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Autor:  Antxón Sarasqueta  (antxon@sarasqueta.com)
Fecha:  Domingo 29 de abril de 2007
Categorías:  English
DECODING THE TOPICS:
A new european leadership

Globalization and strengthen the Nation-state are the main topics for leadership in France, Germany, Japan, Turkey, and…freedom: Iranian police have warned barbers against offering Western-style hair cuts.

The New Europeans

The changing of the guard in Europe's biggest countries is a chance for the Continent to renew itself. That's the good news. Here's the other kind: This fresh crop of leaders doesn't look well-placed to pull it off.

France is a good test case. Its socioeconomic troubles are nothing unusual for Old Europe -- from stagnant growth to a debt-ridden welfare state to restive, underemployed young Muslims. But the political barriers to tackling these problems are highest in France. The presidential election, pitting center-right Nicolas Sarkozy against Socialist Ségolène Royal, might provide a mandate for change. According to an Ipsos survey on the day of the first round of voting April 22, the three main issues were unemployment, purchasing power and economic insecurity.

Germany gives a half-reassuring answer. The "sick man of Europe" a few years back, a nickname today applied to France, the world's third-largest economy notched a recent high of 2.7% growth in 2006 and saw joblessness last month fall to its lowest level in five years. The previous government's limited welfare reforms helped, but the real credit goes to Germany's private sector.

[The Wall Street Journal, 5-5-07]

Iran bans Western haircuts, eyebrow plucking for men

Iranian police have warned barbers against offering Western-style hair cuts or plucking the eyebrows of their male customers, Iranian media said Sunday. Iranian young men have in recent years started paying more attention to the way they look and dress. Spiked up hair, by using gel, is known as the Khorusi( Rooster) style and some also use make-up. Under Iran’s Islamic Sharia law, imposed after the 1979 revolution, women are obligated to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes to disguise their figures. Violators can receive lashes, fines and imprisonment. Since hardline president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad won the presidency in 2005 on a promise of returning to the values of the revolution, hardliners have pressed for tighter controls on what they consider immoral behavior.

[CNN, 29-4-07]

British Antiterrorism Chief warns of more severe Qaeda attacks

Top counterterrorism police officer, Peter Clarke, said Tuesday that Al Qaeda had survived “ a prolonged multinational assault” and that its supporters has established “an inexorable trend towards more ambitious and more destructive attack planning. The only sensible assumption is that we shall be attacked again” Mr. Clarke declared. He said that about 100 terrorism suspects awaited trial-in addition to several on trial- and that their cases would confirm a trend that had emerged since 2004 of young British Muslims traveling to Pakistan for training and instructions, then returning home to plot attacks.

[New York Times, 26-5-07]

In Turkey, fear about religious lifestyle

When hundreds of thousands of protesters filled the streets of Istanbul on Sunday, it may have looked like a protest of government policy. It was not. Behind the slogans and signs of marchers in Istanbul on Sunday and in Ankara two weeks ago was something much more basic, a fear of the lifestyles of their more religious compatriots.

[NYT, 30-4-07]

Japanese support grows for military amendment

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe marked the 60th anniversary of Japan’s pacifist constitution on Thursday, calling for a “bold review” of the country’s postwar pacifism and a revival of national pride. The government has been pushing for constitutional changes that would remove some restrictions on Japans military, including clearly recognizing the country’s right to have a standing army. Japan has already stretched the constitutional limits, with the government interpreting its pacifist clauses to mean the country can have armed troops to protect itself, allowing the existence of its 240,000 strong Self-Defense Forces. Public support for constitutional change has been on the rise. In separate poll results published Thursday, the Mainichi Shimbun and Nikkei Shimbun newspapers both said 51 of those surveyed were in favor of changing the constitution.

[CNN, 2-5-07]

See last week Decoding the topics
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