Europe/Americas update: February 7 2018



Vladimir Putin disclosed his finances on Wednesday per Russian election rules. He made around $116,000 per year from 2011 through 2016, and his assets include about $240,000 in the bank, a small apartment, and a couple of cars.

In a similar spirit of transparency, I would like to reveal my own finances, which include an annual salary of $3.52 and a checking account with a balance of $5.80. I own a pair of roller skates and live in a shoebox. I definitely don’t have any more than that.

World War II history is really getting a lot of people jacked up in Eastern Europe lately. In addition to Poland’s new “don’t blame us” Holocaust law, Moscow is angry over Israeli legislation that would categorize the Holodomor as a genocide. The Russians are making a public stink about this even though it’s exceedingly unlikely that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government would actually push this measure through the Knesset and risk alienating the Kremlin.


One caveat to yesterday’s update, in which I mentioned that Serbia could be on track for European Union membership by 2025 if all goes well: it has to settle its hash with Kosovo first. The EU won’t admit new members with pre-existing territorial conflicts, which seems understandable. Serbia still regards Kosovo officially as a wayward province.


Finnish authorities have determined that the Moroccan migrant who killed two people in a knife attack last August did in fact consider himself a member of ISIS. He does not, however, appear to have had any help in carrying out his attack.


Well, it looks like there might be another grand coalition after all. Angela Merkel’s conservatives concluded a coalition deal with Social Democratic Party leaders overnight, and they made a major concession to the SPD in the process:

Following a marathon of all-night dealmaking sessions and several missed deadlines, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union on Wednesday agreed on the terms of a fresh deal with the SPD, whose supporters will now get a final say on the agreement through a membership vote.


But the prize of a renewed “grand coalition” is likely to come at the cost of ceding key ministries to her junior coalition partner.


The SPD leader, Martin Schulz, can be optimistic about rallying support for a new term in government after securing three influential trophy ministries. The draft coalition deal foresees the centre-left party filling the finance, foreign and labour ministries, as well as the roles for family, justice and the environment.

The finance ministry in particular is a huge prize that there was no reason to think Merkel would give up. It’s a big enough concession that it may very well be enough to win support from the SPD rank and file when they take their final vote on the arrangement. That’s not something I would have thought likely as recently as yesterday.

Now, of course, comes the downside: assuming the SPD approves the deal, Germany’s main opposition party becomes the Nazi-adjacent Alternative for Germany. That carries a pretty substantial platform that AfD can use to whip up more right-wing xenophobia for the next few years.


French President Emmanuel Macron’s European plans took a hit on Wednesday when the European parliament rejected a proposal to allow pan-European lists in its elections. Macron is a big proponent of greater European integration, and trans-national parties would feed into that objective. Macron says he’s going to keep pushing this idea.

On the other hand, Macron is probably quite happy that a group of about 100 French nationals who went to Syria to fight for ISIS and were captured by the YPG are going to be tried in Syria. That saves him a lot of trouble.


Say hello to Cheddar Man, owner of the oldest skeleton ever found in the UK and the subject of a recent DNA analysis by the Natural History Museum:

He seems nice.



The ELN is telling Colombians especially in the western part of the country not to make any weekend travel plans, because it’s planning a three-day “national blockade” to protest the Colombian government’s decision to suspend peace talks. How the relatively small ELN plans to pull something like this off is beyond me. But considering that the peace talks were only suspended after their fighters attacked a bunch of Colombian police outposts last month, they don’t really have a great cause for complaint. The ELN is a relatively decentralized organization, so it’s possible that the factions that carried out those attacks aren’t on the same page as the leaders who are now complaining about the peace talks.


The Venezuelan government and opposition negotiators managed to agree to hold the country’s presidential election on April 22 during their negotiations in the Dominican Republic, but that’s about it. The talks broke down over issues about the conduct of the election. With most prominent opposition leaders either in prison, in exile, or otherwise barred from running, President Nicolás Maduro is the favorite despite his low approval rating.


United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres wants disarmament–in nukes, in cyberwar, in small arms, you name it–to be one centerpiece of his term in office. Naturally, he’s already getting pushback from the dangerously violent government of Russia China Iran North Korea Venezuela Tuvalu Luxembourg the United States, which–wait, I’m sorry, let me recalibrate this.

Folks, the PENCIL-NECKED GEEK running the United Nations (more like the UNITED LOSERS, am I right?) wants everybody to be just as big a wimp as he is! But he better get ready because DONALD TRUMP’S AMERICA (FUCK YEAH) is about to shove this FUCKING NERD into a locker in the UN changing room [NOTE: CHECK TO SEE IF THEY HAVE CHANGING ROOMS AT THE UN BEFORE POSTING THIS]! In DONALD TRUMP’S AMERICA (FUCK YEAH) we don’t believe in baby bullshit like “diplomacy,” and “negotiations,” and “getting along with other countries”! We believe in KICKING ASS with BIG-ASS BOMBS and GIANT WARSHIPS and PLANES THAT WORK ABOUT 40 PERCENT OF THE TIME and MISSILES and GODDAMN TANKS and PEW PEW PEW PEW HOLY SHIT THIS IS SO FUCKING COOL WE SHOULD HAVE A GODDAMN PARADE MAYBE THEN I’LL BE FINALLY ABLE TO FEEL ALIVE AGAIN!

Hell yeah. Military shit kicks ass. A lot of it blows up real cool, and lots of people die but most of them aren’t Americans so who gives a shit? And then everybody likes us because they know we’re super tough and we’ll merk their asses if they aren’t nice to us.

Anyway, goodnight everybody!

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