Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told CNN that Edward Snowden performed a “public service” by triggering a debate about surveillance. Nonetheless, he added, the NSA-contractor-turned-whistleblower harmed American interests, and should face the music before a U.S. judge. Snowden said earlier this month he would return home if he could receive a fair trial. Holder’s comments may coax him out of Russia’s embrace.
Voter approval of Germany’s governing coalition has fallen for the first time below 50 percent. And rightly so. Angela Merkel promised to deliver on big projects, but now frustration rules Berlin. Whether it’s over Russian sanctions, TTIP negotiations, pensions or taxes, the coalition partners seem downright apathetic. Watching Merkel and her vice-chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, one wonders if forced marriage has been legalized in Germany.
Move over banks, there’s a new address to send bailout money to. Germany’s struggling dairy producers yesterday secured €100 million in emergency aid from Berlin. The milk price is in free fall, and farmers are seeing balance sheets drenched in red. But our industrious agricultural professionals know how to milk their future twice – first from cows, then from taxpayers.
But we newspaper folks are no better. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble says reduced VAT tax rates on everything from baby diapers to “press products’’ to dog food are costing the government billions. Publishers call their reduction a “reading aid.’’ Schäuble calls it a subsidy. One wants to save the status quo, the other, his cash. Schäuble’s model is Ludwig Erhard, the architect of Germany’s post-war economic recovery – obviously ours is the dairy farmer.
Volkswagen presented dismal first-quarter financial results this morning. Net profit fell almost 20 percent, and profitability at its core brand is now next to nil. The automaker’s shares fell as much as 5 percent on the latest distress signal out of Wolfsburg. If Volkswagen’s corporate leaders thought the fumes of Dieselgate would have cleared by now, they’ve got another thing coming.