michaelwhiteTo say that David Cameron's big speech on Europe has been jinxed since its inception may be the understatement of the year so far.

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garretmartinOn 11 February 2010, the European Parliament – with 378 MEPs against and only 196 for – struck down the interim Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications [SWIFT] agreement already negotiated between the EU and the U.S. on the transfer of citizens' financial data to prevent terrorist attacks.

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The EU has made more headlines in the American media this year than perhaps at any time in its history.   With markets and governments jittery about the future of the EU single currency, the euro, there has been a flurry of EU summits peppered with seemingly endless talks on bailout terms and treaty changes. And the future of the EU has been in play.

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michaelwhiteOnly six weeks to go, thank goodness. Foreigners don't have a vote in US presidential elections, although some behave as if they do and most non-Americans know that the outcome will affect their own lives one way or another. We care, and we also enjoy a good political horse race when we see one.

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The main challenger to President Nicolas Sarkozy in the hard-fought French election contest that culminates in a few weeks is a man virtually unknown outside his own country – François Hollande. To the surprise of many people outside of France, the polling data has consistently shown the incumbent trailing his opponent, including in the widely expected situation in which election turns on a run-off between the two men. Long-time stalwart and one-time leader of the Socialist party, Hollande, 57, has had little international exposure during his decades as a French parliamentarian. So who is he? And if he is elected President, what is likely to change in U.S.-French relations or in France’s position inside the European Union?

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