In 2011 and 2012, many thought the Euro might break up due to the sovereign debt crisis. Unlike countries that have their own currency, countries in the Eurozone are dependent on the monetary policy of the European Central Bank (ECB). This disconnect makes Euro countries much more vulnerable than other countries to solvency crises. Since, then, however the new chief of the ECB, Mario Draghi, has engaged in a bond-buying program of Outright Monetary Transactions (OMTs) which has helped struggling periphery countries (Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, etc) stay solvent.
But while this has lowered interest rates in the struggling countries — and done enough to keep the Euro together — it has not been enough to get Europe out of the woods. Unemployment still remains cataclysmically high in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and high throughout the Eurozone. And now with inflation rapidly falling, many are worried that Europe is falling into debt deflation. Of course, Europe as a whole is not in deflation yet.
But as Paul Krugman argues, the process is already under way:
I'd say that to have debt deflation — in which falling prices due to a weak economy increase the real burden of debt, which depresses the economy further, and so on — you don't need to have literal deflation. The process begins as soon as you have lower inflation than expected when interest rates were set. It's also noteworthy that inflation rates in the highly indebted countries are all well below the eurozone average, with actual deflation in Greece and near-deflation in the rest. So the debt deflation spiral is in fact well underway. [The New York Times]
Europe's approach throughout the crisis has been to do the very minimum necessary to keep the Euro system afloat. It remains to be seen if that is an approach compatible with an economic recovery anytime soon. John Aziz
Darryl Dawkins, an NBA legend famous for breaking backboards with his powerful dunks, has passed away at age 58. The news was confirmed to local Pennsylvania station WFMZ-TV by the Lehigh County Coroner's Office in Pennsylvania. No cause of death has been reported.
Nicknamed "Chocolate Thunder," Dawkins was drafted fifth overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1975 and played seven seasons (including three NBA Finals appearances) with the Sixers before being traded to the New Jersey Nets. During the 1979 season, Dawkins famously shattered a backboard on two separate occasions thanks to a powerful dunk:
He nicknamed the first of the two glass-shattering slams the "Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam." He retired from the NBA for good in 1989, but continued playing overseas and even spent a year with the showy Harlem Globetrotters. But in the end, as Mike Chiari notes at Bleacher Report, Dawkins was perhaps best known for his "larger-than-life personality." Kimberly Alters
On Thursday, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton slammed the 2016 Republican candidates for their "out-of-date and out-of-touch policies" on women's health issues, even going so far as to compare some Republicans to "terrorist groups."
"Extreme views about women? We expect that from some of the terrorist groups. We expect that from people who don't want to live in the modern world," Clinton said at a campaign stop in Ohio. "But it's a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States."
Clinton's comments earned her an immediate rebuke from the right.
.@HillaryClinton compares pro-life Americans to terrorists, but defends despicable PP treatment of unborn? Her priorities are totally wrong
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) August 27, 2015
The national press secretary for the Republican National Committee (RNC) also reproached Clinton for her "inflammatory rhetoric," saying, "For Hillary Clinton to equate her political opponents to terrorists is a new low for her flailing campaign." Becca Stanek
Donald Trump's latest comments earned him a rebuke from a Jeb Bush spokesman for "trafficking in false conspiracy theories" about the former investment bank Lehman Brothers, where Bush worked for a stint after leaving the governor's office in Florida in 2007. Amid Trump's 33 attacks against the Bush family in a 35-minute interview with The Washington Post, he managed numerous times to drop his suspicions that Bush's high salary from Lehman was a "reward for helping direct Florida state funds to the firm, whose collapse in 2008 helped kick off the Great Recession," The Post reports.
"That’s a Hillary Clinton kind of situation," Trump said. "This is huge. Let me ask you: Why would you pay a man $1.3 million a year for a no-show job at Lehman Brothers — which, when it failed, almost took the world with it?" Trump then went on to offer Lehman's crash as evidence that Bush lacks business savvy. When asked whether he thought Bush could "steer the economy," Trump responded: "Steer it? He can't steer himself. Look what he did with Lehman." Trump surmised that the state of Florida "lost a lot of money after Lehman went bad, thanks to Jeb Bush."
In response, Bush spokesman Tim Miller pointed out Trump's attendance at "New York liberal cocktail parties" and his "trashing of conservatives and Republican presidents any chance he got." Miller wrote in an email to the Post, "The only 'Hillary Clinton situation’ is Trump thinking she'd be a good negotiator with Iran and supporting her campaigns." Becca Stanek
There's a new teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens — and while it's very brief, it does contain one very interesting moment for Star Wars fans to puzzle over: a shot in which John Boyega draws a lightsaber, which seems to set him up as the latest Star Wars movie's first new Jedi.
The image of John Boyega holding a lightsaber hints at a very dramatic arc for his character. In the first teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he was seen wearing a Stormtrooper outfit, which seems to hint at a past with the Galactic Empire. But Boyega is wielding a blue lightsaber, which recalls the one used by Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars (and might even be the same one). If he's drawing it against the villainous Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), he must be a good guy, right?
And okay, okay, we can't be absolutely sure Boyega is playing a Jedi. AskAJedi.com — as reliable a source as you'll find for the answers to such questions — says that a non-Jedi can technically wield a lightsaber, but that it's not a very good idea; without the power of the Force to guide you, you can't use a lightsaber to deflect blaster shots, which means a single well-placed laser blaster shot from many yards away could take you down. If Boyega isn't playing a Jedi, he definitely shouldn't be pulling a lightsaber on as dangerous a villain as Kylo Ren.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters in December. Scott Meslow
Graduates who earn the highest starting salaries straight out of college don't come from Brown or Columbia or Cornell or Dartmouth or Harvard or Penn or Princeton or Yale. None of the country's eight Ivy League schools even crack the top 10 for highest "early career pay," according to numbers gathered from nearly 1.5 million employees and crunched by PayScale. So how do you make the big bucks right away? Go to military school.
U.S. Naval Academy students make the most out of college, earning a median salary of $82,900 over the first five years out of the gates. West Point, at $82,800, comes in second, followed by Harvey Mudd, MIT, then yes, another military school, this one the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. The U.S. Air Force Academy also cracked the top 10.
Not only do Ivy League schools not appear in the top 10, they don't crack the top 20. Or 30. Harvard is 31st on the list. Dartmouth is all the way back at 56th.
After months of conservative ire over leaked videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the disposal of fetal tissue, the organization is striking back, courtesy of an analysis of the videos by Fusion GPS, a research and corporate intelligence company. The company's investigation of the series of secretly recorded videos found that "'manipulation' of undercover videos by abortion opponents make those recordings unreliable for any official inquiry," The New York Times reports. Fusion GPS said, "A thorough review of these videos in consultation with qualified experts found that they do not present a complete or accurate record of events they purport to depict" — events that, according to critics, include the discussion of the illegal sale of fetal parts.
Planned Parenthood on Thursday presented these findings of "substantive omissions" in the videos to congressional leaders and a committee investigating allegations of criminal activity, bolstering its case that the videos are "deceptively and misleadingly edited," The Times reports. The congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood was opened in July. Becca Stanek
To many, Stephen Colbert is inseparable from his ultra-conservative satirical persona. Colbert's challenge, therefore, on the eve of taking over the Late Show is figuring how to be the "real" Colbert.
It's an unrealistic demand in and of itself, since everyone in entertainment adopts some sort of persona when they're in front of the camera. So the real question is, who will the "new" Colbert be?
Colbert insists it might not be as hard as one would imagine. In his Time cover story interview, the comedian revealed that the real "him" was always lurking behind the Colbert we all know from his days at Comedy Central — the only reason we didn't see him is because every inch of the show was meticulously constructed before it went on air.
Why it’s incorrect to think he never broke character in The Colbert Report: We would edit any mistake I ever did. People said, "Oh, you never broke" or "You rarely broke." That’s because we always took it out, because part of the character was he wasn't a f—up. He was absolutely always on point. Win. Get over. Stay sharp. That was his attitude all the time, and we had to reflect that in the production of the show. None of that is necessary anymore. Now I can be a comedian. [Time]
But after a decade of The Colbert Show, can he truly make himself anew? Colbert had a final word for his doubters:
"They [used to say], 'You can't do a nightly show in character — it won't last until Christmas,'" Colbert remembers. "And now there's a lot of 'You can't do the show not in character.' Evidently nobody has any belief that I can do anything." [Time]
Colbert takes the helm of the Late Show Sept. 8 on CBS. Jeva Lange