January 9th, 2013
The day before I left for my trip to Germany last month, I was warned to bring plenty of money in cash. You see, the country has transitioned to chip-and-PIN cards, which use embedded microprocessor chips for financial transactions instead of traditional magnetic stripes. The problem is that this means it’s becoming increasingly difficult for oblivious American travelers (myself included) to use their credit cards. Hence the cash. Although I could have circumvented this problem with a little foreknowledge and a call to my bank, I found this problem to be particularly irritating. After all, in this century, who...
December 7th, 2012
Europe’s rankings in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 are as diverse as the region itself.
Clearly the perceived level of corruption in Greece (94th, the lowest EU state) is entirely different from that of Denmark and Finland, tied with New Zealand in first place. However, the old adage that corruption only occurs in the countries of the South, rings rather hollow.
October 29th, 2012
Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy was sentenced on 26 October to 4 years in prison for fraud but because of Italy’s laws limiting the length of trials, he is unlikely to serve any time.
Headlines around the world read “Berlusconi gets four year jail sentence.” But Berlusconi is unlikely to see the inside of a cell following his conviction for fraud, not because an appeal will overturn the case but because the case will be closed under Italy’s short statute of limitation laws.
February 28th, 2012
Today is the 10th anniversary of Euro as the zone's single currency. On February 28th, 2002, all of the various currencies from Eurozone countries, which had been linked with fixed exchange rates to each other and the Euro for a trial period, ceased to be legal tender between member states. A decade later, the survival of the single currency seems to be in question thanks to the events inside Greece, Italy, and elsewhere.