The final US Presidential debate kicks off in Florida on Monday, with challenger Mitt Romney hoping to knock a revitalised President Obama off course after the incumbent’s strong performance last week. The debate will focus on foreign policy, and topics include America’s role in the world, Afghanistan and Pakistan and the rise of China. UK politicos hoping to catch the action may have book Tuesday off or miraculously develop the flu, with the live broadcast beginning at a rather unsociable 2am.
Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to brief MPs on Monday on his recent attendance at the European Council summit, which focused on plans for closer economic and monetary union, the latest attempt to stem the ongoing crisis in the eurozone. Cameron warned of ‘a danger of … the European Union falling behind’ at the opening of the summit, and his statement will see him face the usual twin pressures of keeping Euro-sceptic backbenchers happy while ensuring Britain isn’t left out in the cold.
Tuesday sees a pre-inquest hearing into the death of Mark Duggan, whose shooting in Tottenham last year is widely considered to have sparked August 2011 riots across the UK. The 29-year-old was shot dead by police during an attempted arrest, and Tuesday’s hearing will discuss whether the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is able to disclose relevant material to the coroner investigating the cause of death.
The newly-appointed BBC Director General George Entwistle continues his baptism of fire on Tuesday, as he appears before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee of MPs to discuss the Corporation’s handling of the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal. The DG has already launched two inquiries into the matter, and his appearance will only be made more uncomfortable if current affairs show Panorama airs, the night before Entwistle’s appearance, its own investigation into the Beeb’s decision to drop a Newsnight investigation into the allegations.
Finally on Tuesday, MEPs are set to vote on their version of the EU’s general budget for 2013 and the multi-annual financial framework for 2014-20, ahead of the highly-anticipated November special budget summit of European leaders. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also presents the commission’s programme of work for next year at today’s plenary session.
On Wednesday, analogue television becomes a thing of the past as the final signals are turned off in Northern Ireland, completing the switch to digital. The switchover also marks the demise of BBC’s Ceefax service, which was first launched in 1972.
Meanwhile, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is scheduled to visit the Bundestag, where he is expected to be quizzed by sceptical German lawmakers on the ECB’s efforts to put out the fires of the eurozone crisis, most notably via the so-called outright monetary transactions – or sovereign bond purchases – that Draghi announced back in September.
The annual Hajj pilgrimage, which sees millions of Muslims descend on the holy city of Mecca for the start of the five-day holy journey, also kicks off on Wednesday. Despite the breathtaking visuals, the vast number of participants in recent years poses risks too, as was terribly evinced during the 2006 Hajj during which nearly 400 people died.
On Thursday, the state of the UK economy will be firmly back on the news agenda, with the release of preliminary GDP for the third quarter of the year. Despite positive employment data last week, even anaemic growth would be taken as a positive sign.
Thursday also sees MPs debate the controversial badger cull in the Commons, after a successful campaign by a cross-party delegation of politicians. The discussion will centre on the ethics and efficacy of the cull being piloted in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire.
On the same day, Martin Wheatley, managing director of the Financial Services Authority, will appear before the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards to discuss the Libor scandal. The fall-out from the scandal has already seen Barclays fined £290m, while a number of its competitors are still under investigation.
Barack Obama is set to make history this week when he becomes the first US president to cast his ballot early. Michelle Obama tweeted that she had voted by absentee on Monday, to which her husband replied that he’d follow suit, making the presidential first on Thursday.
The following morning brings news that will feature heavily in the US elections with the release of the country’s third quarter GDP figures. The economy’s growth slowed last quarter, but the government will be hoping for a timely boost this time around.
With austerity-inspired protests sparking in Greece last week, the release of Spain’s latest unemployment statistics will be under even more scrutiny than usual. Britain enjoyed good numbers this week and Europeans will be hoping for similar relief when the National Statistics Institute release the third quarter figures on Friday.
After entering a plea of not guilty at his second court hearing earlier this month, Abu Hamza returns to a New York district court for a status conference on Friday. Hamza, who continues to be denied the use of his hooks, was told at the same hearing that he would face trial in August next year.
The definitely not racist English Defence League descends on Walthamstow in east London on Saturday for another one of its ‘demonstrations’, despite being outnumbered by anti-fascist protesters and seeing several members arrested during its last visit. In a spectacularly misguided and provocative move, the group plans to stage a screening of the controversial film Innocence of Muslims, which sparked protests across the Muslim world.
Voters go to the polls around the world on Sunday, with particular focus likely in Finland, where municipal elections take place amid speculation about a so-called Fixit (a Finnish exit from the euro), and Ukraine, where the spectre of Yulia Tymoshenko will loom over parliamentary elections which the former Prime Minister has suggested have already been rigged in favour of Viktor Yanukovich. Regional elections in Italy and second round municipal elections in Brazil also take place today.
Finally, it’s time to pack away the swimming costumes – British Summer Time ends on Sunday.