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Jonathan Weil examines Europe’s flailing attempts to placate the markets and stay ahead of the sovereign-debt crisis in his column, “Student With 0.0 Grade Average Has EU Insight:”

The never-ending comedy that is Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis has reached its Otter moment. That’s when the world realizes the fundamental principle guiding every important government decision is this: “I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!”

The quote comes from the 1978 movie “Animal House.” After the dean of the fictitious college tells the Delta House boys that he’s expelling them all, the fraternity’s smooth-talking rush chairman, Eric “Otter” Stratton, delivers those famed words of inspiration to his downtrodden brethren. Bluto, the drunk with a 0.0 grade-point average played by John Belushi, says: “We’re just the guys to do it.” Mayhem ensues.

Europe is imitating art. We keep getting futile gestures from its political leaders in response to the euro area’s debt troubles. It matters little what form these take, as long as they placate the markets until the next ad-hoc plan can be floated. One day it’s “firewalls,” whatever those are. The next it’s “bazookas.” Now it’s German domination of European political and economic life. There are too many proposals flying around to keep track.

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Supreme Court of the United States

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A new analysis is explaining the disturbing circumstances surrounding the overturning of Roe v. Wade and how the U.S. Supreme Court has morphed into an entity actively working toward authoritarianism.

In a new op-ed published by The Guardian, Jill Filipovic —author of the book, The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness—offered an assessment of the message being sent with the Supreme Court's rollback of the 1973 landmark ruling.

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Billionaires

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After a year of reporting on the tax machinations of the ultrawealthy, ProPublica spotlights the top tax-avoidance techniques that provide massive benefits to billionaires.

Last June, drawing on the largest trove of confidential American tax data that’s ever been obtained, ProPublica launched a series of stories documenting the key ways the ultrawealthy avoid taxes, strategies that are largely unavailable to most taxpayers. To mark the first anniversary of the launch, we decided to assemble a quick summary of the techniques — all of which can generate tax savings on a massive scale — revealed in the series.

1. The Ultra Wealth Effect

Our first story unraveled how billionaires like Elon Musk, Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos were able to amass some of the largest fortunes in history while paying remarkably little tax relative to their immense wealth. They did it in part by avoiding selling off their vast holdings of stock. The U.S. system taxes income. Selling stock generates income, so they avoid income as the system defines it. Meanwhile, billionaires can tap into their wealth by borrowing against it. And borrowing isn’t taxable. (Buffett said he followed the law and preferred that his wealth go to charity; the others didn’t comment beyond a “?” from Musk.)

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