On the day of the world's most important election, SPIEGEL tallies the endorsements of international leaders, Germans stay up all night to follow the election results, the Queen arrives in Berlin and Madeleine Albright says Germany and Europe should do more to help Iraq.
The world has no vote, but if it did, what would governments say?
This US Presidential election is so polarizing that even normally neutral foreign governments are voicing their opinions. The world, it seems, is dividing into red (George W. Bush) and blue (John Kerry) zones. Here's the current tally:
For Bush: Japan, Russia, Australia, Iran and Colombia -- all leaders have warm ties with Bush and backed the Iraq war. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said terrorists want Bush to lose, implying the world will be safer with Bush in office. Australian Prime Minister John Howard openly said he hopes Bush gets re-elected. He then retracted the comments under pressure from Kerry campaign strategists, who blasted him for sticking his nose in America's domestic business. For its part, the head of Iran's National Security Council, Hassan Rowhani, said: "We don't want the Democrats in government. We shouldn't the fact that most sanctions and biggest economic pressure against Iran came from the Clinton administration."
For Kerry: France and China. Though France and Germany were partners in the anti-Iraq war effort, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has remained diplomatically neutral this election season. But French President Jacques Chirac has been pretty clear he hopes Bush goes. The two have an icy -- some say irreparable -- relationship. China's former vice premier and former foreign minister Qian Qichen accuses an "arrogant" Bush-led White House of trying to "rule the world" and blames the Iraq war for increased world terrorism. (2:40 p.m. CET)
Germans Pull Election All-Nighter
Potsdamer Platz in Berlin is hosting just one of the many election night parties in Germany's capital.
Newspapers in Europe are talking about nothing else. Hell, people in Europe are talking about nothing else. All eyes are focused due West across the Atlantic and anticipation about the outcome of the US elections is reaching dizzying proportions across the continent. In Berlin, a surprising number of people are planning on staying up all night long, waiting for the results to roll in. Here is a brief party list: America House: Podium discussion with Jeffrey Gedmin, Berlin head of the conservative Aspen Institute -- hosted by the US Embassy. Bertelsmann Stiftung: Invitation-only gathering with CNN, n-tv, RTL and a number of polital celebrities. Potsdamer Platz: A showing of "The Manchurian Candidate" and then election results until the break of dawn. Tränenpalast: The anti-Bush group Vote44 is hosting a party with music, election results and movie director Wim Wenders. Sky Lobby of the Spreeeck: Election results and booze the whole night through. Free University of Berlin: The university's John F. Kennedy Institute is hosting an all-nighter with hot dogs, cola, coffee and bagels. No Tex-Mex. (2:12 p.m. CET)
Queen Rubs Elbows with Hitler's Ghost
Does the Queen know the history of the Berlin building where she will be feted Tuesday night?
Germans certainly know how to receive with ... er ... distinction. To celebrate Queen Elizabeth's fourth trip to Berlin and to toast stronger German-British friendship, the government has organized a gala four course dinner. The hitch? The meal will take place in a hall Hitler made famous for propaganda tirades, most memorably a 1941 evisceration of the British. On March 16, 1941, Hitler stood inside the pink, heavily baroque Zeughaus and declared, "When England and France declared war, England immediately started a war against the civilian population. England and France want this war." Now, 63 years later, the Queen is to have a four-course meal surrounded by 250 dignitaries in this very hall. Will she have an appetite for the venison and Riesling being so carefully prepared? Her advisors say "yes." Her Majesty may dress a tad on the frumpy side (she arrived in Berlin in leprechaun green), but she is firmly a modern woman. "For this visit, we are looking to the future, not the past," her aides said. (2 p.m. CET)
Britain Says Slapping Your Kid Is OK, Sometimes
No marks? No problem says Britain.
If you want to smack your kid in Britain, no problem. Just don't leave a mark. That, at least, is the party line handed down Monday by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He is urging labor MPs to veto a proposal that would ban all forms of physical chastisement in Britain. Blair, a father of four, still wants to allow prosecution of parents whose child smacking results in bruises or other marks on the skin but thinks that parents should have some latitude to lash their little ones. Parents' groups, teachers and lawyers have all come out against an outright ban. (12:10 a.m. CET)
Watch Out for North Korea
These guys should not have nukes the United Nations was told on Monday.
Remember North Korea? That quaint East Bloc leftover ruled by an instable crackpot and that is said to be developing its own bomb? Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) reminded the United Nations on Monday evening about the dangers posed by North Korea. Calling on the country to return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty it turned its back on two years ago, and to stop its uranium enrichment program, ElBaradei also said he was frustrated at North Korea's continued refusal to participate in negotiations aimed at dismantling their nuclear program. While holding out the possibility of humanitarian aid for the country, ElBaradei said "a prerequisite is for them to commit themselves to full, verifiable, dismantlement of their weapons program." ElBaradei also blasted Iran for its unwillingness to bend to international pressure on its nuclear aspirations. He said the country should suspend all uranium enrichment-related activities as an olive branch to the international community. (11:40 a.m. CET)
Back to Band Aid
Bob Geldorf wants to take us back to the 1980s.
Twenty years after its debut, "Do They know It's Christmas," the most successful benefit single of all time, is being re-recorded and released this month with a new all-star line-up. But this time around, Band Aid will feature something it didn't the first time: Cover artwork by Damien Hirst, the enfant terrible of the British art world. Hirst is well known for artworks containing the dissected bodies of animals floating in formaldehyde. Hirst will be joining musical celebrities including Robbie Williams, Dido, Darkness singer Justin Hawkins, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Travis' Fran Healy, Beverly Knight, Jamelia, Supergrass' Danny Goffey, the Sugababes and Morcheeba's Skye Edwards in the Christmas project. Bob Geldorf and Midge Ure, who founded Band Aid in 1984, will also be directing the remake. The single, to be released on Nov. 29, will raise money for the victims of political instability in the Darfur region of Sudan.
(11:15 a.m. CET)
Albright Says Europe Needs to Help More
Albright says Iraq is a world problem and Germany should send more aide.
Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says Europe and particulary Germany should take a more active role in Iraq. In a Tuesday interview with the business daily Handelsblatt Albright says it doesn't matter how anyone felt about invading Iraq, but now that we are there it is the world's responsibility to help straighten out the mess. "I wish Europeans would understand how important it is to provide soldiers in Iraq," she said. She added that she understands that "some countries don't want to send their own troops," but that these countries should "think about how they can help in other ways. They must understand that they are part of a larger rebuilding process that affects us all." She acknowledged the role Germany has played in Afghanistan (Germany has the largest number of troops of any European nation there) but said the nation needs to do more in Iraq. "When it comes to educating security forces, the German government could engage itself more," she said. "More logistical support is also a possibility." Clearly a supporter of John Kerry, she said Kerry would use his diplomatic skills to unite the world and to convince Europeans that as far as Iraq is concerned, "we are all in one boat." (11:05 a.m. CET)
Signs the End is Near
Africa's locust plague has arrived in Europe.
The gigantic locust swarms that have plagued Africa for months have now reached Europe. On Monday, millions of the devastating insects landed on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean and immediately began eating their way through potato fields and banana plantations. Cypriot officials are planning a massive pesticide campaign to rid the island of the insects. The locust swarms have already done tremendous damage in West Africa, virtually destroying this year's crops. (10:25 CET)
Struck Strikes Camp
German Defense Minister Peter Struck is downsizing Germany's military.
German Defense Minister Peter Struck is set to announce dramatic cutbacks to German military bases on Tuesday. One hundred and five of a total 503 bases, mostly army, are to be shut. The closures are part of a plan to reduce the German military from 285,000 soldiers to 250,000 and to cut civilian employees by almost 40 percent by 2010. The plan has already set off protests in towns across Germany worried about losing their local base and the economic advantages the soldiers bring. (9:45 a.m. CET)
Report: Civilian Toll in Iraq at 100,000
A stunning new report released on the eve of the American election provides a "conservative estimate" that there have been at least 100,000 civilian victims of the war in Iraq. The report, the result of a survey by researchers of 988 Iraqi households in 33 different parts of the country, concluded that 95 percent of the victims were killed by bombs or during helicopter attacks. Most of the dead are believed to be women and children, according to one of the report's main authors, Les Roberts. The authors insisted on releasing the report, published this week on the Internet by the respected British health journal The Lancet, in the run-up to the election in order to make the candidates think more about taking extra steps to protect Iraqi civilians. (6:39 p.m. CET)
Shredding Human Rights
Turks clash over human rights report
Turkey has been ripping apart human rights -- literally. At meeting of the nation's human rights committee Monday, an enraged committee member took a copy of a recently released human rights report and ripped it to shreds in front of a television camera. The report questions Turkish policy towards its minority communities, including Jews, Armenians, Kurds, Greeks and Alwiten, and supports a more pluralistic, multicultural model. Apparently the committee member was unhappy about the amount of cultural freedom the report suggests for the country's Kurdish and non-Muslim minorities. Asked about the incident, committee president Ibrahim Kaboglu said "the ugly attack" was unfortunate, but proves that freedom of speech and opinion are allowed in Turkey.
(5:15 p.m. CET)
Buttiglione goes down kicking
Rocco Buttiglione is a good pal of the Pope, but even J.P. couldn't get him his post.
Rocco Buttiglione -- the European Union Commission candidate who believes homosexuality is a sin and the role of women is to bear children -- has withdrawn his controversial nomination for the commissioner for justice and human rights posting. Buttiglione was the catalyst that spurred an unprecedented EU catfight in which normally well-behaved European parliamentarians came out scratching. He did not go lightly. Instead, he lashed out at liberal parliamentarians, calling himself an "innocent victim" who had been misquoted and who knew to keep his personal beliefs separate from his politics. Fact is -- say some -- he has worked to remove sexual orientation from the European charter of Human Rights and is therefore not suitable to oversee human rights cases. Incoming European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says he will reveal his new, improved commission line up this week. (4:23 p.m. CET)