The Machinery of Modern Life Begins to Fail in Europe

Well that might be an overstatement… But in light of the previous post, I decided to actually publish this – which has been languishing in the drafts folder for a short while.

We take for granted our ability to travel where we will, whenever we want. That isn’t working out so well in Europe these days. Jump in German flight delays stokes fears of travel chaos

According to passenger rights portal EUclaim, 15,571 flights were cancelled across Germany between January and June of this year. A further 3,778 took off more than three hours late. For the same period last year, the same figures were 8,826 and 2,268, respectively.

Now this isn’t all the fault of the greedy or incompetent airlines. While some delays are airline specific, the European Air Traffic Control system is falling apart. The organization that oversees all European Air Traffic (Eurocontrol) expects a 53% increase in delays this year.

A French senate report this week said the country’s air traffic control was responsible for a third of all aviation delays in Europe, according to Le Parisien newspaper. Separately, a 2016 report from PwC found that air traffic control strikes had reduced EU GDP by €10.4 billion ($12.1 billion) between 2010 and 2015 through aviation, tourism and freight losses.

There was a push to forbid air traffic controllers from striking, but that wouldn’t be fair to the workers. So European air traffic is a mess.

And just to throw a monkey wrench into the works, the pilots of Ryanair (a large, discount airline) are going to be on strike.

Add it all together and In June, only 50-60% of the flights were on time. (In the US that number is more like 75 to 80%, still not great, but which would you prefer.)

There are other examples of course. Germany is experiencing a deterioration of their electric grid, as the switch out nuclear and coal for “renewables.” Has driven the costs up as well. (Though Australia might be the poster child for too much solar power.)

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Rulers of Europe: 400 BC to 2017

An interesting video that shows the rulers of Europe – the ones we know anyway – from 400 B.C. until 2017. Captures the brief existence of Alexander the Great’s Empire. Shows the rise of Rome, the territory held by Charlemagne, Napoleon, the incursion of the Golden Horde (that is all the rulers denoted by Khan coming in from the east in the year 1230 or so – 13 minutes in), the Ottoman Turks, as well as names you probably remember from your history classes. (Trouble with YouTube? Use this link.)

What strikes me about this video, is how truly amazing the Roman empire was. How large, given communication traveled at the speed of a rider on horseback, and how long it endured. Alexander The Great’s empire (lower right corner, early in the video) barely outlasted his death. And the Ottoman Empire lasted longer, and was larger, than I thought. I may have to do some studying. The last thing that is striking is just how often the lines on the map change, right down to modern times.

Hat tip to Tam.

European Hand-wringing Over Trump and the State of European Defense

Zeit is in many ways an annoying organization, but it is one of the few German publications/media companies that translates some of their stuff into English. And even though they are annoying, it is still worth reading some of what they have to say. Transatlantic relations: Yankee Goes Home | ZEIT ONLINE

Europe has benefited from the relationship with America, mostly – though not completely – through our defense of them during the Cold War. At first there was no choice, but later, it was more habit. That, and they found it nice to let us pay for the defense while they spent their money on more profitable things.

Behind all Trump’s attacks against NATO, the European Union and free trade lurks the suspicion that for a long time the United States profited less from these arrangements than the freeloaders on the other side of the ocean.

And unfortunately there’s something to that. It’s been clear to European governments for some time that they have to spend more on defense.

The NATO Alliance calls on member states to spend a minimum of 2 percent of their GDP on defense. Germany – probably the strongest European country economically speaking – spends about 1.2 percent. Less, proportionally, than Albania. The result isn’t hard to predict: A military that could not defend its country if called upon to do so. Germany forced to resort to run-down and outdated military that experts say couldn’t win World War I let alone a modern war

He cites many examples, including the Saxony-based 371st tank battalion – a so-called “spearhead” unit of Nato’s Response Force.

In recent years it has had to beg and borrow 15,000 pieces of equipment from 56 other army units just to stay up to speed.

Meanwhile the 345th artillery training battalion is officially supposed to have 24 armoured artillery vehicles at its disposal.

But the reality is it has just seven, and all are on standby for Nato, meaning the unit has not carried out a single training exercise for three years.

A build up won’t happen overnight, especially not with Angela Merkel’s government still in power. They are hoping this issue goes away, and that America could just go back to footing the bill. No questions asked.

Europe Has Had a Big Dose of Reality

And they are reacting accordingly. Europeans turn to weapons in growing numbers after attacks | Reuters

Nevertheless, applications for gun permits are climbing in Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic. Their larger neighbor Germany has not followed the trend in lethal firearms, but permits for carrying devices designed to scare off assailants, such as blank guns and those that fire pepper spray, have risen almost 50 percent.

The usual hand-wringing by the usual suspects ensues. But it isn’t all one-sided.

Some people want this changed. Jean-Luc Addor, a parliamentarian and member of the Swiss gun lobby, aims to introduce legislation in September to ease the restrictions.

Addor contends that more armed civilians mean safer streets. “The state is not equipped to guarantee public safety,” he said. “Sometimes citizens – not every citizen, but those who have appropriate training – should be given means to protect themselves and their families.”

It should be interesting to see how this plays out. Hat tip Lawnews.tv

Europe is in deep yogurt

There is no order. The police are not doing anything to protect or serve, and less to restore order.

Finnish police ‘tipped off’ about plans by groups of asylum seekers to sexually harass women Unprecedented sex harassment in Helsinki at New Year, Finnish police report

Police in Germany reveal the ‘organised’ sex gangs which terrorised more than 100 women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve blocked officers from helping distressed victims. Huge influx of migrant men will lead to more sex attacks like in Cologne, says analyst | Daily Mail Online

Three Syrians have been arrested in southern Germany for the alleged gang rape of two teenage girls on New Year’s Eve. Two teenage girls gang-raped by four ‘Syrian nationals’ in southern Germany – Telegraph

Europe – Dusting off the Jackboots

It seems that tolerant, enlightened Europe which we are always hearing about is a myth. Fear of a Black Europe: Racism Rises on the Old Continent.

Tam noted that “Euros have a proven zero-to-jackboots time lower than just about anybody on the planet.” They seem to be living up to that capability.

Soccer matches are disrupted by fans heckling black players. An Italian politician – Congo-born Cecile Kyenge – is told she would make a great housekeeper but not a government minister. French protesters show a sign depicting a black, justice minister as an evil gorilla. It gets worse.

Hungary’s third-largest political party warned the country was being “subjugated by Zionism” as it protested against the World Jewish Congress holding a meeting in Budapest.

And in Greece, a Nazi-inspired political party went from 0.3% in 2009, to 7% last year. The Golden Dawn Party ran on a slogan of “So we can rid this land of filth,” and the won 21 seats in parliament. (OK at 7% they are still a small minority, but 0.3% to 7% in that short a time is a tremendous change.)

It seems that European Union is not having the calming, peace-bringing effect it was touted as delivering.