Sunday, 27 September 2015

Janet Daley on why Viktor Orban is vilified in Europe

Hungary´s Viktor Orban has lately been vilified by the politically correct class of politicians and journalists. But are they right?  The Telegraph´s columnist Janet Daley gives her take:

The voters who put him in office, it seems, hugely approve of the Orban policy. Imagine that: a European leader who actually chooses to represent the views of his own electorate rather than please the unelected commissioners of the EU. The obvious implication on the broadcast news was that this rise in approval within his own country was somehow indecent: a crass populist stance targeted deliberately at a benighted population. Either Mr Orban was a nasty piece of work who was opportunistically appealing to his countrymen’s worst instincts, or the desires of the Hungarian people were beneath consideration – or both.
Let’s just hang on a minute. Before we are pulled into self-righteous judgments about other peoples and their leaders, we might consider what is at stake. Maybe we need to ask precisely what elected governments are for in modern Europe, and whether a population has to sign up to certain assumptions and attitudes before it is entitled to democratic government. There is an unspoken argument here that goes beyond the immediate refugee problem or that other threat to EU unity, the future of the eurozone. If democratically mandated national leaders can be condemned for being genuinely in tune with their own electorates, what does this amount to?

Read the entire column here.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

In the wake of the VW scandal: Some facts about Germany

Next time you hear Angela Merkel, or some other German politician or opinion maker, lecture other governments or leaders, remember this:

It is a common misconception to believe Germany is a place for ‘whiter than white’ business practices. That is, of course, how Germany likes to see itself and how it likes to advertise itself to the world. Self-righteousness is a virtue invented in Germany. Just look at the ways the Germans have tried to teach other nations lessons on fiscal policy, energy policy and now refugee policy.
The problem is that there is a gulf between this self-image and the reality of German life. The Germans are probably not worse than everybody else. But they certainly aren’t better, either.
Until not so long ago, bribing foreign officials was regarded as a commonplace business practice in Germany. Only in the late 1990s did Germany change finally its laws. Until then, believe it or not, it was not just acceptable but in fact tax deductible to pay out kickbacks as long as it secured lucrative international contracts. German tax law recognised bribes as nützliche Aufwendungen (‘useful expenditure’).
A culture of corporate corruption rocked several large German companies in recent years. The most prominent case was probably Siemens and shook the company between 2006 and 2008. Dealing with it cost Siemens close to €3bn and led to an exchange of the company’s top management and supervisory board. Siemens has since recovered and installed a chief compliance officer but it was a painful process to get there. Deutsche Bank has also been shaken by its involvement in the LIBOR rigging scandal and is still dealing with the consequences.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The beginning of the end for China´s ruling Communist Party?

This is far more important than Greece! The beginning of the end for China´s ruling Communist Party?:

Chinese equities have suffered the sharpest one-day crash in eight years, sending powerful tremors through global commodity markets and smashing currencies across East Asia, Latin America and Africa.
The Shanghai Composite index fell 8.5pc despite emergency measures to shore up the market, with a roster of the biggest blue-chip companies down by the maximum daily limit of 10pc. The mood was further soured by news that corporated profits in China are now contracting in absolute terms, falling 0.3pc over the past year.

"Putinism" - Anne Applebaum´s outstanding analysis

An outstanding lecture on Putinism:

Anne Applebaum´s report on Putinism
Strongly recommended reading!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Botched Russian Navy missile launch

Russian frigate Ladny´s botched missile demonstration at the Crimea Navy Day parade:

Here is a list of other recent Russian military accidents:

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The price of EU:s global warming fixation: Hundreds of thousands Europeans "will suffer a premature death"

Here is another major - and deadly - European failure:

for more than a decade EU member states have tended to encourage the rise of diesel vehicles, with favourable tax regimes and pricing structures.
This has been one factor in bringing down greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels used for road transport, as diesel engines are more fuel-efficient than their petrol counterparts. But it has had an unintended consequence in the form of greater air pollution, because diesel engines spew out more particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide than petrol-driven cars, giving rise to breathing difficulties in vulnerable people, such as children and older citizens.

Failed European environmental policies has led to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths:

Hundreds of thousands of Europeans will suffer a premature death in the next two decades as the result of governments’ failure to act on air pollution, Europe’s environmental watchdog has warned.
In 2011, the latest year for which figures have been reliably collated, more than 400,000 are estimated to have died prematurely as a result of breathing toxic fumes, despite recent improvements in some countries.

A new report just out gives the death figures for one European city, London:

Nearly 10,000 people died in a year as a result of air pollution in London, a study has found.
Experts from King's College London combined the effects of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and a particulate matter known as PM2.5 to look at the total impact on the city's health in 2010.
The scientists said combining the pollutants "reveal a higher health impact than previously estimated".