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Chatter: France gets a new president

François Hollande is sworn as France's new president, and hits the ground running.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
Francois Hollande has been sworn in as the new president of France.

He was inaugurated at the Elysee in Paris this morning, becoming the first Socialist in 17 years to occupy the presidential palace. But he'll barely have time to collect the keys before heading to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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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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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'."

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Angela Merkel hit by beer (VIDEO)

During a Christian Democratic Union meeting at a fancy restaurant, a 21-year-old waiter drenched the back of Angela Merkel's jacket with beer. Here's the video.
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) speaks with Lower Saxony's State Premier David McAllister at a session at a meeting of Germany's lower house of parliament on February 27, 2012 in Berlin. (John Macdougall /AFP/Getty Images)
The accident might actually be someone else's fault.
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Euro zone crisis: a pause for reflection

A Greek bail-out was agreed this week. Now what?
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The euro zone crisis at half-time, what's going to happen next? (Sean Gallup/AFP/Getty Images)

It's half-time in the euro zone crisis. So gather round and take a knee, and let's figure out what we've learned from the first half.

1. The bond markets work one way and the EU works another. Their methods are wholly incompatible. That's what caused the crisis to explode in the way it did. But a synthesis was reached between the two, because the EU's leaders ultimately showed the big institutional players in the bond market they were serious about tackling not just Greece's problems, but government deficits throughout the euro zone.

Government leaders who did not get with the program were removed. Once governance issues were resolved, the bond markets began to calm down.

This is a key lesson for American economic commentators to remember. Bond markets don't entirely rely on spread-sheet data. They care about unquantifiable things like good governance. Italy under Berlusconi was a joke, under Mario Monti it is a country whose governance gives hope of being as effective as its luxury goods businesses, which dominate their sector of world trade.

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Greek debt crisis: insult upon insult

Greek and German media folk trade unpleasantries

My thanks to Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) of Britain's Channel 4 news for pointing me toward this story in the Athens News.

Yiorgos Trangas, a radio host for Real FM, called German Chancellor Angela Merkel a "dirty Berlin slut" live on the air recently. Now, the station has been fined 25,000 euros ($33,260) by the National Council of Radio and Television for the outburst. He was judged to have "abused the Greek language" and used an obscene word to describe Merkel.

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Greek journalist Yiorgos Trangas fined for calling Angela Merkel a 'dirty Berlin slut'

Greek radio presenter insulted the German chancellor on air, twice.
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A Greek radio presenter called German Chancellor Angela Merkel an offensive term that apparently means "person without shame" - but is a lot more vulgar. (Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)

BERLIN, Germany — Greek journalist Yiorgos Trangas has attracted a €25,000 fine for referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as a "dirty Berlin slut."

The radio presenter used the derogatory term on Athens-based Real FM not once but twice, in September and October of last year, the Athens News website reported.

The Greek original, "ξεκωλιάρα του Βερολίνου," means literally "girl with an open a**hole," according to the English-language site, but can also refer metaphorically to someone who has no shame.

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Germany: Neo-Nazi murder victims remembered with ceremony, minute's silence

Chancellor Merkel urged Germans to be vigilant against far-right extremism, citing Edmund Burke's famous warning: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

EU leaders leaning toward growth v. austerity

ROME — The leaders of the EU's two leading economies did not sign up, leading many to see the letter as a challenge to Merkel and Sarkozy.

Merkel picks Joachim Gauck as new German president

BERLIN — Joachim Gauck, a former East German activist and pastor who helped expose the crimes of the Stasi secret police, secured the backing of all the main parties as presidential candidate, less than two years after being narrowly defeated by Merkel’s nominee Christian Wulff.
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