Tsipras, Corbyn, Sanders – Can there be a Rise of a new Left?

The choice between left and right in politics amounts to the choice of different brands of laundry detergent. It’s made up from identical ingredients, more or less diluted and smells differently, according to your olfactory preferences. All brands of politics are, however, brought to you by the same people very much like all the different brands of „Tide“ are brought to you by P&G.

In the years following Thatcherism and Reaganomics, most leftist European parties moved to the right and assimilated to the mainstream consensus of neo-liberal economic policies. Witness the move from Labour to New Labour or the German Social Democratic Party’s Agenda 2010.

Austerity and entitlement reform have become well-accepted concepts and the squeeze on the Middle Class is well under way.

The pendulum has moved to the right and has taken what used to be leftist parties with it, thus reducing the influence of the working class and middle class and increasing the influence of the economic elites.

Are we now at a turning point and will the movement be reversed, at least to some degree? Continue reading

Sunday Roast: March 3, 2013 – Govern and be Governed, but do it right!

Good Morning, I hope you slept well (and long because I’m late again 😉  ).

Government: You’re doing it right:

The Swiss are governing today and how. One reason for my being late here is the coverage of the latest polls on tv. Three major propositions have been voted on today and a number of regional ones. One was to amend the constitution to protect families’ rights to reconcile having a job and raising kids. It is a draw, more or less. While big cities have voted for it in big numbers and the overall popular vote is for it, the cantons are divided and as it is a constitutional amendment, it needs a majority of both popular votes and cantons. The more rural areas are, predictably against it, kicking women in the teeth once again. (Sound familiar?)

Second vote is on getting land out of the building code, so the environment can be protected from uncontrolled and uncontrolleable building for profit. It got a majority. Easily, too.

The third and most internationally acclaimed vote is on the so-called “fat-cat” initiative. A whopping 68% of voters have voted for it. This after the initiative has been blocked and fought against for seven years.

Under the proposal, shareholders will be given the right to hold a binding vote on executive remuneration. Companies would also no longer be able to pay so-called “golden hellos” and “golden parachutes”, whereby senior managers receive a one-time cash lump sum, often running into millions of pounds, when joining or leaving a company. Polls show the majority of Swiss plan to vote “yes” in the referendum, despite businesses warning it will drive out companies from the country.(read more)

Add to that the cap on manager salaries imposed by the surrounding EU countries and you see things are moving in the right direction over here.

Government: You’re doing it wrong:

You think the Tea Party is  the most proficient government obstructionist of all times? They are not. They’re outright amateurs compared to the Italians: Our southern neighbors are blocking government right at the source. All Europe is frustratedly looking at what voters there did to their country. Outright distrust of government and politicians is in the Italian genetic code and not surprisingly so, given the corruption that is rampant in the country, but now they overreached.

IT IS hard now to recall that just three months ago the big threat Italy posed was of becoming boring. Its technocratic government, under Mario Monti, had regained the markets’ confidence. The spread of Italian government bonds over German ones was dwindling. The troublesome Silvio Berlusconi no longer led his fast-disintegrating party, and it seemed certain that the centre-left would win the next election. Mr Monti might then have become an economic super-minister—if he had not taken over the right with a mandate to make it more soberly European. (read more)

Let me add, Italy, unlike the US for instance has a fairly low constitutional threshold for new elections. They’ll be at it again in a few months, everybody agrees.

I wish you all a Happy and Relaxing (yes caps) Sunday. Enjoy some reading and our discussion. It is an Open Thread so join in.


Sunday Roast: February 24, 2013 – Sick Leave


Uuuuoooohhhh. I could use a sick leave. So please forgive me for an emergency post only.

Not enough austerity or too much of it? Great Britain has been downgraded.

Still not enough of the cavaliere or too much of him? Italy votes.

How much is too much? Switzerland has enough!

This is our Open thread, Join in!


To Rule versus Govern

To rule or to govern.


1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) (also intr) to direct and control the actions, affairs, policies, functions, etc., of (a political unit, organization, nation, etc.); rule


1. Governing power or its possession or use; authority.

George Washington’s Farewell Address, speaking on political parties (from wiki.answers.com)

“They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.”

Since the political shift of 1994, with Newt Gingrich and his Contract for America, bitpartisanship has become a dirty word in the conservative vernacular.

This disdain for anything that smacks of compromise intensified exponentially with the advent of the Tea Party and their candidate’s successes in the 2010 elections.

What we have now is an attempt by the Tea Party Republican ‘faction’ to rule as a minority. They have little interest in governing, if the difference between ruling and governing implies a requirement for political compromise.

This is exactly what our first President warned us of. He foresaw those ‘small and artful’ politicians with their ‘ill-concerted and incongruous projects’ trying to force their vision of our country instead of attempting any ‘common counsel’ or ‘mutual interest’.

So what to do in counterbalance to this force dedicated to foisting its policies and dictates on the American people?

My answer would be to do whatever it takes to remove them from their temporary seat of power. I would remove them as a statement that our founding fathers fully intended, by virtue of the checks and balances they carefully crafted into our governmental system, to forge a system based on compromise.

Every major crises with the exception of the Civil War has been resolved by the two major parties, regardless of the rancor of the debate, crafting a give and take answer that at least temporarily put the issues to rest.

We can’t afford to lose sight of the precedent and traditions that have served us so well since our founding some 220 plus years ago. We must send the Tea Party packing.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday May 8th – Men in Kilts

On the last Sunday in April I was in Säckingen with the boys. They have this Festival, which translates into Medieval Phantastic Spectacle, or some such. Loads of men were wearing kilts there, but I whipped my head around when a saw a guy wearing nice nature colored tartans. Little did I know I’d see the bloke on stage shortly after and, boy, this was fun to watch and listen to. The video above is from the same festival a year ago.

Other than making music, they have a charity going on. See more here and here. As the boys and me are planning for a Scotland visit this summer, we know where to go.

I could have written about the North Carolina Amendment 1 vote tonight, but it depresses me. I could have written about Greece’s troubles, but the fact that they are considering yet another vote rather than listen what the People says, depresses me. I could have written about Chancellor Merkel’s arrogance in the face of European voters’ will, but that depresses me as well. So I decided on music and men in kilts.

This is our Open Thread. Enjoy and weigh in.

The Watering Hole: Super Tuesday, March 6th – Is this really important?

Image found at Funny Pictures

In a way the Republican Primaries tonight are important, they will need a nominee eventually. Presumptive Candidates fall all over each other in Marx-Brothers-Sans-Brains fashion and it is more or less entertaining. Or, it would be entertaining, if this wasn’t supposed to be the choice of the man who was to lead one of the World’s remaining superpowers. The last time around they have presented us Sarah Palin and we thought it was a horrible abberration. This time around they stacked the whole deck with similar dunces and treat the world to a first class train crash to watch.

On the other side of the intellectual divide there is this cool and collected man, doing what needs to be done for your country in a very pragmatic and undogmatic way.

For many Europeans the re-election of President Barack Obama is a no-brainer. If we seriously look at the difference of the four vs the one, the Republican Primaries tonight are not really important after all.

This is our Open Thread. What is important to you?

The Watering Hole: January 3rd, I O Waaaaahhhh

First of all: A Happy New Year to All the Critters, Zoosters and Visitors here. May it turn out well for you.

I am beginning to get the election bug again. I can tell by the number of times I check in to the realclearpolitics.com website. They may be leaning a little to the right, but I prefer it to getting a little over enthusiastic about President Obama’s prospects.

For today’s IOWAcaucus the polls stand at:

Romney 22.8
Paul 21.5
Santorum 16.3
Gingrich 13.7
Perry 11.5
Bachmann 6.8
Huntsman 2.3

My five cents? Romney has not managed yet to get any significant lead, though he has spent a lot of money to not thoroughly drop into oblivion in Iowa. Still on a national level Gingrich still leads by 27.4 to Romney’s 25.2 with Paul a not so close third at 12.2. Not a really good return on investment from Romney’s side up to now. He is the unwanted frontrunner. The only worse is Perry, who is obviously too thick to get God’s message to muster some self respect and get the fuck out of the race.

In 2008 Huckabee won Iowa and McCain came in only fourth, so winning there doesn’t necessarily make you the inevitable candidate. But somehow it rang in the short but very upsetting stint of one Alaskan, done to get support from the increasingly demanding right wing base. Noteworthy: Romney came in 2nd and held more support (2008: 25%) than he does today.

Personally I do not count Santorum out for the Iowa caucus. His win would be a harbinger of a new rise of the right wingers inside the right wing and as I expect there is some kind of uncivil war going on in the GOP between the Tea Party leftovers and the GOP establishment, Iowa will have a huge impact on the eventual platform of the candidate.

I go even further. The decision whether your country and its form of government will stand or whether parliamentary oligarchy will be your future is starting tonight in Iowa.

As an afterthought here’s our very own poll:

This is our Daily Open Thread. Let us know your thoughts.

The Watering Hole: December 27th – Headlines

Some headlines for today:

Hope: The tanks are being withdrawn, relief for the people of Homs.

No Surprise: Vladimir Putin rejects scrutiny into last elections 

Kill the Poor: Britain’s poorest hit by Stealth Tax

Critters and such: Confusing Weather Patterns for Britain’s Wildlife

Nature Victimized and her victims: Rising Seal Levels and Erosion leave landmark crumbling.

Romney: Inevitable? Well…

Not Romney: The Molotov Party

Cute Overdose: Red Panda

This is our daily Open Thread, what’s your news?

Picture of The Day – Queue

Women queueing to vote in Egypt

Source: http://www.thestar.com.my

The writing on the wall says “We build Egypt together” They had to act twice, once to get rid of Mubarak and now again, when the military tried to introduce their concept of Democracy. I am afraid their struggle is not over yet. Democracy is hard to come by, let’s not ours go to waste.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday October 25th – Switzerland Voted

Two small centre parties – the Conservative Democrats and the Liberal Greens – are the winners of Sunday’s parliamentary polls ending years of increasing polarisation.

The rightwing Swiss People’s Party and the centre-left Greens suffered the biggest losses in the House of Representatives compared with the 2007 vote. The two main centre-right parties also saw their support slip, while the centre-left Social Democrats registered a slight gain. (read more)

Obviously the Swiss were fed up with the fear mongering and the hate politics. I feel very sorry for the Greens. They are the ones who should have profited from the increased interest in environmental issues in Switzerland, but the Green Liberal Party, which is basically promising to build a greener capitalism, so everybody can keep their Porsche Cayennes, outstaged them. The SVP (Swiss People’s (Tea-) Party) just got their due. Good riddance to some of their MP’s.

Here’s Swissinfo’s comments page, so you can get a glimpse into the Swiss Psyche. See any similarities?

This is our open thread, so open up!

Watering Hole – October 11, 2010 – Monday Rant

In 2008, people voted for change. We were tired of watching our jobs get sent overseas, tired of being denied affordable health care, tired of war without end, and tired of being ignored by Washington, D.C.

In order for this change to happen, the populace voted for a 1/2 black and 1/2 white man for President. Within days of Barack Obama’s inauguration, the drug addict, loud mouth leader of the Republican party, Rush Limbaugh, shouted over the airwaves, “I hope he fails.” What that statement really meant is that Rush wanted us to fail and the Republicans bowed to Limbaugh and quickly did his bidding. Soon afterwards, crazy Glenn Beck started his revolution by stirring up hatred and encouraging racism among his followers. During the summer of 2009, the godzilla from Wasilla, Sarah Palin, could no longer tolerate being out of the limelight so she turned her back on Alaskans and quit her job as Governor so that she could travel around the lower 48 and become a money grabbing superstar. The morons responded by behaving poorly at town hall meetings and giving birth to the Tea Party Republicans.

Both domestic and foreign Corporations were pleased with the uprising of the morons because they knew that this is a group of people that can easily be manipulated to vote AGAINST their own best interests. Then a miracle happened. The Supreme Court of the United States of America gave the green light to the Corporations to spend as much money as they liked on elections. Finally, international corporations will become our masters and rule our nation. Oh happy days for the rich and greedy. Oh happy days for foreign interests. Oh happy days for the lords of the land.

This nightmare doesn’t have to happen. We still have time to take our country back.


(h/t to cryptodiro at DailyKos for the video)

Here’s something else you can do.

This is our Open Thread so Speak Up!

(This rant is the opinion of Cats r Flyfishn and unless stated in the comments, doesn’t represent the opinion of The Zoo)

General elections in Germany

This is Super Sunday over here in Germany. Apart from the general elections two states, Schleswig-Holstein and Brandenburg, are heading for the polls, too.

The ruling grand coalition between chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats of foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is not expected to be continued. Merkel has clearly stated that the Christian Democrats are planning to come together with the FDP a libertarian group headed by Guido Westerwelle. Westerwelle himslef has clearly stated that the Christian Democrats and nobody else is worthy of his party’s attention. Social Democrats, however, stated that “The Left” will never be considered as a partner in a ruling coalition and “The Green Party” is not willing to enter a coalition with Westerwelle and Merkel. Confused yet?. Well, bottom line is: If the Christian Democratic Union and the FDP cannot get enough votes for a coalition, the shit has hit the fan.

Eventual spoil sports will be “The Left”. Demonized by almost all others as a remainder of the old SED (Socialist Unity Party) of the communist German Democratic Republic, they are considered to be the untouchables. Bollocks really, when you think that former chancellor Willy Brandt, Social Democrat and Peace Nobel Prize laureate, was governing considerably left of todays Left Party’s agenda. What remained of worker’s rights after the likes of England’s Thatcher and Germany’s Kohl were done with them, had been further trampled on by Blair’s “New Labour” and Schroeder’s “Agenda 2010”, so what calls itself The Left these days is a fairly Social Democrat movement.

We’ll see what it’ll be in about three hours from now and I will keep you informed here when the first results come in.

Voter turnout up to now seems to be poor. This is generally helping smaller parties, because mainly the truly disgruntled will go out and vote. We’ll see.

From a distance: Calling the race for Obama finally

I cannot interpret it any other way. Throughout the British press Obama is declared the winner of last night’s debate. Given the fact, that McCain would have needed a decisive, overwhelming victory, this equals with James Carville’s assessment:

Obama won the debate. Period. It wasn’t a tie. He clearly won the debate. Call the dogs in, wet the fire, the hunt’s over.

This is not saying the Obama campaign can relax their efforts, from what I’ve seen of them they surely won’t, but it should give them the leeway to stay on the issues and not stoop too much to the smear tactics employed by the McCain/Palin people.

Look at what the newspapers in Britain have to say below the fold:
Continue reading

From a distance – Calling the race for Obama, or maybe not just yet ?

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The underlying conviction of the British newspapers about the Presidential Election seems to be, Obama will win the race. They just don’t dare to say it out loud. In a way it is understandable, there have been so many surprises in this overlong campaign, so why not another momentum change in the last four weeks? Personally, I do not think there will be another upset, if only because the McCain surprises have lost almost all of their charm. His first one, the nomination of a woman as running mate could have been a real game-changer, had he made a wiser choice. By all means the perfomance of Sarah Palin is painfully inadequate. Whatever the pundits say, she was an abject failure in the debate. She so obviously skirted the questions to spew forth her talking points it was an embarrassment to watch. I am not an American, but I am a woman and really, to me this is insulting. John McCain’s second attempt at mavericking the race by theatrically suspending his campaign, racing to Washington to “fix it”, was another failure. So what on earth can he think up now that will change a race that has Obama leading 264 to 163 in electoral votes (111 votes toss up with Obama leading in six of the eight remaining toss-up states). Going dirty is the only remaining option, William Kristol has already done the “journalistic” groundwork for that and the McCain campaign has already gone there, but my guess is that people have moved on and mostly made up their minds. Barack Obama will win this race.

But then, who am I? Let’s have a look what the big boys and the big girls in journalism have to say:

Starting with The Times there is Daniel Finkelstein, who essentially says the race is over. Holly Watt is traveling the South and is detecting early warning signs in Georgia:

The Peach State has already begun early voting, and it will not have lowered Republican blood pressure one little bit. 30% of Georgia’s voters are African-American, but that group has cast 40% of the votes so far.

Continue reading

Hello from Europe – It’s summer and hot

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Hello from Europe, we finally have the kind of weather I love best. It’s warm with a slight breeze of fresh air, differently from the tropical weather of recent days. Germany will meet Spain on Sunday night for the European Football Championship finals in Vienna, and if Spain plays as they did against Russia (3:0) and Germany as they did against Turkey (3:2), the Germans should consider to save themselves the trouble of even traveling there. I am hoping for an exciting match, never mind the outcome.

Weather is an important clue to the press round-up. There are very bad news indeed for the North Pole, as reported by The Independent:

It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.

The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic – and worrying – examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90 degrees north may well have melted away by the summer.

And the next paragraph left me open-mouthed:

If it happens, it raises the prospect of the Arctic nations being able to exploit the valuable oil and mineral deposits below these a bed which have until now been impossible to extract because of the thick sea ice above. (full story here)

After having shamelessly exploited and recklessly burnt up the resources of oil we have already available to the detriment of the planet and future generations and thus caused the kind of crisis reported here, this thought is most cynical.

So much for the weather. There is an election upcoming in the US. Of course, this is again making stories, too.

The Times can’t leave Clinton alone:

Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, wrote out a $4,600 cheque for his vanquished rival, Hillary Clinton, last night as he tried to persuade her major financial backers to switch their support to him. (full story)

They too consider this tidbit news and Cindy McCain saying in a Times interview Diana was her inspiration.

The Guardian‘s Michael Tomasky is trying to explain Barack Obama’s shift to the center and concludes:

I’ve always objected to setting up principle as a value that’s oppositional to winning. To me, winning is a principle. It’s the highest principle there is. If you win the election, you can do at least some of the good things that will improve people’s lives in the country and around the world. If you lose it, you can’t do any of them.

People will naturally disagree on which compromises are necessary and which ones aren’t. What people shouldn’t disagree on is that some are. The man’s not running for president of Hyde Park. (read full comment)

I tend to agree with Michael Tomasky. Moreover, Obama’s obviously very political actions are a relief to me. I have voiced the opinion here before that the Obama primary campaign had many hallmarks of a political movement. As a German, aware of her country’s history, I am deeply mistrusting when it comes to political movements. I’d rather have the calculated and thus calculable outcome of a political process. I can live with not getting my way. The kind of trouble mostly ideologically based policies get you into, can be fully viewed by replaying the last eight years of Bush policies.

The Telegraph has an entertaining article, if you care to take part in it. In the UK there is a thing called 11-plus exam. This is and was used to determine access to grammar schools in Britain.  So if you have the time or the boss is not watching, enjoy! The Zoo’s next Friday Math Problem will be coming up today, too.

I hope you’ll all have a good day, stay safe and healthy!

Good Morning from Europe – The Sunday Papers

Good Morning! Here is my pick from the English Sunday papers. With North Carolina and Indiana holding their primaries on Tuesday, the focus will be, once again on the US Democratic Party. Other topics that are making the headlines are: Boris Johnson as the new Mayor of London, his eccentric style will be good for many headlines to come. And the Austrian incest drama, but I refuse to cover that.

Boris Johnson has found his stride again and after his first drink in three months opened up his mind again. Some see him as a danger to tory leader David Cameron, some even say he’s obviously planning to make Downing Street 10 his ultimate political abode.

The Democratic Primaries: It is almost tragic to see, how a struggling, ill-managed campaign managed to drag down a very successful campaign so now both are on the ropes. The opposing candidate, weak by any standard, is rubbing his hands in glee. So what do the English newspaper have to say?

The Times

On the eve of two crucial primary election contests, Hillary Clinton is pinning her hopes of winning the Democratic presidential nomination on a collapse in the white vote for Barack Obama. (Read more)

The Independent

Could last week go down as the moment when the roof fell in for Barack Obama? True, just 48 hours before Tuesday’s crucial primaries in Indiana and North Carolina, the pundits maintain – albeit with a mite less conviction than before – that the Illinois senator is still overwhelmingly likely to be his party’s nominee after the last vote is cast in this extraordinary Democratic primary season. But something fundamental has changed. (Read more)

The Guardian

The bitter battle for the Democratic candidacy this week moves to Indiana and North Carolina, where the frontrunner is desperately hoping to inflict terminal damage on Hillary Clinton’s hopes. But in a contest dominated by race, it is the party as a whole that is hurting,..(Read more)

The Telegraph

Barack Obama is struggling to contain his anger and frustration over the constant barrage of questions about his character and judgment, his wife has revealed. (Read more)

I wish you all a happy, healthy and relaxed Sunday: Stay Safe!

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Opinion: This cannot go any further!

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What,what,what,what WHAT!? Hillary Clinton is gaining ground in Texas and Ohio? Gaining ground?

March 4, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hillary Clinton gained ground on rival Barack Obama to take a slim lead in Texas and pull even in Ohio before their crucial Democratic presidential showdowns, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Houston Chronicle poll released on Tuesday.

Survey Feb 6 – 12 by Quinnipiac University:

Clinton leads Obama 55 – 34 percent among likely Democratic primary voters in Ohio and 52 – 36 percent among likely Democratic primary voters in Pennsylvania. These are the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll’s first surveys in this election cycle of Ohio and Pennsylvania likely voters, a more select group than the wider range of registered voters surveyed in prior polls.

Texas Primary numbers January 30/31

November and December polls both gave Hillary Clinton a hefty 51% to 17% lead over Barack Obama, but that has changed considerably over the last two polls. Current results give her just a ten point lead over her main rival, 48% to 38%.

Gaining ground, my foot! This smacks to me of “the surge is working!”

This spin has triggered a very unpleasant development. Or, is it the other way around and an unpleasant development has been prepared by spinning the numbers? Hillary Clinton seemingly has decided her damaging campaigning hasn’t made a dent yet into the Democratic Party’s chances of winning the Presidential in November, so she’ll continue after today’s primaries/caucus. After all, her goal is her goal.

Indicating her intention to stay in the race, Clinton told a rally in Toledo, Ohio, yesterday: “I’m just getting warmed up.” Echoing the sentiment, Mark Penn, her chief strategist, in a conference call with reporters, said: “We expect on Wednesday morning that the momentum of Senator Obama will be significantly blunted.”

Fact is: Hillary Clinton has lost support in almost all groups that initially, hey only about four weeks ago, had given her a solid double digit lead in both large states. This is a large number of democratic primary voters who turned away from her and her “gains” right now are well within the margin of error. It can turn out both ways. Barack Obama may win both key states, Texas and Ohio narrowly, Hillary Clinton may win both, or there will be a split decision. What will not happen is a win in both states for Hillary Clinton by margins large enough to overtake Barack Obama’s lead in delegates. If you want to see how hard it is to get a decisive lead, check out the delegate counter at CNN.

Hillary Clinton will have to make a decision tonight. It will have to be a decision mindful of the goal of taking back the Presidency for the Democratic Party and much more important, a decision mindful of the difficult task ahead. Mending a country broken by war and economic depression, a country ill-prepared for a future that requires a fundamental change in lifestyle as to not ruin the very basis of our existence – our planet, can not be done by enlarging the rift in society in order to fulfil oneself’s lifetime ambition.

America’s voters have voted for an end to the war and gave the Democratic Party an immense credit in November 2006. The disappointment with what Congress did with these votes is going very deep, the approval rates of the Democratic led Congress are at a dismal 18%.

If Hillary Clinton, too, does not listen to what voters say, Congress and Hillary Clinton, between them, will have achieved the impossible. Running against a Republican Party which brought you the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush and not winning. No mean feat!

I wish you all a good Primary Tuesday, take care!

Good Morning from Europe – The Sunday Papers

View from Piz Martenas – Savognin – Switzerland

What’s another week? While “Europeanview” was negotiating the slopes of Swiss Mountains “on two sticks” as our revered resident witch calls it, the world kept turning. For me personally the fun story came out of Germany this week. A tax fraud scandal rocked the Republic and threatens the safe haven for tax-ridden estates, Liechtenstein. And, of course, the Democratic Party’s nomination leads the news again. Kosovo has declared its Independence, much to the dismay of the Serbs and Russia and Pakistan has voted, but not found a government coalition yet.

Germany first. When the boss of Germany’s logistics giant “Deutsche Post” was led from his villa by police on charges of tax fraud, this made headlines, but as it turned out it was the tip of an iceberg. What had happened? The LGT, the Liechtenstein Bank of the principality’s ruling family, decided to join the ranks of 21st century banks and digitalize their bank records. An employee, who was scanning documents in this projects, decided to save the records on a bunch of DVDs and then asked the bank for an allowance for special expenditure which would have included the return of the DVDs to the bank. The bank refused, so this person sent e-mails to the German, British and US authorities, claiming moral scruples in the light of so much blatant tax evasion and reaping in a hefty sum from Germany alone. German Police and State Attorneys are orchestrating a drama in publishing names and facts which will see it’s next round on Tuesday. “The Economist” says:

THE word Schadenfreude was coined for just such occasions.(…) Germany was already in the throes of an argument about pay, equality and whether capitalism is fair. Globalisation and economic reforms have squeezed the wages of ordinary Germans. Yet the pay of Germany’s top managers jumped 17.5% in the 2006-07 financial year, according to Kienbaum, a headhunter. The same class has lately been held responsible for expense-account sex (Volkswagen), systematic bribery (Siemens) and subprime self-abuse (IKB and the state banks of Saxony and Bavaria).

The culprits now have a chance to turn themselves in, which will lower their sentences considerably, or try to sit it out and face the music later. Many may wish they had acted according to the wise words of this commentary in “The Telegraph”.

The US Democratic Primaries are still making headlines in the Sunday Papers. Especially Hillary Clintons woes are being pleasurably reported on, it seems, by “The Times”. The Paper relishes the blunders a campaign, once dubbed a well oiled machinery, made on its way from unavoidable to “on the ropes”.

Clinton has set up a website, http://www.delegatehub.com, outlining a path to the nomination which relies on arm-twisting the super-delegates and seating the “ghost” delegations from Florida and Michigan, states which broke party rules by holding their contests early.

Gerard Baker suggests Hillary Clinton may become toxic in the end, never mind the damage to the Democratic Party.

“The Guardian”, however, concentrates on a relatively new development in the campaigns. The role of the press and their increased scrutiny of Barack Obama.

In the New York Times, two influential columnists weighed in with brutal attacks against Obama. David Brooks called him a ‘trophy messiah’ and Paul Krugman claimed Obama’s campaign was ‘…dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality’. Meanwhile, in the Boston Globe, Obama supporter Margery Eagan expressed her own doubts about her pick. ‘I’m nervous because John McCain says Obama is an “eloquent but empty call for change” and in the wee, wee hours a nagging voice whispers: “Suppose McCain’s right,’ Eagan wrote.

But the Guardian, too, decides:

Such tactics (circumventing campaign finance laws) also cannot hide the fact that the Clinton camp is in deep trouble. Much of the top leadership still remains deeply split over the right tactics in the final days before Texas and Ohio go to the polls.

The Kosovo province of Serbia has unilaterally proclaimed its independence, which turns out to be an inspiration for many separatist movements around the globe, much to the anxiety of the ruling majorities. “Der Spiegel” portrays six European regions with separatist movements.

Pakistan’s elections didn’t bring a clear winner. There will be a civilian coalition government, maybe even without Musharraf, but the Pakistani Taliban have already made clear, that any governmant better stayed clear from getting involved in the tribal areas.

This is what struck “Europeanview” as interesting this morning and there is, of course much more to be found through the links provided. I wish you all a very peaceful, happy and healthy Sunday. Take care! 

Blogging Bush’s last year in office – 365 days to go

Europe calling with the headlines in the Sunday Papers. So let’s hit it! “The Sunday Times” opens with the caucus primary victories of John McCain and Hillary Clinton. The McCain campaign has an edge now, but Mitt Romney is busily collecting delegates instead of high profile victories. And, please, can someone explain to this to me?

She captured the popular vote by a margin of 51 to 45 per cent over Barack Obama – but, after a racially-charged election, her rival won 13 delegates in Nevada to her 12.

There is news about the Sibel Edmonds case! Remember? This is the courageous lady who is trying to tell you Americans that all is not well at all, when it comes to your nuclear secrets. She has to do this through foreign media, because yours won’t print, nor air what she has to say.

And the FBI still is trying to wriggle out of it:

One of the documents relating to the case was marked 203A-WF-210023. Last week, however, the FBI responded to a freedom of information request for a file of exactly the same number by claiming that it did not exist. But The Sunday Times has obtained a document signed by an FBI official showing the existence of the file. (emphasis added)

Stay tuned to this story, it’s worth multiple life sentences for some very high ranking people in Washington. Maybe in a year (see above, 365 days left) things and public reception of this story will change and indictments will be issued. Let’s switch to “The Guardian”. They are reporting extensively on the US election primaries as well here and here and with loads of related stories. There is more on economics to find there, too. Why is going for bio-fuels not a solution? What is fuel poverty? And how to lower taxes the right way. You find “The Independent” covering the elections here and here. On top of that they treat you to the news, that mobile phone use can wreck your sleep. (UPDATE: There seems to be a problem with the Independent website. I leave the links, as the problem surely is temporary, so please try again later, if the links don’t work right now.) “The Telegraph” reports on, surprise, the primaries here and here! The English website of “Der Spiegel” gives you news on the primaries, who’d a thunk it, but a very interesting interview with OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla Salem el-Badri, too. ‘International Oil Companies Are the Real Dinosaurs’, quote:

SPIEGEL: And are you in favor of abandoning the practice of trading in dollars as Venezuela and Iran have demanded?

El-Badri : The euro is currently the world’s strongest currency. A change can be made, but it will take some time. It took many years for the dollar to become a dominant currency in the oil business. But in the future it will not be that difficult to change.

A scan of the other newspaper websites gives us more election coverage, and still more. So enjoy your reading and let us know what we missed in the comments section (as the saying goes). “Europeanview” wishes you a good and restful Sunday. Take care!

Hello from Europe – 366 Days of Bush left

Europa-Jupiter’s moon (pic: NASA)

The economic woes of the US and, let’s face it, Great Britain and Switzerland and all the others, too, make the headlines in Europe today. And the US electoral causcuses/primaries in Nevada and South Carolina. Germany holds elections, too next weekend and mudslinging is not a privilege for US campaigns. Berne, Switzerland, is bracing for anti-WEF protests and an illegal demonstration, which may still grow violent. Hey and Romney won Nevada!

But firsts first:

London’s “Independent” takes on the economic week and finds:

It is hard to recall a week of such concentrated negative economic news. Even if the underlying reality hasn’t so far been that bad, these things tend to become self-fulfilling once business and consumer confidence goes in the way now threatened.

Sounds bleak enough to me. The Swiss Market Index has lost 7.22% this week, Germany’s Xetra DAX 5.17%, London FTSE 5.16%, Paris CAC 5.70%, so yes, it looks like we’re in it together.

“The Times”, however is right on the US elections again and Hillary:

Hillary Clinton spoke yesterday of the pain and embarrassment caused by her husband’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, ten years after the scandal erupted and at the height of a presidential campaign when women will be crucial to her White House hopes.

Is it going to be female bonding again, to secure the votes and lure women voters away from the shining start Barack Obama and his glamorous wife? No tears this time, but isn’t this corny? She’s really counting on a wave of sympathy, because her husband had a little head outside the marriage ten years ago ? She is looking more and more like Bill’s wife to me, not Hillary Rodham.

In three of Germany’s states (Länder) there will be elections soon and the Christian Democrats of chancellor Merkel are going to lose. The governor of the state Hessen Mr Koch has waged a campaing, that first excited and then disgusted the nation. Juvenile delinquency was the issue, what’s more juvenile immigrant’s delinquency. He’s going to lose the elections, according to new polls. But the negative emotions will linger on.

In Switzerland the annual meeting of politicians, economists and celebrities at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, sparks the usual unrest among globalisation sceptics. A demonstration in Berne the Swiss capital was not approved by the police, but took place nevertheless, 200 protesters have been arrested.

There is so much more that needs to be said, the bloodshed in Iraq, that accompanied the Shia holy day of Ashura, and blies the claims that things in Irq have improved. The nonchalance that seems to be the hallmark of British Authorities, when it comes to protecting their citizens data. The accident of American skiier Scott Maccartney in Kitzbuehel, which left him in an artificial coma. But the main interest of today is waiting for the primary and caucus results. So wait we will.

“Europeanview” wishes you all a good afternoon and evening and take care!

New Hampshire or bust! – Hillary’s woes and 379 days of Bush left

The US Presidential Election primaries still take up most of the English press’ attention. If we interpret the news, it looks like the Hillary Clinton campaign has seen better days. Polls show that Obama is closing in in New Hampshire and the momentum from Iowa may well cost Hillary Clinton New Hampshire, too. There are thinly veiled obituaries on her campaign. Barack Obama easily beats her, when it comes to charm and popularity. She, however, easily matches his lack of substance on specific issues.

Hillary Clinton is fighting a losing battle, it seems, and attacks like this one reek of desperation:

Clinton went on to remind Americans that they had voted for George Bush because he seemed likeable. “In 2000 we, unfortunately, ended up with a president who people said they wanted to have a beer with; who said he wanted to be a uniter, not a divider; who said that he had his intuition and he was going to, you know, really come into the White House and transform the country,” she said.

Are her troubles the result of her poll-anxious campaigning? Maybe. Her fear of alienating the moderate Republicans, whose votes she thought she’d need to be elected President, made her forget the votes she needs in the first place, the Democratic votes she needs to be elected Candidate!

And she won’t get the votes from Edwards, it seems. John Edwards runs a campaign against corporate greed and Hillary Clinton is definitely viewed as a Corporate America Candidate.

The sneak attack from Edwards came soon after Clinton fired her first salvo against Obama, accusing him of repeatedly shifting positions on health care.

Edwards suggested Clinton was being unfair. Then he added in Obama’s defence: “Any time you speak out powerfully for change, the forces of status quo attack. That’s exactly what happens.”

Let’s face it. However badly one wishes, that John Edwards had the coverage and the attention of the media that Clinton and Obama enjoy, he is after all someone who runs a substantial, down to brass tacks campaign. Nevertheless, his campaign seems to be doomed, but even if it is, he will have a huge influence, because his 29.7% in Iowa show, that a substantial number of voters are behind him. And both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama crave Edwards’ endorsement. Should Hillary Clinton lose substantially in New Hampshire, however, things might lighten up for John Edwards.

Campaign strategists for Edwards admitted after the debate that he believed he would stand a better chance if Clinton is knocked out of the race in New Hampshire. Edwards edged Clinton into second place in Iowa by less than a percentage point.

Good Morning from Europe – 383 days to go and the end of the Bush presidency begins tomorrow

The Iowa caucuses, beyond any doubt, is the main topic of interest, when it comes to US politics. In a way people are relieved that the 12 months pre-primary campaign is over and polls will be backed by facts, or not. Some commenters on the articles this post links to, suggest that the Iowa caucuses were not really important at all. Well the candidates don’t think so, they are on a last ditch 36 hrs non stop campaign, so we’ll do them the favour and take this seriously as well.

A must read is “The Telegraph” today. Simon Heffer sighs: “If only we could vote for the next US president”. “Der Spiegel” covers Mitt Romney, the CEO candidate and the importance of New Hampshire for McCain. “The Times” tells you what happens “When Iowa’s music stops”. The Swiss newspaper NZZ, reports on last efforts before the caucuses.

Outside the US the year took a very sad start. Kenya is about to sink into a civil war and tribal clashes. Scenes mindful of the Hutu-Tutsi massacres in Ruanda in 1994 are being reported. The story is covered here, here and here.

Pakistan is still an issue, too. The anticipated postponement of the January 8th elections shows first results. The Bhutto clan has started to dismantle Bilawal’s position. This feuding among family memebers plays nicely into Musharraf’s and the military’s hands. The reaction of the Pakistanis on the announcement of the election committee remains to be seen.

“Europeanview” will be traveling for a couple of days and will most likely not have access to the internet. So stay safe and take care, see y’all again on Monday!