World View: France, Germany Hostile After 50 Years of Political Unity

This morning's key headlines from
  • Italy sentences scientists to jail for not predicting 2009 earthquake
  • North and South Korea exchange threats over leaflet-laden balloons
  • Lebanon's politicians turn against Hizbollah
  • After 50 years of political unity, France and Germany's relations are increasingly hostile

Italy sentences scientists to jail for not predicting 2009 earthquake

A court in the central Italian city of L'Aquila on Monday sentenced six scientists and a government bureaucrat to six years in jail on manslaughter charges for their failure to predict a 2009 earthquake that left more than 300 people dead. The seven are all members of the "National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks." This commission met early in 2009, and responded to the question of whether there would be a repeat of the disastrous earthquake of 1703. The response was: "It is unlikely that an earthquake like the one in 1703 could occur in the short term, but the possibility cannot be totally excluded." That was enough to find them guilty of criminal manslaughter. Apparently the Italian court system consists of a bunch of morons.

For ten years, I've been using this web site to predict things that, unlike earthquakes, actually CAN be predicted. (See "List of major Generational Dynamics predictions" from 2008.) But that's not what bothers me. 

What bothers me is that six scientists have been sentenced to jail for doing their jobs honestly, as far as I can tell, while none of the banksters that caused the financial crisis have gone to jail. If you turn on CNBC or Bloomberg TV, you see banksters making 7-digit salaries and bonues who lie constantly, particularly stock price/earnings ratios, also called "valuations." If you look at the Wall Street Journal , you'll see that the current S&P 500 price/earnings ratio is 17.03, far, far higher than the historical average of 14, meaning that stocks are far overpriced. But the so-called experts on CNBC and Bloomberg TV tell full-throated lies, saying that valuations are around 7 or 8 or 9 or 10 or are historically low. (See "14-Apr-12 World View -- Wharton School's Jeremy Siegel is lying about stock valuations" from earlier this year.) So we scientists in Italy doing their jobs and being sent to jail by morons, and we have crooks and liars on CNBC and Bloomberg TV who are NOT going to jail. CS Monitor

North and South Korea exchange threats over leaflet-laden balloons

A group of North Korean defectors in South Korea have defied the South Korean army and launched balloons carrying 120,000 leaflets criticizing North Korea across the North Korean border. When the defectors announced the plan last week, North Korea said its army will launch a "merciless military strike" if the leaflet balloons were launch, saying that the balloons were "undisguised psychological warfare." South Korea immediately went on high alert and responded that it was prepared to "completely destroy" the North Korean attack. However, the South Korean army and police were sent out to stop the balloon launch. The defectors evaded the army and launched most of the balloons anyway. A U.S. envoy in Beijing said, "It is grossly disproportionate to have threatened to respond to balloons with bombs." Yonhap (Seoul) and Arirang (Seoul)

Lebanon's politicians turn against Hizbollah

Hizbollah is both an international terrorist group and a political party in Lebanon, with links to Iran and to the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. However, its continued support for al-Assad, as he's been almost two years of extermination attacks on innocent Arab women and children in their homes, has caused Hizbollah to be weakened, and allowed opposition politicians in Lebanon to stand up to Hizbollah where they previously didn't dare to do so. Particular criticism is now being directed against Hizbollah for its use of weapons for any purpose other than the "Resistance," where the word "Resistance" refers to actions taken against Israel. Hizbollah's weapons are to be used ONLY for the "resistance," but now Hizbollah is being criticized for using its weapons illegally -- sometimes against Lebanese people who oppose Hizbollah, but more importantly now in support of Bashar al-Assad's extermination policy. 

Lebanese President and former commander of the Lebanese army Michel Suleiman, who became president of Lebanon in 2008 with the blessings of Syria and Hizbollah, has now become particularly critical of Hizbollah, and is demanding that Hizbollah's weapons be turned over to Lebanon's military:

[We] propose to approve a law to arm the Lebanese army for the intermediate future, and to allocate sufficient resources to develop its human and military capabilities, so that it can formulate a plan to defend the country's land, air, and sea. [Until then], all sides [must] agree on the framework and appropriate mechanisms for use of the resistance weapons, for determining who controls them, and for approving [a procedure for] handing them over to the military, which is exclusively responsible for operating mechanisms of power...

We have decided to arm the Lebanese military in five years, so that it will have the exclusive capability to carry weapons in Lebanon and defend the land."

A Hizbollah spokesman has replied:

"In Lebanon there is one party called Hizbollah. We do not have a military wing and a political wing. We do not have Hizbollah [on one hand] and the resistance party [on the other]. Hizbollah is a political party and the resistance party. The distinctions being drawn by certain people are forbidden and nonexistent. ... No one is competing with the state for exclusive control of weapons... However, if the intention of the slogan [that the state should exclusively control the weapons] is to disarm the resistance, then we say to them that this is the last thing they should think of...

We will protect our weapons at any cost, [for] they are like the blood flowing through our veins."


After 50 years of political unity, France and Germany's relations are increasingly hostile

After fighting two bitter wars in the first half of the 20th century, Germany and France have generally been unified after World War II in pursuing political objectives to guarantee that there would never be another war. But the recent European Summit exposed huge policy differences between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande, as well as the fact that they despise each other. Some of the personal and policy differences are: 

  • Hollande doesn't want to forgive Merkel for openly supporting his opponent, Nicolas Sarkozy, during France's last presidential election.
  • Merkel suspects that Hollande is secretly planning a campaign against Merkel in Germany's next election.
  • Hollande suspects that Germany is using the budget issue as an excuse to gain European dominance. Merkel is demanding the EU's right to intervene in national budgets, which Hollande firmly rejects.
  • Merkel is suspicious that France is joining forces with Spain and Italy to form a joint axis against Germany.
  • Hollande insists that the euro crisis can be solved only if Europe shared liability for debts of individual countries. He's put forth several proposals to accomplish this: euro bonds, euro bills, debt repayment fund.
  • Hollande is critical of Germany's "obsession" with austerity and budget controls.
  • Hollande wanted to merge the German-France EADS aircraft maker with the British defense contractor BAE, but Germany vetoed the merger.
  • Merkel believes that Hollande is a novice in the business of governing, and he is making mistakes that are accelerating France's decline.

The Germans are particularly dismayed over Hollande's attempt to paint himself as the spokesman of the southern EU countries. It upsets them that he's is reviving old plans for a Mediterranean union on Europe's southern edge, including four other Southern European and five North African countries. Spiegel

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