Daily Archives: October 19, 2012

Neil Buckley

Amid the somewhat rancorous debate over whether it was right to award the Nobel peace price to the European Union, it is worth bearing in mind the view of those countries still aspiring to join.

Vesna Pusic, foreign minister of Croatia – which, provided all 27 EU members ratify its entry agreement, should become the 28th next July – tells a story of why, for all its flaws and current economic crisis, the Union still matters a lot in the Balkans.

Take five generations of women in her family: her great grandmother, grandmother, mother, herself, and her 26-year-old daughter.

“All of them were born in the same city. And the ones who died, died also in the same city. However, none of us will have been born and died in the same state,” says Ms Pusic. 

The United Nations has a chequered history in the Democratic Republic of Congo dating back to its first ever peacekeeping mission in the 1960s. The latest twist will do nothing to change that.

In the same week that a leaked report by UN experts charges top Rwandan officials with teleguiding a rebellion in the east of Congo, Rwanda has been elected to serve a two-year term representing Africa on the UN security council. 

A bumper edition to take you into the weekend:

Notes from the Heartland, in Williston, North Dakota

On state highway 85, trucks loaded with the means of the North Dakotan oil boom roll over the bloody headless carcasses of dogs, elk and racoons. Grit and gravel fizz through eighteen-wheelers and patter the windshield. Roadside signs scream prosperity (“We have land!”) and piety (“an embryo is a life not a choice”). Haphazardly constructed houses, campsites and hotels suggest quick-buck urgency. Machines dip in and out of wells in metronomic regularity. Flames of burnt natural gas flutter in drilled cornfields like hot orange flags of adventure and conquest.

Williston is another America. There is no unemployment. Rents would make Manhattanites blush. Jobs at Wal-Mart and McDonald’s pay twice the federal minimum wage. The city has revenue to burn. “How long do you think it will last?” ask locals, as if befuddled by the happenstance of their geography. Of course, the town has problems. Traffic, crime and prices are all on the increase. But only a minority wish the fracking would stop – and most of them have long since sold up. 

Germany’s Angela Merkel, left, and France’s François Hollande at the EU summit in Brussels.

With the eurozone crisis response slowing to a crawl, Friday’s early-morning agreement setting a timetable for a new single eurozone bank supervisor is probably best judged with textual analysis, since the deal is so incremental it’s hard to really judge without a close look at the details.

The key change between the communiqué agreed in June and the one agreed Friday is the firming up of when, exactly, the new supervisor, to be run by the European Central Bank, will start and how long it will take to be phased in. The June deal was immensely vague on this point:

 

Welcome to a round-up of media coverage of a presidential election now so close that the candidates, with less than three weeks of campaigning left, are paying visits to states with only four votes of the 270 needed to win the electoral college on November 6.

President Barack Obama was in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday, a town accustomed to the paraphernalia and pageant of primary campaigning in December and January, but not so much to autumnal visits by the victors of those primaries.

The latest poll for the New England state shows Mr Obama tied with his Republican rival Mitt Romney.
One local paper, the Eagle Tribune, reports that an enthusiastic crowd of 6,000 saw an energised president repeating many of the attack lines he used against Mr Romney in Monday’s presidential debate.