Letter From Berlin: Wealth and Worry

 In 1891 Mark Twain brought his wife and three young daughters to live in Berlin for six months. He wrote of the German capital, “it’s a new city, the newest I have ever seen, the main mass of the city looks as if it had been built last week.”  The same might be said today 75 years after World War II’s fire and fury reduced … Continue reading Letter From Berlin: Wealth and Worry

East Germany After the Wall

In March 1990, when there was still a communist East Germany, I spent ten days traveling from East Berlin to Leipzig, Dresden and places in between. One dreary evening I arrived late in historic Weimar only to find the hotels fully booked.  But in a makeshift office near the station an enterprising easterner had set up an agency that paired travelers with locals seeking hard … Continue reading East Germany After the Wall

Latvia: Success at a Price

RIGA: On this 10thanniversary of the U.S. triggered global crisis, spare a thought for lightly populated Latvia, the Baltic nation in Europe’s far northeast. Over-confident from a get rich quick, multi-year property boom, the global crisis struck Latvia with unanticipated force. Citizens and government were ill prepared for the disaster. Economic activity slowed at once. Swedish banks that dominated local credit markets closed the lending … Continue reading Latvia: Success at a Price

Refugees: Germany Land of Hope

GOTHA, GERMANY:  In welcoming thousands of refugees shunned by others Germany occupies moral high ground. Stories and images of desperate migrants fill television news. Nightly there are informed debates about the challenge of integrating Syrian and other Muslim asylum seekers into German society.  The impulse to help is visceral, shared by the public and elected leaders.  Chancellor Angela Merkel probably speaks for millions when she … Continue reading Refugees: Germany Land of Hope

Remembering Portugal’s Revolution That Changed Africa

Forty years ago a brave band of junior officers overthrew Portugal’s dictatorship. On April 25th, 1974 thousands poured into Lisbon’s plazas in celebration. Flower sellers did a brisk trade in red carnations that poked from the barrels of soldiers’ rifles. Marcelo Caetano, the despot who headed the fascist government in power since 1932, fled to Brazil. The young captains behind the coup had seen for … Continue reading Remembering Portugal’s Revolution That Changed Africa