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Europe

European Press Review: Too Much Heat

The continuing heat wave was the subject for complaints throughout Europe on Monday, while the improvement in German-U.S. relations and South Africa's implementation of an AIDS funding program received praise.

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Thousands of Europeans sought relief from the brutal heat over the weekend by heading to the beach.

Hot nights, strumming crickets and warm sea water -- at last the things the Brits usually pay so much to visit for a fortnight’s package holiday are on their doorstep. But, said The Guardian, "judging by some of the reactions to the heat wave in the UK, there are plenty who do not like it hot. Weather forecasters at the weekend even spoke in hopeful tones of better weather on the way -- meaning cooler and damper!"

Britain’s experiencing its hottest days, but it could be a lot worse. Under pictures of people trying desperately to stay cool in London, The Independent noted that the temperatures in Baghdad are in the high forties, and Iraqis have been finding it pretty funny to hear Britons complaining about a mere 37 degrees.

Following the U.S. President’s overtures to Germany over the weekend, the Stuttgarter Nachrichten said George W. Bush’s statements were likely meant to boost his domestic political standing. The administration is under increasing pressure over the Iraq war, the paper wrote. So it would seem sensible to be reconciled with Germany -- one of the strongest critics of the invasion -- especially if the red-green coalition government in Berlin is prepared to take part in a NATO-led operation in Iraq.

Rome's La Republica commented that a thaw in relations with Bush would also have domestic advantages for Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who is currently under pressure from the opposition conservatives as well as business and finance leaders. The paper described the improvement in the relationship as a sign of a growing commitment to ending the worst bilateral diplomatic crisis of the post-war era, and predicted that Bush and Schröder will meet in New York by the end of September.

Following last week’s conference on HIV and AIDS in Durban, Die Welt said the South African government "grossly underestimated the scale of the problem, almost to the point of committing national suicide." A World Bank report recently predicted that unless the government takes urgent action against AIDS, the country’s economy will collapse. Now, the paper wrote, finally a program is to be introduced to fight the disease, and the United Nations is contributing 41 million dollars. "This alone won’t solve South Africa’s AIDS problem, but a decline in the number of AIDS deaths over the next few years will help the country to get back on its feet," the paper concluded

The Financial Times wrote that it was encouraging to see South African President Thabo Mbeki’s government being forced to eat a sizeable chunk of humble pie last week, and agreeing to implement a nationwide anti-retroviral drug program by 2008. The paper noted that the plan would cost around €1.5 billion, almost triple the current HIV/AIDS budget -- not cheap, but better than the potential catastrophe of inaction.

Finally, the interest in Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision to run for governor of California hasn't died down yet. It’s another example of the American dream, commented the Netherlands’ Algemeen Dagblad. But in the euphoria over Schwarzenegger’s candidature, it’s easy to forget just how vulnerable American democracy is. The paper cautioned that the excitement in California points to a phenomenon which is posing an increasing threat to American democracy: the power of money.