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Europe, explained

The Iron Lady is gone, but Thatcherism is alive and well

Commentary: Her influence lives on in the spread of austerity in UK and Europe.
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A portrait of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher hangs on the wall at the Conservative Party headquarters in Finchley in north London on April 10, 2013. British lawmakers interrupted their holidays for a special session of parliament on April 10 to pay tribute to Margaret Thatcher, who died on April 8 at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke. (Andrew Cowie/AFP/Getty Images)
The reason Margaret Thatcher’s death continues to divide opinions and arouse strong emotional reactions has to do more with the controversial legacy of her policies in the current economic environment, than with her personal history and individual qualities.

EU enlargement: the real answer to ethnic tensions in the Balkans

Commentary: Albanian PM sees this as a key to peace, stability and security for Albania.
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Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha arrives at the EU Headquarters for a European People's Party (EPP) enlarged summit on Dec. 13, 2012 in Brussels. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)
TIRANA, Albania - Five countries in the Balkans, including Albania and neighboring nations, are at various steps along the path to full membership in the European Union. Recent headlines – and our region’s history – serve as reminders why it is so important that all five nations join the EU, not only for our own economic futures, but also for the peace and stability of our region, our continent and the entire world.

The OECD claimed today that Britain is back in recession. The Paris-based NGO's figures run at slight variance to those of British-based economic statistics compilers … but not by much. Even if the OECD's figures are slightly off, nearly 18 months of zero growth feels to British consumers and businessmen like a double-dip recession.

The question is: at what point does the Conservative-led coalition own this economy?


In a world going through an epochal transition to something no-one can foresee, the news is frequently grim and it is easy for a foreign correspondent to become permanently cynical writing about all that is going wrong. 

Susan Boyle, doesn't appear in the bio-musical of her life, but she does sing the encore. (Bethany Clarke/AFP/Getty Images)

Susan Boyle, the Simon Cowell discovery with the big voice and compelling back story, is now the subject of a bio-musical.


Some unexpected positive news for euro zone and some expected negative news, as well, today.

The OECD has broken ranks with the IMF and the European Commission and predicted that the euro zone economy will avoid recession and grow a fraction this year, reports the FT.

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The Water of Life - a joy and a big business - is celebrated today globally (Jeff J Mitchell/AFP/Getty Images)

There are worse ways to pass the time then celebrating the water of life. (Uisge beatha means "water of life"in Gaelic and is the origin of the word whisky - or whiskey as they spell it in Ireland, Kentucky and Lynchburg, Tennessee.)

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Amnesty International campaigns globally to bring an end to capital punishment. (LAURENT FIEVET/AFP/Getty Images)

Among the invaluable activities of Amnesty International is the compilation of an annual report on capital punishment. The 2011 edition was published today and it makes for interesting reading.

The bad news: there was a more than 10 percent increase in the number of judicial killings worldwide. In 2011, 676 executions took place as opposed to 527 in 2010.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for many in Greece nothing she says or does will ever be right. (JOHN MACDOUGALL/Getty Images)

Nothing German Chancellor Angela Merkel says or does will ever satisfy some Greek politicians and their constituents. In a BBC interview today Merkel says, "We have taken the decision to be in a currency union. This is not only a monetary decision, it is a political one. It would be catastrophic if we were to say to one of those who have decided to be with us: 'We no longer want you'."


The Guardian's Larry Elliott is as sharp a newspaper economic commentator as there is who hasn't won the Nobel Prize.

This thought provoking essay is in today's paper. Elliott notes that people are too focused on when to raise interest rates as the U.S. economy staggers back to its feet and slogs forward in the Great Stagnation.