-THE BIG PICTURE…From German Chancellor Merkel today: “Europe is in one of its toughest, perhaps the toughest, hour since World War Two”. “If the euro fails then Europe will fail…. The historic challenge of our generation is to show we can use the crisis for a better future.”
-ITALY: CAN “SUPER MARIO” SAVE EUROPE?…Italy has begun the long and — make no mistake — painful process of regaining the confidence of the global markets. Basically, the case economist and former European Union bureaucrat Mario Monti has to make is simple: I’m not Berlusconi; I know how to run an economy; I know what needs to get done. “Super Mario,” as he’s known in Italy, must now stitch together a cabinet and see if he has enough support in Parliament and the country as a whole to govern effectively. One hopeful sign — for today at least: Italian bond yields have dropped to below-crisis levels. As for Berlusconi himself, he popped up on TV Sunday night to say they he will redouble his efforts to modernize Italy, and seemed to indicate that while he believes he may be down, he’s not yet out. Markets – thus far — are up or at least not in the tank…
-FAMILY BUSINESSES — STUCK IN THE MUD…The WSJournal reports that the lack of growth at family businesses such as one the Journal highlights, Dell’Orco, is a huge obstacle to making the country more dynamic—especially at a time when Italy urgently needs higher growth to pay down that $2.6 trillion debt. Many factors have contributed to the country’s stagnation —from its rickety education system to its low rates of employment among women, youths and older workers. But a central reason, say economists, is that its private sector consists mostly of small mom-and-pop businesses that seem unable to grow.
-GREECE’S NEW LEADER PRESENTS HIS PLAN…The AP reports Greece’s new prime minister will present his policy platform in parliament today, ahead of a midweek confidence vote in his coalition government that is tasked with implementing crucial reforms and securing the country’s international loan lifeline.
-EUROPE’S CRISIS=JOB LOSSES IN U.S…Kelly COBIELLA notes: There’s an interesting writeup in AP about the eurozone crisis already affecting the US: The CEO of Whirlpool, Jeff Fetting, “that with demand tumbling in parts of Europe, the company plans to lay off 5,000 workers in North America and Europe. First Solar, based in Phoenix, is postponing plans to finish building a solar panel factory in Vietnam because of a worldwide glut in panels. The glut has been caused by falling demand in Europe, the world’s biggest solar market.”
TALIBAN SAY THEY HAVE SECURITY PLAN FOR ASSEMBLY MEETING
The Taliban in Afghanistan say they’ve obtained what appears to be the security plan for this week’s Loya Jirga, and have posted it online and via their Twitter feed. ABC’s Nick SCHIFRIN reports that a spokesman for Afghanistan’s interior ministry says the document is “a piece of trash and it’s fake…the plan is classified and nobody can have access to it.” ISAF won’t comment on the authenticity of the document, but Nick notes that if it is indeed a fake, the Taliban have gone to great lengths – the pages that they have posted online so far has a map with details of security arrangements as well as accurate names and numbers of top security officials. And — just in from Nick: The “loya jirga” doesn’t start until Wednesday, but today, the Taliban almost attacked the large tent where it will take place. A man apparently wearing a suit and tie walked toward the first entrance to the jirga area carrying a bomb in a box or a briefcase. He was shot before he could detonate the explosives, according to the interior ministry and the intelligence service.
SYRIA: ALMOST ALONE
-ARAB LEAGUE…As Alex MARQUARDT reports, during a press conference in Damascus today Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al Muallem rejected the Arab League’s decision to suspend Syria. Al Muallem said the move had no legal basis — because the vote was not unanimous.
-JORDAN’S KING: IF IT WERE ME, I’D STEP DOWN…And as Lama HASAN notes, now the King of Jordan has joined the chorus of voices suggesting President Bashar Al Assad step down. In an interview with the BBC’s Lyse Doucet, Abdullah said if he was Assad he’d step down. “I believe, if I were in his shoes, I would step down,” he has told BBC World News in an exclusive interview. “I would step down and make sure whoever comes behind me has the ability to change the status quo that we’re seeing.” Neighbouring Jordan has been highly critical of Syria’s crackdown on anti-government protesters in recent months. King Abdullah said the president should begin a new era of political dialogue before stepping down, as there was no-one behind him to change the status quo. “Again I don’t think the system allows for that, so if Bashar has the interest of his country, he would step down, but he would also create an ability to reach out and start a new phase of Syrian political life.”
ISRAEL V. IRAN
There’s plenty of speculation in the Israeli press about whether Israel was behind the explosions in Iran on Saturday. Much of it stems from a Time piece that quotes a Western intelligence source saying the Mossad is behind it. “Don’t believe the Iranians that it was an accident,” the official tells TIME, adding that other acts of sabotage are planned to impede Iran’s ability to develop and deliver a nuclear weapon. “There are more bullets in the magazine,” the official says. Responding to the weekend explosions, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, “May there be many more!” Yesterday PM Netanyahu told his cabinet that “The IAEA’s report only detailed information that can be proven; facts that can be presented in court…In practice there are many other things we see, and hence the leading states in the world must decide what to do in order to stop Iran…”
NATO SECRETARY GENERAL HURT?
Twittersphere: NATO Secretary General Rasmussen fell off his bicycle and broke his arm in three places yesterday.
LIFTOFF: RUSSIAN SOYUZ CAPSULE HEADED TO INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION
Gina SUNSERI reports: A three-man U.S. and Russian crew is in orbit on its way to the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Dan Burbank and two Cosmonauts took off late Sunday evening and will dock at the International Space Station in two days.
CRASHING TO EARTH…IN DECEMBER?
Alexandra NADEZHDINA reports on the latest on that Mars Moon mission gone bad: I have just spoken to an independent expert in this field – Yuri Karesh — who had the following to say: Of course it is clear that the Phobos craft is in serious trouble and that there is no hope. What is crucial now is to direct and control its trajectory of descent to minimize any possible damage. This is crucial as the Phobos craft has highly toxic fuel on board. The Phobos craft has a complex configuration which makes it difficult to estimate where it may fall. There are two things that can be done: control and direct the fall to a non-populated territory where it can do the least harm or bring it down by a rocket before it gets into the earth’s orbit. The analyst believes the best option is to try and explode it before it enters the earth’s orbit which would minimize the consequences of the the craft falling and its disintegration over the earth.
NORWAY KILLER AT OPEN HEARING
The Norwegian right-wing extremist who confessed to that bombing and shooting spree that killed 77 people in July has arrived at his first open court hearing. Dozens of reporters and members of the public were packed inside the court room in Oslo Monday as Anders Behring Breivik walked in wearing a dark suit. Reporters were banned from reporting on the proceedings and no photography or video recordings were allowed. Breivik is facing terror charges for the July 22 attacks at the government district in Oslo and an island youth camp outside the capital.
JAPAN REBOUNDS FROM POST-QUAKE SLUMP
Bloomberg News reports that Japan’s economy expanded for the first time in four quarters as exports recovered from a record earthquake, an expansion that is already slowing because of weakening overseas demand. Gross domestic product grew at an annualized 6 percent in the three months ending Sept. 30, the fastest pace in a year and a half, the Cabinet Office said today in Tokyo. At 543-trillion yen ($7 trillion) economic output was back to levels seen before the March 11 earthquake, the report showed.
WORLD DIABETES DAY
Today is World Diabetes Day. The day is celebrated on November 14, to mark the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, first conceived the idea which led to the discovery of insulin in 1922. World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat that diabetes now poses. The International Diabetes Federation predicts one in 10 adults could have diabetes by 2030, according to their latest statistics. In a report issued on Monday, the advocacy group estimated that 522 million people would have diabetes in the next two decades, based on aging and demographic changes.
SOCCER-MAD IN NORTH KOREA
From Akiko FUJITA in Tokyo: There will be no vuvuzelas, no beer, and no wave inside Pyongyang’s Kim Il-Sung stadium – when Team Japan faces North Korea in a World Cup qualifier tomorrow night. The 150 Japanese fans who have been granted special visas for the game have been asked to refrain from cheering, waving Japanese flags, and showing any support for their team. Still, expect plenty of emotion – as the historic rivals meet on North Korean soil for the first time in 22 years. Interest in this game has been so high in Japan, spectator tour packages to Pyongyang sold out in less than 24 hours. Japan and North Korea have no diplomatic ties, but the two countries have set aside differences, in the name of sports. Japanese diplomats say they will be on hand to ensure fan safety.
U.S. OFFICALS WORRIED ABOUT SECURITY AT LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS?
The U.S. has raised repeated concerns about security at the London Olympics and is preparing to send up to 1,000 of its agents, including 500 from the FBI, to provide protection for America’s contestants and diplomats, the Guardian reports this morning. American officials have reportedly expressed deep unease that the UK has had to restrict the scope of anti-terrorism “stop and search” powers, and have sought a breakdown of the number of British police and other security personnel that will be available next summer. From Rich ESPOSITO: In recent weeks, U.S. and British authorities in Washington have told ABC, there has been an increased focus on the Olympic security package in the Obama administration, but that American concerns have not dominated the planning meetings.
DIFFERENT OLYMPIC STORY: RENTING A PALACE
The parties will be at the palace — at least during next year’s Summer Olympics. Queen Elizabeth II has given her approval to renting out state apartments at St. James’s Palace as party venues during the 2012 London Olympics. Buckingham Palace says holders of royal warrants — companies with long-standing ties to the royal family — will be given a chance to rent state apartments during the games, which begin on July 27 and last until Aug. 12. A palace spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined Monday to say which state apartments would be available. But the apartments include the Throne Room, the Tapestry Room and the Queen Anne Room. The move is unprecedented, but also shows that even the queen has been affected by British austerity moves.
NEWLYWEDS POSE — AS BUILDING THEY WERE TO BE MARRIED IN BURNS DOWN
Weird photo of the day. Canadian newlyweds Mike and Nancy Rogers pose for a wedding photograph as the building they were to get married in burned to the ground behind them. The Nova Scotia Lodge fire raged for more than 6 hours. Their wedding was held at another lodge nearby.