Closer union: Continental Europe in favor

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Italy's usual approach to European Union diktats consists of giving them a sober welcome then trying to stop them making any difference to how Italians conduct their affairs – the opposite of Britain, which bellyaches about the EU yet obeys its rules.

The pattern was visible last month in the elevation of Mario Monti, right, as head of a government of unelected technocrats. Italy's parliament, that "circus of ferocious beasts" as it has been called, gave Mr Monti carte blanche to do everything necessary to save Italy and the euro. But already cries of pain and threats of dissent are being heard from every corner of the Italian political world: some about pensions, others about residence tax, others about a heavier burden on families, the Northern League denouncing the way reforms are being shoved through.

Read more at The Independent

Icy appeal: Why Berlin's best in winter

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Berlin's a great city, but it's commonly advised that you avoid it between the months of November and February. Deutsche Welle's Stuart Braun, however, isn't going anywhere.

I'm going to say something unthinkable. I love winter in Berlin.

Is he serious, they will snigger. Winter in Berlin is hell, they will scoff. These are the naysayers now fleeing the capital, heading south, all the way to Australia if they can. "Get out, run for your lives," they scream. "Winter is coming!"

Read more at Deutsche Welle

President Putin: Familiarity breed contempt

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MOSCOW — Popular support for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his ruling party is falling as voters prepare for Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

“Opposition to Putin is huge, and it’s growing rapidly,” said Moscow-based journalist Alexei Korolyov.

Read more at The Washington Times

New government: Can it save Italy?

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ROME – Even in a country where an inept, unstable and bickering government is nothing new, Italians say they are nervous about the future.

"What will be next if the Italian economy goes bankrupt?" asked Giacomo Levy, a 33-year-old psychologist. "It's something hard to imagine. People or business can go bankrupt. But the government?"

Read more at USA Today

Belgian government: Nearly formed after 535 days

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BRUSSELS — In the end, the markets made them do it.

After 535 days marked by months of bickering and debate, Belgian politicians possibly have found a way to form a federal government, setting the record for going without an elected national administration.

Read more at The Washington Times

Euro crisis: Thinking the unthinkable

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BERLIN – As Italy sank deeper into crisis Tuesday, eurozone finance ministers met in Brussels to consider once unthinkable ideas, including creating a European government bond to save the bloc even if major players have refused to sign on.

"We're actually really running out of money," said Bert Van Roosebeke, an economist with the Center for European Policy in Freiburg, Germany. "And politicians are starting to look for a new mechanism. Euro bonds are one of them."

Read more at USA Today

Grim prediction: Egyptians braced for bloodshed

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CAIRO – Security forces fought Monday with several thousand protesters in Tahrir Square in the third straight day of violence over demands that the military set a date for turning power over to civilians.

Egypt's army-appointed government handed in its resignation Monday in what the protesters took as a gesture toward addressing their complaints. "God is great!" they shouted upon hearing the news.

Read more at USA Today

Debt crisis: Spanish elect conservative

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MADRID – Spanish voters kicked out the Socialist government Sunday in elections seen as a referendum on the handling of the European debt crisis, which has left Spain buckling under soaring unemployment, burgeoning debt and cuts in public benefits.

It was the fifth European government - after Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Italy - to be brought down in the past year because of the debt crisis and the Socialists' worst result since Spain held its first democratic election in 1977 after a 40-year-long dictatorship.

Read more at USA Today

Media scandal: News of the World pays police

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LONDON - In Britain, many are expecting significant political and business fallout from the phone hacking scandal that has forced the closure of News of the World (NotW), Britain's largest-circulation paper and a pillar of Rupert Murdoch's media empire in the country.

The increased scrutiny on NotW has put a fresh spotlight not only on phone hacking but also another controversial practice: journalists paying police for secrets, referred to here as "bunging."

Read more at the Christian Science

Spanish vote: Center-right ousts Socialists

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MADRID — The People's Party and its leader, Mariano Rajoy, unseated the governing Socialist Party on Sunday in a resounding victory for the conservative leader who has promised to tackle an economic crisis that is threatening to bankrupt Spain.

“Forty-six million Spaniards are going to wage a battle against the [economic] crisis,” he told cheering supporters from a balcony outside his party’s headquarters in Madrid.

Read more at The Washington Times

Debt crisis: Can Monti save Italy?

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ROME, Italy – Until now, Mario Monti was best known as the man who took on General Electric a decade ago, at the height of the company's power. Back then, as Europe’s competition czar, he stood up to GE's legendary CEO Jack Welch, dramatically blocking the company’s proposed $40 billion takeover of rival Honeywell.

Monti's move came after the GE-Honeywell deal had the blessing of the US Justice Department. The EU’s approval was almost considered a forgone conclusion. But Monti and his team studied the details closely, found an array of antitrust concerns and surprised Welch — and much of the business world — by rejecting it.

Read more at Global Post

Irish budget: Leak to Germany

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Loss of sovereignty may be an abstract notion, but this week Irish people were confronted with what it means in reality. Revelations that draft proposals for the Irish December budget had been circulated in a German parliamentary committee were met with horror in Ireland. It has since emerged that they were sent to every finance minister in the EU.

Members of Irish opposition parties have been in uproar at the fact that parliamentarians in Berlin were privy to vital information, such as a proposed 2% hike in VAT. Meanwhile they and other elected members of the Dáil would have to wait with the rest of the population until budget day, 6 December, to learn where exactly the axe was to fall.

Read more at The Guardian

Silvio Berlusconi: Why journalists will miss him

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ROME, Italy — The most difficult period in my 12 years as a journalist in Italy started in 2006, when Romano Prodi replaced Silvio Berlusconi as the country’s prime minister.

Prodi was more than qualified for the job — he was a former European Commission president and had already served as prime minister. But after five years of Berlusconi’s off-the-cuff, colorful, and shocking brand of politics, writing about any other political leader was like composing an essay about waiting for the bus.

Read more at Global Post

Armistice Day: Berlin's muted remembrance

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While much of the world stops to remember the dead of the world wars, Berlin is business as usual on Armistice Day. DW's Stuart Braun ponders the muted memorializing of war in the German capital.

A great war leaves a country with three armies - an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves, according to a German proverb. But today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year, when the so-called victors will stop to remember the armistice that ended World War I, Germany, as usual, will not commemorate the day. The German capital is marked by a conspicuous absence of commemoration for its fallen soldiers and citizens.

Read more at Deutsche Welle

Berlusconi resignation: Markets' doubt

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ROME – A day after Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi promised to bow out of the country's political picture sooner rather than later, Italians said they are not convinced he will actually leave.

"I am starting to think they will have to carry Berlusconi out on a stretcher or at gunpoint," said Pier Luigi Bascolo, a 63-year-old retired taxi driver. "I don't think he's going to walk out on his own."

Read more at USA Today

Italian debt: What next for Berlusconi?

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ROME, Italy – Despite Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's announcement Tuesday that he will step down, it’s still anyone’s guess how long he will manage to hold on to his job. But one thing is clear: after 17 years in Italy’s political spotlight, Berlusconi’s often mesmerizing political drama has reached its last act. What follows may be a very painful chapter in Italy's history.

On Tuesday, the 75-year-old leader best known for verbal gaffes, “bunga bunga” sex parties, and a steady stream of legal troubles, lost a key parliamentary vote. After several hours of reflection and meeting with his children and close advisors, Berlusconi told Italian President Giorgio Napolitano he would relinquish his power after the latest Italian emergency austerity package is approved by parliament.

Read more at Global Post

Euro crisis: Berlusconi bows out

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ROME – It wasn't the charges of tax evasion, bribery, influence peddling or even paying for sex with a 17-year-old girl that brought down Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

On Tuesday, Europe's fast-growing debt crisis claimed its latest victim in Berlusconi, who has led Italy for 11 of the past 17 years. He vowed to resign after shepherding the country's economic austerity package through Parliament, creating at least some short-term relief for Europe's fourth-largest economy.

Read more at USA Today

Greek PM: Main parties discuss appointment

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ATHENS, Greece – Greece's two main parties were negotiating Monday over who will be the country's new prime minister after Socialist leader George Papandreuou agreed to step down and allow a eurozone cash-infusion to prevent the country's default temporarily.

But many Greeks question whether a new unity government between two opposing parties would help their situation.

Read more at USA Today

Bailout vote: Papandreou backs down

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_GRC130306AA001.jpegATHENS – Under international pressure, Greece's prime minister Thursday gave up his plan for a nationwide vote on a bailout deal for his debt-ridden country that European leaders fretted would cause a financial meltdown.

However, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou also forced his political foes to back down on their opposition to the spending cuts and tax hikes that come with the bailout funded largely by Germany and other European nations.

Read more at USA Today

Greek bailout: Public to vote on package

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ATHENS – Greece's prime minister on Wednesday won backing for a surprise national vote on a European-funded bailout, but many say opposition to benefits cuts and foreign oversight may sink the package and prevent Europe from resolving its financial crisis.

"We will not implement any program by force, but only with the consent of the Greek people," Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said after his Cabinet approved the public referendum. "This is our democratic tradition, and we demand that it is also respected abroad."

Read more at USA Today

David Cameron: Facing rebellion over EU

b_191_129_16777215_00_images_ARA_news_GBR121128AA001.jpegLONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron faced a humiliating rebellion by Conservative lawmakers after a vote on withdrawing from the European Union split his party.

Just days ahead of emergency talks on a European debt-crisis plan, Mr. Cameron last week ordered Conservative members of Parliament to oppose a motion calling for a referendum on EU membership.

Read more at The Washington Times

EU talks: Stutter-steps toward agreement

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BERLIN – As European Union leaders try to come to an agreement over a package of measures to stop the spiraling debt crisis — agreed to in advance by the German parliament Wednesday — they are also pushing for steps to bring the continent closer together that some say are actually increasing the divisions in the bloc.

"The European Union has 27 members, not 17 members, and the (other 10) can't be (left) out (of the process)," said Piotr Maciej Kaczynski, researcher at the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels.

Read more at USA Today

Extreme right: Historic gains in Switzerland

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ZURICH, Switzerland — “If I see you on the street, I am going to run you over with my car, you piece of shit.” That virulent email arrived on Sept. 18, says Ivanic Petrusic, a socialist lawmaker in the regional parliament of the canton of Aargau. It was one of more than 200 similar messages that Petrusic has received in recent months.

He’s terrified.

Why all the hatred? His opponents accuse him of endangering Swiss society and threatening its flag.

Read more at Global Post

Paris scheme: Testing electric car-sharing

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France caught the world's attention when it launched its Vélib' bike-sharing scheme in 2007. Now Paris is preparing another mobility revolution. It's testing a new electric car-sharing program to be launched in December.

Parisian Mayor Bertrand Delanoë wants to cut noise and air pollution in the capital city with an all-electric car-sharing program named Autolib' – a portmanteau of the French words automobile and liberté (freedom).

Read more at Deutsche Welle

Dream wheels: Why electric cars aren't catching on

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FRANKFURT — Tiny, sporty, glamorous and green – this year’s Frankfurt Auto Show transformed itself into a vast playground for the auto industry’s latest battery-powered toys. From Audi to Hyundai, major carmakers showcased cutting-edge technology: lightweight vehicles that look good, drive fast and, most importantly, produce little to no emissions at all.

Electric technology has become the hottest trend in the auto industry, especially as oil prices continue to climb and the number of environmentally conscious car buyers continues to grow. For the first time ever in Frankfurt, an entire hall at the auto show was dedicated to e-mobility.

Read more at Global Post

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