Sunday Roast: June 16, 2013 – Where’s the outrage?

I don’t get it. Seriously.

The news about the extensive data gathering by the NSA through Verizon‘s mobile phone records being outshone only a few days later with news about PRISM should have people out in the streets. Seriously.

I am not and have never been overly shy about internet use. I follow the usual dos and don’ts, but I am aware of the fact, that whatever you put out there is in everybody’s domain. If you shout it out on Times Square you have a smaller audience than when you put it on facebook, twitter, you name it. I know that by using it I have, sort of, agreed whatever I’m writing will be no longer private. Fair enough.

I’m fine that every time I read a New York Times article I will see in a sidebar which of my friends have read which article. It shows I have smart friends, not that I haven’t known that before, but still. I am even fine with the fact that for me all websites, be it news or other, which have commercial pop-ups are advising me how to get a flat stomach or how to ward off ageing. I take  the pop-ups as an punishment for having googled about weight-loss and heat-flashes and I stick out my tongue to them and just don’t buy whatever is advertised through them.

What I do not approve of, and I am royally pissed about that, is that a government, any government, is prying inside my personal communications. So I would, of course, go and vote accordingly. No party or candidate ever gets my vote, who supports this degree of spying into the personal communications of ordinary citizens. Period.

Hah! And now, when we Europeans are mad as hell, and believe me, virtually everybody I talk to is spitting mad over here, we’ll just vote them all out of office!!!!!

Wait!

We can’t. We do not have, nor will we ever have any say in this.

This is our Open Thread. Don’t be shy. All yours.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday May 8th – Men in Kilts

On the last Sunday in April I was in Säckingen with the boys. They have this Festival, which translates into Medieval Phantastic Spectacle, or some such. Loads of men were wearing kilts there, but I whipped my head around when a saw a guy wearing nice nature colored tartans. Little did I know I’d see the bloke on stage shortly after and, boy, this was fun to watch and listen to. The video above is from the same festival a year ago.

Other than making music, they have a charity going on. See more here and here. As the boys and me are planning for a Scotland visit this summer, we know where to go.

I could have written about the North Carolina Amendment 1 vote tonight, but it depresses me. I could have written about Greece’s troubles, but the fact that they are considering yet another vote rather than listen what the People says, depresses me. I could have written about Chancellor Merkel’s arrogance in the face of European voters’ will, but that depresses me as well. So I decided on music and men in kilts.

This is our Open Thread. Enjoy and weigh in.

The Watering Hole December 13th, 2011 Vulnerability

Breaking News:

A gun and grenade attack in the centre of the Belgian city of Liege has killed at least two people and wounded 47 including a toddler, media say.

Witnesses say a man in his 40s threw grenades at a bus stop in Place Saint Lambert, a busy square. At least two other men are thought to be involved.

Reports say one of the attackers is among the dead. Local media say another has been detained, while a third is involved in a stand-off with police. (more)

Lately:

An unidentified Scrooge poisoned visitors to two of Berlin’s popular Christmas markets with an offer of tiny bottles of liquor that were laced with vomit-inducing chemicals, police said Friday.

The suspect, who was in his mid-40s, hit two of the traditional holiday fairs Thursday and at the first, spoke to two foreign students, a man and a woman in their mid-20s, in English.(more)

No so recent:

At 9.15am on Friday 4 November, two men stormed into a building society in the east German town of Eisenach. One was wearing a black balaclava, the other a gorilla mask. Both had guns. They demanded money, punching a bank teller before grabbing €70,000 (£60,000) from the safe and hopping on to bicycles they had propped up outside. They knew what they were doing – it was their 14th bank robbery in 12 years.(more)

In a Democracy a lunatics like the Norway killer Breivik and the perps in the first story today will always find an opportunity to do damage, as will the psycho cowards like in case two.

Case three, however, shows some significant difference. The victims of the neonazis were law-abiding, hard working small business owners. As they were of Turkish and Greek descent, police immediately took decisive steps to solve the crimes. All the victim’s family members were thoroughly interrogated and checked for any criminal or drug contacts in their past, family feuds were on top of the list as well. “You know how they are, don’t you”. “All criminals”.”Not like us.” “They kill off each other”. The killings were dubbed “Doner killings” named after the popular Turkish fast food.

Well it wasn’t “Doners” that were murdered, it was fellow human beings. And they were murdered by some of “us”. “You know how we are”. “All Nazis”. “We kill those who are different”. This time we thoroughly earn the badge. Alas, again.

This the Daily Open Thread. Really.

Picture of The Day – Queue

Women queueing to vote in Egypt

Source: http://www.thestar.com.my

The writing on the wall says “We build Egypt together” They had to act twice, once to get rid of Mubarak and now again, when the military tried to introduce their concept of Democracy. I am afraid their struggle is not over yet. Democracy is hard to come by, let’s not ours go to waste.

By Jove!

Reuters:

 

(Reuters) – The leaders of France and Germany scrambled on Tuesday to limit damage after Prime Minister George Papandreou decided to let Greeks vote on a bailout package — a move that stunned markets and threw Greece’s euro zone membership into question.

European politicians complained Athens was trying to wriggle out of the 130 billion-euro rescue deal agreed at a summit only last week, concerned not so much about the fate of Greece as the possibly dire consequences for the entire currency union of the referendum. (read all)

BIG OUCH!!!

Check for Market Updates here.

Get Your Act Together! Now!

The Economist:

TODAY is July 19th. Two weeks from today, it will be August 2nd. On that day, or very soon thereafter, the Treasury will run out of room to use extraordinary measures to keep meeting its obligations without issuing any new debt. To avoid a default at that point, which most economists agree would be catastrophic, the Treasury will then need to slash spending immediately and precipitously—by about 44%. The process won’t be tidy; depending on what bills are coming due on a particular day, the shortfall will affect payments to state governments, public employees (including soldiers), payouts to entitlement beneficiaries, and so on. Absent an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, spending would be slashed by $134 billion over the month of August. That would represent a sudden fiscal consolidation of over 10% of GDP—enough, in all likelihood, to tip the economy into recession. And at some point, if no agreement were reached, default would become inevitable. (read all)

Anybody home in Republicanland? Are you sure you know what you’re doing? I am pissed. So, setting the economy on fire wasn’t enough in 2008? Want to blow it up one more time? A really spectacular blowup this time that destroys government, so Grover Norquist will love you all and rapture you into everlasting economic bliss, as promised for his true believers?

You know what? YOU ARE THE PITS!

Greek people go hungry, because your rating agencies saw fit to play monopoly with their assessments and caused the worst currency crisis ever. Hey, just a hint. If the agencies and banks thought Greece’s debt was a problem, why not stop lending before? Maybe because you could get top interest and then socialised your losses to a point where the beast you so busily starved can’t do anything to relieve you anymore? Now it’s time for bilking, eh?

Being able to eat to sustain yourself is by now considered an entitlement obviously in the US. We don’t want that over here, we don’t think like you do, we actually practise a Democracy on Christian principles of caring for our neighbour! Now you are about to present us with another economic crash three years after the last one, which we, using our socialist methods, mostly rode out fairly well. But we won’t be able to just right now. We can’t breathe anymore.

Corporate greed Republican-style caused the stock market crash in 1929 and gave the Fascists here the final push into government. With the most terrible consequences imaginable. In 1945 Europe was reduced to rubble.

This time around fascism rears it’s head on your side of the pond, the consequences may well play out on your soil. So be careful what you wish for. And don’t expect any help. We can’t, your style of capitalism has already stripped us clean.

You’re on your own.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday June 14th – Basta!

“Basta!” means “Enough!” in Italian. And basta the Italians said yesterday. In four referendi they dealt a huge blow to Italian Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi. They said: “Enough!” To the privatization of their water supply. “Enough!” to the guaranteed profits of same privatization. “Enough!” to the plans to build new nuclear power plants. And, finally: “Enough!” to the tailor made legislation, that was meant to let Berlusconi off the hook in his legal troubles. They even managed to get over the quorum of minimum 50% of voters (57%) even though the government had picked a bank holiday weekend for the vote and tried to discourage the people from voting. You can find two excellent background articles on Berlusconi’s Italy here and here.

Basta Cavaliere! Vattene!

The Italians could do it. The Spanish can do it, the Greek can do it, the Syrians do it at a cruel price, the Libyans do it, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan so many people are now standing up for their rights against their corrupt elites. When will we?

This is our Open Thread. Speak Up!

Across the Pond: G20, Debt and Austerity

While Europe is back in austerity mode, the US are more wary. Will economic recovery be hindered or helped by rolling back public expenses?

The G20 meeting in Toronto (Muskoka) is showing signs of disagreement, with Merkel on one side of the spectrum and Obama on the other.

Der Spiegel (International)

The G-20 talks in Canada this weekend are to focus on shoring up the global economy but German commentators are not expecting much in the way of agreement. Ahead of the summit Germany and the US have been trading barbs about whether the best strategy is to save or spend.

A trans-Atlantic tiff has been brewing ahead of this weekend’s G-8 and G-20 summits as the US and Europe disagree on how to best ensure recovery from the global economic crisis. (read more)

The Independent has its own take on the new budget, dubbed bloodbath budget and mustered Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz as a witness for their cause.

Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prizewinner who predicted the global crisis, delivers his verdict on the Chancellor’s first Budget and tells Paul Vallely it will take the UK deeper into recession and hit millions – the poorest – badly (read more)

The Guardian gives voice to the disappointment of LibDem voters.

Nick Clegg is suffering a fierce public backlash over the coalition’s VAT rise, with almost half of Liberal Democrat supporters saying the tax U-turn makes them more likely to desert the party.

A YouGov/Brand Democracy survey, which will alarm already restive Lib Dem MPs, shows 48% of those who voted Lib Dem at the election are now less inclined to back them again as a direct result of the increase in VAT from 17.5% to 20%.(read more)

The Daily Mail has other concerns and imho has it totally wrong:

British shoppers are to be banned from buying eggs by the dozen under new regulations approved by the European Parliament.

For the first time, eggs and other products such as oranges and bread rolls will be sold by weight instead of by the number contained in a packet.

Until now, Britain has been exempt from EU regulations that forbid the selling of goods by number. But last week MEPs voted to end Britain’s deal despite objections from UK members. (read more)

I still shop in Germany and I still buy eggs by the number, they give the weight of the eggs, however. So this is bs and serves only to highlight what happens if journalists go for the sensation instead the truth. But the mail is rather more into following Victoria Beckhams different hairstyles.

What happened to The Sunday Times ? Well,they’ve decided to have us pay for their content and are now in the process of getting us to sign up for trial versions. I’m not going along, so no more Times here.

Boring as it may get for you, when it comes to politics, the English and the Germans are out of it today. We are facing an epic battle, if you believe the tabloids, this afternoon at 4 p.m.

July 11th all will be said and done and football will take a backseat yet again.

Results and yet ..

Last week I closely followed four stories. None of the results were in any way really pleasing. Except maybe for the drubbing Merkel and more important Westerwelle received, but that’s just me.

Gulf of Mexico Oil

The Oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico cannot be stopped.

The dome that was supposed to funnel the oil from the well into ships on the surface has failed. BP and everybody else are at a loss with what can be done about it.  I submitted the above link to reddit and the discussion there starts with a toungue in cheek remark to “nuke it” and results in some serious discussion of whether this was possible. Yes folks, the situation is that desperate.

UK elections gave us a result, but no government.

Forget about the dire warnings of “senior bankers” that a government pact rather be quick, but from what I see there is no real compatibility amongst the prospective partners of a coalition to lead to a lasting government. Electoral reform is necessary, but how much will come out of it, if the parties you can choose out of still suck?

The elections in Germany’s biggest Bundesland (state) ends in  a tie and gets the German government in a fix.

That’s wat Angela Merkel needed most. Instead of wiping the sweat of  a heroic rescue mission from her brow (see below) she returns to Berlin as a sad loser. By her own making. Or rather, by her own government, cause her junior partner helped this defeat along a goodish bit. Germany being the biggest still functional economy in Europe, this will have an impact.

The EU agreed on an financial umbrella for debt stricken members, which amounts to € 750 bn (almost $ 1 trillion) .

Markets are upbeat about that. Up somewhere between 4% and almost 7%  today. Now what is it really? The secure feeling that the Euro and with it European economies are really more stable now, or the prospect of another trillion dollars in liquidity on their way right from European taxpayers pockets  into the assets lists of international banks?

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Across The Pond: Elections, Euros, Emotions

This is going to be a long weekend for Angela Merkel. First of all she and her fellow European leaders had to get the Eurozone under some kind of control until Asian stock markets open late tonight, our time.Their solution: Add another € 70 bn to defend the Euro, and the Germans are already supposed to sign the fattest check in history:

EU leaders have agreed a financial defence plan in an attempt to protect the eurozone countries from speculative attacks in the wake of the Greek debt crisis.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, said today that an “intervention unit” designed to preserve financial stability in the 16 eurozone countries would be in place by Monday when the markets reopen. (read more)

The Euro-Crisis can be followed at nakedcapitalism, they have a couple of interesting posts on that.

Secondly, she is facing the voters’ wrath in North Rine Westphalia the biggest of Germany’s states, where state elections will not be going good for her, that much is certain.

The UK has been so immersed in political fever that another highly significant election has gone almost unnoticed. When Germans go to the polls in state elections today, at stake will be not only the future of Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition in Berlin, but also the direction of Europe’s biggest economy. (read more)

THE voters in Düsseldorf’s central square were waiting patiently in the rain for Angela Merkel to appear last Friday when the loudspeakers suddenly announced that she was too busy dealing with Greece’s financial crisis to join them.

Their spirits already dampened, many were clearly in a mood to punish the chancellor for her contribution of more than £19 billion to the Greek bailout. They had gathered to hear Merkel make her pitch for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in today’s state election in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s industrial powerhouse with a population of 18m. (read more)

A detailed article on the state election can be found at the International section of Der Spiegel.

But it’s not a good day for Gordon Brown either, he has lost his elections already and will lose his post, because even if the Liberal democrats should opt for supporting Labour, I very much doubt they will do it if  Brown’s at the helm.

And opt for Labour they still could, because the Tories are adamant when it comes to electoral reform. Big NO.

Nick Clegg was urged by senior figures in his party last night to back a “traffic light coalition” with Labour, Green and smaller parties amid signs that David Cameron’s proposed deal to the Liberal Democrats has triggered an angry backlash among Tory and Lib Dem MPs.

The Lib Dem and Conservative leaders met last night for “constructive” face-to-face talks to try to reach a deal before markets open tomorrow morning. Earier, after a crucial meeting with his party in Westminster to gauge reaction to a Lib-Con coalition, Mr Clegg addressed a 1,000-strong crowd protesting in favour of electoral reform to insist that proportional representation was still key to the talks. (read more)

I am not really surprised that the “senior bankers” are already putting pressure on the parties:

FEARS of a market slump mounted this weekend after British politicians failed to form a government and senior bankers warned that the eurozone crisis might cause bank lending to seize up. (read more)

This is blatant blackmail. The banks don’t want electoral reform, they like the status quo just fine. Electoral reform would only serve to give the great unwashed more say, and we can’t have that, can we?

And finally, here’s the New Mr Switzerland, what an emotional moment, which I didn’t watch and will never regret not having watched.

Have a good Sunday and especially a Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. I’ll head back now to my boys and spend a little quality time with my family.

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General elections in Germany

This is Super Sunday over here in Germany. Apart from the general elections two states, Schleswig-Holstein and Brandenburg, are heading for the polls, too.

The ruling grand coalition between chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats of foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is not expected to be continued. Merkel has clearly stated that the Christian Democrats are planning to come together with the FDP a libertarian group headed by Guido Westerwelle. Westerwelle himslef has clearly stated that the Christian Democrats and nobody else is worthy of his party’s attention. Social Democrats, however, stated that “The Left” will never be considered as a partner in a ruling coalition and “The Green Party” is not willing to enter a coalition with Westerwelle and Merkel. Confused yet?. Well, bottom line is: If the Christian Democratic Union and the FDP cannot get enough votes for a coalition, the shit has hit the fan.

Eventual spoil sports will be “The Left”. Demonized by almost all others as a remainder of the old SED (Socialist Unity Party) of the communist German Democratic Republic, they are considered to be the untouchables. Bollocks really, when you think that former chancellor Willy Brandt, Social Democrat and Peace Nobel Prize laureate, was governing considerably left of todays Left Party’s agenda. What remained of worker’s rights after the likes of England’s Thatcher and Germany’s Kohl were done with them, had been further trampled on by Blair’s “New Labour” and Schroeder’s “Agenda 2010″, so what calls itself The Left these days is a fairly Social Democrat movement.

We’ll see what it’ll be in about three hours from now and I will keep you informed here when the first results come in.

Voter turnout up to now seems to be poor. This is generally helping smaller parties, because mainly the truly disgruntled will go out and vote. We’ll see.

Obama needs to sack NATO General Craddock. Now.

This is from Der Spiegel the international page:

A dispute has emerged among NATO High Command in Afghanistan regarding the conditions under which alliance troops can use deadly violence against those identified as insurgents. In a classified document, which SPIEGEL has obtained, NATO’s top commander, US General John Craddock, has issued a “guidance” providing NATO troops with the authority “to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan.”

According to the document, deadly force is to be used even in those cases where there is no proof that suspects are actively engaged in the armed resistance against the Afghanistan government or against Western troops. It is “no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective,” Craddock writes.

(read more)

So many Bush loyalists left, still doing damage.

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Iran is running out of Uranium

So it did not take a military strike to bring a stop to Iran’s nuclear weapons program after all. It looks to me as if diplomacy works just fine.

The Times has an exclusive:

Western powers believe that Iran is running short of the raw material required to manufacture nuclear weapons, triggering an international race to prevent it from importing more, The Times has learnt.

Diplomatic sources believe that Iran’s stockpile of yellow cake uran- ium, produced from uranium ore, is close to running out and could be depleted entirely within months. Countries including Britain, the US, France and Germany, have started intensive diplomatic efforts to dissuade major uranium producers from selling to Iran. (read more)

From a distance: My Wish List for President elect Obama

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The general election has a first positive impact: Europeans are for the first time in many years applauding America. I haven’t spoken to a single person here, who is not happy with Barack Obama as President elect. You voters have made a huge step in mending the abysmal reputation of America.

I am personally delighted with the result, but that won’t surprise anybody, I guess. So, what am I expecting from an Obama Administration? A lot. Continue reading

From across the pond – Palin and more..

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What am I to say. I was absolutely flabbergasted by McCain’s choice. My thoughts meandered from “Maybe he’s a genius and I didn’t notice.” to “He’s making fun of all of us.” back to “They won’t vote for someone like her, will they?”. The thought of Sarah Palin jumping into the fray if anything should happen to the oldest first term US-President ever is so outlandish I am really at a loss what to say. It is telling, however, that the Republican leaning part of Larry King’s panel yesterday did not seem too happy, either. They went out of their way to avoid the focus on McCain’s age and the possibility that Sarah Palin could be US President in a hurry.

As usual I give you the quotes of some of the British and European newspapers, so you can get an impression what the “old world” thinks about your politics. Today’s Sunday papers have more than the usual number of really good articles, so enjoy reading.

Murdoch’s The Times points out, that all’s not well within the Republican Party about this:

The Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, was facing a backlash from his party last night over the appointment of Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, as his running mate after it emerged that he had met her only once before offering her the job.

His choice of Palin, a 44-year-old, gun-toting, moose-burger-eating mother-of-five, confirmed his maverick reputation but also caused some leading Republicans to question his judgment. (read more)

What a contrast to Obama.  Simon Jenkins explains why the Presidential Elections in the US are so closely watched all over the world and how Obama would put an end to stupidity in US government. Mind, this is still The Times:

Every American voter casts a de facto proxy vote for the disenfranchised millions who consume America’s foreign and military policy abroad, from Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and Burma to benighted Palestine. For tens of thousands of them, an American president is the difference between life and death. Millions more depend on the presidential election as beneficiaries of US aid, or as victims of US hostility and sanctions. Billions of Iranians, Pakistanis, Russians and Chinese have an interest as nations which American governments criticise and threaten. Obama’s global popularity lead over McCain is thus more than a beauty contest. Were he to be elected, his country would unquestionably experience an immediate and dramatic surge in popularity. (read more)

The Guardian focusses on the female vote:

Never before have women voters been so much the focus of concerted political attention. Clinton’s sprawling, dramatic battle with Obama has put the female vote firmly in the headlines. By the end of the fight, Clinton had moulded herself into the unabashed champion of women, demanding that their voice be heard. Now Obama is scrambling to make sure those voters stay in his coalition. The surprise factor is that the Republicans have joined the chase and are aggressively pursuing the same target. McCain is heaping praise on Clinton and her achievements. Now he has picked a mother of five from Alaska as his running mate. Battle has been joined. The war for the women’s vote could define the final two months of the election. (read more)

The campaign, will be a vicious one, however, they predict and point out who and what to watch out for:

Democrats do launch attack ads and campaign negatively but no one does it like the Republican party. Under a succession of dark geniuses, the party has perfected the black art of negative campaigning. It has created the most effective attack machine in the Western world, with the sole purpose of destroying opponents and winning elections. For opponents it is a source of shock, misery and more than a little envy. Its tentacles stretch from the McCain campaign into the murky corners of talk radio, the internet and shadowy groups willing to use any outlandish smear. (read more)

The Independent compares the Presidential race to a horse race and warns that all is not over yet:

The thrill of politics, at its simplest, is that of the horse race. In this country, most of us have forgotten what a close race looks like. Our last truly competitive general election was in 1992. Last summer, until Gordon Brown shied at the fence, we were briefly returned to the urgency and the drama of the daily battle for advantage. But America has provided two consecutive two-horse races since the primaries began at the start of the year. This is politics at its most compelling, when the winner is the one who makes the fewest mistakes. (read more)

John Rentoul takes on Sarah Palin, too and has something to say about her as America’s “Iron Lady”.

The Telegraph points to the cloak and daggers-style process around Sarah Palins nomination:

Later that night she held talks with top McCain aides Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter in a “safe house” – the home of a friend of the Republican candidate.

The next morning, Mrs Palin was driven to the McCain ranch in nearby Sedona. There she first met Mrs McCain before her husband formally offered the vice-presidential slot as they sat and chatted on the deck. It was just their second meeting in person.

Mrs Palin and her aide flew later on Thursday with the two McCain lieutenants to Ohio, where they checked in to a hotel as the “Upton family”, while Mr McCain made his way publicly to the key battleground state. (read more)

The risk in choosing Sarah Palin as a running mate goes beyond her inexperience, there’s always “Troopergate”:

What started as a family dispute in the suburbs of Anchorage could yet determine who governs the world’s most powerful nation for the next four years as Alaskan politics finds itself as the unprecedented focus of a billion-dollar election battle. (read more)

The Economist points out the risks of this nomination as well and, again, praises Obama:

But the risks of choosing such an unknown quantity are enormous. An important aspect in selecting a vice-president is to reassure the electorate that should anything happen to the man in the Oval Office there is a competent and trustworthy stand-in ready to take over. John McCain’s age (he is 72) is an underlying factor with voters. Although Ms Palin’s youthfulness, she is 44, is an eye-catching contrast to the top of the ticket, questions will be raised about her ability to run the country if Mr McCain should ever be incapacitated.

And the tenures of both Al Gore and Dick Cheney as vice-president have raised the profile of the office. Vice-presidents were once expected to be solid and reliable but mostly boring. Messrs Gore and Cheney took on policy portfolios, such as government reform or preparing for war with Iraq. Barack Obama’s pick of Joe Biden for the role now seems all the more wise. (read more)

Der Spiegel revisits the race issue:

Now, though, it’s McCain against Obama, Republican against Democrat, old against young — and, more than anything else, white against black. McCain, of course, hasn’t broached the race issue directly. But indirectly, the argument goes like this: To be white means to be like John McCain — patriotic, bedecked with medals and honors, self-sacrificing and a hero. To be black means to be like Barack Obama — eager for the spotlight, similar to a Hollywood actor, egocentric, flippant and lacking truly American values. White America is — subtly and adroitly — being mobilized against black America. (read more)

But Obama has left his mark on the Democratic Party, too, a good thing in Der Spiegel‘s eyes:

One test of a presidential candidate’s strength, and often his best shot at winning, is how much he can mold his party in his image and rally it around a powerful argument for his election. Barack Obama left Denver having made significant progress on both fronts.

The Democratic Party today is different from the one that lost the last two presidential elections. It is bigger, younger and less visibly linked to traditional Democratic interest groups. (read more)

Finally, Die Welt another conservative newspaper puts it’s finger on McCain’s age

Vice presidential choices seldom have much effect on the presidential election. But McCain’s choice received extra scrutiny because of his age and bouts with skin cancer. He turned 72 on Friday and would be the oldest, first-term president in U.S. history. If he dies or is incapacitated in office, Palin would succeed him – a point stressed by Obama’s campaign in pointing to her resume. She is only two years into her first term in governor, and her previous experience was as a small town mayor.

and worries:

Palin has no international affairs experience and, in little more than a month, will be in a nationally televised debate with Biden, one of his party’s leading voices on foreign policy and a quick witted, sharp-tongued public speaker. She is three years younger than Obama and a generation younger than Biden. (read more)

It’s a good thing today is a Sunday, this is an awful lot to read and each one of the sites linked to has much more to offer. So, grab a cup of coffee and see for yourselves. Have a nice and peaceful Sunday!

From across the pond – International reactions to Obama’s speech (updated).

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During the slump of the last couple of weeks, I started to get a bit nervous, when it came to your Presidential elections. Another four years minimum of what we had and have to put up with ? Now it looks like the punch is back in in the Obama campaign and the British newspapers mostly acknowledge it.

Murdoch’s The Times, however, finds fault:

That was why his speech last night was very different from the sort of lyrical orations that have characterised his campaign so far. It was a much more traditional political speech, less lofty, more focused, less general talk of hope and more old-fashioned bashing of the opposition.

As a result, it risked undermining Senator Obama’s message so far that he stands for a different kind of politics, one able to transcend political divisions. While it addressed many of the problems that have weakened his campaign in recent weeks, it may in the end have done some new damage: perhaps Senator Obama is just another politician after all    (read more)

The Independent takes a look at the historical moment:

A page of history had turned, 120 years after Frederick Douglass – the slave turned abolitionist – was awarded one vote at the 1888 Republican convention in Chicago. But the joy was something to be savoured privately, rather than trumpeted from the podium. Outside the hall, John Lewis, a civil rights hero of the 1960s, put the night in perspective: “It makes me think about all the suffering, all the pain, all the hurt, so many people who gave all they had. This is a down payment on the dream of Martin Luther King.” (read more)

The Telegraph was there, their man Alex Spillius, that is:

It was a good idea to arrive early yesterday. Doors opened at 1pm, seven hours before his address began, to allow for the extra security required. Taking my seat with a mere four and a half hours to wait there was ample time to reflect on the scale and the improbability of Mr Obama’s achievement.

[...]

Last night was his most momentous attempt to sway the nation, watching in their living rooms, that he rather than the Republican Senator John McCain, like Hillary Clinton another establishment figure, is the best man to lead the United States.

We expected some ethereal rhetoric, and he didn’t disappoint, appealing to Americans to renew the American dream. But where the senator from Illinois really delivered was in earthy aggression towards his opponent.(read more)

The Guardian is quite happy with the outcome:

Barack Obama last night fulfilled the promise of his emergence onto the US political stage four years ago and the dream of Martin Luther King almost half a century ago when he accepted the Democratic presidential nomination before tens of thousands of his supporters.

Obama’s address, at Denver’s Mile High stadium, put policy flesh on the rhetoric that had helped propel a virtual unknown at the 2004 Democratic convention to within reach of the White House. (read more)

The Guardian’s Michael Tomasky was in Denver, too and this is how he saw the speech:

[...]I thought, while it was not one of those rhetorical barnburners for which the candidate is famous, it accomplished something else, more subtle but maybe more profound. Obama made his speech not about him but about his audience. He gave away some of his power this night and gave it to the people (sure enough, “Power to the People,” John Lennon’s somewhat unfortunate radical-chic anthem from 1971, was among the background music piped into the stadium before Obama spoke). (read more)

Die Welt Germany’s conservative newspaper focusses on technical campaign matters, too:

In a novel bid to extend the convention’s reach, Obama’s campaign decided to turn tens of thousands of partisans in the stands into instant political organizers. They were encouraged to use their cell phones to send text messages to friends as well as to call thousands of unregistered voters from lists developed by the campaign.

In all, Obama’s high command said it had identified 55 million unregistered voters across the country, about 8.1 million of them black, about 8 million Hispanic and 7.5 million between the ages of 18 and 24. Those are key target groups for Obama as he bids to break into the all-white line of U.S. presidents and at the same time restore Democrats to the White House for the first time in eight years. (read more)

Der Spiegel didn´t get around to update the english page yet, so their view can be read on their front page, but you may want to check back here later today.

Have a good start into Friday. The weekend is almost here and make sure to check back in tonight, it´s Music  Night at The Zoo again tonight.

UPDATE: And here´s the revered (by me) Economist, with their take of the speech. Mind, this weekly is not known as left-leaning:

REPUBLICANS had needled Barack Obama for accepting the Democratic presidential nomination in an enormous sports stadium. But their efforts to dampen the mood failed to spoil a grand party. As veteran political hands say, remember the visual. The 70,000 adoring flag-waving supporters will be seen on news bulletins again and again. Whether Mr Obama was presumptuous or not, undecided voters will see a man who can inspire like no politician in recent American history. (read more)

UPDATE II: Der Spiegel is now out with its story in English and adds something about the Republicans´reaction:

The Republicans seem concerned about the enthusiasm level. John McCain seemed conciliatory — and recognized the historic evening of his African-American rival. Instead of stealing the show by announcing his vice-presidential pick, McCain aired a TV ad in which he said directly into the camera: “Tomorrow, we’ll be back at it. But tonight, Senator, job well done.”

Still, not long later Republican strategists were trying out new attacks on CNN. So much excitement over a politician was suspicious, they suggested. “He seemed like a rock star, not like a statesman,” McCain supporter Ben Stein said mockingly.

Republicans needn’t worry about their candidate. At a big rally in Ohio on Friday, McCain will celebrate his 72nd birthday by announcing a vice-presidential candidate. There are lots of tickets left. (read more)

Obama in Berlin: The German Press coverage

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Barack Obama was greeted by 200’000 Berliners with much enthusiasm. The German Press is, unsurprisingly, busily reporting and commenting it. I will give you some quotes in German, the translations will be mine, so if any misinterpretation should occur it will be my fault.

Der Spiegel makes it easy for me, the have an International page in English:

Anyone who saw Barack Obama at Berlin’s Siegessäule on Thursday could recognize that this man will become the 44th president of the United States. He is more than ambitious — he wants to lay claim to become the president of the world.

It was a ton to absorb — and what a stupendous ride through world history: the story of his own family, the Berlin Airlift, terrorists, poorly secured nuclear material, the polar caps, World War II, America’s errors, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, freedom. It’s amazing one could even pack such a potpourri of issues into sentences and then succeed in squeezing them all into the space of a speech that lasted less than 30 minutes. (read more)

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, states that one of the reasons Obama was so welcome in Berlin is the fact that he is not George W.Bush:

Diese Begeisterung wird auch nicht durch den ins Auge springenden Showcharakter seiner Auftritte gedämpft. Obamas Weltreise ist eine perfekt kalkulierte Inszenierung für den heimischen Wählermarkt, mit der eine seiner Schwächen – Mangel an internationaler Erfahrung – verdeckt werden soll. Selbst Obamas mehrfach geäußerte Aufforderung an die Europäer, sich im Kampf gegen den Terror, vor allem in Afghanistan, stärker zu engagieren, scheint dem deutschen Publikum bisher die Laune nicht zu verderben – so genau will man es vorerst, solange der mutmaßliche Kandidat noch nicht in der Kommandozentrale der Supermacht sitzt, gar nicht wissen.

Vielleicht gelingt es Obama tatsächlich nach dem Vorbild Clintons, Härte in der Sache mit versöhnlichen Worten und Gesten zu kaschieren. Bush jedenfalls hat nicht nur seine faktische Politik ins Popularitätstief gerissen; seine aggressive, zum intellektuell Groben und politisch Unhöflichen neigende Art, hat zu den Fehlern noch die negative Ausstrahlung hinzugefügt. (full story)

This enthusiasm is not mellowed by the obvious showmanship of his appearance. Obama’s world trip is a perfectly calculated orchestration for the electorate at home, to cover up for his weakness – lack in international experience. Even Obama’s repeatedly expressed request to the Europeans, to engage more in the war on terror mainly in Afghanistan couldn’t sour the mood of his audience – one prefers not to know as long as the candidate has not really reached the command center of the super power.

Maybe Obama will really succeed, after the manner of Clinton, to cover up tough decision with engaging gestures and conciliatory words. Bush, however, hasn’t been swept into his lows in popularity by the facts of his policies alone, his aggressive, intellectually blunt and politically rude manner, has added a negative perception to his mistakes.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung points out:

Obama, daran gibt es keinen Zweifel, wird den Europäern mehr abverlangen, um in Afghanistan und im Irak erfolgreich zu sein. Er sprach in Berlin von “geteilten Opfern”. Europa müsse “mehr, nicht weniger tun”. Und er verlangte explizit deutsche Soldaten für Afghanistan. Er sagte nicht “mehr Soldaten”, aber das war gemeint. Und auch das deutete Obama an: Er will als Präsident Unterstützung für die Abwicklung des Irak-Abenteuers. Obama wird teuer für Deutschland. (full story)

Obama will doubtless ask more from Europeans to be successful in Iraq and Afghanistan. He spoke about “shared sacrifices” in Berlin. Europe must “do more, not less”. And he asked for German soldiers in Afghanistan. He didn’t say more soldiers, but that’s what he meant. And Obama hinted at this, too: He wants support for the phaseout of the Iraq adventure. Obama is going to come at a high price for Germany.

Germany’s most important tabloid Bild, has it’s own team of i-reporters and 1414 were out to cover Obama’s speech. And Bild provides you with the pictures.

Die Welt is maintaining an English site, too, immensely helpful.

Barack Obama’s displayed all his charismatic colours before Berlin’s Victory Column to more than 200,000 cheering fans on Sunday. His rousing speech resonated well with Germans, with newspapers lauding the Democratic presidential hopeful’s appearance as a historic event. (full story)

There is lots of criticism, too. In many newspapers, Obama is accused of the usual failures, lack of substance mostly. But let me close with the assumption of Gabor Steingart in his “West Wing” column of Der Spiegel:

The 200,000 onlookers who thronged to listen to Obama’s speech should not deceive us. Listening is not the same as agreeing. Obama divides people, and not along traditional party lines.

It is, anyway, a great mistake to divide the voters in Western nations into left and right, aggressive and peace-loving, market orientated and critical of capitalism. In reality there are just two types of voters: the romantic democrats and the common-sense democrats.

I wish you all a good and healthy day. I have a friend, whose friend is undergoing a severy surgical procedure today. If you can, send some healing thoughts to all the people out there, who are suffering. Thank you.

Across the Pond – Hello from Europe

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It is far from easy nowadays to stay true to the vow I made to myself, not to cover Hillary Clinton’s campaign anymore. She is so desperately seeking the limelight that her actions amount to the political equivalent of Britney Spears sans underwear.

Nevermind, there are news outside the Democratic primaries that move European readers.

Britain suffers a string of teenager violence which so far cost 14 lives in London alone this year. The most prominent victim, Rob Knox, an aspiring teenage actor, was stabbed to death in a brawl, according to some while trying to protect his younger brother. The latest victim 17 year old Amar Aslan was found beaten to death in a park in Yorkshire. The bank holiday weekend cost three lives and three people are in critical condition. Of the six, five victims are teenagers. The youngsters held by police in the Aslan case are shockingly young and shockingly callous. They allegedly filmed the attack and shared the video.

More violence, this time military. The Dublin talks on the ban of cluster bombs will most probably result in a treaty to be signed by the United Kingdom. This causes upset among US politicians and NATO officials and attempts to subvert the agreement. The Dublin plans include clauses very similar to the landmines ban and makes US-allied soldiers possible targets for criminal prosecution, if they continue to fight along US military who still uses cluster bombs. The British as others, too, are trying to water down the treaty, to allow storage of cluster bombs in the UK and abolish the “assistance clause”. As they are bragging to be a leader in the cluster bomb ban movement, they may have to bite the bullet and accept the full ban, however. Good thing.

(To come back to where I started from: We all know who has voted against a cluster bomb ban in the US Senate and we know who was President in 1997, when the US walked out on the negotiations for a ban on landmines, when it became clear the bloody treaty would be effective after all. Just sayin’.)

High fuel prices fuel protests in Europe: In London and Cardiff hundreds of lorry drivers protested against the rise in petrol prices. The protests fell victim to its own raison d’être in a way and decided to decentralise the effort: “In Wales, hauliers – who had planned to join the London protest but decided the fuel costs would be excessive – drove around 100 lorries to Cardiff to lobby the Welsh assembly.”

In France there were protests by fishermen. The French clashed with police last week and now continued their protests by blocking the Dover straits. They managed to severely slow down traffic in that heavily used waterway and while they were at it blocked access to a Total oil refinery. The lads are not alone. Portugese and Belgian fishermen are protesting, too.

Have a good day all of you. Stay safe and healthy!

Good Morning from Europe – The Sunday Papers

Good Morning! Here is my pick from the English Sunday papers. With North Carolina and Indiana holding their primaries on Tuesday, the focus will be, once again on the US Democratic Party. Other topics that are making the headlines are: Boris Johnson as the new Mayor of London, his eccentric style will be good for many headlines to come. And the Austrian incest drama, but I refuse to cover that.

Boris Johnson has found his stride again and after his first drink in three months opened up his mind again. Some see him as a danger to tory leader David Cameron, some even say he’s obviously planning to make Downing Street 10 his ultimate political abode.

The Democratic Primaries: It is almost tragic to see, how a struggling, ill-managed campaign managed to drag down a very successful campaign so now both are on the ropes. The opposing candidate, weak by any standard, is rubbing his hands in glee. So what do the English newspaper have to say?

The Times

On the eve of two crucial primary election contests, Hillary Clinton is pinning her hopes of winning the Democratic presidential nomination on a collapse in the white vote for Barack Obama. (Read more)

The Independent

Could last week go down as the moment when the roof fell in for Barack Obama? True, just 48 hours before Tuesday’s crucial primaries in Indiana and North Carolina, the pundits maintain – albeit with a mite less conviction than before – that the Illinois senator is still overwhelmingly likely to be his party’s nominee after the last vote is cast in this extraordinary Democratic primary season. But something fundamental has changed. (Read more)

The Guardian

The bitter battle for the Democratic candidacy this week moves to Indiana and North Carolina, where the frontrunner is desperately hoping to inflict terminal damage on Hillary Clinton’s hopes. But in a contest dominated by race, it is the party as a whole that is hurting,..(Read more)

The Telegraph

Barack Obama is struggling to contain his anger and frustration over the constant barrage of questions about his character and judgment, his wife has revealed. (Read more)

I wish you all a happy, healthy and relaxed Sunday: Stay Safe!

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Clinton causes first diplomatic irritations and she’s not even President yet!

Hillary Clinton has produced her first diplomatic blunder and caused irritation in Great Britain, The Times reports. She has, without checking into the facts, lauded Prime Minister Gordon Brown for boycotting the opening ceremony of the Peking Olympics.

Problem is: The British don’t want this to be seen as a boycott by the Chinese and are trying hard to downplay Brown’s decision not to be there. But Hillary Clinton, on the campaign trail, blurted out:

“I wanted to commend Prime Minister Gordon Brown for agreeing not to go to the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Beijing,”

Hillary, Hillary, how yould such an obvious diplomatic mistake happen to someone as experienced as you are? It seems to me she is in many ways a match to your current President.

Read the whole story here.

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Murdoch’s finest slam Barack Obama, ridicule Hillary Clinton

Where do you go to my lovely?

The Times was for me and still is, mostly, one of the standard bearers of solid conservative journalism. More an institution than a newspaper. The heroes of my childhood, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey read “The Times”! If it was printed in “The Times” it wasn’t “news” it was “The Truth!”

“The Times” they are achanging…

Obama victory will prolong US racial divide, says British equality chief!

“In truth, Obama may be helping to postpone the arrival of a post-racial America and I think he knows it,” Mr Phillips wrote. “If he wins, the cynicism may be worth it to him and his party. In the end he is a politician and a very good one: his job is to win elections.”

A disclaimer, that Mr Trevor Philips is a controversial figure in Britain right at the end of the article does little to disconnect the paper from the incredibly blatant and stereotypical nonsense that Mr Philips utters. It is made into a headline and made for the headline readers in the hope that it will stick, it is ultimately: Propaganda.

The name of Farrakhan pops up, too, unsursprisingly. But as Bob Cesca said:

During last night’s Democratic debate, and apropos of nothing, NBC’s Tim Russert asked Senator Obama whether he “accepts the support of Louis Farrakhan.” Again, it’s the illusion of balance. But it would only have been balanced if Russert had just previously quizzed Senator Clinton about something equally as ridiculous. For instance, “Senator Clinton: do you accept the support of Ann Coulter who said she’d vote for you over Senator McCain? Ann Coulter once called John Edwards a fag, and she said that Jews need to be perfected. Ha-HAH! Gotcha!”

On the other hand Senator Obama can count himself lucky, he is taken seriously enough to be considered a dangerous left wing threat.

Senator Clinton is less lucky, she has become the target of their ridicule. Her stumbling over the new Russian leader’s name Medvedev in Tuesday’s debate was called her Dubya moment yesterday and this is a calculated insult. Today a smirking foreign editor shows Senator Clinton how it’s done.

Many, like myself, crave for substantial journalism and seek it in newspapers with an untainted reputation for solid journalistic handicraft. We will have to seek elsewhere. Because, however positive my impression of Senator Barack Obama, I would like to see relentless scrutiny of his and every other politician’s doings. That is why the press is called “the fourth estate” not the “fifth”. They are to be our watchdog!

“Europeanview” wishes you all a relaxed, happy and healthy Thusday - Weekend is just around the corner! 

Good Morning from Europe – The Sunday Papers

View from Piz Martenas - Savognin - Switzerland

What’s another week? While “Europeanview” was negotiating the slopes of Swiss Mountains “on two sticks” as our revered resident witch calls it, the world kept turning. For me personally the fun story came out of Germany this week. A tax fraud scandal rocked the Republic and threatens the safe haven for tax-ridden estates, Liechtenstein. And, of course, the Democratic Party’s nomination leads the news again. Kosovo has declared its Independence, much to the dismay of the Serbs and Russia and Pakistan has voted, but not found a government coalition yet.

Germany first. When the boss of Germany’s logistics giant “Deutsche Post” was led from his villa by police on charges of tax fraud, this made headlines, but as it turned out it was the tip of an iceberg. What had happened? The LGT, the Liechtenstein Bank of the principality’s ruling family, decided to join the ranks of 21st century banks and digitalize their bank records. An employee, who was scanning documents in this projects, decided to save the records on a bunch of DVDs and then asked the bank for an allowance for special expenditure which would have included the return of the DVDs to the bank. The bank refused, so this person sent e-mails to the German, British and US authorities, claiming moral scruples in the light of so much blatant tax evasion and reaping in a hefty sum from Germany alone. German Police and State Attorneys are orchestrating a drama in publishing names and facts which will see it’s next round on Tuesday. “The Economist” says:

THE word Schadenfreude was coined for just such occasions.(…) Germany was already in the throes of an argument about pay, equality and whether capitalism is fair. Globalisation and economic reforms have squeezed the wages of ordinary Germans. Yet the pay of Germany’s top managers jumped 17.5% in the 2006-07 financial year, according to Kienbaum, a headhunter. The same class has lately been held responsible for expense-account sex (Volkswagen), systematic bribery (Siemens) and subprime self-abuse (IKB and the state banks of Saxony and Bavaria).

The culprits now have a chance to turn themselves in, which will lower their sentences considerably, or try to sit it out and face the music later. Many may wish they had acted according to the wise words of this commentary in “The Telegraph”.

The US Democratic Primaries are still making headlines in the Sunday Papers. Especially Hillary Clintons woes are being pleasurably reported on, it seems, by “The Times”. The Paper relishes the blunders a campaign, once dubbed a well oiled machinery, made on its way from unavoidable to “on the ropes”.

Clinton has set up a website, http://www.delegatehub.com, outlining a path to the nomination which relies on arm-twisting the super-delegates and seating the “ghost” delegations from Florida and Michigan, states which broke party rules by holding their contests early.

Gerard Baker suggests Hillary Clinton may become toxic in the end, never mind the damage to the Democratic Party.

“The Guardian”, however, concentrates on a relatively new development in the campaigns. The role of the press and their increased scrutiny of Barack Obama.

In the New York Times, two influential columnists weighed in with brutal attacks against Obama. David Brooks called him a ‘trophy messiah’ and Paul Krugman claimed Obama’s campaign was ‘…dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality’. Meanwhile, in the Boston Globe, Obama supporter Margery Eagan expressed her own doubts about her pick. ‘I’m nervous because John McCain says Obama is an “eloquent but empty call for change” and in the wee, wee hours a nagging voice whispers: “Suppose McCain’s right,’ Eagan wrote.

But the Guardian, too, decides:

Such tactics (circumventing campaign finance laws) also cannot hide the fact that the Clinton camp is in deep trouble. Much of the top leadership still remains deeply split over the right tactics in the final days before Texas and Ohio go to the polls.

The Kosovo province of Serbia has unilaterally proclaimed its independence, which turns out to be an inspiration for many separatist movements around the globe, much to the anxiety of the ruling majorities. “Der Spiegel” portrays six European regions with separatist movements.

Pakistan’s elections didn’t bring a clear winner. There will be a civilian coalition government, maybe even without Musharraf, but the Pakistani Taliban have already made clear, that any governmant better stayed clear from getting involved in the tribal areas.

This is what struck “Europeanview” as interesting this morning and there is, of course much more to be found through the links provided. I wish you all a very peaceful, happy and healthy Sunday. Take care! 

Good Morning from Europe – Threehundredandfiftyfive days to go.

Today is a pretty slow news morning. So let’s keep it short and let’s hope no news of the “breaking” variety will bring more desasters to our desks, than what the inhabitants of our world already have to cope with.

European Stock markets are eagerly waiting for the Fed’s decision on interest rates. They fully expect the Fed to go down another 0.5%. Neither the European central Bank, nor the Swiss, nor the British have as yet lowered interest rates. Well, that gives them leeway for the future, if any should be necessary.

Rudy Giuliani, New York’s ex-mayor is just that, an ex-mayor. He is expected to endorse John McCain later today. John McCain more and more looks like the Republican frontrunner. This has the likes of Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin foaming at the mouth. It indeed looks like the Republicans are hoping for a change from the Washingtonian establishment in their own way, too.

Florida saw another primary yesterday. The Democratic primaries were worthless, however, because due to a dispute about timing, the National Democratic Party will not invite the Floridian delegates to their National Convention, so their votes won’t count. Hillary Clinton won that primary by 50% to 33% for Barack Obama and 14% for John Edwars. But the delegates won’t be counted, or will they? The Clinton campaign tries to get at least as much spin out of the result as possible. “Europeanview” wonders whether the Floridians will really stay away in September, or if the Clintons will try to make the Party take the decision back, especially if the race remains close after Super Tuesday.

UPDATE: It is as claimed above, the great Huffington Post had an article even yesterday, on the Clinton campaign pushing for the  Florida delegates to be counted.

“Europeanview” wishes you all a happy and  healthy day. Take care!

Hello from Europe – 358 Days of Bush left

The Sunday papers today know but one headline: Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama and Obama.

Wait a minute: Here’s something interesting, a must-read: “The Sunday Times” again covers  the Sibel Edmonds story.

AN investigation into the illicit sale of American nuclear secrets was compromised by a senior official in the State Department, a former FBI employee has claimed.

The official is said to have tipped off a foreign contact about a bogus CIA company used to investigate the sale of nuclear secrets.

The firm, Brewster Jennings & Associates, was a front for Valerie Plame, the former CIA agent. Her public outing two years later in 2003 by White House officials became a cause célèbre.

The State Department official denied the story:

The State Department official said on Friday: “It is impossible to find a strong enough way to deny these allegations which are both false and malicious.”

From the look of it, the allegations are worth a hefty jail sentence, I’d deny it too. The Zoo’s “nwmuse” has posted on this story very early on and you can find more coverage here.

Germany is holding elections in two states today. They are considered a litmus test for the ruling grand coalition in Berlin. Hesse is particularly of interest, because of a dirty campaign by the ruling governor Roland Koch, which appealed mostly to the baser instincts like xenophobia.

Have you ever heard of Jérôme Kerviel? Well he’s the young man who helped the Société Générale to lose $7 Billion. What a villain? Not if you’re French:

 ‘He was your ideal son-in-law,’ said 62-year-old Martine Le Pohon, who remembers Jérôme helping his mother out on Saturdays at Un Monde Imagin’ Hair. ‘And if it turns out that he has stood up to the system to the tune of €5m, well, as far as I am concerned, that makes him even more ideal.’

By the way, President Sarkozy and his minions learned about the  fraud only three days after the bank’s management was aware of it. Sarkozy was livid, for not being informed. Well, maybe taking care of your job instead of your “singer-model-wife-mistress” would help you along in getting taken serious Monsieur Le Président!

And here’s another “conservative” poised to return to power and, in his case most importantly, immunity from prosecution, Silvio Berlusconi.

Did you think businesses are concerned about global climate change? Think again!

And there may still be one day when the world’s weakest are not subject to abuse anymore, but that will still be a long time from today.

This is what struck me a interesting or important in the Sunday Papers. I wish you all a peaceful and happy Sunday. Take care!