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Prime Minister of Norway running country from his iPad

Governing Norway? There's an app for that. 

Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, like thousands of others, has been stranded by the volcanic cloud hanging over Europe. But he seems to be managing

Stoltenberg, who was in town for President Obama's nuclear summit, was due to return to his country Thursday. But thousands of flights to northern Europe were cancelled because of volcanic ash from the exploding Eyjafjallajokull volcano. 

His solution? Stoltenberg pulled out the iPad he's presumably just bought and has started to govern his country with it.

"Due to the delays, I'll be working from New York," Norwegian newspapers reported the president as saying.

 

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An uninformed American liveblogging the British debate

Wrap-up: I watched today's debate as a complete outsider, with admittedly little knowledge of the mostly domestic issues under discussion. The main point of interest was how the U.S.-style debate format translated in British politics and how the candidates dealt with the challenge. A few overall thoughts.

The format: FAST! If anything, I think U.S. networks could learn from ITV's presentation of the debate, which kept statements short, questions direct and substantive, and a moderator who was willing to cut off the candidates when they started to ramble or repeat themselves. 

That being said, all three candidates seemed to be rushing to get as much information as possible, and I suspect that many voters probably had a hard time following the discussion at times. At times, they seemed to be struggling to present their entire platform when a few bullet points would have sufficed.  

Gordon Brown: Not surprisingly, the dour prime minister seemed the most ill-at-ease with the debate concept, often getting bogged down in unnecessary detail and becoming tetchy in response to criticism. It's hard to say after watching the debate what Brown's pitch is, other than it's way too dangerous to elect David Cameron. In particular, challenging the premise of a question by a soldier complaining about inadequate equipment for troops in Afghanistan seemed like a mistake. Brown was strongest on the economic questions where he seemed to effectively paint Cameron's proposals as vague.

David Cameron: Not surprisingly, the younger more dynamic Cameron seemed much more comfortable with the format and his "hope over fear" closing statement was strong (though the constant invocations of "hope" and "change" bordered on hopejacking). Cameron dominated the early questions on immigration and law-and-order issues, though he seemed to get seriously outwonked by both Brown and Clegg on pocketbook issues. He didn't do a whole lot to dispel his image as a smooth-talking policy lightweight.

Nick Clegg: Meh. The third-party candidate scored a few hits, but had a hard time distinguishing his political positions from Brown's or his anti-establishment bona fides from Cameron. The anti-nuclear rhetoric he broke out on the defense question seemed both unrealistic and a bit of a non sequitur. It is telling how many times both Cameron and Brown began their answers with "I agree with Nick," though. 

Overall winner: Cameron, though given how much the format favored the conservative, it wasn't exactly a knockout punch.  

 

Liveblog below: 

 

We'll be watching and live-blogging the first-ever televised British Prime Ministerial election debate. Feel free to weigh in below.  

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Things are moving at a very brisk clip. Nick Clegg keeps his opening statement short and largely content-free. Gordon Brown says wrong decisions could lead to a double-dip recession. David Cameron comes out swinging on the expenses scandal. All thee talk about "change."

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First question on immigration. Brown tacks right touting points system and playing up controls he has introduced. 

Cameron: "immigration simply too high and the moment and needs to come own. Immigration should be in the tens of thousands not hundreds of thousands. 

Clegg decries complete chaos in the system. 

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For all the talk of an American-style debate, the candidates' statements are much faster and disciplined. They've answered two questions in the time it took Anderson Cooper to do introductions. 

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Second question is on crime. Cameron's law-and-order push is pretty basic. Clegg pivots to criticism of national ID system. 

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Despite tough talk, Cameron's emphasis on drugs is on treatment rather than arrests.

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The fast pace of these debates doesn't really lend itself to the personal anecdotes Clegg and and Cameron keep attempting. 

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Sparks starting to fly on funding of police. 

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Question on MP's expenses. With Clegg directing most of his fire at Brown, the three-candidate format does seem to be favoring Cameron. 

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Camerson accuses liberal democrats of taking funding from a felon on the run. The Question Time-style put downs are starting to come in. 

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The reform proposal at play here don't seem all that different and most of the debate seems to be about who came up with it first and supported it when. 

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For an American, seeing a politican -- even a Liberal Democrat -- say any government policy should be more like Sweden is pretty mind-blowing

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Clegg: "The more they attack each other, the more they sound the same. "

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This seems like Brown's main pitch: "It is imporant to take no risk with the recovery." 

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Brown seems stronger on economic questions. Seems like a mistake for Cameron to scrap with Clegg. Better to keep the heat on the incumbent.

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Brown again: "Don't put good people's jobs at risk."

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Responding to question from territorial army service member on soldier pay and equipment, Brown says he would not send troops into battle without proper equipments. Seems like a mistake to contradict questioner. Opens the door to Cameron and Clegg pointing out shortcomings. 

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Without being asked, Brown launches justification of war in Afghanistan and goals of the operation. 

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Also striking to the American viewer, the conservative condidate calling for yearly increases in the National Health Service budget.

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Wow...love how the moderator just shuts them down when they start repeating themselves. 

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Nick Clegg trivia fact via Wikipedia: After college he moved to New York, where he worked as an intern under Christopher Hitchens at The Nation.

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Last question on pensions mostly brings agreement. On to the closing statements! 

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Clegg: "Give real change a chance."

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Not even a chuckle for Brown's "Britain's Got Talent" reference.

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Brown: Cameron can't give garuantees, I can. 

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Lots of hopey-changey stuff all around. 

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Cameron: Choose hope over fear.