- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 18, 2010

GERMANY

Hamburg mayor stepping down

BERLIN | Hamburg Mayor Ole von Beust said on Sunday he was stepping down, becoming the sixth Christian Democrat (CDU) state leader to leave office in the last 10 months.

Mr. von Beust is quitting after nine years leading the northern port city, Germany’s second largest city after Berlin.

His departure is a setback for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her center-right coalition. Mrs. Merkel and the federal government have slumped in opinion polls since the 2009 election due to slow progress in tackling needed financial and economic reforms.

Other CDU state leaders to leave in the last year include Thuringia state premier Dieter Althaus, Baden-Wuerttenberg’s Guenther Oettinger, Christian Wulff of Lower Saxony, Hesse’s Roland Koch and Juergen Ruettgers of North Rhine-Westphalia.

BRITAIN

Air show tests health of market

FARNBOROUGH | Boeing Co.’s long-anticipated 787 jet touched down on British soil Sunday, tipping its wings to the crowd and building buzz at the Farnborough International Airshow, the industry’s premier event.

The arrival of the blue-and-white 787 after years of delay underlined hopes that the two-year downturn in the aviation and defense industry is nearing a bottom. Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney claimed that the 787 would be “the way planes are going to be built for the next 80 years.”

But he acknowledged that delivery of the aircraft - already more than two years overdue because of production problems - could slip into 2011. He blamed administrative delays.

“End of the year is the plan,” Mr. McNerney said. “There could be some paperwork that pushes it into next year.”

Concerns remain about the slow global economic recovery and sharp cuts to national defense budgets.

New orders for commercial aircraft are likely to be restrained and restricted to buyers from strong emerging markets in the Middle East and Asia, while activity on the defense side of the show is expected to be muted.

Boeing and its archrival Airbus, meanwhile, head into the event facing growing challenges to their duopoly in the mid-sized civilian jet market from smaller manufacturers, including Canada’s Bombardier and Brazil’s Embraer.

Analysts, who are looking to Farnborough to take the pulse of the industry’s health, expect the event to be more upbeat than last year’s sister show in Le Bourget outside Paris, but they aren’t holding their breath for commercial plane orders anywhere near the record-breaking $88.7 billion worth announced in Farnborough in 2008.

SPAIN

Parliament to debate burqa ban

MADRID | Spanish lawmakers will debate barring burqas in public, joining other European countries considering similar moves on the grounds that the body-covering garments are degrading to women, the leading opposition party said Sunday.

Top officials of the ruling Socialist Party have indicated they will support the proposal by the opposition Popular Party, making a ban likely unless the country’s highest court rules it unconstitutional.

A debate in Spain’s lower house has been set by the Popular Party for Tuesday or Wednesday, the party said.

No vote will be scheduled until after the debate, and Spain’s Parliament usually goes on vacation for a month starting in late July or early August.

GERMANY

3 million party on highway

BERLIN | Millions of people partied on a highway in Germany, some of them sitting at a 37-mile-long table, as part of a cultural festival.

A festival spokesman said an estimated 3 million people turned out Sunday to celebrate on a closed autobahn between Dortmund and Bochum, in western Germany.

Oliver Haenig said tens of thousands were sitting at what organizers said was the world’s longest table, which was made up of 20,000 individual tables. The highway, which crosses North Rhine-Westphalia state, is normally one of Europe’s busiest.

The event, called “Still-life,” was part of a wider cultural festival celebrating the Ruhr region.