The Latest, Greatest Phantasmagorical Doomsday Forecast For 2012

Splitsville for Sarkozy and Bruni, Germany buys its way to a soccer championship, Greece can't kick the habit, China stimulates itself to new heights. Meanwhile, Paul Krugman can't be satisfied, even as Sarko finds a new bride. These and

2012 is gonna be a wild ride...for real (Dave Wright Photography)
2012 is gonna be a wild ride...for real (Dave Wright Photography)
Frank Stocker

Greece admits it has been giving pensions to cats and dogs for years. At a special E.U. summit, Athens promises to double the tax on all dogs except German shepherds. E.U. leaders decide Greece is back on the right track, and grants it further loans. Only the United Kingdom opposes the measure and leaves the European Union.

The U.S. economy begins to weaken again after a short recovery. U.S. Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke decides to opt again for quantitative easing and proclaims a QE 3. Nobel laureate and cantankerous Keynesian columnist Paul Krugman criticizes this measure as totally inadequate, so Bernanke announces QE 4 a day later, then QE 5, 6 and 7.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy surprisingly announces that he is filing for a divorce from Carla Bruni. The official statement explains that the first lady's Italian origins were a burden to French government bonds. The separation was inevitable for reasons of state.

The yield on German government bonds falls below 0%. In Rome and Madrid, demonstrators take to the streets and carry signs reading "The acquisition of German government bonds is a human right" and "Schäuble, please take our money." QEs 3 to 7 have done nothing for the United States, and the Fed decides to enact QE 8 through 23. Besides government bonds, the Fed is now buying up used cars, telephones, and typewriters. Paul Krugman criticizes these actions as wholly insufficient.

Surprise in Berlin: Chancellor Angela Merkel also wants a divorce. While there is no official explanation, it is rumored that her husband, Joachim Sauer, refused to address Merkel at home as "your majesty." Standard & Poor's reduces the credit rating of every euro zone country. "We see Europe as simply stupid," reads the statement.

China decides on a giant fiscal stimulus package. The plans calls for building a complete replica of the country – including all real estate, highways, airports, and rail lines – alongside the original one. Stock markets around the world soar by 30%. S&P upgrades China's bonds, noting that "the measure generates solid and sustainable growth" and adding "take this as an example, you stupid Europeans."

On April 22, after the first round of French presidential elections, fallout from his divorce has Sarkozy trailing. A few days later, Chancellor Merkel offers him a public marriage proposal. "If he's willing to address me as Your Majesty, I'll marry him," she says. Sarkozy responds in a televised speech, with the words: "Oui, Votre majeste."

The European Central Bank (ECB) decides to buy government bonds only on odd days between 10:43 a.m. and 11:05 a.m. when the temperature is about 12.3 degrees Celsius in Frankfurt. Bundesbank President Weidmann then requests an intensified fight against climate change.

At the Eurovision Song Contest, Lena Meyer-Landrut wins for Germany with the song "I bought you." Chancellor Merkel vehemently denies rumors that Meyer-Landrut won only because Germany agreed to buy ECB government bonds.

In the United States, the Fed enacts QE 24 to 81. It is now also buying old cutlery, scooters and used paper handkerchiefs. Paul Krugman criticizes the measures as woefully inadequate.

Greece announces that its annual budget deficit cannot be trimmed despite the government's best efforts. The deficit will instead reach 259% of GDP. Greece will, however, work to privatize its winter holiday facilities as quickly as possible. At a hastily convened summit, Euro partner countries offer their trust and grant Greece a further loan. In the quarter-finals of the European Soccer Championship, Germany defeats Greece 67-1. Chancellor Merkel brushes off claims that the victory was a condition of Germany's loans to Athens.

Britain leaves the United Nations, NATO, the Commonwealth, FIFA, UEFA and the North Sea. Prime Minister David Cameron justifies the decision on the grounds that these facilities will no longer be needed.

In the final of the European Soccer Championship, Germany plays France. England is disqualified after it leaves the UEFA. The German team wins 33-0. Rumors circle around Chancellor Merkel, but she, well... you know already.

China decides on another economic stimulus package. Each province is required to recreate another country 1:1. The Anhui province decides to recreate Germany, and will put the new Berlin next to the city of Hefei. The Guangxi province picks Greece because they share the same first letter. S&P increases China's rating to AAA.

U.S. President Barack Obama signs the Loan Obligation Act: all citizens are forced to borrow double their household income each month. Banks are forbidden to consider the creditworthiness of their customers. The loan packages are sold on the international financial market, and German state banks happily buy them up. Paul Krugman says what he always says.

S&P downgrades all euro zone countries to "I," which stands for "idiots' and comes after "D," for "default."

Dream wedding in the German capital: Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy tie the knot and change their last names to Merkozy.

Britain's government declares its withdrawal from all organizations in which the country is still a member. The London Parliament also enacts the Atlas Law. The law stipulates that in all British atlases and globes only Britain will be indentified by name. All other countries must be labeled simply as "outcasts." Internet access to Google Earth is closed as a precaution, and the Chunnel is renamed the "Highway to Hell."

At an emergency E.U. summit, the euro zone is converted into a monarchy. Angela is then crowned queen at a ceremony in Aachen Cathedral, and her husband receives the official title of "Petit Prince d'Europe."

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Prime Minister Cameron, duly honored for releasing the European Union from the burden of British membership.

The U.S. Federal Reserve announces QE 82-347 and begins to buy economists. Paul Krugman says nothing more.

Greece admits that the country does not really exist, and that its budget is just a fantasy. At a hastily convened Euro summit, however, the partners declare that their solidarity is not shaken and grant Greece a further loan.

In the U.S. presidential elections, Barack Obama loses to opposing candidate Paris Hilton (campaign slogan: "It's me, stupid"). She announces that future dollar bills will no longer feature old men, but rather pretty young women like herself. She appoints Paul Krugman as Treasury Secretary.

Outgoing President Obama announces a monetary policy change to reduce the budget deficit by $4.83 in 2013. Treasury Secretary-designate Paul Krugman has a tantrum and announces he will revise the policy immediately after taking office.

The OECD estimates the year's world economic growth at 0.3%. Paul Krugman explains that the weak economy is entirely the fault of inadequate measures taken by the U.S. Federal Reserve. This will change in 2013 when he is in office. Then, finally, everything will be set right.

Read the original article in German

Photo - Dave Wright Photography

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Preparing a COVID-19 vaccine booster in Huzhou, China.

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Ciao!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Brazil's senate backs "crimes against humanity" charges against Jair Bolsonaro, the UN has a grim new climate report and Dune gets a sequel. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt explores "Xi Jinping Thought," which is now being made part of Chinese schools' curriculum.



• Senators back Bolsonaro criminal charges: A Brazilian Senate panel has backed a report that supports charging President Jair Bolsonaro with crimes against humanity, for his alleged responsibility in the country's 600,000-plus COVID-19 deaths.

• Gas crisis in Moldova following Russian retaliation: Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, has for the first time challenged Russia's Gazprom following a price increase and failed contract negotiations, purchasing instead from Poland. In response, Russia has threatened to halt sales to the Eastern European country, which has previously acquired all of its gas from Gazprom.

• New UN climate report finds planned emission cuts fall short: The Emissions Gap Report 2021 concludes that country pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions aren't large enough to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 °C degrees this century. The UN Environment Program predicts a 2.7 °C increase, with significant environmental impacts, but there is still hope that longer term net-zero goals will curtail some temperature rise.

• COVID update: As part of its long-awaited reopening, Australia will officially allow its citizens to travel abroad without a government waiver for the first time in more than 18 months. Bulgaria, meanwhile, hits record daily high COVID-19 cases as the Eastern European's hotel and restaurant association is planning protests over the implementation of the vaccination "green pass." In the U.S., a panel of government medical advisors backed the use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11-year-olds.

• U.S. appeals decision to block Julian Assange extradition: The United States said it was "extremely disappointed" in a UK judge's ruling that Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, would be a suicide risk of he traveled across the Atlantic. In the U.S., he faces 18 charges related to the 2010 release of 500,000 secret files related to U.S. military activity.

• Deposed Sudan prime minister released: Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has been released from custody, though remains under heavy guard after Sudan's military coup. Protests against the coup have continued in the capital Khartoum, as Hamdok has called for the release of other detained governmental officials.

Dune Part 2 confirmed: The world will get to see Timothée Chalamet ride a sandworm: The second installment of the sci-fi epic and global box office hit has officially been greenlit, set to hit the screens in 2023.


Front page of the National Post's October 27 front page

Canadian daily National Post reports on the nomination of Steven Guilbeault, a former Greenpeace activist, as the country's new Environment minister. He had been arrested in 2001 for scaling Toronto's CN Tower to unfurl a banner for Greenpeace, which he left in 2008.


Chinese students now required to learn to think like Xi Jinping

"Xi Jinping Thought" ideas on socialism have been spreading across the country since 2017. But now, Beijing is going one step further by making them part of the curriculum, from the elementary level all the way up to university, reports Maximilian Kalkhof in German daily Die Welt.

🇨🇳 It's important to strengthen the "determination to listen to and follow the party." Also, teaching materials should "cultivate patriotic feelings." So say the new guidelines issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education. The goal is to help Chinese students develop more "Marxist beliefs," and for that, the government wants its national curriculum to include "Xi Jinping Thought," the ideas, namely, of China's current leader. Behind this word jam is a plan to consolidate the power of the nation, the party and Xi himself.

📚 Starting in September, the country's 300 million students have had to study the doctrine, from elementary school into university. And in some cities, even that doesn't seem to be enough. Shanghai announced that its students from third to fifth grade would only take final exams in mathematics and Chinese, de facto deleting English as an examination subject. Beijing, in the meantime, announced that it would ban the use of unauthorized foreign textbooks in elementary and middle schools.

⚠️ But how does a country that enchants its youth with socialist ideology and personality cults rise to become a world power? Isn't giving up English as a global language the quickest way into isolation? The educational reform comes at a time when Beijing is brutally disciplining many areas of public life, from tech giants to the entertainment industry. It has made it difficult for Chinese technology companies to go public abroad, and some media have reported that a blanket ban on IPOs in the United States is on the cards in the next few years.

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"I'm a footballer and I'm gay."

— Australian soccer player Josh Cavallo said in a video accompanying a tweet in which he revealed his homosexuality, becoming the first top-flight male professional player in the world to do so. The 21-year-old said he was tired of living "this double life" and hoped his decision to come out would help other "players living in silence."


Why this Sudan coup d'état is different

Three days since the military coup was set in motion in Sudan, the situation on the ground continues to be fluid. Reuters reports this morning that workers at the state petroleum company Sudapet are joining a nationwide civil disobedience movement called by trade unions in response to the generals' overthrow of the government. Doctors have also announced a strike.

Generals in suits At the same time, the military appears firmly in control, with deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok allowed to return home today after being held by the coup leaders. How did we get here? That's the question that David E. Kiwuwa, a professor of international relations at the University of Nottingham, takes on in The Conversation:

"Since the revolution that deposed Omar el-Bashir in 2019, the military have fancied themselves as generals in suits. They have continued to wield enough power to almost run a parallel government in tension with the prime minister. This was evident when the military continued to have the say on security and foreign affairs.

Economy as alibi For their part, civilian officials concentrated on rejuvenating the economy and mobilizing international support for the transitional council. This didn't stop the military from accusing the civilian leadership of failing to resuscitate the country's ailing economy.

True, the economy has continued to struggle from high inflation, low industrial output and dwindling foreign direct investment. As in all economies, conditions have been exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19. Sudan's weakened economy is, however, not sufficient reason for the military intervention. Clearly this is merely an excuse."

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471 million euros

Rome's Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, better known as Villa Aurora, will be put up for auction in January for 471 million euros ($547 million). The over-the-top price tag is thanks to the villa having the only known ceiling painting by Renaissance master Caravaggio.

✍️ Newsletter by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Who wants to start the bidding on the Caravaggio villa? Otherwise, let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world!!

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