Category Archives: Politics: International

The Bonds of July

The sources of the Europe/Greek disaster are plain, and quickly seen in these two short posts:

Kevin Drum, Europe’s Message to Greece: Don’t Let the Door Hit You On Your Way Out, summarizes just how much Germany et al have demanded of Greece, including this excellent quote from that bastion of anarcho-liberalism, the Wall Street Journal:

Sunday’s statement on Greece by eurozone finance ministers will go down as one of the most brutal diplomatic démarches in the history of the European Union, a bloc built to foster peace and harmony that is now publicly threatening one of its own with ruination unless it surrenders.

….The other 18 euro members were late Sunday pushing Greece to implement all of the austerity measures and broader economic overhauls its voters have twice rejected—in elections in January and in a referendum on July 5—not in return for new rescue loans, but as a precondition for even talking about them.

Not that there isn’t plenty of blame to go round to the Greek side also, as Yves Smith reminds us in “Greece Brought a Latte to a Gunfight”:

Yanis appears to have assumed that he could grasp the European light on the hill and persuade with elegant reason all of Europe to embrace enlightened super-national consciousness. He’s been genteelly sipping lattes at a gunfight and by doing so has played right into realist German hands by destroying his country’s economy as an example to all other European ‘dead beats’.

There is nothing new here. Yanis has simply been outplayed. When it was elected, Syriza either had to sign up to new terms of austerity or immediately leave the euro. It’s stylish five month congress with Europe has ruined its economy to no purpose of its own given it will either now buckle under to even deeper austerity or will still be forced out of the euro, taking its economy from wrecked to destroyed.

As for me, either Europe will provide subsidies under the table and quickly (unlikely!) or I still say that Grexit is coming.

Posted in Econ & Money, Politics: International | Leave a comment

Versailles Without the War

Dr Johannes Bell signs the Treaty of Versailles in the Hall of Mirrors, with the various Allied delegations sitting and standing in front of him. (Wikimedia)

Dr Johannes Bell signs the Treaty of Versailles in the Hall of Mirrors, with the various Allied delegations sitting and standing in front of him. (Wikimedia)

The Greek deal is a vicious blunder. Yves Smith:

The cost of Greece avoiding a Grexit is submitting to becoming an economic serf of the Eurozone, subject to even more draconian austerity than was ever on the table before. … The Greek government still has to pass four bills by the 15th and another two by the 22nd to comply. It’s not clear that that will take place.

…. This deal is simply vicious. This is far and away the most one-sided agreement I’ve ever seen, by an insanely large margin. Even the language is shamelessly punitive. For instance, the document repeatedly mentions that all the previous terms under consideration will need to be made vastly more stringent in light of the deterioration of the economy and how the Greek government needs to prostrate itself to gain the trust of the creditors.

This deal appears to be designed to prolong long-term pain without doing much for the short-term. It’s a dagger in the guts of Europe. What a tragedy.

Not even a token haircut for the creidtors: bonds win, everyone else, including the non-Greek members of the EU (not least Germany) loses. Only problem is that the Germans don’t seem to see what this will cost them politically in the long run. #ThisIsACoup indeed.

Watching this train wreck happen for the last month(s) has been the closest thing in my life to what I imagine it must have felt like to follow the developments leading up to the start of World War I: inexorable stupidity meeting inflexible rigidity, all in fairly slow motion. And of course it’s not close to over.

Posted in Econ & Money, Politics: International | 1 Comment

Ireland Embraces Marriage Equality

Videos like this carry the day in Ireland’s referendum:

How long before the entire US catches up?

Posted in Law: Con Law: Marriage, Politics: International | Leave a comment

It’s Working!

Ebola Outbreak Finally Receding in Sierra Leone; CDC Modeling Was Incredibly Accurate

Posted in Politics: International, Science/Medicine | Leave a comment


The US approach to Cuba stopped making sense decades ago. Opening exchanges with Poland helped dislodge the Communist regime; the same is likely to happen to Cuba in the future. Maintaining the embargo with Cuba has done more to empower the dictatorial Castro regime than anything else we could do. So I’m all for the resumption of diplomatic relations because it furthers US interests, human rights, and the humanitarian cause of reuniting separated families. It likely will further the cause of freedom in Cuba.

But there’s another reason why this is good: the revanchist faction among Cuban-Americans is overwhelmingly Republican. It’s good politics for a President to reward his friends and ignore — or punish — his enemies. So this is good politics for Obama: serve the US national interest and hit his enemies at the same time.

I hope it’s a sign of what we can hope for in the next two years from Obama: No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Posted in Politics: International, Politics: US | Leave a comment

Rather to Warhawks: Send *Your* Kids


(PS. I don’t entirely agree about the “waters around China” because we have a treaty obligation to protect Japan against aggression.)

Posted in Politics: International | Leave a comment

The Curious Case of Al Jazeera’s Absence From HTC Blinkfeed

TL/DR: Why is al Jazeera’s feed absent from HTC’s Blinkfeed? It’s a mystery.

After writing up my review of the HTC One (M8) the other day, I thought maybe I ought to give Blinkfeed a try.

For those of you who don’t have an HTC phone — and it’s a somewhat specialist taste if reports of declining market share are to believed — Blinkfeed is an HTC-curated/controlled news feed (now available to all Android users). It provides an elegant magazine-like interface made up of user-selected content from among the news sources provided by HTC, and also from one’s social media. Most of the major social media choices you would expect seem to be on the available list, but the provision of news sources is somewhat erratic. There is something from just about every part of the globe, but often not much; there are two wire services, and Huffington Post but no US newspapers. If the US choices are rather spotty in news, they are somewhat heavier in sports and entertainment and various other web-based frills. Many of the news feeds on offer seem rather heavy on gorgeous photos, particularly of landscapes and animals, which I think skews the content of the feed somewhat…although as my test is only a couple of days old it might also reflect that August is the silly season for many news media.

The good news is that Blinkfeed’s options include news from many regions in their home language, so I can get the French news is in French, which I like. And even though you get other languages by changing your “edition,” which isn’t totally intuitive, it’s possible to meld feeds from different languages, so I don’t have to have my US news in French just to get the French news in French.

The bad news is that Blinkfeed is a closed system: I can’t add an RSS feed of my choice, an option that would have made Blinkfeed actually useful.

But, at least, though I, there’s Al Jazeera. Given all the turmoil in the Middle East at present, I thought it would be useful part of my media diet. Except, at least for the last three days, there isn’t any Al Jazeera in my feed. And when I go to the al Jazeera button all it says is “NO CONTENT Pull down to refresh.” Swiping down just repeats the update/nothing-happens cycle.

A Google search got me nowhere. There are plenty of links in which HTC brags about all the content deals it has signed. (I’m guessing people pay HTC for the privilege of being in their sandbox, which is why it’s such an anemic little sandbox.) And even some about HTC adding al Jazeera. But there’s nothing I can find in which HTC says it has dropped al Jazeera.

So I called it in to HTC customer support. I’d had a very good experience with them the last time I called, and no good deed goes unpunished. The support guy I got was understandably skeptical at first. He had me remove everything else from my feed. He had me reboot the phone. No change. Finally he put me on hold for a long static-filled wait. When he came back he explained he’d “gone to the lab” and gotten one of their HTC One (M8) test models, and replicated my problem.

The good news: he now totally believed me.

The bad news: he didn’t have any better ideas than I did about what to do about it.

Apparently, there’s nothing on the HTC internal system about them dropping al Jazeera. No one on the floor at the help center had heard anything like that. So all he could suggest is that I call back tomorrow during regular business hours and ask to be escalated — apparently the escalation team doesn’t work late at night.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll find out if this is a case of broken RSS (or whatever) feed, or a case of political censorship. Right now it’s just a bug report.

Posted in Politics: International, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 7 Comments