UK Economy Returns to 2008 Levels, Mostly -- Britain's Office of National Statistics announced that the British economy grew 0.8% in the second quarter of 2014. Since the second quarter of last year, the UK's GDP is up 3.1%. That means it is now 0.2% ahead of where it was in the first quarter of 2008, the highest level reached before the financial crisis crushed many major economies. While the Coalition government officials are delighted with the milestone, many reasons exist to be less than ecstatic. [25 July]
Ukraine's Coalition Government Collapses -- The governing coalition of Ukraine has collapsed as the Udar and Svoboda parties have announced their withdrawal. While the constitution allows 30 days for a new majority coalition in the Rada [parliament] to be formed, analysts believe that is unlikely and that new elections will have to be held, most likely in October. Until then, the government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk will continue as a care-taker regime. With the continued fighting in the eastern part of the country, this is ill-timed at best. [24 July]
Schumer Backs Open Primaries -- New York Senator Chuck Schumer has taken to the pages of the New York Times to propose a significant change to the way America selects its political leadership. He has backed the idea of an open primary rather than party-specific primaries. In other words, every candidate competes in a single primary with the top two finishers going head-to-head in the general election. It solves a few problems, but it won't really fix America's broken political system because it isn't radical enough. [23 July]
Governor Perry Grandstands with 1,000 National Guardsmen at Border -- Governor Rick Perry has decided to make a play for the hearts and minds of American nativists by calling up 1,000 National Guardsmen to "protect the border" his state of Texas has with Mexico. This can only be an electoral ploy because it is both excessive and insufficient. The use of military assets to prevent people crossing the border makes Texas look like East Germany, and that is hardly a positive. By the same token, 1,000 troops can't do much along a 1,200-mile-long border. [22 July]
Carlos Slim Calls for 11-Hour Day, 3-Day Work Week -- Carlos Slim is the second richest man in the world thanks to his strangle hold on Mexico's mobile phone market and a generally good sense for turning a profit. At a business conference called "Growing Together -- States and Enterprises," held in Asuncion, Paraguay, he called for a 3-day work week composed of 10- or 11-hour work days. He also called for postponing retirement until a worker is in his or her 70s. Both are ideas worth further discussion. [11 July]
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