NPR's Rob Gifford asks, "Is Britain's Labour Party Back To Pre-Blair Ways?"

After Tony Blair was elected British Prime Minister in 1997, he blurred the line between the Labour Party and the usual opponent, the Conservative Party. But the global financial crisis has forced Prime Minister Gordon Brown to take the Labour Party back to a platform of nationalized banks, government assistance for industry and massive public borrowing.

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"Robust" is the word now being used to describe the EU's mandate for its new anti-piracy mission, Operation Atalanta, in Somalia's treacherous waters.  With NATO's Operation Allied Provider officially ending last Friday, news is beginning to leak about Atalanta's rules of engagement. 

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Secretary of Defense Bob Gates recently told an audience in Bahrain, “Under the United Nations Security Council resolution passed last week, members of the international community must work together to aggressively pursue and deter piracy.” This should not be interpreted as a new “war on piracy” or a call to wage war against pirates, a policy that would not bring stability to the Gulf of Aden.

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French Student Riots

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has postponed controversial Lycee reforms after a week of student demonstrations that many feared could escalate into violence.   AFP:

Weeks of student protests forced Sarkozy's government to put a plan for high school education reform on ice amid fears that opposition from the streets could spread social unrest like that seen in Greece.

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Burning Match

Four months after the hot phase of Russia’s war on Georgia, Russia continues to violate the European Union-brokered ceasefire agreements of August 12 and September 8.  Notwithstanding, the EU on December 2 resumed Partnership and Cooperation Agreement talks with Russia, which it had suspended September 1 in the wake of Russia’s August assault on Georgia. 

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So the Orange Coalition has pulled itself back together to form a governing majority in Ukraine once again. Somehow "incompetent" Viktor Yushchenko and "traitor" Yulia Tymoshenko (in the eyes of some of the respective partisans of both politicians) are back on the same page. Months wasted and then the economic crisis hit as Ukraine's main exports decline in value and people pull money from the banks.

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Switzerland Suicide Haven

A British television airing of a suicide has suddenly brought to light Switzerland's status as a haven for those wishing to end their lives. Frank Jordans reports for AP:

Drawn by Switzerland's reputation as a trouble-free place for foreigners to end their lives, more than 100 Germans, Britons, French, Americans and others come to this small commuter town just east of Zurich each year to lie down on a bed in an industrial park building and drink a lethal dose of barbiturates.

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Chinese Wisdom on the Financial Crisis

James Fallows in this month’s Atlantic brings a Chinese view to the global financial crisis and planned U.S. economic stimulus plans. Based on an interview with the President of the China Investment Corporation, Gao Xiquing, China offers some words of wisdom to the incoming Obama administration as it attempts to restart the U.S. economy—be nice; remember your pragmatism; and live within our means. 

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Try, try again.  Or so it seems with European treaties (and Ireland).  Late last week EU leaders agreed on concessions to Ireland that will likely pave the way for a second Lisbon treaty referendum in the country.  The editors of the Times took particular issue with the development, stating that the EU has a problem "understanding democracy." 

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News that Senate Republicans killed the bailout of the Big 3 U.S. auto companies has set stocks tumbling around the world. In the major European papers available in English, we're seeing headlines like "World markets slump as US car industry bail-out fails" (Guardian), "US car industry set to collapse as bailout fails" (Times of London)

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