Filed under: Europe, Intelligence, Iran, National Security, Politics, The United States | Tags: American Intelligence, Foreign Policy, The NSA Flap
How do governments find out what other countries are thinking, what they really plan, what they are talking about behind the scenes? Read the papers? Listen to the speeches? Hang around people who might know something? Yes, and much more. Nations need intelligence about what other nations may do. Nations have interests, and nations have allies, but we still need to know what’s going on behind the facade. So do they. Nations spy. So what? When a spy infiltrates the government of another nation, they try to root it out, and may send him to prison or shoot him.
For some real insight into the current flap about the revelations of whashis name Edward Snowden, please read this piece by a career diplomat who has served in many parts of the world. Actually, add him to your blog list while you’re at it. He is invaluable.
Hardly necessary to emphasize the absurdity of Germany, France, and other nations getting so huffy about American taps on their communications. American outrage about communication monitoring has given other nations room to pose. Their citizens will act as if the United States has treated them with intolerable suspicion, and believe that the American president may have lost control of his own intelligence services and they have become victims. Germany and other nations have shown no commitment to hard power or in taking sides. Europe has long settled comfortably under the umbrella of American power. With Mr. Obama trying hard to diminish American power, other nations are getting nervous. It’s easier to feel put upon by the Americans.
Will Mrs. Merkel say again, as she did in 2007, “For me, as German chancellor, Israel’s security is never negotiable. Protecting Israel is part of my country’s reason of state. I believe that an hour of truth has now arrived when we must show we stand by our word.
Funny how the chancellor of the world’s third-largest arms-dealing country, in her reluctance to talk of any use of force anywhere, is looking like Mr. Obama’s doppelgänger. Yet she says America needs friends—although surely not ones thinking Washington will want to spy less effectively.
This excerpt from Walter Russell Mead writing on U.S. Negotiations with Iran explains a lot.
Judging from what we see from the outside, the White House does not appear to have a clear strategy in mind at this point, but the trajectory of its internal drift suggests that many there (perhaps including the President) would be ready to sell the Crescent to Iran in exchange for a face-saving, war-avoiding nuclear deal. This is probably how Jerusalem, Moscow, Beijing, Tehran and Riyadh are all reading the President’s deep reluctance to take decisive action against Assad. In Jerusalem, this belief leads people to want to engage closely with the Americans in an effort to make sure that any deal addresses Israel’s red lines on nukes and Hezbollah. In Tehran it strengthens the hands of those who favor the course of negotiations; Obama appears willing to pay a substantial price for the nuclear deal and the very act of engaging weakens American power and promotes the Shi’a cause. In Riyadh this perception heightens the rage and fear that people there feel and has led to what, by Saudi standards, is a public tantrum of epic proportions. In Moscow this is seen as both a satisfying symbolic setback for the United States and a substantial victory over the Sunni jihadi threat the Kremlin sees as a major threat. In Beijing it is read as another chapter in the story of American decline.
Filed under: Movies, News of the Weird, United Kingdom | Tags: Emergency Landing, Trite Story Plot, True Life Adventure
It’s a favorite plot, so overused that it has become trite: something happens to the pilot and a passenger, a stewardess, someone who is not a pilot has to be coached into bringing the plane in for a landing. Heard it all too many times, right? Tiresome.
Except it just happened, in England. Officials at Humberside Airport in northwest England put emergency plans into place and called in flight instructors when the pilot of a small Cessna 172 collapsed in the cockpit and his passenger, 77 year-old John Wildey took the controls and began his first landing with help from flight instructors. Soon after he landed, his friend, the pilot, died.
It has always been a possible scenario, as so many scary situations are — and sometimes they turn real. Here’s the full story;
Filed under: Entertainment, Europe, Heartwarming, Music, Pop Culture | Tags: A Tribute to ABBA, Perpetuum Jazzile, Slovenian a capella jazz choir
Time to revisit Perpetuum Jazzile, the Slovenian a capella jazz choir. Here they pay tribute to the Swedish vocal group ABBA with a medley of ABBA’s songs. We have long admired this group.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Europe, Junk Science, The United States | Tags: Distorting Markets, Germany's Energiewende, Subsidies Don't Work
Country after country in Europe is abandoning, curtailing or reneging on once-generous support for renewable energy. Green dreams are giving way to hard economic realities. In a time of straightened budgets and recession, they are beginning to recognize that their ill conceived projects have been a self-inflicted economic and political debacle.
A study by British public relations consultancy CCGroup analysed 138 articles about renewables published during July last year in the five most widely circulated British national newspapers: The Sun, the Times, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, which have a combined daily circulation of about 6.5 million.
The study found a number of trends in the reporting of news about renewable energy. The media’s sentiment toward the renewable industry was cold. More than 51 percent of the articles published were negative or very negative toward the industry.
EU member states have spent about €600 billion ($882 billion) on renewable energy projects since 2005, Germany’s green energy transition alone may cost consumers up to €1 trillion by 2030. These billions of Euros are being paid by ordinary families in what is certainly one of the biggest wealth transfers from the poor to the rich in modern European history. Rising energy bills are dampening consumer spending, a poisonous development for a Continent struggling with a severe economic crisis.
Germany has Europe’s most expensive electricity at 26.8 euro cents a kilowatt hour. Angela Merkel has warned that the rapid expansion of green energy is weakening Germany’s competitive advantage in the global economy. More than half the world’s solar panels are installed in Germany, meeting almost 40 percent of the nation’s peak electricity demand. But during many weeks in December and January, Germany’s 1.1 million solar power systems generated almost no electricity. Solar panels just stopped generating, and Germany had to import nuclear energy fro m France and the Czech Republic.
Siemens, one of Germany’s biggest companies is abandoning the industry. They announced in June that they are closing the entire solar division, at a loss of about €1 billion. Last month they fired the chief executive. Interestingly, as I was writing this I was startled to hear a commercial extolling the wonders of solar energy — from Siemens. They’re going to unload their excess stock on us?
One of the unintended consequences of Germany’s Energiewwende has been that preferential treatment for wind and solar has meant that natural gas plants have become unprofitable, and are being mothballed. Governments are not successful in picking winners and losers, Competition and the free market will do a far better job of directing investment. Government subsidies simply suppress the information that the marketplace is trying to send.
Would someone please explain this to President Obama?
Filed under: Architecture, Europe, Humor, News of the Weird | Tags: Architechural Accidents, Spanish Skyscraper, The InTempo Building
This 47-story skyscraper under construction in Alicante, Spain has had its construction fraught with problems, including allegations of fraud from both customers and suppliers who are owed $3.3 million. The fact that it looks like a giant pair of pants is beside the point. The real problem — the really, really big one is that they forgot the elevator shafts. “In what will surely go down in history as one of the greatest architectural blunders, the building was almost completed when it realized that it had excluded plans for elevator shafts.” Great analogy for ObamaCare.
The comments were a riot!
“On the other hand the advertising potential of this design is impressive. Haggar and Dockers are in a bidding war right now.”
“Can I show you something nice in a 40th floor walk-up?”
“On the subject of Spanish design flaws, their new, 2 Billion Euro submarine is 70 tons too heavy. If it submerged it wouldn’t be able to resurface.
Its named the Peral.”
“This is a great apartment if you ‘re into cardio.”
ADDENDUM: This story is turning out to be a hoax. The building is so dramatically ugly that it is easy to believe stories of major mistakes. The building, according to a Spanish blog, Barcepundit, does have elevators—11 of them: 3 in each tower plus 4 for the penthouses on top and a panoramic one on the outside. If you look really closely at the left tower, you will see an orange stripe which is the panoramic elevator.
Supposedly a bad translation from a confusing article in El Pais, a Spanish daily newspaper that only touched on the elevator issue tangentially. American TV crews are reportedly on the way to investigate. Der Spiegel reported on the story and had a building planned for only 20 stories, a late decision to make it significantly taller, with no freight elevator until the first 23 stories were constructed. When the freight elevator was finally installed, it collapsed, injuring 13 workers.
So what will happen when U.S. TV crews arrive? If it is a non-story and they have been hoaxed will they still report it? The town is apparently Benidorm, not Alicante, but is Alicante a province, a county? I have no idea how a story can get so fouled up. It seems to be a town with a magnificent long beach. The building towers over the rest of the town and is beyond ugly. I apologize for falling for a story without further checking, but further checking would not have been accurate anyway.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, History, Law, Politics, United Kingdom | Tags: A Looming Train Wreck, The NHS Failure, The ObamaCare Disaster
The Obama administration lied to you from the beginning. They claimed that health care costs were spiraling out of control and by reforming health care they would bring costs down. In fact, the costs of health care were slowly coming down in response to new diagnostic tools and new medicines that saved higher hospital costs. They claimed that they were echoing Massachusetts health plan, but the president’s advisers on health care were all great admirers of Britain’s National Health Service.
The advisers looked at the cost of health care and determined that most of the cost for any person came in the final years of their lives. If they could get rid of that cost, then American health care would cost lots less. So if someone was in their 80s or 90s, they shouldn’t be allowed to rack up big costs for operations or expensive treatments.
A new report on Britain’s National Health Service notes that as many as 13,000 needless deaths have occurred in 14 NHS hospital trusts since 2005. This is no fluke. It’s the result of socialized medicine, done by experts.
In ObamaCare, the government panel that controls what procedures one may receive (cost effectiveness) is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) or as Sarah Palin called it — the Death Panel. It would decide when you could get dialysis and when they pulled the cord.
Then there was the “Liverpool Care Pathway” — an Orwellian death panel operation, where nurses shouted to visitors to not give their dying relatives sips of water for fear it would interfere with the hospital’s death target. “No one was doing anything ‘wrong’ since everything was done by the book,” wrote Jenkins.
Keogh found that as many as 13,000 “needless” deaths were the result, about 3 per day in each hospital district.
The U.K. has seen reform after reform of its health care system, but none has made much difference.
The administration granted a one-year delay in the employer mandate, something that he cannot legally do. The House just passed a one-year delay for the individual mandate, which Obama says he will veto. Obama’s goal is to get as many people signed up or ObamaCare subsidies as he can, as quickly as he can, so that any repeal of the law becomes politically impossible. That’s why the administration is paying people to sign individuals up. Delaying the employer mandate guarantees that hundreds of thousands of people will end up at an ObamaCare exchange after their employers use the delay to drop coverage.
He is even allowing states to take the applicants’ word for it that they don’t have coverage available to them at work and that their income is as low as they claim it is. It opens the door to fraud, but lax enforcement means more will sign up.
Unions are turning against ObamaCare in a big way, they are learning about the downside. The law will drive up insurance costs, massively increase government spending, create huge shortages of doctors with no way to solve that problem except for long waits to see a doctor, $1 trillion in new taxes, continue to destroy full-time jobs, and do nothing whatsoever to control health care costs.
It is a train wreck. Even Democrats are wanting to repeal and replace. But they are obsessed with “public” rather than “private”, “non-profit” rather than “for profit” that they become oblivious to simple basic facts. Some Democrats see the solution as moving everyone into Medicare, but that would not solve a single problem in ObamaCare.
A warning shot was fired a few months ago when one hospital, Mid-Staffordshire, was found to be a veritable death trap of neglect, misspent funds and starved investment. Now a new report on 14 NHS trusts, released by government-appointed Prof. Sir Bruce Keogh this week, finds that neglect and “needless” deaths are pretty much a characteristic of the entire system.
Socialized medicine simply doesn’t work. The state can cover up big problems, state priorities trump those of the consumer, bureaucracies resist change. Is that really what we need— a system to provide needless death?
Filed under: Entertainment, Freedom, History, Humor, United Kingdom | Tags: Queen Elizabeth"s Horse 'Estimate', The Royal Ascot Meeting, Winning is Just Plain Fun
This post began with a picture. Queen Elizabeth’s horse won the Gold Cup at the Royal Ascot meeting. The Gold Cup is the most prestigious event for “stayers”— horses which specialize in racing over long distances. It is traditionally held on day three of the meeting.
The Ascot Racecourse was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, and the Ascot estate belongs to the crown. Queen Elizabeth attends every year, as do members of the Royal Family. They arrive each day in a horse-drawn carriage, with the Royal procession taking place at the start of each race day with the raising of the Queen’s Royal Standard.
It is a major event in the British social calendar, and press coverage of the attendees and what they are wearing often gets more attention than the actual racing. Ladies’ hats are a feature of the day. Dress code is strictly enforced, day dresses with a hat for the ladies and for the men black or grey morning dress with top hat is required. People who have no idea about the horse race part of the day have undoubtedly seen pictures of the weird and wonderful or just plain strange hats.
There are five days of races, and the Gold Cup on the third day was on June 20th. The Queen has reigned for 61 years and has attended Ascot every year since 1945. Her horses have won races 22 times, but this is the first Gold Cup, the most prestigious of all. Estimate’s win is the first time ever that a reigning monarch has won the Gold Cup. The Queen usually awards the cup to the winner. This year Prince Andrew awarded the cup to his mother. The race is two miles and four furlongs. It is the world’s most famous horse race.
So this is a belated post, but I just loved the triumphant grin.