Friday, July 27, 2007

Romania boils at over 40 degrees Celsius

Almost all regions across Romania are facing extreme temperatures on Friday, according to meteorologists. Just as the day before, temperatures on Friday will increase up to 40 and even 42 degrees Celsius. Meteorologists instated an orange code warning for 21 counties including Bucharest, the capital city.

Meteorologists warn that on Thursday temperatures will vary between 24 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees. The comfort index that indicates the humidity level will often go beyond the 80 threshold.

In Bucharest, weather remains extremely hot, especially at noon. The maximum temperature will reach 39 degrees Celsius.

UPDATE: Meteorologists expanded on Thursday the orange code warning for extreme temperatures to 32 Romanian counties. Affected counties will face high temperatures of more than 39-40 degrees Celsius, peaking at 41-42 degrees, between July 19-22. A red code may be issued in the week-end.

Authorities warn the population to be cautious and not expose to the sun between 10am and 5pm without sun glasses, hats or an umbrella. Medics inform the population to avoid alcohol and coffee., Jul 20, 2007

Apologies from the Rolling Stones concert organizers to Romanian fans

"Events", the organizer of the Rolling Stones concert in Romanian capital Bucharest on Tuesday apologized on Thursday for the incidents caused by the insufficient distribution of soft and achohol drinks during the concert, informs a press release on Thursday.

The troubles with beverage distribution during the hot Tuesday evening concert sparked outrage among tens of thousands of fans.

The company blames the distribution firms chosen to sell the drinks that were informed of the number of participants and the duration of the concert.

"Events" argues that the small number of beverage selling points was caused by logistical reasons, namely maintaing the exit ways clear in case of an emergency and assuring visibility on the stage for all spectators.

The senzational concert of Rolling Stones was shadowed only by the organization of the event. The main insatisfaction of the public was the imposibility to buy cold drinks due to the small number of existent distribution points.

By the end of the concert, some 150 cases of medical interventions had occurred, caused mainly by dehydration., Jul 19, 2007

German group RWE may join Nabucco project

Companies involved in the construction of Nabucco project started negotiations with German energy group RWE, which has shown interest to take part in the project, Bulgarian sources told Dnevnik newspaper on Thursday.

The five companies involved in Nabucco are Bulgargaz (Bulgaria), OMV(Austria), MOL (Hungary), Botas (Turkey) and Transgaz (Romania).

Bulgargaz representatives confirmed that negotiations had started with RWE which would contribute to the project with an equal quota as the other companies.

However, the first option was Gas de France, which was not agreed by the Turkish side.

The Nabucco pipeline would measure 3300 km in length and costs will amount to 4.5 billion euro. It is due to transport natural gas from the Caspian region and Iran up to Austria.

The first part of the project, 2000 km in length from Ankara, Turkey to Baumgarten, Austria would transport 8 billion sq. meters of gas annually, starting with 2012.

The European Union considers the Nabucco project as essential for assuring energy independence since the project is an alternative to Russian imports., Jul 19, 2007

Pirelli: 400 million euro investment in Romaniag

Italian company Pirelli might invest up to 400 million euro in a tire factory in Slatina, South Romania if the market sticks to its current pace of growth, Marco Tronchetti, president of the Pirelli group, said on Thursday, quoted by Romanian news agency NewsIn.

Tronchetti argued that in case Ford buys Daewoo Craiova the Italians could supply the company with tires and filtres as the two companies are traditional partners.

Currently, Pirelli holds two factories in Romania: of tires, metallic cords for tires, and a third one will be open next year, with an initial investment of 25 million euro.

The total amount of Pirelli investments in Romania would sum to 235 million euro next year.

Presently, the group payroll in Romania rises to almost 1.700 employees and the number will grow to over 2.500 after opening up the third company., Jul 19, 2007

Vodafone Romania revenues grew 26.8% in Q1 of 2007-2008 fiscal year

Vodafone Romania service-based revenues grew 26.8% in the first quarter of the 2007-2008 fiscal year as compared to the same period last year, the telecom operator announced on Thursday. During the period, the total number of customers reached 8,223,445, an increase of 1,470,351 as compared to the data presented a year before.

Company representatives did not mention the value of the revenues or the total revenue data.

According to Liliana Solomon, president and CEO Vodafone, Romania is one of the best performing divisions of the Vodafone group.

At group level, Vodafone registered revenues of 17.03 billion USD, 7.5% more than the same period the year before.

Vodafone’s main competitor on the market, Orange Romania reported 8.27 million clients by the end of March, while Cosmote Romania, the newest on the market, announced 2 million clients in April., Jul 19, 2007

Seven died as bus carrying Romanian tourists crashed in Hungary

Seven people died after a bus full of Romanian tourists crashed near Mako, Hungary on Thursday, Associated Press reports. The bus, with 32 Romanian tourists, hit a truck and the collision caused the death of seven people and the injury of another 16.

The bus was travelling to Szeged when it hit a small truck, then a platform vehicle.

A spokesman for the police in the town of Csongrad said the driver of the bus, a Romanian, and six tourists died on the spot.

The wounded were transferred to the hospitals in Szeged and Mako.

The bus was registered in the Czech Republic. The accident took place on a bridge some 20 km away from the Romanian border., Jul 19, 2007

Nadia Comaneci world records recognized

The legend of Romanian gymnastics, Nadia Comaneci, multiple European and world Olympic champion entered in the world records list put up by the US World Records Academy, the academy announced on Wednesday.

The Academy registered the performance Nadia obtained at the Montreal Olympic Game in 1976, informs the institution’s website Thursday.

Comaneci scored 10 at all the marks given in the edition of the Olympic Games, which automatically brought her the absolute Olympic champion title at the Montreal Summer edition.

Aged 14, Nadia was called “Montreal’s fairy” after winning three gold medals.

The decision marked 31 years since the first 10 in the history of gymnastics. Since 1976, no other gymnast obtained the same score at any edition.

Nadia Comaneci is currently living in the United States, married with a former American Olympic champion, Bart Conner with whom she has a child., Jul 19, 2007

President promulgates controversial pensions law

The controversial decision to increase the state-paid pensions was promulgated on Wednesday by president Basescu, not before calling the ministers who explained to the supplementary funds will be raised "incompetent" and "dilettantes". President Basescu says he promulgated the law due to the consensus in the Parliament on the subject.

In a press conference, Basescu pitiless criticized the Government. "I asked for an economic analysis on the way the pensions' growth will affect the budget and I got a letter full of electoral goals. The two ministers who signed it (Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian and Labor Minister Paul Pacuraru) are, from my point of view, incompetent.

I asked the prime minister to answer my query about the funding, but the prime minister didn't assume responsibility for the letter coming from his ministers... he didn't sign any document", said Traian Basescu.

According to the president's sources, namely the National Prognosis Institute, the pensions' growth will represent a budgetary effort of 30 billion euros between 2008 and 2013, exactly the amount the European Union offers Romania for development.

Finance Minister Varujan Vosganian replied immediately after the press conference, explaining that the Government has the money to support the pensions' growth, due to the general economic growth. "We can explain where the money comes from", said the minister a bit late, considering the weeks of scandals around the subject and the zero-information letter he offered as answer.

"The president didn't want this law because he didn't suggest it himself, in order to raise more electoral capital", said Vosganian., Jul 18, 2007

European Commission supports Nokia standards for mobile TV services

The European Commission announced the adoption of a strategy designed to help its 27 states expand their mobile TV services, currently placed far behind the level of the Asian markets.

The Commission also expressed its support for the Nokia-led mobile-TV standard, DVB-H (digital video broadcast-handheld), encouraging members to adopt it as unique European standards, thus coming against the market fragmentation.

"The lack of a single technology has held back wider take-up for television on cell phones and the EU's support for digital video broadcast handheld (DVB-H) could be the decisive factor in the battle of formats", Reuters reads.

"EU Media Commissioner Viviane Reding hopes that by adopting a single standard Europe will get an edge in the new technology like it did when the GSM standard for mobile telephones emerged at the end of the 1980s", EUBusinesscomments., Jul 18, 2007

What the newspapers say: July 19, 2007

Newspapers today highlight the President’s decision to promulgate the pensions law in a criticizing voice towards the government and the Finance Minister.

Elsewhere in the papers, meteorologists warn that today temperatures will reach 41 degrees Celsius and install a red code warning.

And talking about warnings, the new public television director pressures the News Department for objectiveness.

All papers read about Basescu’s decision to finally promulgate the pensions law in a criticizing voice toward the government and the Economy Minister.

Gandul signals Basescu’s disapproval with the law and underlines the two main reasons the President invoked for promulgating the bill: namely, the first boost needs to start on September 1 and the budget can cover it and second, all political parties in the Government agree with the law.

The President warns he would not take responsibility for the consequences of the boost since by 2013, Romania’s deficit will amount to 30 billion euro and the effects of the law would be unable to support.

Evenimentul Zilei underlines the Presidents’ criticism towards the government which he calls incompetent and coward enough to take any measures. Given this, the President refuses to take any responsibility for the impact of the law upon the budget in the following years.

On the other hand, reads the paper, Economy Minister challenges Basescu to debate his criticism in a special talk show in order to confront their different economic analyses regarding the effects of the law.

Romania Libera reads that Basescu’s hostile attitude affects not only the incumbent government but also the credibility of the Romanian economic performance in the years to come.

The paper cites influential Romanian politicians who comment that Basescu’s decision was predictable, since he did not have any other solution than promulgate the law. In refusing to pass the law, the draft would be sent back in the Parliament where parties would re-vote it for sure.

When it comes to the weather, everything is crystal clear: temperatures will reach 41 degrees Celsius, today being the hottest day of the season.

Adevarul reads that meteorologists warn they'd install a red code warning if temperatures register 41 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, there are forecast saying 21 counties in Romania will affected by the heat wave.

Temperatures have serious effects: threaten lives, cause transportation restrictions on both trains and trucks heavier than 7.5 tons as both the road and rail temperature reached 60 degress Celsius.

Hospitals are under assault: more than 11.000 emergency cases presented in the last couple of days and authorities registered 3,000 calls a day for ambulances.

More about warnings, Cotidianul reads that Alexandru Sassu, the proposed Social Democrat director of the Romanian public television, pressures the news department to be more objective and check the news before making them public.

Cotidianul cites sources among the editorial staff who argue that Sassu firmly expressed his dislike on how the department works.

Former director, Tudor Giurgiu told Cotidianul that such meetings are normal, and is not a political pressure signal, as inside sources indicated., Jul 19, 2007

Seaside resorts shares sold for 6 MN euros

The Transilvania Financial Investments Society (SIF) sold on Wednesday 5.6% of the stock held at the THR Marea Neagra company (The Black Sea Tourism - Hotels - Restaurants Company), for a total of 18.67 million lei, some 6 million euros, a Bucharest Stock Exchange release informs.

SIF Transilvania still holds 77.4% of the stock at THR Marea Neagra.

The 10.79 million titles were sold at 1.39 lei per title, significantly higher than the similar transaction in June, when 1.39% of the social capital was sold at 1.28 lei per share.

The business figure of the company decreased in 2007 22.89%, while the losses grew 68.34%. The profit estimated for this year may decrease 18.28%, down to 4.79 million lei (roughly 1.5 million euros)., Jul 18, 2007

EUObserver: Romania must plant trees to avoid desertification

While Romania's economy is constantly growing, the new factories, supermarkets and residential areas make the water consumption grow exponentially, and no legal limitations are in force, in order to regulate the lack of balance.

Even more, desertification threatens extended areas, affecting agriculture and causing more pollution for the existing water resources, the online publication comments on Wednesday.

The comment, signed by UK resident in Romania Rupert Wolfe Murray, shows that the water provisioning for Romania was never as unstable as it is today, despite the heavy rains tat became a rule in between the drought periods. The water sources are regressing and increasingly polluted, especially near the big cities, where huge waste dumps are growing everyday.

One example in the article is the Glina waste dump "which has the size of a small city". The author notes that very few cities in Romania benefit from waste recycling systems and the problem doesn't seem to be a priority on any agenda.

"Since joining the EU in January this year, little progress has been made on any of these issues - although Structural Funds for environmental projects should become available from 2008.

One effect of EU membership has been the dramatic increase in the purchase of agricultural land by foreign investors, but these plots tend to be too small and scattered to justify modern farming and they are allowed to go fallow.

At the same time, increasing numbers of Romanian peasants (about a third of the population) are giving up farming the land completely and more land is being left to the elements", the article reads.

The solution suggested by the consultant is a massive tree planting campaign, designed to protect vulnerable land from excessive heat and soak some of the massive rains before they produce floods.

"Romania has a relatively good forestry management system and large parts of mountain area are covered in pine and mixed hardwoods.

But there is increasing demand for timber from industry, a very lucrative export market, and more trees urgently need to be planted", the author comments, drawing the attention towards the fact that tree planting only occurs in mountain-side areas and on hills, not in the plains., Jul 18, 2007

Rolling Stones worked their magic in Bucharest

The National "Lia Manoliu" Stadium in Bucharest hosted the show of the year (some call it the show of the century) on Tuesday night: some 60,000 fans gathered to see rock legend Mick Jagger and his Rolling Stones rocking the stage. And they did rock.
"The Stones shown why they are an industry larger by a mile than many businesses in Romania: pure show, crystal sound and four rockers who seem to only get better as time goes by, like a bottle of fine wine", a editor comments.

After Romanian legendary band Iris (as old as the Stones) and The Charlatans warmed up the public, Mick Jagger made the crowd go wild by beginning the show with "Start me up".

With Jagger making jokes in Romanian, with Keith still wearing his half of smile and a joint stuck in the corner of his mouth, a flash-jumping Ronnie Wood and the perfect percussion of Charlie Watts, Rolling Stones delivered exactly what the promised - A Bigger Bang.

Unfortunately, the concert took place in Romania... and that always spells trouble. The bottles of water and refreshments were confiscated at the entrance "for security reasons", although inside there were exactly the same type of plastic bottles.

That wouldn't have bothered anyone, but two of the four spots selling water ran out of merchandise around 19:00 (the concert ended around 23:30) and speculators begun selling water at five-six and even ten times the price.

The access to the stadium was also horrid, 200 meters taking about one hour to cross. At the exit, participants found that no public transport was made available, as it happens after the elections or other official events. But, as everyone admitted, it was all worth it., Jul 18, 2007

Documentary on Romania, nominated for Emmy awards

A documentary film about Romania, made by an American journalist, was nominated for the Emmy award for news and documentary films, offered by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS). "Romania's hopes lie with the EU" is a film produced by, with Travis fox as Senior Videojournalist and Kevin Sullivan as reporter.

The News & Documentary Emmy Awards will be presented on September 24 at a black-tie ceremony at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in New York City. Over 1000 television and new media industry executives, news and documentary producers and journalists are expected to attend the event.

Travis Fox was already awarded an Emmy for his documentary on the effects of the Katrina hurricane on New Orleans.

The films presents the way Romanians see the accession to the European Union as a final step in the separation from the Communist past. Filmed in 2006, the documentary speaks about the changes Romanians face, including the Justice reforms, the way animals should be sacrificed and gypsies' rights.

Interviews include statements from the former Justice Minister Monica Macovei and president Traian Basescu., Jul 18, 2007

Romania authorities deal cautiously with Ukraine phosphorus accident

A freight train carrying yellow phosphorus, an extremely toxic substance, derailed in an area close to Lviv, Western Ukraine on Monday evening, poisoning about 20 people and leading to the evacuation of about 800 from several villages in the area, Associated Press informs. The accident sparked a toxic cloud affecting some 14 settlements near the border with Poland.

The news of the event was spread on Tuesday as Ukrainian officials made their first public statements on the situation.

According to Radio Ukraine, President Viktor Yushchenko issued an order that a commission be set to produce a plan within three days to limit the “irreversible consequences” of the accident.

The train was transiting Ukraine from Kazakhstan to Poland. According to Ihor Krol, spokesman for the emergency situations ministry in Kiev, 15 of the 58 cars of the train were overturned and six caught fire in the accident. The fire was put of quickly and according to Ukrainian agency Unian army troops were sent to contain the situation.

But according to Ukrainian deputy PM Oleksandr Kuzmuk, quoted by AP, “it is an extraordinary event the consequences of which cannot be predicted”.

Yellow phosphorus is a highly flammable substance that ignites spontaneously when in contact with high-temperature air. It is also extremely toxic.

UPDATE: Romanian authorities received news of the event cautiously on Tuesday. An emergency government meeting was convened in the afternoon today and the Romanian Environment minister said shortly afterwards that Romania was not facing a crisis and Ukraine had yet to deliver official information in this regard.

According to the head of the National Meteorology Administration, Ion Sandu, said that no impact should be felt on Romania within the next 36 hours.

According to the dean of the Chemistry Faculty of the Bucharest University, Dumitru Oancea, a potential acid rain resulting from the toxic cloud would lead to skin injuries and respiratory problems.

UPDATE 2: The toxic cloud was moving towards Kiev on Tuesday afternoon, Ukrainian Defense Ministry sources told Russian agency, Jul 17, 2007

Romania Foreign minister Cioroianu to deliver analysis on Russia's withdrawal from the CFE Treaty

Romanian Foreign minister Adrian Cioroianu will deliver an analysis as the Supreme National Defence Council-CSAT later this week on Russia's withdrawal from the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), which he says did not represent a surprise for Romania or its allies.

A press release issued on Tuesday states that the Ministry elaborates a material on the issue and solicits its discussion in the CSAT due to take place on Thursday, July 19.

The reaction comes shortly after the main opposition party, the Social Democrats (PSD), announced their plan to summon Cioroianu at the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committees to state Romania's position in case Russia withdraws from the Treaty.

Cioroianu mentioned that the official position of Romania is correlated with the other NATO counterparts., Jul 17, 2007

Romanian authorities restart privatization of Avioane Craiova

The Romanian Authority for State Assets Recovery - AVAS has decided to relaunch the privatization process of the Avioane Craiova factory in south Romania, a press release of the institution informs on Tuesday. The privatization will be preceded by an announcement or a selling offer, valid for at least 30 days.

The privatization was decided based upon the final offer of September 2006.

Considering that up to the initial deadline (February 28, 2007) no offer had been submitted, AVAS decided to delay the offers' availability up to May 11, 2007.

However, negotiations did not finish when the offer expired on July 10, so AVAS decided to restart the privatization process of the society.

Avioane Craiova has a social capital of 2.28 million Romanian RON and has as main activity airplanes and ships construction and maintenance. AVAS holds 80.94% of shares, the other 19.06% was retained by other shareholders., Jul 17, 2007

Romania Government's letter to President Basescu: pensions boost without tax increase

The Romanian government made public on Tuesday the letter sent to President Basescu regarding the sources it takes into consideration to support a pensions boost promised by a new pensions law that sparked much ado in Bucharest lately.

The document shows that the effects of economic development, the growth of both salaries and employees will determine pensions to grow with 43% in 2008.

The letter is signed by the Finance and Labor ministers and is a response to President Basescu's demand of detailed info in this regard. The head of state threatened not to sign the pensions law unless he received financial proof to sustain the measure.

According to the National Prognosis Commission, between 2009 and 2013 Romania will report a 6% economic growth annually and the labor force will grow by 400,000., Jul 17, 2007

Dick Marty Report reaches the European Parliament

The European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties and Justice debates the report written by Dick Marty regarding CIA prisons in Europe on Tuesday. The document was passed by the Council of Europe last month and accuses Romania and Poland of hosting detention centers between 2003 and 2005.

The Dick Marty report is based upon a series of declarations of 30 secret service officials from Europe and USA. However, authorities in both Romania and Poland rejected the accusations, one of the reasons being that none of the sources is identified.

The Swiss rapporteur sustained that anonymous sources should be maintained as such otherwise the individuals would be accused of high treason in their home countries.

US President, George W Bush admitted in September 2006 that, CIA detainees, with important functions in al Qaeda were retained in secret prisons outside the USA but did not mention any country., Jul 17, 2007

Rolling Stones to perform for 60,000 people in Bucharest tonight

Over 60.000 Romanian fans await the Rolling Stones concert on Lia Manoliu Stadium in Bucharest on Tuesday evening. Romanian band Iris and British group the Charlatans will be the opening gigs.

Access on the stadium will be allowed from 4pm and up to 8pm. Rolling Stones will start their two hour show at 9pm.

The cheapest ticket to the concert is about 35 euro, the most expensive ads up to 200 euro.

The Rolling Stones will enjoy the biggest scene of their European tour. The technical capacities are amazing: it has 60 meters long, 17 meters wide and 21 meters high. It weights about 200 tons.

The band promotes their new album, "A Bigger Band" and the Bucharest concert is the 15th of the European tour.

The tour started in August 2005 and by mid 2006 it reported record sales: 160 million USD. By November 2006, it was declared the best selling tour in history with 437 million USD., Jul 17, 2007

Urban Romania: 17 square meters of green area per capita

Romanians living in urban areas can brag with only 17 square meters of green area per capita, according to National Statistics Institute (INS) data.

Green space in cities and counties cover parks, public gardens, children playgrounds, tennis courts and totaled 20,269 ha by the end of 2006.

Romanian cities are amoung the last in Europe in terms of green areas for citizens, as compared to Graz or Vienna (Austria) or Helsinki (Finland) where there are 110 sq meters of green area per individual.

According to EU recommendations, an individual living in cities should have at least 30-40 sq meters while World Health Organization recommends 50 sq meters per individual.

From this point of view, cities like Brussels (Belgium) Copenhagen (Denmark), Liverpool (Great Britain) or Hamburg (Germany) enjoy 30, 31, 33 and 35 sq meters of green area per individual.

However, Madrid and Seville (Spain) or Marseille (France) and Luxembourg count less than 10 sq meters., Jul 17, 2007

Romania melts at 38 degrees Celsius

Starting with Tuesday afternoon and ending on Sunday (July 22) Romania faces excessively high and persisting temperatures, meteorologists announce.

On Tuesday, meteorologists install a yellow code warning in the whole country. Today and tomorrow, air temperatures will rise at 38 degrees in most counties in south, east and west Romania.

In Bucharest, temperatures will be high, the wind mild and temperatures will reach 37 degrees Celsius.

Meteorologists on Monday set an orange code warning for July 19-20 in most of the counties, including the capital city as air temperature will get to 39-40 degrees Celsius.

Due to high temperature, trains will slow down by 20-30 km/h as compared to their normal set speed on the tracks, according to the Transportation Ministry.

Moreover, on Tuesday, cars over 7 tons will not be allowed to use roads between 10am and 8pm with few exceptions., Jul 17, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Matt's awesome chip desk

What does one do 434 discarded Itanium CPUs? Matt Tovey was inspired by our Chip Trivet, and used them to make this awesome computer desk.
The CPU modules were scrapped as the result of a supercomputer upgrade, and were presumably functional before having their heat sinks taken off-- a herculean effort for that many CPUs! Matt says that the list price for the lot of chips was over US$800,000 in 2006 and that the desk contains about 2.8 TFLOPs of computing power, about the same as 900 3.2GHz P4s. Matt started with a plain desk, tiled in the CPUs, and added wooden edging and a beveled glass top. Nice work!

I just love the way that this desk looks. But it gives me an idea too-- take it one step further, and what if it worked? You could use a single, giant PCB for the motherboard which sat underneath the glass surface of the desk. With that much area, you could fit in a lot of processing power. On the cheap (or moderately cheap), one could imagine instead filling the inside of a desk top with low-cost (even last-generation) PC motherboards to make a great looking beowulf cluster or render farm that doesn't take up any desktop or rack-mount space.

Sadly, Matt's page has moved on to the great /dev/null in the sky, but the mirror still shows some of the build photos.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Top 10 Books that Changed the World

This topic is a very subjective one, and I realise that there will be many disagreements with my selected 10 books. Feel free to add any additional books with a reason, to the comments field. You may even want to contribute a much larger list for future inclusion on the site.

In order of creation, here is the list of top 10 books that changed the world.

1. The Bible - Various Authors (circa 30AD - 90AD) [Wikipedia]

There can be no doubt that the Bible has done more to change the face of the world than any other book. A mere two hundred years after it was created, it brought about the conversion of the entire Roman Empire from paganism to Christianity. Since then, Christianity has become the largest single religion in the world (with 2.1 billion adherents). The oldest and largest of the Christian groups is the Roman Catholic Church whose membership (1.05 billion) is almost twice the size of all other Christian groups combined.

The Bible comprises two books - the Old Testament (taken from the Greek edition used by Christ and the apostles) and the New Testament (written by some of the Apostles of Jesus after his death - including St Paul who did not meet Christ during His lifetime).

The Gutenberg bible (a copy of the Latin Vulgate) was the first book ever published on the printing press. The Bible is the most purchased book in the world.

Buy the Bible at

2. The Qur’an - Various Authors (650AD to 656AD) [Wikipedia]

The Qur’an is the holy book of the Islamic religion. The founder of Islam, Mohammed told his followers that he was given revelations by the Angel Gabriel. These revelations (spanning 23 years) form the basis of the Qur’an. After Mohammed’s death in 632 the Qur’an was recorded by word of mouth only; it was not for another 20 years that the various memories of his words were collected and combined.

The Qur’an is considered by Muslims to be the last revealed word of God (after the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Christian Bible). In recent years much debate has occurred over the content of the Qur’an - with its opponents claiming that it advocates war and murder of non-believers. Muslims generally claim that this is not the case and state that opponents of Islam are taking the text out of context.

Buy the Qur’an at

3. The Summa Theologica - St. Thomas Aquinas (1265 - 1274) [Wikipedia]

The Summa Theologica is a multi-volume set of books which outlines in the most precise manner, the doctrines and beliefs of Christianity. It was held in such high regard, that second to the Bible, it was the book most used for reference at the Council of Trent (1545 - 1563). Its influence was felt all across the Christian World as the reforms of the Council of Trent were implemented.

To this day, the Summa Theologica is the primary teaching tool used in Roman Catholic seminaries and its author is regarded as a Doctor of the Church (a title reserved for only 33 great thinkers in the history of Christianity). It is also worth noting that St Isidore (popularly considered Patron Saint of the Internet) is also seen as a Doctor of the Church.

Buy the Summa Theologica at

4. The Rights of Man - Thomas Paine (1791) [Wikipedia]

Paine, an English writer, influenced American Democracy and Democracy in general with his writings. According to Paine, the sole purpose of the government is to protect the irrefutable rights inherent to every human being. Thus all institutions which do not benefit a nation are illegitimate, including the monarchy (and the nobility) and the military establishment.

When the French Revolution broke out, Paine went to France where, despite his ignorance of the French language, he was promptly elected to the National Convention. His absence from England at this time was fortuitous because the publication of The Rights of Man caused such a furor in the country that Paine was put on trial in absentia and convicted for seditious libel against the crown.

Buy The Rights of Man at

5. Either/Or - Søren Kierkegaard (1843) [Wikipedia]

Either/Or portays the two lifeviews, one being consciously hedonistic and one based on ethical duty and responsibility, in two volumes. Each lifeview is written and represented by a fictional pseudonymous author and the prose of the work depends on which lifeview is being discussed. For example, the aesthetic lifeview is written in short essay form, with poetic imagery and allusions, discussing aesthetic topics such as music, seduction, drama, and beauty. The ethical lifeview is written as two long letters, with a more argumentative and restraint prose, discussing moral responsibility, critical reflection, and marriage.

This book, by the father of existentialism has been highly influential with other existentialists. Despite its great popularity, it was not published in English until 1944. Existentialism is a philosophical movement that claims that individual human beings have full responsibility for creating the meanings of their own lives. It is a reaction against more traditional philosophies, such as rationalism and empiricism.

Buy Either/Or from

6. Communist Manifesto - Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1848) [Wikipedia]

This tract, written by communist theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels at the behest of the Communist League, has become one of the most influential political tracts in history. The Manifesto suggested a course of action for a proletarian (working class) revolution to overthrow the bourgeois social order and to eventually bring about a classless and stateless society.

Perhaps the most famous quote from the work reads: “The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries, unite!”

Buy the Communist Manifesto at

7. Experimental Research in Electricity - Michael Faraday (1855) [Wikipedia]

Faraday was an English chemist and physicist whose many experiments with electricity ultimately lead to his invention of electromagnetic rotary devices which formed the foundation of electric motor technology. Although he received little formal education and thus higher mathematics like calculus were always out of his reach, he went on to become one of the most influential scientists in history. It was largely his experiments that lead to electricity becoming viable for use in technology.

During his lifetime, Faraday rejected a knighthood and twice refused to become President of the Royal Society. He died at his house at Hampton Court on August 25, 1867. He has a memorial plaque in Westminster Abbey, near Isaac Newton’s tomb, but he turned down burial there and is interred in the Sandemanian plot in Highgate Cemetery.

Buy Experimental Researches in Electricity at

8. On the Origin of Species - Charles Darwin (1859) [Wikipedia]

This book by Darwin is considered a seminal work in the field of evolutionary biology. It proposes that over time, through natural selection, species evolve. It was a highly controversial book as it contradicted many religious views on biology at the time. Darwin’s book was the culmination of evidence he had accumulated on the voyage of the Beagle in the 1830s and expanded through continuing investigations and experiments since his return to England.

The book is readable even for the non-specialist and attracted widespread interest on publication. The book was controversial, and generated much discussion on scientific, philosophical, and religious grounds. The scientific theory of evolution has itself evolved since Darwin first presented it, but natural selection remains the most widely accepted scientific model of how species evolve. The at-times bitter creation-evolution controversy continues to this day.

Buy On the Origin of Species at

9. The Second Sex - Simone de Beauvoir (1949) [Wikipedia]

The Second Sex is the best known work of Simone de Beauvoir. Beauvoir wrote the book after attempting to write about herself. The first thing she wrote was that she was a woman, but she realized that she needed to define what a woman was, which became the intent of the book. It is a work on the treatment of women throughout history and often regarded as a major feminist work. In it she argues that women throughout history have been defined as the “other” sex, an aberration from the “normal” male sex.

Simone de Beauvoir (a pioneer of the feminist movement) argues that women have historically been considered deviant, and abnormal. She submits that even Mary Wollstonecraft considered men to be the ideal toward which women should aspire. Beauvoir says that this attitude has limited women’s success by maintaining the perception that they are a deviation from the normal, and are outsiders attempting to emulate “normality”. For feminism to move forward, this assumption must be set aside.

Buy The Second Sex at

10. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand (1957) [Wikipedia]

Atlas Shrugged was Rand’s last work before she devoted her time exclusively to philosophical writing. This book contains a variety of themes that would later become the core of her philosophy Objectivism. She considered it to be her magnum opus and is it the most popular of her non-fiction work.

While the book was largely a critical failure, it had an enormous poplar success. As far as influence in the world, the Objectivist philosophy gave much to the Libertarian movement which has enjoyed great popularity around the world.

In a three-month online poll of reader selections of the hundred best novels of the twentieth century, administered by publisher Modern Library, Atlas Shrugged was voted number one. She has a large following in the celebrity world, including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who have been selected to play the two main characters in a trilogy of films that aims to bring Atlas Shrugged to the silver screen in the near future.


Romania, a country without a country brand

The most important attempt ever to produce a country brand for Romania, the "Fabulospirit" project has been forgotten since a new leadership was promoted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bucharest this spring.

The other project, “Romania, simply surprising" is dying after a short honeymoon. These projects are just two of the Romanian initiatives that have been focused on promoting Romania abroad as their ultimate goal.

After various tries, seminars and public debates, Romania still remains a country without a country brand, one of the few European countries which do no have a coherent plan to make their country known abroad.

“Romania, simply surprising” was designed by the Tourism Ministry in 2004. For its promotion, the government paid 52 billion Romanian RON. The campaign included videos broadcast on EuroNews, BBC and CNN.

The World Tourism Organization in a recent study criticized both the campaign and the slogan of the project and proposed that serious measures should be taken to enhance Romania's visibility abroad.

The second project, "Fabulospirit", was designed in December last year after the evaluation of Romania's perception among foreigners.

Since its birth, the project raised various scandals involving its financing and the agency that took over the concept, Gav Scholz&Friends.

In May this year, Romanian Foreign minister Adrian Cioroianu decreed its inapplicability and the importance of a sound project that would not hurt Romania's quasi-inexistent image abroad.

Currently, the Master Plan for Developing National Tourism 2007-2026, elaborated by the Ministry and the World Tourism Agency is to be approved after a thorough analysis by governmental representatives.

The Master Plan identified several directions to set up the brand strategy: tourism weekends in Bucharest, tourism circuits in Transylvania, Black Sea activities etc.

The project would be applied over the next 20 years and by 2016, it plans to attract 10 million tourists annually as compared to 6 million last year., Jul 16, 2007

Extreme weather: temperatures expected to rise again after August 12

PM Tariceanu held a video conference with local representatives of the government on Monday to establish the measures needed to be taken in the next period to counteract the effects of a long period of drought still affecting Romania.

Ion Sandu, general director of the National Meteorology Administration said that next week temperatures, which are expected to remain very high these days, would fall before growing again starting August 12.

The Romanian PM underlined the fact that weather conditions and forecast are by far a secret - as alleged in a Bucharest-based newspaper today - and that the government was working closely with specialists to prepare the population for extreme weather conditions in advance.

Ion Sandu added that after July 22 the country would maintain its yellow code as the temperatures would fall by 2-3 degrees Celsius. However, starting August 12, temperatures will increase again tremendously.

Tariceanu summoned local officials to have them better involved in counteracting the drought, to set up lists of vulnerable persons and to offer catering services so that they would not be forced to exit their homes.

The PM announced that there were 374 points of water distribution and 339 first aid tents to help passers-by in 180 towns across the country., Jul 16, 2007

Initiative Romania study: Advertising market to grow 34% in 2007

The advertising market in Romania will continue its years-long ascending trend in 2007 with the overall ad spending expected to grow 34% and the Internet advertising growth exceeding 60% this year, according to the 2007 Media Fact Book published by Initiative Romania.

Online advertising, while still on the bottom end of many planners, is expected to witness a spectacular growth on the Romanian market this year. Initiative expects a boost from 5,4 million euro in 2006 to over 8,5 million euro in Internet ad spending this year - a lot less than the mainstream media, where television remains king with some 485 million euro ad spend expected this year.

The Internet segment is thus still affected by the advertising gap.

The document presents sales volumes by rate card but focus on each sector in net sales data. The advertising market by rate card considerations rose to 4,156 million euro in 2006, 37% more than the previous year. Even though the score do not reflect reality, it is useful in designing the global tendencies.
The document notes that Romania is still, as expected in the current phase of economic development, a TV-driven market with TV ads amounting to 89.4% and total spending by rate card and to 62% in net sales terms.

The radio market grew substantially with 26% of sales, maintaining a 6% out of total sales.

When it comes to print media, Initiative expects a 8% increase of total spending this year, a boost due to the dynamics of the sector.

Moreover, Initiatives forecasts a development of the print media in the digital zone (online editions, blogs).

The Romanian market confirmed its power and potential in 2006 on the Internet, the document says, as online ads are expected to amount to 8.7 million euro in 2007, as compared to 5.4 million in 2006.

Internet access has been consolidated in the past year, as the number of connections grew by 135% as compared to 2005., Jul 16, 2007

Holiday houses in Bulgaria, half a price of those in Romania

Romanian seaside houses are 50% more expensive than the ones on the Bulgarian seaside, shows a study of a real estate agency quoted by Romanian news agency NewsIn.

The difference is bigger when it comes to mountainside houses as the price of such a property in Romania's Carpathian Mountains is 70% bigger than that of a similar one in Bulgaria.

In Varna, the biggest Bulgarian city on the Black Sea coast, two room apartments sell for 43.000 euro while in the Mamaia resort on the Romanian seaside such an apartment costs 120.000 euro.

Analysts claim that the real estate market in Bulgaria had practiced very attractive prices even in tourism resorts. Foreign investors in Bulgaria are business men who rent apartments for their holiday.

When it comes to houses in the Sunny Beach tourism resort, the costs raise to 90.000 euro in a residential complex.

However, in Romania, a 3 room apartment in a seaside tourism resort costs more then 120.000 euro.

In the mountainside, a two floor household in Pamporovo, 260 km away from Sofia, can be bought with 40.000 euro while in Romania, Sinaia, 150 km away from Bucharest, one such property costs more than 65.000 euro.

According to the study, the Bulgarian rent apartments market is similar with that in Romania. Thus, a two room apartment in an extra central neighborhood can be rented at the price of 250-350 euro while in the central part, can rise at 350 euro., Jul 16, 2007

Inter RAO EES to supply electrical energy for Romania

Russian company Inter RAO EES has started electricity supplies to Romania. According to the Vremya Novosti newspaper, the project - involving deliveries of electricity from the Moldova Republic to Romania - was initially designed by company head Andrey Rapaport.

Rapaport said as early as in 2003 that RAO needed to reach European markets and set Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey as primary interests.

If Turkey did not pose any problems, Romania and Bulgaria did due to the fact that energy was transiting the Moldova Republic from the self-proclaimed Transdniester region.

The newspaper reads that there were some political issues to be dealth with among Moldova and Russia. On June 22, Putin met his counterpart, Voronin and the contract was signed., Jul 16, 2007

Hot week: temperatures to reach 40 degrees Celsius

Weather conditions are favorable, with temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius in the country, meteorologists announce Monday. Maximums will reach 28 degrees at the seaside and 36 degrees in the South.

The humidity index will slightly overcome the threshold of 80 in the South and South East.

Monday in Bucharest temperatures will raise to 34 degrees Celsius while the humidity index, to its 80 threshold.

Starting with tomorrow, temperatures will raise again and Thursday and Friday, the hottest days in the week, will register 39-40 degrees Celsius.

Meteorologists forecast violent storms for Friday and Saturday. According to specialists, this week temperatures will not overcome 43.5 degrees Celsius - the maximum reached on July 5, 2000 in the South.

Update: The National Meteorology Administration announces that between July 17-22 temperatures will rise execessively in the whole country. Specialists installed a yellow code for the given period and an organge code for nine counties in the South West starting Thursday., Jul 16, 2007

Romania film maker Pintilie tells of links to Securitate, praises new trends of national film industry

Lucian Pintilie (middle) with students

Lucian Pintilie, one of Romania's best known film producers, talked about his views on the new trends in the industry and confessed his relations with the Secret Police in his youth at the Academia Civica summer school taking place at the Sighet anti-communist memorial, northern Romania on Saturday.

One of the prominent guests of the Academia Civica summer school taking place at Memorialul Sighet was Lucian Pintilie. He talked, on Saturday about the new trends in the Romanian film industry and about his youth and his relationship with the Secret Police at the time.

Rarely on screens anymore, Pintilie proclaimed the death of politically influenced movies and applauded the new Romanian film directors as Cristi Puiu, Cristian Mungiu, Cristian Porumboiu.

Their movies, such as “Moartea Domnului Lazarescu” or “A fost sau n-a fost” were recognized by European critics and awarded accordingly at Cannes and other major festivals over the past several years.

He also used the occasion to admit that the Securitate, the communist-era political police, tried to get him under its wing when he was as young as 17, but he refused. Ahd he said did not have to suffer the consequences of his refusal, as such consequences were a myth spread by the Securitate itself., Jul 16, 2007

What the newspapers say: July 16, 2007

In the newspapers today, economists share divergent opinions on the latest economic developments which lead to political controversies over new social policies. Economists consider that policy makers should have in mind that Romania is not facing an economic boom but rather a notable growth.

More in the news, the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, blocked the uninominal voting project even though it commonly agreed with Liberals and Democrats to pass it.

Elsewhere in the papers, Romania's practicing prices are with 70% higher as compared to the European average. Thus, Romania is on an equal foot with prices in Hungary but superior to Bulgaria or the Czech Republic.

Romania libera reads about the latest economic increase which enabled serious controversies on the political scene. The controversy arose due to the governmental adoption of the pensions` law, which calls for a 40% boost.

Now on the President's desk to be promulgated, the law raised economic questions on whether the GDP can sustain this social initiative.

Thus, the paper cites economists arguing that Romania faces a notable economic growth and not an economic boom since countries as Russia registered a bigger increase in their GDP.

However, the steady economic growth in Romania is sustained by real estate investments and the increase of credits on the market. Analysts expect another increase with the introduction of the private pensions` scheme.

The paper reads that Romania, along with Russia or Serbia are on the top developing countries, as compared to the Polish and the Bulgarians whose economies stagnate.

Economists forecast that GNP scores will steadily decrease from 7.7% in 2006 to 6.5% and 6.3% in 2007 and 2008. The tendency will remain constant for the coming years as well: the growth rhythm in 2009 will be 5.9% and for 2010 and 2011 will decrease to 5.8%.

Elsewhere in the news today, Cotidianul reads that the Social Democrats blocked the uninominal voting project even though the main political parties had reached a consensus over it.

The parties commonly agreed on voting the project proposed by the Pro Democratia Association, an active NGO in the field, which set up the uninominal plan based on the German model.

Since the Electoral Code Committee did not cast a vote on the project, chances are that the next Parliamentary elections to be held among the same lines as in the past.

The paper goes even further and argues that, since the Social Democrats hold majority, there is a big chance that, if the draft does not conform to the party's needs, they will block it.

Gandul reads that prices for food and non-alcoholic drinks in Romania are with 70% higher than the European average. Prices are even higher when it comes to fish, milk, cheese and eggs where the price can reach an 85% increase.

Bulgaria seems to be the least expensive, with a 56% rise from the European average, closely followed by Lithuania - 64%, Slovakia and Poland with 67%, the Czech Republic with 70%.

The price level represents a comparison among the registered level in a certain state and the European average. If the level overcomes 100%, it means that the country is more expensive than the European average.

More in the news today:

• The main opposition party, the Social Democrats, threaten to call for an extraordinary Parliamentary session if the President refuses to promulgate the pensions` law, reads Romania libera.
• Evenimentul Zilei reads about the arrival of Rolling Stones, as the last pay back to the Communist regime Romania faced for decades.
• Romania libera informs that Ford Motor Company will meet PM Tariceanu to discuss take over procedures for the Daewoo Automobiles in Craiova., Jul 16, 2007

Romanian Police confiscate 45 kilos of cocaine before reaching Italy

Romanian Police captured 45 kilograms of cocaine shaped as coat hangers on Friday. The drugs, worth some 4.5 million euros on the black market, were about to be exported by an Italian citizen "operating" in Romania, to be sold in Europe.

77 man suits, sitting on 77 cocaine hangers were sent from Venezuela to Romania, a Police official release informs. After monitoring the market and some undercover investigation, the dealer, owner of a Bucharest-based company, was apprehended. Hours later, an official document pointing at 39-years old Gilio Luciano as true beneficiary, arrived in the Romanian customs.

Police suggested the court judges to decide the preventive custody of Luciano for international high-risk drug trafficking., Jul 13, 2007

Global warming means 4.3 degrees more in South Romania

The main weather trends in southern Romania, generated by the global warming, consist in the decreasing number of winter days and the growth of the average summer temperature.

The Southern and South - Eastern country will see an average temperature 2 and degrees higher than the usual, said Marius Postelnicescu, general manager of the National Waters Administration, during the "Climate changes and their impact on Romania" workshop.

According to the National Weather Institute's prognosis, Romania is about to see a 2 degrees warmer winter and a 3.5 - 4.3 general warming in the South Romania, with less rain than usual.

Extreme phenomenon are expected on the sea-shore, due to the rising sea level. Drought and floods may become usual, the same sources say., Jul 13, 2007

State begins Automobile Craiova privatization negotiations with Ford

The Privatization Committee organized for car producer Automobile Craiova (formerly owned by Daewoo) begun the negotiations with Ford Motor Company, after the technical offer of the US-based company was opened, a State Assets Agency (AVAS) release informed on Friday.

AVAS representatives declared for that John Fleming, Ford Europe CEO, will meet the committee’s representatives on Monday, ion order to present some of the technical offering’s details.

Negotiations with Ford should have begun on Monday, but the Privatization Committee demanded supplementary documents.

Sebastian Vladescu, head of the Committee, estimated this week that the transaction may be closed before September 1. Ford would take over in this deal some 72.4 of the stock at Craiova., Jul 13, 2007

Moldova faces worst drought in 50 years

The Republic of Moldova will buy this year between 230,000 and 260,000 tons of wheat, over half of its annual consumption, because of the severe and prolonged drought this year, considered the most devastating in 50 years, a governmental source declared for Itar-Tass online.

The Kishinev Parliament decreased the import tax 5% and the VAT 20% in order to reduce the drought's effects and to compensate the increasing price of cereals on the international market.

The wheat acquisition from state reserves already caused the prices' growth some 30%, compared to 2006. Still, authorities say that bread and bakery products will not become more expensive., Jul 13, 2007

Italians fear more and more Romanian immigrants

Romanian, Polish and Russian immigrants are increasingly feared by Italians, a poll published by the Ansa news agency and about to be printed in the political magazine Limes indicates. Still, although they say they fear more and more the immigrants, an increasing number of Italians also say that they have an immigrant friend (36%).

35.7% of the poll respondents say they made friends among immigrants at work, 32.8% say their children have immigrant friends in school (compared to 19.2% in 2003) and 27.4% have immigrant neighbors (23% in 2003).

Still, 34.6% of the Italians consider that immigrants are a danger for their country, their culture and their religious identity (compared to 26.6% in 2005), while 34% say immigrants are a threat for their jobs.

Most Italians agree with immigrants voting in Italian elections and 74% say immigrants should be allowed to work in the local administration.

As a curiosity, after the 9/11 attacks, some 53% of the Italians said they were afraid of East European immigrants and only 32.7% were rather scared by Arabs., Jul 13, 2007

Romania signs 19 BN euros agreement

Romania will receive some 19 billion euros as structural and cohesion funds until 2019, after signing with the European Commission on Thursday the Agreement for the National Strategic Reference Frame.

The document was signed by PM Tariceanu and the European Commissioner for Regional Policies, Danuta Hubner. The European official announced that the first early payments will arrive in Romania these days.

Hubner mentioned that Romania is one of the EU countries which managed to bring negotiations to an end in most operational programs (only two more are still discussed), for funds of some 15 billion euros.

PM Tariceanu believes the funds will help diminish the distance between Romania and the EU countries, promising to increase the funds absorption capacity.

Most of the money will go to local authorities, the PM demanding "maximum attention in the way the funds are managed"., Jul 12, 2007

Brussels greenlights Romanian environment program worth 4.5 BN euros

The European Commission approved in its Thursday session the Operational Program for the Environment Sector (Environment OPS). According to the Environment Ministry, Romanian will benefit between 2007 and 2012 from some 4.5 billion euros, designed for environmental protection and improvement, as well as for raising the life quality.

Environment OPS requires about a 1 billion euros budgetary effort from Romania's budget, as co-financing.

Funds for the program will arrive in Romania through Cohesion Funds and the European Regional Development Fund.

The main priorities are:
- expanding and updating water supply and water cleaning systems (3.3 billion euros)
- development of waste and contaminated areas integrated management systems (1.2 billion euros)
- modernization of city thermal plants, aiming at pollution output decrease (458 million euros)
- actions to improve the management of protected areas and stopping the biodiversity and natural resources' degradation (215 million euros)
- actions to protect the Black Sea coast from floods and erosion (329 million euros)., Jul 12, 2007

General rules for accessing European funds available in a few days

European financed operational programs enabled to allow European funds spending will come into force only after the eligible expenses regulations are approved.

The Government approved on Wednesday what kind of expenses will be eligible for European funds use, but the decision will come into force after it is published in the official juridical gazette, Monitorul Oficial.

Although this information is critical for all businesses operating in Romania, Razvan Cotovelea, general manager of the "Structural Instrument Coordination Authority" made the announcement one day after the general frame was approved, within a structural funds workshop in Bucharest, not even in an official institution conference.

The first Regional Operational Program, designed to aid the county of Sibiu, will be launched on July 13., Jul 12, 2007

Romania schools are inefficient, irrelevant, unequal and of a poor quality

The education system in Romania is inefficient, irrelevant, unequal and of a poor quality, said president Traian Basescu during the official publishing of the Education Report put up by the Presidential Commission led by former Education minister Mircea Miclea.

According to Basescu, the lack of efficiency is dramatic. International reports show not only that Romanian pupils are less prepared, compared to the international average, but are also behind the neighboring countries, which recently joined the European Union.

"The education is not relevant when it comes to the future societies, with the economic changes, with the challenges of the knowledge economy", said Basescu.

"We have a very high rate of children dropping out of school, very few adults participating in the permanent education and an insignificant rate of teenagers who reach a minimum performance level", the head of state added.

In the report, the entire education system is seen as far from equality and more in favor of discrimination and disadvantage, mainly when comparing rural and urban areas., Jul 12, 2007

Democrats lead in preferences for European elections

The Democrat Party, with Sorin Frunzaverde (former Army Minister) and Anca Boagiu (former European Integration Minister) lead in the electors' preferences for the European Parliament elections, scheduled for this fall.
The Democrat Party is currently chosen by 36% of the poll respondents, followed by a mile by the main Opposition Party, Social Democrats (PSD), only reaches 15.2%.

Democrat Party's popularity grew 9.1% since May, while Social Democrats won 1.4% more of the electors.

The controversial New Generation Party, undefined in the political spectrum, but rather nationalist-orthodox, passed the governing Liberals, who dropped to the 4th place, with a 7.2% loss since may.

In case presidential elections would take place next month, 49.2% would vote for the president in office, Traian Basescu, who is followed by the New Generation leader Gigi Becali, with 14%, and Social Democrat head Mircea Geoana, with 13.5%., Jul 12, 2007

Romanian trust ugly politicians more

Normally, good-looking politicians gain the trust of the populace everywhere in the world, beauty being often associated with confidence. A poll conducted by the Social Research Bureau had contrary results in Romania, showing that electors tend to trust more in less good-looking politicians.

Thus, 14% of Romanians say that the ugliest man on the political stage is the very head of state, President Traian Basescu, who also enjoys the trust of over half of Romanians.
In the "ugly top", Basescu is followed by far-right leader C.V. Tudor, former president Ion Iliescu and Senate speaker Nicolae Vacaroiu.

The most beautiful (and least trusted) are Cristian Boureanu, Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, "President's Blonde" Elena Udrea and controversial Gigi Becali., Jul 12, 2007

Leipnik Lundenburger Invest takes over 60% of Loulis Romania

Austrian company Leipnik Lundenburger Invest (LLI) bought on Thursday a majority of 60% of the capital at bakery producer Loulis Romania, for 33.9 million euros, according to NewsIn. At the beginning of April, announced that the two companies signed a draft for the take over.

The 245.89 million titles were transferred on the Deal market of the Bucharest Stock Exchange, for 0.434 RON per share, 10.88 % less than the market value during the previous session. At this price, the market value of Loulis reaches some 56 million euros.

Loulis had a 3.089 million RON profit in the first quarter of the year (roughly 1 million euros), 22.7% less than Q1 in 2006, but the business figure grew 48%, up to over 50 million RON., Jul 12, 2007

Romanian doctor leaves behind dozens of lawsuits

One year after Nicholas Bartha, the Romanian doctor in New York, killed himself by blowing up his house in Manhattan, an endless series of lawsuits battle over his heritage, asking for millions in compensations.

At least ten persons sued the lawyers company which handles Bartha's wealth, as well as his daughter, Serena, for the trauma and the losses caused by the explosion put up by the doctor.

Complaints come from the doctor's personal assistant, Ileana Cora, and two of the three persons who were on the street when the house exploded. One of the wounded, journalist Jennifer Panicali, demands five million dollars compensations for having the face cut by the glass debris.

A golf club near the house sued Bartha's wife and two daughters, accusing them of not stopping Bartha, although they were aware of his plans.

“The Links Club“ on the 62nd street sued the electricity and gas distribution company ConEdison for not investigating properly the gas leak from Bartha's house and for continuing to provide natural gas, despite the fact that the home counter suffered "illegal interventions".

Experts say its is unlikely for the claims to be satisfied, given the fact that the money from the heritage must be used to clean up the place and to pay lawyers.

The Manhattan Supreme Court also decided that Bartha's wife must receive 4 million dollars.

The surface freed after the explosion was sold for 8.3 million dollars to the Russian Investments Group, which will build a 30 million dollars residence., Jul 12, 2007

65% of Romanians trust the European Union

Six months after the accession, the level of trust Romanian have in the European Union and its institutions still reaches 65%, the Eurobarometer National Report for Spring 2007 indicates.

The satisfaction degree with regard to the everyday life also is above the European average, with 43% of the respondents feeling "satisfied" on a short term and 57% on a medium term.

Still, Romanians rank the third in the lack of trust in their government (72%), behind Poland (76%) and Latvia (75%). A previous record was held by Croatia, with 78%.

The trust in the Parliament, compared to the 15-states European Union is a mile far: 19%, compared to a 49% average in the older EU states.

As for the benefits brought by belonging to the EU, some 60% of the European citizens believe that their country was advantaged by being a part of the Union, the degree of optimistic prognosis depending on the accession wave.

The most content people, when it comes to being an European state, are the Greeks, the Spanish and the Portuguese (74%), followed by the 2004 accession wave (69%) and new coming Romanians and Bulgarians (64%).

Most Romanians worry about the economic development (44%), health system (27%), prices and inflation (27%)., Jul 11, 2007

President sues Health Minister for insult

President Traian Basescu filed on Wednesday an official compliant against Health Minister Eugen Nicolaescu at the Bucharest 1st District Court. The head of state demands 50,000 RON as civil compensations (some 16,000 euros), after Nicolaescu said "(Basescu) suffers from several problems, some of them being in the category of mental illness".

The two will see each other in court for the first time on September 11.

In the complaint, Traian Basescu shows that he suffered a moral prejudice by having the right to honor and reputation impeached by Nicolaescu's statements.

Basescu also asks for the defendant to pay the publishing of the court's decision in two central newspapers, on the same space and with the same characters as the articles wrote after Nicolaescu's outburst., Jul 11, 2007

ING: Budgetary deficit over 3% or broader taxation base!

The budgetary deficit will pass the 3% of the GNP limit during the following years in case the taxation base isn't enlarged, an ING report indicates on Wednesday, as quoted by NewsIn. The investments expected in infrastructure, the obligatory private pensions, the compensations for victims of the former Communist regime are the main issued that threaten to affect the budgetary deficit.

Even more, Romania will contribute in 2007 for the first time to the European budget, paying 1.1% of its gross national product.

"Given the fact than none of the major taxes grew this year, and considering that national investment program the Government prepares to launch, which would consume 38% of the GNP, we expect the budgetary deficit to grow over 3%, after the tax collection level in 2006", the ING report reads.

Doubling the state-paid pensions during the following years can not be supported without an increase in the budgetary income, the study comments, experts pointing at the VAT growth as the most plausible resource.

Experts also expect an increasing number of populist measures during the following years, but warn that these can't be supported without any growth in the taxation level., Jul 11, 2007

Increasing emigration of youngsters in search of better jobs

An increasing number of youngsters and active persons chose to leave Romania and work abroad, a study published on Wednesday by the Citizens' Counseling Centers in Romania (ANBCC) indicates. The general trend is formed by young working educated people with household income above the national average.

The main growth in emigration was noted for people who leave on a firm contract, independently authorized professionals or liberal profession self-employed. The United Kingdom is the favorite destination of employees with high education.

Including all education classed, 23.2% of the emigrants chose Italy, 20.2% prefer Spain and 18.7% leave for the UK, the figure out passing for the first time the rate for Germany.

Italy and Spain are preferred by less educated people with lower income, aged 23-40. UK is an attraction for people between 20 and 30 years old., Jul 11, 2007

WB Report: Global governance didn't improve significantly in 10 years

The quality of the governing act hasn't improved significantly through the past decade, despite the individual improvements of several countries, a World Bank report shows.
For all countries where the governance improved there was equal worsening in other countries, while in several cases there were no significant changes in any direction.

The governing act deteriorated in Zimbabwe, the Ivory Coast, Belarus and Venezuela.

Still in several countries, including on African soil, better governing and anti-graft results were visible.

The news giving hope is that a significant number of countries made visible progress in a relatively short time, and this is essential in offering better assistance and economic support on a long term - is the point of view of Daniel Kaufmann, one of the authors., Jul 11, 2007

New group of Romanians returns from Gaza strip

61 Romanian citizens, mostly women and children, who asked the authorities permission for repatriation, safely landed on Wednesday at the Bucharest "Henri Coanda" Airport.

The repatriated asked to be evicted from the Gaza strip after the area fell under the control of the Islamist army of Hamas, on June 15. The repatriation operation took only 24 hours. The group was escorted by members of the Romanian Embassy in Israel until the Jordanian border, where the met Romanian diplomacy representatives in Amman.

On June 23rd, another group, consisting in 31 people, returned to Romania, after fleeing the Gaza strip., Jul 11, 2007

MEP Danuta Hubner: Romania lacks a solid administrative capacity

Danuta Hubner, European Commissioner for EU regional politics will officially visit in Bucharest to discuss the main documents required in order for Romania to receive EU structural funds. In an interview for EurActiv, Hubner summons Romanian authorities to accelerate developments in the implementation structure, better the administrative capacity and deal with the projects on hold.

Hubner affirms says that communication went on smoothly among Brussels and Bucharest and negotiations are approaching a positive end.

Romania will most probably receive funds from the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund.

Moreover, the MEP considers that the EU pre-accession funds in Romania turned out to be a good training opportunity for local authorities to ‘learn by doing’.

Thus, it consolidated the experience in dealing with EU funds in strategies, project development and management, impact evaluations and monitoring etc.

However, Danuta Hubner warns authorities that what Romania lacks is a good implementation scheme. This would enhance the impact and assure that the funds reach the initial set goals., Jul 10, 2007

$ 600 BN and 100k lives lost in war on terrorism

The "War on terror", which had an important role in Romania's accession to NATO and the development of the Romanian - US relationship proves to be more expensive than expected.

USA costs in the war against Irak and Afghanistan rise up 12 billion USD montly, Detroit Free Press reads, quoting a Congress report on Tusday. Since 9/11, USA spent in the war against terrorism more than 600 billion USD. Over 100,000 lives were lost, the same source informs.

USA spends monthly more than 10 billion euro in Iraq while costs for Afghanistan are just 2 billion euro. For the 2007 financial year, the US Congress allocated financing to the Pentagon of over 166 billion euro, 40% more than last year.

Romania deployed troops both in Iraq and Afghanistan and even though a recent NATO report negatively reviewed Romanian logistics and their long term sustainability, the cooperation is unanimously greeted.

Still, on the internal political scene, there is a constant debate between the prime minister Tariceanu and President Basescu on whether to maintain the troops in the field or retrieve them., Jul 10, 2007

"Oligarch" had phoned tapped illegally

Bucharest Tribunal decided that call interceptions of Dinu Patriciu, one of the richest Romanian business man, conducted by the Intelligence Service are illegal, NewsIn reports on Tuesday. President Basescu repeatedly pointed at Patriciu as one of the major "oligarchs" who run the backstage affairs in Romanian politics.

The magistrates invoked as reasons for the sentence various European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decisions who classify the Romanian law on national security as one that breaches human rights.

The court added that ECHR rules clearly state that surveillance is only a measure, exceptionally taken to defend democratic institutions. In this particular file, this was not the case, so judges ruled that the Intelligence Service should pay Patriciu a considerable amount for moral compensations.

Patriciu recently sued the institution for illegal call tapping, arguing that the Service violated his intimacy., Jul 10, 2007

7% of Romanian Professors admit taking bribes

Romanian Soros Foundation published on Tuesday a study on the Romanian university education system. According to the data gathered in the study, 7% of all Romanian university professors admit taking bribes while two out of ten students complain that Professors asked and expected gifts, money or services.

The research also shows that 70% of the professors consider that the Romanian education system is as good as the one in Western Europe while only 59% of the students agree with this point of view.

22% of all Romanian students declare that they were asked by university staff for gifts, money or services and 13% of them admit giving bribes.

On the other hand, 23% of Romanian professors declare they were offered money, gifts or services to favor a student and 7% of them admit accepting them.

As one of Romania's "given" flaws, it is generally acknowledged that the money allocated for education is scarce and by far satisfactory for professors. Teachers in all forms of education repeatedly went on strike during the past 15 ywars, asking for decent wages.

High school teachers earn some 250-300 euros per month, while university teachers may climb up to some 500 euros, still in the "qualified construction worker" category, if not less., Jul 10, 2007

First Romanian terrorist may retrieve Romania - born children

The Bucharest Court maintained the sentence ruled in the case of Adela Omar, wife of Omar Hayssam, and their seven children on Tuesday. Thus, Adela Omar and her children can leave Romania without the written consent of Hayssam.

Omar Hayssam, a Syrian / Romanian citizen, was the first man to stand trial in a terrorism case, after accomplices unveiled that he was involved in the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists during a field-trip to Iraq, financed by Hayssam in person.

The decision can be appealed in the Bucharest Appeal Court, but the children can leave the country immediately. According to the ruling, they can only fly to Syria and only in between June 15 and September 15, 2007.

Omar Hayssam, imprisoned for a few months for taking part in the kidnapping of Romanian journalists, but then released on medical grounds, fled the country illegally, causing the resignation of all Intelligence services' directors., Jul 10, 2007

MEP Danuta Hubner: Romania lacks a solid administrative capacity

Danuta Hubner, European Commissioner for EU regional politics will officially visit in Bucharest to discuss the main documents required in order for Romania to receive EU structural funds. In an interview for EurActiv, Hubner summons Romanian authorities to accelerate developments in the implementation structure, better the administrative capacity and deal with the projects on hold.

Hubner affirms says that communication went on smoothly among Brussels and Bucharest and negotiations are approaching a positive end.

Romania will most probably receive funds from the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund.

Moreover, the MEP considers that the EU pre-accession funds in Romania turned out to be a good training opportunity for local authorities to ‘learn by doing’.

Thus, it consolidated the experience in dealing with EU funds in strategies, project development and management, impact evaluations and monitoring etc.

However, Danuta Hubner warns authorities that what Romania lacks is a good implementation scheme. This would enhance the impact and assure that the funds reach the initial set goals., Jul 10, 2007

PM on hold in discrimination accusations

The president of the National Council Against Discrimination (NCAD), Csaba Asztalos declared on Tuesday that the decision regarding a recent accusation against Romanian PM, Tariceanu, was postponed. Tariceanu is accused of discrimination against Asociatia Romani Cris who previously called NCAD to sanction the President.

The accusations against Tariceanu came after he declared, in a press conference in Brasov on June 30 that he will ask the Internal Ministry to send Romanian police forces in Italy. The team would aid their counterparts in finding and repatriating the Roma community members accused of stealing, robbing and drug-smuggling.

According to Csaba Asztalos, the PMs judicial counsellor added at the existing file both the audio and the transcript of the speech. Moreover, he asked for more time to deliver the written conclusions.

Therefore, the Council rescheduled the meeting on July 17., Jul 10, 2007

Labor taxes in Romania: highest in Europe

The taxing level of the labor force in Romania is one of the highest in Europe, situation which affects the overall economic development, shows a World Bank study, cited by NewsIn on Monday. According to the study,another effect of the taxing level is that it reduces labor production and thus, affects the GDP.

Total spending on social securities (pensions, health, unemployment,work accidents) amount to half of one's salary. World Bank warns that pensions continue to be affected by structural weaknesses and impose an increased contribution rate which stimulates evasion and reduces contributions.

Romania pays in contributions 46.25%, less than Holland, Czech Republic, France, Albania or Poland. At the other end, Belgium, Great Britain and Irland pay less than 30% in contributions.

However, contributions from taxes amount only 6% out of GDP while in Austria, Italy, Poland and Slovenia such contributions represent over 12% of GDP.

The study explains that the rate for social contributions increased starting with the 90’s because of the increasing number of retired people and the decrease of the employees.

Thus this income decrease and spending increase affected the states’ budget. The current government thought to resolve this issue by increasing contributions., Jul 10, 2007

Yellow code weather warning in Romania

Meteorologists warn against changing weather conditions, culminating in severe storms, heavy rains and strong wind until Thursday.

The yellow code warning regards the whole country, as the weather is highly unstable. It will be extremely hot in most of the country, especially in the Southern region meteorologists inform on Monday.

In all the South-East region of Romania, temperatures are expected to rise to 36-37 degrees Celsius.

However, weather conditions are tricky since meteorologists forecast rain, inundations or even storms in most of the regions of the country.

Meteorologists instate an orange code warning in eight counties in the North - East region. Moreover, they forecast severe wind rafals and heavy rains starting with Wednesday night up to Thursday evening.

Update, Jul 10, 2007

500 Mercedes Benz buses with AC in Bucharest

Evobus GmbH won the bid organized by the Bucharest City Hall for purchasing 500 buses, a press release informs on Monday. The Mercedes Benz models are the first equipped with AC and video surveillance system to run the streets of the capital city.

Each bus amounts to almost 200.000 euro and will enter into public use by 2008. Aside the AC and video system, the buss has LCD monitors, automatic taxing and passenger counting system.

In 2006 however, bus acquisitions faced criticism mainly from the press, as the buses, even though very expensive, lacked air conditioning both for the driver and the passengers. To remedy their mistake, town hall officials decided to install AC for the driver. This amounted towards a greater sum paid for from the public budget., Jul 10, 2007

Ford starts negotiations for buying Romanian company car producer

Privatization Committee of Automobile Craiova (Daewoo Automobiles) starts and giant car producer Ford begin on Monday the official privatization negotiations, after the final bid was validated on Friday. Ford is the only company to make an offer for the Romanian factory.

Both the financial and technical offers will be open on Monday in the presence of Ford officials.

Sebastian Vladescu, the president of the Committee, declared that the transaction could be colsed by the end of August, Ford taking over 72.4% of the company shares.

Previously, non-binding offers were submitted by General Motors Corporation, Ford Motors Company and Russian Machines, part of the Russian group Basic Elements owned by Russian mogul Oleg Deripaska.

The Romanian state has been holding the majority stake in the plant since 2004 and planned to sell it by the end of June 2007.

The transaction was evaluated at 60 million USD, 50 million of which cover the majority stake and the other 10 cover the company's debts to firms in the Daewoo group.

The Authority for State Assets Recovery (AVAS) postponed the negotiations with Ford, motivating that the American company needs to fill up more papers, a press release informed on Monday., Jul 9, 2007

What the newspapers say: July 10, 2007

Newspapers today read again about the uninominal voting debate: the Electoral Code Committee is about to cast its vote on the issue. Liberals and Democrats threaten Opposition to ally against if the commonly agreed project is not passed.

Also in the headlines, a young Romanian anthropologist publishes the first post-communist book on the miners' mayhem and all their violent outbreaks in the early '90's.

On the EU spotlight again, Romania receives a positive review from the European Commission in a report submitted to both the Council and the European Parliament.

Cotidianul reads about the Electoral Code Committee, which is about to cast its vote on the uninominal voting system. Even though all parties agreed months ago upon voting the project proposed by ProDemocratia, an active NGO in the field, the Committee postpones its final decision.

The paper adds that no decision has been taken yet because the MPs requested time to consult with their parties.

Liberals and Democrats threaten to ally against Social Democrats (PSD) if their MPs refuse to vote the commonly agreed project. Social Democrats, at their turn, argue that all their MPs will cast a favorable vote even though there are a few who menace not to.

However, without the PSD vote, the project does not stand any chance of being adopted.

Gandul goes even further and adds that the delay is due to lack of quorum at the meetings. However, cited officials are optimistic and confirm that the project will pass and reach the Senate where amendments can be made.

The Committee’s vote regards only the basic principles and the type of uninominal voting - a mix one, based on the German example.

Evenimentul Zilei reads about the first complete analysis on the miners' mayhems since 1990 onwards. The author, Alin Rus is a young anthropologist and focuses on the mentality and behavior of the miners.

The book is a step forward towards clarifying the past and people's actions right after the break with Communism which still haunt Romanian politics and politicians.

Critics argue that the book is based mainly upon field research and interviews of key people engaged in the events.

Romania Libera reads that Romania receives a positive review from the European Commission in a report issued Monday regarding EU funds and interests. The report concludes that Romania treats seriously its EU obligations regarding EU fund frauds.

‘Transparent, serious and prompt' says Franz-Herman Bruner, director of the Anti-Fraud European Office, quoted by Romania Libera. Plus, Romania was the first to send its reports and reported the smallest number of problems.

Bruner’s opinion is sustained by Siim Kalas, EC vice-president who agrees that Romania proved to have a proactive attitude against fraud and corruption concerning EU funds.

However, the paper suggests that the report regards the 2006 activity, when Romania was not yet an EU member, but still closely monitored for its future accession.

More in the news:

• The World Tourism Organization report recommends Romania to completely reconsider its tourism strategy to boost its opportunities and attractiveness, reads Evenimentul Zilei
• Gandul cites official statistics regarding the number of complains Romanians made to the European Court of Human Rights, which amount to almost 12.000. Romania is second after Russians, with 23.000 complains.
• Adevarul: Health Ministry is forced to finance hospitals for air conditioning acquisition, due to the extremely hot weather, Jul 10, 2007

Master Plan for Romanian Tourism flourishing

World Tourism Organization and Romanian specialists put up a Master Plan for the Romanian tourism, NewsIn informs on Monday.

The agency adds that the document focuses on tourism exploitation of the main geographic regions in Romania and will be implemented through the next twenty years.

The document will be tabled to the Romanian government within a week and should be adopted in September.

Harsh Varma, director in the World Tourism Organization said when launching the Master Plan that the Government considered that the only way for tourism to develop is by through a Master Plan that would frame the main directions.

The main targets of such a development plan are:

• Weekend tourism, culture, leisure in Bucharest, the capital city
• Cultural tourism, nature, eco-tourism, skiing in Transylvania
• Beach, leisure at the Black Sea shore - seaside resorts
• Cultural tourism, eco-tourism, nature and skiing in Bucovina, North of Romania
• Cultural tourism, nature and ecotourism in Maramures, Northern part of Romania
• Nature, ecotourism and leisure tourism in the Danube Delta - UNESCO protected site

Lucia Moraiu, State Secretary for tourism in the Ministry argued that the sustaining funds for the proposed tourism strategy are 150 million euro initially planned for re-branding the country, promoting tourism and improving information regarding the country and its patrimony.

She declared that the document contains 10.000 pages and that the final draft will be submitted to the government.

The Master Plan outlines the main attractive markets such as those of Germany, Austria, Great Britain, France, UK, Italy and USA., Jul 9, 2007

IT companies blame public sector for lack of development in Romania

Consultancy firm Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC) reviewed negatively their estimations on IT general and soft spending in Romania.

According to the company , in 2004, there was a 110 million euro spending approved for 2007 spending on IT project services in the Romanian public sector. The current forecast is a maximum of 75 million euro.

The consultancy firm argues that the public sector, instead of helping the IT sector flourish, acts as a barrier to IT development in Romania. Central and local administration waste almost a third of the IT projects funds supposed to make the IT market prosper.

Pierre Audoin Consultants was founded in 1976 in Paris and was the first European company to give strategic consultancy in the IT field.

It covers 20 European markets. Its Bucharest office was open in 1999 and covers mainly the Eastern and Central European markets., Jul 9, 2007

'California Dreamin' awarded at the European Film Festival

Romanian hit movie ‘California dreamin’, the last production of the past Cristian Nenemescu, one of the most promising Romanian regizors, won the Iris Award for the best film at the European Film Festival in Brussells, the Festival’s website informs.

Aside from the 10.000 euro award, the film received two other important distinctions: Public’s Award and the TV Award for the best film.

This 5th edition of the European Film Festival in Brussells (June 29-July 7) was dedicated to the first films of European regizors.

Cristian Nemescu died last year in August in a car accident right before his movie has been officially presented at the Cannes festival.

Jul 9, 2007

Extreme conditions in Southern Romania: extreme heat and storms

It will be extremely hot in most of the country, especially in the Southern region meteorologists inform on Monday.

At 9 am, temperatures registered 26 degrees in the South while at 10 o’clock there were already 28 degrees Celsius. In Bucharest, temperatures will reach at noon, 36 degrees Celsius.

In all the South-East region of Romania, temperatures are expected to rise to 36-37 degrees Celsius.

However, weather conditions are tricky since meteorologists forecast rain or even storms in the West.

Update: National Weather Institute warns against changing weather conditions, culminating in severe storms until Thursday. An yellow code will be instated until July 12., Jul 9, 2007