“The scariest part isn’t the jump,” says Te, the Maori driver of the 4x4, as he turns into Skippers Canyon Road. He laughs maniacally, contorts his bulbous body back to us, and bares his teeth. “It’s the drive!”
"I'm very happy with the result," Merkel told the cameras. But the agreement may be illegal under EU law and may devastate weaker economies. It elevated Germany to a leadership role that other countries perceive as domineering. By isolating the UK, it cut a deep gash into the EU. And it can’t be put into a treaty. But it did offer a compromise of sorts.
An ominous trend picks up speed: the middle class is shriveling. In 1980, 60% of Californians lived in middle-income families. By 2010, only 47.9% did, according to a study by the Public Policy Institute of California. Main culprits: declining incomes and disappearing jobs. And where the heck is the recovery?
The Swiss government is preparing for a collapse of the euro while 27 heads of state convene for another EU summit in Brussels to find that elusive solution to the debt crisis. Goal: treaty changes that would impose Germany’s new religion of budgetary discipline on all 27 member states. But opposition has cropped up, and timing turns out to be impossible.
“Corporate Tax Dodging In The Fifty States” found that the largest corporations paid little or no state income taxes in any state. A prior report found that some of the most profitable corporations paid no federal income taxes. Both reports point at a major problem dogging the US economy: the tax code—and its basic flaw that not even tax reformers dare to mention.
Plunging approval ratings of Prime Minister Noda follow tradition. Public approval is high at the start when voters still have hope. As reality sets in, approval skitters down a steep slope for 8 to 15 months. Then a new guy is installed. But bureaucrats and corporate interests stay in place, public debt turns into a mushroom cloud, and the endgame continues.
A convoy of 20 supercars was speeding down the Chūgoku Expressway, trying to get to a supercar gathering in Hiroshima. The mere sight of such an apparition can turn heads and cause accidents. The convoy entered a left-hand bend at 90–100 mph, though the posted speed limit was 50 mph. The highway was wet. And the rest was very expensive.
Delegations from 100 countries and organizations will meet on Monday in Bonn for a conference on Afghanistan—1,000 participants in all, including Hilary Clinton, Hamid Karzai, Angela Merkel, and 60 foreign ministers. Goal: "Laying the foundation for a better future of Afghanistan." But just when official optimism gets frothy, classified documents surface that predict a dire future.
Startling, funny, euphoric, cynical, and culturally intense: the account of an almost regular guy who ends up on a deliciously slippery slope that turns into a life-changing odyssey.
“Great antidote to everyday life.”
Amidst a flood of proposals, plans, and rumors to save the euro and the Eurozone, much has been made of the Merkozy couple, the uneasy partnership between Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel. Alas, he may be out of a job by May 2012—and his potential successors to the left and to the right have different ideas.
A Cheneyesque banana-republic law passed another hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday. It would mandate that the US military detain terrorism suspects, including US citizens, even on US soil, and hold them without trial, possibly for life, in military facilities. It sounds like a dark part of a futuristic novel. But it’s actually part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
“Japan’s economy is likely to continue to face a severe situation for the time being, especially with respect to exports,” said the Governor of the Bank of Japan. He blamed the European debt crisis and the strong yen. But his bland central-banker language marked the end of an era.
Still, excellent apples at a roadside stand, Asamayama
Alabama immigration law, a Mercedes-Benz executive from Germany, and Republican bifurcation on illegal immigrants: and the outcome was ... flip-flopping.
As the euro debt debacle unfolded, Germany benefited from a reputation as safe haven: yields on its 10-year bonds dropped below the rate of inflation while yields spiked in other countries. So when it offered €6 billion in 10-year bonds at a record low yield of 1.98%, it expected them to fly off the shelf. They didn’t. “Disaster,” the media screamed worldwide. But....
The Supercommittee did what it was expected to do. They dug in their heels. Why? They didn’t have to make painful choices. Unlike Greece, the US has a miraculous money machine that takes care of the deficits. The emasculated credit markets watch nervously.
My German contacts want to keep the euro. They’ve gotten used to it. They like it in their wallets. It’s so convenient for cross-border travel and commerce. And it has been strong. But now that the European bailout fund has descended into irrelevance, they fret about the euro’s future. They want it saved. And they’re increasingly willing to pay a price.
But not in the US.
Just in time to make you feel better about holiday travels: airport security scanners that use X-ray technologies are acknowledged to cause cancer. No problem in the US; but now they’re banned in the EU.
The ink wasn’t dry yet on the European bailout fund when it paid $1.3 billion to bail out Proton Bank in Greece. Turns out, Proton had siphoned off $1 billion in a scheme of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and offshore front companies. Galling: the Bank of Greece knew of the criminal activity before the bailout. And then a bomb exploded....
The Postal Service announced a staggering loss for fiscal 2011: $5.1 billion. Plus $5.5 billion for retiree health benefits that it should have paid in 2011 but deferred to fiscal 2012. Now it’s due. But there’s no money. Default? Nope. Congress will find a way to stick it to the taxpayer. But amazingly if run right, the Postal Service could be a decent business.
Timothy Geithner, already out on a limb, said today that Europe’s response to the debt crisis is “obviously not fast enough.” But he hasn’t been listening. Europe is responding fast, or at least Germany is. In the opposite direction. The massive cornerstone of support for the euro, German exporters, just cracked: "We need a common market, not one currency.”