France, Portugal Among Eight Nations Set For Uefa World Cup Qualifying Playoffs

France’s Retirement Reform: Too Little, Too Late?

The announcement followed talks in Paris between French President Francois Hollande and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, the agency’s local representative Philippe Leclerc told AFP. Politics & Government Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell announced an agreement to end the partial federal government shutdown and extend the debt ceiling early on Wednesday afternoon. National Constitution Center Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a noted liberal, threw the Constitution figuratively at GOP Senator Ted Cruz on Tuesday night, as tensions flared in the debt-ceiling debate. National Constitution Center France expels girl to Kosovo after class trip MITROVICA, Kosovo (AP) Leonarda Dibrani was finishing up a field trip when French police showed up at the bus, detaining the 15-year-old schoolgirl in front of her classmates before authorities expelled her to Kosovo because her family’s asylum application had been rejected. Associated Press U.S. Congress plans last-minute votes to avert default By Thomas Ferraro and David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers were poised to vote late Wednesday on a bipartisan 11th-hour Senate deal to break the fiscal impasse in Washington and avert a historic debt default. With the government’s borrowing authority set to run out on Thursday, House Reuters (10 photos) The mysterious life of elephants and a crocodilian crown: the winners of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 are revealed. The winners of this years prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition have been announced today at a gala awards ceremony held at Londons Natural History Save Stowaway, 9, ordered placed out of Minn. home MINNEAPOLIS (AP) A 9-year-old who eluded airport security and stowed away on a flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas should live away from his parents for now while he and his family get therapy and other services, a judge ruled Wednesday. Associated Press An engine on an Atlanta-bound Spirit Airlines jet where passengers said they heard an explosion and saw flames sustained an especially serious type of failure, a National Transportation Safety Board official said Wednesday.

France beat Finland 3-0 in its last Group game, but Spain’s win over Georgia ensured Les Bleus were consigned to second, while Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal teammates finished a point behind Fabio Capello’s Russia in Group F. The one UEFA group runner-up that will miss out on a playoff spot due to its worst record against the first-, third-, fourth- and fifth-placed sides is Denmark due to there only being eight spots up for grabs. Group B’s race for second between four teams – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Armenia and the Danes – went down to the wire, and the way the countries took points off each other worked against them in the end. Sweden was the only team heading into the final round of matches to be guaranteed to be in the playoffs, with Germany a distant Group C winner, no teams challenging for second place and the bottom-placed team already decided. The second team to know its playoff fate was Greece, as Bosnia and Herzegovina won to deny the Euro 2004 winner automatic entry to the World Cup. Croatia already bagged second place in Group A and was able to avoid missing out on the playoffs despite losing 2-0 to Scotland in its final game on Tuesday. Iceland, which has never reached a major international tournament in its footballing history, will be delighted to have a crack at World Cup 2014 qualification after Slovenia was defeated 1-0 by Group E winners Switzerland, meaning the Scandinavians’ 1-1 draw with Norway was enough to finish second. Turkey’s 2-0 defeat to Netherlands ensured that Romania finished ahead of its Group D runner-up challengers, and Fatih Terim’s men slipped from second to fourth, with Hungary hopping into third with its 2-0 win over Andorra. The final spot on Tuesday went to Ukraine, which hammered San Marino 8-0 but was pipped to first place in Group H by England. The draw for the two-legged ties will take place Oct. 21 in Zurich. The seeded sides are Croatia, Portugal, Greece and Ukraine, with France, Sweden, Romania and Iceland set to be the unseeded four sides. Sports & Recreation

France to take in 500 Syrian refugees

A Syrian refugees protest at the ferry terminal in Calais, northern France on October 4, 2013

Economists say there are three problems with the proposal: It takes effect after most baby boomers will have retired, meaning it doesn’t address the cost of paying for their pensions; it still isn’t asking people to work long enough, especially since life expectancy is rising; and it ignores the special deals that allow some workers to retire early and account for two-thirds of the retirement system’s 20 billion-euro ($27 billion) deficit. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, and others have raised concerns about how the pensions system will be paid for without further burdening French employers, which already pay the highest payroll taxes in the EU. The problem with the “salami strategy” is that the reforms are always behind the curve. Jacob Kirkegaard, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, says the reform might have worked if it had been done 20 years ago. Now France needs much more. Among the world’s most developed countries, only Luxembourg has a lower effective retirement age, according to the OECD, an economic policy group. The issue of pensions is so sensitive that no one political party wants to make the painful changes that are needed. In other European countries with unsustainable retirement systems, such as Spain and Italy, the financial crisis has threatened to bankrupt the government, pushing politicians to act. France has been spared such turmoil and lacked the same incentives. “There is only one party in France and that is the status quo party,” said Kirkegaard. So in another few years, France will likely apply another Band-Aid to its pensiosn system. And so it will go, Kirkegaard said, until the crisis in France gets deep enough that it is forced to make the kinds of changes Madrid and Rome have made. Earlier on HuffPost: Loading Slideshow French egg producers throw crates of eggs from the back of a truck onto the sidewalk in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on August 7, 2013. (FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images) French egg producers break eggs in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on August 7, 2013. (FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images) French egg producers throw crates of eggs from the back of a truck onto the sidewalk in front of the taxes and internal revenue service office in Carhaix-Plouguer, Brittany, western France, during a protest action, on August 7, 2013.