The filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by financial services firm Lehman Brothers – ten years ago this week (Sept. 15, 2008) – remains the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history. Lehman held over US$600 billion in assets. The fall-out from the 2008 crisis reverberates to this day through global politics. It gave us Donald Trump, Brexit, extreme nationalism, the blaming of immigrants for economic misfortunes.
Here is Philip Stephens in a column in the Financial Times newspaper (headquartered in London): ‘Historians will look back on the crisis of 2008 as the moment the world’s most powerful nations surrendered international leadership, and globalisation went into reverse. The rest of the world has understandably concluded it has little to learn from the West. Many thought at the time that the collapse of communism would presage the hegemony of open, liberal democracies. Instead, what really will puzzle the historians is why the ancien régime was so lazily complacent – complicit, rather – in its own demise’.
I lucked out and caught the last day when these LEGO ‘Americana Roadshow’ models were on display at Bellevue Square mall, last Sunday.
I don’t think I aspire to build giant LEGO models like these .. but maybe that is just because I don’t have hundreds of thousands of bricks to work with!
I had to Google Uruguay after their win over Portugal in the World Cup. Officially the ‘Oriental Republic of Uruguay’ (Spanish: República Oriental del Uruguay) – it is a remarkable country, slightly smaller than the state of Washington, with some 3.3 million people.
More than half the population live in the capital of Montevideo. Uruguay gets high marks for its ‘liberal social laws, and well-developed social security, health, and educational systems. It is one of the few countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where the entire population has access to clean water’ (from the CIA World Factbook).
The country gets 95% of its energy from renewable resources. (Washington State is at about 85% electricity generation from renewable resources, with 8% of electricity from burning natural gas, and 7% from burning coal).
So there they were, actually meeting – Kim and Trump. (A little jarring to see the American flags side by side with the North Korean flags).
I certainly don’t care for Trump’s thumbs-up enthusiasm .. but I’m sure the South Koreans & Japanese are way, way more nervous about the consequences of this meeting. Kim already won big by ‘legitimizing’ himself. What will the world get in return?
It is Memorial Day, when we honor the service and memory of soldiers that gave their lives in wars fought for the United States.
May of 1968, 50 years ago, would turn out to be the bloodiest month, of the bloodiest year, for American soldiers in Vietnam. As 1968 drew to a close, public opinion in the United States turned against the war.
The used copy of ‘Dead Wake’ that I had ordered from a third-party seller on Amazon for $6, arrived in the mail today.
It is a retelling of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, by a German U-boat. I glanced at the detailed Wikipedia entry, but did not really read it. I will read of all the dramatic events in the book.
Prince Louis | Bill Cosby guilty | Trump & Macron meeting: a bromance | Trump & Merkel meeting: frosty | Trump’s phone-in rant to Fox News | Dust storms, rain storms, floods in Middle East | Rain in Cape Town | North Korea & South Korea summit .. is it for real? | Don Trump Jr colluded with Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya in June 2016 & her connection to the Kremlin is now confirmed | Donald Trump Sr again denies collusion, citing a House Intelligence Committee report (which is somewhat of a sham) | Marvel Studios’ Avengers $350 million Infinity War movie starts (but I have no plans to see it) .. and I will leave it at that.
This sheet of ‘Great Plains Prairie’ stamps (issued 2001) was on sale on-line, and I ordered it for my stamp collection. The manila envelope that the sheet had arrived in today, had itself some interesting stamps on. Are these old stamps even legit? I wondered .. but it turns out they are. Postage stamps do not have expiration dates, as a general rule.
On today, the President’s Day holiday here in the United States, the findings of the 2018 survey by an expert panel has President Donald Trump rated dead last*.
At this early point, he is already deemed worse than even James Buchanan, the Union’s 15th president. (Wikipedia: After leaving office, Buchanan spent most of his remaining years defending himself from public blame for the Civil War).
*Even among self-identified Republicans and conservatives on the panel, Trump came in 40th of 44.
It was great to see the unified Korean team come into the Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony. One could argue that Korea is the only divided country that remains in the world. For example, there was North and South Vietnam (united in 1975), East and West Germany (united in 1990), and South North and South Yemen (also united in 1990). And yes, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, but one cannot see it become one country again.
I read that support for Korean unification is fading, though. Some 50% of young South Koreans regard North Korea as an outright enemy, that they want nothing to do with. The harsh reality is that there is a yawning chasm between the economies of the countries. The per capita income difference between the South and North is 20 to 1. For West Germany and East Germany it was 3 to 1.
I spent some time in Rheinauhafen (‘Rhine old port’) today. It is a former port facility on the Rhine*, now rebuilt into modern condominiums, offices and commercial buildings. A Microsoft office building was completed in 2008, the main condominium building in 2009, and most of the other buildings a few years before that, or a few years later.
*Cologne is the largest city on the Rhine. Here in Cologne it is the Nieder-Rhein (the lower Rhine).
It rained this morning, but it cleared up later, and warmed up to 12 °C (54°F), which was a welcome change from Friday night.
I walked around the Neumarkt area, and Rudolfplatz, and went into a few stores, seeing that most stores close down on Sunday, and Monday, for New Year’s Day. Here are some pictures from Friday night and Saturday.
I shipped a package of books and red tea that I bought here, from myself to myself, in Seattle today. Books are so heavy, and I don’t put food in my baggage when I travel. The post office branch I visited did not have new 2017 stamps , and I settled for a panel of 2014 stamps that commemorated World War I.
President Trump made many Native Americans very angry today – at the annual ceremony meant to honor the Navajo Code Talkers . It’s a long story, but in a side comment, he again resorted to his standard derogatory reference ‘Pocahontas’ to describe Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Here’s the reaction of Gyasi Ross, interviewed by Chris Hayes on MSNBC today: ‘The two groups that we revere are veterans and elders. Somehow this dim-witted, completely mush-mouthed fool managed to offend the two groups which he said he was honoring at this time, in front of a portrait of Andrew Jackson, who .. signed the Indian Removal Act that killed thousands of native people’.