Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

“I told you so!” Merkel tells U.S., Britain

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech to members of her conservative Christian Democrats in Berlin, September 22, 2008. Wage gains in Germany have been moderate in recent years, and this will likely remain the case, Merkel said on Monday. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent a clear “I told you so!” to the United States and Britain at the weekend, criticising them in unusually frank terms for resisting measures that might have contained the current financial crisis. The conservative leader of Europe’s largest economy reminded her partners that she had pushed for steps to boost the transparency of hedge funds during Germany’s presidency of the Group of Eight last year. ”We got things moving, but we didn’t get enough support, especially in the United States and Britain,” she told the Muenchner Merkur newspaper. Merkel expanded on her point in a speech in Austria, suggesting that both Washington and London were only now coming around to her view.

“It was said for a long time ‘Let the markets take care of themselves’ and that there is ‘no need for more transparency’…Today we are a step further because even America and Britain are saying ‘Yes, we need more transparency, we need better standards for the ratings agencies’.

Germany had made greater transparency a key theme of its rotating presidency of the G8, which includes the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia. Berlin had expressed fears that hedge funds could threaten the stability of the financial system through their heavy reliance on borrowing to finance risky trading strategies. But it ran into resistance from the United States and Britain, achieving little.

Whether Merkel’s G8 initiative could have averted or limited the current financial market crisis if it had been successful is certainly debatable. But reminding voters that she had sought to address the problem as early as last year could help Merkel score points on the domestic front ahead of a general election next year. Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) rule in an uneasy grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD), and both sides have been trying to play up their own role as crisis manager in the current financial market turmoil.

What should a minister’s wife do in Greece?

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The heir to one of Greece’s most distinguished political families, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, helped his conservative New Democracy party sweep to power in 2004 by convincing Greeks tired of decades of socialist graft that he would clean up Greek politics.

But public discontent with a new set of scandals and a slowing economy has hit the popularity of his government and party. 

Big Bang experiment – the end of the world as we know it?

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Scientists said they simply didn’t know what surprises might emerge when they started up the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s biggest and most complex machine which until Wednesday lay benignly in its underground home on the outskirts of Geneva. 
                                                    Scientists look at a computer screen at the control centre of the CERN in Geneva September 10, 2008. Scientists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) started up a huge particle-smashing machine on Wednesday, aiming to re-enact the conditions of the “Big Bang” that created the universe. REUTERS/Fabrice Coffrini/Pool (SWITZERLAND)                                                        
Perhaps crashing together millions of particles at close to the speed of light would replicate the conditions just after the Big Bang that created the universe.           

Perhaps the high-energy collisions, which will generate temperatures more than 100,000 times than the heart
of the sun, would lay to rest an unproven theory of physics.

Can the Caucasus flames be controlled?

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ossetia.jpgThe Caucasus tinderbox is alight again. How far will the flames spread this time and what can the outside world – the United States, the European Union, NATO – do to extinguish them?

The strategic significance of this mountainous region stretches back through history.

Italy sends in troops, but why?

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“Should I wait until she’s finished?” asks a soldier from an Italian Alpine regiment, in their distinctive feathered Tyrolean-style hat, to her police colleagues as they patrol an area of Turin notorious for addicts known as “Toxic Park” and see a woman shooting up.

Incidents like this one reported in Corriere della Sera newspaper seem to support Italian police unions’ doubts about Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s initiative, which began this week, to put 3,000 soldiers on the streets of 10 cities for the next six months to help the police fight a supposed crime wave. Some police officers believe military personnel, even those hardened by peace missions abroad, do not have the training needed to fight crime.

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