The real meaning of economic bubbles and their aftermath is beginning to rear its ugly head in Greece, where civil unrest paralyzed the country during a violent general strike on Wednesday of this week. Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece’s two largest cities, were convulsed by violent protests featuring running street battles with police and mobs of terrified Christmas shoppers fleeing gangs of masked youths hurling improvised explosives.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled against Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion on December 16, saying it violates the right of a pregnant woman to receive quality medical care when her life may be at risk. The supra-national court seated in faraway Strasbourg, France, ruled that in 2005 a pregnant woman with cancer should have been able to terminate the life of her unborn baby in Ireland rather than having to travel to England for an abortion.
Despite prosecutors’ best efforts and Swedish charges of sex without a condom, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was released from British custody on bail Thursday to a crowd of cheering supporters chanting, "Exposing war crimes is no crime!" But now, he is concerned that U.S. authorities may be plotting a variety of new charges, possibly including espionage.
President Obama gave a speech Thursday morning on supposed “progress” being made in Afghanistan, citing a recently completed annual report on the undeclared war as proof that America’s “core goal” was within reach. But incredibly, he essentially admitted that the United States has been doing it wrong for years and that, eventually, the Taliban would be brought back into the fold.
The dominoes in Europe are falling — at least that is one interpretation of the latest Standard & Poor’s outlook on the government bonds of Belgium. The ratio of debt to GDP in a European nation that was a founding member of the European Common Market and whose capital, Brussels, is the home of the European Union headquarters, NATO headquarters, and is in many ways the symbolic “center” of unified Europe is almost 100 percent. Which means that if the entire wealth of the nation were devoted to paying the national debt for an entire year, it could not do so (an analogy for consumers might be that if the family’s credit card debt was greater than the entire income of the family for one year.)