Big Week – Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti tells the Guardian — and a group of leading European newspapers — that E.U. leaders have a week to save the eurozone and warned of the “apocalyptic consequences of failure” at a crunch summit next week. “There would be progressively greater speculative attacks on individual countries, with harassment of the weaker countries,” he said, adding: “the frustration of the public towards Europe would grow.”
Bridge Builder – The Jerusalem Post analyses Vladimir Putin’s visit to Israel, noting he aims to show Moscow is a player in the region. “[The] official purpose of the Russian president’s visit is to dedicate a memorial … but talks with Netanyahu will center on Russia’s support for Assad in Syria, nuclear talks with Iran.” Ties between the two are reportedly improving. “Obviously we don’t agree about everything,” an official said, “but we have a constructive dialogue.”
Moody Times – 15 major U.S. and U.K. banks have been slapped with a credit downgrade by ratings agency Moody’s, reports the New York Times. The move, designed to warn against the risks in having such complex structures, “could do more damage to their bottom lines and further unsettle equity markets,” writes the paper. Many have criticized the agency, arguing that “the new ratings failed to reflect the safeguards and changes that (banks) had put in place in recent years.” The agency remains “concerned” however, citing “a history of volatile profits and problems with risk management” within these banks.
Army Crackdown – The South China Morning Post reports China’s top military body has ordered thousands of senior People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officers to report their assets, “in a move military analysts describe as a ‘groundbreaking’ step in the fight against corruption in the armed forces.” It adds: “The PLA, and especially its top and mid-level leadership, has long been plagued by corruption scandals which have tarnished the military’s image at home and abroad.”
Pleading Sanity – The Daily Telegraph takes a look at the closing arguments to be presented by Anders Breivik’s lawyers as the ten-week trial into “the worst atrocity in (Norway’s) post-war history” comes to a close. The defense is arguing that there is a basic human right “to be responsible for one’s actions.” Breivik is hoping to avoid an insanity ruling in order “to ensure that his anti-Islamic ideology is not written off as the rantings of a madman.” He admits to killing 77 people last July.
Uneasy Diplomacy – Reuters offers an insight into the delicacy and peculiarity of the talks between Iran and the West regarding its nuclear program. The meetings “have developed their own rituals and etiquette bound up with the frustrations of a decade of fruitless talk.” Organizers are keen to create a “conducive mood,” particularly as “the Iranians are so outnumbered by counterparts from the United States, Russia, China and European powers.”