Odds and ends that caught my eye

There was a riot in Berlin between the Turks and Kurds on sunday…

For most Germans, the conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish separatist group PKK on the country’s border with Iraq seems, no doubt, far away. But Berliners on Sunday got a taste of the tiff up close and personal.

An anti-PKK demonstration in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district degenerated into violence between young Turks and Kurds on Sunday afternoon. By evening, a threatening mass of nationalist Turks had gathered around a Kurdish cultural center.

Poor Kurds. No matter where they go they can’t get away from the Turks.

Russia imposed price controls on food….

Russia is introducing Soviet-style price controls on some basic foods in an effort to prevent spiralling prices from denting the Putin administration’s popularity ahead of parliamentary polls in December.

The country’s biggest food retailers and producers have reached an agreement, expected to be signed with the Russian government on Wednesday, to freeze prices at October 15 levels on selected types of bread, cheese, milk, eggs and vegetable oil until the end of the year.

Russia’s move is the latest sign of surging agricultural prices becoming an international political issue. Big retailers will limit their mark-up on those goods to 10 per cent.

China has also agreed to food price controls; Egypt, Jordan, Bangladesh and Morocco are increasing subsidies or cutting import tariffs to lower domestic prices. Rich countries are not immune: Italian consumer groups organised a pasta boycott last month in a protest over prices.

The Russian economy ministry is also examining whether to increase a 10 per cent export tariff on wheat planned for November to 30 per cent to keep its domestic market well supplied. That prospect has pushed wheat prices up 6 per cent in Chicago in the past week, giving Moscow’s fight against rising food prices an effect beyond its borders.

Similar price controls are why it is hard to buy fuel in China.

Egypt is going to build nuclear power plants legitimately.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Monday announced plans to build several nuclear power plants, joining several Middle East Arab countries that recently have said they are kick starting their nuclear energy ambitions.

Mubarak said in a speech broadcast live on national television that the decision to build the nuclear power stations was to diversify Egypt’s energy resources and preserve the country’s oil and gas reserves for coming generations.

“I announce before you Egypt’s position to prepare the program for building several nuclear power stations. We believe that energy security is a major part of building the future for this country and an integral part of Egypt’s national security system,” Mubarak said at a ceremony inaugurating the second phase of construction of an electrical power plant north of Cairo.

I wonder why it has taken them so long. First, they need to power. And second, it gives them cover should they ever want to build the bomb.

Hamas is trying to one up Hezbollah…

Hamas is trying to establish a bunker system as well as fortified rocket-launching and surveillance positions along the security fence with the Gaza Strip, Brig.-Gen. Moshe (Chico) Tamir, head of the Gaza Division, said Monday.

Tamir said that Hamas was “building an army” in the Gaza Strip and had obtained unprecedented capabilities through smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. On Monday, head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Yuval Diskin said that since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, the Palestinians have smuggled over 112 tons of explosives into the Strip.

“They are trying to dig tunnels, build surveillance positions and mortar-fire stations along the fence,” Tamir told reporters during a briefing concerning the death of IDF reservist Ehud Efrati during clashes with Hamas gunmen early Monday morning. “They are trying to build this up and we are trying to stop them.”

Oil prices hit another record high…

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Crude-oil futures rose past $93 a barrel for the first time on Monday, after bad weather forced a halt to production in Mexico and the dollar touched the lowest level against the euro in more than eight years.

Crude futures for December delivery rose for a fourth day and closed at a new record high of $93.53 a barrel on New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier it reached an intraday high of $93.8 a barrel.

Mexico’s state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos, one of the largest crude suppliers to the U.S., halted production of 600,000 barrels a day due to inclement weather on Sunday. Petroleos Mexicanos, also known as Pemex, said it hopes to resume production in days.

And this I intend to write more on sometime…

Federal Reserve policymakers meet Wednesday to decide what action, if any, to take on interest rates. Speculation has centered on whether the Fed will keep rates steady, cut a quarter-percentage point or trim a half-percentage point. The consensus is looking for a quarter-point cut, but a few experts expect the Fed may leave rates unchanged at 4.75%.

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