Chatter: Europe goes on strike




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Need to know:
Millions of Europeans are on strike today in protest against their governments' austerity policies.

The "day of action" has workers downing tools in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy, while solidarity rallies have also been called in Belgium, France, Germany and the UK. Reports say airlines, public transport, schools and factories are feeling the disruption.

The moves were called by unions, who say the workforce is being made to bear the burden as politicians blithely cut spending and hike taxes. No one could dispute that things are bad – Greece is on course for its sixth straight year of recession, and unemployment in Spain is at a jaw-dropping 25 percent – but governments insist that reducing deficits is key to long-term recovery, and slashing salaries, pensions and benefits is the only way to do it.

There have been protests before, and none has yet changed any government's course. But the millions resisting austerity say they won't go down without a fight.

Want to know:
President Barack Obama will stand by his general and tell the world he loves him – or at least, that he doesn't think he totally messed up.

Obama will speak about the Petraeus (et al.) scandal directly for the first time in a press conference this afternoon, but White House spokesman Jay Carney has already said that the president thinks "very highly" of General John Allen, the second senior commander to be suspected of inappropriate communications with a woman not his wife. Obama apparently has "faith" in Allen, whose nomination as the next head of NATO forces in Europe has been on hold since his involvement in the investigation came to light.

Meanwhile Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who ordered Allen's promotion to be postponed, has expressed "continued confidence" in him and warned against "leaping to any conclusions."

Allen's fate still hangs in the balance; his fellow four-star general, David Petraeus, has already given up his job as the head of the CIA. While the investigation continues into what either man told either woman, whether it breached national security and hopefully, how top officers had time to write so many darn emails, GlobalPost will be following how a few individuals' indiscretions could impact all over the world.

Dull but important:
China's 18th Communist Party Congress is officially over.

The week-long meet ended today with the selection of the Central Committee, the 350 or so people who, tomorrow, will elect the new Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee. Whoever they decide – or more realistically, whoever the top ranks have already decided – will govern China for the next 10 years.

The new line-up will be announced at 11 a.m. Beijing time. The world will be watching.

Just because:
Israel is contemplating "overthrowing" the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, if he insists on asking the United Nations to recognize the state of Palestine.

The position is set out in a proposal by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, for whom the term "hardline" was made. He claims that Israel's only option, if the UN admits Palestine as "a non-member observer state," would be topple Abbas's government.

"The other option," Lieberman says, "of containment or a softer response, would be seen as raising a white flag."

The Palestinian Authority plans to pursue its UN bid on Nov. 29. So far, neither Israeli threats nor US pleas have persuaded it otherwise.

Strange but true:
One very good reason to delete two Facebook friends immediately would be if the site of their matching grins on one of the site's creepy new "couples pages."

The feature automatically organizes all the things you ever posted, pictured or "liked" with your designated loved one into one retch-inducing joint profile. It's been compared to the "scrapbook that you never asked to be created," and what's more, you can opt to share it with all of your network.

Come on, Facebook. We don't want the people we sort of know to tell us about this stuff – we'd far rather snoop it out for ourselves.