You say P5+1, I say E3+3

What do you call the grouping of the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia, and Germany, who are due to meet with Iran tomorrow for nuclear talks? In the U.S. it is generally referred to as the wonderfully awkward P5+1. But of course it all depends on your perspective:

The latter grouping is known either as the P plus 1 (the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany) or the E3 plus 3, the three Europeans countries plus the others.

This is even worse than P5+1. There's nothing really "European" about this group and it's bizarre to refer a set of countries with an adjective that only describes half of them. Why not the "Pacific rim countries plus 3" or the "English-speakers plus 4"?

The only solutions I can see are to expand the security coucil so that countires like Germany don't need a special invite, or add another country with a vowel so they can have a proper acronym.


Is Switzerland trading Polanski for banking leniency?

The L.A. Times' Joanna Neumann has a round-up of speculation that Switzerland's decision to finally arrest director Roman Polanski may have been a bid to earn leniency from U.S. legal authorities, who are currently investigating Swiss Bank UBS in an ongoing tax-evasion investigation.

On Sunday the AP accidently sent out an internal communication between two staffers speculating about the connection. The Swiss Justice minsitry has denied any connection between the arrest and any other issues. 

The theory seems a bit unlikely. Despite the L.A. prosecutor's office's protestations, it doesn't really seem like pursuing Polanski has been a major priority for the justice department over the years, certainly not compared to the Obama administration's the high-profile crackdown on tax evasion.

The timing of the arrest does seem a little arbitrary given that Polanski has been vacation at his house in Switzerland for years, but the Swiss do seem to be moving toward greater cooperation with international legal authorities, a trend that includes identifying the UBS tax cheats. The decision to finally hand over Polanski does seem like part of a larger effort to end Switzerland's reputation as an international scofflaw, but it seems doubtful that there was an explicit quid pro quo.