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Europe Forecast: Rain in Italy

People were hoping it would be like the U.S. in 2008 and 2009, where banks would sell loads of stuff and clean up their balance sheets, Avenue Capitals Lasry said. Europe is doing that, but it will take 5 to 10 years. Blackstone, with $229.6 billion under management as of June 30, has been among the biggest buyers of distressed European real estate loans from banks since 2011. Late that year the New York-based firm took over 1.4 billion pounds of commercial mortgages from RBS in a transaction the bank partly financed. The deal was part of more than 100 debt-portfolio acquisitions investors including Apollo, Lone Star and Cerberus have struck since the end of 2009, according to PwCs Thompson. The American buyers arent just picking up bundled loans from banks. Blackstones $63.9 billion real estate unit has focused on buying single European properties threatened with foreclosure and on debt-laden developers. The unit, which can make investments in distressed or non-distressed assets, bought underused European warehouses this year and 1,860 apartment units in Madrid. It purchased Dublins Burlington Hotel late last year in a foreclosure sale from Lloyds at less than a quarter of its 2007 price. Multi Restructuring Since last year, Blackstone has teamed with Canadas biggest pension-fund manager to buy 640 million euros in nominal value of margin loans backed by a 12 percent stake in Gecina SA, Frances third-largest real estate investment trust. It also bought almost all of 900 million euros in face value of debt owed by Gouda, Netherlands-based Multi Corp., a shopping-mall developer that said in March it couldnt meet interest payments. Blackstone last month completed a restructuring that gave it close to full ownership of Multi, said a person with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because the deal is private. Jonathan Gray , who heads the firms real estate unit, said Gecina and Multi were the 2009 funds biggest investments. He declined to specify how much Blackstone spent.

The 47-nation Council of Europe adopted a non-binding resolution this week that urged a public debate on “non-medically justified operations and interventions” on children. The report highlighted female genital mutilation but also referred to ritual male circumcision and other practices. Israel said the Council should immediately rescind the resolution, which only a third of the 318-member body voted on and 78 supported. “Any comparison of (male circumcision) to the reprehensible and barbaric practice of female genital mutilation is either appalling ignorance, at best, or defamation and anti-religious hatred, at worst,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said. It said circumcision of male children was “an ancient religious tradition” in Judaism and Islam and among some Christian groups, and was medically beneficial. The resolution cast “a moral stain on the Council of Europe, and fosters hate and racist trends in Europe.” The document cited research supporting the medical benefits of male circumcision, but its main advocate, rapporteur Marlene Rupprecht from Germany, said she backed opposing medical opinion, which she quoted in the notes to the resolution. Member states should therefore consider the impact of non-medical interventions in light of the child’s best interests in order to define lines of action, the resolution said. Countries should also define the medical and other conditions to be ensured for certain religious practices “such as the non-medically justified circumcision of young boys”. The Council promotes democracy and human rights in Europe but does not make laws and has little power to enforce its recommendations. In December, Germany enacted a law to protect the right to circumcise infant boys in a show of support for Muslims and Jews who had been angered by a local court ban on the practice earlier last year. Female genital mutilation – the partial or total removal of external female genitalia – is carried out for religious and cultural reasons in 28 African nations and parts of the Middle East and Asia. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in December urging countries to ban the practice, calling it an “irreparable, irreversible abuse” that threatens about three million girls annually. (Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by John Stonestreet)

Israel attacks Council of Europe move to restrict male circumcision

At a salad bar, grab a plate and stack it like the locals do — high. Hungry sightseers also appreciate the handy, moderately priced cafeterias found in larger museums. Institution-Affiliated Eateries: If your wallet is as empty as your stomach, find a cheap, humble cafeteria that’s associated with (and subsidized by) a local institution — such as a university, city hall, church, hospital, charity, senior center, fire station, union of gondoliers, retired fishermen’s club, and so on. (These are sometimes called “mensas.”) Profits take a back seat to providing good food at a good price — and many of these eateries welcome the public to pull up a chair. Options range from a semi-swanky City Hall cafeteria in Oslo, to student canteens in university towns (such as Salzburg, Austria), to Poland’s dreary-looking but cheap “milk bars.” Bakeries and Sandwich Shops: Bakeries are a good place to pick up basic sandwiches, tiny pizzas, or something equally cheap and fast but with more of a regional flavor (such as savory pasties in England or a “croque-monsieur” sandwich in France). Chains that sell good, healthful sandwiches, salads, and pastries are Britain’s Pret a Manger, Norway’s Deli de Luca, and Spain’s Pans & Company. Local deli-like shops are popular in many parts of Europe; try a “traiteur” in France or a “rosticceria” in Italy. The business-lunch crowd invariably knows the best place for an affordable fill-the-tank bite. McEurope: Fast-food restaurants are everywhere. Yes, the hamburgerization of the world is a shame, but face it — the busiest and biggest McDonald’s in the world are in Paris, Rome, and Moscow. American fast food has gone global. You’ll find KFC and Subway in every language — it isn’t exciting (and costs more than at home), but at least you know exactly what you’re getting, and it’s fast.

October 06, 2013; 8:00 AM Record setting snowfall in South Dakota has closed portions of I-90 and other roads. October 06, 2013; 7:53 AM A few severe storms could developacross Ohio on Sunday. October 06, 2013; 7:48 AM Karen continues to be a weak disorganized system in the Gulf of Mexico. October 06, 2013; 7:05 AM Thunderstorms with heavy rain are spreading from Louisville into Cincinnati. October 06, 2013; 6:00 AM Karen remains weak and disorganized and its remnants will be pushed toward the Florida Panhandle. Why Less Dense? October 06, 2013; 5:00 AM It may be counterintuitive, but warm, moisture-laden air is less dense than cool dry air. Why is this? Curiosity On The Road! October 06, 2013; 5:00 AM Curiosity is taking a long trip to its next location. Learn more about the cameras that help guide her. October 06, 2013; 5:00 AM A thunderstorm is in the forecast for Sunday as the Pirates host the Cardinals. October 06, 2013; 2:00 AM Check out some of these amazing scenes sent in by our viewers and followers!