Saturday, December 10, 2011
Never have France's special forces been so much in demand as in 2011writes Nathalie Guibert in Le Monde of the forces created in June 1992 after the Golf War and numbering 4,000. "Today, there is no French military engagement unless special forces are included" says Christophe Gomart, the general at the head of the commandement des opérations spéciales (COS). (Related: The French government's unsound choices regarding military drones.)
Le constat est validé par le général Christophe Gomart, à la tête du commandement des opérations spéciales (COS). "2011 aura été une grosse année, car les crises auront été exceptionnelles", a-t-il indiqué au Monde lors d'un entretien. Le général précise qu'"il n'est aujourd'hui pas d'engagement militaire français sans que les forces spéciales y soient associées".
Prises d'otages successives au Sahel, guerre d'Afghanistan, lutte contre la piraterie au large de la Somalie, interventions en Côte d'Ivoire, puis en Libye, et demain, peut-être, en raison de la crise syrienne, opération de protection de ressortissants au Proche-Orient : les missions s'accumulent.
… En juin, quand Paris a décidé de larguer des armes aux rebelles, les forces spéciales ont été actives dans la région de Zintan. Enfin, en août, pour la bataille de Tripoli, le COS a déployé jusqu'à trente conseillers dans le centre des opérations du CNT. Les commandos ont préparé le débarquement de bateaux rebelles dans le port de la capitale libyenne. Ils ont réouvert l'ambassade de France. Mais ils n'ont "jamais été en première ligne" sur le terrain, indique le général Gomart. Qui partage l'analyse faite par le RUSI [un think tank londonien de référence, le Royal United Services Institute] : "Sans les forces spéciales, l'opération libyenne n'aurait pas réussi."
Depuis 1992, les missions traditionnelles n'ont pas changé : dans les opérations militaires, les commandos sont chargés d'arriver les premiers, de désorganiser l'adversaire, puis de "fermer la porte".
Friday, December 09, 2011
In this case, the underlying assumptions behind this cartoon by Patrick Chapatte: the hapless, innocent Euro-elves, victims of circumstance and anything else that they had no hand in, being talked down to by a towering white American man vaguely reminiscent of the elder George Bush. Ordered around in their innocent, childlike state, they are of course, victims of bullying or something.
... "Things will get better if Europe learns to speak with one voice."
The Best Health Care System in the World, Yes; Well, Except for This One Flaw and, Oui, This Other Flaw and, Oh, That Flaw Over There, and…
France is often praised for its health car system, considered one of the best in the worldwrites Le Monde in an editorial while praising the quality of its doctors. Well, yes, it goes on, except… Except for the fact that
there are numerous flaws in the system, from the medical deserts and excess fees to a command over expenses belonging more in the accounting department than in the medical department that results in a drop in reimbursements from the health insurance services, public as well as private.So, all in all, you understand, the state health system à l'européenne works really really well. Just except for, y'know, "The medical deserts [rural zones devoid of doctors], the excess fees… The barriers to health care are real." Oh wait, there's more!
To those, add the lengthening waiting times to see a specialist. According to an IFOP survey for Le Journal du dimanche, 92% of French people have renounced care at a specialist's office and 63% at a general practitioner's due to distance or cost. The numbers speak for themselves.Indeed they do. "92% [!] of French people have renounced care at a specialist's office"! And "63% [!] at a general practitioner's"! But c'm'on, apart from those tiny, inconsequential details, it's certain that the clueless Americans (ces gros abrutis) should renounce their unethical, egoistical, evil free market health care fiasco (un désastre, vous dis-je, un désastre!) and, like Barack Obama tells us, copy the generous, tolerant Europeans' noble, humanitarian, benevolent, big-hearted health system whose altruism rings from the mountaintops…
La France est souvent vantée pour son système de santé, qui est considéré comme un des meilleurs au monde. Indéniablement, la qualité de ses médecins est un de ses atouts. Mais il y a de multiples failles dans le système qui ont trait aux déserts médicaux, aux dépassements d'honoraires et à une maîtrise plus comptable que médicale des dépenses qui aboutit à une baisse des remboursements par l'assurance- maladie et les mutuelles. Le résultat est sans appel : l'accès aux soins est de plus en plus inégalitaire et ne cesse de se détériorer.
… Il reste qu'il y a encore en France trop de déserts médicaux. Le gouvernement refuse toute mesure coercitive visant à obliger les médecins à s'installer dans des zones rurales. La loi Bachelot, qui avait institué un "contrat santé solidarité" imposant une amende de 3 000 euros aux médecins exerçant en zone surmédicalisée qui refusaient de venir en aide aux praticiens des zones désertifiées, a été modifiée. Election présidentielle oblige, toute mise en cause de la sacro-sainte liberté d'installation a été abandonnée au profit d'un système de volontariat qui peine à faire ses preuves.
L'autre faille concerne les dépassements d'honoraires. Aujourd'hui, de plus en plus de médecins pratiquent des honoraires libres, et ceux-ci sont en augmentation constante. En 2010, six spécialistes sur dix ont opté pour le secteur 2 (honoraires libres), plutôt que pour le secteur 1 (tarifs conventionnés de la Sécurité sociale). Depuis dix ans, les dépassements d'honoraires, peu pris en charge par les complémentaires de santé, ont augmenté de 50 %.
… Déserts médicaux, dépassements d'honoraires : les obstacles aux soins sont réels. Il s'y ajoute l'allongement des délais d'attente pour consulter un spécialiste. Selon une enquête de l'IFOP pour Le Journal du dimanche, 92 % des Français on [sic] renoncé à des soins chez un spécialiste et 63 % chez un généraliste à cause de l'éloignement ou du coût. Les chiffres parlent d'eux-mêmes.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
"Executive, legislative and judiciary - the economic crisis has done away with this old structure. The last three years with all their ups and downs and breakneck tempo show how obsolete this basic order has become. Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel announce with satisfaction and with great pomp their projects for Europe? Several hours later a rating agency ridicules them and sweeps them from the table by placing the Eurozone under negative credit watch. The founding structure of democracy has now been replaced by a new and brutal economic power. With nothing to counterbalance or even regulate it, it now controls the others and dictates its own laws."Because courts and national leaders are the ones who are supposed to define rates of interests on bonds, you see – this despite the fact that even the ECB had to postpone a bond auction because there wasn’t enough interest, and the underwriters were left holding the bag.
Note that they don’t take issue with anything real and think the whole thing has to do with Sarkozy and Merkel’s re-election prospects. In other words, anything that happens in the world has nothing to do with the bloated, near command economy they persistently plump for, but rather for whatever the thoroughly misnamed Libération editor and Stepford-child head-bobber feels and want the truth to be.
As if the world was their oyster, and it’s size of the kind of oyster you pick up in a month that doesn’t end in an “R”.
Another persistent theme has been the downgrade S&P of numerous banks worldwide. Apparently they believe that economics is driven by political stances, and so would I if I was as consistently economically illiterate and prone to delusion as they are. S&P, they assume is to be demonized for “practicing politics”, as if their ratings analysts care.
Propagandastaffel position is irresponsible and much less informative than even their own blogs that cover business, markets, and the economy. It isn’t just linear, ignorant, insular, and small-minded, but meant to feed their easy-chair fantasies of being able to inflame a mob against the state. Those days are over. There is no bright hammer-and-sickle to the east that they can point to mendaciously as an example of “how things whould be done”.
The sum of all fears when you’re a leftist living in the prewar days of Soviet Marxist-Leninism?
Never were the report of strengths and weaknesses more apparent, but never has political power seemed so helpless. The presidential campaign will hide the main issue of the political turmoil and the impossibility of any effective political action: three years that have passed have shown that firefighters ran after the fires, always late. Commentators will focus on the beauty of movement and skill of diplomatic compromise. While everything will be played today and tomorrow, in managing the social consequences of the crisis.As if the French left, let alone what they imagine would be the actions of a President Ségolène Royal would have done anything about it the way Zapatero VERY bravely did showing leadership in Spain, even against his own supporters populist bleatings.
What Libé wants is this crisis to not go to any sort of political waste.
La solution existe. Elle est audacieuse. Elle s'appelle Etats unis d'Europe, fédéralisme européen, délégation de souveraineté. Elle offrirait enfin aux Européens un projet, une ambition, une fierté.
Mais elle nous oblige à changer nos habitudes, à conférer une responsabilité politique plus grande aux institutions européennes, à considérer d'emblée à leur échelle européenne les questions sociales, et pas seulement budgétaires et fiscales. Il faut vouloir avancer vers un territoire reconfiguré, vers une nouvelle patrie, vers l'an I d'une véritable pratique de notre histoire fédérale.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
A school in Britain turned off the heat on the coldest day of the year to “save the planet”:
Pagan gods traditionally required human sacrifices – preferably of children – and a West Country academy school appears to be leading the way. To give pupils a lesson in "sustainability" they'll never forget, headmaster Rob Benzie of Ansford Academy in Castle Cary, Somerset, ordered a "No Power Day ... as an experiment to see if we can lower our carbon footprint".The stunt is so stupid, 101010-esque, and loony, that one would think it appropriate to say that the Headmaster “was in the pay of big oil!” (Objective proof not required.)
It took place in December as temperatures plummeted to 1°C, and
pupilsstudents were permitted to cheat death by wearing as many jumpers as they could muster. All survived. Predictably, reactionary parents branded it as "barbaric" – ignoring the vital "awareness raising" potential of the experiment. An innovative game in Australia even advised children when they should pop off to help save the Earth Goddess.
Of course none of that wasting teaching time on a fake issue means that our educational betters have any idea what they’re doing. Apparently this is the sort of thing they “readically” get up to when they want to reduce womynkind’s carbon footprint.
Hot water for the essential staff tea and coffee was boiled in the quad over a charcoal burner, baked potatoes and burgers were cooked over a charcoal barbecue. Students will have learned a valuable lesson – that we should not take the power we use for granted, and if nothing else that we should be careful with what we use and reduce our consumption as much as we possibly can in order to best preserve the world's resources.Stop all human activity now!, I say! We need to put on our capes and SAVE the PLANET (from something or other.)
Is Amnesty being serious? Someone who wanted to mock the weird combination of laziness and narcissism that seems to motor many Amnesty campaigns could have made the exact same ad, as a way of saying: "Amnesty is so out of touch it seriously thinks you can change the world with an iPhone." Such clicktivism, where morally upstanding Westerners are invited to free downtrodden Third Worlders in the spare three seconds they get between tweeting about their new trainers and saying "LOL!!!" on Facebook, makes the old Amnesty modus operandi of writing and posting tear-drenched letters to evil foreign dictators seem like hard labour in comparison.What Brendan O’Niell is describing is persistent the hobgoglin of the small mind – and it thinks a rubber wristband or a “Free Tibet” sticker will actually “Free Tibet.”
To be sure, Corine Lesnes uses the phrase in the context of Gingrich's own self-proclamation (against what he calls the Republican Party's insistence on boy scout morality), and it is with irony that she mentions the valorous Obama taking on the evil Republicans, but still, you get the gist that the words are not far from her (and the Left's) self-serving beliefs…
Incidentally, we also learn that Newt grew up in France… Most unjustly, Lesnes mentions the sordid serving-cancer-stricken-wife-divorce-papers-on-her-death-bed story with the modifier "accused of" without adding that the story was recently debunked (by one of their daughters), once and for all. The piece ends with Corine Lesnes (who doubles as the the blogger at Le Monde's Big Picture blog, some posts of which almost sound like Obama commercials (Dr Seuss's Grinch "is not to be confused with Gingrich")) abandoning any pretense at impartiality by concluding: "Imagine our [i.e., the public's] joy when the campaign adds start painting the portrait of the big bad Newt."
On en jubile d'avance. S'il ne s'agissait d'une affaire aussi sérieuse que d'élire le « leader du monde libre », comme on dit - quoique de moins en moins - aux Etats-Unis, la perspective de voir Newt Gingrich devenir le candidat républicain à la présidentielle de novembre 2012 serait plutôt réjouissante.
Tant qu'à couvrir pendant un an la course de chevaux (le valeureux Obama parviendra-t-il à terrasser les méchants républicains ?) autant avoir un vrai méchant sous la main.
… [Newt Gingrich] a grandi en France, où son père adoptif était militaire, et ne manque jamais de se comparer à de Gaulle, dont il espère copier le come-back d'homme providentiel. En rentrant, il a étudié l'histoire, et il est devenu professeur dans une petite université de Géorgie, avant d'être élu au Congrès. Le grand problème du Parti républicain, estime-t-il, « c'est qu'il n'encourage pas à être méchant ». Les candidats sont invités à être gentils, loyaux, fidèles et « tous ces mots de boy-scouts qui sont parfaits autour d'un feu de camp mais minables en politique ».
… Sa première femme l'a accusé d'être venu à l'hôpital où elle se remettait d'un cancer, lui faire signer les papiers du divorce.
… "Ma vie est une étonnante partie de plaisir. » Imaginez la nôtre quand les pubs de campagne vont dresser le portrait du grand méchant Newt.
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Unlike many who are keen to deny the danger of right-wing extremism in Europe, proposing instead that we focus our alarm upon the menace posed to liberal democracy by Islamic extremists, I'm a dual-direction Cassandra. Europe does indeed have a dangerous ultra-right, and by "ultra-right," I do not mean dutiful Anglicans and devout proponents of market deregulation, I mean Nazis. Call them neo-Nazis or new Nazis if you like, but when they start killing immigrants in the name of racial purity, I see no need for that qualifier.Having about two years ago on crowded Berlin U-Bahn train heard a loud drunk retort a guy trying to since silence him by yelling out “Heil Hitler!”, I saw that the stigma that I’ve known my whole life for Nazi sayings and symbols, had worn off with a good part of the general population.
The so-called National Socialist Underground killed nine immigrants (eight of them Turkish, one Greek). They avoided detection for years because the police were looking in the wrong direction.
She also notes the subtlety with which many Europeans argue. While it isn’t the dark ages, ideological differences and disagreements are quite frequently met with threats of personal violence, as though the ego were more precious that life itself.
especially given that Third Reich imagery and dramaturgy doesn't sound all that innocent. Comments like these--"Claire Berlinski is just a paranoid little Jew"--were among the more printable. In fact, the Nazis sent me more hate mail than the Islamists and the communists.To note an old joke which I’ve heard used for both Arabs and Israelis: How does a [ _____ ] commit suicide? He jumps from his ego to his IQ. The same seems to be true of those reviving Europe’s native (and nativist) social practices, as a reaction to a complex world that they think is cheating them out of the hopes they had for themselves.
Rammstein’s popularity may have softened German society’s stigma for Nazism, which is likely what they intended by this subculture as the soft beginnings of de-denazification. Either way, it’s a misshapen and simplistic view of the world that’s no better than violent Islamism to which Nazism is historically linked.
It also comes at the worst time in western society: when liberty itself must be defended with broad-mindedness, joie de vivre, strength, but most of all with living examples of liberty’s healthy and robust vision of a good society itself. Neo-nazis wooing the weak-minded and callow have no place in a good society and may be more of an indication to the principles of a good society being neglected.
Of the treatment the issue has been given, Berlinski characterizes it without much doubt:
The word for that is "denial." Men who look like Nazis, call themselves Nazis, blow up Jewish cemeteries and kill Turkish shopkeepers are not little boys playing cowboys and Indians. They're Nazis.Just where does all of this fall on a scale? Well, not so fast, there cowboy – it’s really doesn’t, not when you listen carefully past what a PC Gutmensch says, and get at what they worry about. The oddly bespeckled smart-asses of politically correct pleasantries are not that different than these Nazis when you take their stridency, narrowness, and simplistic view of civilization into account. It’s even hard to say that they are the opposite sides of the same coin.
This problem will get worse.
The Only Serious, Responsible, Level-Headed Player on the International Scene Happens (Needless to Say) to Be… Us!
• Europa: Any proposals?
• Irresponsible Player: Put the AC on full blast!
In order to illustrate an alarmist Le Monde article by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie — On the Road Towards a Climate Disaster? — as another Durban round is underway, Serguei presents us with a cartoon (called La Terre, brûle-t-elle? or Is the Earth Burning?, a reference to the World War II book Is Paris Burning?) showing how every single player on the international scene is failing to act responsibly regarding global warning and is sticking their heads in the sand (or down into the oven): The United States, India, Russia, China, y'know, everybody…
Everybody? Isn't someone missing? Everybody is being irresponsible, with… one exception. And who might that exception be?! It's… us! By the strangest of coincidences — states a… European cartoon by a… European cartoonist in a… European newspaper with… European readers — the only level-headed, the only responsible, the only serious player in international talks — with an appropriately grave expression on her face and her hands joined in intellectual contemplation — happens, just happens, to be… us — us Europeans. How convenient…
Monday, December 05, 2011
But emerging economies such as Brazil and India have joined rich nations in not wishing to start talks on such a deal before 2015, angering small island states and other countries immediately threatened by climate change. According to the Italian business daily, the UN summit “does not seem to have a chance of producing a binding international treaty. Those who have rowed against it, like the US, will be pleased. But for Europe, this is a triple somersault.”:No, it’s not a triple summersault, it’s a stunt and a joke, one European governments know that they will never have to make good on, because no society really can, or would, or gain anything by it.
Despite that, they know what’s its always far better to demand regime change over a fake crisis rather than a real one.
Thirdly, because the brave European commitment to cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 could sideline it in a fight which is meaningful only if shared by all the planet. But which also requires billions in public spending which do not go well with the regime of fiscal discipline [practised in] these modern times.
Le Monde has a full-page article on Cesare Battisti, from an interview by Nicolas Bourcier especially sent to Brazil to meet with the Italian criminal in his Cananeia refuge. Although there is, thankfully, a fair amount of skepticism towards the Piradinho's self-serving comments, the piece is filled, needless to say, with lots of psychological pseudo-science… The newspaper also fails to understand that, in Brazil at least (and maybe also in the Spanish-speaking parts of Latin America), "gringo" does not mean exclusively an American (or a Norteamericano) but any foreigner with white skin and/or with Western attitudes, from the U.S., from Europe, or from elsewhere…
D'emblée, il rigole. "Ils n'ont pas l'habitude qu'un gringo s'installe chez eux." Cesare Battisti, l'ancien activiste d'extrême gauche, réclamé pour meurtres par l'Italie, estampillé "gringo" : c'est peut-être cela, l'art de brouiller les pistes.
Le visage est toujours anguleux, tout en lignes brisées. Le regard dit encore l'anxiété, les tribulations d'une vie mouvementée. Mais les traits tirés et le teint blafard qu'on lui connaissait sur les photos ont disparu.
Sunday, December 04, 2011
The aging pensioners of Europe and Asia must find young people to pay interest into their pensions, and they do not have enough young people at home. Germans aged 15 to 24, on the threshold of family formation, comprise only 12% of the country's population today and will fall to only 8% by 2030. But one-fifth of Germans now are on the threshold of retirement and half will be there by mid-century.There’s an echo of what the “occupists” don’t get as well. If they’re young and mad, and don’t want to tell themselves just who it is who have the wealth they want to take, why don’t they just come out and say “eat the old” instead of “eat the rich”? Well, aside from it not being as politically useful, they only understand the red leftist recreational fisting chants that have been trained into them.
The monster is not the financial system, crooked and stupid as it may have been. The monster is the burgeoning horde of pensioners in Germany and other industrial countries. It is easy to change the financial system. The central banks can assemble on any Tuesday morning and announce tougher lending standards. But it is impossible to fix the financial problems that arise from Europe's senescence. Thanks to the one-child policy, moreover, China has a relatively young population that is aging faster than any other, and China's appetite for savings vastly exceeds what its own financial market can offer.Tax rthe old? Sure – you try saying that, #OWS spuds!
There is nothing complicated about finance. It is based on old people lending to young people. Young people invest in homes and businesses; aging people save to acquire assets on which to retire. The new generation supports the old one, and retirement systems simply apportion rights to income between the generations. Never before in human history, though, has a new generation simply failed to appear.
The world kept shipping capital to the United States over the past 10 years, however, because it had nowhere else to go. The financial markets, in turn, found ways to persuade Americans to borrow more and more money. If there weren't enough young Americans to borrow money on a sound basis, the banks arranged for a smaller number of Americans to borrow more money on an unsound basis. That is why subprime, interest-only, no-money-down and other mortgages waxed great in bank portfolios.
America's financial market could not produce enough pork chops, so the Europeans bought Spam and scrapple. America's rating agencies assured them that derivatives created from subprime mortgages, second-lien mortgages and other dubious parts of the pig were the equivalent of pork chops, and foreign investors wolfed them down.