Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
The Nobel banquet must be one of the most extravagant annual dinner events on the planet. Every year the organisers allow a few journalists to join the festivities and rub shoulders with prize winners, royalty and other notables. This year, I got to go. The food and wine were certainly fit for a king (a good thing, too, since there was a king dining among us), and there is really nothing quite like dancing to a 20-person brass band. In a time-honoured journalist tradition, I’ve made a “top 10 list”.
10. Bling. Everywhere. Jewel-encrusted handbags, gold tableware and all those tiaras. I was blinded.
9. And yet, humility. Dale Mortensen, an American economics laureate, thanked all his teachers and said winning the prize reminded him of a quote by Isaac Newton: “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
8. Numbers. How do you pull off a three-course, sit-down dinner for 1,350 people? With more than 260 waiters, 45 cooks, 7,000 pieces of porcelain, 5,000 glasses and 10,000 items of silverware (some which apparently go mysteriously missing every year).
The most important thing that ever happened to newly minted Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa? It wasn’t the news two months ago that he had won the prize for literature, or the first time he ever published a book. It was, he said, learning how to read.
Vargas Llosa came to Stockholm to give the traditional pre-award lecture and he told a throng of listeners how books enriched his life, breaking the barriers of time and space. He said writing them helped him create a parallel life where one could take refuge against adversity, where the extraordinary was natural and the natural extraordinary.
Last weekend, Finland’s foreign minister gathered six of his colleagues and the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, in the frozen far reaches of Lapland for two days of talks on the future of European foreign policy.
As informal ministerial gatherings go, it was a rather jolly (if cold) affair, complete with a ‘family photo’ taken with a pair of nervous reindeer, a chance to see the northern lights and activities such as skiing, sledging and snow-mobiling. Some of the ministers even brought along their families.
A lush green residential area in the south of Stockholm embodies Sweden’s determination to lead from the front in its efforts to combat climate change during its presidency of the European Union.
A decade ago, Hammarby Sjostad was a run-down industrial area with pollution problems. Today it is an environmentally friendly suburb which exemplifies the battle against climate change – one of Sweden’s priorities in its six-month presidency which began on Wednesday.
A scandal about expenses claimed by British members of parliament has damaged the already low standing of British politicians and helped Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour Party to its worst opinion poll showing since polling began.
The MPs argue that what they are doing is within the rules – correct, but missing the point that it is out of line with public sentiment especially at a time of national belt-tightening.
Diplomats say there is mild panic in the EU capital at the thought that the regular June summit — where the bloc is due to discuss the Lisbon treaty reforming the EU — could be chaired by Eurosceptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus.
Trade protectionism -- or at least the threat of it -- has raised it head as the global economy has declined, bringing with it all the historical fears about the Great Depression. Consider the flurry of concern about a "Buy American" clause in one of the U.S. stimulus bills.
It is traditionally assumed that widespread protectionism would most hurt the biggest economies, the United States and Japan. But Barclays Capital analyst David Woo says this is not so and that Russia, Canada, Australia and Sweden are the most vulnerable.