The Week Ahead: All Eyes on Europe, Earth Day & Extensions

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Tax Day!

The Internal Revenue Service filing deadline for individual income tax returns is Tuesday, April 17th. Presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney has caused a bit of a stir by filing for a six-month extension on his taxes. He’s not the only one, IRS estimates 10.5 million people file extensions each year. Here’s how.

Since 1955, Tax Day has traditionally been on April 15th, except for when April 15th falls on a weekend or holiday. Washington D.C. celebrates Emancipation Day on April 16th, which is why this year Tax Day is April 17th. On April 16th, 1862, President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, which is the only example of compensation by the federal government to former owners of emancipated slaves.

Earth Day!

It was 1970: Kent State University tragedy, the Beatles disband, Jimi Hendrix dies, Vietnam War demonstrations…and the first annual Earth Day is celebrated. Go hippies?

Next Sunday will mark the 42nd Earth Day on April 22nd. More information on events and how to get involved can be found at earthday.org

In honor of the environmentally conscience holiday, Independent Voter Network is devoting coverage this week to our own modern era environmental issues. Check out some of our previous and continuing coverage on California water wars, alternative energy sources, community and small-scale agriculture, and more!

Europe: French Election Round #1

The race is on in France, as la Republique is set to vote in their first round of presidential elections on April 22nd. The front runners include incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy of the Union for a Popular Movement Party, considered center-right in France but ideologically governs to the left of our own Democratic Party and President Obama. His main rival and the man currently polling ahead of him in a run-off, is Socialist candidate Francois Hollande. In France, when a candidate is called a socialist, they mean it and it’s not considered a conspiracy. Closest politician in America to Mr. Hollande would be Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

President Sarkozy and Mr. Hollande are joined mainly by far-right Marine Le Pen of the National Front Party, far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon of the Left Front, Eva Joly of the Greens, and centrist Francois Bayrou of the Democratic Movement (MoDem) Party.

France hosts a two-round system of elections. If no candidate wins an outright majority of votes by a certain margin, then a second run-off election is held between the two highest vote-getters.

Lastly, did you notice the French vote on a Sunday? Why do we vote on Tuesdays in the United States?

Keep an eye out for the results of the French election, as among other things, Mr. Hollande has an ambitious plan to tax the top rate at 45%. Euro-zone crisis?

Europe: Financial Worries Round ??

The French elections aren’t the only thing making headlines in Europe this week, although their outcome could shake the already-fragile markets. New concerns have flared up about financial well-being on the continent. Specifically, the economic health of Spain and Italy is troubling many in the global community.

Slate says the Euro crisis is getting worse, New York Times juggernaut Paul Krugman says stresses about Spain are a good thing, although this doesn’t seem like a statement meant to spread confidence:

“I’m really starting to think that we’re heading for a crackup of the whole system.”

Reuters reports that European leaders are now looking to the United States, as an International Monetary Fund meeting is held in Washington D.C. seeking more funds.

Is now the time to plan a trip to Europe? Amid the new round of worries, other currencies gained on the Euro.