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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hollande Criticises German Austerity Push, Says No to Grexit

French President François Hollande suggested in an interview with The Guardian that France and Germany still disagree on how to solve the Euro crisis, saying that German Chancellor Angela Merkel should not place so much emphasis on austerity measures. Hollande also said that Merkel was “very sensitive to questions of internal politics and to the demands of her parliament. I understand that, and can respect that. But we all have our own public opinion. Our common responsibility is to put Europe’s interests first.” Hollande insisted that Greece “must now be assured of staying in the eurozone” and suggested that countries that chose to stay out of the common currency, such as the U.K., should not “come telling us how the eurozone should be run”. Finally, the French President said he thought that “the worst – in the sense of fear of the eurozone breaking up – is over”.

U.S. President Obama Rebounds in Second Presidential Debate

U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney traded blows in a town-hall style debate on Monday night, with polls suggesting a victory for the incumbent Democratic candidate. In one of the memorable lines from the debate, when Obama brought up Romney’s past investments in China, the Republican candidate suggested the President should look at how his pension fund invests his money. “I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours”. Another one came when Romney attempted to describe the vetting process for a potential cabinet and the women being considered for its positions. “I went to a number of women’s groups and said ‘Can you help us find folks’ and they brought us whole binders full of women”. The candidates will meet for a third debate on October 22 in Boca Raton, Florida.

NGO Accuses Libyan Militias of Mass Executions Following Gaddafi’s Death

Evidence collected by the Human Rights Watch NGO suggests that Misrata-based militias executed at least 66 members of former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi in the hours after his capture and death in October 2011. “It also looks as if they took Mutassim Gaddafi, who had been wounded, to Misrata and killed them there. Our findings call into question the assertion by Libyan authorities that Muammar Gaddafi was killed in crossfire, and not after his capture”, said Peter Brouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. The NGO has asked the Libyan government to open a full investigation into these allegations. “One of Libya’s greatest challenges is to bring its well-armed militias under control and end their abuses”, said Brouckaert. The new Libyan Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan, a former diplomat and human rights activist, has yet to respond to the NGO’s findings.

EU Health Commissioner Resigns Over Corruption Scandal

EU Health Commissioner John Dalli has resigned after being connected to an attempt to influence anti-tobacco legislation by OLAF, the European anti-fraud office. Swedish Match, a manufacturer of tobacco products, approached the office in May with allegations that a Maltese businessman had tried to use his contacts with Dalli, who is also Maltese, for financial gain. He said he would be able to influence future EU anti-tobacco legislation because of his acquaintance with Dalli. OLAF found that the Health Commissioner had not participated in any exchange for influence, but that he was aware of these events. The office will now send its report to the Attorney General of Malta, who will be responsible for any further proceedings. In a statement following his resignation, Dalli denied he was “in any way aware of these events” and that he would “take all action open to me to ensure that these unfounded conclusions will be proved completely false”.

France Vows to Fight Organised Crime After Murder of Lawyer in Corsica

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that his government was “determined to act against the plague of organised crime in Corsica” after a prominent lawyer was shot dead on his way to work in Ajaccio, the region’s capital city. Antoine Sollacaro had defended a number of Corsican nationalists, including Yvan Colonna, who was convicted of murder. The 63-year-old lawyer was shot dead inside his car by two men on a motorcycle while refuelling at a petrol station. He is the 15th victim in what French officials describe as a war between criminal gangs. French newspaper Libération suggested in its front page that the boundaries between nationalism, politics and crime had been blurred by this latest assassination.

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