A few weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Cairo to say that the roadmap Egypt's military rulers have set out for a return to democracy was moving "in the direction that everybody has been hoping for."
I have three words for Kerry: Jailed teenage girls. And a few more: Egyptians just lost their right to protest. Kerry's statement was puzzling at the time. Now it looks embarrassing.Read more »
The trouble with Silvio Berlusconi is that he is unique only in the extent of his wealth and the brazenness with which he flouts the law. That's why, even after the Italian Senate stripped him of his seat last night, his story won't be over until Prime Minister Enrico Letta and his government enact electoral reform to clean out the stables in Rome.
Berlusconi is finished as a political leader, but he remains a force with the power to destroy and disrupt. Italians who oppose him often despair at what his continued popularity says about their nation as a whole -- but in truth, Italians are consistent. Pro- and anti-Berlusconi Italians alike are depressed by the whole political class. That's why a quarter of voters in February's elections backed the upstart Five Star Movement, led by an essentially anarchist former comedian.
Argentina’s apparent offer to pay Repsol SA $5 billion for having seized its majority stake in the Argentine energy company YPF may come close to the best deal the Spanish oil giant will get. By announcing today that it “views favourably” Argentina’s “heads of agreement,” Repsol is verging upon finally losing a 19-month battle for compensation.
The offer is less than half the $10.5 billion Repsol originally sought for the 51 percent stake in YPF, which President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner nationalized last year. Repsol based its estimate on a valuation method that the Argentine government included in the YPF bylaws when it privatized the company in 1993. But Fernandez has refused to honor that.Read more »
Everyone makes mistakes, so it isn’t necessarily a poor reflection on Ford Motor Co. that it has just recalled 161,334 vehicles because they are vulnerable to spontaneous engine fires. (Tesla Motors Inc. isn't the only one.)
What might be a concern to consumers is the pattern: This is the seventh recall of the automaker's 2013 Escape crossover model, which went on sale last year. Five of the problems had to do with fires and one of the two recalls announced this week was motivated by concerns that mechanics had botched repairs required by an earlier recall.Read more »
The literally fatal flaw in maximal gun logic, and the reason it will eventually succumb to more socially responsible policy, is the inability of the extreme gun-rights movement to draw distinctions.
There are gun owners who follow best practices both for handling guns and securing them. They respect the lethal power in their possession and its tragic potential, and they take precautions to safeguard others as they protect themselves.Read more »
Just when you thought your opinion of James Dolan couldn’t get any lower comes this: The New York Knicks owner has reportedly banned Woody Allen from Madison Square Garden’s VIP lounge.
Because it’s Dolan we’re talking about, you know his beef with Allen has to be petty, and guess what? It is! Apparently, the MSG Network, which Dolan owns, bought the rights to several of Allen’s films and wanted him to tape some segments discussing them. Maybe not such a big ask of some directors, but definitely not Allen’s style. So he passed. And now Dolan has cut him off from the all-you-can-eat shrimp cocktail and cheap champagne. Way to go, Jd! (Nickname courtesy of Dolan’s terrible rock band: "Jd and the Straight Shot." You can’t make this stuff up, and with Dolan, there’s never a need to.)Read more »
I hadn’t heard about the controversy over the three-parent embryo until my wife brought it to my attention: The U.K. may soon approve a regulatory proposal that would allow scientists to create a human embryo using the DNA of three individuals. The idea is to remove damaged maternal DNA and replace it with genetic material from another woman, in order to reduce the risk of transmitting a mitochondrial disorder.
This all sounds on the surface very clean and high-tech and altruistic. Yet it turns out that lots of people oppose it, including members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and members of the European Parliament involved in its Bioethics Intergroup. What’s striking is how the opponents span the political spectrum. The open letter from the Bioethics Intergroup, for example, was signed by representatives of both the Conservative and Green parties. (Disclosure: Some opponents have consulted with my wife, who runs an advocacy organization that opposes the proposal.)Read more »
One energy company has an ugly accident and lots of birds are killed. It pays a huge fine and gets slammed in the news media. Another energy company routinely kills plenty of birds and gets off scot-free.
A double standard? It sure looks that way. Or at least it did before last week, when the U.S. Justice Department settled criminal charges with Duke Energy Corp. for operating wind farms that slaughtered hundreds of birds, leading the energy producer to pay $1 million in fines and restitution. Although oil companies have often been charged with killing birds as a result of spills, it was the first time a wind-energy producer was penalized for deaths of protected birds.Read more »
Bloomberg View columnists Margaret Carlson and Ramesh Ponnuru met online to chat about the Iran nuclear deal, mobile phones on planes and what to discuss at Thanksgiving dinner. Here is a lightly edited transcript.
Margaret: The Iranian nuclear deal made me think of Woody Allen's fake speech to graduates about mankind being at a crossroads. One road leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let's hope we choose correctly.Read more »