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Europe is changing. Here's how. A reported blog.

Argentina and Britain: heading for the UN?

Argentine President Kirchner ramps up Falkland anniversary war of words.
Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner speaking to Falkland War veterans yesterday in Buenos Aires (JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner told a group of parliamentarians and Falkland war veterans that Britain was "militarizing the South Atlantic one more time."

She told the veterans, "We will present a complaint to the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, as this militarizing poses a grave danger to international security."


Syria: France, Britain and Italy recall ambassadors

European countries play what cards they have against Assad regime.

There is not a lot European countries can do to stop the Bashar al-Assad regime's onslaught against its own people - especially in light of this weekend's vetoing of a Security Council resolution by Russia and China.

Recalling ambassadors from Damascus for consultation is about the only card they can play. That is exactly what Britain, France and Italy have done. No word about the German government's intentions. But police in Berlin have arrested two men suspected of spying for Syria.


Dickens at 200

In Britain and around the world people mark the bi-centenary of the "inimitable" Charles Dickens birth.

Today is Charles Dickens's 200th birthday and that is a big deal. Not just in Britain, where Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are celebrating the event in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey but in countries from Albania to Zimbabwe are holding a read-a-thon from the author's work.

Dickens' biographer, Claire Tomalin, has written him (or his ghost) a letter published in The Guardian that is worth a look. She notes that Dickens himself went to a ceremony to mark the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, which is an interesting way to allude to the fact that Dickens is the only English writer who comes close to Shakespeare for the sheer scale of creativity and for his enduring popularity.

I'm a bit caught up in the celebrating - I recently read Tomalin's thorough and lengthy biography, Charles Dickens: A Life, in a couple of days, couldn't put it down. This surprises me because I am not a big fan of his work.


China's economic slowdown: blame it on Europe

IMF report on China demonstrates the links between the two

The IMF report cuts to the chase in the headline bullet points:

"A storm emanating from Europe would hit China hard"

It notes: "China's growth rate would drop abruptly if the Euro area experiences a sharp recession."


Sarkozy and Merkel hold special meeting

French President makes his close relationship with Merkel a campaign issue.

Say this about French President Nicolas Sarkozy, he takes risks. 80 days before he stands for re-election he held a cabinet meeting and invited a guest to attend: German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It is their 14th joint meeting - giving new meaning to the term "special relationship."  Merkel said it was  "quite noram" for her to be involved in the French presidential election campaign.

The BBC has a full report here.

Sarkozy's close alliance with Merkel has become a serious issue in the election campaign. Marine Le Pen, leader of the ultra-right National Front is running on a platform of taking France out of the euro. She is running a credible third in recent opinion polls. Socialist Francois Hollande is leading Sarkozy and he too is taking a very anti-Europe line as arch euro-skeptic, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, gleefully wrote in today's Daily Telegraph:


Happy Anniversary, Your Majesty!

Today marks the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the throne

On this day, 60 years ago, King George the Sixth's valet walked into his room at Sandringham Estate to wake him and found him dead.

The heir to the throne, Princess Elizabeth was on an official trip in Africa when the news reached her that she was now Queen Elizabeth.


A history of capitalism in the demise of one global British brand

Wedgwood Museum collection to be sold to pay for company pensions

At the dawn of the industrial revolution in Britain one of the first global brands created was that of Wedgwood china. Founded in 1759 by potter Josiah Wedgwood, it set standards that others were unable to match. A set of Wedgwood china became the mark of distinction for any aristocratic home and, more importantly, any home of the rapidly emerging middle classes.

At the dawn of de-regulated capitalism, in the 1980's, Wedgwood was acquired by the Waterford crystal company. Not for the first time or the last in this era, the management cultures of the two companies were fatally mismatched, the company went bust in 2008.


Greek bail-out: where's the panic?

A deal has been expected for a couple of weeks, why is every one so blase about the delay?

The terms of the Greek bail-out package were supposed to be agreed with its private bond-holders two weeks ago, then last Friday, then definitely before last Monday's EU leaders' summit in Brussels and then again by today.

Nothing is happening … and it's not clear when there will be agreement. The EU's finance ministers were scheduled to meet Monday in Brussels to discuss details of the EU's 130 billion euro rescue package for the country. But that package is conditional on the country's private creditors agreeing to take a substantial loss on the bonds they hold.

Six months ago this would have triggered panic in the markets. Today the FTSE 100 closed at a seven month high, up 1.8 percent on the day. The Paris CAC and Frankfurt Dax posted similar gains.

What gives?


Polish Nobel Literature Prize winner dies

Wislawa Szymborska, one of the greatest European writers of the last half century, is dead at the age of 88
Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, who has died aged 88 (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

When Wislawa Szymborska, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996 she was unknown outside her country. The prize often honors the obscure - and they remain that way because their work does not transcend the bounds of language and culture.


Mona Lisa as she was meant to be seen?

A copy of Leonardo da Vinci's painting is found in Prado shedding new light on iconic image
Mona lisaEnlarge
Restored copy of Mona Lisa painted by one of Leonardo da Vinci's assistants was shown at the Prado Museum in Madrid yesterday for the first time. (JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Unlike more recent geniuses, the old masters of painting did not work alone. They had plenty of staff working in their studios to help prepare paints and do menial tasks and learn while watching. Leonardo da Vinci's studio was set up this way.

The Prado Museum in Madrid has rediscovered what it believes to be a copy of Leonardo's Mona Lisa painted at roughly the same time as Leonardo was creating his iconic masterpiece.