the turkish-german film director fatih akin has won his first golden globe for the thriller aus dem nichts starring diana kruger. we really hate the d’english translation of the title so we won’t mention that until the end of this blog post. akin’s film, based in hamburg tells the story of a woman whose son and husband are killed during an explosion. aus dem nichts (english title in the fade) proves that fatih akin is one of the best contemporary film voices. the film competed with the swedish satire the square, which won last year’s cannes film festival.
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.
sin the late 70s and early 80s the US and international media were convinced that US president ronald reagan was just some dumb rightwing actor. every comment was scrutinized in the search for the one liner that would be the end of the gipper. and it never happened.
then there was the revealing book that gave juicy tidbits about ronnie and how his wife, nancy reagan consulted her and his horoscopes before advising her husband.
then there was the joke ronnie made on a hot mike about taking out the soviet union at what at the time looked like the height of the cold war, but was in reality the beginning of the thaw.
unlike reagan, trump has zero public policy experience. after being a 2 bit actor, reagan ran for public office and governed what is now the most populous state in the US. he was a charmer. and worked well with democrats in the US congress.
themichael wolff book fire and fury is not the end of donald trump. arguably the book humanizes him and his family. we luv that don junior calls his father DJT and that ivanka has obviously discussed the combover with her father. but fire and fury marks the end of steve bannon.
and the russia investigation is not the end of trump. but it pushed the ex- skater kid and loose cannon michael flynn out of the white house. which in retrospect is better for flynn and the american people.
trump is basically a rich kid from a family whose grandfather made his fortune owning whore houses and pimping out prostitutes. as one who has only known life as a rich dude, born to believe money gets you everything, he never needed to read books or pass tests, as in the US there is affirmative action for rich people. note. we did not write white american males. but rich. he has skated by on wealth and charisma — a combination that works brilliantly in trump’s america. but in the end there is no correlation between class and money. and trump is a persistent reminder of this adage.
a san francisco-based company run and financed by the elite of silly-con valley has convinced the rwandan government to use its hospitals to test fly stuff like blood on drones to hospitals from cities to rural areas. the buzz word for the 21st century is SUSTAINABILITY. one might ask, why not build roads, train local people and create skilled jobs? given time a 10 year old can fly a drone and use a digital camera. nice gesture though. hopefully the rwandan government is not paying for the tests.
this is a whiteboard session from the Harvard Business Review about manufacturing trends and the future of manufacturing. how it can be a win-win for everyone and is not a zero-sum game.
these are highlights from the january 1st speech of china’s president xi jinping. the 30 minute video below features information about china’s investment in the infrastructure of the africa continent from china’s state TV channel CCTV. a few years back a politician from a former french colony famously said, the french were here for 200 years and they never built anything and they left us with nothing.
some say it is the end result of sanctions. according to one news report, the cost of food has risen at least 40% within the past 6 months. below we have posted 2 videos that try to explain the situation. unlike what the trump administration thinks, a destabilised iran is not a win-win for anyone. not for the west, asia or the middle east. you can also click here to see what the US media outlet the Young Turks think about the protests.
in 12 months trump has created the unthinkable. the UK and germany have voted against a resolution regarding israel. canada decided to abstain. as did 34 other countries including camerun (sp?), poland and bosnia. https://youtu.be/63IDj8ZQyfA