Global elites — many of the 2,500 of them billionaires — are spending a few days in Davos, Switzerland, attending the World Economic Forum (WEF), a group founded in 1971 “committed to improving the state of the world.”
After an intense pro-European Union tax-funded lobbying campaign warning of disaster, Croatians voted by an almost two-to-one margin to join the troubled EU despite a debt crisis which threatens to sink the region’s single currency and an increasingly authoritarian tone emanating from Brussels.
The nation’s political class furiously prodded voters into backing membership in the supranational regime, threatening economic doom if voters rejected the bid. Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic, for example, said voting against the EU “would be like shooting yourself in the foot.”
A liberal Swedish politician has sent a shot over the bow of that country’s home school community. Writing in a Swedish newspaper, with a follow-up posting on her blog, Lotta Edholm (left) of Sweden’s Liberal Party called for changes to the country’s laws that would allow government social workers to more easily take children away from home school families.
U.S. credit ratings giant Standard & Poor's (S&P) lowered its rating on the credit-worthiness of nine European nations January 13. "It's not the cut in the rating that is historic," BNP Paribas economist Dominique Barbet told the Wall Street Journal. "It's the depth of the euro crisis that is historic."
The government of Greece is catching flack over its decision to add some questionable categories to its list of recognized disabilities. As reported by the Associated Press, disability groups in the country were especially outraged over the government’s decision to add pedophiles to its list of those the state recognizes as disabled individuals. Among the other “disabled” categories added to the list were exhibitionists, kleptomaniacs, pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists, and sadomasochists.
An economic meltdown such as that which Greece is enduring produces some consequences that are not as obvious as others. As one example, over-the-counter medicines in Greek pharmacies are becoming scarce. Mina Mavrou, who runs a pharmacy in a middle-class part of metropolitan Athens, often has to spend hours each day pleading with drug manufacturers to supply the store with life-saving drugs, such as Clexane (a blood-thinner) and Flixotide (an asthma inhaler).
One of the unintended consequences of the ongoing and accelerating crisis in the eurozone is that ordinary citizens are taking their money out of the banks and burying it. Lack of both confidence in the stability of the European economy and credible solutions to the crisis have led to the exit of currency from banks in Greece, Italy, and other European countries.
In the clearest indication yet, a high French government official confirmed last week that an FTT — Financial Transaction Tax — will be implemented by the European Union by the end of 2012, a year earlier than planned. Jean Leonetti (left), France’s Minister for European Affairs, said on television that “This is on the program for the next European summit [on January 30]. [French President] Nicolas Sarkozy and [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel have decided on this and it will be put in place before the end of 2012.”
The announcement from the German Economy Ministry over the weekend confirmed that the long-awaited European recession has officially begun: German factory orders dropped to the lowest level in three years, down nearly five percent in the past month. The ministry also revealed that orders from outside the EU dropped by 10.3 percent.
German airline carrier Lufthansa warned passengers on Monday that the European Union’s (EU) new carbon tax on airlines will translate into higher fares, as the carrier plans to avoid shouldering new costs generated from an EU carbon trading scheme. Analysts say Lufthansa is among the airlines most influenced by the measure, along with rival carriers British Airways, United Continental (the two have merged), Air France, and Singapore Airlines.