(See comment on this subject by IATA official at end of story.)

It is called “going postal” in American slang when a dispute, usually in the workplace, becomes extremely and uncontrollably angry. That is exactly what has happened in the long-simmering dispute between the EU and the U.S. (and most other global players) about European intentions to levy emission-charges on all flights in or out of EU airports.

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Recent outbreaks in food-borne illness in both Europe and the U.S. – such as the E.coli episode this summer in Germany (that affected some transatlantic travellers) and the U.S. scare and recall involving salmonella-infected ground turkey meat – have underscored the need for better protection and inspection of foodstuffs and other agricultural products.

But efforts to tackle the issue are encountering problems on both sides of the Atlantic. In particular, funding problems have beset Congressional-mandated reforms in the U.S.

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The E.coli epidemic in Germany has scared people across Europe: more than 30 are dead (more than in the nuclear accident in Japan) and up to 3,000 people are sick; restaurants have posted signs explaining that they are not serving vegetables (even tomatoes in sandwiches); consumers are frightened about eating fresh vegetables, even from organic growers; farmers and businesses have lost crops worth of hundreds of millions of euros and the health authorities face a mystery that they have been slow to solve.

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Reports of renewed efforts by France and some other member states to modify the EU’s boycott on weapons sales to China have been met with firm denials in Brussels that any change is imminent in the European stance. “The timing is wrong: it would make little difference to Beijing at this point, but it could do real damage in Washington at a moment when Europe might be able to score its biggest-ever transatlantic military sale in the EADS airborne refueling tanker,” according to a European expert. Any shift in favor of the Chinese military would probably arouse a strong anti-European backlash in the new Congress, he said.

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Vodka may be being replaced as the “opium of the people” in Russia – by real opium coursing through the veins of a growing number of Russians.

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