Thursday, June 22, 2017

Methadone?

I sat and watched a German news show last night.....commercial news.....which highlighted methadone usage for cancer treatment.

Normally, methadone is only used for getting people off some pretty harsh drugs.  Somewhere in the process of handling some cancer patients a couple of years ago....someone discovered that methadone used in combination with chemo.....acts like a hammer and goes after cancer growths.

The odd factor in this episode?  It costs roughly 28 Euro for a month's dosage of the stuff.

The factors at work?  Not fully explained.  You left the show with the opinion that they just accidentally figured this out and have used on various people but there is simply not enough research to prove the reason for the success.

The Cladding Mess

I expected it to be announced this week.....the London city management folks have finished a review on high-rises within the city and the number which have been renovated and had cladding added to the exterior of the building.

600 high-rise apartment buildings.

Focus did the simple analysis over this and wrote the report.

What happens now?  My humble opinion is that some group of London leadership will have to make a decision and spend a ton of public money....to have the cladding removed....quickly.  In this case, you can't even suggest a three-year or four-year period.  The public won't stand for it.

Billions involved?  More than likely.

But here's the thing which few think much about....it's not just London.  You can walk around all of England and find several thousand houses or non-high-rise buildings in this category.  I imagine the folks in Paris, Amsterdam, and Madrid are doing the same review.  In the weeks to come.....they also will come to announce some magic number and an opinion that the cladding must be removed.  Where does the cladding get dumped?  One might ask that question and find environmentalists who think it can't be in a regular garbage dump.


Affordable Housing Topic

I often chat on German problems with affordable housing.  This morning, an N-TV article came up and covered it with another prospective.

There are seven cities mentioned in this article:  Frankfurt, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Koln, Munich and Stuttgart.

So, a family with a net income of 2,168 Euro a month....can barely afford something of 70 square meters within these seven cities.  The rough average is that you'd have to spend 760 Euro to get something in the right size.

The option of moving?  The article talks about that, and it's become highly impractical.  I think this goes into several areas: you might end up in a new building which suddenly comes up on a renovation program and monthly rent goes up by 50-percent when the job is done, or the distance involved in getting to work becomes a bigger problem.  Just looking for or locating a decent place in the affordable range....within these seven cities....is a major task.

In highly urbanized areas....like the seven mentioned and probably another ten areas.....it's safe to say that affordable housing is now one of the top five topics that the working-class talks about.  The political parties?  They've gone though the rental-brake solution (with minimum improvement), talked of forcing new projects to include some affordable housing, and looked at adding new suburbs out on the far end of towns.  Unlike Vienna which has a lot of government built and run housing.....most German cities don't have that type of situation.

This population decrease?  The birth-rate would indicate that within the next two decades.....roughly 12-million Germans won't exist any longer, and one might get the idea that this smaller Germany scene would help in this affordable housing issue.  However, the bulk of jobs today, and for the foreseeable future....are in urbanized environments.

If you asked me to look ahead at the 2021 national election in Germany....I'm guessing that this affordable housing issue will be one of the top three discussions going on for the election.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

German News, Thursday Morning

Kohl bad blood scene:  It's been known for several years that after Helmet Kohl remarried....the sons of Helmet didn't exactly feel that happy over the situation.  From two days ago, Focus covered the event when Walter Kohl came to the Kohl house to pay his respects.  The widow didn't open the door and requested the police to send them away.  The memorial service?  It's hard to say if Walter will show up for that.  One might also note that the speaker for the memorial service will end up being Viktor Orban (PM of Hungary), and not a high-ranking member of the CDU.  That in itself says a good bit over inner-relationships between Kohl and the CDU in recent years.

"Miserably little": Focus wrote a piece and quoted a number of news media stories on the Helmet Kohl death.  In their humble opinion, here was one of the most dynamic Germans out of the 1980s and 1990s.....with very little really being said over his career by the news media.  Part of this is in comparison with Schmidt or Brandt passing. I might make the observation that after the secret political slush fund was discovered in the late 1990s....Kohl's 'star' dimmed slightly and some older Germans still remember that particular episode.  But no one over the past week has mentioned this episode at all.

Lesser participants:  Focus put up an article talking over the German TV/media tax.  The gov't reports that almost ten-percent of German residences refused to pay the tax (a growing trend).  It's double what it was three years ago (2014).  Because of the structure of the law, it's difficult to option out of the media tax (even if you don't own a radio or TV, you might still have an internet connection and that hooks you to the monthly tax).  The networks (in charge of collection) have started going to collection-agencies to get their money.  Frankly, it'll just aggravate the public more and trigger confrontations.  Roughly 40-million contributors pay into the public-TV pot.  One might expect this to become a top-three political topic three to five years down the road.

Summer heat:  HR covered what is a yearly topic.....summer heat affect upon autobahn pavement.  Once you have several days of plus-30-C temperatures.....you have pavement that 'explodes' and making high-speed driving somewhat risky.

Erdogan denial:  There had been some attempts to go and rent another arena and have more appearances by Turkey's Erdogan.  Well, as WDR reports it.....most of the large hall-structures are saying 'no'.  They are rejecting reservations.  It's anyone's guess how this will go.....maybe an open-air situation and avoid the arenas.

VW moves to next level:  The head of the Bundestag received the final 'truth-commission' report on the VW-diesel affair.  What the opposition parties (Greens and Linke Party) are saying is that 'state-failure' has occurred.  It is true that both the SPD and CDU are limiting negativity talk on the VW-diesel topic.  The general accusation is that stringent oversight of VW should have been done in the previous years, and that the government has failed on that matter.

Becker Story

Lot of chatter across German news this afternoon on Boris Becker, the former German tennis player.  A Brit bank has said that Becker is bankrupt.....with Focus telling part of the story.

If you go across the whole story.....this guy went and bought in the mid-1990s a fair piece of property in Mallorca, and just started building a house onto it.  The plan changed over and over.....screw-up's occurred.....and he began to see less pay coming in.

The property today?  It's still in his hands and I doubt if it's anywhere near the value that he thinks it ought to be.  I doubt that you can sell it unless you accept a significant amount of loss.

Odd Trend with Apartment Ownership in Germany

Focus had a financial article this morning of some interest.  There is a trend going on with Chinese individuals arriving in Germany, and buying property as an investment situation.  Their big interest?  Apartments.

Years ago, when I was in need of an apartment in the Bitburg area, I found this great deal and the landlord came out to show me the place.  It was a 8-apartment building.  It wasn't a case of one landlord owning the whole building.....but individual landlords.  There had been an investment opportunity and this guy had a chance to buy one-eighth of the building while it was under construction.  For long-term investment, it made sense.

The Chinese are using the same basic formula.  They show up.....find a couple of situations up for sale.....bring investment money into Germany, and have a sum of money which comes to them each month via apartment rentals.  How they moved the money out of China?  Yeah, that might be a question best left out of the story.  My humble guess is that they found some different ways to clear the money via a third-party and looked around for a place where you could be safe and no one asked about your money.

The curious part to this story....is that the chief area that the Chinese are interested in....is Berlin and Frankfurt.  Frankfurt....more so.

I didn't realize the number of Chinese now living in the Frankfurt area....listed for 2016 (by the article from Focus) to around 14,000.  It's a fair sum of folks.

Long-term?  One has to think that the number of Chinese in the Frankfurt region will continue to grow, and that more investment into apartment ownership will be part of the story.  In another decade, the population of Chinese around Frankfurt will probably double, and more apartments will be part of the Chinese-investment scheme.



German News, Wednesday Morning

Terrorist taken down in Brussels:  Basically, one single guy (unknown ID at this point) attempted some bomb situation near the central railway station.  Belgium troops were in the area....reacted....and ended up shooting the guy.  One single explosion noted.....no one hurt from that.  It appears that a second explosive was set up but halted (guy was wearing some kind of explosive belt or vest).  More likely to come out this morning over the individual and the act.

Le Pen calling on Le Pen to resign:  Basically, dad wants daughter to quit/resign/leave.  Marine has pushed 'dad' out of most of the party and there is some hostility brewing.

Calais crowd back:  Last year, the French authorities finally made the decision to clear out the migrant camps around Calais, France.  Everyone was told to vacate, and the tent-city was torn down.  Well....they returned.  A blockade of the autobahn area occurred with tree trunks put in the middle of the road....two trucks slammed on the brakes, and a third truck ran into the back of the first two.  That driver is dead.  Cops came.....apprehended nine Eritreans.  Charges undefined at this point.  One can assume that each played some part in moving the tree trunks and causing the accident.  Why Calais is a magnet for the migrants?  There is some small hope that they can climb onto trucks there....manage to avoid detection and then finally make it to 'paradise' (the United Kingdom)....as the truck is loaded onto the train and goes to the coast of the UK under the Channel.  Why not make France their home?  This is something that journalists rarely cover.....my guess is that better benefits exist in the UK.

2nd Christening discussed:  Some Church of England authority has said that if you go and have a transgender situation, and a name-change.....then you need to get a second christening.  Its a curious episode.....making you think that christening number one is no longer valid.  If the transgender individual does a second transgender operation and reverts back?  Well....no one has brought this up yet, but you might need a third christening as well. And if they desire to revert back to the other situation again?  Well....a fourth christening as well.  One gets the opinion that Church of England guys sit around and try to drum up business.

Poll Shift:  I noted with a RTL-Stern poll situation....a pretty negative situation with the SPD.  They rest now at 23-percent.  The Merkel/CDU crowd?  39-percent.  The Linke Party sits at 10-percent, with the Greens and FDP splitting 8-percent each.  AfD is now at 7-percent.  If the trend is true?  Schulz has done mostly nothing to help the party, and one might wonder about this coalition business more.  A CDU win at 39-percent, and FDP win at 8-percent.....doesn't give them enough.  They would have to partner up with another group.  My humble guess is that a CDU-SPD coalition might still occur in the end.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Ronaldo Story

If you follow sports in Europe, Ronaldo (the famous soccer player) has been dragged into court within Spain and accused of short-changing the government on taxes.  Amount?  14.5 million Euro over a 3 years (2011-2014).

It's turned into a major topic because he is coming up on salary negotiations and the court appears to be getting tough.

The current threat?  The court wants him to pay the 14.5 million Euro, and a one-million Euro fine to catch up on this tax episode from 2011 to 2014.

Ronaldo?  In some public statement....he's willing to pay the tax amount....but NOT the fine (one-million).  The threat?  If he doesn't get cooperative, they are talking about five years in prison.

The odd part of the story?  His current team would like for him to continue playing for them, and they'd like to arrange for the payment of the taxes/fine.  But I'm guessing they'd like for him to sign a contract with them, and recognize this tax/fine as part of the salary arrangement.....meaning a LOT less on salary for this next period.

I might speculate that he's not happy about the lesser salary, or the threat of jail. He might say sure....go ahead and jail me so I can't play, and I'll just keep the tax-payment and the fine.  For me.....five years in prison and keeping 15.5 million Euro might be worth the deal.

For the tax folks?  It attracts some negative attention.  They just want THEIR fair share of taxation.