The European Union has threatened Sweden with legal action unless it rescinds its first issuance of wolf-hunting licenses in 45 years. Swedish Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren announced that his country has no wish to engage in long legal proceedings in Brussels, the de facto capital of the European Union, which would be the next step if the EU member-state failed to comply.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has been riding the promotion circuit since his latest book, On China, was released on May 17 by Penguin Press. The release was timed to precede the 40th anniversary (July 9, 1971) of his secret trip to China that is credited with opening relations between the United States and the Communist regime of Mao Zedong (which was then assisting the Communist forces that were killing American troops in Southeast Asia).

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is being heavily criticized for civilian casualties and a series of bombings apparently targeting essential non-military infrastructure in Libya, with some observers calling the actions war crimes. The Libyan rebels being supported by coalition forces have also been accused of wanton savagery and even crimes against humanity.

The bad news from the European Union is growing almost daily. Germany, the largest economy in Europe, had almost no economic growth at all in the last quarter The entire 17-nation European Union grew at the miniscule rate of .2 percent from the prior quarter. The prior quarter’s eurozone economic growth had been .8 percent, larger than last quarter but still far short of what is required to create confidence that the sovereign debt crisis can actually be managed. That represents the slowest economic growth since late 2009. The French economy also stalled during the quarter and the Italian economy grew only .3 percent.

The Italian government revisited its plans for handling the nation’s gaping public debt problem. On Friday, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (left) said that tax increases and spending cuts would both be in the new austerity plan.  The tax increases included a “special levy” on income above €90,000 per year as well as tax increases on income from financial investments.  More specifically, there would be a surcharge of 5 percent on incomes above €90,000 and a 10-percent surcharge on incomes above €150,000. The tax rate on financial income would increase from the current level of 12.5 percent to 20 percent. The government also pledged to crack down on tax evasion.

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