A few months ago, the British government denied entry to Geert Wilders, the Dutch parliamentarian, who was scheduled to show his 15-minute film about Islam, Fitna, which intersperses selected excerpts from the Koran with clips showing violent acts by radical Islamists. Nazir Ahmed, a Muslim member of the House of Lords who was born in Pakistan, raised a hue and cry. The British Foreign Ministry collapsed and kicked Wilders out as soon as he got off the plane. He was, the British border agency said, a threat to harmony and public security.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, participating in a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on March 5, invited her counterparts to make a "fresh start" in their diplomatic relationship with Russia. Formal relations between NATO and Russia were suspended last August over differences concerning Russia's military operations in Georgia and its breakaway regions.
Vice President Joseph Biden told attendees of the 45th annual Munich Security Conference that President Obama plans to have the United States continue its role as global cop under “strong partnerships.” Speaking for the new administration, Biden explained in his February 7 address that those partnerships include the NATO alliance (a United Nations regional affiliate). He urged that NATO take on a global role and "act in and out of area more effectively."
German Prime Minister Angela Merkel proposed a new “global financial architecture” at the Davos World Economic Forum on January 30. But press coverage of the five-day event (ending February 1) focused upon side events, such as the spat between Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the many other verbal slights at the event.
Cuban President Raul Castro began an eight-day visit in Russia on January 29, when he met informally with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a hunting lodge in Zavidovo, about 90 miles north of Moscow. More formal talks were held in the Kremlin the next day, where the two leaders signed a partnership pact between the two nations. It was the first visit by a Cuban leader to Russia since the end of the Cold War.
Iceland’s government has become the first state casualty to collapse from the economic crisis currently engulfing the globe. A new election is scheduled for May 9. Amid protests that have become increasingly violent, Prime Minister Geir Haarde resigned this week along with Bjorgvin Sigurdsson, the nation’s top economic minister. The International Monetary Fund is even coming to the rescue, something that while typical in “developing countries,” hasn’t happened to a Western European nation in over three decades. The economy is forecasted to shrink by 10 percent in 2009 according to the Icelandic Finance Ministry, possibly worse.
As the British pound continues downward relative to foreign currencies and the nation’s banks continue sucking up taxpayer money, nationalization seems to be on the horizon. Britain’s economy has been contracting at alarming levels, and the pound has gone down with it — down almost 30 percent against the U.S. dollar from last year to about 1.35.
When Tony Blair was still prime minister, a peaceful protest march surprised both media and government in England as it drew huge, sympathetic crowds of disenfranchised and disillusioned citizens. Most were there to express the sentiment displayed on their signs, the clearly felt loss of their basic right to self-defense as British citizens, owing to the country's restrictive gun-control laws, and in large part the loss of their unique English heritage, and along with it, the very culture of their people.
Labor-market regulations and high taxes associated with hiring workers typically lead to high unemployment figures. Not least was this the case in many European nations before reforms began being implemented during the middle of the '80s and onward.
On January 1, 2009, Slovakia became the first former Soviet-bloc country to adopt the Euro as its national currency. Once the "-slovakia" in "Czechoslovakia," Slovakia, already a member of the European Union, became the 16th nation to join the "Eurozone" on New Year's Day. Its currency, the koruna, will be negotiable only until January 16, at which time the Euro will become the sole national currency.