Wolf Richter

Noodle Guy Wins In Dispute Between Japan and Taiwan

Udon noodles came, like so many things in Japan, from China. Kūkai, a Buddhist monk from the province of Sanuki on the Japanese island of Shikoku, had brought them back. Today, the province is called Kagawa Prefecture, but the noodles are still called Sanuki udon—which sparked an international dispute between Japan and Taiwan. All because of a noodle guy.

My Weight In Stone

“The scariest part isn’t the jump,” says Te, the Maori driver of the 4×4, as he turns into Skippers Canyon Road. He laughs maniacally, contorts his bulbous body back to us, and bares his teeth. “It’s the drive!”

Germany’s Last-Ditch Compromise, At A Price

“I’m very happy with the result,” Merkel told the cameras. But the agreement may be illegal under EU law and may devastate weaker economies. It elevated Germany to a leadership role that other countries perceive as domineering. By isolating the UK, it cut a deep gash into the EU. And it can’t be put into a treaty. But it did offer a compromise of sorts.

The Shriveling Middle Class In California

An ominous trend picks up speed: the middle class is shriveling. In 1980, 60% of Californians lived in middle-income families. By 2010, only 47.9% did, according to a study by the Public Policy Institute of California. Main culprits: declining incomes and disappearing jobs. And where the heck is the recovery?

Sarkozy: “The Risk That Europe Will Explode”

The Swiss government is preparing for a collapse of the euro while 27 heads of state convene for another EU summit in Brussels to find that elusive solution to the debt crisis. Goal: treaty changes that would impose Germany’s new religion of budgetary discipline on all 27 member states. But opposition has cropped up, and timing turns out to be impossible.

The Strenuously Hushed-Up Basic Flaw In The Tax Code

“Corporate Tax Dodging In The Fifty States” found that the largest corporations paid little or no state income taxes in any state. A prior report found that some of the most profitable corporations paid no federal income taxes. Both reports point at a major problem dogging the US economy: the tax code—and its basic flaw that not even tax reformers dare to mention.

The Endgame: Japan Inc. Plays By Its Own Rules

Plunging approval ratings of Prime Minister Noda follow tradition. Public approval is high at the start when voters still have hope. As reality sets in, approval skitters down a steep slope for 8 to 15 months. Then a new guy is installed. But bureaucrats and corporate interests stay in place, public debt turns into a mushroom cloud, and the endgame continues.

Tokyo Tidbit: Superlative Supercar Pileup

A convoy of 20 supercars was speeding down the Chūgoku Expressway, trying to get to a supercar gathering in Hiroshima. The mere sight of such an apparition can turn heads and cause accidents. The convoy entered a left-hand bend at 90–100 mph, though the posted speed limit was 50 mph. The highway was wet. And the rest was very expensive.

Afghanistan: “There Will Be Civil War”

Delegations from 100 countries and organizations will meet on Monday in Bonn for a conference on Afghanistan—1,000 participants in all, including Hilary Clinton, Hamid Karzai, Angela Merkel, and 60 foreign ministers. Goal: “Laying the foundation for a better future of Afghanistan.” But just when official optimism gets frothy, classified documents surface that predict a dire future.

Indefinite Detentions of Americans Without Trial

A Cheneyesque banana-republic law passed another hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday. It would mandate that the US military detain terrorism suspects, including US citizens, even on US soil, and hold them without trial, possibly for life, in military facilities. It sounds like a dark part of a futuristic novel. But it’s actually part of the National Defense Authorization Act.