Roaming costs update: Up until recently, once you crossed over a border in Europe, you were screwed with cellphone roaming costs. This is one of the few EU initiatives fixed that most people are very happy about. One might note however, there are six countries within Europe where the EU rule doesn't effect or change: Andorra, San Marino, Switzerland, Channel Islands, Monaco, and the Isle of Man.
Diesel car fiasco: Focus did a good article over this collection of city-by-city regulations over diesel cars and how there is a patchwork developing, without a clear state or federal mandate (from Berlin). As they point out, it's a screwed-up mess and desperately needs attention by Berlin....with their suggestion being some trade-in compensation deal deal where Berlin pays 10,000 Euro to help some family get rid of their diesel car and get a new car. One can be amused by the whole thing which caught on only 18 months ago and has raged across the country without any federal involvement. You could be talking about billions to pay off the public and just dump the diesel cars.
US is asking for Erdogan bodyguards: Not a front-page story but a couple of weeks ago as Erdogan visited the US.....a protest occurred at the Turkish embassy area and video shot of the event showed the personal security personal beating to a fair extent the protesters. DC cops tried to intervene. DC court now wants some individuals who guard Erdogan to return to the US and face court. I seriously doubt that they will return but it's another negative for Erdogan to face.
Spinners: If you look around this summer in Germany....the new hot trend is spinners. Generally, you can buy a decently made one for about 13-to-15 Euro. I noted in the local Hessen news that the German customs people at the Flughafen in Frankfurt intercepted an entire shipment (35 tons) of spinners. After inspection, they determined that these Chinese-made spinners were unsafe, and failed to meet German safety regulations. All were destroyed. Based on the weight involved, the guess is that the shipment contained one-million spinners. Someone lost a ton of money on that purchase.
My favorite Helmet Kohl story: At some point in the early 1950s, the Americans wanted to open a base in the Sembach region. Things were bogged down because the area desired was heavily-used farm-land. Helmet Kohl was a regional political at the time and came in to help work out the details of the land transfer. Most locals around Sembach believe this deal would not have happen without Kohl working out the fine details and compensation involved.
Muslim stats in Germany: ARD did a fairly decent statistic project on Muslims in Germany. Current population? It's estimated at around 4.4 to 4.7 million. Associations or clubs around Germany? The consensus is that most are Turkish-operated. The one curious piece from this report is that from 2009 (8 years ago and before the migration episode).....only one Muslim out of five considered themselves members of a particular local mosque operation. One might take the belief that a lot of German Muslims prior to the migration episode were 'lightly' practicing the faith and not influenced to a great extent by religious instructors or Mullahs.