FT Wednesday 28th of May 2014

  1. Merkel blows open race for top European job


In an unexpected move, German Chancellor Angel Merkel has dealt a blow to the candidacy of Jean-Claude Juncker for the European Commission presidency. Juncker is a former prime minister of Luxembourg and the nominee for the position by Ms Merkel’s EPP centre-right grouping. The EPP is the biggest grouping in the new parliament but failed to win a majority, bringing about this decision by the German Chancellor. British PM David Cameron, who took the Conservative Party out of the EPP grouping several years ago, had fought actively against Mr. Juncker’s nomination for the crucial European post, viewing him as an old school European Federalist. Whilst Mr. Juncker as the nominee of the biggest parliamentary bloc will still have the first attempt to secure the job, the wavering support from the German chancellor will make his path to power significantly less smooth than he may have hoped.  


  1. Data on cost of Scots rule ‘misleading’


It has been claimed by a professor of Politics at LSE who has written a Treasury report on the costs of Scottish independence that the Treasury department has misled voters on the costs of setting up an independent government in Edinburgh. A significant portion of the Treasury’s argument for Scotland staying in the UK is the cost involved in independence. It appears that the government has chosen to inflate the figures involved in setting up new departments by up to a factor of ten. The government has suggested that the costs to Scottish taxpayers could be £2.7bn, whilst the academic involved, Prof Dunleavy, estimates the costs at between £150-200m. 


  1. Lagarde and Carney warn financial sector


Speaking at a conference in London on inclusive capitalism, the managing director of the IMF Christine Lagarde has delivered a warning on the progress of financial sector reform. Largarde claimed that the financial services industry is pushing back attempts by regulators and central banks to make the world of finance safer. The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has similarly argued that it is time to complete much needed global reform, and end the problem of banks that are considered “too big to fail”.


  1. US to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2016


President Obama has announced plans to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016. The US president has compromised between his own stated position of complete withdrawal and the advice of the Pentagon who sought to keep a presence in the country. The presence of US troops in is a major issue in both the US and Afghanistan, and Afghan leader President Karzai has previously stated his intention to refuse to allow US troops to remain in the country. The decision to leave just under 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan is on the basis that they will be helping to train the inexperienced Afghan forces in their ongoing battle with the Taliban.


  1. ‘Revenge porn’ laws spur liberties debate


The growing trend of ‘revenge porn’ has started a global debate on how the Internet should be regulated. In recent years many people, predominantly men, have posted pictures of ex lovers on the Internet in response to having been broken up with. This has raised legal issues over who owns the pictures, and who is responsible for their publication on the Internet. Social media giants such as Facebook and Google have been watching the developments closely as they seek to maintain the Internet’s position as a free and open space. There are contradictions involved, as the posting of pictures of someone in compromised positions against their will is quite obviously wrong but currently not illegal. 


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