Withdrawal Symptoms - In a pact reached after a year of negotiations between the U.S. and Afghanistan, Washington promised military and financial support for a decade after its formal troop withdrawal from the country in 2014, the Associated Press reports. The agreement sends a strong signal to the Taliban, believed to be waiting in the wings as foreign forces wind their operations down. But at this stage, the document has little more than a vaguely worded reassurance to Afghan leaders, the Washington Post writes, leaving many to guess how it will translate into practice.
Cleaning House – As Britain’s coalition government is shaken by the bill drafted for House of Lords reform, which calls for a largely elected rather than appointed second chamber, the Guardian insists that “radical change” is essential in order for the institution to “survive.” The paper argues that the fact the House of Lords is larger than the House of Commons is “absurd,” noting that only Kazakhstan and Burkina Faso share this discrepancy.
Pain In Spain – With Spain’s unemployment at almost 24%, and 50% for under-25s, the Washington Post predicts that the country could “tip the entire world economy into a stubborn slump” if its economic crisis deepens and it does not manage to fill its banks with more capital. The piece outline’s Spain’s “agonizing” predicament as caught between austerity measures potentially producing “more austerity,” and the absence of austerity creating “a crisis of confidence.”
French Face-off - The Socialist candidate, Francoise Hollande, won a narrow victory over incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in the first round of France’s presidential elections, setting the stage for a runoff on May 6. If Hollande, who has promised to boost the country’s stalled economy with more public spending and job creation policies, wins the election, a standoff with German Chancellor Angela Merkel may be inevitable, writes the New York Times. And the Atlantic considers what a Hollande victory could mean for the U.S., NATO and the world.
Fast And Furious - Bahraini protestors failed to disrupt the Formula 1 Grand Prix held outside the capital Manama on Sunday, but claimed a moral victory against the government in their campaign to focus attention on repression in the tiny Gulf state, says the Guardian. The Christian Science Monitor, meanwhile, takes a look at how the country’s Sunni minority and its distrust of the Shia majority has thwarted Bahrain’s rebellion.
Drug Money – Al Jazeera argues that the American government’s “War On Drugs” is “counterproductive,” costing the United States $13.7 billion a year – a price-tag it calls an “exercise in dunderheadedness.” It suggests that the government finds it “easier” to pursue this policy, rather than attempting to “honestly tackle real problems.”