Archive for the 'Elsewhere round Asia and the globe……..' Category

Jun 27 2016

New Words for the dictionary

Watching markets tank again, makes me want to keep beating the Brexit horse. Once again, thank you voters of the UK for giving me an opportunity to keep working well into my 60's. That night job as an Uber driver in a couple of years will be a hell of lot of fun.

Meanwhile, as the United Kingdom's corpse is being embalmed, a new word has joined the English language:

 

Meanwhile down under, there is a revision being considered to the Australian flag:

 

In more good news, it appears one's Brexit vote comes with a money back guarantee.

 

George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in words that were eerily reminiscent of Hank Paulson's in 2008, reassured British citizens that the "fundamentals of the economy are sound".

Pro-tip. It didn't work for Paulson back then either.

Meanwhile, there are those who cling to the rather vain hope that this nightmare can all be undone:

 

While other people are realizing just how bad things are:

 

David Cameron, realizing his days as a government employee are limited, begins working on his resume:

Seriously though, this referendum proves H.L. Menken's old quote and one I have used before, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

Of course, we Americans should not get complacent. Especially the peculiar species of American voter that spouts the same old tired lines about " sticking it to the elites", "throwing of totalitarianism" and "sticking it to unelected policy makers"   Here is a serious point, if you, as an American, support Brexit-besides being wrong you may be just one of these people:

 

 

That's my best summation of the why, of American conservatives who support either / or Trump or Brexit.

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And this is only Monday. Tip your waitress well, I may be bashing this insanity all week.

 

 

7 responses so far

Jun 26 2016

Now it’s time to pay the piper.

This weekend has been one of the most interesting in recent history. Watching the post mortem on the Brexit referendum on British TV has been an education to say the least. When you walk off of a cliff, there is that interval of time while you fall, wondering how bad the impact is going to hurt.

That is what I would say this weekend has been like. Britain and the rest of the world have been going through the five stages of death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Based on the news this weekend I'd say that we are just clearing stage 3. Stage 4 will come tomorrow when world markets drop yet again. (I don't think the markets have hit a definitive benchmark yet, the Dow for Example has about 400 more points to go, before it settles in for up and down cycles of about a 100 points or so for weeks).

When last we left the story, the Down Jones had wiped out ALL of its 2016 gains and had suffered its biggest single day drop in 1.5 years. Over the weekend the hits just kept on coming.

The credit rating agencies cut Britain's credit rating. Moved it from AAA to AA+.Following the Brexit vote, it said Britain's economic growth will be weaker and warned the public finances will be weaker than previously forecast, meaning it will be harder to cut the deficit. 

Meanwhile up in Scotland, 

EDINBURGH — Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said Friday that a new referendum on independence in Scotland was “highly likely” now that Britain had voted to leave the European Union.

Voters rejected an effort to break free from the United Kingdom in a 2014 referendum, but Ms. Sturgeon said Scotland would take measures to protect its place in Europe and maintain access to the single market.

Ms. Sturgeon cited her party’s election manifesto, which calls for another ballot if there is a “significant and material change in circumstances” from the 2014 vote, such as Scotland’s being taken out of the European Union against its will.

Not to be outdone, the folks in Northern Ireland, have their own issues to think about:

No sooner was the Brexit out of the bag than Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister for Northern Ireland, declared the need for a poll on Irish reunification. Northern Ireland voted decisively to remain in the EU. By McGuinness’s logic, this means that the “British government has forfeited any mandate to represent the economic or political interests of the people”.

Opportunistic? Of course. Disingenuous? Maybe. The Good Friday agreement, which created peace in the north, allows the secretary of state to call a border poll when there’s clear indication that public opinion has swung towards a united Ireland. Currently, there’s no such indication – the people of Northern Ireland voted against leaving the EU, which is markedly different from voting to leave the UK.

A border poll at this juncture would be dangerous. Think the build-up to Brexit was polarising and scary? Add a few centuries of colonial history, a partition, 30 years of sectarianism and violence, a fragile peace of less than two decades, a severe terror threat, a quarter tonne of semtex, a wee dash of Brexit-induced socio-economic insecurity, and the frustration caused by one’s English compatriots voting to pull the rug out from under a painstakingly crafted peace process, then tell me about polarising and scary.

So it is probably best that we chill on the reunification rhetoric for the minute. That said, I do think the aftermath of Brexit has the potential to strengthen Northern Ireland’s connection to the Irish Republic. If and when that happens, we’ll talk border polls.

 

Meanwhile back in London, Jeremy Corbyn, Labor Party Leader ,had his hands full dealing with a revolt inside his own party.

The U.K.'s dramatic decision to leave the European Union has set off an open mutiny within the opposition Labour Party against the party's leader, Jeremy Corbyn

The BBC reports that at least eleven ministers have resigned from their positions on the shadow cabinet; in the British system, that's the government body that criticizes the ruling party's government and presents alternatives.

This started when Corbyn sacked his shadow foreign secretary, party veteran Hilary Benn, as NPR's Peter Kenyon tells our Newscast unit.

"Within hours more shadow cabinet ministers announced their resignations amid concern that Corbyn is not the leader the party needs to see it through the upheaval caused by the Brexit vote," Peter says. He adds that Corbyn has "vowed to fight any challenge."

Under the category of, you want it bad you get it bad, The other EU nations are insisting that Britain should withdraw from the EU as soon as possible and not slow roll the process. Angela Merkel said she agreed with that logic, but would not "fight for it".  

Nonetheless there are important reasons why the continental nations of Europe will need to take a hard line in negotiations for Britain's exit from the block. Number one will be to drive home the point to other exit wanna be's that you pay a price for not playing ball. European leaders will desperately want to stop the contagion represented by Brexit. There is not a Norway or Swiss deal in Britain's future.

This isn’t just economic; it has implications for global security. The EU and the US have depended on a united front on a score of global challenges, most notably with Russia. Russia will exploit any division they can.

Now at the same time-things could turn around if a few things happened. Like oil prices go up dramatically.

Of course if this November the US elected Donald Trump to be President, things could get a lot worse. As Larry Summers pointed out, Brexit could just be the opening act if Trump gets elected:

Well, I think the same kind of sense that this couldn't possibly happen, that surrounds the Trump candidacy also surrounded the Brexit referendum. And I think whatever damage Brexit may do to the global economy, is small compared to the uncertainties that would be unleashed if Donald Trump became President of the United States. That's because the policies that Trump has advocated could hardly be better calculated to create uncertainty and economic instability.

So there is that to look forward to.

 

5 responses so far

Jun 24 2016

Funeral for a friend

I suffered the loss of a good friend last night. The United Kingdom ( May 1, 1707-June 23rd, 2016), America's mother country, the source of US traditions and many of our values , a country that holds a special place in my heart, committed suicide last night. It was 409 years old. The corpse is still twitching but the damage has been done. That the death was completely avoidable makes this loss of a once great nation particularly tragic.

I stayed up watching the returns start to come in, and I went to bed cautiously optimistic. I awoke at 4AM, looked at my phone and knew my once good friend was doomed. I got up and went downstairs to watch the BBC and ITV coverage. At 6:20 AM, they pronounced the patient dead.

By that time the S.O. had seen 6% of her Japanese savings vanish. The pound was down almost 8% and Dow Jones futures were indicating a monumental meltdown at the open.

And there on the TV was the obnoxious face of Nigel Farage. For those who don't know him, he is the leader of the UKIP party and the darling of fucking idiots American Conservatives for his Trumpian rhetoric.

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V.I.K.I.: You are making a mistake. My logic is undeniable.

Detective Del Spooner: You have so got to die.

As the morning unfolded, the hits just kept on coming. The founder of this monstrosity of a referendum, David Cameron, announced he would be resigning as Prime Minister. That's what happens when you bet the farm on a completely unnecessary political evolution and then lose.

The FTSE was dropping like a stone.

As was the DAX, and all the other European markets. The sickness even affected the bond markets, with German and Spanish bonds taking a particular beating. I have no doubt US bond markets are getting equally squeezed.

Later on in the day, Spain hinted it wants to re-open the settled issue of Gibraltar. 

And of course, like a bad dream, who shows up to piss on everyone's parade?  That's right, the vulgar talking yam himself. As he chortled over all the money he was going to make shorting stocks and fucking over his new employees at Turnberry, he displayed the particular brand of ignorance that has marked his campaign to date.

 

 

 

This is typical for the vulgar yam. Fuckhead.

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As I type this, the American stock market is down 622 points. As predicted this a disaster. And this is just the beginning.

The crass opportunists have stepped to the microphone. Sinn Fein is making noises about how Northern Ireland would be better off in the Irish Republic and the Scottish leadership is making noise about how binding referendums are not so binding after all. 

A couple of other observations:

1) The stark differences in demographics were disturbing. Interviews with older voters and younger voters make it clear that UK voters have this in common with US voters. Older people love to vote to screw young people.

The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union, 52 percent to 48 percent.

I am broken by this result. As a young person, I cannot help but feel betrayed. In fact, it’s somewhat hard not to take it a little bit personally.

Let’s look at the voter demographics. The "Leave" vote was overwhelmingly carried by those over the age of 65, whereas 72 percent of those who were aged 18 to 24 voted to "Remain." Why does this matter? Surely, in a referendum, every vote is equal, and the will of the people carries regardless of the demographic?

Well, there is some truth to that. But that doesn’t mean every UK voter will suffer the same consequences.

The process of the UK leaving the European Union would not be complete until late 2018 at the very earliest, assuming Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered when a new prime minister is appointed in the autumn of this year. Even then, that’s just the basic settlement — trade deals and movement regulations could take decades to hammer out.

 

Please click on the link and look at the demographics. The old screwed the young-who it appears, are smarter than their elders.

2) British expats living in Europe are going to get screwed at the drive through.

3) Finally, every right wing Jackass like Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, the leaders of Alternativ fur Deutschland and the rest are already spouting their particular racist brand of bullshit asking for their own referendums. 71 years of peace in Europe? Can't have that. Crank up the Enola Gay-we are on our way to the Maginot Line! Retake Silesia! Party like its 1932 brother!

And then there is the damage to the US. I find the drivel being spouted by your average American moron conservative really disturbing . If I hear one more person talk about "taking their country back", I am going to have to strangle someone. Back to where assholes?

I've seen where you want to take the country back to-and I want no part of it. Please go die in a fire.

Brexit is a disaster. If you do not understand that, you can leave now. We have nothing else to talk about.

Leave it to the Financial Times ( a good conservative news outlet-something your basic Breitbart fucking nitwit reader seems unable to understand):

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That pretty well sums it up. Stupidity triumphed over common sense. My advice is to start drinking heavily with some now even more expensive Scotch. Its going to be a long year.

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You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

 

6 responses so far

Jun 20 2016

The Queen’s unruly subjects.

John Oliver explains in good form why the UK should leave the shitty politics , as well as the political assassinations, to their crazy American cousins on the wrong side of the Atlantic:

 

Since we have a British satellite system, we are getting to see a lot of the debate on the issue first hand. And as Oliver pointed out, even if you are one of the maniacs who is Trump fan, you still have an important reason to care about the Brexit . It's going to fuck with your retirement savings. That's because we are globally connected now and what happens overseas affects your investments. Or need I remind you of what happened when the Chinese market tanked last year?

The liberal Leavers are peddling an illusion. On contact with the reality of Brexit, their plans will fall apart. If Britain leaves the EU, it is likely to end up poorer, less open and less innovative. Far from reclaiming its global outlook, it will become less influential and more parochial. And without Britain, all of Europe would be worse off.

Start with the economy. Even those voting Leave accept that there will be short-term damage (see article). More important, Britain is unlikely to thrive in the longer run either. Almost half of its exports go to Europe. Access to the single market is vital for the City and to attract foreign direct investment. Yet to maintain that access, Britain will have to observe EU regulations, contribute to the budget and accept the free movement of people—the very things that Leave says it must avoid. To pretend otherwise is to mislead.

Those who advocate leaving make much of the chance to trade more easily with the rest of the world. That, too, is uncertain. Europe has dozens of trade pacts that Britain would need to replace. It would be a smaller, weaker negotiating partner. The timetable would not be under its control, and the slow, grinding history of trade liberalisation shows that mercantilists tend to have the upper hand.

Nor is unshackling Britain from the EU likely to release a spate of liberal reforms at home. As the campaign has run its course, the Brexit side has stoked voters’ prejudices and pandered to a Little England mentality (see article). Despite Leave’s free-market rhetoric, when a loss-making steelworks at Port Talbot in Wales was in danger of closing, Brexiteers clamoured for state aid and tariff protection that even the supposedly protectionist EU would never allow.

The pandering has been still more shameless over immigration. Leave has warned that millions of Turks are about to invade Britain, which is blatantly false. It has blamed strains on public services like health care and education on immigration, when immigrants, who are net contributors to the exchequer, help Britain foot the bill. It suggests that Britain cannot keep out murderers, rapists and terrorists when, in fact, it can.

Britons like to think of themselves as bracingly free-market. They are quick to blame their woes on red tape from Brussels. In reality, though, they are as addicted to regulation as anyone else. Many of the biggest obstacles to growth—too few new houses, poor infrastructure and a skills gap—stem from British-made regulations. In six years of government, the Tories have failed to dismantle them. Leaving the EU would not make it any easier.

 

Leaving the EU is a terrible idea. The EU is not perfect, but as I have said before, just because a car gets lost, does not mean you blow the car up.

America has more than the world's fair share of selfish pigs. Britain, we don't need you trying imitate them.

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Jun 18 2016

Worth reading and a good follow up

To the earlier discussion about gun control.

As a part of my job, I monitor the Israeli English press and where I can get them, translations of Hebrew newspapers. There was an excellent article in The Jerusalem Post this week about the Israeli approach to firearms and the American one. I think its important to point out that Jerusalem Post is not Haaretz, its not a liberal paper. So I would submit that makes this article even more remarkable. Read it, its not long-and worth your time.

 

Donald Trump’s assertion that a club full of armed French concertgoers would have headed off last year’s Bataclan massacre is belied by the chaos engendered when shooters lack training – not just in proper shooting of the weapon, but in identifying when and where it is safe to shoot.

The careful use of guns in Israel is about being answerable to a hierarchy, beyond being answerable to the law. This is the opposite of the “right to bear arms” in the American ethos. There is no “right” to bear arms in Israel — there is a duty to bear arms, according to strict regulations.

This is why current and former military officers, even right-wingers among them, have been appalled by public support for the soldier in Hebron who in March allegedly shot an attacker after he was subdued. As much as killing a subdued man is wrong, in Israel’s military culture, using a weapon outside the command structure is equally taboo.

In some ways, then, Israel is the “well regulated militia” promised by America’s Second Amendment. That component of the amendment, however, has all but been ignored in recent American court rulings.

You can read the entire article here. And while you are at it read this excellent article by Calev Ben-David here. 

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May 22 2016

The invisible hand kills people

Besides all the other things that are at stake in this current Presidential election; trivial things like the survival of the United States as a democracy and survival of a free press, is also trying to put a nail in the coffin of those folks who believe that the "market solves all things" and regulation is bad for business.

Marketplace, which is a great economics program on NPR ran a story on Thursday about the effects of the free market run amok:

Three years ago, I sat beside the bed of Zhang Runxiang as the 42-year-old lay dying of uterine cancer. She and dozens of others in Liuchong village, a tiny hamlet in central China's Hubei province, have petitioned China’s government and complained on state-run television that they’ve had been poisoned by Dasheng chemical, a company that manufactures phosphate fertilizer on a hill above the village.

Two days after I visited Zhang, she died.

She is buried on a hillside above the village. Spring rain from low, dark clouds overhead soak the terraced plots of bright yellow rapeseed surrounding her grave.

“She was a good person — very outgoing,” said Zhang's friend Xu Huiping.

Xu stands with an umbrella, bowing to her friend’s tomb. The two belonged to the same village farming collective. Xu walks across the hillside to the next hill — nothing grows on top of this one.

“This is where they dumped phosphogypsum," Xu said, kicking a layer of gray ash underneath a thin layer of topsoil. "You see the gray ash underneath the topsoil here? That’s why nothing will ever grow here.”

 

The entire story is a classic case of the government failing to do its job and failing to hold a business accountable for its bad business and environmental practices.  The ordinary people are the ones who suffer-in this case literally hundreds of them condemned to die by cancer. And when they have tried to raise the issue to authorities, they have found themselves threatened, evidently with impunity, by the owner of the business himself.  Money counts, but doing what is right? Not so much.

Marketplace contacted Dasheng Chemical owner Zhong Shoubin. He refused to be interviewed. Marketplace also contacted several local officials. None of them answered our interview requests.

“Personally, I think that Dasheng Chemical obtained a free pass from the provincial government and the environmental protection bureau,” said Li Jun, former village chief of Liuchong.

Li said he was fired because he allowed too many of his villagers to petition in Beijing. Marketplace spoke to him in 2013, while he took care of his father, who was dying of cancer.

“As the former leader of this village, I feel ashamed," said Li. "Our villagers are telling the truth, and I’ve appealed to my superiors many times, but nothing has ever been done to stop the pollution.”

Interview requests to both the Hubei provincial government and China’s ministry of environmental protection went unanswered.

Listen to the entire story at the link here. It's tragic, completely avoidable, and a warning of what hell our Galtian overlords with their new patron saint, He, Trump, want for the rest of us.

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Mar 25 2015

The benign dictator

Lee Kuan Yew passed away on 23 March. He was 91. For those who don't know ( and you really should know this) he was the first Prime Minister of Singapore and was the founder of much of what we consider modern Singapore. As he himself said, Singapore is his legacy. That applies for both good and not so good.

Now truth in advertising, I love to be in Singapore. Its where I want to live, (as well as Japan) and I have been there 18 times. I love the place. When Lee Kuan Yew became the prime minister of Singapore in 1959, he assumed control of an ethnically divided, impoverished territory lacking in natural resources. In his 31 years in office—followed by another 21 in advisory roles—Lee transformed his country into one of the world’s most prosperous societies, a major business and transportation hub boasting a per capita GDP of $55,000.  I was often grateful for the quality of life he masterminded there.

But that quality of life came with a price and a dark side-and any eulogy of the man has to take that into account:

He will be remembered as the father of his country, a political street fighter who cut his teeth in the struggle against colonialism. Some will recall an unapologetic taskmaster — a leader more respected than loved — whose pragmatism lifted a Southeast Asian backwater into a sleek metropolis and global business hub. Others will recall the politically incorrect pundit who became an outspoken champion of “Asian values” and a sharp critic of American-style democracy. Each is correct, and captures part of the man. But to these remembrances one more should be added: Lee was the most successful dictator of the 20th century. (emphasis added-SS)

It’s a verdict that will please almost no one. For his admirers, he is a singular historic figure, not an autocratic strongman like those who eventually lorded over other former colonial outposts. He may not have been a Jeffersonian democrat, they say, but he was no dictator. On the other end of the spectrum, dissidents and democrats will take umbrage at the notion of an illiberal, authoritarian leader being remembered fondly at all. Still, Lee was one of the most universally celebrated statesmen of the last 50 years. American presidents, British prime ministers, apparatchiks from the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and European officials all lined up to heap praise on the leader of this authoritarian duchy…………..

…..When Lee retired from office in 1990, Singapore had some of the world’s busiest shipyards, cleanest streets, top schools, lowest taxes, best healthcare, and most efficient public services. The so-called “little red dot” had become one of the world’s most livable cities, a magnet for skilled foreign workers and the multinational corporations who hire them.

But the miracle wasn’t without its price. Lee kept his political project on a tight leash, dampening free speech, muzzling his critics, and squashing political opposition before it could take root. The ruling People’s Action Party is rightly considered synonymous with the government because it has won every election since 1959. Singapore didn’t have a single opposition leader in office until 1981, and until 2011 there have never been more than four opposition members serving in the parliament at one time. On one hand, Lee’s political machine was unquestionably effective at delivering results for Singapore. In most years, it’d be hard for any political party anywhere to compete against PAP’s record of accomplishment. That said, when it came to ensuring their political future, Lee and his cohort were incredibly gifted at putting their finger on the scale.

 

As I said, I really do like the place, even with all its faults, and people who are less enlightened then I am, tend to think I overlook them. Its not true and never has been. If you go back through my posts since 2005 you will see I have been pretty even handed in my reporting. I admit, I do like a place where I can go out for a piece of pizza or a piece of ass with the same general ease, and in my mind that was always one of Singapore's pluses.  But there was much, much more to the city than just my hunger. And Singapore is a great place to eat. ( as well as do other things….   cheeky ). Its services and general atmosphere are unmatched anywhere, especially the United States. Singaporeans solved problems efficiently and in ways the world could and did learn from -specifically with respect to health care and housing. The United States, being exceptional and all, did not seem to take the lesson on board. I still bridle angrily at people who say that Singapore's solutions cannot be applied to the United States. Its completely wrong , they could be, and would work.

That said, there were troubling aspects to the place too and still are. Just ask this guy.

My driver, a middle-aged Chinese guy, recognizes me. For most of my working life I was forced into exile overseas. Despite graduating from Cambridge in 1983 with a first-class honors degree in economics, no one in my home country would employ me. But in 2008 I decided to return home anyway and last year I stood as candidate for the Opposition in the general elections. My driver is sneaking surreptitious glances at me in the mirror. Finally he says:“JBJ. Very good man!”

I tell him he’s right and he goes on:

“But in the end very poor. Selling his book on the street corner. I buy a copy. Very sad, lah!” Then after some thought, “That’s what happens when you go against the gahmen (government).”

He is referring to my father, Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam. When I was a boy growing up in Singapore my father had been one of the highest-earning lawyers. He was also the first Opposition politician to get a seat in parliament, breaking a 16-year monopoly by the PAP. He was subjected to multiple defamation suits and perverse judgments which forced him out of parliament and out of his law practice and eventually bankrupted him.

Kenneth Jeyaretnam then goes on to ask the question of Mr. Lee that we all should ask, could not the government have found a way to have prosperity, progress and innovation without sacrificing central control and whilst not repressing freedom?  I personally think the answer is yes, especially because there are examples that prove me right, but Mr. Lee would not have agreed with that answer at all. Perhaps at the start he needed a tight grip-for the Communists where a real and persistent threat. But later-not so much:

During his last decades in public life, the Singaporean regime became increasingly critical of the American-led notion that human rights—including democracy—had worldwide applicability. In an interview published in the Atlantic in 2013, Lee argued that “Americans believe their ideas are universal—the supremacy of the individual and free, unfettered expression. But they’re not—and never were.”?

There is one other aspect of the society he crafted that I, for one, find particularly troubling and its not unique to Singapore, the Middle East and other parts of Asia have it too-namely the fact that a part of Singapore's success rests on the backs of an underclass of foreign workers, that will never enjoy the benefits of the prosperity that has been brought there."Singapore cannot compete with cheap labor overseas so it brings the cheap labor to Singapore, with no minimum wage there is no bottom to how cheap this labor can be. Not surprisingly this exploitation has fueled an explosion in GDP but not in real wages, which have stagnated or fallen." Specifically for me, and since this is women's history month, the exploitation of so many people troubles folks a good deal.  The fact that American feminists pay ZERO attention to the plight of these women, is just grounds to shout at them repeatedly.

Singapore is a mixed bag to be sure-but its a better bag than most places, ( light years ahead of Shopping Mall USA) and a lot of that was do to the vision of Lee Kuan Yew. “People want economic development first and foremost,” he said in an interview printed in his 1998 book, The Man and His Ideas. “The leaders may talk something else. You take a poll of any people. What is it they want? The right to write an editorial as you like? They want homes, medicine, jobs, schools."

That they got. At what price they paid-that is what will be the discussion in the years to come.

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Dec 18 2013

Not quite the Christmas present he wanted back at the begining of the year…….

It was brought by a jolly fat man all right-but it turns out to be the gift that keeps on giving. Don't bend over to pick up the soap:

SAN DIEGO — The first conviction in a massive bribery scandal that has ensnared six U.S. Navy officials could lead to an expanded probe if a senior Navy criminal investigator who pleaded guilty cooperates with authorities as part of his plea agreement.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent John Beliveau II entered a guilty plea Tuesday in federal court in San Diego to bribery charges stemming from the multimillion-dollar fraud probe targeting a Malaysian defense contractor.

Beliveau, who faces a maximum sentence of 20 years when he’s sentenced March 7, said he is sorry for what he’s done.

“I’m here to do the right thing, and that’s what I did today,” Beliveau, 44, said after the hearing.

His attorney, Gretchen von Helms, declined to say whether her client would now assist the investigation, saying only he is “ready to prove he is honorable.”

That noise you hear is the sweating of yet to be indicted conspirators, me thinks.

So much for the Hoe, Hoe, Hoe this year! 😉

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Sep 22 2013

Wahlzeit

In English, election time-which was the headline of a special edition of Das Bild newspaper yesterday -which was delivered free to our house.

All indicators show that Merkel is on cruise control to a third term as the Kanzlerin ( Chancellor). However because one of her coalition partners lost badly-the Free Democrats, she will have to probably find a new partner-most likely the SPD. And you can bet they are going to want something for the deal.

Yesterday the S.O. and I went to the flea market in downtown Stuttgart. There were some rallies going on on Konigstrasse-and also the posters were all out in force.

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The poster says, "Go vote! On 22 September 2013".  It is from the SPD.

There were a few other posters out yesterday- I really found this one interesting:

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It is from the Alternative Party ( a small left party). The poster says : "Courage for [telling]truth. The Greeks are suffering. The Germans are paying. The banks are cashing in."

And of course our old friends the Pirate Party are still out in force:

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.This one says: " The great coalition of the survellance" "Mass surveillenace must be stopped. Safety laws must be checked."

It is a jab about cooperation with the NSA. By the way-if you look closely the camera is wearing a green Angela Merkel dress-with Angela Merkel pearls. Not so subtle imagery that she is quite on board with this program.

It will be interesting to see how quickly the posters come down tomorrow.

On a positive note-the circus came to town-to the next village over. The connection to the election? Probably none-but it has to be good for at least a couple of irony points.

 

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Sep 18 2013

Another good deal gone fleeting……

For those that do not know, Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., has long had a "lock" on the business of providing husbanding services to Navy ships in Asia. It's quite a lucrative business and is also known as a good deal for retiring supply officers who might want to stay in Asia. 

Or at least it was until yesterday:

SAN DIEGO — A Navy commander, a Naval criminal investigator and a defense contractor have been charged with conspiracy in a bribery scheme to gain millions in international port contracts, federal prosecutors said.

Leonard Francis was arrested this week in San Diego, Cmdr. Michael Misiewicz was arrested in Colorado, and NCIS Supervisory Special Agent John Beliveau II was arrested in Virginia, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement Tuesday night. Each faces up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery.

An email seeking comment from an NCIS spokesman wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday evening.

Francis, a Malaysian national who lives in Singapore, is the president and CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., which has had “husbanding” contracts for Navy ships at ports worldwide for 25 years. The contracts — one of which was worth up to $125 million — involve providing services for ships and submarines in port, such as providing tugboats, security and transportation, paying customs fees, supplying food, fuel and water, and removing trash.

Prosecutors contend that Francis conspired to bribe the other men with luxury travel, prostitutes and gifts in exchange for information that allowed him to overcharge on port contracts by millions of dollars.

Could this be a potential business or job opportunity for mois?cool

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