Health Insurance Sticking Point in German Coalition Talks

Windows of a hospital in Erlangen, Germany, July 17, 2014
Windows of a hospital in Erlangen, Germany, July 17, 2014 (Reinhard Kuchenbäcker)

One of the sticking points in attempts to form another grand coalition government in Germany is the country’s mixed public-private health insurance system.

The Social Democrats campaigned on merging the two. Their argument is that the one in ten Germans with private insurance (mostly people with yearly incomes over €50,000) get better care: shorter waiting lists, more services. Read more

Republicans Stick with Trump Through Scandals. Why?

Republican officials, including House speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence, speak with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 20, 2017
Republican officials, including House speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence, speak with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 20, 2017 (White House/Benjamin Applebaum)

Jonah Goldberg warns Republicans that all they accomplish by rushing to the president’s defense whenever he says or does something indefensible is convince more Americans that “Trumpism” isn’t confined to Donald Trump.

That damage won’t be erased by another record stock-market closing or an uptick in the GDP numbers. It will outlive The Trump Show for generations.

And yet. Read more

Spanish Liberals Take Rajoy’s Place in Polls

Jordi Cañas and Albert Rivera of the Spanish Citizens party talk in Madrid, August 6, 2013
Jordi Cañas and Albert Rivera of the Spanish Citizens party talk in Madrid, August 6, 2013 (Ciudadanos/Jordi Esteban)

The liberal Citizens party has risen to the top of the polls in Spain, receiving 26-27 percent support in two recent surveys against 23-25 percent for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative People’s Party.

Support for the mainstream Socialists is unchanged at 22 percent while the far-left Podemos has gone down from 21 to 15 percent since the last election. Read more

Renationalizing British Utilities and Rail Would Be a Mistake

A Heathrow Express train is seen at Paddington station, London, England, March 7, 2013
A Heathrow Express train is seen at Paddington station, London, England, March 7, 2013 (Renaud Chodkowski)

Rising energy rates and railway fares in the United Kingdom are lending credence to the argument that privatization was a mistake.

YouGov last year found majorities in favor of taking energy, water and railways back into state ownership.

Telecom is the exception. Only 30 percent believe it should be run by the government.

The reason may be that the benefits of telecom privatization have been obvious whereas those of other privatizations are harder to discern.

Compared to the 1970s, however, utilities and railways provide a far better service today. Read more

Netherlands Has Responsibility to Lead After Brexit: Rutte

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte joins a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, January 20, 2016
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte joins a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, January 20, 2016 (European Parliament)

The Netherlands has a responsibility to lead after Brexit and worries that Germany is putting too much faith in “more Europe”, Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said.

In an interview with the Sunday morning talk show Buitenhof, the liberal party leader pointed out that he had recently held summits with other Benelux nations, the Balts, Central Europeans and Nordics.

Unusually, he took a stab at Germany, where the next government is expected to be more integrationist.

“Of course, Germany can transfer more money to Europe,” Rutte said in jest. “I have no objection to that. We take a different view.” Read more

The Rise and Fall of Japan’s Empire in Maps

Japan's imperial ambitions as depicted in the 1945 American propaganda film Why We Fight: War Comes to America
Japan’s imperial ambitions as depicted in the 1945 American propaganda film Why We Fight: War Comes to America

It is debatable when the history of the Japanese Empire began. One can go back to the Meiji Restoration of 1868, but wasn’t the 1894-95 Sino-Japanese War, fought over influence in Korea, really the starting point of Japanese imperialism?

Or the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War? Fought for influence in Korea as well as Manchuria.

Or 1910, when Japan annexed Korea?

A watershed moment came in 1931, when Japan occupied Manchuria. There was no doubt at that point the island nation had become a colonial and an expansionist power. Read more

Don’t Risk War with North Korea, Experts Warn

An American soldier participates in a joint military exercise with South Korean armed forces at Camp Red Cloud near the city of Uijeongbu, April 2003
An American soldier participates in a joint military exercise with South Korean armed forces at Camp Red Cloud near the city of Uijeongbu, April 2003 (USAF/Efren Lopez)

American president Donald Trump’s advisors have floated the possibility of what they call a “bloody nose” attack on North Korea.

The Wall Street Journal reports that officials are “quietly debating whether it’s possible to mount a limited military strike against North Korean sites without igniting an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula.”

Experts doubt it. Read more