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Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Some Reading on Russia

by coldwarrior ( 1 Comment › )
Filed under Academia, Economy, History, Politics, Russia, Special Report at December 19th, 2014 - 8:21 pm

As this is a special report, Please take your time and read the following article here before commenting, it is worth you effort:

 

…I thought the economic problems of Russia would be foremost on people’s minds. The plunge of the ruble, the decline in oil prices, a general slowdown in the economy and the effect of Western sanctions all appear in the West to be hammering the Russian economy. Yet this was not the conversation I was having. The decline in the ruble has affected foreign travel plans, but the public has only recently begun feeling the real impact of these factors, particularly through inflation.

But there was another reason given for the relative calm over the financial situation, and it came not only from government officials but also from private individuals and should be considered very seriously. The Russians pointed out that economic shambles was the norm for Russia, and prosperity the exception. There is always the expectation that prosperity will end and the normal constrictions of Russian poverty return….

#Caturday, 12/13/14: Vladivostok airport seafood shop suffers $1100 feline heist

by 1389AD ( 5 Comments › )
Filed under Caturday, Open thread, Russia at December 13th, 2014 - 12:00 pm

Кошка ест морепродукты в прилавке магазина в аэропорту Владивостока

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lxI6_m_bTY

Published on Dec 9, 2014 by ПримаМедиа ТВ

RT has the story:

During the night, a ginger cat sneaked into a sea food store at Vladivostok airport and treated itself to fish from the deli counter. The animal’s feast, which included squid and flatfish, was worth 60,000 rubles – some $1,100.

The feline burglar also went for the dried octopus – he torn up the packaging, but couldn’t quite get to the food inside. The shop owners still had to count the costs because the sealing on the packages was broken.

“The cat made its way inside the counter, and ate and nibbled the goods, scratched and wrecked the packaging around the squid and dried fish,” a shop assistant told Ria Novosti agency.

The shop was forced to write off the entire fish counter the cat had laid its paws on, to comply with sanitary rules. The store at Vladivostok international airport in Russia’s Far East was thoroughly disinfected, its owners promised the local PrimaMedia news.

The cat’s Friday feast was spotted and filmed by airport staff, who were amused by the gluttonous animal for some time before calling the shop owners. It’s still unknown how the animal sneaked his way into fishy heaven.

While shop assistants say the animal is homeless and lives near the airport, sometimes coming into the terminal for warmth and to be fed, the airport says the presence of any unsupervised animals on the premises is strictly forbidden due to security regulations.

A special order has been issued, and a company has been appointed to keep stray animals out, the airport’s press service said, adding that the cat might have been lost by one of the passengers. The blame lies completely with the shop, the airport said.

Story here.

Canada Considers Fence On Southern Border To Stem Wave Of Illegal Immigration

by Bunk X ( 4 Comments › )
Filed under America, Canada, Elections 2010, Elections 2012, Humor, immigration, Immigration, Mexico, Politics, Russia, Satire, Special Report at November 22nd, 2014 - 10:54 pm

CAUTION

Mexico allows Central and South American immigrants to pass through her borders on 72 hour visas, and most of those people are headed for the porous southern border of the US. As these illegal immigrants pour in, local pressure builds, and now there’s another movement happening at the US – Canadian Border. Canadians don’t like it.

US Canada Border Fence

Here’s the full transcript from The Manitoba Herald 1 December 2010:

Border Fence Proposed
by Clive Runnels
The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration. The recent actions of the Tea Party and the fact Republicans won the Senate are prompting an exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they’ll soon be required to hunt, pray, and to agree with Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck.

Canadian border farmers say it’s not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night.  “I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn,” said Southern Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota. The producer was cold,exhausted and hungry. He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn’t have any, he left before I even got a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?”

In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. He then installed loudspeakers that blared Rush Limbaugh across the fields. “Not real effective,” he said. “The liberals still got through and Rush annoyed the cows so much that they wouldn’t give any milk.”

Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, and drive them across the border where they are simply left to fend for themselves. “A lot of these people are not prepared for our rugged conditions,” an Ontario border patrolman said. “I found one carload without a single bottle of imported drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley cabernet, though.” When liberals are caught, they’re sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about plans being made to build re-education camps where liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR races.

In recent days, liberals have turned to ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have been disguised as senior citizens taking a bus trip to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half-dozen young vegans in powdered wig disguises, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizens about Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney to prove that they were alive in the ’50s. “If they can’t identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we become very suspicious about their age,” an official said.

Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and are renting all the Michael Moore  movies. “I really feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can’t support them,” an Ottawa resident said. “How many art-history majors does one country need?”

In an effort to ease tensions between the United States and Canada, Vice President Biden met with the Canadian ambassador and pledged that the administration would take steps to reassure liberals. A source close to President Obama said, “We’re going to have some Paul McCartney and Peter, Paul & Mary concerts. And we might even put some endangered species on postage stamps. The President is determined to reach out,” he said.

The US and Canada are not the only countries experiencing an influx of illegal immigrants crossing their southern borders. Check out this image from Vladikavkaz, Russia:

illegal-immigrants-in-russia

If the Theory of Global Worming is true, there’s going to be a massive influx of people from all regions south of the Arctic Circle, judging from the current migration patterns.

Sure, Canada has Molson’s and poutine, but I’m gonna stay put and watch the parade. By the way, The Manitoba Herald folded in 1877, there is no such person named Clive Runnels, and I am not the author of the quoted satirical article. Go figger.

Deport the Muslims, keep the canines!

by 1389AD ( 167 Comments › )
Filed under Dhimmitude, Dog Day Afternoon, Open thread, Spain at November 3rd, 2014 - 4:00 pm

(h/t: Gramfan)

Something is grotesquely wrong with people who hate dogs.

Larry Pickering has the story:

A report from Spain this week claims two Islamic groups based in Lérida, a city in the north-eastern region of Catalonia where 29,000 Muslims now make up around 20% of the  population, demanded that local officials regulate all dogs in public spaces so as not to “offend Muslims”.

Muslims leaders demanded that dogs be banned from all forms of public transportation including all city buses as well as from all areas frequented by Muslim immigrants.

Muslims said the presence of dogs violates their religious freedoms and their right to live according to Islamic principles.

After the municipality refused to give in to Muslim demands, the city experienced a wave of dog poisonings. Local media reported dozens of canine pets were poisoned in Lérida’s working class neighbourhoods of Cappont and La Bordeta.

These districts are heavily populated by Muslim immigrants and the poisoning of dogs has continued unabated.

This  follows dog-related controversies in other European countries.

In Holland, Muslims who live in The Hague and who now make up more than 12% of that city’s population of 500,000, have campaigned to rid the city of all dogs. Muslims view dogs as offensive and unclean.

“A ban on them would be a sure vote-getter”, one Muslim spokesman said.

[...]
More here…

As an antidote, click here for a truly heartwarming dog story.

Scots Fallout

by coldwarrior ( 112 Comments › )
Filed under Open thread, Politics, UK at September 19th, 2014 - 3:00 pm

A postmortem on the Scot’s devolution decision:

After Scotland, something fundamental has to change – and will change

Our present constitutional settlement is not merely unacceptable; it is broken.

by Jason Cowley Published  

Our present constitutional settlement is not merely unacceptable; it is broken.
A discarded Yes sticker lies on cobble stones along the Royal Mile after the people of Scotland voted no to independence on September 19, 2014 in Edinburgh. Photograph: Getty Images.

In the days after 5 September, when a poll put Yes Scotland ahead for the first time in the referendum campaign, we witnessed something remarkable, even unprecedented, in recent decades – the British political elite scrambling in panic as they belatedly understood that the ground beneath them was moving and drastic action was required. In response they began making policy on the run, hastily promising further powers to Scotland and mobilizing whatever forces they could, especially big business, to help pull the Union back from the brink.

Had Scotland voted Yes, David Cameron would surely have been forced to resign as the prime minister who lost Scotland and presided over the break up of Great Britain. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, might well have been forced to stand down as well in what would have been an ensuing constitutional crisis.

In the event, Scotland narrowly voted No and now an opportunity exists to reconfigure the multinational United Kingdom to the benefit of all of us living in these islands. Clearly the status quo is unacceptable, not only to the large number of people in Scotland who voted for independence. Our present constitutional settlement is not merely unacceptable; it is broken, as David Cameron acknowledged when he spoke outside Downing Street once the final result was known. Whether the UK is reconfigured as a fully federal or quasi-federal state, something fundamental has to change and will change. We are entering a period of profound constitutional upheaval.

It will not be enough to offer more devolution to Scotland as the three main party leaders did in the final, desperate days of the campaign, however inchoate. The question of devolution in England has to be addressed as well. Cameron spoke of the need to address the West Lothian question  – English votes on English laws –  but should we have an English parliament or perhaps the introduction of regional assemblies under a new federal structure? Cameron did not mention this but the House of Lords needs to become a fully elected second chamber or be abolished altogether. What too of further powers for Wales and Northern Ireland? These are momentous times.

One of the most startling interventions during the final days of the campaign was made of course by Gordon Brown, the former Labour prime minister, who returned dramatically to frontline politics as the cross-party Better Together campaign floundered. In a series of speeches, consciously echoing Gladstone, he promised “home rule for Scotland”, even if there was no consensus on what was actually being offered and how it would affect the other nations in these islands, not least England.

At times it seemed as if the former Labour prime minister was dictating policy to his successor, who, because of the decisive defeat of the Conservatives in Scotland, was rendered virtually mute during the long campaign and was left at the end pleading plaintively with Scots “not to go”. It was desperate stuff and one expects Cameron’s party to punish his weakness in the months ahead.

What we witnessed in Scotland during the campaign, especially in those final weeks, was an extraordinary democratic awakening. An ancient nation was asking fundamental questions about identity, purpose and sovereignty, and people were as animated as they were well informed. The SNP operates a formidable and disciplined campaigning machine but Yes Scotland amounted to much more than Alex Salmond and his happy band of followers; it was a broad, vibrant coalition of pro-independence groupings.

What the referendum campaign demonstrated was that, in the right circumstances and when people believe that something truly significant is at stake and that their vote matters, they care passionately. At a time when fewer and fewer of us are members of political parties, nearly 4.3 million registered to vote, 97 per cent of those eligible. Overall turnout was 86 per cent, testament to a nation’s engagement and a direct challenge to a broken political system.

But how now to capture and harness the energies that were unleashed during a referendum campaign in Scotland that shook the foundations of the British state, stunned a complacent elite and came so close to shattering the 307-year-old Union?

And this much I know: unless there is far-reaching constitutional reform, there will be a second Scottish independence referendum before too long.

It’s going to be interesting to watch.

 

Scotland!

by coldwarrior ( 85 Comments › )
Filed under government, Open thread, Politics, UK at September 17th, 2014 - 8:00 am

Aye! The Vote for or against independence from the United Kingdom is Thursday, the 18th. I would have to say that if I were allowed to vote, It would be ‘YES!’. Succeed or Fail, Local sovereignty makes more sense to me than rule from afar.

Tomorrow, my Dad and I are at our yearly outing at a very, very nice Country Club enjoying a round of the Scots own game, Golf. After we will have a wee dram with dinner in the club house and see what the Scots have decided.

After more than 300 years of political union, a Scots army, this time made up of voters, has a date with destiny, writes Hugh Reilly

It is June 1314, the place is Stirlingshire. The English army has tramped up the Middle Ages version of the M74 to sort out some treasonous Jocks who have challenged King Edward’s right to rule over his Scottish serfs. The rebellious Scots to be crushed are led by Robert the Bruce, a warrior king whose destiny could have been oh-so-different had he suffered from acute arachnophobia. Earlier, he had taken up residence in a damp cave, an ideal location for the fugitive on the go, and watched a hapless spider endeavour to swing Tarzan-like across the grotto’s entrance. On its sixth attempt, it finally succeeded.

Bruce interpreted the dodgy acrobatics as a sign that he could defeat the English. In terms of symptoms of a certifiable mental illness, waging a war based on the trapezium-type exploits of a spider was right up there with listening to the ranting of a burning bush.

Nevertheless, Bruce managed to gather a small army. Those who had answered his call to arms with a resounding “Yes” knew the dire consequences of defeat; yet, they felt the fear and did it anyway. They let out a huge groan when Bruce replied in the affirmative to Henry De Bohun’s demand for an equestrian square-go but how they cheered when Bruce stood tall in his stirrups and gave the English knight the pure malky with a battle-axe. Once the corpse was shuffled off the battlefield, the mortal combat began in earnest.

Despite being outnumbered two to one, the Scots prevailed, forcing Edward to catch the first cruise ship departing Dunbar for London. Across England, town-criers employed by the BBC declared it an outstanding English success. Sadly, the sacrifices of the men and women who fought for Scotland’s freedom were betrayed with the signing of the Act of Union 1707. The treachery of the ruling class is wonderfully encapsulated in the Robert Burns song, Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation. The people of Scotland were not consulted on whether they wished to give up the country’s sovereignty; indeed, when the terms were revealed, riots erupted in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

On Thursday, Scots have a once- in-a-lifetime chance to end 300 years of a being a junior partner in the artificial country known as Britain. I say artificial because, despite three centuries of trying to weld four distinct peoples into one homogeneous race, the traits and differences persist. Ask a Londoner his nationality and he’ll answer “English” – likewise, a guy from Glasgow declares himself to be “Scottish”. No-one, with possible exception of hard-line Ulster Orangemen, states they are “British”.

Back in 2012, only around 26 per cent of voters supported independence. Last week, on accepting that the referendum result was on finely sharpened knife edge, Alistair Darling claimed that “it was inevitable that the gap would narrow” as polling day neared. He rather unhelpfully didn’t explain why it was somehow unavoidable that the pro-independence vote would gather momentum. I think I can give Mr Darling some clues.

Firstly, the scaremongering tactics haven’t played well with a highly educated, highly sceptical electorate. Project Fear has backfired spectacularly on the pro-Unionists as, one by one, the doom and gloom scenarios have been ushered into the light and exposed. Should Scottish voters have the cheek to back independence, Scotland would be evicted from the EU, said the nay-sayers. Nato wouldn’t want Alba either. Worse, the cost of sending worthwhile mobile phone texts such as “Ah’m oan the bus, c u in 10 mins” would rise due to roaming charges imposed by avaricious telecommunications companies.

The bluff that Scotland would not be permitted a currency union with its southern neighbour was called when the value of sterling fell on news of the possibility of Scotland regaining sovereignty. It’s abundantly clear that the penchants of the financial market will have a greater input on a currency union than the anti-independence utterings of Gideon Oliver Osborne (yes folks, that’s the Chancellor’s name as it appears on his birth certificate). Denying Scotland the use of the pound would be cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face, akin to Van Gogh cutting off his ear to stop folk pestering him to wear spectacles.

Secondly, once the bluster and froth disappeared from the debate, Scots began to observe that objective evidence exists that their country will not descend into a land resembling the set of Mad Max. A league table of GDP wealth produced by the OECD – the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development – puts Scotland 14th in the world. The discussion between oil experts as to how much fossil fuel lies around our coastline told us that even the most Jeramiah of black gold drillers admits there are at least 16 billion barrels. Consequently, the unique attempt by Britain-firsters to paint carbon fuel assets to be burdensome liabilities failed to convince those cursed with possessing critical faculties.

A Yes victory would mean no more wars of adventure. Disastrous British foreign policy has led to the deaths of hundreds of UK soldiers and the maiming of thousands of others. And for what? Afghanistan is still a mediaeval basket case and IS rules large swathes of Iraq, a country we “liberated”. At home, a new Scotland would build on the sense of social justice that sets it apart from its southern neighbour. Despite the off-stage grumblings of arch-unionist Johann Lamont, the notions of free university education, free prescriptions and free personal care resonate with the majority of Scots who agree with a collectivist approach to helping those in need.

On Thursday, we have a date with destiny. I urge voters to seize the moment, to give us back full sovereignty over our affairs.

The alternative – more years of Westminster governments led by Cameron, Miliband or, heaven forbid, Boris Johnson – fills me with dread.

At Bannockburn, the “wee folk” bled for liberty. We need only place a cross in the Yes box. Cry freedom!

 

There is entirely too much history and information to cover in one blog post. So if I may, two columns and some links. The first is from Bill Jamieson:

THE CASE FOR ‘YES’ YOU’VE NEVER HEARD

Good morning, Scotland!

SCOT-BUZZ EDITOR BILL JAMIESON says it’s forty eight hours to the biggest political decision we’ve ever made – not just how we want to be governed but which country we want to be in…

Scotland is at fever pitch. Never before has such argument raged, mass rallies held, the TV studios packed and tens of thousands of windows plastered with ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ stickers. Banners are everywhere.

“Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Never has a question more polarised Scots’ opinion. Views for and against have been put with increasing passion. Towns, communities and families have been split.

Accusations of “scaremongering” and “Project Fear” have marked the battle. The pound has trembled and markets have swooned.

We’re global news. You can’t walk down Edinburgh’s Princes Street or Buchanan Street in Glasgow without being jostled by competing teams of camera crews.

We’ve never had such world attention.

Now it’s up to us to cast our vote.

You might think by now you’ve heard all the arguments there could be for independence.

But here’s one you almost certainly haven’t heard from the mouths of politicians – the argument that dare not speak its name…

Let’s call it Consequences, or facing up at last to the honest truth.

We’ve heard promises of more public spending, better welfare benefits, protected spending on the NHS, more secure pensions, and a Scottish government able to deliver with those North Sea oil revenues. We’ll escape austerity. We’ll be better off.

Many ‘Yes’ voters fervently believe this. And many traditional Labour voters have been won over by it. The ranks of ‘Yes’ have been swollen by the deep unpopularity of austerity, cuts in welfare spending and a prolonged squeeze on wages and earnings that have lagged inflation – pay reduction in real terms.

Five years of austerity. Little wonder there’s deep resentment.

But how likely is it that independence per se will change this? How credible are the promises?

It’s said Scotland has had a great referendum debate. That it has re-invigorated democracy.

But is this really true?

Throughout this long campaign there’s been a huge hole.

There’s been barely any analysis of the real cause of our grievance, of what lies behind austerity and why public spending is being squeezed.

This long, raucous relentless debate has proceeded without an honest assessment of why government has been unable to deliver, why politicians are distrusted and why voters feel so disenfranchised.

Two words have been barely mentioned by either side. But they’re the biggest words in politics today. Those words are deficit and debt.

Here are two figures to consider.  UK government debt now stands at £1.35 trillion. It will continue to rise next year, the year after that and the year after that.

While the annual budget deficit has been brought down, this only slows the rate at which the debt total continues to rise. B y 2018-19 that debt total is projected to climb to £1.5 trillion.

We can argue forever as to who or what was to blame, the wicked Tories or spendthrift Labour. But this debt has imposed a colossal burden.

It’s a figure almost too big to contemplate. So let’s focus instead on the annual debt interest alone.

This year, we need to find £52 billion to meet the interest bill. This, too, continues to rise. By 2018-19 it is set to hit £75 billion.

This means, it soaks up the entire tax revenue from fuel duties, Petroleum Revenue Tax, tobacco duties, spirits duty, wine duty, beer duty, Air Passenger Duty, insurance Premium Tax, the Climate Change Levy and Vehicle Excise Duty – and we will still have £3 billion to find!

Little wonder politicians hate talking about debt. Because debt interest is ‘dead money’. It brings in no votes. But it’s one of the first things deducted from government spending. And it compels cuts in other areas to make room for it.

SCOTTISH CONSEQUENTIALS

An independent Scotland’s share of UK debt is reckoned at between £126 billion and £140 billion. Just taking the lower figure would leave Holyrood with £3.8 billion to find in annual interest charges.

Surely, then, we should vote ‘No’? But the case for independence is strengthened, not weakened, by the prospect of a Scottish government having to come to terms with this Consequence.

Not having to deal with the realities of tax and borrowing and debt has left our politics infantalised for too long. It’s bred and fostered the culture of false promises and more spending without concern for the reality before us.

An independent Scotland would have to cope, very quickly and credibly, with this reality. To hold and retain business and investor confidence, the independent government would need to recognise, in a way the referendum battle has failed to do, the reality of government today and the constraints that come with it.

Spending commitments will be deferred as finance minister John Swinney earnestly tells the Scottish parliament of the need to establish early credibility as one of “regrettable necessities of building independence”.

Remember, too, the resources he will need to find to build up our reserves to put behind a currency board to ensure currency stability and halt capital flight (see elsewhere this page).

The parliament will ponder the option of tax increases rather than spending cuts. But it will also need to weigh up the cost of those tax increases – voter consequence and business exodus.

It will be a moment of truth like no other.

So why not avoid this and vote ‘No’? The problem here is that it will leave ‘Yes’ voters, not with a recognition of this reality, but with a bitter sense of grievance. A large proportion of Scotland will feel cheated and frustrated. These feelings will be stoked by claims that independence was wrested from our grasp at the last moment by a conspiracy of Westminster scare tactics, dirty tricks with banks and big business and the collusion of the BBC. The myth of the Stab in the Back is already being woven.

We will have learnt nothing and gained nothing. Instead, there’ll be the old enemy to blame – the London government, the Westminster parties, the metropolitan elite.

A ‘No’ vote does not put the issue to rest. On the contrary. It will condemn us to more years of infantile politics and reality evasion. The chance to come to terms with a major cause of our discontents will have been missed.

It’s not a comfortable case for independence. It’s not the case you’ll have heard from politicians.

But it’s the case far nearer to the truth than we’ve ever been told.

Now, Paul Krugman. Like him or not, he is absolutely right on this (however, Scotland has oil coming out of its ears and that changes the economics):

Scots, What the Heck?
SEPT. 7, 2014
Paul Krugman

Next week Scotland will hold a referendum on whether to leave the United Kingdom. And polling suggests that support for independence has surged over the past few months, largely because pro-independence campaigners have managed to reduce the “fear factor” — that is, concern about the economic risks of going it alone. At this point the outcome looks like a tossup.

Well, I have a message for the Scots: Be afraid, be very afraid. The risks of going it alone are huge. You may think that Scotland can become another Canada, but it’s all too likely that it would end up becoming Spain without the sunshine.

Comparing Scotland with Canada seems, at first, pretty reasonable. After all, Canada, like Scotland, is a relatively small economy that does most of its trade with a much larger neighbor. Also like Scotland, it is politically to the left of that giant neighbor. And what the Canadian example shows is that this can work. Canada is prosperous, economically stable (although I worry about high household debt and what looks like a major housing bubble) and has successfully pursued policies well to the left of those south of the border: single-payer health insurance, more generous aid to the poor, higher overall taxation.

Does Canada pay any price for independence? Probably. Labor productivity is only about three-quarters as high as it is in the United States, and some of the gap may reflect the small size of the Canadian market (yes, we have a free-trade agreement, but a lot of evidence shows that borders discourage trade all the same). Still, you can argue that Canada is doing O.K.

But Canada has its own currency, which means that its government can’t run out of money, that it can bail out its own banks if necessary, and more. An independent Scotland wouldn’t. And that makes a huge difference.

Could Scotland have its own currency? Maybe, although Scotland’s economy is even more tightly integrated with that of the rest of Britain than Canada’s is with the United States, so that trying to maintain a separate currency would be hard. It’s a moot point, however: The Scottish independence movement has been very clear that it intends to keep the pound as the national currency. And the combination of political independence with a shared currency is a recipe for disaster. Which is where the cautionary tale of Spain comes in.

If Spain and the other countries that gave up their own currencies to adopt the euro were part of a true federal system, with shared institutions of government, the recent economic history of Spain would have looked a lot like that of Florida. Both economies experienced a huge housing boom between 2000 and 2007. Both saw that boom turn into a spectacular bust. Both suffered a sharp downturn as a result of that bust. In both places the slump meant a plunge in tax receipts and a surge in spending on unemployment benefits and other forms of aid.

Then, however, the paths diverged. In Florida’s case, most of the fiscal burden of the slump fell not on the local government but on Washington, which continued to pay for the state’s Social Security and Medicare benefits, as well as for much of the increased aid to the unemployed. There were large losses on housing loans, and many Florida banks failed, but many of the losses fell on federal lending agencies, while bank depositors were protected by federal insurance. You get the picture. In effect, Florida received large-scale aid in its time of distress.

Spain, by contrast, bore all the costs of the housing bust on its own. The result was a fiscal crisis, made much worse by fears of a banking crisis that the Spanish government would be unable to manage, because it might literally run out of cash. Spanish borrowing costs soared, and the government was forced into brutal austerity measures. The result was a horrific depression — including youth unemployment above 50 percent — from which Spain has barely begun to recover.

And it wasn’t just Spain, it was all of southern Europe and more. Even euro-area countries with sound finances, like Finland and the Netherlands, have suffered deep and prolonged slumps.

In short, everything that has happened in Europe since 2009 or so has demonstrated that sharing a currency without sharing a government is very dangerous. In economics jargon, fiscal and banking integration are essential elements of an optimum currency area. And an independent Scotland using Britain’s pound would be in even worse shape than euro countries, which at least have some say in how the European Central Bank is run.

I find it mind-boggling that Scotland would consider going down this path after all that has happened in the last few years. If Scottish voters really believe that it’s safe to become a country without a currency, they have been badly misled.

 

This Link has all of the articles, data, polling and otherwise that you need to become informed.:

http://www.scotsman.com/scottish-independence/

Two articles to wrap up the discussion:

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/09/scottish-independence-surge-has-forced-complacent-and-smug-elite-take-notice http://www.futureukandscotland.ac.uk/blog/jobs-jobs-jobs

Why build a chemistry laboratory entirely of combustible WOOD?

by 1389AD ( 84 Comments › )
Filed under Climate, Education, UK at September 15th, 2014 - 6:00 pm
'Irony Alert!' sign
Suggestion: Next time, try iron.

Daily Mail (UK): Not so carbon neutral now! New eco-friendly £15million university laboratory built out of wood goes up in flames

  • ❋ The Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry at Nottingham University caught fire at 8.30pm Friday
  • ❋ The £15million wooden structure has been completely destroyed in the blaze which needed 60 firefighters to control
  • ❋ Nottingham University held an open day for prospective undergraduates today despite the fire continuing to blaze
  • ❋ Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service said they expected the fire would continue for at least another 24 hours
  • ❋ An investigation into the cause of the blaze has not yet started as the building is still too dangerous to examine
  • ❋ University Registrar Dr Paul Greatrix said the college would be working with its partners to rebuild the structure
  • ❋ At the height of the blaze people could see the flames from seven miles away across the city

Complete story, video, and photos here.

Don’t build a chem lab at home…

…or at school, or at work, unless you know what you’re doing! For some surprisingly entertaining reading, Max Gergel offers a wealth of good reasons to exercise extreme caution in the planning, construction, and setup of procedures in chemistry facilities. Derek Lowe and John D. Clark offer many more.

If you can ignore the “climate change” guff, some good science education comes from Nottingham:

https://www.youtube.com/user/numberphile/videos (Mathematics)
http://www.youtube.com/periodicvideos (Chemistry stuff)
http://www.youtube.com/sixtysymbols (Physics and astronomy)
http://www.youtube.com/DeepSkyVideos (Space stuff)
http://www.youtube.com/nottinghamscience (Science and behind the scenes)
http://www.youtube.com/foodskey (Food science)
http://www.youtube.com/BackstageScience (Big science facilities)
http://www.youtube.com/favscientist (Favourite scientists)
http://www.youtube.com/bibledex (Academic look at the Bible)
http://www.youtube.com/wordsoftheworld (Modern language and culture)
http://www.youtube.com/PhilosophyFile (Philosophy stuff)

British women led by Aqsa Mahmood running sharia police unit for ISIS in Syria

by 1389AD ( 31 Comments › )
Filed under Sharia (Islamic Law), Syria, UK at September 15th, 2014 - 7:43 am

Independent (UK) has the story:

British jihadi Aqsa Mahmood
Aqsa Mahmood

As many as 60 British women have joined an all-female sharia police unit for the Islamic State (Isis), reprimanding those who fall foul of the jihad’s strict rules.

The al-Khansaa brigade is believed to be operating in the Syrian city of Raqqa, which is controlled by Isis militants and works as their Syrian headquarters.

According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), the militia group was established earlier this year to help expose male activists who attempt to disguise themselves in women’s clothing to avoid detention.

A prominent figure in the police force, according to the UK-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), is Aqsa Mahmood, a privately-educated Glaswegian 20-year-old who fled to Syria last November.

Most of the British women who have travelled to the war torn region to fight, are between the ages of 18 and 24, the Daily Telegraph reports, a further three of whom are believed to have joined the military unit.

The ICSR says it monitors 25 British female jihadists who have left their lives in the UK to support Isis.

The brigade’s women are reportedly paid a monthly salary of 25,000 Syrian Pounds (roughly £100), says TRAC, for duties that are not involved with acts of terror – instead insurgency operations.

They are not the only all-female brigade, either, with another – Umm Al-Rayan – also created around the same time.

Security services believe that it is likely that the women will know the true identity of ‘Jihadi John’, the Isis fighter believed to be the person responsible for the beheading of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

According to Syria Deeply, the al-Khansaa brigade has also been tasked with cracking down on civilian women who fail to abide by the ultra-strict brand of sharia law implemented by Isis, including that women be fully covered in public and be chaperoned by a male.

An Isis official in Raqqa reportedly said: “We have established the brigade to raise awareness of our religion among women, and to punish women who do not abide by the law.

“There are only women in this brigade, and we have given them their own facilities to prevent the mixture of men and women.”

On Thursday, the parents of Ms Mahmood made an emotional plea for their daughter to return and claimed that she had “betrayed” not only them but their community and “the people of Scotland” when she left to fight.

“Our daughter is brainwashed and deluded and helping those engaged in genocide,” her parents said.

Melanie Smith, a research associate at ICSR, said: “The British women are some of the most zealous in imposing the IS [Islamic State] laws in the region. I believe that’s why at least four of them have been chosen to join the women police force.”

The identities of the other three women are current unknown, however a small contingent of female Britons have flown over to the region to fight in some capacity.

Twin 16-year-old sisters Zahra and Salma Halane left their Manchester home on 26 June to join the conflict – it is believed they married Isis militants, with terrorist chiefs investigating whether the men paid for their travel.

Muslim convert Sally Jones, a mother of two from Kent, is also believed to have fled to Isis from her life in the UK after meeting a computer hacker turned jihadi online and later marrying him.

More here.

No Cold War To See Here, Move Along, Move Along

by Flyovercountry ( 146 Comments › )
Filed under Conservatism, Russia, The Political Right at August 13th, 2014 - 3:00 pm

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

Two of my pet peeves in life have long been the substitution of cliche for coherent statement and snark for debate. These things represent the scoundrel’s way out of a losing hand. They’re deflections, illusions, misdirections, or more to the point, simply dishonesties, all dressed up and placed into the arena meant for ideas, as if they really belonged there. The perfect example of snark being substituted for debate would be President Obama’s statement to Mitt Romney that the 1980′s had called and asked for their foreign policy back when discussing the topic of continued Russian aggression during the 2012 Presidential Debates.

History of course has proven once again that Mitt Romney was correct in his assertion, as he was with just about everything else that came up during that campaign. History has showed also that Barack Obama was wrong, and disastrously so, just like he was on almost every statement that he made during that campaign. Now, you may be asking yourself, “what difference, at this point does it make who was right and who was wrong.” I could give you a snarky answer, but that just wouldn’t fit well within the context of what I’ve written so far. Instead, I’d like to show you what difference at this point it makes.

From the Hot Air article linked to above:

According to a report from the Washington Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz, U.S. defense officials are warning that Russian strategic nuclear bombers have conducted no less than 16 incursions into American airspace in just a 10-day period. Gertz characterizes this uptick in the number of times American airspace has been penetrated by Russian air assets as an “unusually sharp increase.”

“The numerous flight encounters by Tu-95 Russian Bear H bombers prompted the scrambling of U.S. jet fighters on several occasions, and come amid heightened U.S.-Russia tensions over Ukraine,” the report read.

Barack Obama’s statement that there is no cold war, or that the Russians are nothing to worry about given the suddenly increased sinister tone taken by her KGB raised leader will be of little comfort to the American Citizens living in Alaska watching Russian Long range bombers flying over head en route to points further East, meaning Canada and the contiguous 48. Be assured America, the Bamster is defending us against the really terrible enemies of the American people, Global Warming and the Tea Party. And while that may have been my own example of snark, rest assured it is rooted in a terribly important train of thought. Namely, that in serious times, we need for our leaders to be serious people, a luxury Americans have not enjoyed since January of 2009. While that may actually be our fault, having voted twice for this current group of crisis pimps, we are, thanks to our Constitutional form of governance still capable of addressing this mistake via future elections.

Maybe this was part of the understanding Vladimir Putin took from Obama’s private message via Medvedev, that after the Narcissist in Chief faced his last election, he would have greater flexibility to look the other way when ever Vladimir felt emboldened to test our borders and resolve through increasing levels of provocative action. the only sense in which we are not engaged in a new Cold War is that it takes two sides to be engaged in such. So far, we have not only failed to respond to Russia’s aggressive behavior, but have signaled that we clearly have zero intentions of changing that.

Evil loves a vacuum, and creating those seems thus far to be the only thing Barack Obama has proven himself to be even remotely competent. For those of you who are still in the Vladimir is not evil fan club, let me just add a couple of things. Vladimir is not the entirety of the Russian People. I know a lot of Russians, most of whom are staunch free marketeers and politically conservative. They hate Socialism and remember its ravages well. Vladimir knows how to seize power without the support of the citizenry over which he rules, and lives his life free of the baggage that poor world opinion carries. The other thing to consider is the organization that raised Vladimir, and created him. More on that will be explained in the video below, from Bill Whittle’s new site, TruthRevolt.org.

Vladimir is playing, “Thermo Global Nuclear War,” to borrow the reference from that liberal preach fest of a movie entitled, “War Games,” and our President is playing Checkers. When a sitting President sends a message back to Vladimir via a foreign dignitary, that Vladimir should quiet things down to help him get reelected, it is quite possible that Vladimir may have read that to mean that said President was nothing more than a self absorbed pompous narcissist with nothing deeper on his mind than his own vanity. Such is the measure of our current leader, and Russia’s current leader is taking full advantage of that.

The consequence to all of this is that our air space is now being used as a military training ground for the Russian Air Force. Fear not though, I hear that our own military is trolling the Arctic trying to find evidence that Global Warming is real. This despite the recent set back, a revelation that the NOAA, who controlled the actual temperature data and won’t let anyone else see the raw numbers, faked at least half of their measurements in order to show us all how real it actually is. When those peace loving Russians decide to accidentally drop the bombs held in the bellies of those bombers flying over our nation, our armed forces will be too busy protecting us from thermometer readings and free speech advocates to do a gosh darned thing about it. So, I hope Vladimir wishes to go no further than his latest examples of provocation. History however has zero actual examples of such characters declaring, I’ve gone far enough. Maybe Putin will be the first. That after all is our only hope until at least January of 2017.

Cross Posted from Musings of a Mad Conservative.

The Religion Of Peace Strikes Again In Iraq

by Flyovercountry ( 233 Comments › )
Filed under Al Qaeda, British Islamic Jihadists, Iraq, Islam, Islamists, Syria at August 12th, 2014 - 9:00 am

In almost every forum on the web, the battle rages on, as it has since chat rooms and the quicker web based forums have existed, is Islam a religion of peace, or a religion of blood lust and savagery? Somehow, tiny Israel, no matter what the circumstance, has found herself dragged, (often times by the most tenuous examples of logical gymnastics,) into the debate. An example of this is the argument which states that the only reason why Muslims ever commit any acts of savagery, which is not inherent to their religion by the way, is because Israel exists.

Make no mistake about where I am coming from. I am solidly in the latter camp. I find it astounding that some people fail to make that obvious connection between Islam, and the acts committed by the people who practice that faith. Now it is true that Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, and members of every other belief cast known to man have occasionally run afoul of the law, or even the common rules of courteous behavior. That however is a far cry from what we see on a daily basis coming from the members of the Religion of Peace. It is also true that sometimes, people without economic means have also found themselves on the wrong side of the rules promoting civility most societies place on themselves. I don’t recall this picture, nor one even close to it, having come from South Central LA, Harlem, South Philadelphia, East Detroit, West Chicago, Columbus’ Central Point, East Cleveland, Washington D.C., or any other American urban nightmare.

A Christian girl beheaded by ISIS terrorists. There is no doubt that we face genocide.

That ladies and gentleman is the body of an elementary aged child who was killed in the latest Jihad Islam has waged upon civilized society. She was not accidentally caught up in a group of buildings that were carpet bombed, nor in a singular building that was bombed. She was not inadvertently hit by cross fire, a victim of being too close to a battle that she was unable to escape. She survived those unfortunate examples of grown ups being unable to get along. She instead was grabbed by a grown adult male, or perhaps a group of them, held down by at least one, and had her head cut off by a man with a scimitar who chanted “Allahu Akbar.” The entire group of savage miscreants were men who belonged to the militarized death cult Known as Islam, and further, felt that their religious texts not only condone this behavior, but in fact command it. ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Take a good look at that picture, and then consider this. The hipsters on the political left are glorifying ISIS. They are calling them freedom fighters, selling and wearing t-shirts like they’d done with Che Guevara, and more importantly, are equating the deeds of these animals with Israel’s legitimate attempts to evacuate citizens in Gaza before each and every strike designed to defend herself and her children.

I don’t want to get into the debate as to whether President Obama’s current actions, ostensibly designed to deal with ISIS have been effective. Indeed my guess is that an argument can most certainly be made as to the efficacy of the recent bombing campaign loosed by the Pentagon. I’ve read reports this morning already that the Kurds have managed to retake some of the previously captured cities over run by ISIS. That’s most definitely a positive sign if true. What I will point out however is that the entire formation and subsequent anschluss by ISIS is most certainly the direct and inevitable result of President Obama’s dalliance in foreign policy, his consistent dithering, and more importantly, his complete blind and incurious eye when it comes to dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The war in Iraq had been won, and Barack Obama endeavored to lose it after the fact. He failed to achieve the rather mundane and previously considered to be automatic task of affixing his name to a Status of Forces Agreement, one that had already been drawn up and agreed to by the way by Iraq’s elected leadership. That must be what they call diplomatic smart power. Evil loves a vacuum, and the Obama foreign policy, complete with that Mattel constructed reset button has certainly left plenty of those around. As a matter of fact, that was the entire crux of the Bamster’s foreign agenda, projecting American Weakness where ever the world needed our strength. This is what happens when you throw allies under the buss and embolden enemies with praise and foreign aid. The world, most especially that part of it which resides in the Middle East, noticed that Barack Obama ordered our military to fight along side of the Muslim Brotherhood, specifically Al Qaeda, in Libya, Egypt, and in Syria. Maybe ISIS was the unexpected surprise that our Ditherer in Chief never really counted on. That does nothing to change the fact however that if it weren’t them, it would simply have been someone else. As I pointed out, evil loves a vacuum, and Barack Obama is hell bent upon creating them.

I’ll leave you with two links to the handy work of our Man Child President and his feckless foreign policy. We’ll have some more good news on this front tomorrow, in the mean time, enjoy! Elections have consequences.

click here for some good news.

click here for some more good news.

Cross Posted from Musings of a Mad Conservative.