The EU is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest. The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU’s most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights.Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland • Discussing why, exactly, an entire continent, with millions of people, is worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize — he says it’s because the continent has converted “from a continent of wars to a continent of peace.” Does this mean we have to preface any time someone does something terrible on the continent with a phrase like “Nobel Peace Prize winning dictator”? The union will now split the $1.2 million prize between roughly 500 million people — though we’re assuming a few hundred million will be left out.
» A year and a half without clear choice: Although Microsoft claims that the missing screen was replaced as soon as the issue was brought to the company’s attention, European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has announced that the EU is once again on the case. “We are now opening formal proceedings against the company,” said Almunia in a press release, adding, “If following our investigation, this breach is confirmed – and Microsoft seems to acknowledge the facts here – this could have severe consequences.”
I don’t think I have the qualities to be a good European Commission or European Council President.French President Nicolas Sarkozy • Responding to a reporter’s question about his political future at an EU summit in Brussels, Belgium. The French president’s future came into question because, with elections next month and polls showing him in second, it’s possible this could be his last appearance at an EU summit. Sarkozy also voiced his support for recently re-elected European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, saying “I am sure I would do it less well than him.” source (via • follow)
» Harsh words for the opposition: George Papandreou, the leader of the Socialist Party, had this to say towards the opposition New Democrats in the heat of the all-important vote: “All of Europe knows that your party is responsible for the current situation.” The vote, which only one member of parliament on either side crossed lines for, means that the country will receive a $17 billion rescue plan to make it through the Summer, with a second, much larger one in the works. Meanwhile, outside parliament, large-scale protests continued unabated.
» 48-hour general strike called: With Greece facing a difficult austerity vote today, protesters have shown up by the thousands outside of the country’s parliament. The strike has shut down most public services, including transit. Airports and hospitals have also suffered the deep effects of the strikes. The passage of the measures, however, is key — a large loan from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund rests on their passage. If they don’t get it, they risk going into default, which would be very bad.
» Coming today — the request: Portugal’s current caretaker government plans to solicit the European Union for bailout money today. However, the fact that it is a caretaker government complicates things, because some argue that they may not have the proper authority to take on such a task. To put this in perspective, Ireland’s outgoing government made a similar bailout request, only to have to the new government ask for changes after they got into office — something that the people handing out the money didn’t like. Gift horse, mouth, all that stuff.
In some Libyan cities, Muammar Gaddafi’s security forces are nowhere to be seen. Al Jazeera is reporting that many Libyan cities, especially in the Eastern part of the country, protesters are in control. “All along the border,” said correspondent Hoda Abdel-Hamid, ”we didn’t see one policeman, we didn’t see one soldier and people here told us they [security forces] have all fled or are in hiding and that the people are now in charge, meaning all the way from the border, Tobruk, and then all the way up to Benghazi.” Gaddafi still plans to quash this uprising, however, but based on reports it’ll be an uphill battle at best. source
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» What can you do to help? Well, considering that the Libyan Red Crescent site is down, we’ll suggest instead that you check out the numerous resources at Tumblr Aid, as well as Libyan awareness group Feb17.info, which has set up a fund to help fund relief efforts.
Is Google acting anti-competitively? Does it use its search-engine prowess to favor its own services over those of competitors? Does the company’s market share (66 percent in the U.S., 80 percent in Europe) constitute a monopoly? Do sites like Foundem, eJustice.fr and Ciao (the latter owned by Microsoft) have bad luck with Google because of crappy information-thin design that completely wastes your time and has little relevance (which we’d argue with the first two) or because there are competitive issues afoot (which seems realistic with the last one)? The European Union is asking these questions themselves as part of an antitrust trial. Seems Google’s getting too big for its britches. source