Fuel throughout Europe has skyrocketed in price. (Photo by Konrad Lembcke, July 12, 2015)

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Whither the European Union?

The reasons for voting in favor of the 2016 Brexit were many and varied, but with some hindsight, it is hard to deny that voters frustrated with the workings of the E.U. had a basis for their grievances. Just look at the gas crisis that is making life in the E.U. unbearable for millions of people.

An article by Laurence Norman in the Wall Street Journal’s October 14 edition, “Gas Crisis Prompts Fresh Proposals from E.U.,” quotes energy commissioner Kadri Simson calling the crisis an unusual situation and maintaining that E.U. energy policies over the last 20 years have worked well. But the article details how the European Commission is grasping for solutions to deal with the tripling of wholesale gas prices within E.U. borders and the concomitant spike in inflation, which jeopardizes the economic recovery everyone has been hoping for as the continent tries to move on from the Covid pandemic.

A New Direction for New York

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams appeared at the Eastern Parkway-Brooklyn Museum MTA station on December 17, 2020. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)

Mayoral candidate Eric Adams once again has refused to mince words or tiptoe around an issue of growing concern to New Yorkers: the scourge of shoplifting that has left entire shelves bare in some stores, drugstores in particular, and about the need to back law enforcement unequivocally, a brave stance to take in this age of rabid anti-police activism and hysterical rhetoric.

An article in the New York Post on October 14, “Mayoral hopeful Eric Adams talks tough against NYC shoplifting spike,” quotes Adams saying that once he takes office, his administration will adopt an aggressive stance toward the crime wave plaguing New York. He plans to visit precincts in person and reiterate his strong support for the police. Adams spoke partly in response to public concerns aroused by repeat offenders like the so-called Man of Steal, who police have arrested no fewer than 57 times this year, including 46 arrests for retail theft.

Curtains for Durst

Robert Durst, the real estate heir suspected in crimes that provided tabloid fodder and inspired both a feature film and a six-part HBO documentary, is unlikely ever to be a free man again. Evan Symon’s October 15 article in The California Globe, “Robert Durst Receives Life Sentence in LA Superior Court Ruling,” details the outcome of a lengthy proceeding complicated by the Covid pandemic and concerns about the health of the wheelchair-bound 78-year-old defendant. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Windham has sentenced Durst to spend the remainder of his life in prison, with no chance of parole, for the murder of Susan Berman, whose body police found in her Benedict Canyon home on December 24, 2000. Evidence implicating Durst in the crime included letters with the same misspellings that Durst had made in other correspondence. Durst is also on camera in the HBO documentary confessing to having committed murders.

Bronze Age Infrastructure Project

Much of the political buzz in recent weeks has been about President Biden’s massive infrastructure project. An intriguing article in Archaeology magazine’s November/December 2021 issue, written by executive editor Daniel Weiss, takes the reader back to the plains of northern Italy late in the second millennium B.C., when members of local communities got together and put their talents to work to develop a rather different kind of structure from anything envisioned in the present-day bill.

On the outskirts of the town of Noceto, south of the Po River in northern Italy, a team of researchers has excavated a structure that first began to come to light in the course of digging during a construction project. It is a rectangular chamber cleared out of the earth, its floor and walls secured by rows of long connected wooden poles and more than 240 interlacing boards. Forty feet long, twenty-three feet wide, and sixteen feet deep, the structure has two different levels, one of which has been dated to 1444 B.C. and the other to 1432 B.C.

President Biden’s infrastructure plan caters to a number special interests that do not even pretend to represent the wishes of a majority of Americans, many of whom rightly see no basis in the Constitution for things such as universal pre-K or community college tuition funded by the federal government. These special interests represent a sliver of the populace emboldened by the rhetoric of the current administration.


By Michael Washburn

Michael Washburn is a Brooklyn-based writer and journalist. He is the author of the short story collections Scenes from the Catastrophe (2016), The Uprooted and Other Stories (2018), When We're Grownups (2019), and Stranger, Stranger (2020). Michael's story "Confessions of a Spook" won Causeway Lit's 2018 fiction contest.