Sunday, September 27, 2009

Angela Merkel’s second victory in German elections

BERLIN -- Chancellor Angela Merkel claimed victory in national elections today, with projections by public television stations putting her conservative party on a path to form a new center-right government and achieve her goal of ending the country’s “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats.

If the slim lead for her conservative Christian Democrats and the pro-business Free Democrats holds after all the ballots are tallied, Mrs. Merkel will finally have the chance to enact the kind of liberalizing economic reforms she proposed when she first ran for chancellor four years ago. But the celebration will be muted by the knowledge that rising budget deficits as a result of the economic crisis have dramatically limited the kind of tax cuts the new coalition will be able to enact... Read more by Nicholas Kulish, New York Times

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Shelved missile defense plan -- shattered confidence in Europe

President Obama's decision to shelve the Bush administration's missile defense plans has created a crisis of confidence in Washington's relations with Central and Eastern Europe. The defense architecture the administration proposes may make more strategic sense in addressing the immediate Iranian threat. Nevertheless, it runs the risk of shattering the morale and standing of transatlantic leaders in the region who now feel politically undermined and exposed. The roots of this crisis lie less in missile defense than in policy failures over the past decade. Understanding and rectifying those errors is key to getting back on track with our allies.

Our first mistake was being overly optimistic about what would happen when these countries joined NATO and the European Union. We basically checked the box "mission accomplished." We assumed that Russia would finally accept that Central and Eastern Europe were gone from its sphere of influence and stop trying to interfere in their regional politics. But geopolitical competition didn't stop. Moscow simply tried to pressure and interfere in new ways, using energy and other weapons. It seeks to marginalize these countries in NATO and the European Union by going above their heads. It still wants to create a zone of special Russian interest, influence and lesser security… Read more by Ronald D. Asmus, Washington Post

Supplementary (later today):

Russia scrapped missile deployment plans in Eastern Europe


Friday, September 4, 2009

US Healthcare and Education Issues at HuffPost

So We Can't Have Single Payer for Health Care, But How About Single Payer for Education? By Arianna Huffington

Health care is rightly dominating the national debate, but with children all across the country heading back to school, education, currently seated in the back row of the national classroom, is raising its hand and asking to be called on.

On Tuesday (Sep 8), President Obama will be giving
a nationally televised speech on education to America's students, broadcast on C-SPAN and the White House website. On the same day, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is sponsoring a major conference in Los Angeles that will serve as the kick off of Get Schooled, a far-reaching initiative geared to developing solutions to the problems facing America's education system. (I'll be one of the speakers)… Read more

Addendum, Sep 7: Obama Back To School Speech: FULL TEXT