers, President Obama acknowledged that “we still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do” before the economy is working for Americans again.

“The economy as a whole just isn’t producing nearly enough jobs for everybody who’s looking,” Obama said in prepared comments in the White House Rose Garden. He cited “tough headwinds” that are exerting a drag on the economy, including natural disasters, high gas prices, economic turmoil in Europe, and state and local government budget cuts.

The Labor Department reported this morning that the unemployment rate ticked up to 9.2 percent last month, with the economy adding just 18,000 jobs — even fewer than May’s paltry revised figure of 25,000.

The numbers make it painfully clear that the recovery from the Great Recession–officially under way for two years–is struggling to sustain any momentum, and raise the fear that the economy could soon re-enter a period of contraction.

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10 ways to make yr home coolgreen:)

USA

Q1, 2011 Markets Review – Good Gains

In percentage terms, the first quarter of 2011 provided the best gains for U.S. stocks in more than a decade–the best quarter since 1999.  We experienced positive–albeit modest–returns across almost the entire spectrum of investments for the first three months of the year.   The Wilshire 5000, which is a proxy for all the stocks in the U.S. market, gained 6.27% for the quarter, and has been up 17.43 over the past 12 months.  The comparableRussell 3000 rose 6.38% in the first three months of the year.   Large cap stocks provided single-digit gains, with the widely-followed S&P 500 up 5.42% in the first quarter, 5.92% on a total return (including dividends) basis.

Every component sector showed gains, ranging from a 16.29% rise in energy stocks to a 1.62% return in utilities.  Industrials were up 8.2% and health care rose 4.99%.  Meanwhile, the Wilshire U.S. large cap index was up 6.06% for the first three months of the year, while the Russell 1000 large cap index rose 6.24%.   The Wilshire U.S. Mid-Cap index gained 9.21% for the first quarter; the Russell Midcap was up 7.63% and the S&P 400 posted a 9.02% gain; up 9.36% on a total return basis.   The Wilshire U.S. Small Cap 250 index rose 10.06% in the first quarter, while the broader-based Russell 2000 small cap index was up 7.94%.  The S&P Small Cap 600 rose 7.43% for the quarter, up 7.71% on a total return basis.   The widely-followed NASDAQ Composite Index finished the quarter up 4.83%, close to its 10-year average of 4.22% a year.   International stocks gained modestly as well.  The broad Europe, Australia and Far East (EAFE) index was up 2.67% for the first three months of the year.  The European component of the index rose 5.88% despite continuing worries about sovereign debt issues in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.  In contrast, Pacific region stocks were down 2.96%, largely because of a drop in the Nikkei stock market.

Indices

Indices Trend 2010-2011

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Compare Index Today’s Change 5-Day Trend Last 52-Week Range
AMEX Composite Index +32.94 (+1.39%) 2,407.39
Russell 2000 +10.00 (+1.22%) 830.87
S&P 400 Index +8.51 (+0.87%) 984.17
NASDAQ Composite Index +21.54 (+0.78%) 2,782.92
ML Tech 100 +3.49 (+0.77%) 459.09
NASDAQ Computer +10.47 (+0.75%) 1,401.59
NASDAQ 100 Index +14.98 (+0.65%) 2,325.93
NYSE Financial +31.75 (+0.64%) 4,972.28
NYSE Composite Index +46.29 (+0.56%) 8,341.66
AMEX Networking +1.69 (+0.54%) 314.64
Wilshire 5000 +74.09 (+0.53%) 14,022.82
S&P 500 Index +5.22 (+0.40%) 1,325.69
S&P 100 Index +1.52 (+0.26%) 587.93
Dow Jones +8.10 (+0.07%) 12,402.76
XMI -0.32 (-0.02%) 1,346.17
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News

Summer Hiring To Hold Steady, According To CareerBuilder’s Annual Job Forecast

6:00a ET May 18, 2011 (Dow Jones)

Summer Hiring To Hold Steady, According To CareerBuilder’s Annual Job Forecast

Italy – Parma

24 to 26 May 2011
SPS / IPC / DRIVES Italy
Technologies for electric automation – Systems and Components (Fair and Congress) Venue: Exhibition Centre of Parma
ORGANIZATION: Messe Frankfurt Italy – Milan

VISIT THE OFFICIAL SITESPS / IPC / DRIVES ITALY, an event dedicated to the world of power, will take place 24 to 26 May 2011 at the exhibition center in Parma.Following the German model of SPS / IPC / DRIVES Nuremberg ITALY, the event itself as Italian trade fair for manufacturers and suppliers of electric automation, covering the entire range of products, from electrical components to complete systems, including automation solutions integrated.Detailed analysis and field studies have confirmed the opportunity and the need to provide an exhibition platform for the Italian market is worthy of its importance and strong know-how of SPS / IPC / DRIVES Nuremberg Messe Frankfurt.SPS / IPC / DRIVES ITALY is certainly an optimal environment and a significant opportunity to capitalize on the potential for domestic market. Due to the high specialization of visitors, SPS Italy offers itself as a high-level B2B trade show will be presented where electrical automation technologyof the following areas:• Control Systems
• IPC
• Drives
• Devices Human-Machine Interface (HMI)
• Industrial Communication
• Industrial Software
• Technical interface
• Mechanical Systems / Peripherals
• Sensor Technology

USA

Cando Organics (http://www.CandoOrganics.weebly.com) was founded under the idea of doing what good we can with the resources we have available. I am an Organic Farmer exploring the endless possibilities of what I can do with all the herbs and vegetables that I grow.

Picture

One day the thought came to me that I could make natural soaps from the surplus of herbs we were growing. We took the so called “weed herbs” such as chickweed and comfrey and incorporated them into our soaps. Many of our friends have related to us how using the soaps have lessened and even healed their skin problems. Thus the idea for Cando Organics was born. We produce a line of liquid and bar soaps that heal and soothe the skin. All of our natural products are both eco-friendly and good for you. You should always be aware of what is in your food and body products and who is making them. After all, what is more important to the maintenance of your health and well-being than what goes in and on your body?

LIKE Cando Organics

Italy

Italy’s Emilia-Romagna becomes a contender –

Great New tourist Destination!!

Talia Baiocchi, Special to The Chronicle



Denavolo

Giulio Armani is the winemaker at Denavolo and La Stoppa.

Emilia-Romagna is known first as a veritable hall of fame of gastronomy – from the legendary prosciutti of Parma, to the balsamic vinegar of Modena and the ragu of Bologna.

Despite the wealth and recognition that such prowess has brought this region of northern Italy, its wine industry, dominated by bulk production for decades, has failed to make wines truly worthy of induction. Until now.

“Emilia-Romagna on the whole has struggled to have a wine identity,” says David Lynch, wine director at Quince and author of “Vino Italiano.” “That has a lot to do with consumer perception and a lack of legendary Emilia-Romagnan wine estates.”

It’s true: Emilia-Romagna doesn’t boast an area that creates world-class wines like, say, neighboring Tuscany’s Brunello di Montalcino or Chianti Classico, nor storied producers like Biondi-Santi or Castello di Ama.

There’s Lambrusco, of course, the region’s fizzy red mascot, and its main source of wine recognition. And who can forget Riunite, whose red, white and blue labels lined shelves like a Warhol print during its heyday as America’s No. 1 selling imported wine between 1976 and 2002?

But Emilia-Romagna’s most recent advances have grown beyond riffs on its famed fizzy red. It has acquired many other Italian regions’ renewed interest in indigenous grapes, along with a growing crop of winemakers who hope to find out what else the region is capable of.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/03/25/FDOQ1IGDV6.DTL#ixzz1MdpOZmCM

UK 17 May 11

UK gives £4.2 billion to Portugal bailout

ITNITN – Tue, May 17, 2011

An economic bailout package for Portugal approved by EU finance ministers includes a £4.2 billion contribution from Britain.

The £67.75 billion package, subject to strict austerity measures agreed by Lisbon, is the second to commit the UK to financial guarantees which will only be called upon if Portugal defaults on the loans it raises thanks to the EU-IMF combined bailout deal.

The first package – for Ireland – is already coming under fresh scrutiny, with Dublin using talks inBrussels on Tuesday to argue for cheaper interest rates on its bailout loans.

Meanwhile, the first EU bailout package granted to Greece a year ago – with no British involvement – is also under the spotlight amid signs that the bailout system is not pulling the eurozone out of its deepening debt crisis.

Finance ministers were warned on Monday night to abandon “brutal austerity” as the answer to the debt crisis and instead give struggling countries a chance to restore collapsing economies.

The general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, John Monks, told the ETUC Congress in Athens that the EU-IMF arrangements were too tough to give scope for economic growth.

Mr Osborne has ruled out any UK involvement in a second Greek bailout, but could not avoid a share of the Portuguese bailout burden, as all EU countries are committed under a European Financial Stability Mechanism which runs until 2013.

US – 14 05 11

Mississippi River Floodgate to Open, Inundating Cajun Area

By Brian K. Sullivan and Leela Landress – May 14, 2011 8:26 PM GMT+0200
.
Morganza Spillway

In an agonizing trade-off, Army engineers said they will open the Morganza spillway along the bulging Mississippi River and inundate thousands of homes and farms in parts of Louisiana‘s Cajun country to avert a potentially bigger disaster in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Photographer: Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says about 2,500 people and 2,000 structures are within Louisiana’s Morganza floodway and another 22,500 and 11,000 buildings are vulnerable when the water rises. Photographer: Patrick Semansky/Bloomberg

Louisiana’s Morganza floodway will be opened today at 3 p.m., local time, sending torrents of brown water from the Mississippi River into the Atchafalaya River basin, a move designed to spare Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

The corps expects to release 150,000 cubic feet per second from the Morganza, which is 310 river miles above New Orleans. The spillway, built in 1954 and not opened since 1973, can release 600,000 cubic feet of water per second at maximum capacity. It may send enough water to fill a football field 10 feet deep every second across the heart of what is known as Cajun country, eventually filling an area almost as large asConnecticut.

About 2,500 people and 2,000 structures are within the spillway and another 22,500 and 11,000 buildings are vulnerable when the waters rise, according to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Inside the threatened area are 2,264 wells that each day produce 19,278 barrels of crude oil, about 10 percent of Louisiana’s onshore total, and 252.6 million cubic feet of natural gas, according to the state.

The water flow “is putting tremendous stress on the entire system,” said Major General Michael Walsh, president of theMississippi River Commission. “I directed the commander to open those bays today.”

Earlier today the river’s flow reached 1.5 million cubic feet per second at Louisiana’s Red River Landing, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in a statement.

UK – 14 05 11

Greece Economy Grows Faster Than UK

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(c) Sky News 2011, 20:34, Friday 13 May 2011

Portugal has slipped back into recession as Greece’s economy overtakes the UK, according to the latest GDP figures.

In the first three months of 2011, Portugal saw a 0.7% reduction in GDP, following a 0.6% drop in the last quarter of 2010.

It comes a week after Portugal reached a deal with the European Union and the IMF (Berlin: MXG1.BE – news) over a 78bn euro bailout.

However, Greece saw a GDP growth of 0.8% to emerge from recession – even more than the UK, which saw a 0.5% rise over the period.

Greece is widely expected to need more financial help, beyond the £95bn bailout that saved it from bankruptcy last year.

As a whole, the Eurozone saw GDP rise by 0.8%.

Germany was the star performer, with growth of 1.5%.

Austria, France and Slovakia announced growth of 1% in the same period.

The Netherlands saw growth of 0.9%, while Spain lagged behind, with just a 0.3% rise reported.

Italy reported just a 0.1% rise in growth in the period.

Last month, the Italian government cut its growth forecast for the whole of 2011 from 1.3% to 1.1%.

The rise in Spain’s growth rate to 0.3% from 0.2% in the previous quarter is more encouraging as the country tries to avoid a third consecutive year of contracting GDP.

Ed Balls MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said:

“These figures expose how, since George Osborne’s spending review and VAT rise, Britain’s economy has gone from the economic fast lane to the slow lane.

“As our economy has flatlined with zero growth over the last six months countries like France, Belgium, the Netherlands and even Spain have overtaken us while Germany is powering ahead.

“All these major economies were hit by the global financial crisis and so have a big challenge to get their deficit down and they also face the same high world oil prices as us.

“But while they are now growing strongly, our recovery has been choked off. In fact the UK economy is still 4% smaller than it was before the global financial crisis hit.”

USA

Retail Sales Probably Rose, Showing U.S. Consumers Bearing Higher Prices

By Shobhana Chandra – May 8, 2011 6:01 AM GMT+0200
U.S. Retail Sales

Sales at U.S. retailers rose in March for a ninth consecutive month. Photographer: Peter Mauss/Esto

Sales at U.S. retailers probably climbed in April, reinforcing evidence that employment gains are allowing Americans to weather higher fuel costs, economists said before reports this week.

The projected 0.6 percent gain in purchases would follow a 0.4 percent increase in March, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey ahead of Commerce Department figures May 12. Another report may show the cost of living increased.

Demand at chains including Limited Brands Inc. and Macy’s Inc. (M) topped analysts’ estimates last month as payrolls nationally increased more than projected. While mounting fuel and food costs are pinching household budgets, improving job prospects mean consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, can keep growing.

UK  LONDON (Reuters) – Tour operator Thomas Cook warned its British business was likely to perform worse than last year after reporting an increased first half loss.

Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURTRUSD – news) ‘s second-biggest travel firm said it faced tough market conditions and a difficult economic environment in the UK, as inflation, unemployment and expectations of higher interest rates hurt consumer sentiment.

The company said it had been offering holidays at discounted rates in order to stimulate demand.

Thomas Cook said it made an underlying operating loss of 166 million pounds in the six months to end March, compared with a 130 million loss in the same period last year.

Market expectations had been for an operating loss of between 165 and 170 million pounds, according to a Thomson Reuters (Toronto: TRI.TO – news) poll of five analysts.

China manufacturing growth slows in April

reuters

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4:02, Sunday 1 May 2011

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s manufacturing growth slowed in April, a survey showed on Sunday, suggesting that the government’s tightening efforts have weighed on the world’s second-largest economy more heavily than expected.

The official purchasing managers’ index for China fell to 52.9 in April from 53.4 in March, well shy of market forecasts for an increase to 54.0.

The survey, which is designed to provide a snapshot of conditions in China’s vast manufacturing sector, was largely in line with a separate PMI sponsored by HSBC (LSE: HSBA.L – news) published on Friday that clung near a seven-month low at 51.8 in April.

With inflation running at its fastest in nearly three years, China has taken a series of policy actions to rein in prices, raising interest rates and banks’ required reserves multiple times, ordering banks to lend less and speeding up the pace of currency appreciation.

On the positive side of the ledger, the official PMI showed that these steps have at least partially hit the mark. A sub-index measuring input prices fell to 66.2 in April, a seven-month low, from 68.3 in March.

But the survey also flashed worrying signals for the global economy, which has become increasingly reliant on Chinese demand as a source of growth with the United States, Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURTRUSD –news) and Japan (NYSE: MCO – news) still struggling to recover from the financial crisis.

“Overall, the PMI shows there is still a possibility that the Chinese economy may slow down, especially as falling demand growth leads to adjustments in inventories, increasing the possibility of slowing economic growth,” said Zhang Liqun, a government researcher.

The new orders sub-index weakened to an eight-month low of 53.8 in April from 55.2 in March. Much of that drop was driven by slower growth in export orders, whose sub-index dipped to 51.3 from 52.5.

“The fall may show that export growth will continue to slow down,” Zhang said in a comment on behalf of the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, which compiles the official PMI.

GROWTH STILL ROBUST

Despite Beijing’s sustained tightening campaign over the past half year, economists polled by Reuters still expect the Chinese economy to expand at a nearly double-digit pace this year. They forecast that it will grow 9.5 percent in 2011 after last year’s 10.3 percent expansion.

In a measure of that robust momentum, it was the 26th straight month that the official PMI had stood above the threshold of 50 that demarcates expansion from contraction.

The World Bank said on Thursday it was too early for China to halt its policy tightening as it raised its year-average inflation forecast in a quarterly review of the economy.

Stubborn price pressures have fuelled market talk that Beijing could let the yuan rise at a faster clip, or even take more drastic action by pushing through a large revaluation of the currency.

The government has in the past consistently ruled out a one-off revaluation, saying there were no grounds for any major shift in exchange rate policy. Yet it has demonstrated its appetite for a gradually stronger yuan in recent weeks by guiding it to a succession of record highs against a sluggish dollar.

Investors are on guard for the next round of Chinese monetary tightening. The central bank has raised interest rates four times since October and economists polled by Reuters expect another increase over the next two months.

(Reporting by Simon Rabinovitch and Sally Huang; Editing by Benjamin Kang Lim)

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