Thursday, November 10, 2011

Violence and sex, money, and war

Some random thoughts, in no particular order -

The scandal at Penn State is really unbelievable. When I read the story yesterday about how graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary had caught assistant coach Jerry Sandusky in the act of anally raping a 10 year old boy in the locker room, I was appalled - and then even more appalled to learn that McQueary did nothing to stop the rape, left, called his father, then reported it to Joe Paterno, the head coach, who sent the report up the line, with no one calling the police, or apparently even learning the name of the young victim. Today, the university's president, Graham Spanier, stepped down from his job, and Joe Paterno was fired by the Board of Trustees of the university.

Students at the university have been holding large rallies at Paterno's home, in support of him. Why? Apparently, football, the American religion, can't be questioned, even if the sainted head coach covers up the grotesque crime of child rape.


Is the world economy about to go into freefall again? Now it's Italy's turn to totter at the abyss. And maybe France's.... When will the EU leaders get their act together?
Italy, a central member of the euro zone and its third-largest economy, struggled to find a new government as anxious investors drove Italian bond rates well above 7 percent and the markets tumbled worldwide. And although critics have warned of just such an escalation for months, European leaders again were caught without a convincing response....

And of course the fear in Paris is that France will be next. Mr. Sarkozy’s government just announced another set of budget cuts and tax increases in the face of lower growth, to keep to its promises to cut its own budget deficit. But on Wednesday, the spread of 10-year French government bonds over their German equivalent rose to a euro area high of around 140 basis points. “Contagion” is not just a movie.

Iran apparently is much closer to getting a nuclear weapon. Should we do anything about it? Should Israel do something about it? An Israeli attack on Iran would very probably lead to a regional war, with thousands of missiles being launched from Lebanon and Gaza at Israel. I hope there's not a war - I'm going to Israel in January for seven months (I'm on sabbatical), and I'd rather not spend the time in a bomb shelter!

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