BEIRUT — With its sun-kissed Mediterranean coast, and cedar-laden snow-bound mountains, Lebanon, like California, is one of the few places where you can top up your tan in the morning, and ski in the afternoon. Add that to Beirut’s seen-to-be-seen party-hard attitude, great cuisine and plush shopping malls, it is easy to see why this tiny country was a Middle East culture-hub during the 20th century. But, as Scripture puts it, “the flower of Lebanon languisheth.” A recent power sharing deal cut in Doha, between the pro-West March 14 coalition and the Iran-backed Hezbollah-led opposition, might seem like progress for the politically-polarized nation, but in reality, Lebanon remains unstable.
DUBLIN — EU foreign ministers faced mounting confusion at a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday in an attempt to salvage a political union of the 27-nation bloc after a veto by Irish voters. Some are urging other EU countries to press ahead with ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, even without Ireland’s approval, while others are demanding that the pact be scrapped altogether. “The rules are absolutely clear: If all 27 countries do not pass the Lisbon Treaty it cannot pass into law,” said British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. French European Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Jouyet told French radio that there was “no other solution” than for Ireland to hold a second popular referendum, akin to the scenario in which Ireland rejected an EU treaty in 2001 before passing it during a second attempt a year later.