EU Creditors Finally Start Making Greece Live Up To Its Agreements

Greece has been getting a lot of bailouts from the IMF, from the EU, from everywhere. One of the things they agreed to do was speed up the processing of foreclosures. But like so many of the things Greece promised to do and didn’t do, they didn’t do this either. Protests in Greece swell against property auctions | Fox News

The Communist Party is protesting that homes in default are being auctioned off. Apparently banks should just give you money with no hope of ever getting it back. Or something. (But then that is what Greece as whole was doing.) The auctions had been stopped cold.

This week, due to the postponed auctions, creditors delayed paying out a rescue loan installment to the government worth 5.7 billion euros ($7.1 billion).

In the spirit of the golden rule (He who has the gold, makes the rule), Greece restarted the online auctions Wednesday.

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And You Thought American Politics Were Screwed Up

German politics are way more screwed up than ours right now. And that is saying something.

Germany held elections on September 24th of last year. They still don’t have a government. The SPD (center-left party) is voting by mail to decide if they should join another “grand coalition” with Angel Merkel’s CDU/CSU party block in forming a government. The 400,000 some odd members are not too happy since the leadership said they wouldn’t join a coalition – and then they did. The leadership is meanwhile arguing about whether they need to listen to people. Of course this is why the SPD has had its worst election result in decades. SPD ‘has no plan’ if members reject Merkel coalition deal.

If there is no coalition, then there will either be a minority government (which won’t outlast the first no-confidence vote, and people are not confident), or there will be new elections. There is probably a betting pool and odds somewhere.

To show the nature of the change, consider that CDU and SPD had support from 90% of the population in 1970s. That is down to about 49 percent, and falling. That is like the Democrats and Republicans losing half the House and Senate to the Greens and Libertarians. And others.

On the subject of NATO, Germany still can’t get its act together. Germany grand coalition clash: CDU and SPD in furious NATO row

Germany signed a non-agreement to spend 2 percent of their GDP on the military. Currently they are spending about 1.2 percent. The ink wasn’t dry on the 2 percent document before they started walking it back.

Mr Roettgen, conservative head of the foreign affairs committee in parliament, told Reuters in an interview that Germany could and should increase military spending to around 1.4 percent or 1.5 percent of economic output by the end of the next four-year legislative period, up from around 1.2 percent now.

And they need to do something, because the Bundeswehr (and perhaps particularly the Deutsche Marine) is in a bad way. Lacking in materiel and manpower, the German Military isn’t quite falling apart, but they aren’t exactly in fighting trim, either. And for 60 years – or more – they’ve been able to ignore military spending because the USA was always ready to carry the freight. (And we probably still are, but as the largest economy in Europe, a lot of people think they should be doing more to pay-their-own way and not be a freeloader.)

The UN Isn’t The Only Organization Screwing Haiti

It seems that Oxfam is also harboring a bunch of perverts. UK official warns Oxfam to hand over all info on sex case | Fox News

Oxfam has denied that it tried to cover up the use of prostitutes by some of its staff in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake there. Still, suggestions that it failed to give full details about the case to regulators and donors has touched off outrage in Britain.

So are all these feel-good programs making the world a better place, or just exploiting people who are poor and desperate? And why is the UK government giving tax money to a non-profit? Do they have so much extra in tax revenue? (Here I thought they were considering a tax increase to try and fix the problems with their health care system.)

The Traditionalists Are Alarmed By Cryptocurrencies

Governments don’t like things they can’t regulate and control. France and Germany Urge Discussions on Crypto Policy at G20 Summit

I doubt the people behind this have any inkling of what cryptography allows or how the dark web works.

The document emphasizes the need for a transnational regulatory approach in order to enforce cryptocurrency policy, urging finance officials to discuss issues relating to cryptocurrency policy and enforcement at the upcoming G20 Summit.

Good Luck with that.

German military procurement is “one hell of a complete disaster.”

Remember when Trump accused NATO allies of not pulling their weight in the treaty organization? They aren’t. German Navy experiences “LCS affect” in spades as new frigate fails sea trials | Ars Technica

The German Navy has a lot of problems right now. It has no working submarines, in part because of a chronic repair parts shortage. The Deutsche Marine is still flying helicopters older than their pilots—the Sea Lynx entered service in 1981, and the Sea King in 1969—and has long-delayed their replacement. And now the service is facing problems with its newest ships so severe that the first of the class failed its sea trials and was returned to the shipbuilders in December.

Now a ship failing sea trials is most definitely NOT the fault of the NAVY. (Though this is a new design, and that may be the fault of the navy.) But not having any operational submarines due to lack of parts is a logistical problem, and probably has a budgetary cause – as in the politicians don’t want to pay for defense. As witnessed by the age of the helicopters flying off frigates and destroyers.

Of course the problems are not limited to the Deutsche Navy, they are just buying really large items. German military is falling behind, and the US is putting it on notice – Business Insider

A few of things that are wrong:

  • Helicopter pilot training has been outsourced to a private company – most of the Bundeswehr helicopters are out of commission.
  • Only 95 of 244 Leopard 2 tanks are in service.
  • Only 29 of 93 commissioned fighter jets are combat-ready. (Only 66 are operational)
  • In recent NATO war games they were forced to disguise broomsticks as machine guns to hide the fact that they don’t have enough equipment.

Things haven’t been getting better the past 4 years.

All these problems are hurting recruiting. (Gee, you think?) Even German politicians are beginning to bring some heat.

“We should not develop the reputation of being one of the world’s best freeloaders,” Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference and Germany’s former envoy to Washington said.

I don’t believe that the current government of Germany (Angel Merkel was finally able to get a coalition government formed 6 months after the election) will be able to do anything like increase defense spending. Certainly not to the 2% of GDP level that was in an agreement.

This Will Instill Confidence in the Financial System. Or Not

I would like to say that it’s a shock to find ATMs are STILL running Windows XP. I wish it was a shock. But it’s not. “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.” Robert Heinlein is still right. ATM ‘jackpotting’ hacks reach the US

So apparently since skimmers take too long, hackers are now able to get an ATM to dispense all of its cash in one go.

Diebold has said upgrading to Windows 7 fixes some of the specified attacks. And watching for things like opening the top of the ATM. But ATM operators aren’t rushing to fix the problem.

The catch, of course, is that ATM operators either haven’t been diligent or may have a hard time justifying the updates. It’s telling that victim machines have been running XP, a 16-year-old platform whose official support ended in 2014 — the odds aren’t high that companies will keep their ATMs up to date, let alone replace them with more secure models or institute advanced defenses.

And so everyone of us pays more in fees because the banks can’t be bothered to upgrade from Windows XP.

Meanwhile, In the Socialist Paradise of Venezuela…

Starving people are rioting, and killing/butchering cattle. (At least they know how. Well, maybe not…) Starving Venezuelans mob field and slaughter cattle, report says

I think this statement, from the opposition, sums things up completely.

“What we’re living is barbaric,” Juan Guaido, an opposition lawmaker tweeted. “The dehumanizing regime of Nicolas Maduro is turning a blind eye to the tragedy that we Venezuelans are living.”

As for knowing how to butcher… There was a video posted of a mob attacking a cow with rocks and a machete. (You’re doing it wrong!) Estimates are that 300 animals have been killed.

Food riots – with the requisite looting – left 2 people dead, and 16 injured.

The link includes the required photo of empty store shelves. I expect things will get worse before they get better.