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Harper and Merkel: Partners in austerity

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Chancellor Angela Merkel.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Canada this week as champion of an austerity policy stance that is failing Europe.

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France and Greece celebrate electoral push back against austerity

Socialist Party supporters in Bastille Square cheered the end of the Sarkozy era in France. (Photo: democraticunderground.com)
France celebrated the defeat of Sarkozy over the weekend. Similar scenes took place in Greece, as the left rode a wave of anti-austerity sentiment.

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Scotland the Brave: What does the future hold?

Photo: Ross G. Strachan/flickr

The land marked by the poet Robert Burns, the economist Adam Smith, and the reign of Mary Queen of Scots readies itself for a momentous referendum this Thursday. Some five million Scottish voters will decide: "Should Scotland be an independent country?" 

The voting age has been lowered to 16; about 97 per cent of the population have registered to vote; a turnout as high as 90 per cent has been predicted; and aggregated polling suggests a close result. At least one in 10 voters is undecided.

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Could the Yes vote win in Scotland?

Photo: Màrtainn MacDhòmhnaill/flickr

With less than 10 days before the September 18 referendum on Scottish independence, the Yes campaign has forged slightly ahead in a significant public opinion poll, gaining 26 percentage points in a matter of weeks.

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Scotland votes on independence

Photo: greensambaman/flickr

"Should Scotland be an independent country?" This question will be put to the people of Scotland in a referendum September 18. With just over a month to go, the "No" side campaigning as Better Together, has the lead over Yes Scotland, polling above 55 per cent.

A simple majority vote will decide the outcome.

The Scottish National Party, founded in 1934, promotes the independence option along with the Scottish Green Party and the Socialist Party of Scotland. The Labour Party, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats are opposed.

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The future of the 21st-century European left

Photo: philippe leroyer/flickr

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Hannah Arendt decried a modern world of loneliness with people absorbed by work and consumption. Where was civic life, public space, the "venture into the public realm," participating with others in trust?

Arendt identified what has become a major problem for the European left: political apathy and indifference to civic duty, as revealed by voter turnouts of less than 50 per cent in the recent European parliament election.

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Fighting the right-wing plague that struck Europe

Photo: Marine Le Pen. Credit: Blandine Le Cain/flickr

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A plague of extreme right-wing parties has struck Europe, as evidenced by results of the recent European Union Parliamentary elections.

The extreme right prevailed in France, Great Britain and Denmark, EU countries that have largely escaped the economic disease that afflicted the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain): soaring unemployment, sovereign debt crises, imposed austerity.

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Europe disenchanted: After the European Parliament elections

Photo: European Parliament/flickr

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The great French poet Victor Hugo speaking to an international peace conference in 1849 called for the establishment of a United States of Europe. With the blood hardly dry after World War II ended in Europe in 1945, a group of French thinkers, notably Jean Monnet, drew up plans for European economic co-operation.

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Harper on Russia: America's useful idiot?

Photo: pmwebphotos/flickr

Stephen Harper's acutely embarrassing behaviour regarding the crisis in Ukraine -- demonizing Vladimir Putin and upping the rhetoric -- must be welcomed in the U.S. which created the crisis in the first place and apparently believes it still has something to gain by isolating Russia. But it is not clear that Harper even realizes -- or cares -- what the larger game is.

And that game may include a Russia-driven shift in global currency allegiance that could devastate the economies of the U.S. and Canada.

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