Russia’s state-controlled gas provider, Gazprom, has just announced that it is cutting down to 20 percent of capacity the amount of natural gas it delivers to Germany through the main pipeline connecting both countries. Whatever pretext Moscow might offer for the move, the real reason is clear to all: Russia is retaliating for E.U. sanctions levied because of its war against Ukraine. “Russia is blackmailing us”, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen complained. “Russia is using energy as a weapon”.
Von der Leyen made her announcement as if it were news. But it’s not — not to anyone who’s been paying attention over the past two decades.… Seguir leyendo »
Everything you need to know about the British Labour Party is contained in the fact that Luciana Berger is no longer a member and Alex Scott-Samuel is.
Two weeks ago Berger, a member of parliament, shocked the nation when she announced her departure from the country’s official opposition. The great niece of a postwar-era Labour government minister, Berger joined the party at age 15 and was parliamentary chair of the Jewish Labour Movement. Standing at a lectern with several other former Labour MPs, she announced the formation of a new caucus called the Independent Group, established for those disaffected with the growing extremism of the country’s two major political parties.… Seguir leyendo »
Most of the international criticism directed at Hungary over the past nine years has focused on domestic indicators such as the rule of law, separation of powers and press freedom. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been remarkably blunt about his designs for Hungary, citing China, Russia and Turkey as models. After an election in April widely deemed free but not fair, he sounded a triumphal note, declaring that “the era of liberal democracy is over.”
Since Orban won reelection, however, his behavior has called into question not only his democratic bona fides, but also his basic trustworthiness as an ally of the United States and member of the democratic Western world.… Seguir leyendo »
A great deal about Germany’s elections this weekend can be discerned from the hand gestures that define the two leading candidates.
On one side, two hands are gently counterpoised against each other, thumbs and index fingers pressed together at the tips. This is the “Merkel rhombus,” the resting position in which the hands of Chancellor Angela Merkel can usually be found. Whether standing alongside world leaders at a Group of 20 meeting or talking to ordinary Germans outside a supermarket, this gesture has become so famous that it appears on posters for her party, the Christian Democratic Union, without any accompanying text.… Seguir leyendo »
Fifty plainclothes Italian special agents raided a villa on the outskirts of Rome on May 29 and absconded with Alma Shalabayeva and her 6-year old daughter, Alua. Two days later, after uncharacteristically swift legal proceedings, mother and daughter were whisked away to Kazakhstan, a resource-rich former Soviet state in Central Asia.
While Shalabayeva and her daughter are Kazakh citizens, both had European Union residence permits, issued by Latvia, allowing them to stay anywhere in the E.U. Italy has an estimated 440,000 illegal immigrants, many of whom are presumably more dangerous than Shalabayeva and whose cases typically take some time to resolve.… Seguir leyendo »