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Europe Seeks to Restore Calm After Spanish Downgrade

Mario Draghi
© Hannelore Foerster/Bloomberg Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, called for a “ growth compact” consisting of structural changes and improvements in competitiveness to enhance the fiscal pact.
European leaders will seek to restore market calm this week after Spain was cut by Standard & Poor's and a German-led austerity agenda to resolve the debt crisis came under fire ahead of elections in France and Greece.

With Spain's largest unions leading marches involving thousands of protesters in 55 cities yesterday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government battled to prevent Spain from becoming the next country to seek bailout aid. In France, the final round of presidential elections on May 6 and the prospect of victory for Socialist candidate Francois Hollande steered debate toward whether a focus on budget cuts worsens the crisis.

"Watching Spain now is exactly like watching Ireland around October 2010 before Ireland was forced into its bailout," Megan Greene, a senior economist at Roubini Global Economics LLC, told Bloomberg Television's "Street Smart" on April 27. "The government can't win no matter what it does."

X

Cameron Denies News Corp. Collaboration

David Cameron
© David Moir/Reuters
London - U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said Sunday there was no agreement between him and Rupert Murdoch, or his son James Murdoch, to support News Corp.'s NWSA -0.15% business interests in return for the media company's support of Mr. Cameron's Conservative Party.

"The idea there was some grand bargain between me and Rupert Murdoch - that is not true," he said in an interview with BBC television, in which he also defended the government's austerity measures after economic data last week showed the U.K. slipped back into a recession in the previous two quarters.

The government's links with media groups, in particular News Corp., have come under renewed scrutiny this week after the special adviser to the culture minister resigned over his close contacts with the Murdoch-run company during its efforts to take full control of pay-television operator British Sky Broadcasting Group BSY.LN +0.90% PLC last year.

Opposition lawmakers have called for Jeremy Hunt, the minister for culture, media and sport, to also resign over the allegations he was too close to News Corp. while he handled the regulatory process over the BSkyB bid.

Mr. Hunt has said he acted with "scrupulous fairness throughout" the process and pledged to give evidence on the matter before Brian Leveson, a government-appointed judge who is conducting a public inquiry into British media practices.

Info

Ex-Libyan Oil Minister Found Dead In Danube Near Vienna

Shukri Ghanem
© unknownShukri Ghanem
The body of former Libyan Oil Minister Shukri Ghanem was found in Danube river near the Austrian capital Vienna on Sunday.

Media reports quoting police spokesman Roman Hahslinger said Ghanem's body was found floating in the river on Sunday morning and it bore no external signs of violence. The cause of death could be determined only after a post-mortem examination, he added.

Ghanem, 69, was last seen by his daughter on Saturday night in their apartment in a Vienna suburb. She went to bed and when she woke up he was not in the apartment. She alerted the police who told her the body of her father was found in the Danube, 20 meters from the shore, close to the apartment in Copa Cagrana, a popular waterfront dotted with bars and restaurants.

Cut

Angela Merkel Plans Euro 2012 Boycott if Yulia Tymoshenko Kept in Jail

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© Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty ImagesA supporter of Yulia Tymoshenko protests in Kharkiv where Ukraine's opposition leader is in prison and which hosts the Germany-Netherlands Euro 2012 game on 13 June.
Daughter of Ukraine's imprisoned opposition leader calls on Germany to 'save the life' of her mother

Angela Merkel is planning to boycott next month's Euro 2012 football tournament in Ukraine unless imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko is released, according to newspaper reports.

The German chancellor's decision came as the former Ukrainian prime minister's daughter made an impassioned plea to the German government to "save the life" of her mother, who is has spent 10 days on hunger strike.

"Save my mother's life before it's too late," Eugenia Tymoshenko urged the German leadership in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung newspaper. "The fate of my mother and that of my country are now one and the same thing: if she dies, democracy dies with her".

Tymoshenko, 52, a former leader of Ukraine's Orange Revolution who is serving a seven-year prison sentence on charges that she abused her powers in a Russian energy deal, went on hunger strike to protest against alleged abuse in custody.

She claimed last week that prison guards punched her in the stomach and twisted her limbs while taking her to hospital against her will to be treated for a chronic back problem. Bruises on her right arm, elbow, hand and stomach have been documented in photographs.

Star of David

In surprise, Official Says Israeli Prime Minister Exploring Early Elections

Benjamin Netanyahu
© The Associated Press/Ronen Zvulun/PoolIsrael's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday, April 29, 2012
In a political development with global implications, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday signaled he soon might call early elections - a decision that could put Mideast peace efforts on hold for months and cast more uncertainty on Israel's deliberations over whether to attack Iran's nuclear program.

Netanyahu has presided over an awkwardly diverse yet unusually resilient coalition for three years and is suddenly beset by challenges. But while he is increasingly under fire for his handling of Iran and the Palestinians, it is more mundane domestic complications that appear to be driving the coalition unrest.

The Supreme Court has ordered the government to dismantle illegal West Bank settlement outposts - a move that faces tough opposition from hard-line coalition allies who have a history of toppling even right-leaning governments like Netanyahu's over such issues.

A Supreme Court-ordered Aug. 1 deadline to scrap draft exemptions for tens of thousands of religious seminary students - an issue dividing the country's Jews into increasingly antagonistic camps - also threatens the coalition.

Mass protests also are expected for the second summer in a row over Israel's high cost of living.

Mr. Potato

French Jewish Leader in Hot Water Over Apparent Endorsement of Sarkozy

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© ReutersRichard Prasquier, center, with President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, and Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande.
Political analysts says in Haaretz op-ed that Sarkozy is expected to lose, but the head of the French-Jewish umbrella group wrote he was worried by a possible victory by his opponent.


The leader of the French-Jewish umbrella group CRIF has attracted critical headlines following a piece he wrote in Haaretz apparently endorsing France's incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"Richard Prasquier lost his honor" was just one of a dozen headlines attacking or quoting the CRIF leader after his piece appeared, explaining why he thinks Sarkozy is still the best candidate for the presidency. "He has a deep knowledge of Israel and a deep sympathy for this country," wrote Prasquier.

Star of David

Sarkozy Seeks Franco-Israelis' Support

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© Agence France-PresseThe conference
French president, which is facing electoral battle, urges dual nationals living in Israel to vote en masse in second round of presidential elections

With only a week left to the second round of the presidential elections in France, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is trying everything to close the gap between him and Socialist Party frontrunner Francois Hollande.

The first round has give Hollande an 8% lead.

Sarkozy has reportedly appealed in a letter to dual French-Israeli citizens, urging them to exercise their voting right in the second round, set to be held on Sunday.

Health

British Red Cross Doctor Kidnapped in Pakistan Found Beheaded

Khalil Rasjed Dale
© British Red Cross/PA WireKhalil Rasjed Dale
Quetta, Pakistan - The beheaded body of a kidnapped British doctor working for the International Committee of the Red Cross was found by the roadside on Sunday in the southwestern Pakistan city of Quetta, police and Red Cross officials said.

Khalil Rasjed Dale, 60, was abducted by suspected militants on January 5 while on his way home from work.

"The ICRC condemns in the strongest possible terms this barbaric act," ICRC Director-General Yves Daccord said in a statement. "All of us at the ICRC and at the British Red Cross share the grief and outrage of Khalil's family and friends."

Police discovered Dale wrapped in plastic near a western bypass road in the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province where Baluch separatist militants are fighting a protracted insurgency for more autonomy.

His name was written on the white plastic bag with black marker.

"A sharp knife was used to sever his head from the body," said Safdar Hussain, the first doctor to examine the body. "He was killed about 12 hours ago."

Dale had worked for the ICRC and the British Red Cross in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq before coming to Pakistan. He had been managing a health programme for Baluchistan for almost a year when he was abducted, the ICRC statement said.

"We are devastated," Daccord said. "Khalil was a trusted and very experienced Red Cross staff member who significantly contributed to the humanitarian cause."

Newspaper

Media Disinformation and the Use of Language

disinformation graphic
© Creative-i
The mainstream media utilize many words and phrases in reporting that have been specifically chosen, either by the media or a source, to misrepresent or distort the contexts to which they are applied. Unfortunately, the alternate media often picks up those words (or phrases) and uses them in their own reporting, without due consideration for the perpetuation of the distortions and misrepresentations.

Examples include:

"Rubber bullets"

The image presented to the public is one of nice, rubber balls banging into protesters, creating stinging pain for use in crowd control. This is not at all the case, though they are generally categorized as "less lethal", if used correctly e.g. no head shots. For a good perspective, see here1. At minimum, these should be called rubber-coated bullets. But even the use of "rubber" causes distortion. Better might be "hard-coated steel bullets". I would also observe that with enough muzzle velocity (which the firing rifles usually have) and at close enough range, just about any material can be lethal. The best example would be tornados ramming straws into tree trunks and lumber through building walls.

"Tear gas"

Though "tears" may have been the main human reaction to this gas when it was invented, the toxicity of the current CS gas2 is considerably more advanced, causing all sorts of negative reactions in a human's breathing system, eyes, skin, etc. Its "non-lethal" characterization has also been shown to be often untrue. CS gas is the most commonly used and "CS-gas" could be used instead of "tear gas", or perhaps even better, "toxic CS gas".

Question

Gaddafi funded Sarkozy's 2007 Election Campaign? Sarkozy accused of receiving illegal political funding

Sarkozy
© Unknown
A French news website has claimed President Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign was partially funded by the government of the late Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

The Paris-based website Mediapart has alleged the Sarkozy campaign was given an estimated US $66 million.

Mediapart also suggested an official of Gaddafi's regime, intelligence chief Moussa Koussa, authorised secret payments.

In France, politicians are banned from taking funding from foreign states.

Last month, when the allegations were first hinted at, President Sarkozy dismissed them as "grotesque."