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Showing posts from 2010

Eurozone facing "survival crisis"

BBC Fears have grown that pressure will spread to other weaker eurozone countries The European Union is in a "survival crisis" over the eurozone's debt problems, the EU president has warned. Speaking hours before eurozone ministers meet to address threats to the bloc's economic stability, Herman Van Rompuy said that if the euro failed, so too would the EU. Members such as the Republic of Ireland and Portugal are under fresh scrutiny. Questions have been raised over whether they can manage their debt without help from EU funds. Mr Van Rompuy said he was "very confident" the problems could be overcome. But he added: "We all have to work together in order to survive with the eurozone, because if we don't survive with the eurozone we will not survive with the European Union." Bond auction The Irish Republic has insisted it does not need EU help. But there is intense speculation that both it and Portugal may be forced to use EU bail-out money. Portu

Finish Rabin's Work

By BILL CLINTON November 2010 TODAY marks 15 years since an assassin’s bullet killed my friend, Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister. Since his death, not a week has gone by that I have not missed him. I loved him and his wife, Leah, very much. On the occasion of the anniversary of his death, his yahrzeit, the world would do well to remember the lessons of his life: his vision for freedom, tolerance, cooperation, security and peace is as vital now as it was 15 years ago, when he happily spoke and sang for peace at a huge rally in Tel Aviv just before he was killed. Rabin was utterly without pretense. When David Ben-Gurion sent him as a young man to represent Israel during armistice talks in 1949, he had never before worn a neck tie, so a friend tied it, and showed him how to loosen it so he could preserve the knot for future use. True to form, two weeks before his assassination, he arrived in Washington at a black-tie event without the black tie. We borrowed one for him, and I sti

Apartheid and all that jazz

By David Honigma October 2010 Hugh Masekela began the day in Oslo; he will finish it in Brecon. In transit, making a quick stop in London, he knows precisely what he wants. “I need an espresso,” he growls, his trademark East Rand rasp undiluted by decades travelling the world. “And a cognac.” Next month, Masekela, now 71 and South Africa’s most celebrated living musician, embarks on a UK tour with fellow veterans the Mahotella Queens. They may join him on stage for a closing song. “We just did a tribute to [activist/singer] Miriam Makeba in Toulouse. [Singer/songwriter] Thandiswa Mazwai was also there, and Zohani Mahola, the lead singer of Freshlyground, and Vusi Mahlasela. We all rehearsed with the band I play with. It was a most marvellous night,” he says. Masekela has been playing the trumpet since he was 14. At school in Sofiatown, the doomed black suburb of Johannesburg later bulldozed as a “black spot”, he “saw a movie about a trumpet player” – it was Young Man with a Horn, in wh

‘Zero-Sum World’

By Gideon Rachman Most of my career has been spent reporting on a world where things were steadily improving. I started work in London during the Thatcher boom of the mid-1980s. At the BBC World Service, we followed the spread of democracy around the world, from Latin America to south-east Asia. I first visited Moscow during the Gorbachev years, as the long Soviet nightmare was coming to a close. I was in Madison Square Garden to see Bill Clinton accept the Democratic party nomination in 1992, while the crowd danced to “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”. I spent the next five years reporting on Asia – witnessing how rapid economic growth was transforming people’s lives from Bangkok to Bangalore. Based in Brussels from 2001, I followed the reunification of Europe under the umbrella of the European Union, as countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic rejoined the ranks of free and prosperous nations. I was in London when Tony Blair won his first electoral victory in May 1997, swep

What Is The Correct “Number” to Buy Back Your Personal Freedom? - October, 2010 When people discuss “the Number”—that is, the number they need to easily retire and continue their lifestyle—they usually miss the entire point. The reason you are trying to calculate “the Number” in the first place is that you are looking for the bare minimum you need in order to purchase your freedom from the slavemasters of corporate America. If you want to live in Manhattan and have a house in the Hamptons then you aren’t really looking for the Number. You’re still willing to be enslaved in order to achieve small incremental advantages over the overwhelming benefit of personal freedom. So I’m going to make some basic assumptions: A) You want personal freedom above all else. Which doesn’t mean you’re willing to live in a homeless shelter. You want some basic conveniences and fun in life. But you’re willing to forego extreme extravagances. B) You aren’t going to send your kids to college. C) You don’t need to own a home. B and C are usually the biggest expens