The week at a glance...Europe
LondonA yacht for the queen: Britain erupted in outrage this week over a government minister’s suggestion that the government give Queen Elizabeth a new, $90 million yacht next month to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of her rule. In 1997, when Tony Blair’s government appropriated the 410-foot Britannia as a tourist attraction, the queen became the first British monarch in centuries without a personal yacht, and Prince Charles and other royals have reportedly been lobbying for a new one. In a letter leaked this week to The Guardian, Education Minister Michael Gove suggested that the time was now. But in light of Britain’s current budget woes, he was condemned in the press for “a daft idea” with “Marie Antoinette echoes.” Prime Minister David Cameron said no public money would go toward a new yacht, but two Canadians pledged $12 million in private contributions.
Bucharest, RomaniaAngry protests: The Romanian government this week scrapped a proposed cut to emergency health services after thousands of people rioted in the streets of Bucharest. The trigger for the protests was last week’s resignation of a popular deputy health minister, Raed Arafat, who opposed the proposal to privatize parts of the health system. Demonstrations supporting him quickly morphed into more general opposition to President Traian Basescu and then into riots. Protesters chanted “Freedom!” and “Down with Basescu!” and waved banners that said “Hunger and poverty have gripped Romania!” Hundreds were arrested for throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. Basescu reinstated Arafat, a Palestinian immigrant, and pledged to draft a new health-care reform proposal.