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New U.S. Export-Controls: Sales Will Be Better, But Transatlantic Impact Takes Time

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The Obama administration has started to deliver its promised new system of export controls on military-related technology. The goal of the reform is, as officials put it, “to build a higher fence around fewer, truly sensitive items.”

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U.S. Bailout Funds Saved European Banks -- Without Much Transatlantic Reciprocity

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When the U.S. government led a bailout program of $700 billion in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the money was generally described as bailout funds for U.S. banks and other major financial institutions. But in fact, substantial amounts went to foreign banks, according to a congressional watchdog, the Congressional Oversight Panel. Headed by Elizabeth Warren, the committee has just issued a report highlighting this dimension of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).
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Vale de Almeida, EU Ambassador to U.S., Lays Down Marker on his New Authority

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The new EU ambassador to the U.S., Joao Vale de Almeida, took up his post in Washington this week with resounding public statements that “I am the one leading the show” in all matters where the EU has a common position vis-à-vis the U.S., including both economic and security issues.

“Bilateral matters are the mandate of the 27 [EU member states’] ambassadors…but in this area code, you call me,” he was quoted as saying to reporters. His quip alluded to a remark attributed to Henry Kissinger, who as secretary of state allegedly asked “what phone number to call” to find an effective EU interlocutor.

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Sarkozy's Anti-Immigrant Stance Draws Popular Support -- and Intellectual Rebuff

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The controversy about the harsh attacks on “immigrant crime” by French President Nicolas Sarkozy has spilled over into debates in the U.S. The influential New York Times lambasted the French leader for his comments singling out minorities. It was scathing about his threat to strip French citizenship from foreign-born naturalized citizens convicted of serious offences -- such as threatening the life of a police officer (or even pursuing Islamic practices such as polygamy or female circumcision). Such moves, the leading American newspaper said in an editorial, are “fanning dangerous anti-immigrant passions for short-term political gain.”

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U.S. Anti-Missile System Gains Ground Across Central and Eastern Europe

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The Czech Republic and, more surprisingly, Slovakia, have announced plans to participate in the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system in Europe by hosting parts of the network on their soil. Poland has already signed up as a site for deploying part of the planned system.

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Sarkozy Gets Tough with Illegal Immigrants and Gypsies--Partly for Electoral Reasons

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Two recent riots against police forces in France have once again brought to the forefront the thorny issue of the integration of marginalized minorities. In response to this violence and with an eye on the 2012 elections, President Nicolas Sarkozy has seized on the law-and-order issue that helped him win office three years ago. This time he has gone even further, announcing plans to strip their French nationality from naturalized immigrants convicted of attacking police or other authorities in France.  His new stance combines tougher repressive measures with rhetoric lumping together crime and immigration, even legal. (In that sense, his view is more radical even than that of the Arizona governor who wants the police to detain illegal immigrants involved in an incident with the authorities.)

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Rome and Eurozone: Italy is Biggest "PIIG" But Maybe Too Hard-working to Succumb to the Global Crisis that Threatens the Euro

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Italy has managed to largely avoid the media spotlight in the eurozone crisis, even though it is one of the so-called “PIIGS” (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain) always listed as the weak links in Europe. But Greece’s crisis and now Spain’s worries have overshadowed the potentially even larger problem in Italy. After all, it’s the seventh largest economy in the world -- seven times larger than that of Greece. But it has problems, too. So, as one commentator puts it, Italy is the “largest of the vulnerable countries, and most vulnerable of the large.” 

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