The independence vote in Catalonia isn’t just a crisis for Spain, its conservative government, and Spanish nationalism. There’s also an EU-Catalan crisis in the making. The EU Commission, whose members represent national governments not regions, is opposing Catalan independence. This contradicts the not-so-secret wishes of the Brussels-based “Eurocrat” bureaucracy to weaken national governments by creating a “Europe of the regions.”
The EU-Catalan crisis is mirrored by other separatist movements simmering within the EU. These can be broken down into three types:
- Member nations considering exit from the EU, following the United Kingdom model (“Brexit”);
- Regions with their own language and historical background distinct from the nation in which they are presently embedded (Spain’s Catalonia and Basque Country, Belgium’s Flanders);
- Regions with political but minimal linguistic differences with their central government (Germany’s Bavaria, the U.K.’s Scotland).
The first two are often justifiable; the third is usually best addressed by compromise and a federal solution.
Republican progress and problems
“House passage of a budget resolution — matched by the Senate Budget Committee’s approval of its own version — clears an early hurdle for the top GOP priority,” the anti-administration Washington Post concedes. But now the next step, tax reform, not only has Republican opponents from high-tax states — who want to keep the state and local tax deduction — but now also legislators who don’t want to repeal the estate tax.
Understandably, the failure of the Republican Congress to accomplish its major campaign promises has wealthy donors clenching their wallets and bolting for the doors. This does not bode well for Republican financing of its candidates in 2018.
Gene therapy breakthrough
“For the first time, doctors have used gene therapy to stave off a fatal degenerative brain disease, an achievement that some experts had thought impossible,” the New York Times reports. It’s not yet clear what the implications of this breakthrough will be for addressing other genetic diseases.
The Nobel Prize committee has a spotty record in awarding its Literature and Peace prizes. True to that mixed tradition, the Literature award went to a reasonable choice, and the Peace award to certifiably loony utopians.
Princeton University now has a new $330 million, 23-acre arts center, the largest single development in the university’s history.
Poet and eminent poetry critic William Logan has just created waves in the literary and publishing world with his unsparing criticism of the latest book by poet and editor Jill Bialosky, including a charge of plagiarism. Logan’s review is here; New York Times coverage of the controversy is here.