Thursday, March 29, 2007

Yahoo Mail Offers 'Infinite' Storage for 10-year Anniversary

Yahoo Mail reportedly will start to offer unlimited storage as it reaches its 10th anniversary in May. On one of the company's blogs, John Kremer, the vice president of Yahoo Mail, wrote:

"I’m the lucky one who gets to announce that we will begin offering everyone unlimited email storage starting in May 2007."

Google Inc., Yahoo's archrival, rolled out its Gmail service several years ago with an initial capacity of 1G byte per user. That capacity has steadily expanded over time and now exceeds 2.5G bytes. Yahoo Mail, which launched in 1997 with 4MB of storage, upgraded to 100MB of storage shortly after Google's Gmail announcement, bumped it up to 250MB in late 2004, and then up to 1GB in 2005. Windows Live Mail offers 2 Gbytes of storage. MSN Hotmail offers 1 Gbyte for its free plan.

Dave Nakayama, the developer of RocketMail, which Yahoo acquired, is quoted by Kremer as saying: “I remember getting in a room to plan our RocketMail launch over a decade ago and worrying that our original plan of a 2MB quota wasn’t enough, and that we needed to be radical and DOUBLE the storage to 4MB per account! It’s ironic that I routinely send and receive individual mail attachments bigger than that now. Our total capacity for mail accounts back then was 200GB for all of our customers. At Yahoo!, we’re now receiving more inbound mail than that every 10 minutes.”

Yahoo Mail is the largest web mail service in the world, with approximately 250 million users, according to comScore Media Metrix. Next is Microsoft's version and then Gmail comes in third.

Kramer further cautions: "like any responsible webmail service, we have anti-abuse limits in place to protect our users," but doesn't give any details. A Yahoo spokesperson contacted by InformationWeek also declined to elaborate.

"We do have controls in place to ensure that people benefit from the unlimited storage feature, but are not able to abuse the system," the Yahoo spokesperson said to IW in an e-mail. "Our anti-abuse limits are there to monitor suspicious activity and to ensure our users have a safe, efficient and reliable Web mail experience. As always, we will require users to abide by the Yahoo Terms of Service. I do not have any other details to share with you at this time."

It's hard to say how the current capacity meter at Yahoo Mail will measure a percent of infinity, so that's probably going to go. Which also makes you wonder when that beta interface is going to reach final development. It's been around since September 2005. Maybe they waited to mark their 10th anniversary with that, too.

Premium users, like me, who now receive 2GB storage and other benefits (such as POP access) for an annual fee of $19.95, won't receive a refund when everyone gets unlimited space. "This does not change our premium e-mail strategy. People upgrade to our premium product for many reasons, with storage being just one of them." I have to agree, the only reason I pay the 20 bucks is so that I can get by e-mail through a POP client.

All things being equal, I can hardly see why Yahoo's announcement would be a big deal. I don't need INFINITE storage. I just need a large enough storage so it doesn't restrict my e-mail activity. There's no such thing as infinite storage, anyway. A real useful feature would have been something like their premium features: anti-spam aliases, POP access, etc.

"Sounds like a future without limits. Beats a slice of birthday cake, eh?" Actually, no, and no.

Monday, March 26, 2007

PM Tariceanu heralds "death" of governing alliance

Romanian Liberal prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu heralded "the death" of the governing alliance on Monday as talks with Democratic (PD) coalition partners to overcome the political crisis failed earlier today.

Representatives of the two governing parties in Romania met in the morning in an effort to defuse the crisis that may lead to the breakup of the current government.

Following the talks Liberal Party (PNL) deputy president Crin Antonescu said his group did not find the Democrats to be a proper partner of talks, thus dismissing media claims of a possible breakthrough during weekend negotiations.

And at noon PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu, the president of the PNL, heralded "the death of the D.A. Alliance" that has governed Romania since the 2004 elections.

He blamed the situation on the Democrats' decision to run on separate lists in Romania's first European elections due this year.

And he also named the decision of two of PD's ministers - Justice minister Monica Macovei and Interior minister Vasile Blaga - not to support his decision to postpone the European elections as another way by which the Democrats "initiated" the collapse of the alliance.

And he accused PD's Transport minister Radu Berceanu of being tasked with attacking him constantly.

The Evenimentul Zilei newspaper claimed in its today issue that Liberal PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu met Democratic Party (PD) leader Emil Boc last weekend in an effort to save what can be saved of the their governing alliance.

The talks came as the two parties prepare for a government reshuffle aimed at overcoming the political crisis affecting Romania for months.

But Antonescu said today that the Liberals did not find a partner in PD during morning talks and that a decision was to be made on the expected government reshuffle.

For his part, PD executive leader Adriean Videanu said his party was ready for any outcome - either to leave the government or to stick with the alliance with the Liberals.

And PD leader Emil Boc said after Tariceanu's statement that "it is for sure that pretexts are sought to remove PD from the government and to build a coalition [of Liberals] with the Social Democratic Party", now in opposition., Mar 26, 2007

Romanian PM promises to withdraw Romanian troops from Iraq by Christmas

Romanian PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu said on Tuesday he would do the best he constitutionally can to withdraw Romanian troops from Iraq by Christmas. He said Romanian soldiers have accomplished the mission for which they were deployed in Iraq.

“The time has come to bring our troops, women and men, back home… That’s why I’ll do whatever I can, according to the Constitution and the law, so that by Christmas the Romanian military contingent in Iraq return home, along the lines of a schedule to be established with our allies and our partners”, Tariceanu said.

Romania currently holds some 600 troops in Iraq. PM Tariceanu’s call for their withdrawal last summer led to a political dispute with the president that resulted in the resignation of the then Defense minister.

Representatives of the Democratic Party, which form the governing alliance with Tariceanu's Liberals, said today that they would make an official stand in this regard next week., Mar 26, 2007

Nokia to invest 60 million euro in Romania factory

Finnish IT giant Nokia announced in a press release on Monday it would invest 60 million euro to build a mobile telephones factory in Romania. Nokia chose the city of Cluj to host its new plant due to the availability of highly skilled work force, good domestic and international logistics links, general efficiency and the long industrial tradition in the area.

Works at the plant will start in spring 2007 and production is expected to start in the first half of 2008. Nokia plans to build the factory gradually and recruit some 500 employees before the end of the year.

Its plans also include the building of an industrial park in the area to allow a number of providers and partners to develop their operations in the Transylvanian city.

The plant would add to Nokia’s current production facilities in Europe: Bochum (Germany), Komarom (Hungary) and Salo (Finland)., Mar 26, 2007

PM Tariceanu says Romania will not drop first registration car tax

Romanian PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu said on Monday that the country would not abandon the tax it introduced this year for the procurement imported used cars. The so-called first registration car tax prompted the European Commission last week to initiate procedures that may lead to sanctions against Romania for discriminate practices.

The tax was introduced as a means for what the government says is an attempt to stop an inflow of used cars on the Romanian market once the country joined the EU on January 1 this year.

“If one dislikes its name as first registration tax, then we’ll call it a tax for a clean Romania or a tax to retain jobs”, Tariceanu said, arguing that the tax is not just a measure of environmental protection but also for the protection of tens of thousands of jobs in the car-making industry.

He said those who want to sell cars on the Romanian car market should come and build them here and thus provide jobs for Romanians.

And he said that once a member of the European Union Romania should not obey Brussels decisions without protecting its own interests., Mar 26, 2007

Ex-Foreign minister self-suspends from Liberal Party

Romania’s former Foreign minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu announced his self-suspension from the National Liberal Party (PNL) in a letter sent to the party leadership on Monday. Ungureanu explained that his being part of a political group would not be compatible with the job of special representative to the South East Europe Cooperation Initiative-SECI.

Ungureanu, who resigned early this year and left office officially by mid-March, had said however he did not want to take over the SECI job that was especially reactivated for him when he submitted his resignation.

The SECI special representative post is assimilated to that of first secretary within the Romanian Foreign Ministry, which is incompatible with political involvement., Mar 26, 2007

Non-governmental credit up by 3.2% to 95.48 bln RON in February

The non-governmental credit rose by 3.2% to 95.48 billion Romanian lei in February from the first month this year, according to the latest data delivered by the National Bank. Credits in RON rose by 3.9%, while foreign currency credits in RON equivalent rose by 2.5%.

Foreign currency credits for natural persons rose by 4.7% while those in Ron - by 1.5%. Foreign currency credits for companies rose by 1.2%, while those in RON - by 6.4%.

Compared to the similar period last year, the non-governmental credit rose by 55.2%, with a 64.2% rise of the RON component and a 46.5% rise of th ecurrency component in RON equivalent., Mar 26, 2007

Romania attended EU 50 anniversary events

Romanian President Traian Basescu joined the other 26 heads of state and government of the EU at a series of ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the European Union in Berlin this weekend. The EU leaders used the occasion to adopt a “Berlin Declaration” setting a 2009 deadline for a new European treaty, following the failure of the first draft Constitution.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EC President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering signed the Declaration in a ceremony joined by all EU leaders at the Museum of History in Berlin on Sunday.

On his return to Bucharest, Basescu said on Sunday evening that he supported the Berlin Declaration as a most important document built with the contribution of European states and focused on citizens, not on countries.

He also used the occasion to announced that the next round of EU-wide European elections would be held in May 2009, a date “that cannot be postponed not even through emergency ordinances of national governments”.

He thus referred to Romanian PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu’s decision recently to unilaterally postpone Romania’s first EU elections from May 2007 to the second half of the year due to the ongoing political crisis in Bucharest.

The Berlin Declaration focuses on the need of Europe to stay united in its values. It avoids any reference to further waves of enlargement but insists on a common energy policy and on the protection of environment.

Romania’s presence at the Berlin events was based on several exhibitions promoting Sibiu as the Cultural Capital of Europe for 2007 and on several concerts at various spots across the city., Mar 26, 2007

Sunday weather warnings after weekend of floods across Romania

The Environment Ministry in Bucharest renewed its warning of high flood risk in four counties in South and Central Romania on Sunday after two days of floods that resulted in extensive damages across the country. The latest warning focused on the counties of Brasov, Covasna, Ialomita and Brahova, which are already affected by rising water levels along several rivers.

A lower risk of floods also remains in the counties of Timis, Dolj, Giurgiu and Braila as well as areas in Covasna and Brasov..

Heavy rain, violent storms and even snow falls affected 38 towns in 10 counties over the past weekend, according to the latest official toll. Some 150 houses and 800 hectares of agricultural land as well as 21 kilometers of roads were affected by floods over the past several days., Mar 26, 2007

Romania hails draw against Netherlands in European Championship qualifying

Romania managed to resist on 0-0 in its match against Netherlands on rival turf on Saturday, accounting for the qualifying rounds of the European Championship. Coach Victor Piturca, football players and officials hailed the result and said they were sure of Romania’s chances from now on.

The Romanian team looked superior in the first half with two shots on target by Marica and one by Mutu. And pressure continued in the second half with Mutu and substitute Daniel Nicolae, but to no avail. Romanian goalkeeper Lobont also rejected several of Dutch counter-offensives, including two attempts by Sneijder.

Netherlands leads the Group G with 11 points from five matches, followed by Romania and Bulgaria with eight points from four matches each.

“It’s a great result that makes us regain the two points lost against Bulgaria. The boys played excellent tactics, we had opportunities in the first round. The one point is fantastic for us.

I wanted a win, but let’s be real, this point is important and we got it from a formidable team that did not have chances to score - that says a lot”, Piturca said confidently after the match.

Players Mutu, Chivu and Tamas said they were pleased with the result and despite their expectations of a hard match a victory would not have been impossible with more concentration and boldness.

But Mircea Sandu, head of the Romanian Football Federation, said that while the team played well despite some errors harder times are to come with the next matches, including Slovenia., Mar 26, 2007

What the newspapers say: March 26, 2007

The Berlin Declaration and its meaning for the future of the European Union are extensively discussed in Romanian newspapers on Monday. They also announce attempts by the two governing parties in Bucharest to leave disputes behind and prevent the breakup of the Government.

One newspaper tries to clear up the situation of abuses in Romanian energy contracts, while others focus on the more or less Orthodox practices of Romanian intelligence services.

“The future of the EU sounds vague”, Evenimentul Zilei headlines its report on events hosted by the German capital yesterday to mark the Union’s 50th anniversary.

According to the newspaper, the Berlin Declaration, a political document aimed at reviving the institutional reform of the bloc after the failure of its draft Constitution, has been emptied of any engaging terms and looks like a long list of compromises.

The newspaper reports that Romanian President Traian Basescu, who attended the ceremonies in Berlin, supports the Declaration and calls it “the most important EU document to which Romania worked along the other member states”.

Cotidianul notes the enthusiasm that accompanied events in Berlin, but also the sense of caution when it comes to advancing from past successes such as the opening of borders, the common market and the single currency to future projects.

And Romania libera focuses on what Romania chose to represent it at cultural events in Berlin and Rome: it was a rather poor campaign to promote the country, focused on stuff like its wines, painted eggs and Gypsy music, according to the paper.

Meanwhile, the press discusses attempts by the leaders of the two governing parties in Bucharest, the Democrats and the Liberals, to make up and save what can be save of their government after a series of internal disputes that have led it to the brink of collapse.

According to Evenimentul Zilei, PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu, a Liberal, discussed with Democratic leader Emil Boc last weekend the chances to keep governing together. The two agreed to retain the current governing formula and reshuffle the government at a secondary level alone, by removing some ministers-delegate.

But one issue that remains unsolved is the Foreign Affairs portfolio, as the Democrats failed to accept Tariceanu’s nomination for the post, Liberal Adrian Cioroianu. Tariceanu is currently doubling his duties with those of interim Foreign minister.

Cotidianul is more cautious and reports that this week will be decisive for PM Tariceanu as Democrats still prepare to withdraw its political support and the opposition Social-Democrats are ready to push a motion against the government.

According to the paper, the relationship between the Democrats and the Liberals must see a solution this week.

And Gandul quotes a top Liberal leader who on Saturday said that the prime minister would have to face the Parliament with a governmental formula for which to ask a vote of confidence within days.

Elsewhere in the papers, Cotidianul tries to clear up some of the problems related to recent revelations of abuses in the Romanian energy sector. The paper publishes an extensive list of companies that have had contracts with Romania’s cheapest electricity producer, Hidroelectrica.

The list includes many companies notorious for their practice of buying cheap energy just to re-sell it for much higher prices.

Gandul reports that the Romanian intelligence services have been monitoring politicians and businessmen with video and audio recordings in Bucharest pubs, hotels and restaurants.

The secret operations made it so that Bulgarian citizen Stamen Stancev, a key suspect in a case focused on shady cheap energy deals has been continuously monitored this way - including his meetings with top Romanian officials.

And Jurnalul National publishes an interview with Claudiu Saftoiu, who recently announced his resignation as head of the Romanian Foreign Intelligence Service-SIE, who dismisses claims that he made a series of serious blunders in a parliamentary heading that led to his forced resignation and who says that his relations with SIE generals have been “a lesson of a lifetime”., Mar 26, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Opposition leaders won’t team with Liberals

Social-Democrats, the main Opposition party, denied on Friday the media scenario saying they would support a new Government, formed exclusively by Liberals. “We won’t offer our support to either Liberals or Democrats”, said PSD vice president, Cristian Diaconescu.

On the other hand, social-democrats insist that PM Tariceanu presents a new cabinet formula.

“PSD will continue the procedures to suspend president Basescu, but won’t team with any of its political opponents, namely Liberals or Democrats”, said Cristian Diaconescu.

PSD prepares to form a new Parliamentarian majority and, in case it fails, is ready for early elections., Mar 23, 2007

EP against lower roaming fees in Romania

Mobile telephony companies in Romania and Bulgaria may be postponed two years before being forced to reduce their roaming fees. European parliamentarian Katerina Batzeli (Greece) claims the two countries have "immature" markets.

The by-law was adopted by a majority formed by the Popular and the Socialist parties.
Adina Valean, Liberal EP representing Romania declared for that such an initiative from an European official is unacceptable, and that some lobby conducted by the Greek company OTE (operating the Cosmote mobile network in Romania) may be the reason for the decision.

"I consider it bizarre for an European Parliamentarian to demand a derogation for another member state, when that state doesn't even want that derogation", says, mentioning that there is no evidence about any connection between Batzeli and OTE.

"We'll try to make sure this by-law doesn't get its final form", added Valean., Mar 23, 2007

Former Minister investigated for abuse

The Anti Graft Department (DNA) opened a criminal investigation against the former Transport Minister, Miron Mitrea, charged with abuse against state's interests. The file refers to a deal with luxury terrain on the Northern Edge of Bucharest, legally owned by the Utilitarian Aviation.

Miron Mitrea is accused of refusing to fulfill an irrevocable court decision that recognized the Utilitarian Aviation's ownership over 2.3 hectares near the Bucharest - Ploiesti highway.

The terrain, part of a larger 8.9 hectares surface, was object to a lawsuit between the Utilitarian Aviation and the neighboring Baneasa airport, a fact that made the terrain impossible to sell, rent, lease or otherwise be subject to transactions.

Under Mitrea's signature, the Transport Ministry exchanged the terrain with a natural person, obtaining a 10,000 euros area in exchange for a surface worth 11 million euros.

The accusations against Mitrea come after it was proven that he lied when he declared he was unaware of the litigation., Mar 23, 2007

What the newspapers say: March 23, 2007

Liberals are torn between forming a new cabinet, without Democrats, an continuing the guerilla politics that became a true lifestyle during the past year.

Meanwhile, anti graft investigations reach former top officials, doctors are found with bribes worth millions of dollars and Opposition senators open a war against EU Commissioner Franco Frattini. All in a day's work.

Liberals have to chose between forming a new Government, supported by most Opposition parties or maintaining the current alliance with the Democrats. Evenimentul Zilei believes the second choice, as difficult as it is, would be the one for Liberals.

Most newspapers cover the first legal action against one of the most powerful politicians during the Social-Democrats' mandate, former Transport Minister Miron Mitrea, who got on Wednesday his first criminal investigation file at the Anti Graft National Department (DNA).
Mitrea is accused of refusing to respect a Court decision involving luxury terrain on the Northern edge of Bucharest, legally belonging to the Utility Aircraft company, Gandul and most papers read.

Speaking of graft and abuse: former Economy Minister, Codrut Seres, admitted yesterday that most energy companies put pressure on his ministry, in order to buy cheap energy and sell it back to the state, with profit, Gandul reads. One of the players was his very boss, Conservative Party head, Dan Voiculescu.

Voiculescu also makes the headlines with another initiative: Social Democrat, Conservative, Liberal and Great Romania senators sent a letter to the EU Commissioner for Justice, Franco Frattini, pretending he offended them.

"Frattini afforded to make comments about our activity, a fact he could never do in another EU state. We have to remind him that Romania is an EU country as well", the letter reads, according to Gandul.

The same subject is seen differently in Cotidianul: Voiculescu is still upset with the fact that Frattini never heard of him, as the Commissioner admitted while visiting Romania, one week ago.

Even more, the credibility of the initiative is flawed by the fact that it comes from two informers of Ceausescu's political police, Securitate - Voiculescu and the former Justice Minister, Rodica Stanoiu.

When it's not hopping around with letters and quarrel, the Opposition suddenly becomes serious and suggests the prime minister he should lose what's left of his credibility and form a new Cabinet, widely supported by the former ruling parties, Gandul reads.

Far from politics, the State Assets Agency has to pay some 120 million euros for the investors that lost in the National Investments Fund (FNI) affair, one of the largest schemes in Romania, involving the controversial businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, Evenimentul Zilei reads.

Also about holes in the budget: Renault is bound to receive unprecedented incentives for its new research center it is about to build, according to Gandul.

Nor all car producers are as happy as Renault, as the cars' first registration tax gives a lot of headaches to everyone. However, one of the strongest supporters of this tax, Environment Minister Sulfina Barbu, throws the entire responsibility in the Liberal yard, letting the Finance Minister handle the scandal, Cotidianul informs.

Expensive as they may be, cars are not a problem for those who got reach during the past 15 years. Except maybe for the surgeon who made possible the first heart transplant, dr. Serban Bradisteanu, who's wealth was sealed after a four million euros bribe was proven by the Anti Graft prosecutors.

Still, there are some good news today, as well. First, PM Tariceanu received his agreement from president Traian Basescu, in order to take over temporarily the Foreign Minister seat, Cotidianul reads.

Second, Nokia will invest some 300 million euros in a technological park in Cluj, opening some 15,000 jobs, Cotidianul found out., Mar 23, 2007

EC against reactivation of old penal code

Brussels is worried with Romania's anti graft actions, which still represent - officials say - a major priority. EU Justice and Interior Affairs spokesman, Friso-Roscam Abbing, said on Tuesday that "it's time for the Romanian Justice to act as one. Meeting the four benchmarks Romania assumed is critical".

"Commissioner Franco Frattini is willing to help Romania prepare a positive report, but it is up to the Romanian Parliament to take the right decisions, in the best interest of the people it represents".

Franco Frattini issued a specific warning on the attempt to resuscitate the former penal code, known as "the Stanoiu code" (after the Justice minister at the time).
"It's a new code, with a new set of procedures. Dislocating the two means chaos among practicians, judges, prosecutors and lawyers".

"In the 2004 code, nobody knows anymore what is crime and what is offence, nor cu applies the sentences", said Frattini. "If applied, this code should be immediately modified".

The code ranks as minor crimes the money laundering, building fascist organizations, threats with a terrorist purpose or influence trafficking.

Friso-Roscam Abbing also approached the issue of the National Integrity Agency (ANI), an institution designed to investigate the wealth gained by officials of all sorts. "ANI is not a threat to the Parliament, but a helping hand", said Abbing., Mar 22, 2007

Lawsuit against former PM Nastase suspended

The High Court of Causation and Justice (HCCJ) accepted the argument invoked by lawyers, who claimed that HCCJ prosecutors lack the quality to conduct a criminal investigation against former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and his wife.
The file was sent to the Constitutional Court.

Former PM Nastase and his wife are accused of using authority and influence in several acts of corruption, also involving other people. Adrian Nastase is charged with accepting bribe and goods of all sorts, adding up to over 1.37 million euros.
Dana Nastase is sued as accessory to accepting bribe and participating in forging documents under private signature, all related to corruption acts.

The High Court of Causation and Justice (HCCJ) accepted the argument invoked by lawyers, who claimed that HCCJ prosecutors lack the quality to conduct a criminal investigation against former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and his wife.
The file was sent to the Constitutional Court.

Former PM Nastase and his wife are accused of using authority and influence in several acts of corruption, also involving other people. Adrian Nastase is charged with accepting bribe and goods of all sorts, adding up to over 1.37 million euros.
Dana Nastase is sued as accessory to accepting bribe and participating in forging documents under private signature, all related to corruption acts., Mar 22, 2007

Romania loves cash and respect

Youngsters have a rather bad opinion about their generation, considering it irresponsible, disrespectful, lacking will and eccentric. Adults, on the other hand, assume positive features to their generation but complain about the unstable social and professional status.
Old people are unhappy and altruistic. When it comes to values, money and respect are the main features in Romania.
These are some of the "Generation reports" study, conducted by the Institute for Education Sciences.
Participants were asked to chose the most important values among 16 options (money, respect, justice, education, labor etc.). Youngsters prefer money - 50.2%, but adults and elders remain close in this choice (39.3% and 37.5%, respectively).
The first place for adults is taken by respect, while elders insist labor and honesty are the most important.
A strong family that lives in harmony is desired by 47.9% of the youngsters, 40.6% of the adults and 35.8% of the elders., Mar 22, 2007

MPs Commission shows no arguments against Basescu

After three weeks of intense media attention, the Parliamentarian Commission for president Basescu's Suspension only managed to present a long list of accusations, without presenting any evidence to support allegations.

The final report simply refers to a series of addenda which, they claim, cover over 700 pages.

The Constitution breaches Basescu is accused of include "rendering the Constitutional Court timorous" or designating a prime minister without consulting all parties. The addenda may become secret in case MPs decide so and the people, called to express their vote in a referendum for Basescu's suspension, may never know what evidence the Commission had for its conclusions.

In brief:
- the seven pages of the report contain accusations, but no arguments whatsoever;
- MPs take into account the Constitution only when it's to their advantage;
- the report calls for a criminal investigation against the Integration Minister, but no law articles are invoked to support the demand;
- the addenda may become a secret because it contains data about the activity of intelligence services.

Accusations and conclusions:

1. political supporter attitude;
2. detouring the electors' intention by designating a prime minister before consulting all political parties and without any consideration for the electoral result;
3. brutal interventions in the Parliamentarian activity;
4. generating a climate of political instability and an artificial governmental crisis;
5. bringing a severe prejudice to the entire Parliament, described as a "dump house clinically dead", and to the Government, also depicted as "serving groups of interests";
6. subordinating the intelligence services and demanding the resignations of their heads;
7. assuming the right to legislation initiatives;
8. constantly acting as to submit the Government and taking its place on occasions;
9. forming institutions on the spot, like the National intelligence Community
10. abusively taking part in a Govt. session that wasn't scheduled to discuss problems in the president's area of competence;
11. refusing to name ministers nominated by the prime minister;
12. demanding publicly what files must gain priority in justice;
13. asking judges to resign;
14. commenting on the solidity of convictions
15. rendering the Constitutional Court timorous;
16. accepting procedures that included illegal phone taps
17. failing to present a national defense strategy;
18. patronizing economy players;
19. having personal initiatives in foreign policy

The end of the document refers to criminal acts, but also without any arguments., Mar 22, 2007

President demands MPs vote of confidence on Govt.

President Traian Basescu issued a letter for all political parties in the Parliament, following the consultations he had with their representatives on Tuesday.

The head of state considers that the relations within the governing alliance are deteriorated and that the new critical target is to reinstate a transparent report between the Government and the parliamentarian majority.

Basescu suggests that the two ways to achieve this goal is either a vote of confidence of the Parliament for today's cabinet or early elections in case such a vote can not be obtained.

Liberals say the letter confirms the failure in the president - political parties consultations. Conservative spokesman Bogdan Ciuca, sees in this letter a direct attack against the Government's and Parliament's authority.

Far right Greater Romania Party representatives say the letter is rather a threat, while Democrats show it's a correct demand., Mar 22, 2007

Romtelecom profits decrease

The national wired telephony operator had an income of 894.8 million euros in 2006, 3.8% less than the year before (929.7 millions), a company press release informs. The profit after taxes was 55.2 million euros, compared to 84.9 millions in 2005.

The decrease was caused mainly by the lower financial gain, the consolidation of mobile operator Cosmote's losses, the higher taxes and by the loss of clients as well.

According to the company, the income before taxes, fees and interests remained, in absolute figures, extremely similar to the year before - 338.3 million euros in 2006, compared to 341.5 millions in 2005.

The number of wired telephony clients decreased from 3.9 to 3.4 million, while the number of clients for data services (ADSL, VPN and other broadband services) increased 145%.

In 2006, Romtelecom made investments worth 200 million euros., Mar 22, 2007

Shell leaves Romania

The UK-Dutch oil group Shell announced on Wednesday that its liquefied gas (GPL) business in Romania, Bulgaria, Spain, Switzerland and the Czech Republic was sold to the French company Rubis. The transaction added up to 90 million euros, Reuters informs.

Through this operation, Shell ends all its activity in Romania.
According to Shell officials, the transaction is part of the company's new policy, oriented rather towards extracting oil than selling oil products.

"Shell focuses its investments in areas where its presence is already significant. We made a tremendous progress in simplifying out portfolio, reducing the cost and complexity of our operations", said GPL branch vice president Erwin Friederich.

In Romania, the transaction must first be approved by local dealer Petrom, partner (45% of the stock) in Shell Gas Romania.

Shell started to operate on the Romanian market in 1992, investing over 200 million dollars, mainly in developing its gas station network.
In 2006, the group had a 728.5 million euros business figure, with 44.2 million euros as profit., Mar 22, 2007

Avioane Craiova at sale again

The State Assets Agency (AVAS) published on Wednesday the announcement for the sale of 739,466 shares, representing 80.94 % of the social capital at airplane and parts producer Avioane Craiova.

Investors are expected to lay their offers before May 2, 2007. The sale will be made through final, improved and irrevocable offers.

AVAS expects, along with the offers, a five-year business plan, including a minimum of 5.01 million euros worth of investments, out of which 1.67 millions during the first year after the takeover.

Competitors must have at least five years of experience in the airplane construction and service and prove that they had a business worth at least 10 million euros in 2006., Mar 22, 2007

MPs decide: President Basescu breached Constitution

After three weeks of study, the Parliamentarian Commission for President Basescu's Suspension announced through its chairman that it adopted a final report with 8 votes in favor and 4 abstentions (all Liberals and Hungarian Minority representatives). The head of the Commission, Dan Voiculescu, declared that president Basescu has breached the Constitution and committed criminal acts.

Voiculescu, also head of the Conservative Party, a former member of the government, mentioned that the President's deeds of criminal nature would be included in a separate addenda and sent to the Prosecutor General's office.

According to the Commission vice president, Basescu has committed 19 acts against the letter of the Constitution.

Commission members' statements:

Florin Iordache (Social-Democrat):

# Traian Basescu brutally intervened in Parliamentarian activities
# The President assumed the right to legislation initiatives
# The President abusively participated in Governmental sessions
# The President refused to name the ministers suggested by the Prime Minister

Norica Nicolai (Liberal):

# We didn't agree with some of the conclusions and that is why Liberals didn't vote in favor or against the report
# There a some matters that may be appreciated as critical
# The electors will have the final word in suspending the president

Crin Antonescu (Liberal):

# We regret the fact that Democrats refused to name members in the Commission
# The Commission was not formed by the president's political opponents
# The Constitutional Court proved that the commission was legally formed
# The activity in the Commission's sessions proved that the members were objective.

Nicolae Iorga (Great Romania):

# There are several reasons: Basescu's abusive suspension of the Defense Minister, Teodor Atanasiu; his refuse to sign the decree to name the Foreign Minister and the request for the resignations of the Interior and Foreign Intelligence services.
# It's been two months since the Foreign Ministry doesn't have a Minister. In any other country, the president's resignation would be an act of common sense., Mar 21, 2007

PM Tariceanu to take over ForMin job temporarily

Romanian PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu said on Wednesday that he would take over temporarily the duties of the Foreign minister as he and President Traian Basescu have failed to agree for a new nomination for the job after minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu resigned earlier this year.

Tariceanu’s decision comes as the head of state has refused to sign a decree to name Liberal politician Adrian Cioroianu as Foreign minister as he considered him inexperienced for the job. Tariceanu said he maintained his nomination despite Basescu’s disagreement, thus creating an apparently unbreakable constitutional loop.

Ungureanu, who had been involved in a couple of disputes with Tariceanu over the past year, was forced to resign in early 2007 after he failed to inform the prime minister over the fate of two Romanian workers retained by US troops in Iraq.

Tariceanu said he would not nominate anybody else but Cioroianu for the Foreign Ministry job and claimed the President was the only one to disagree with the nomination., Mar 21, 2007

Gunther Krichbaum: "Political crisis isn't good advertising"

The CDU/CSU rapporteur for Romania expressed his concern with the political situation Romanian authorities have been going through. Krichbaum said in an interview for Deutsche Welle's Romanian-language broadcast that "Romania's accession to the EU was based on a ".

"I am concerned with the recent evolutions in the Romanian politics. As a spokesman of the CDU-CSU group in the Bundestag, as well as a rapporteur for Romania, I have to be informed at all times.

At this moment, I feel that work stopped in Romania at the accession date. Personally, a kept saying that the true work was just beginning after the accession, but I see reforms are stagnating for the moment.

(...) In some cases, like the National Integrity Agency, it's not even stagnation, it's rollback", said the German official, without offering a firm answer on whether the safeguarding clauses risk to be activated or not., Mar 21, 2007

EC launches procedures against Romanian car tax

The European Commission decided on Wednesday to launch legal procedures against Romania in the case of a first registration tax for imported second hand cars. The first step was to issue a letter, demanding Romania and Malta to modify their car taxation legislation. The "official notification" is the first step of the legal action against Romania.

The Bucharest Government has two months to adapt its legislation, or the next step will be in the European Court of Justice.

The European Commission informed the Romanian Government at the beginning of 2006 that its first registration tax for cars comes against European regulations but, even after two months of consultations, Romanian officials refused to change the taxation system.

Environment Minister Sulfina Barbu considers that the tax is a fair measure introduced by the Govt., adding that the amount of money should still be affordable for the populace.

The three problems of the tax, as identified by European officials, are: it's discriminatory, doesn't fully bridge the pollution degree with the age of the car and only covers a limited period in a car's life cycle., Mar 21, 2007

100 million euros profit for Dacia in 2006

Renault-owned Automobile Dacia had a 1.54 billion euros business figure last year, a 29% growth year on year. The net profit after taxes was 100.6 million euros. 2006 was the second year with profits, after 5 years in a row of losses.

The company sales reached 187,215 units, out of which 107,777 were sold in Romania and 79,438 exported. Compared to 2005, the Dacia sales grew 9.3%.

As for production, it reached 188,410 units, 177,230 being produced under the Logan brand.

Export center CKD Logan, managed by Renault Industrie Roumanie (RIR) generated a business figure of 335 million euros.

The cumulated Dacia - RIR business was 1.884 billion euros, with 45.7% represented by exports.

Dacia also made investments worth 142 million euros, while other 16 million euros were invested in a line for the next gear box, scheduled to be launched in 2008.

The total amount invested by Renault after taking over Dacia in 1999 is now 772 million euros, other 200 millions being scheduled for investment in 2007, plus 66 millions for the gear box line., Mar 21, 2007

Drought threatens Danube ecosystem, WWF says

Environmental organization World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) included Danube in it's „World’s Top 10 Rivers at Risk“ study. According to the data, infrastructure works, embanking, excessive fishing, weather changes and pollution are the main causes that threaten to irreversibly affect 10 of the world's most important rivers.

Danube is the only river in Europe mentioned in the WWF report, along with La Plata and Rio Grande / Rio Bravo (America), Nile - Victoria Lake (Africa), Murray-Darling (Australia), Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Ganges and Indus (Asia).

Danube is Europe's second largest river, with 2,780 kilometers spread along ten countries. According to the report, 80% of Danube's wet zones were lost in the past 200 years because of human interventions - embanking, canals, draining and navigation improvement works.

New infrastructure works are still planned in the Trans-European Network for Transport - TEN-T, designed to eliminate rapids and improve navigation. Changes may affect 500 kilometers on the Danube, including one of the sturgeons' last place to lay eggs.

Romanian track of the Danube is considered as the last part where the river runs free, being included by WWF in the most important 200 natural areas in the world., Mar 21, 2007

MTS Leasing investigation moves to Romania

In December 2006, the Wiesbaden Criminal Police ended the investigation in the file against MTS Leasing. The Frankfurt Prosecution Office requested Romanian authorities to hear ten former clients embezzled by MTS.

"We have to demand Romanian authorities and the people who lost, respectively, to answer some questions that can't be clarified here", said the head of the Criminal Police in Wiesbaden.

"The complete file, translated in Romanian, was sent by the Justice Ministry in Hess to their homologues in Bucharest". The German commissioner has figured all out: "We believe it would be a trial in Romania, given our firm suspicion that frauds have been committed, Romanian entrepreneurs being prejudiced", says the official.

The insolvency procedure is expected to bring enough funds to at least partially recover some of the funds and make up for some losses.

According to the German law, German citizens that commit criminal acts abroad can be sentenced for it in Germany.

Over 70 complaints and 700 contracts closed by MTS Leasing in Romania, adding up to a total value of 50 million euros. Investigators found in the papers at Frankfurter Volksbank that Romanians paid some 15.5 million euros, out of which only 6 millions were used to build homes.

One of the cheated Romanians found that the Romanian Economy and Commerce Ministry allowed MTS Leasing to enter the market without receiving any official recognition of the company's financial status.

MTS Leasing opened in Romania as a real estate financial company, although the social capital was only 25,000 euros. Cashing down payments of 30% of the signed deals, the company failed to finish - and in some cases even begin - the construction of houses for clients.

One of the counselors was accused of fleeing with 200,000 euros in 2005. When the scandal on insolvency reached the media, the members of the board fled to Germany, where the criminal investigation begun the same year., Mar 21, 2007

Romanian MPs drop "One laptop per child" bill

Members of the Education Commission in the House of Deputies rejected on Tuesday a bill aimed at establishing the terms for Romania’s entry in the “One laptop per child” world program, which delivers special laptops to school students through governments of the world.

While the Government said it supported the bill, opposition deputies opposed it while a representative of the Education Ministry presented them an outdated governmental point of view.

House Commission head Lia Olguta Vasilescu said they believed the 700 million euro needed for the procurement of the laptops was too much an amount and would weigh heavily on the Education Ministry budget. Vasilescu also said that “beside that the laptops are simple toys, they’re not even have an expiring date”.

“We, the Parliament, do not want to support this project because there’s no money” for it, Vasilescu told

On March 13, the project was presented to PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu by the initiator of the world program himself - Nicholas Negroponte of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The prime minister said at the time that the bill “had an educational purpose and we afford to apply it”.

The project was planned to be applied somewhere around September 15, 2007. The Education Ministry estimated some 1.2 million children would have benefited from the program., Mar 20, 2007

President attempts to defuse political crisis, apparently to no avail

Romanian President Traian Basescu started consultations with parliamentary parties on Tuesday in an effort to defuse the ongoing political crisis that puts him and his Democratic Party-PD allies against the opposition and PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu’s Liberals (PNL). The talks concluded in late afternoon with little signs of a breakthrough. Basescu is expected to present the results to the media on Wednesday.

Talks started on wrong foot before noon as the prime minister failed to join his Liberal colleagues in meeting the head of state.

Basescu first met representatives of the opposition Social Democrats (PSD) led by party leader Mircea Geoana, who has been accusing the head of state of no longer representing a mediator between political groups but a source of many scandals that have affecting Romania for months.

Geoana accused following the meeting that Basescu failed to deliver a solution to leave the current crisis behind, while the PSD argued for the “removal” of the current governing alliance of Liberals (PNL) and Democrats (PD).

The PSD had said they did not believe these talks with the president would solve the political crisis in Bucharest, sparked by conflicts between the two major members of the governing coalition - PNL and PD, between Basescu and Tariceanu, with the opposition on largely Tariceanu’s side.

While the PNL had announced Tariceanu would join the talks today, the prime minister failed to show up and led PNL vice-president Puiu Hasotti and other several members of the party leadership to meet the president.

Once the PNL round of talks was over, Liberal leader Crin Antonescu dismissed the President as a “viable” partner of political talks or a “political character able to solf crises in Romania. He’d rather generate them, he’s performing quite in this regard”.

And Antonescu said the disputes should find a solution in the Parliament, between political parties, not at the Presidency.

The Democrats have said they believed the only solution out of the current crisis would be early elections. Once talks with the President were over, PD leader Emil Boc told the media that “the global solution to solve the current crisis stands in early elections” as “in democracy, the solution does not come from backstage games, but from turning to voters”.

The Hungarian Democrats believe the crisis would be over either by early polls or by some other means for the government to obtain majority support in the Parliament, party leader Marko Bela said following his meeting with Basescu.

The opposition Greater Romania Party have said they would not discuss with the President and the Conservative Party (PC) had said they would only face Basescu to listen to him, but with little hope of a breakthrough. PC leader Dan Voiculescu told the media after talks today that he asked the President to resign.

“We look forward that the decision of a political man who loves Romania and Romanians be made within a very short while”, Voiculescu said., Mar 20, 2007

Rehabilitation of Bucharest historic area stuck in archeological digs

Road rehabilitation works in the historical center of Bucharest have stuck some three months after initiation as experts are trying to solve an unexpected issue: digs revealed an old road that connected a former seat of local leaders to a nearby inn as well as other remains of centuries-old items.

The road works are part of a major plan launched by Bucharest officials to partially redraw the landscape of old Bucharest, a city that has been drastically changed under communism.

Digs revealed archeological items dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. Should other, older objects be discovered, the site may be isolated by a glass courtain to protect the findings until a solution is found.

Bucharest Museum chief archeologist Gheorghe Adamesteanu has said that unless such older objects are found, the archeological side may be temporarily be covered in sand.

But the issue poses a major issue to architects overviewing the rehabilitation works as they are pressed by both archeologists and by Bucharest mayor Adriean Videanu, who’s pushing for works to be concluded as soon as possible.

The historical center of Bucharest was declared a national interest objective in 2001., Mar 20, 2007

Senate rejects motion against Education minister

Romanian senators rejected a simple motion against Education minister Mihail Hardau on Tuesday. The motion blamed the minister of leading the education system in Romania to bankruptcy in 12 pages of charges supported by 69 members of the senate - the needed number to pass the motion. But only 58 approved of the bill following debates today.

The motion said that political people, trade unions and civil society representatives believe electoral promises to reform the education system have led nowhere half a term after the 2004 elections.

The opposition PSD, which supported the motion, feared it would be rejected as early as the debates started because of a high number of absentees., Mar 20, 2007

King Michael becomes official owner of Peles Castle

The Royal Family of Romania becomes the official owner of the Peles and Pelisor Castles and their properties based on a memorandum the Romanian Government and a Royal House representative signed on Tuesday. A Culture Ministry retrocession decision had been announced for Sinaia-based Peles, seen as one of the most beautiful castles in Romania, on March 1.

Government secretary general Radu Stroe and Royal House representative Andrew Popper signed the retrocession today, almost three weeks after Culture minister Adrian Iorgulescu first announced a decision in this regard.

The Peles Castle, owned by royals until King Michael was deposed shortly after WWII, is based in Sinaia, one of Romania’s best known resorts in the Carpathian Mountains.

The Royal House and the Romanian Government had already decided that once returned to their rightful owner the Peles Castle will continue to serve as a museum, while Pelisor, a smaller palace nearby, will serve as residence for the Royals and also as a museum for the next three years.

A third castle on the royal properties will be bought by the Romanian state from the King and will continue to serve as a protocol residence., Mar 20, 2007

Politicians react to SIE chief resignation

Romanian MPs reacted differently to the resignation of Claudiu Saftoiu, the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service, as only the Democratic Party seem to defend him. Saftoiu, whose resignation yesterday came after he made a series of blunders in a parliamentary hearing last week, now faces accusations that SIE was breaching human rights by tapping phones on Romanian territory.

Claudiu Saftoiu resigned on Monday after less than half a year in office. Last week, he appeared before a parliamentary commission investigating President Traian Basescu’s alleged unconstitutional acts since named in office. At the hearing, Saftoiu spoke of SIE activities related to tapping phones in Romania, under warrant from the Prosecutor General.

That would be illegal, since SIE is not allowed to run such activities and warrants as these would be delivered by judges, not the Prosecutor General.

Among deputies interviewed by, only a representative of the Democratic Party, Daniel Buda, defended Saftoiu, saying that his statements were “tendentiously interpreted” by MPs.

Social Democrat deputy Florin Iordache and Conservative Party leader Dan Voiculescu said the resignation was a normal gesture considering the seriousness of Saftoiu’s statements. And Voiculescu said the real problem was not the man, but that ‘phones should not be tapped illegally in Romania.

Hungarian Democrat deputy Kelemen Hunor opted to attack Saftoiu for being named in the office “based on political clientele criteria, not competence”, while Liberal Party vice-president Puiu Hasotti said “it was a minimal gesture considering the human rights abuses by SIE… Claudiu Saftoiu should hide in a cave so that we not hear about him for ten years or so”.

MPs agreed yesterday that a special commission be formed to investigate alleged phonetapping activities by SIE. The investigation was called by opposition Social Democrats and Greater Romania Party, with support from the governing Liberals. The Democratic Party, Liberals’ partners in the governing coalition, abstained., Mar 20, 2007

European Commission to consider procedures against Romania on Wednesday

The European Commission will analyze the opportunity to address the Romanian government on the legality of a first registration car tax on Wednesday, Maria Asimakopoulou, spokeswoman for European tax commissioner Laszlo Kovacs, has told That would be the first legal measure the Commission can take when finding that a law in a member state leads to discrimination.

The first registration tax is a tax newly introduced by Romania that differentiates domestic and foreign, second and first-hand cars on purchase. The Romanian government claims it is aimed at reducing the number of old cars in Romania.

PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu has said he would not abandon the tax.

If the EC decides on Wednesday to send such a letter to the Romanian Government, Tariceanu’s team will have two months to deliver an official answer, on which the Commission will consider whether to continue legal moves against Romania.

A second step would be to deliver a reason opinion favoring an infringement procedure against Romania at the European Court of Justice.

Romanian Finance minister Sebastian Vladescu read the EC move announced by Reuters earlier yesterday as a “normal procedure” by which Romania is to receive a given period to harmonize its new tax to the principles of European law., Mar 20, 2007

PM allegedly asks for Interior minister's resignation

Romanian PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu is said to have asked the resignation of Interior minister Vasile Blaga on Monday evening, according to sources quoted by the Rompres press agency. They say that on his late arrival at a reunion of the governing coalition, PM Tariceanu saw Blaga, asked him what he was doing there and demanded his written resignation.

Blaga is said to have left the meeting immediately, long before other members of his Democratic Party.

Tariceanu’s Liberals (PNL) have been considering a breakup with the Democrats (PD) and speculations have been flowing for the past week that one way to do that - or a step towards that goal - was removing PD’s key ministers - Blaga from the Interior Ministry and Monica Macovei from the Justice Ministry.

The situation was created a week ago when Blaga and Macovei refused to co-sign an ordinance promoted by Tariceanu, calling for a postponement of European elections due to take place in Romania this year., Mar 20, 2007

Romanian Foreign Intelligence chief resigns

Claudiu Saftoiu, the head of Romania’s Foreign Intelligence Service - SIE, submitted his resignation to the Parliament on Monday, a SIE press release says. The document says President Traian basescu as head of the Supreme Defense Council was informed about the resignation.

The resignation comes as opposition parties have called for the creation of a commission to check Saftoiu’s statements before another parliamentary commission that investigates alleged breaches of the Romanian Constitution by President Basescu. Saftoiu said there that his service was tapping telephone calls with the agreement of the prosecutor general, which would be illegal.

He later said his statements in this regard were erroneous.

Saftoiu, a former presidential aide, was confirmed as director of SIE in early October last year., Mar 19, 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

Criminal inquiry requested against IT&C minister

President Traian Basescu formally notified Justice Minister Monica Macovei on Monday about an official request that a criminal inquiry be launched against Zsolt Nagy, the Information Technology and Communication Minister, a Presidency press release says.

As soon as notified, Justice Minister Macovei forwarded the documents to the High Court of Causation and Justice (ICCJ).

Basescu’s decision is based on the final report of the Special Commission formed in order to investigate the ICCJ Prosecutor General’s intimation of alleged criminal acts committed by the IT&C Minister, Zsolt Nagy.

The report brief shows that „after analyzing the intimation, the documents offered by the Prosecutor General and after hearing minister Nagy, the Commission can’t either recommend the closing, nor pronounce on the existence of solid grounds for the case”.

The Commission recommended the following of the pursuit, with or without the opening of a criminal file.

Nagy is accused of actions coming against the national security. His name, along with the one of the former Economy Minister, Codrut Seres, were unveiled in the file of strategic privatizations.

Both ministers are accused of unveiling secret documents and data referring to major privatizations to an espionage network led by Bulgarian Stamen Stancev., Mar 19, 2007

BVB names new management, plans to compete with Sibiu Exchange

WBS Romania president Cristian Sima was chosen from among five candidates to replace Razvan Pasol in the board of directors of the Bucharest Stock Exchange-BVB at a BVB shareholders’ meeting on Saturday, March 17. The meeting also adopted a set of regulations for derivatives trading and the specifications of its first index-based futures contracts (BET, BET-Fi).

Cristian Sima was chosen in three rounds of voting from among five candidates. He completes a team formed of BVB president Septimiu Stoica, VPs Ovidiu Sergiu Pop and Dan-Viorel Paul, secretary general Nicolae-Alexandru Rusu, Petru Prunea, Adrian Manaila, Dana-Mirela Ionescu and Rares-Doralin Nilas.

The Romanian National Securities Commission must deliver its approval of the new operational changes for the BVB to start trading on the futures market. According to BVB management sources, once that accomplished futures trading - so far the appanage of the Sibiu Futures Exchange - may start within days., Mar 19, 2007

Romania's GMO dilemma: who to side with - corporations or the EU?

The Environment Ministry in Bucharest is due to push for public debate two new initiatives on genetically modified food - one for the introduction of GM soy testing and one for tests of GM plum trees. The Ministry recently authorized tests on GM corn. The moves come as agricultural experts are pushing hard to make Romanian citizens understand that GM crops are not harmful.

But environmental militants are redirecting the debate towards studies they say may help stop the expansion of non-conventional crops, while modified corn is the only GM plant allowed in the EU agriculture.

Romania is facing backbreaking decisions on aligning its agricultural legislation to the EU’s and applying it wherever possible. But major companies are also pushing hard to have GM crops allowed at large-scale level.

“We’re doing what the EU laws says and it says very clearly what can be cropped and what not”, Environment Ministry official Catalin Cheran told

A short look over all notifications submitted on GMOs on EU territory ( shows most come from US corporations such as Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta. Several other local players - state universities and companies covering national territories alone - are also profiled, but in a much lesser measure.

Pioneer, Monsanto and Syngenta have submitted documents asking to test GM crops in Romania. If applied, the groups may start putting up crops for testing GM soy, corn and plum trees.

They’re also claiming that food is already insufficient and that “a solution to these crisis is the use of biotechnology in agriculture”, as Clive James, a GMO supporter, put it during a Bucharest conference on March 2.

But anti-GM campaigners are also doing their best in preventing such pressure. Shortly after Hungary obtained an exemption from regulations on GM corn crops, a study was published claiming that GM corn damages human health.

And for the first time since GM corn was authorized for food production, a study recently published by Professor Gilles Eric Seralini of the University of Caen claims the only EU-approved GMO used on testing animals provides signs of toxicity in at liver and kidney level., Mar 19, 2007

What the newspapers say: March 19, 2007

European Commission vicepresident Franco Frattini reminds the Parliament in Bucharest that it must do its job for Romanian citizens, not for Brussels. Various scenarios about the future of the Romanian Government continue to emerge while disputes over the Foreign Ministry seem to have reached a dead end. PM Tariceanu pays big money to revive his image.

Romania fears of leaving the Moldovan Republic without Romanians. And many more, in newspapers today.

Gandul publishes an extensive interview with EC vicepresident Franco Frattini who warned that Romanian legislators must pursue reforms for the Romanian society and insisted on the need for a fast introduction of a new National Integrity Agency, to keep in check the wealth of public officials as a means to prevent corruption.

Frattini, who visited Romania last weekend, reaffirmed in the interview his full support for two ministers seen as key for the continuation of justice reform and the fight against corruption - Justice minister Monica Macovei and Interior minister Vasile Blaga.

According to Cotidianul, another major message Frattini delivered to Romanian officials was the need of a smooth Criminal Code. And the paper quotes him as saying that Macovei’s role in strengthening justice reform is crucial.

Meanwhile, most newspapers focus on the various scenarios for the future of the Romanian government as a series of major clashes between its two core components - the Liberals (PNL) and the Democrats (PD) - have shaken it good.

According to Cotidianul, Romanian President Traian Basescu is about to ask opposition parties turn their informal alliance with the PNL official.

Romania libera, however, believes the head of state would ask political parties to form a government of national unity - a version supported by Ziua, who names National Bank governor Mugur Isarescu as a potential prime minister.

Still Evenimentul Zilei reports that all sorts of scenarios that have appeared over the past several days are a form of media intoxication. And the paper quotes political analyst Cristian Parvulescu who bets that the President will not push for a national union but would force a restructuring of the governing coalition.

The same evenimentul Zilei reports that Tariceanu, struggling to improve his image after serious falls in public opinion polls, has employed two US image experts who’ve been reinventing him for 1 million US dollars.

The newspaper names Arthur Finkelstein, a former consultant for US Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush as well as Israeli PMs Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon.

Elsewhere in the papers, Cotidianul quotes a Constitutional expert, ex-PNL politician Valeriu Stoica, who says ongoing crisis at the Foreign Ministry, where minister Ungureanu resigned but PM Tariceanus’ nomination is continuously rejected by the President, has entered an infinite loop due to a Constitutional flaw.

Stoica says that according to Romanian law the prime minister may insist on his nomination to no end, while the President may rejected forever.

The same newspaper reports thar Romania fears leaving the neighboring Moldovan Republic, a former part of Romania turned Soviet Republic turned independent state, without Romanian citizens.

Cotidianul quotes Interior minister Blaga who warned of a risk that should Romania approve citizenship for the masses of Moldovan applicants, the neighnoring country may be left without its strong Romanian ethnic group and dominated by ethnic Russians.

Mar 19, 2007

President, PM confronted on BBC

Two separate interviews were broadcast by the BBC radio station, with president Basescu and PM Tariceanu accusing each other of everything, from maintaining and consolidating a political clients system to Soviet behavior.
President Basescu claims that the prime minister broke the 2005 agreement for early elections, while Tariceanu says that the president is becoming more and more isolated.

The interviews were part of a special edition of the "Europe Today" show, developed by the BBC World Service in order to analyze the president - prime minister relationship.

Asked whether it should be the moment to stop arguing and start governing the state, president Basescu only said: "for 50 years, it was silence in Romania. Now, various officials state their opinions. Maybe they don't do it the right way all the time, but everyone is entitled to an opinion".
Basescu believes that the prime minister helps the Opposition work against him and finds in this a reason for the delay of reforms.

On the other hand, PM Tariceanu says that the Parliament is the only institution able to decide whether the Government worked or not. "The president acts like a president of a Soviet Republic. This is not the way to make politics in Europe."

A symbolic level of corruption and reforms recognized by European officials and the World Bank - these are the facts that should prove the Government's activity, believes Tariceanu., Mar 16, 2007

PM Tariceanu plans to remove Justice minister Macovei from office

Romanian PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu informed the Senate leadership on Tuesday that he wanted the hold a speech in the Parliament on the issue of Justice reform this week. The Senate, which adopted a motion against Justice minister Macovei a month ago, scheduled Tariceanu for Wednesday at noon.

Political sources told that the prime minister was firmly determined to remove Macovei from the Government, despite her huge popularity with European Union officials.

Macovei, whose moves to reform the Justice system have been welcomed by Brussels authorities over the past two years, has been involved in a series of disputes with politicians resisting among others her efforts to establish an body to keep in check the wealth of elected officials.

Such opposition resulted in a vote against Macovei in the Senate in February, supported by opposition parties and PM Tariceanu’s National Liberal Party.

Macovei represents the Democratic Party in the Government. According to sources, one way that she might be removed from office would be a PM’s decision to remove all Democratic ministers from the Government, thus bringing an end to the governing coalition in power since the 2004 elections.

“It is possible that Monica Macovei be removed within hours, days”, one source said.

Asked whether the Liberals were considering dropping all Democratic Party (PD) ministers, prominent Liberal Crin Antonescu said: “considering how our colleagues from the PD behave, I would say yes”.

The Constitutional Court decided recently that Macovei should not necessarily resign following the motion against her in the Senate., Mar 13, 2007

Rolling Stones to hold gig in Bucharest on July 14

Long-lasting rumors have turned true: rock veterans Rolling Stones will hold a concert in Bucharest on July 14 this year, at the invitation of a Romanian mobile telephony company, music industry sources confirmed for It would be one of the major music events to be hosted by the Romanian capital this year along with the B’Estival festival in late June-early July.

Rumors have been circulating that Rolling Stones would hold a free-for-all gig in the vicinity of the House of the People in downtown Bucharest somewhere in the spring.

Vodafone Romania was behind several major gigs featuring Western music idols last year, including Depeche Mode and Shakira.

If officially confirmed for July 14, the Rolling Stones concert would come just two weeks after the city’s first major music festival, B’Estival, starring Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, Morcheeba, Wu-Tang Clan and Pink among others., Mar 13, 2007

Tetris Debuts On Xbox 360

I haven't given this much thought until today, but it's quite ironic that one of gaming's best known titles (at least to the "outside" world), now over 20-years old, is returning time and again on mostly every new console, with the same addictive gameplay. And the lesson it keeps on teaching us is that it doesn't take jaw-dropping graphics to make a great game: a brilliantly simple idea is fine, too. That idea was born in 1985 as Tetris, and it has remained basically the same ever since, with its latest incarnation being Tetris Evolution.

As announced today by publisher THQ, Tetris Evolution has just shipped for the Xbox 360 in North America. As the first next-generation incarnation of the addictive puzzle game, it features both the classic gameplay we all know, as well as some additional modes and options to keep it fresh. Such is the ability to download and customize themes, backgrounds, skins and icons, which is said to be a first in the Tetris universe.

In addition, all new gameplay modes include "Go Low", "Eraser" and the cooperative mode "Hotseat" where multiple players can manipulate Tetriminos within the same matrix. Tetris Evolution allows up to four players to engage in competition on a single console or contend via Xbox Live. The new online ladder system also enables players to track their overall skill level and accumulate Xbox Live achievement points to increase their Gamerscore.

All's fine and well, except for the price THQ expects players to pay for this Xbox 360 edition: $29.99. That sounds like a rip-off if you ask me... so don't ask!

As a final trivia, THQ's communique recollects that ever since Tetris debuted in 1985 on the PC, all the game's versions have sold more than 70 million units worldwide. Not bad, for a casual puzzler.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Stallone, 60, Charged with Importing Banned Hormone

Sylvester Stallone was charged by the Australian authorities with importing vials of a banned human growth hormone into the country, when he arrived on Feb. 16 to promote his latest "Rocky Balboa" movie.

Prosecution documents handed to the court Tuesday said Stallone had marked "No" on a customs declaration card that asked if he was bringing into Australia restricted or prohibited goods "such as medicines, steroids, firearms, weapons, or any kind of illicit drugs."

After they showed up on an X-ray of his luggage, the airport staff in Sidney discovered 48 vials of the human growth hormone product Jintropin, made by Chinese firm GeneSciene Pharmaceuticals.

"It was just a minor misunderstanding," Stallone told reporters in Sydney after the incident. "They were just doing their jobs. I just didn't understand some of the rules here."

Subsequently, Stallone's apartment and private jet were searched by the authorities three days later.

"You have not been validly prescribed the goods by a medical practitioner for any medical condition suffered by you and for which the goods are recognized medical treatment," Stallone was told in a customs document handed to the court Tuesday, according to Pravda.

Magistrate David Heilern adjourned the case in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court for a plea on April 24. Stallone, 60, will be excused from attending court if he is represented by his lawyer, Robert Todd, The Telegraph reports.

The newspaper also reports Jintropin is advertised on the internet as enhancing sexual performance, reducing body fat, increasing energy, removing wrinkles, boosting muscle mass and for the “re-generation of major organs that shrink with age.”

Pravda notes that the maximum penalty for bringing it into Australia illegally is a fine of 110,000 Australian dollars (US$86,000; EUR 65,000) and five years in prison, but the court can only impose a fine of A$22,000 (US$17,000; EUR 13,000).

After the critical and box office failure of the previous and presumably last installment Rocky V, Stallone decided that he should end the series with a sixth installment which would be a much more worthy end to the franchise, so "Rocky Balboa" was created. The total domestic box office gross is coming to a close with just over 70 million, almost four times its production budget. His performance in Rocky Balboa has been praised and garnered mostly positive reviews.

Stallone is currently in production on the latest Rambo sequel, "John Rambo." Several script review on the internet, have been positive.

It was also recently announced that Sylvester Stallone would be directing a movie on The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, based on the book written by Franz Werfel.

Stallone and President Bush share the same birthday. According to Wikipedia, Stallone is also one of President George W. Bush's two favorite actors. The other is fellow action hero and conservative Chuck Norris. Both men attended Bush's inauguration as President in 2001, but Stallone also hosted a Democratic fundraising dinner in 1998.

(this article contains bio excerpts from Wikipedia's article on Stallone)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Diva Natalie Bodanya Dead At 98

Opera singer Natalie Bodanya, who sang soprano at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1930's, has died in Santa Barbara, Calif, at 98.

Her death was announced by Paul Gorman, her son, the New York Times reported Saturday.

Originally born Natalie Bodanskaya, she later shortened her last name to Bodanya so as to avoid confusion with the conductor Artur Bodanzky.

She was born in New York, N.Y., in 1908. Her first break was when an employee of the local music school, the Union Settlement, arranged an audition for her with soprano Marcella Sembrich.

Sembrich took Bodanya as a student and helped to steer her to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia.

Bodanya went on to debut at the Metropolitan Opera in "Carmen," in 1936, where she performed in numerous operas over the next five years.

In 1944, she returned to the stage with the New York City Opera, as well as numerous nightclub and radio appearances.

After finishing her career in singing she became a voice teacher for several years.

She is survived by her son, Paul, and a granddaughter.

© 2007 UPI

All The Music, Half The Cables: Laptops As Stereo Sets

Laptop, printer, television, stereo set, and DV- R: It doesn't take long for a household to look like an electronics mart, with a long, confusing cable jungle running along the floor.

But there's another way: the laptop as the central music server, dishing out music for personal use and for parties alike. What's needed is a good piece of organisational software on the laptop for the record collection and two carefully chosen investments in hardware.

One free, yet highly recommended, piece of software is Apple's iTunes, available for download from the Apple website, says Christine Tantschinez, sub-editor with German Audio magazine.

Windows PCs come with Media Player already built in, and that software offers similar functionality, says Volker Zota from German c't magazine. Those looking to buy commercial software have many options: Software like MP3 Maker from Magix costs around 40 dollars, as do programmes from the Nero family.

Hardware investments are necessary to get the best possible sound. The first is for the computer itself. "Internal on-board soundcards just don't produce fantastic sound," Tantschinez says. The expert recommends external sound cards that are connected via USB.

"They have high quality outputs, often for multi-channel sound too, and digital audio output as well." The cards cost between 90 and 150 dollars.

The biggest investment is generally dedicated to the speaker system. There are several factors to be considered in advance: Small speakers or an entire surround sound system; wireless or cable-based; and what kind of music is going to be played back using the hardware?

"The selection and price spectrum for such systems is large - there are sets for 20 dollars and others for 2,000," Tantschinez says.

Another alternative is to designate the computer as an external signal source for the stereo. A WLAN bridge can be used for a wireless connection of the HiFi set and the computer. Both devices can then be put anywhere in the house.

One advantage with this setup is that no new hardware is needed. The computer simply works as a virtual CD changer.

Electronics companies are working with this technology as well, such as the "Streamium" product line from Philips: "Computer and stereo communicate using a wireless network," Philips spokesman Klaus Petri says.

Apple has also refined this principle for its laptops, calling it "Airport Express." It's intended to make the clinch cable, which connects computer and stereo, a thing of the past.

"A base station is the size of a pack of cigarettes and sends out data using WLAN standard 802.11g at a speed of up to 54 MBit per second," Apple spokesman Georg Albrecht says.

A mini clinch connection allows for other audio devices to be hooked into the base station, not the computer. "iTunes handles the wireless transfer of MP3 or AAC data," Albrecht says. The station receives the data, decompresses it and forwards it to the stereo as analog audio data .

By Verena Wolff, Dpa
© 2007 DPA

Friday, March 09, 2007

TV Channel With xxxCATS Movies

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

18 sites with Google PageRank 10

La pregunta es ¿Cómo lo logran?, y las respuestas serían muchísimas, pero es curioso saber que de los muchísisisimos sitios que existen en toda la red, solamente 18 tengan un PageRank 10, la mayoría ya los conocemos, pero por ahí se han colado algunos que nunca había escuchado, juzguen ustedes mismos:

Vía: En la Tierra Media

Por cierto, recomiendo mucho el clon de menéame que han hecho en WoxBlog, de nombre Noticias WoxBlog, uno se encuentra con notas muy buenas, al igual que en Chido

via Blogultura

Microsoft Soda

Nice free sodas on offer in the lobby of Microsoft's conference center. We're currently waiting for the Microsoft Research TechFest keynote to start. There are a lot of academics here as well as Europeans. I'm hearing French, Italian and Spanish wafting around the room, which is a nice change of pace from most of the conferences I attend. At the blogger events and such, you mostly just hear people speaking JavaScript and PHP.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Romanians - least happy with their wages in all Europe

Although the Romanian labor force goes through a lot of fast improvements, due either to foreign investors or to Romanian companies enlarging their activity, Romanians are the least happy in Europe when it comes to their salaries.
According to the 2007 edition of the European Foundation for Life and Work Conditions Improvement, a study conducted on over 30,000 European employees, the largest discontent rate referring the labor conditions was found in Romanian workers.

Only 10% of the Romanian respondents said that they are "very pleased" by their job, while 40% are "pleased", an article in the "Bani si afaceri" magazine reads.

The study is conducted once every five years, starting in 1991. The new edition refers to all 27 EU states, candidates Croatia and Turkey, as well as Switzerland and Norway.

The work satisfaction level is 5 out of 6 pleased or very pleased employees in Europe, in both the 2006 and 2001 studies.
The attributes of a job that generate the content level are the income, working hours, skill development opportunities, career advances and individual control over the activity.
Over 90% of the employees in Denmark, Norway, UK and the Czech Republic are pleased by their conditions, while less than 60% are happy in Romania and Turkey., Mar 2, 2007

What the newspapers say: March 2, 2007

President Basescu seems to have a power shield protecting him from the scandals he caused by himself lately. Romanians would still vote for him any time, despite all the accusations politicians struggle to put up against him.
Still, the president faces a strong opposition from the Parliament, his attempt to organize a referendum for uninominal voting being one step away from being rejected by the senators and deputies.

Some 65% of the populace would vote against the suspension of president Basescu, in case such a referendum would be organized. Only 19% would be in favor, while 12% wouldn't even bother to vote, Evenimentul Zilei reads.

This renders the Parliament's initiative quite useless. What about Basescu's initiative on the uninominal vote? "Parliamentarians run from uninominal vote like devils run from holy water", is the title in the same Evenimentul Zilei.
Invoking minor arguments, the parliamentarians failed by one vote to adopt the presidential demand for a referendum and expect a new text draft next week.

European elections also make some headlines today. Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu meets the leaders of all parliamentarian parties on Friday, in order to discuss the post accession strategy and the European elections agenda. The main preoccupation, according to Gandul, is not to have the elections postponed until September.

September or sooner, Evenimentul Zilei warns that the election lists are about to close and parties did nothing but establish their leading candidate. In less than two weeks, the lists should be complete.

Talking about Romania's participation in European institutions: the list of future judges at the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) must be also delayed one week, because a woman's name is required, Gandul reads.

Never mind all these inconveniences. Life is beautiful in Romania, the party never stops and the hottest place to be for a party-man is… The Army!

Two million euros were spent in 2006 for the Army's 300 protocol actions. The money went to buy 60,000 bottles of wine, 3,000 bottles of vodka and whiskey, 1,300 bottles of champagne, 120 tons of beer, despite the fact that the law forbids such expenses using public funds, Cotidianul comments.

At least we're nobody's fools, not even while drinking. Our vodka pals, Moldovans, were getting ready to play us a trick, but the operation was soon unveiled.

Last week, Russia and Moldova made a lot of fuss around Romania trying to steal Moldovan citizens (although the truth is that it takes some four years to gain Romanian citizenship). So they invented an association of the Moldovan Minority in Romania, in order to complain about the discrimination.

Romania Libera Found out that the move was in fact intended to ease the way towards European funds for minority protection.

Well, since we found out about it, let's return happily to our ordinary affairs. Cheers!

Mar 2, 2007

BVB loses 3.5% as world markets go deep into red

The Bucharest Stock Exchange-BVB suffered a general correction of 3.5% and the BET index showing the evolution of the best performing listed shares dropped 3.70% today as international markets fell deep on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“The phenomenon in Bucharest is perfectly normal as a majority of emerging markets reported rather massive falls yesterday and today”, says Liviu Moldovan, a WBS Holding analyst. As long as only capital markets are affected seriously, one can state the situation is still OK.

“If the shockwave hits Forex markets, especially currencies in emerging markets, then big problems may appear. We’ll have a clearer image within days”, he said.

Moldovan added: “the losses reported yesterday continued on foreign markets today. Germanys’ DAX30 went down 1%, Eurostoxx50 - 1.3%, FTSE100 - 1.16% and Nikkei225 in Japan - 2.85. But the first positive signs are already there as Bovespa in Brazil upped 1.42%, Merval in Argentina grew 0.08% and the Mexico exchange grew 1.2%%”.

According to BVB general manager Stere Farmache, the BET fall is a consequence of events on international markets. And BVB president Septimiu Stoica told that “the market moves daily, but we cannot ignore the past couple of days. It appears the Romanian market was among those influenced by the fall of Chinese stocks as well”.

The Chinese red zone stands at the origin of the recent falls worldwide.

The BET-C composite index fell 3.42% to 5,618.57 points on Wednesday, while the BET index lost 3.70% down to 8,749.46 points. The BET-FI index showing the evolution of the five Financial Investment Societies (SIFs) lost 2.77% reaching 59.753.57.

49 of 60 traded companies reported losses, including all SIFs, Petrom, Rompetrol and Transylvania Bank., Feb 28, 2007

President resist Parliament moves to have him suspended

President Traian Basescu explained in a press statement on Wednesday his option not to attend a Parliament session earlier today that established a commission to investigate claims that he repeatedly breached the Constitution - a key phase in opposition efforts to have him suspended.

He also detailed his talks with the Government this morning and made a series of comments on Romania’s relations with the Moldovan Republic and other priorities.

He said he opted to stay away from the Parliament vote to avoid renewed tensions and said MPs were free to try and have him suspended and were responsible for their moves. But he said the stake of the Parliament decision today was to “silence the President”, which he said would not happen.

He also detailed talks with the Government in the morning, when he warned that unless Romania establishes ANI, a new body aimed at keeping the wealth and influence of politicians in check, the EU will continue monitoring the Romanian Justice system.

According to Basescu, another point of interest on today’s agenda is the capacity of Romania to absorb EU funds for agriculture reform, which is still week.

And related to the country’s relations with the Moldovan Republic, he said the Government in Bucharest must adopt norms to ease procedures for granting citizenship to people coming to Romania from the neighboring country, while Romania has already promised to open two new consulates there., Feb 28, 2007

Simcha Jacobovici: "Da Vinci Code" is fiction, my Jesus movie is science

The director of a documentary on "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" Simcha Jacobovici dismisses in an interview for the clergy’s criticism of his work and comparisons with Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code”, which he says is fiction, as compared to the “archeology, science” presented in his hilm.

Shortly after he and James Cameron, who co-funded the documentary, held their first presentation on the issue in New York, he talked to us on film making, the collaboration with Cameron and his links to Romania. We understand your parents were born in Romania. Is it true?

Simcha Jacobovici: Yes, my parents are born in Iasi. I was born in Israel and grew up in Montreal, often commuting between the two countries. I stopped by in Bucharest from time to time as well. When did you last visited Romania?

Simcha Jacobovici: I made a movie about Struma, the ship that transported Jewish refugees to Palestine and sank [in the Black Sea]. I was in Bucharest for shooting in 2000 and the resulting documentary was put on screen at a festival there. Then I stopped visiting for several years, but I stopped by again not so long ago. I made a film about my family that I’d like to present in Romania as well. On the documentary “The Lost Tomb of Christ”. The Romanian Orthodox Church has accused that the film is nothing but publicity. And it compares it to the “Da Vinci Code”.

Simcha Jacobovici: The “Da Vinci Code” is fiction, while my film is about archeology, science. How can the Romanian church reach the conclusion that the documentary is just publicity, before seeing the film or reading the book?

I am here, at the Central Library in Manhattan, with professors from Harvard, Princeton, other scientific institutions. I make films, I am not an archeologist, I do nothing else than depict facts. No church should be scared of the truth. Facts are facts. In this case, the tomb was found, which is a real fact.

I didn’t invented it to make publicity. The name “Jesus, son of Joseph” is written on the tomb. I didn’t invented it, I only report the issue. I spoke to statistics professors and asked them, because many say these names were common in that era, what is the probability that these names - Jesus, Mary, Mariamne [Magdalene] - are not those of Jesus’ family.

I was told there is a chance in two million it was not the tomb in question or, more properly, that these names are not those of Jesus’ family. I am not a statistics professor, I only report what they and archeologists said and discovered.

That’s why I recommend critics to see the film, to read the book, to talk to professors and then, if the think it’s not true, very well! What we did is science! But you cannot answer before asking! What do you think of the impact the film will have on Christians? There are overe 1.5 billion of them worldwide...

Simcha Jacobovici: I am not a Christian and I am not a theologist. But I know many people who claim Jesus would not even exist, that he would be nothing more than a myth. They will have proof that, look, he existed! Others will say: what about the Resurrection? I am not a Christian, but they proved logically and philosophically that he could resurrect.

The theological issue, as I see it, is not whether he resurrected, whether he took his physical body with him in heaven. Many Christians believe he did. For many this would be the problem and they should get strengthened, not weekened following this story. Anyway, it is a problem for theologists, for priests. I am only a reporter who reports facts. The rest is to be decided by each of them. How difficult was the production of this documentary?

Simcha Jacobovici: It was very hard because we’re not stupid. I understood there’s something here that might shock the world. And then we tried continuously to prove the tomb did not really exist, even with DNA tests. Eventually, after three years of investigations, we were ready to tell the story to everybody. How did you collaborate with James Cameron?

Simcha Jacobovici: It was fantastic. He was skeptical at the beginning, didn’t believe it and used to say “It’s not true!” Eventually, it was all good.

More on the documentary at: "The Lost Tomb of Jesus", Adrian Novac, New York, Feb 28, 2007

MPs debate suspension of President, President deals with the Government

The joint chambers of the Romanian Parliament gathered in a plenary session on Wednesday to debate a proposal tabled by the opposition Social Democrats (PSD) to suspend President Traian Basescu for alleged breaches of the Constitution. The head of state, meanwhile, opted to attend a meeting of the Government as he did not consider his presence in the Parliament as “necessary”.

With 258 votes in favor, 76 against and 21 abstentions, MPs decided to establish a commission to investigate data included in the suspension proposal. The commission will have 15 members representing six parties and independent MPs.

The Democratic Party announced they would not nominate any representative in the commission, whose report is expected before March 21, 2007.

The proposal to suspend Basescu, signed by 182 MPs of the opposition Social Democrats and the Greater Romania Party (PRM), was submitted in Parliament on February 13.

It lists 27 issues where its supporters claim the President breached the Constitution over the past two years, including efforts to block the activity of the Parliament, an intervention in favor of a company’s business interests and use of intelligence services to “monitor the political class”.

Parliamentary parties started the debates today with talks about who among the MPs should be part of a parliamentary commission to investigate the head of state.

In a message to the Parliament, President Basescu said the Constitutional Court would be the one to decide whether the facts presented as arguments against him were non-constitutional or not., Feb 28, 2007