Interesting new British weblog on matters European: Europhobia – “The musings of a one-time eurosceptic turned pro-European and his better informed friends”
CDU chief Angela Merkel’s strong opposition to Turkish EU accession faces criticism from her own side, reports the FT Deutschland. Volker R?he, the CDU chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee and one-time defence minister, has lambasted Merkel’s position as ‘populism’, especially in its menacing vision of a Europe ‘flooded’ by Turks. ‘When Europe comes to Anatolia,’ say R?he, ‘Anatolia won’t need to come to Gelsenkirchen.’ Unless, of course, it wants to watch Schalke ’04…
British Conservative MP (and editor of the Spectator) Boris Johnson now has his own weblog. As a commenter somewhere else said, we can all give up and go home now.
And in the end it wasn’t even closer – Europe win the 2004 Ryder Cup by nine points, the largest winning margin since 1981.
The German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Compagnia di San Paolo have released the 2004 edition of “transatlantic trends”, an extensive survey of public opinion on a range of foreign policy issues. Polls were conducted in the US, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Great Britain, as well as in Slovakia and Turkey. So if you’re interested in the latest update on “the rift” in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Slovak, or Turkish, click here (.pdf plugin required).
Belle Waring has the best-written reflections on 9/11 that I’ve seen this year.
While most people are still banging their heads against their respective walls trying to figure out how to make a penny and a half with their blogs, Crooked Timber’s Daniel Davies comes up with an interesting and appropriately unusual leveraging solution: Buying the UK – or at least some chunks of it. Here’s the plan…
Yes it’s snarky, but is it art?
Russian writers have long been honored as wise men and secular prophets, but by pioneering literary detective fiction here, Grigory Chkhartishvili has overturned some traditions of Russia’s literary world.
Chkhartishvili – who writes under the pen name Boris Akunin – is best known for a series of 11 thrillers set in late 19th-century Russia, each featuring the aristocratic detective Erast Fandorin. Since Chkartishvili began writing fiction seven years ago, publishers have sold 10 million copies of his detective books. [Two are already available in English]
The author himself doesn’t exactly hide his subversive ambitions: B. Akunin evokes the memory of Mikhail Bakunin, a 19th-century anarchist. And Chkhartishvili was once a Japanese translator. In that language Akunin means “bad guy.”
A delightful review in the Baltimore Sun (free registration required).
Fistful commenters’ favorite MEP, Paul van Buitenen, gets big media coverage in Business Week. We knew him when.
Poker with Dick Cheney. “Colin Powell: Ladies and gentlemen. We have accumulated overwhelming evidence that Mr. Cheney’s poker hand is far, far better than two pair. Note this satellite photo, taken three minutes ago when The Editors went to get more chips. In it we clearly see the back sides of five playing cards, arranged in a poker hand. Defector reports have assured us that Mr. Cheney’s hand was already well advanced at this stage. Later, Mr. Cheney drew only one card. Why only one card? Would a man without a strong hand choose only one card? We are absolutely convinced that Mr. Cheney has at least a full house.” Lots more.
Greek police have arrested Dejan Malenkovic, one of the chief suspects for the murder of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic
If you’ve got ?1.5m lying around, then why not consider buying your own Croatian island?
Alright, here’s your joke for Sunday… if you can receive German ZDF television, you can enjoy your breakfast tomorrow making fun of me – Tobias – cycling on an ergometer for half an hour as a “surprise candidate from the audience”. Don’t ask me how I got into participating in a “Tour de Fernsehgarten” – a strangely popular “family oriented” (meaning entertainment without any real focus) tv programme I have never even watched in my enitre life – when I have to be on the set at eight on a Sunday and then proto-cycle while being forced to listen to “Overground” playbacks… (if you have to, ask my sister when she starts her blog eventually.) At least I did not have to rehearse 😉
More on Football and the European economy – Slate’s Daniel Gross explains why Europe’s favorite sport is more American than baseball. In a nutshell, it’s because “American sports are virtually all socialistic while the European soccer leagues more closely resemble the entrepreneurial capitalism we Americans fetishize.” (via papascott.de)
“I was covering Nikitin’s trial in 1999, and after one session in court I asked the prosecutor to comment on the progress of the case.
‘If I were you I would be very careful,’ responded the prosecutor, Alexander Gutsan. ‘Particularly since you have a little boy.'”
Imagine what’ll happen if they get to the final…big parties in Athens as Greece head to the Euro 2004 semi-finals
One of the choicest paragraphs, from a choice review of Bill Clinton’s autobiography: “That somehow a long, dense book by the world’s premier policy wonk should be worth that much money is amusing, and brings us back to Clinton’s long coyote-and-roadrunner race with the press. The very press that wanted to discredit him and perhaps even run him out of town instead made him a celebrity, a far more expensive thing than a mere president. Clinton’s now up there with Madonna, in the highlands that are even above talent. In fact, he and Madonna may, just at the moment, be the only ones way up there, problems having arisen with so many lesser reputations.”
If the Times link has expired, try here.
At the risk of turning this column into ‘what Henry Farrell’s written recently’, he has a good piece on CT about the role of the European Parliament in international affairs.
Amongst all the other decisions made at the summit, Croatia is now an official EU candidate state. Talks are scheduled to begin next year with an aim of the Croats joining alongside Romania and Bulgaria in 2007.
The Washington Post doesn’t think much of Europe’s efforts to get Iran to cooperate with international inspection of its nuclear programs. “So far, only carrots have been offered — and they have produced no results.”
Over at Crooked Timber, Henry Farrell assesses the candidates for President of the European Commission
Supermodels, astronauts, porn stars and journalists: BBC News looks at some of the famous (and infamous) candidates standing in the European Parliament elections
After Porto’s victory in the European Cup last night, their coach Jose Mourinho has announced he is leaving the club to work in England. He hasn’t said which club he’s joining yet, though.
Russia and the Baltic republics, and now the EU. A fraught relationship, not least because of suspicions of bad faith on both sides. What is to be done? Some thoughts from a key Munich think tank, in German.
If you’re finding it a drag to write new posts for your blogs, then Matt’s new keyboard may be able to cut the time it takes
BBC News has launched its site covering June’s elections – there are local as well as European elections in the UK on June 10
Anthony Wells looks at some of the fringe candidates standing in Britain’s elections to the European Parliament
HUDDERSFIELD, England (Reuters) — Seven men who enjoyed duck and caviar at more than 22,000 feet in the Himalayas pitched a claim Tuesday for the record highest altitude formal dinner.
Great title for a blog post, “If the past is another country, how about a declaration of independence?” Interesting cogitation behind the title, too.
Via the Young Fogey, here’s an amusing website that ranks and grades the various flags of the world. What grade does your country get?
Ken Macleod has an interesting post about his attendance at an SF convention in Croatia
On April 5, Siemens AG’s CEO Heinrich v. Pierer talked to the UN Security Council about The Role of [multinational] Business in Conflict Prevention, Peacekeeping and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding. I suppose the perspective of cross-country hierarchies on these issues should be given more public attention.
A decent overview of Poland and the EU, from a business and economic perspective.
If you’re not out celebrating, BBC News are covering the accession celebrations live. A streaming feed of their broadcast should be available from the website.
Chris Patten warns that a British ‘no’ vote in the referendum on the constitution could force Britain out of the EU
Voting takes place today in the Cypriot referendums on the UN peace plan. The final polls indicated that Turkish Cypriots would vote in favour while Greek Cypriots would vote against.
The Guardian looks behind the scenes at the work of the EU’s translators and interpreters
Folowing Prime Minster Zapatero’s surprising announcement to withdraw the Spanish troops from Iraq as quickly as possible, Miguel Moratinos, the new Spanish foreign minister, now declared that the withdrawal would take place within a fortnight (Reuters). The US administration is hoping for an orderly process yet expects other coalition members will also reconsider their engagement in light of the Spanish decision and recent devolpments in Iraq. According to Reuters, Condoleeza Rice stated on ABC television’s “This Week” that “[w]e know that there are others who are going to have to assess how they see the risk. … We have 34 countries with forces on the ground. I think there are going to be some changes.” (Reuters)
Ivan Gasparovic has defeated Vladimir Meciar to become Slovakia’s next President
An interesting (though some of the methodology may be flawed) report on the possible outcome of the European Parliament elections (warning: large pdf file) suggests a likely EPP-ED/ELDR majority in the Parliament after June. Via Anthony Wells, who also has a look at the potential of the minor parties in the UK.
Reading Scott’s post about google politics and lexicological engineering with respect to “Jew/Jews/Jewish” reminded me to recommend to you a volume of short essays called “The Jewish Voice in Transatlantic Relations” (.pdf) which is the result of two symposia organised by, among other organisations, the volume’s publisher, the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Le Monde reports that the troubled leader of the French UMP, Alain Jupp?, is openly contesting the official French position of a “European vocation” for Turkey with respect to the country’s possible EU candidacy. His comments are considered to significantly raise the salience of this issue in French politics.
Following revelations by Le Monde that the French budget deficit in 2005 would likely be higher than 4 per cent of GDP with the overall debt rising to 67 per cent, the FT reports that the Commission with reveal additional fiscal sore spots tomorrow by adding Britain, Greece, the Netherlands and Italy to their watchlist of member states likely to breach the Stability and Growth Pact.
Baden-W?rttemberg has become the first German state to ban headscarves in state schools. Unlike the controversial French ban, this one affects only teachers, not schoolgirls. Also unlike the French ban, this one is targeted solely at Muslim symbols; Christian and Jewish religious accessories remain permissible. (From the tageszeitung; link in German)
Ireland’s smoking ban claims a prominent victim, reports the BBC: Fine Gael TD (that’s like an MP, only in Irish) and justice spokesman John Deasy has been thrown off the front bench for lighting up outside the parliamentary bar. (The place has since been designated a smoking area; another Irish solution for an Irish problem.)
Kofi Annan has now produced a final plan for Cyprus which will be put to referendums in the two halves of the island
The Greek government doubts that an agreement over Cyprus will be reached before the deadline for negotiations to conclude, which will mean Kofi Annan will be required to impose a solution before referendums are held
An in interesting Guardian interview with European Parliament President Pat Cox
If you’re off to the pub in Ireland, leave your ciggies at home. As of today. smoking is illegal in public workplaces. Those near the border may slip across to the wee North for a fag with their pint.
Reuters points out that owning a single share of Eurodisney, the long time ill-fated European branch of Disney, may have been one of the best investments in recent European economic history. Shareholders attending last Thursday’s annual meeting were rewarded with two tickets, a Lion-King toy, and a restaurant voucher. Just the tickets, currently priced at ? 98, represent a yield of about 21800 % for a single share, which was priced at ? 0.45 on the same day.
Europe and the War on Liberty – Maria Farrell on the proposals for European anti-terror legislation after Madrid
Harry’s Place is running a Do Something for Iraq campaign to promote ‘campaigns, projects and charities that are directly helping Iraqi people’
Juliana, former Queen of the Netherlands, has died aged 94
Recently, Samuel Huntington laid out his reasons for being afraid of Mexican immigrants to the US in an essay in Foreign Policy. You should read it. But even more importantly, make sure to read our AFOE co-editor Scott Martens’ most excellent three part (one, two, three) point by point refutation of Mr Huntington’s effort over at pedantry. While the case study is about the US, there are important lessons to be drawn for European immigration, too – “It’s all Tim Berner-Lee’s fault.”
The emergency meeting of EU interior ministers today has recommended that next week’s heads of government meeting appoint an EU anti-terrorism ‘czar’, but there will not be a centralized ‘European Intelligence Agency’
According to the people who voted in the Bloggytm category “best European weblog”, the best one is Textism. The four runner-ups are, in order of appearance on the award’s website – Ben Hammersley’s Dangerous Precedent, Open Brackets, Giornale Nuovo, Chocolate & Zucchini. The overall winner is, by the way, BoingBoing, the directory of wonderful things.
My favorite blogger, Kevin “Calpundit” Drum, has gone professional. He now blogs at the Washington Monthly.
After Madrid, there’ll be a series of emergency EU meetings to discuss greater co-operation over terror
Who did it? – Maria Farrell on the questions raised by Madrid
Another search for Radovan Karadzic has ended in failure
‘A dynamic democratic Europe’ – a recent speech by British Foreign Office Minister, Mike O’Brien
France’s ambassador to Georgia is about to become the country’s new Foreign Minister
Reaction to the Madrid bombings from the British Prime Minister’s office: “This terrible attack underlines the threat that we all continue to face from terrorism in many countries, and why we all must work together internationally to safeguard our peoples against such attacks and defeat terrorism”
Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes says that ETA were responsible for the Madrid bombings
Blogged coverage of Madrid from Iberian Notes
From Reuters, a brief chronology of ETA’s background and previous attacks
Latest reports from Madrid say that 173 people have been killed in today’s bombings. The Spanish government say that ETA is responsible
The EU is now officially a player in this year’s US elections: After talks in Washington failed, Pascal Lamy, the EU trade commissioner, has confirmed that progressive trade sanctions to counteract illegal US export tax breaks will be imposed from March 1st on.
After a stopover in Chicago, where he once again urged to keep more than an eye on the current Dollar weakness and Euro area interest rates (transcript in English | .doc), Gerhard Schroeder is having lunch with GW Bush today in order to further mend relations after the two leaders’ bitter disagreement over Iraq.
EUR-Lex, the EU’s web gateway to legal documents now also offers provisional access to the official legislative journals of all member states (via handakte.de)
Downing Street says – A new weblog reporting the official briefings made by the British Prime Minister’s office
Confident of victory in the March 14th election, Russian President Putin has declared the resignation of the Prime Minister and his cabinet
Forty years on my isle of heartbreak – former Guardian editor Peter Preston’s personal reflections on Cyprus
20000 demonstrate in Tirana, calling on Albanian PM Fatos Nano to resign
Europe has lost its leverage in the places that matter – Guardian columnist Martin Woolacott on Europe’s declining influence
We’ll meet again – Berlusconi leads the criticism of the Franco-German-British summit, as they insist they intend to continue meeting as a triumvirate
Has Schroeder started a trend? Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller is resigning the leadership of the Democratic Left Alliance, but will remain in office as PM
Queen Elizabeth may become the first British monarch to visit Ireland in 90 years after a meeting between Irish President Mary McAleese and the Princess Royal
A scientist describes Saturn’s moon Titan as potentially looking ‘a bit like Sweden’. No comment is available from the Swedes at this time, but Norwegian comedians are reportedly working overtime
A Guardian Q&A on the working rights citizens of the 10 accession countries will have in the 15 current members of the EU
The first jackpot – ?15million – in the EuroMillions lottery was won by someone who bought their ticket in France, the BBC reports
Kofi Annan will have the power to set the final terms for a referendum on the reunification of Cyprus raising real hopes that the island could be reunified before it joins the EU
Der Spiegel only seems to have some of the facts about the pretender to the British throne. I have some more information on it here from when the news came out in Britain in January.
Ivan Rybkin now claims that his disappearance wasn’t entirely voluntary after all. Just to be on the safe side, he’ll stay abroad till the elections are over. (From the BBC.)
If Der Spiegel has its facts right, Elizabeth II is a pretender and the true King a beer-drinking Australian farmer. If so, this would clear things up for the Scots, who wonder how they can have an Elizabeth ‘the second’ when they never had a first one: Good Queen Bess would’ve had as little claim to the throne as her latter-day namesake. The putative King Mike I, though, would just as soon stay on in Oz with his mates. (Report in German.)
The European Commission has approved the merger of Air France and KLM
Britain’s Conservatives have agreed a deal to remain within the EPP-ED group in the European Parliament
From the BBC: headscarf ban passes in French lower house by huge majority.
Ivan Rybkin wasn’t ‘disappeared’, it turns out. As the BBC reports, he simply disappeared of his own accord for a few days. Odd thing for a presidential candidate to do; what’s the ‘backstory’ here, one wonders?
Palestine’s European aspirations: report in English (from EUobserver).
Ireland’s taoiseach (and current EU head) Bertie Ahern expresses sympathy for Germany’s position on voting under the proposed EU constitution, reports EUobserver.
Doctors and pilots stage a one-day strike in Italy. (BBC) If you’re flying Alitalia in for that emergency appendectomy, try to hold on till tomorrow.
Russian Presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin has gone missing. Police are now looking for him and he has not been seen since Thursday
The EU’s Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen is confident a deal can be struck to reunite Cyprus before it joins the EU on May 1st
Palestinian Authority foreign minister Nabil Shaath sees Joschka Fischer’s suggestion of an EU/Near East free trade zone, and raises it. Speaking at the Munich security conference, Shaath suggested that an independent Palestine, after concluding peace with Israel, should join the European Union. (Der Spiegel; in German.)
Get your hands on a real fistful of Euros – Europe’s first transnational lottery starts selling tickets today in Britain, France and Spain
Gerhard Schr?der has resigned the chairmanship of the SPD, handing the reins to Franz M?ntefering (Der Spiegel; link in German). The latter is regarded as to the left of Schr?der (though much less so than Oskar Lafontaine), not to say more popular with the party base.
Far left nationalism – Harry Hatchet on why the British left parties are refusing to be part of the Party of the European Left
The British police have banned over 2000 people from travelling to Portugal this summer, in an effort to keep Euro 2004 hooligan free.
The Irish government will revise the immigration bill expected to pass in the D?il today, says RT?. The bill would permit refusal of entry to those with ‘profound mental disturbance’. As originally drafted, it was feared this provision would bar, e.g., those with Down’s syndrome or autism. The definition will now be narrowed to refer to psychotic disturbance.
German minister of consumer affairs Renate K?nast has ordered Deutsche Bahn to pay damages in future to passengers on seriously delayed trains, reports the taz (in German). The German people have not yet begun, though, to say they need a man who can make the trains run on time.
New suspicions of avian influenza in Germany, this time in Dresden. (Link in German.) A Vietnamese man living in that city has fallen ill after returning from a visit home, where he worked on his brother’s chicken farm.
It takes two to sambo – Stefan Geens explains how Swedes reproduce through binge drinking
Stomach cancer rates are dropping across Europe, according to a new study.
No avian influenza in Hamburg, reports wire service AFP (link in German). The woman in question appears to be afflicted with, em, human influenza.
Kafka’s Spam – Chris Lightfoot reports on how easy it isn’t to report spammers under the Communications Privacy Directive
According to CNN International, health authorities in Hamburg are examining two women (one of whom had recently returned from Thailand) for signs of avian influenza. Though the authorities stated it was ‘very unlikely’ that either woman was infected, the news was enough to send shares in Lufthansa down a bit. According to German wire service dpa (link in German), definitive test results are expected some time this evening.
RT? News reports that the European Commission is expected to find tomorrow that Ryanair’s Charleroi airport deal with the Walloon government is illegal. Such arrangements will not be ruled illegal per se, but will be subject to significant limits of scope and time. We shall all have to wait to see what effect the ruling will have on the future of cheap air travel.
The final report of the Hutton Inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly and the dispute between the British Government and the BBC is available to read online.
According to the conservative German newspaper Die Welt(German, free registration required), the EU is about to send a team to Jerusalem to seriously investigate alligations of EU funding for the Palestinian Authorities being embezzled to the benefit of Palestinian terrorist organisations (also – EUObserver)
This is big – and will be even bigger for the French right. Alain Jupp?, brilliant but aloof former Prime Minister in the first instance found guilty of illegal party financing – reports from the BBC, the NYTimes, the Washington Post, the Guardian, Sueddeutsche Zeitung (German), CNNenespanol (Spanish), and of course, LeMonde (French).
The Spiegel reports that Gerd Schr?der and George Bush are to kiss and make up (article in German). The White House has invited Schr?der to lunch, where he will discuss with Bush ‘the continuation of transatlantic relations’, as well as developments in Iraq, the Near East and Afghanistan.
Today, the NY Times features a review of recent books on the Bush administrations’ foreign policy.