Thursday, 22 June 2006

A City for the Very Rich and the Very Poor

Right before I moved to New York in 2000, someone told me an interesting observation on New York City: it’s a city for the very rich and the very poor.

When I got here I began to grasp what she meant. It seems everyone you meet here is either a struggling student/artist/actor/writer or they’re an established an successful adult with a fabulous apartment on fifth avenue. The outrageous cost of living in this city makes it hard for a middle class person with an average salary to survive, and it seems that in this city you’re either living in squalor or you’re living it up.

With this in mind it wasn’t surprising when the Brookings Institute published a study today on the decline of middle-income neighborhoods in metropolitan America. The study showed that New York has a smaller share of middle-income families than any other major metropolitan area in the country.

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Fiesty Exchange in Vienna

There's an interesting article in today’s Financial Times about the emerging European assertiveness toward the US. It is clear that the wounds of the Iraq war are not going to heal any time soon, and a change in Washington’s tone toward Brussels isn’t going to bring Old Europe back into the “lapdog camp.”

Nowhere was this more evident than in today’s fiesty exchange between Bush and European reporters during Bush's visit to Vienna to meet with EU leaders. Although he opened his statements with an emphasis on how far he had come from the days in which his administration had shown disdain for Europe and its diplomacy, pointed questions from reporters soon drove him into a defensive posture, the following being two of the more nasty retorts:

Tuesday, 6 June 2006

Europe Caught

The big story today is the Council of Europe report implicating 14 European countries – including Britain, Germany and even Sweden – of aiding or being complicit in the illegal kidnapping and transfer of suspects by the US. Swiss Senator Dick Marty, in a press release accompanying the report, said despite their protestations after the Washington Post revealed the existence of secret detention centers in Eastern Europe, certain individual European governments knew of the plan.

What the report doesn’t include is hard evidence of the existence of these detention centers or the transfers, but concludes it is nearly certain they exist in Poland and Romania. The reaction by those two governments has been laughable, with some representatives claiming to be incredulous that such an outrageous accusation has been made, and others candidly admitting that the findings are true.

One thing is for certain: this entire debacle will cause lasting damage to US-Europe relations, and European countries will be extremely hesitant to cooperate with the US when it requests assistance in the future. In fact, I suspect some countries, like Germany, may question whether the US base presence in the country can still be justified, and may insist that these bases be put under NATO control.