Saturday, January 6th, 2018
yesterday the new austrian chancellor, 31-year-old sebastian kurz from the center-right FPOe party held one of his first official press conferences as austria’s chancellor. alongside him was his vice-chancellor, hans-christian strache (aka HC strache) from the far-right FPOe party. kurz announced that the government was closing the loophole on european union migrants taking advantage of austria’s family friendly child benefits (Kindergeld) program that offers 300 EUR per month per child as an encouragement for austrian women to squeeze out more children. apparently one of the unintended consequences has seen an increase in people from the former USSR countries moving to the tiny alpine country with a population of around 8.4M, take a low paying job and collect child benefits for their kids located in a country where the median monthly income can be as low as 400 – 500 EUR per month before taxes. apparently this so-called abuse was a concern for brexiteers as well. according to chancellor kurz austria will save over 100M EUR per year by closing this loophole. while HC strache claims the savings are more like 140M EUR. there is always a question of once these savings accrue, what will the country do with it? kurz has asserted that the savings will be used to help those who are financially vulnerable in austria.
during the press conference, kurz let the strache announce the more controversial side of their plans. which included strache defending his announcement that he’d like to place refugee in barracks (presumably in military ones) and give them curfews. kurz addressed a question from the media regarding new plans for austria’s unemployment insurance. he said that his aim is to allow those who have paid in the longest, to be able to draw from the program the longest, which would benefit older workers who might be unemployed. below are 2 videos. 1 is yesterday’s press conference. 2 is a video documentary about the rise of the populist right in austria.
Sunday, November 5th, 2017
according to the bbc website, carles puigdemont, the former president of catalonia who left spain last week immediately after the regional parliament declared independence from spain. puigdemont and his fellow parliamentarians have been charged with sedition, rebellion (and a few other crimes). never in our lifetime did we think that the head of state of a western country would be charged with sedition.
Sunday, October 29th, 2017
according to the bbc 54% of catalans disapprove of the catalan parliament’s declaration of independence. 52% are in favor of dissolving parliament and holding new elections. a few weeks ago this later number stood at 46%. since the illegal referrendum held in september. *this post has been updated*
Saturday, October 28th, 2017
detailing the possibility of madrid triggering article 155 of the spanish constitution–suspending catalan autonomy and article 116–putting the territory under siege and giving madrid emergency powers. he also mentions the possibilty of trying government officials if the referrendum takes place..
Thursday, April 27th, 2017
the european commission has accused presidential candidate of putting her bodyguard and chief of staff on the payroll for he mep gig in parliament. the initial 300k-ish calculation now looks more like 5M-ish.
Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
holland’s prime minister mark rutte and his center right vvd party have pulled ahead of geert wilder’s far-right pvv party with wilder’s party falling to 5th place and groenlinke and d66 tied for 2nd place and the christian democrats in 4th place. the diplomatic spat with turkey seems to have favored prime minister rutte.
Friday, January 20th, 2017
a far right party in germany played bad cop/good cop this week. bjorn hocke (we in englilsh tend to remove everything that looks like an umlaut) a state representative from a state in the former east germany and frauke petry–one of the co-chairmans of the alternative fur deutschland (afd) party did that this week. hocke gave a nationalist speech that not only crossed all sorts of lines violating different unspoken codes in german culture but possibly also violated speech laws. you can read one version of what happened on the new york times website. the headline reads germany’s extreme right challenges guilt over nazi past. in an article from december, the new york times called hocke the posterboy of racism in germanyposterboy of racism in germany. one of the public TV channels in germany has the headline hoecke ist ein nazi.