Belmont Club

What Happened Since Last

Here are some notes from all over.

Bug zapper: Germany deploys a vehicle mounted laser system that can burn UAVs out of the air. Could this be the end of UAV domination?

Blueseed: Maybe the answer to government regulation is to create businesses headquartered on the Global Commons.  One company is creating a new jurisdiction in waters off the Bay Area. “Because of the United States’ current immigration and regulatory regime, bold and creative entrepreneurs from around the world aren’t given the chance to come to Silicon Valley and develop the technologies that could be creating jobs and propelling the economy forward. … Our team is creating a high-tech visa-free entrepreneurship and technology incubator on an ocean vessel in international waters. Our facilities will be a short ferry ride away from Silicon Valley so that great ideas and talent from around the world can live, work, and play while having convenient access to the San Francisco Bay Area.”

The Last of the Royal Navy: The flight of businesses to the high seas will doubtless be met, for the first time in decades, by liberal demands to expand the Navy! Never mind hunting down enemies, just find the tax evaders. One Navy which won’t be doing any hunting any time soon is Britain’s Royal Navy. Now down to 29,000 personnel, the force that formerly ruled the waves is too small to operate 2 aircraft carriers, assuming the government bought them according to First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope.

Americans Await the Last Attack: As US troops leave Iraq, military spokesmen describe the wait for a final spectacular attack. “What we worry about is a disproportional attack that taints the overall accomplishments,” says US Army Col. Scott Efflandt. In that way people can be reminded that the operation was really a defeat.

Pakistan Fears Its Army: The Strategy Page argues that the Pakistani ambassador to the US may have been right in expressing fears that the Army is out of control.  “Pakistanis are talking more about the dominant influence their military has over how the country is run. Talking, but not doing anything about it. The army has the guns and the determination to give up none of their power and privileges. More importantly, the military has control of a large chunk of the economy and the loyalty of much of the population. This is due to military control of many media outlets and journalists, and decades of propaganda that has turned India into a threat that it is not and the Pakistani military into a national asset, which it is not. ” Or a staunch American ally, which it is not.

Pakistan Scoffs at US Apology: “As further details about the NATO strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers continue to trickle out, Pakistan has scoffed at US attempts to apologize and repair damage done to the US-Pakistan partnership and hinted that the Saturday attack could mark a point of no return. However, the two countries are still heavily dependent on one another, which could be enough to prevent a break.” Translation: “we hate America and attack it whenever we can, but we will take its filthy money just to show Washington how broad-minded and tolerant we are.”

Moderate Islamist Party to Lead Coalition Government in Morocco and moderate Islamic Party poised to take power in Egypt after elections and Egypt’s Copts worry about election outcome; plus from Michael Totten, “I don’t know how much trouble Egypt’s Christians will have now that ‘spring’ has arrived, but sectarian clashes are rising. Many fear Islamic rule may be coming, a tyranny worse than the last. ” Possible next headline. Bigoted extremist, white-supremacist Copts evicted by native Egyptians from Egypt. What’s that? The Copts are the native Egyptians?  They shouldn’t have let Sarah Palin get to them.

Syria troops have killed more than 250 children, UN report finds: See Responsibility to Protect. Also see “Royal Navy Has No Men to Operate Carriers“. Related searches: “leading from behind” and “it’s always America’s fault”.

“God Bless the Debt”: As reports swirl that Europe is seeking to borrow eight tenths of a trillion dollars from the IMF, the Los Angeles Times has a interesting piece describing Europe’s public sector spending binge.

In the heart of Don Quixote country sits an airport whose outsized ambitions match those of Cervantes’ immortal creation…. More than just an embarrassing white elephant, the airport helps illustrate why Europe’s relentless debt crisis goes far deeper than national governments. Profligate local government spending across the European Union constitutes ticking time bombs that policymakers are only beginning to deal with. …

In France, hundreds of municipalities appear headed for a financial crunch, including even the glitzy resort town of St. Tropez, which faces problems in part because of loans denominated in Swiss francs, a currency whose value has appreciated considerably over the years compared with the euro.

Towns and provinces in Italy, whose financial woes have roiled markets around the world, are also hard hit. Moody’s credit rating agency downgraded the creditworthiness of 30 local government entities last month, including the historic city of Florence and the region of Lombardy.

Spain’s Iberian neighbor, Portugal, was flabbergasted this year when auditors found that the governor of Madeira island had hidden $1.8 billion in debts in public accounts, the result of wild overspending on projects such as an extensive network of roads.

The unwelcome discovery forced Portugal, one of three European countries to have sought an international bailout, to revise its 2010 deficit to 9.8% of GDP, up from 9.1%. By agreement, the 17 nations that share the euro currency are supposed to keep their deficits to a maximum of 3%.

Madeira’s controversial governor, Alberto Joao Jardim, who has headed the island for 33 years and is one of the world’s longest-serving democratically elected leaders, remains unrepentant. “I’m proud of having contracted debts. God bless the debt…. It has been put to the service of the dignity of every man and every woman,” Jardim declared at a campaign rally before regional elections last month. He won another term.

Such reckless spending, though, is now being punished as global investors eye debt at all levels of government with increasing wariness.

“God Bless the Debt” and “Death to America” and “Down with Capitalism” and “End the Financial Crisis”. And by the way, America wouldn’t happen to have a few hundred billion dollars to lend Europe to sustain their Right to a Decent Standard of Living would it?

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