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Kader Abdolah wants to "give balance" to Iran

DELFT, The Netherlands — In 2007, a book recounting three decades of one family’s life in a provincial Iranian city was voted the second greatest Dutch novel of all time. The author’s achievement was made all the more remarkable by the fact that he had never written, heard or spoken a word of the Dutch language until he was 33 years old. “I knew nothing about the Netherlands, I had never heard about it,” explained Kader Abdolah, author of "The House of the Mosque." 

EU comes through for Greece, but at what cost?

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union bowed to German pressure today and called in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help rescue Greece, averting the risk that a financial meltdown in Athens could undermine the euro, but revealing deep weaknesses in Europe's monetary union. "This is great news for Europe," said Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates at the summit of EU leaders. "This is an accord that really responds to the problem."

The new World Heritage site you can't enter

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The marble-clad palace, crowned with a quartet of muscular copper nudes, is a familiar landmark for thousands of Brussels' commuters who drive past every evening on their way to the leafy eastern suburbs. But the treasure-packed interior of the Stoclet Palace is a mystery to all but a privileged handful and the unique artworks it contains are more remote to inhabitants of the Belgian capital than the Taj Mahal or Pyramids of Giza.

Dutch far-right gains in local elections

“Today, Almere and The Hague, tomorrow the Netherlands!” Anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders was jubilant after Wednesday’s local municipal elections, predicting that his Party For Freedom (PVV) can repeat it’s success at the local level to become the biggest party in the Netherlands when the country elects a new government in June.

Watch: A verbal smackdown in the European Parliament

British Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Nigel Farage may be basking in all the attention, but for the next 10 days that will be all he’s paid. Farage, a member of the anti-EU United Kingdom Independence Party, a week ago unleashed a bitter tirade against EU president Herman van Rompuy filled with humiliating personal attacks (van Rompuy is the one wearing glasses and shaking his head):

Lessons from eastern Europe's flat tax

SOFIA, Bulgaria — American economist Alvin Rabushka keeps the flags of about 30 nations— mostly post-communist countries like Bulgaria and Slovakia — in his office at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. They remind him of the bittersweet victories he’s helped achieve since he co-authored “The Flat Tax” in 1985.

Dutch government collapses

The collapse of the Dutch government after marathon talks on Afghanistan raises difficult questions both for future of NATO’s mission against the Taliban and the nature of politics in the Netherlands. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende announced in the small hours of Saturday morning that Labor Party ministers were resigning from the coalition government. Balkenende’s center-right Christian Democratic Appeal and the conservative Christian Union party will stay on in government until elections likely to be held in May.

Belgium's deadly rail disaster

Belgians watched grimly as the rising death toll from Monday’s rush-hour train collision seemed certain to make the crash the country’s most deadly rail disaster since World War II. Seven hours after the accident, the official fatality count was at 12, but railroad and local government officials were saying that up to 25 may have lost their lives, with dozens more injured. The two packed regional commuter trains crashed close to 8.30 a.m. at the station of Halle, a city of 35,000, located about 20 kilometers southwest of Brussels.

Opinion: Greek debt crisis a hazard for EU

WASHINGTON — The Greek membership of the eurozone has never been easy. While other EU countries either adopted the euro or chose not to do so, Greece was the only EU country that wanted to join the common currency area at the outset, but could not. The Greeks were keen to jettison the drachma because of their past experience with inflation and devaluation. Giving monetary authority to the European Central Bank would eliminate those two problems.

US, NATO want Dutch to stay in Afghanistan

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Some time in February, the Dutch government must make a decision that could have profound implications for the future of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan. The administration in The Hague has said it will decide by March 1 whether to agree to United States requests for Dutch troops to remain in the strategic south-central Afghan province of Uruzgan or whether to obey the wishes of its parliament and pull them out by Dec. 1.
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