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Sarkozy and Merkel, Often at Odds, Try to Shape E.U. Unity

They are an extremely odd couple — he is short and hyperactive, she is dour and shy. He believes in the power of the state and big interventions; she believes in a softer role for the state, guiding and prodding the market. Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel don’t even get along very well, aides to both leaders say. He has made fun of her accent in private meetings, the aides say, and she says he is self-centered and impetuous.

But the French president and the German chancellor find themselves in a forced marriage in these days of economic crisis. Responsible for the two largest economies among nations that use the euro, known as the euro zone, they are trying to shape European unity in the days before the Group of 20 economic summit meeting this week.

They also are bearing the brunt of criticism, especially from the left and from Washington, that they are not responding forcefully enough to the recession and the collapse of world trade.

While they have produced very different national responses to the economic downturn — with Merkel authorizing a larger stimulus package than France has — they have worked together to keep fiscal discipline in the euro zone, and resist American calls for even greater government spending.

In a Grand Experiment, Two Daily Newspapers Now Not-So-Daily

Maybe once a year, a city has a news day as heavy as the one that just hit Detroit: The White House forced out the chairman of General Motors, word leaked that the administration wanted Chrysler to hitch its fortunes to Fiat, and Michigan State University’s men’s basketball team reached the Final Four, which will be in Detroit.

All of this news would have landed on hundreds of thousands of Motor City doorsteps and driveways Monday morning, in the form of The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News.

Would have, that is, except that Monday — of all days — was the long-planned first day of the newspapers’ new strategy for surviving the economic crisis by ending home delivery on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Instead, on those days they are directing readers to their Web sites, and offering a truncated print version at stores, newsstands and street boxes.

Google Offers Links to Free Music Downloads in China

Trying to gain ground in one of the few markets where it is behind, Google said Monday that it had begun to offer in China links to free music downloads, a service it does not offer anywhere else in the world.

Google executives said they were responding to the phenomenal popularity of free music downloads in China and were acting legally by forming an alliance with the music industry, including Sony BMG Music Entertainment, EMI Group, Universal Music and the Warner Music Group.

Google said it hoped the demand for music downloads would raise its profile in China, which has already overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest Internet market, with nearly 300 million users. It is also aiming to gain market share against its chief rival here, Baidu, China’s dominant search engine.