The Watering Hole: Tuesday May 15th – Europe

A Storm is brewing over Europe in more than one sense…

There is the unsolved, so called debt crisis, which entangles Spain and Italy now and has, by all accounts all but devoured Greece already. 

The second one is a political storm. In France it has swept Sarkozy out of office, in the UK the Tories got to feel quite a blustery breeze. In Germany last weekend and the one before voters were giving Merkel’s austerity politics quite strong headwinds. Again, Greece is at the center of the disturbance. The last election brought a stiff breeze from the left, but some serious gusts from the right as well. The Captains of the coffin ship contemplate to test the waters again and that should bring a solid gale from the left and swipe them off board.

Then there’s the weather. It’s really gusty and nasty outside, so much for spring. Ugh.

No matter how it eventually ends, there is some turbulence ahead for sure.

This is our Open Thread. Talk about the Weather?

UPDATE JUST IN: GREECE TALKS BROKE UP – NEW ELECTIONS DUE.

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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The Watering Hole: April 23, Britpolitics

Now this shall be unusual if it happens. The UK is heading for a general election on May 6th and this time it could result in a hung Parliament. Due to the first past the post voting system within a hitherto two-party system that has rarely ever  happened before.

The real surprise is the rise of Liberal Democrat leader Clegg, who is likened to, who else, Barack Obama. After the first televised debate of the candidates he was leading in the polls, after the second one he is neck on neck with David Cameron the Tory leader. There is nothing much that Gordon Brown can do, even if he was scored some points in the debate. The British want change, even at the price of a hung parliament.

This is our Open Thread. You can comment on this and that and everything.

Update on yesterday’s post: Greece has formally asked for aid now. € 30 billion from the EU and a further 15 billion from the IMF. Read this, too: The Economist sets Greece’s need for aid at €75 billion.

The British Fight Back

The UK has tired of the United States trashing their universal health care system and are speaking out.

Contrary to what Americans are being told, the British love their universal health care system.  I used to work for a British owned corporation and my counterparts in the UK always received good health care and never complained about how they were treated.

How many countries are clamoring for our health care system?  If our health care was so great, other countries would be eager to switch from their universal coverage to our “you’re not covered” system.  Do keep paying your premiums because the insurance companies might change their minds, maybe, and cover your treatments (if you are lucky).

Now, this is not acceptable Mr President!

The Guardian reports:

US threats mean evidence of British resident’s Guantánamo torture must stay secret, judges rule

The US government obviously has blackmailed the UK into not releasing details about Guantanamo torture and threatened the country with such dire consequences that UK judges ruled evidence of torture must remain secret due to the severity of the consequences for Britain’s safety,

Here’s the same story from The Times The Telegraph The Independent

The Independent has the most extensive quotes from the ruling:

“Indeed we did not consider that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials … relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be.

“We had no reason … to anticipate there would be made a threat of the gravity of the kind made by the United States Government that it would reconsider its intelligence sharing relationship, when all the considerations in relation to open justice pointed to us providing a limited but important summary of the reports.”

In another part of the ruling, the judges said they had been informed by lawyers for Foreign Secretary David Miliband that the threat to withdraw co-operation remained even under President Barack Obama’s new administration.

I was wondering how long it took until I got mad at President Obama. It didn’t take long. I still give him the it’s-the-first-100-days-and-you-can’t-do-everything-at-once benefit of the doubt, but only just. This is not the kind of foreign policy I expect and President Obama promised. This gag order must go.

Good Morning from Europe – Monday, DST is finally over Edition

(San Benedetto del Tronto, Art on the Seaside)

Good Morning Everybody! Daylight Saving Time has finally seen it’s last day for the year for us and all, who are sleep deprived since it started, are rejoicing the fact.

Iraq: Yesterday the military was celebrating the successes in Iraq’s Anbar province and today, sadly, the news is back to gruesome. Ten Iraqi sheiks have been abducted, coming from a meeting with the government to discuss actions to pacify Diyala province. A suicide bombing in Baquba, Diyala province cost the lives of at least 24 police recruits. In Kirkuk and Baghdad car bombs exploded yesterday and cost six and two lives respectively. Meanwhile, the US army has handed over Karbala to the Iraqis

Some more trouble is at hand in the north of Iraq. The Kurds have categorically told Turkey, that they would not suffer an intrusion into their territory. Military action would be taken. This is not deterring Turkey from planning a crackdown on the PKK on Iraqi soil.

Meanwhile the UK has an illustrious guest. King Abdullah is on a state visit to Great Britain. While some point out the many shortcomings of the Saudi regime, the King himself started his visit by criticizing his hosts for failing to act on 7/7 intelligence. Unlike the UK, the US are in fact tackling terrorism thoroughly, indeed.

The Iran sanctions, mentioned in this blog yesterday, are not likely to have an effect, says the Washington Post. Meanwhile, an attack on the country will be more and more likely.

For Sale: Whenever we see pictures of babies and small children in refugee camps in Darfur our hearts go out for them. International aid workers are doing their best to help under dire circumstances. There are exceptions to the rule, however, and this is simply outrageous.

And finally: A First Lady turned President – fast forward that to 2008, November 4th.

A good start into to the week to everybody and take care!