- The Washington Times - Monday, April 14, 2008

Merkel mania

“The question of who leads Europe — if anyone — is one that has been discussed at length, and according to a new survey, it appears that the answer is Germany.

“Majorities of the public in France (68 percent), Spain (57 percent) and Germany (57 percent), as well as 39 percent of Italians and 35 percent of British adults consider Germany to be the “leader” of Europe. Of these European countries, Germany is considered the leader by all five. In the United States, almost two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans lean more toward the country they believe to be their closest partner, Great Britain, as the leader of Europe today.

“Looking forward, Germany is considered the country that will have the most influence over the rest of Europe in the next 10 years. … The honor again goes to Germany when looking to see who is considered the most influential leader in Europe today. At the top for each of the five European countries is German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”

From “Europeans Tend to See Germany as Leader,” a Harris Interactive poll released Thursday

Sins of green

“Busy times for us sinners — there are now an additional Seven Deadly Sins. The fresh abominations in the eyes of the Lord were announced by Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, head of the Vatican body that oversees confessions and plenary indulgences. The bishop’s supersizing of the mortal transgression catalog is thoroughly up-to-date (as translated by the Times of London):

“Drug abuse, morally debatable experimentation, environmental pollution, causing poverty, social inequality and injustice, genetic manipulation and accumulating excessive wealth.

“Not to argue theology with the Vatican, but environmental pollution is hardly among Satan’s strongest temptations. Pollution is not a passion we resist with an agony of will for the sake of our immortal souls. I’ve been to parties where all seven of the original deadlies were on offer in carload lots. Never once have I heard a reveler shout with evil glee, ‘Let’s dump PCBs in the Hudson River.’ ”

P.J. O’Rourke, writing in “Seven New Deadly Sins,” Friday in the Weekly Standard

Wallflower houses

“Americans have heard the bad news about the housing market from the press, their neighbors and their real estate agents. Now they’re hearing it from former Bachelor Bob Guiney.

“ ’The real estate market has come screeching to a halt!’ he cries, over the sound of squealing tires, at the beginning of TLC’s Date My House. On the new show, anxious sellers stage overnight ‘dates,’ in which potential buyers spend the night at the house, the better to ‘seduce’ them into making a ‘long-term commitment.’ (The sellers themselves are not thrown in as part of the date package. But let the market drop another 10 percent, and we’ll talk.)

“ ’It’s time to stop thinking of home sales as being on the real estate market,’ Guiney says, ‘and start thinking of them as being on the dating market.’

“If it all sounds a little sleazy and desperate, it meshes perfectly with the sleazy and desperate era of the subprime-mortgage fiasco, credit crisis and housing bust. If the economy of the ‘70s is back, the show seems to say, then let’s bring back the mores of the ‘70s! Throw a key party — this time with house keys!”

James Poniewozik writing in “TV Home Shows Learn to Love the Bust” in the April 10 issue of Time.

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