Across the Pond: January 20th, 2013 – Sunday Round Up

Right. Well, I’m up anyway, so let’s check the webs.

The Hostage Crisis in Algeria seems to be over. But it ended in a bloodbath. The situation is still not quite resolved while I am typing this, but one thing is clear: All attackers and the hostages remaining in the hands of their captors are dead.

The Algerian government seems to not have thought twice about getting this done, never mind the cost. It reminds me of the Beslan massacre where a hostage taking by Chechen rebels in a school was ended by the Russian forces without any consideration of the hostages’ fate.

“The terrorists were prepared to commit a collective suicide; the army’s intervention led to their neutralisation. Unfortunately, the hostages were executed,”

said El Watan a local newspaper. Well, the public will hear the truth about this at some point.

There is, of course, the war in Mali headlining over here in Europe. You can find a very useful summary of the players involved on the BBC News website. The French are involved in a situation, which, in my humble opinion, may land them in their own version of Afghanistan. Germans are discussing what kind of contribution they can make but there’s the fact that this is a super election year which will be kicked off today in Lower Saxonia. Chancellor Merkel will, obviously, not be getting into any military adventures this year if she can help it at all. President Obama does not show any inclination to get the US involved either. 

Neu ist, dass die USA nicht instinktiv zu einer Führungsrolle innerhalb einer solchen «Koalition der Willigen» drängen. Bereits im Libyen-Krieg hatten sie nach aussen hin den Franzosen den Vorrang gelassen. Die Amerikaner übernahmen damals aber, ohne dies an die grosse Glocke zu hängen, einen beträchtlichen Teil der Lufteinsätze und halfen den Europäern aus, als diesen die Munition ausging. Obama nannte dies «Führung von hinten», was ihm einigen Spott eintrug – aber um einen Führungsanspruch handelte es sich gleichwohl. Davon kann in Mali keine Rede mehr sein.

(It is new, that the US does not instinctively claim a leading role in such a “coalition of the willing”. In the Libya war they had already let the French have the leading role, at least outwardly. The Americans, however, have at that time without making any fuss about it taken over a considerable number of airstrikes and helped out when the Europeans were running out of ammunition. Obama called this “leading from behind” which caused some ridicule, but – nevertheless – included the will to lead. In Mali there is no mention of it. Translation by yours truly

When it comes to foreign politics, looking at it from our side of the pond, New Obama, is naturally a topic of interest. The sudden change in his handling of the Republican opposition does not go unnoticed:

After being widely criticised in his first four years for a lack of savvy during negotiations with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Obama has suddenly taken a much harder line. In debates over the so-called “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and spending cuts at the end of last year, Obama’s team secured a deal widely seen as a victory. That tougher stance has also been matched by Obama staking out a strong position on forthcoming talks with the Republicans in Congress over raising the debt ceiling. Indeed, only days after Obama gave a speech on the issue marked by stern language the Republicans last week appeared to cave in and moved to extend the ceiling for another three months. (read the whole post here)

About time, I’d say.

Have you finished your coffee? Not yet? Well, there’s more for reading found in the old world:

Oil and the interests of Canada’s First Nations

Catholic Hospitals refuse Aid to Rape Victim (Germany has its own bible belt, methinks)

Boeing’s Dreamliner is grounded


The Swiss are fretting over what will happen to their banks.

I hope you’ll enjoy your Sunday Morning reading.

This is an Open Thread! Join in. What is important to you today?

56 thoughts on “Across the Pond: January 20th, 2013 – Sunday Round Up

  1. The Canadian Oil interests seem to be able to play the US approval of the Keystone XL pipeline against the approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline. If the NG is blocked, we will come under increasing pressure from TransCanada to allow K-XL to be fully implemented. Since the lower section of K-XL is already being built, the part that helps them get the oil to the Gulf refineries so it can be exported, there is no pausible RWNJ argument that gas prices will drop from this project. Had they only built the Northern section as far as the Illinois refineries, they could credibly make that claim. Either way, they want to get that crude to a coastline for exporting.

    • It’s been so long ago that I don’t remember the details anymore, but back in the early seventies, the city of Phoenix decided it could save lots of money by, in effect, “privatizing” trash and garbage collection. So they contracted it out. In a nutshell, what many predicted, happened: the private company (companies, maybe, can’t recall) which paid its/their employees far less than the city did to do the exact same job — profits, y’know — promptly screwed everything up to the point where the city had to get back on the horse and stay there.

      Likewise with schools. AZ was one of the early “charter school” states where private schools could tap the state education fund as their financing. Charter schools were, and likely always will be, crap. Teachers are paid less with no benefits, and the curriculum typically sucks. Only exception that I was ever aware of was a charter school that emphasized arts (including drama) and music — and which had a wanna-be attendee waiting list longer than King Kong’s arm.

      Privatization of the public domain does NOT WORK! Period. I mean, Blackwater worked out SO WELL, y’know. Private armies, anyone? I simply can’t believe that the GOP (Grumpy Old Phascists) is still so uncontrollably stupid as to continue shoving that chain up the hill.

      Well, actually, I CAN believe it. What I can’t believe is that anyone still votes for those zipperheads.

  2. EV’s post brings up a question that’s puzzled me for a long time: why is the view of embedded American idiocy so much more clear from the other side of the world than it is out of our own front windows?

    • A valid question. My own theory is that they are not as invested emotionally as we are in our politics. Jonathan Haidt said that you can;t change people’s political opinions because they’ll see it as a betrayal of their “team.” When it comes to politics, facts literally do not matter.

      • Facts don’t matter to the strictly dogmatic whether they be religious or political or uneducated or low IQ, but to those (mostly liberals, generally speaking) who can actually think and reason logically, then facts do matter. “We” are, however, in the distinct minority in far too many areas where the ability (and willingness) to actually THINK can actually define the difference between potential success and guaranteed misery — or to actually demonstrate the difference between the two in the real world.

        I’ve yet to meet a Republican or “conservative” who can grasp any of that.

  3. From Newsmax, of all places: VATICAN SIDES WITH OBAMA ON GUN CONTROL

    “The Vatican praised President Barack Obama’s proposals for curbing gun violence on Saturday, saying they are a “step in a right direction.”

    Vatican’s chief spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi, in an editorial said that 47 religious leaders have appealed to members of the U.S. Congress “to limit firearms that are making society pay an unacceptable price in terms of massacres and senseless deaths.”

    “I am with them,” Lombardi declared, lining up the Vatican’s moral support in favor of firearm limits.

    “The initiatives announced by the American administration for limiting and controlling the spread and use of weapons are certainly a step in the right direction,” Lombardi said.

    Obama is trying to rally support for reinstating a ban on assault weapons and requiring background checks on all gun sales. He faces stiff opposition in the U.S. Congress and from powerful gun lobbies.

    Considering that Americans possess “about 300 million firearms,” Lombardi said, “people cannot fool themselves that it is enough to limit the number and use (of guns) to impede in the future horrendous massacres like that of Newtown that shook the conscience of America and world, as well as that of children and adults. ”

    He was referring to the Newtown, Conn., elementary school where 20 children and six adults were killed by a sole attacker last month.

    “But it would be worse to be satisfied with words” of condemnation alone, Lombardi said. And while massacres are “carried out by unbalanced or hate-driven persons, there is no doubt that they are carried out with firearms,” the Vatican spokesman said.

    Lombardi renewed Vatican appeals for disarmament and encouragement for measures to fight “the production, commerce and contraband of all types of arms,” an industry fueled by “enormous economic and power interests.””

  4. Two women wounded in Las Vegas soccer field shooting. If only the players were allowed to use their arms:

    “The shooting occurred about 45 minutes before gun rights advocates took to the streets in downtown Las Vegas to protest gun control proposals made by federal officials in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre of elementary schoolchildren. But police don’t believe there’s a connection between the two.”

    Uh huh.

  5. Maybe its just me battling the flu but doesn’t it seem like there is a media blackout in regards to coverage of President Obama’s nomination of Jack Lew as the next US Treasury Secretary? I mean the guy has been involved in many of the failed policies which have led to our economic meltdown in 2008. Shouldn’t we seriously be questioning the wisdom of this nomination considering the facts of this mans resume of epic failure?

  6. Santa Cruz’s O’Neill outfits penguin in a zoo in England with wetsuit

    …The famed Santa Cruz wetsuit maker adopted Ralph, a 14-year-old Humboldt penguin at Marwell Zoo, after learning the 2-foot-tall bald bird had lost all of his feathers in one day due to moulting…

  7. There’s a team of brilliant satire trolls beating up the sick fuck groups on facebook, and this was written by one of their members, Tom Joad, in response to these weaklings being unable to handle even the slightest level of truth or basic intelligence, and their weenie habit of reporting them to the dumbass facebook machine:

    Attention all GOP, TEA and Libertarian Party members: stop destroying the country while simultaneously saying you “love America.” Because you don’t.

    You love yourself and that’s pretty much it. You love yourself, guns, the flag and cars that go fast – or trucks. You love stupid women, too – ones with daddy issues. Speaking of which, most of the men in your party have daddy issues, but this one essay isn’t going to fix ALL your problems.

    I can tell you that picking a fight with a weaker nation just makes you look weak. Yes, George, I’m looking at you. Your daddy was a MUCH better man and everybody knows it. Same goes for you, Willard M. Romney. Please, for the love of God, quit trying to follow in daddy’s footsteps. You’re embarrassing yourself.

    So where was I? Oh yeah – the political right’s self-love pity party. You love yourself, beer, pickups and bimbos. Sometimes you claim to love your mama, but God forbid she gets expensive when she gets old. Then you’re pretty sure it’s God’s will that she die and double-quick. I’m looking at you, Paul Ryan.

    And lying. You really, really LOVE to lie. Your politicians have gotten so good at it, you really don’t seem to know the first thing about this country anymore. The guys you’re sending to Washington are tearing everything down from the inside while you stand on the sidelines waving that flag you love. And then you open up your pie hole, and REPEAT the lies you’ve been told because you’re just too damned stupid to know any better.

    Have another beer. Really, go ahead. I’ll still be here when you get back – or, will I? Maybe and maybe not because – God bless America and apple pie – you really love to use every dirty trick in the book NOT to be reminded of just how unAmerican you really are. Anyone who tells the truth MUST be silenced (just ask Ann Coulter about Andrea Saul).

    I read an essay the other day that brought me to tears. It was written by an articulate, passionate author who spoke out against rape. He railed against those who think stealing the innocence of another human being is something to joke about. To leave another human being bloodied and battered is an atrocity, not something to snigger at like a sophomoric child. Right wing trolls made sure to report his post to Facebook – because HE must be silenced – not those who joke about rape. You just don’t like to be reminded that you’re awful human beings.

    You love Jack Daniels, fast food and watching people dumber than the one in the mirror on the tee-vee. Sarah Palin’s kid is an awful role model for our kids – but you celebrate everything she does. You buy her “biography,” vote to keep her on DWTS and support her new reality TV show to make her filthy, stinking rich. Why? Because Bristol loves Jesus! She loves Jesus, premarital sex and her illegitimate child (who uses the word “faggot” as a weapon when he’s mad). God bless America!

    Another acquaintance was just handed a Facebook time-out because he loves to talk about the hypocritical nature of the modern day religious right. He was “reported” because he’s verbose, articulate, passionate and PROFANE. But if you’re a Republican on the business end of a piece of stinging satire, it burns, doesn’t it? It’s no fun to be reminded that you don’t seem to know jack about this country (whose flag you love to wave), is it? Because you only seem to love yourself – and Republican Jesus.

    What you don’t love is being told that you’re not very bright. As a matter of fact, you hate that. You hate that almost as much as you hate the current President of the United States. Because he doesn’t look like the man in the mirror, does he? He looks like someone who took everything this great country offered and then had the audacity to succeed. He got himself a world-class education. He married a smart, strong woman. And he wasn’t afraid to tell the truth.

    How can he do all those things when you couldn’t? Something has got to be wrong with this country you love if he can take advantage of the opportunities America provides – and you couldn’t. That’s not the America you love. You love yourself, Budweiser, Nascar and the hot girls with the big breast implants wrasslin’ on the WWE.

    So these voices (the ones that remind you that your self-love is misplaced) have to go away. You need to stop the voices in your head that remind you what a complete and utter waste you have made of your life. You need to stop the voice that says your personal political belief system is built on a big, steaming pile of lies. The stench is outrageous. But since you love yourself, YOU can’t be the problem. THEY must be the problem. You have to find a way to make THEM stop.

    So you get together with your friends and tell each other comforting lies about how much you love free speech and then “report” anyone who dares try to pop your bubble of misinformation with the truth. Yeah – that’ll do it. Then the voices will stop and the only sound you’ll hear will be the chorus of other like-minded morons who will tell you that you’re smart. They’ll tell you how good it feels to love America and love yourself and love Courtney’s Stoddard’s soft-corn pornography. God, that Doug is one lucky S.O.B. – only in America!

    But the voices don’t stop, do they? There’s an army of well-informed, well-reasoned voices out there trying to save this country from your stupidity. And we got Barack Obama a second term, despite your best efforts and lies.

    God bless the U.S.A, right? And helps those who help themselves, so God must hate socialism, too. Except for Jesus. Jesus was the original socialist. Wait, what? Got you thinking, huh? Sorry about that. Actually, no – no I’m not.

    You’re welcome.

  8. Obvious Thought of the Day:

    An experienced gun dealer might wound his friend at a gun show, but giving thousands of overworked teachers guns is completely safe.

    • Well, Sharron Angle said if elections didn’t go the way they should, there might be second amendment remedies available. Brooks needs to resign, and have his gun carrying/owning privileges revoked.

  9. Awkward…

    SANAA, Yemen — A Yemen security official says an explosion in the province of Bayda has killed at least 13 suspected al-Qaida militants.

    The official in Bayda’s capital city of Radda says the explosion went off in a house owned by a known al-Qaida operative, Ahmed Abdullah Deif-Allah Al-Zahab. It appeared to be an accident.

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