European governments critised for ash cloud decisions as airports re-open (+analysis); Baghdad recount ordered in Iraq election; China restricts property investment; Kenyans lose work to ash cloud; and more
Top of the Agenda: Europe Criticized on Ash Cloud Response
European governments are facing criticism (NYT) for their response to unprecedented air traffic disruptions caused by the ash of an erupting Icelandic volcano. The chaos caused by the ash cloud and the financial cost of cancelled flights is estimated at $2 billion and climbing. The director of the International Air Transport Association Giovanni Bisignani criticized the lengthy and uncoordinated decision-making process for closing air space. He said the crisis is costing airlines at least $200 million per day in lost revenues and the European economy has lost billions in business. The British government--which announced that its country's airspace would be closed until Tuesday--said it was deploying the Royal Navy to bring people home. French, German, and Dutch airspace remained closed, while airports in Rome, Athens, and Madrid opened. Several European airlines, which complained that European governments were overreacting to the event, were considering emergency layoffs. Bisignani said he hopes the chaos will result in a unified European air traffic control system.
EU leaders prepared to meet (WSJ) Monday in an emergency session to discuss appropriate measures to mitigate the chaos.
A Der Spiegel editorial says the ash cloud could have been much worse, since past volcanoes have been suspected of causing the mini ice ages of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
In the Washington Post, Anne Applebaum says the volcanic eruption could go on for months or years, changing the economics and politics of Europe.
PACIFIC RIM: China Tightens Speculative Investing
China's State Council took steps to further tighten speculative property investments (WSJ), including allowing banks to stop issuing mortgages to home buyers who already own two or more properties.
Japan: Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said his country is "struggling" to resolve a dispute (FT) over moving the Futenma US marine base on Okinawa before a self-imposed May deadline.
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