The Global Note: Europe Dodges A Bullet, Awaits Another…Inside Homs…Cameron Forgets Something At a Pub

By Tom Nagorski

Jun 11, 2012 11:14am

SPAIN GETS BREATHING SPACE. WILL IT BE ENOUGH?

-MARKETS LIKE BAILOUT NUMBER FOUR…European and Asian stocks gained sharply Monday as investors welcomed news that Spain had secured a bailout for its banks. Richard DAVIES calls it “a relief rally”, but notes that many see the bailout as a temporary fix. Europe has dodged a bullet, and again “avoided financial chaos in a debt crisis that is in its third year,” says The New York Times. As Jeffrey KOFMAN reported from Madrid, on Saturday Spain asked finance ministers from the 17 countries that use the euro to rescue its banks, which have been crushed by bad real estate loans. They responded by offering up to $125 billion in credit that the Spanish government could funnel to banks. It’s fixed the immediate problem — Spanish banks didn’t have enough capital to cover their losses — but it adds substantially to Spain’s debts.

-BAILOUTS AND TEXT MESSAGES…According to El Mundo, Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy sent a stunning text message to Finance Minister Guindos prior to the bailout negotiations. He said, according to El Muno: “Resist, we are the 4th power of the EZ. Spain is not Uganda.” Translation: We’re a major power, not some random IMF-case banana Republic. And – hold out for something good. We are powerful, and if they don’t give in, the whole thing will go down. No wonder Der Spiegel, which represents the German point of view, has an article blasting what it calls Spanish blackmail.

-NEXT UP, GREECE VOTES…That’s the next worry – the vote looming at the weekend that may doom Greece’s membership in the Eurozone. And that’s a vote no European banker can do much to influence…

-WHY EUROPE MATTERS TO U.S….Again from Richard DAVIES – more reminders about the dots that connect Europe’s troubles to our own. “First, there’s the threat of financial chaos if the Euro collapses or the banking system facers further threats: ’If Europe hits a financial crisis where we have banks across the board going insolvent and default major default on debt in Europe we could see another financial crisis that’s not just Europe in nature but global in nature.’ Second, Europe’s recession is a drag on American exporters. This example today from the Boston Globe: ‘Massachusetts companies that depend on Europe are reporting slower overseas sales as the debt crisis there deepens, raising concerns that it may hamper the state’s economic recovery.  In the first 4 months of this year, overseas shipments of Massachusetts-made pharmaceutical products fell about 16% and industrial machinery, including computers, dropped about 10%, according to the nonprofit World Institute for Strategic Economic Research in Leverett.’” 

SYRIA CRISIS

-INSIDE HOMS…The BBC’s Paul Danahar, who is in Homs, says there’s gunfire in the city’s old town, and one neighborhood is being frequently shelled by mortars. Danahar reports that at least one unmanned drone operated by the regime is carrying out surveillance in the city. At least 35 people were killed there in bombardments on Sunday, activists said. Activists are reporting that Syrian troops and helicopters are clashing with rebels in the central town of Rastan. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees are also reporting government shelling Monday in the central provinces of Homs and Hama, the southern region of Daraa, the northern province of Aleppo, suburbs of the capital Damascus and Deir el-Zour in the east.

-CHEMICAL STOCKS AND ISRAEL…Israel’s deputy military chief is warning that Syria has the biggest chemical weapons stocks in the world and missiles and rockets that can reach any point in Israel. Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh also said if Syria had the chance, it would “treat us the same way it treats its own people.” Israel radio stations carried Naveh’s remarks Monday.

-ASSADS TURNED TO WEST FOR GLOSSY P.R….Not long ago, President Bashar al-Assad, along with his British-born wife, Asma, was helping usher in a new era of openness and prosperity. That impression is no accident.  The New York Times reports that with the help of high-priced public relations advisers who had worked in the Clinton, Bush and Thatcher administrations, the president and his family have sought over the past five years to portray themselves in the Western media as accessible, progressive and even glamorous.

REPORTS: MUBARAK’S HEALTH DETERIORATES

Egyptian officials are saying the health of ousted President Hosni Mubarak has deteriorated further, with doctors having to use a defibrillator twice and feed him liquids intravenously. One report, from the Interior Ministry, claims Mubarak has fallen into a full coma. Unnamed officials at the prison say Mubarak’s two sons were by his side at the intensive care ward of Torah prison hospital south of Cairo where the 84-year-old former president is serving a life sentence. The officials did not tell the AP whether the defibrillator was used because Mubarak’s heart stopped or to remedy irregular heartbeats.

NATO: NO AERIAL STRIKES ON AFGHAN RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS

Stung by furious Afghan criticism of an airstrike that killed 18 civilians last week, most of them women and children, the NATO force has agreed to refrain from aerial bombardment of residential buildings, a military spokesman said Sunday.  The accord — reached at a meeting between President Hamid Karzai and Gen. John Allen, the American who commands Western forces in Afghanistan — reflects a changing dynamic between the Afghan government and the NATO force. As Western troops prepare to depart, Afghanistan has been more strongly asserting its sovereignty, in particular demanding curtailment of nighttime raids by special-operations forces. Muhammad LILA spent today with General Allen in southern Afghanistan and is available to file for all platforms.

HOMES BURIED FOLLOWING AFGHAN QUAKE

Aleem AGHA reports a mountain has collapsed on homes in a remote village in the in the North-eastern province of Baghlan following a 5.4 magnitude earthquake in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. 20 of the roughly 40 homes in the village have been buried – seven reportedly destroyed. Authorities fear casualties.

IN SOMALIA, PROGRESS – US OFFICIAL VISIT

The highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Somalia’s capital in nearly two decades landed in Mogadishu on Sunday in another sign of improving security in the Horn of Africa’s most chaotic nation. As Wilfred WAMBURA reports,  Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, arrived at the seaside airport Sunday morning, where he met with the Somalia’s president and prime minister. 

BRITISH PM FORGETS DAUGHTER AT PUB

David and Samantha Cameron left their eight-year-old daughter at a pub and travelled back to his country residence after lunch with friends. As Lama HASAN reports, Mr. Cameron shared a car with his bodyguards while Samantha followed behind with their two other children, each thinking eight-year old Nancy was with the other. In a statement, Downing Street said “the prime minister and Samantha were distraught when they realized Nancy wasn’t with them. Thankfully when they phoned the pub she was there safe and well.” Nancy was separated from her parents for around 15 minutes until Cameron arrived to collect her from The Plough in the village of Cadsden, officials said.

BANNED FROM WATCHING EURO 2012

Women in Iran are being banned from watching live public screenings of Euro 2012 football games because of an “inappropriate” environment where men could become rowdy, a deputy police commander said Sunday. “It is an inappropriate situation when men and women watch football in (movie) theatres together,” said Bahman Kargar, Iran’s deputy police commander in charge of social affairs, according to the ISNA news agency.

MYANMAR CLASHES SPUR WEB USE, CRACKDOWN

The Wall Street Journal reports an outbreak of sectarian violence in western Myanmar is helping nudge this once-reclusive country further into the Internet age as people take to the Web to condemn the clashes and help organize street protests of their own, creating a new set of challenges for the country’s military-backed government. President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency in Rakhine state near Bangladesh in a televised address Sunday, effectively enabling military control of the area after unrest claimed at least 17 lives in recent days, according to state media.

HACKERGATE: EX-PRIME MINISTER ON THE STAND

British Chancellor George Osborne and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown are giving evidence at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards today. Their appearances begin a week during which David Cameron will also take the stand. The BBC reports Osborne will be asked about the hiring of ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson by the Conservatives. Brown, meanwhile, will face questions about his relations with News International while in office. The inquiry, which is currently focusing on the relationship between the press and politicians, is resuming after a week-long adjournment.

“BABY BOXES” SPREAD THROUGHOUT EUROPE

From The Guardian: The United Nations is increasingly concerned at the spread in Europe of so-called “baby boxes” – where infants can be secretly abandoned by parents, warning that the practice “contravenes the right of the child to be known and cared for by his or her parents”, the Guardian has learned. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which reports on how well governments respect and protect children’s human rights, is alarmed at the prevalence of the hatches – usually outside a hospital – which allow unwanted newborns to be left in boxes with an alarm or bell to summon a caregiver. Almost 200 “baby boxes” have been installed across the continent in the past decade in nations as diverse as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic and Latvia. Since 2000, more than 400 children have been abandoned this way.

U.S. STUDENTS SURVIVE 9 DAYS IN NEW ZEALAND BUSH

The New Zealand Herald reports two 21-year-old American students have walked out of the New Zealand wilderness after a snowstorm trapped them for nine days. Police say they survived by rationing their meager supplies of trail mix and warming themselves in hot springs. Alec Brown and Erica Klintworth are both students from University of Wisconsin Stevens Point who are studying abroad.

TALKING TO DOLPHINS

Akiko FUJITA reports that Japanese researchers have developed an underwater device that in theory could allows humans to communicate with dolphins in their own language. The “dolphin speaker” can emit the full range of dolphin sounds to reportedly reproduce the animal’s “voice” almost perfectly. Now they just have to learn how to speak Dolphin…

NADAL MAKES TENNIS HISTORY

Raphael Nadal, the two-time defending champion at Roland Garros, has defeated Novak Djokovic to become the first man to win seven French Open singles titles.

J.CREW EXPANDING TO ASIA

The  Financial Times reports that J.Crew (favored by Michelle Obama) is looking to launch in Hong Kong and Beijing this fall, bypassing Europe. The retailer, which had revenues of $2billion last year and is known for its mid-priced basics-with-a-twist, will announce on Monday that it has entered a partnership with Lane Crawford, the fashion-forward Asian department store chain. 

NOT MADE IN AMERICA: FAKE IDs

Not even fake IDs are made in America. USA Today reports that overseas forgers from as far away as China are shipping fake driver’s license and other IDs to the United States that can bypass even the newest electronic digital security systems, according to document security experts.

SWEDEN’S TWITTER VOICE: ANYONE, SAYING ALMOST ANYTHING

Under a government initiative, each week a different citizen is entrusted Sweden’s national Twitter account, @Sweden, to post at will. The New York Times reports the @Sweden program, known as Curators of Sweden, came about when the Swedish Institute and Visit Sweden, the government tourist agency, sought to develop a plan to present the country to the world on Twitter. The @Swedens are nominated by others and then selected by a committee of three. The qualifications: they have to be interesting, Twitter-literate and happy to post in English.

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