The Germans are a funny bunch. Germany is certainly Europe’s most successful nation and yet probably among the most stressed of its people. Just a few of my observations as we enter an uncertain 2020. Oh mein Gott!

Lorenz Clasen 1860 — Germania auf der Wacht am Rhein

Stuttgart– I must give credit where credit is due: the Germans listen to each other. I think this is in part because German grammar throws their verbs at the very end of every sentence which forces you to wait for the conclusion to know what they are really trying to say before you can yell back. For those who don’t understand German, it is easy to think they only discuss serious things which, in fact, is not necessarily wrong.

Paris: If you were wondering why France is in such financial shit, you needn’t look further than the way Le Crédit Lyonnais treats its customers.

Are French banks worse than French mechanics?

November 22, I go to the ATM at my local Le Crédit Lyonnais, Agence Butte aux Cailles, bank and request 1,500 euros to fill the Christmas stockings of the family for Grand Pa Fred. The ATM gave me 120 euros and TWO, yes TWO, receipts indicating I received 1,500 euros which were duly deducted from my account.

Pull The Plug. Nail Its Coffin Shut!

In an interview with the Economist published November 7, French President Emanuel Macron said:NATO is brain dead.” After nearly three years of attacks by President Trump and a rapprochement of NATO member Turkey with Russia, here yet is another nail in the coffin of an alliance that should have died with the fall of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union in 1991.

Paris: They are getting too old, or too fat, to build barricades, their hands too soft to dig up cobblestones, but they still have the voice to sing to the glory of those who fought to defend the world’s first workers democracy, a two month long experiment in 1871 which ended in a blood bath: The Paris Commune.

Young and old celebrate the Commune

Every September for the past 15 years, the Association “Friends of the Paris Commune 1871” organizes a block party at Place de La Commune de Paris – 1871 (where else?) in the 13th district of Paris. They drink blood red wine made deeper with cassis, curse the Versaillais and Adolphe Thiers who sent the French Army to massacre the people and generally enjoy a Fall afternoon.

Accidental Americans Protest in France

Forty-thousand French citizens could find themselves without a bank account at the end of the year because French banks are unable to meet the US tax information reporting law known as FACTA (1), according to Laurent Mignon, the head of the French Banking Federation, FFB. In all there could be more than 300 thousand people across Europe who will have no place to park their money and collect their salaries in 2020.

A trial in Rochefort, south-western France, which could literally cost Maurice his head, has been postponed until July 4. But Bruno Dionis du Séjour, the mayor of a tiny hamlet called Gajac en Gironde (400 inhabitants), is furious and is determined to save not only Maurice but the sounds of rural France. Maurice is a rooster.

The problem began a couple of years ago when a couple bought their secondary residence next door to Corinne Fesseau in Saint Pierre d’Oléron, an island off south western France. Little did they know Maurice would wake them every day at 6:30. The retirees want the rooster silenced.

This is just the latest case of urban elites trying to silence the countryside when they buy a secondary residence. Mayor Dionis du Séjour is counter-attacking by calling for the sounds of the countryside to be declared a “national heritage.”