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The Clegg effect: Will it last another week?

LONDON, United Kingdom — If Britain’s coming election was once seen as a toss-up between two contenders, all bets were off this week after the country’s first-ever televised leadership debate delivered a seismic jolt to the country’s political landscape.

The art of traveling in volcanic times

NEW YORK —  The lyrics of Stephen Sondheim keep going through my head this morning. "My dear, I'm still here." Yes, I am still here on the wrong side of the Atlantic. Stuck in New York after a yo-yo day of hedging the odds.

Trapped in New York while a fruit-starved UK witnesses political history

NEW YORK — When last we spoke I was girding myself for a few days of travel chaos as I tried to return to my home in London from Boston. Well, I'm still North America and things are getting dicey.

Volcano ash cloud hits airline, shipping, travel industries

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Bumping into friends in the neighborhood around the European Union’s headquarters on Friday morning was enough to illustrate the extent of the disruption caused by the volcanic cloud drifting over Europe. There was the United Nations negotiator forced to cancel a trip to Sudan; then the Estonian woman whose diplomat husband was stranded in Moscow; a business writer unable to cover key EU finance talks in Madrid; an EU official seeking overland alternatives to a planned flight home to France for the weekend.

Britain's first TV debate: a snoozer

LONDON, United Kingdom — For a political event heavily hyped as the big game-changer in Britain’s closely fought general election, the country’s first-ever televised leadership debate will perhaps be best remembered for its dullness. Anyone tuning in to Thursday’s broadcast — the first of three debates before the May 6 vote — in the hope of seeing political credibility sluiced away by a Nixon-esque flop sweat or Ford-ish gaffe would have been sorely disappointed.

Immigration debate roils Britain

LONDON, U.K. — As Britain's general election approaches, the debate over asylum seekers has reached a fever pitch here, with not one but two very public attacks on the Labour government’s handling of immigration.

Opinion: Ted Hughes makes it to Westminster

LONDON, U.K. — I am in Westminster Abbey where kings and queens are crowned, and many of them buried. In the south transept is what is known as poet’s corner. Here is a statue of William Shakespeare, elbow on his books. Over there on the stone floor are plaques for Tennyson, Byron and Browning, and on that wall Keats and Shelley. Geoffrey Chaucer, who died in 1400, has his tomb here, and there’s a statue of William Wordsworth sitting. There are even some Americans immortalized in the abbey — Longfellow and T.S. Eliot, for example.

Analysis: Results of Britain's election up in the air

LONDON, United Kingdom — Queen Elizabeth II helicoptered into London this morning from her suburban palace in Windsor and met with her Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, for about 20 minutes. Brown asked her to dissolve Parliament and set the date of May 6 for a general election. She said yes and choppered back out to the 'burbs.  The Queen may have a more complicated role to play after May 6 if opinion polls are to be believed.

Opinion: More questions about China-Stan — and a few answers!

LONDON, U.K. — You know, I don't like to worry an idea to death, but I feel like I need to reiterate ideas from a column two weeks ago. In that column I noted the irony that while America and its European allies endure a moment of perilous self-doubt about their economies and the strength of their political systems against a backdrop of war in Afghanistan, China is reaping the benefits of economic expansion unfettered by extra military spending.

Global economy: grease is the word

BOSTON — The business world is abuzz with Apple's magical new iPad, set for worldwide release today. This column is not about that. That's because the real economic action this week took place not in Apple's shimmering and idealized high tech utopia, but rather, in the greasy and grimy world of manufacturing. No, it's not as sexy as a Steve Jobs marketing orgy. But it is more important. It turns out the world's factories are churning fiercely again, from the U.S., to China to Europe and beyond. And that's a very good thing.
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