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News Wrap: U.K.’s Cameron Moves to Contain Europe’s Debt Crisis

November 18, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT

KWAME HOLMAN: British Prime Minister David Cameron appealed today for decisive action to contain Europe’s debt crisis. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautioned against doing too much too fast. They met in Berlin, amid tensions over debt strategy and over Germany’s growing financial clout.

We have a report from Matt Frei of Independent Television News.

MATT FREI: Europe may not be speaking German yet, but thanks to the crisis, everyone everywhere these days knows the meaning of the word angst.

This chancellor’s square-jawed office building is nicknamed the “Washing Machine” here in Berlin. And a visiting David Cameron — that is him in the limo — could be excused for feeling as if he was on his way to an uncomfortable spin cycle with a woman waiting behind the sliding doors.

It’s been a week of fear and loathing on the markets, but also on Europe. And the tabloids have done their bit. So, here is a vintage sampling, The Daily Mail with “Springtime For Merkel,” the German chancellor goose-stepping there and giving a Nazi salute.

Not to be outdone, the Bild-Zeitung, Germany’s bestselling tabloid, has said, “Mr. Cameron, Europe Does Speak German, and What Are You English Doing in the E.U. Anyway?”

That’s the kind of emotional backdrop to the working lunch between the prime minister and the chancellor.

An hour later, they were ready to face the cameras. So, what about the German tabloids’ call on Britain to quit Europe?

“The fact that we’re both standing here, how we’re standing and what we’re saying shows that we need each other in Europe.”

You could practically hear the prime minister’s sigh of relief. And they are, after all, both center-right leaders who believe in belt-tightening. It’s just that Germany’s belt has a much shinier buckle. On Berlin’s grand Unter den Linden, the car showroom offers a lesson in economic reality. They are gawking at two of the world’s finest cars, a French Bugatti, a British Bentley, now both owned and beautifully made by Volkswagen of Germany.

KWAME HOLMAN: Germany has Europe’s strongest economy, but Merkel has refused to support jointly-backed euro bonds to bail out heavily indebted countries.

Wall Street searched today for direction, as investors kept an eye on debt developments in Washington and Europe. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 25 points to close at 11,796. The Nasdaq fell 15 points to close at 2,572. For the week, the Dow lost nearly 3 percent; the Nasdaq fell 4 percent.

The famine in Somalia may be easing somewhat. U.S. and U.N. food agencies reported today that the number of famine zones in the East African nation has been cut in half. They also said increased food aid has substantially reduced death rates from starvation. Still, the famine remains the worst in the region in 20 years.

Security forces in Syria killed at least 16 protesters after Friday prayers today. Amateur video from Damascus showed people trying to drag victims from the streets. The killings followed a week of growing violence in several cities. At the same time, President Bashar al-Assad’s government said it had agreed, in principle, to let into the country dozens of observers from the Arab League.

In Egypt, thousands of demonstrators staged one of the largest rallies in months. They filled Tahrir Square in Cairo and protested a newly released government document. It suggested the military would have final word on policy, even after democratic elections.

YASSER MOHAMED, protester (through translator): We want Egypt to move on, whether it’s run by Islamist Sharia law or by a civilian party. But we need Egypt to move on before it sinks to a point where we can’t help it or save it from drowning.

KWAME HOLMAN: The military took control in February, after President Hosni Mubarak was forced out. Egypt will hold its first parliamentary elections since Mubarak’s removal 10 days from now.

Use of the drug Avastin to treat advanced breast cancer may be curbed in the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration recommended today that doctors stop prescribing the drug for that purpose. The agency said there’s no evidence that the benefits cancel out dangerous side effects. The drug is still recommended for treating colon, lung, kidney, and brain cancers.

Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has been diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer. His son announced it today. He said doctors believe his father will make a full recovery. Paterno is 84. He was fired last week amid allegations that a former assistant sexually abused boys. The NCAA announced today it will investigate how school officials dealt with the scandal.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.