European Union

Bald EagleStephen C. Webster writes on The Raw Story:

In the brave new world of cloud computing, where data is stored off-site in massive server farms instead of on a user’s local hard drive, privacy and security are paramount in the consumer’s mind.

Unfortunately for privacy advocates, their concerns are essentially moot thanks to the U.S.A. Patriot Act, which a key Microsoft official said recently permits the U.S. to spy on data stored within cloud servers across the European Union.

The revelation of transcontinental spying, which has long been suspected, came from Gordon Frazer, Microsoft U.K.’s managing director, speaking at an announcement event for the company’s new suite of office software.

Frazer’s admission was caught by ZDNet reporter Zack Whittaker, who’s long covered data security issues as they relate to the Patriot Act.

No Cars AllowedBruno Waterfield writes in the Telegraph:

The European Commission on Monday unveiled a “single European transport area” aimed at enforcing “a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers” by 2050.

The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys above 186 miles should be by rail.

Top of the EU’s list to cut climate change emissions is a target of “zero” for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in the EU’s future cities.

Siim Kallas, the EU transport commission, insisted that Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and onto “alternative” means of transport.

“That means no more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centres,” he said. “Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behaviour.”

2010 had Greece and Ireland receiving financial help from the Internatioanl Monetary Fund and Eurozone nations. 2011 has Spain, Germany and Britain finding help from Chinese investors as Vice Premier Li Keqiang…

BBC News reports:

Greece is “on the brink of the abyss”, President Karolos Papoulias has warned, after three people died during protests over planned austerity measures. “We are all responsible so that it does not take the step into the void,” the president said in a statement.

It followed a day of violence during which protesters set fire to a bank, killing three employees. Greece’s government has vowed to pursue the spending cuts — a condition of its 110bn euro ($142bn; £95bn) bail-out.

“We are prepared to pay the heavy political cost,” Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told parliament during Wednesday’s debate on the bill. “We will not take a single step backwards.”

The euro hit a fresh 13-month low against the dollar and European stock markets were also hit, amid concerns over Greek bail-out plans. There are also fears Greece’s debt crisis could spread to other countries.