Saturday, 5 November 2016

Weekend Update 05/11/2016 – America & Why Europe Dies.

The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.

H. L. Mencken.

The big news in the coming week is who will become the next leader of the free world. Will it be the “crook” or the “loose cannon?” The media here in the UK has long been biased for the “crook,” skewing the reported polls, over covering the “crook” over the “loose cannon,” and all but declaring the HillBilly campaign the victor. Only in the last three days has UK media started to wobble, and begin to consider the possibility that the contest might actually be close. From faraway London it’s impossible to tell media spin from reality, but judging by the size of the crowds pulled by each contender, the “loose cannon” would still seem to be in with a chance of an upset.

Either way, America seems to be in for a troubled year ahead. A President Clinton faces a Nixonian like scandal plagued rocky road ahead, while with a “loose cannon” on the loose in the White House, other than building the Great Wall of North America, and deporting about 30 million illegal immigrants, plus tearing up NAFTA, it’s hard to predict where America might be headed.

Below pro-Clinton Bloomberg sums up the state of play in the final weekend. Sadly, we’re going to miss what has been one of the most entertaining election campaigns in decades. But American politics being what it is, I’m sure we won’t be kept waiting long for the sequel.

Clinton, Trump Fight for Edge in Final Weekend of Campaign

November 5, 2016 — 12:07 AM GMT Updated on November 5, 2016 — 2:47 AM GMT
Hillary Clinton pleaded with supporters to cast their ballots before Tuesday’s election, while Donald Trump sought an upset victory fueled by an anti-Washington mood as polls and early voting pointed slightly in the Democrat’s favor.

The final get-out-the-vote push ratcheted up the intensity of a highly unusual campaign that’s already exhausted many Americans and threatens to leave a deeply divided nation separated even more.

As both campaigns raced to the finish, Republican Trump was hit with a distraction when two former aides to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were convicted Friday of creating a traffic jam for what prosecutors say was political revenge.

Christie, who had been scheduled to campaign on Trump’s behalf this weekend, is serving as the head of transition planning for a potential Trump administration and the convictions brought corruption talk uncomfortably close to the nominee.

A former Republican presidential candidate himself, Christie continued to say he had no knowledge of the plot to punish a mayor for refusing to endorse his re-election bid by closing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge. During the trial, however, jurors were told Christie was aware of the scheme and he was painted as a bully who punished dissenters.

Attack Lines

The convictions offered Clinton, a Democrat, a fresh line of attack, using Trump’s own slogan about about cleaning up Washington against him. "He might start by draining his own swamp and asking Mr. Christie to resign as the head of his transition,’’ John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, told reporters aboard her plane.

Trump continued to strike at Clinton for her use of a private e-mail server during her time as secretary of state and made no mention of Christie, as he sought to project momentum for his unconventional bid. "Those polls are like rocket ships," he said Friday in Wilmington, Ohio.

The candidates are chasing each other through the most competitive states, as national and state-level data suggest Clinton has an edge in the quest for the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.
Clinton Friday tended to what she hopes will be a Midwest firewall, logging stops in Pennsylvania and Michigan, states where Trump is making a late play with his appeal to white, working-class voters. She also attended a “get-out-the-vote performance’’ with Beyonce and the rapper Jay Z and other performers in Cleveland, trying to spur black turnout in a state Trump can’t afford to lose.

“Look how far we’ve come from having no voice,’’ Beyonce said. “But we have to vote.’’

Clinton is also returning to Cleveland on Sunday, the final day of early voting in the state, for a rally with LeBron James, the native Ohioan who brought the National Basketball Association championship to Cleveland with the Cavaliers last season and who has endorsed Clinton.

Trump spoke to a crowd of about 12,000 people in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Friday and took a dig at Clinton’s celebrity surrogates. "I hear we set a new record for this building," He said. "And by the way, I didn’t have to bring J. Lo or Jay Z. I’m here all by myself. I am here all by myself. Just me. No guitar. No piano. No nothing."

Back on the other side of the Atlantic, the euro continues on it apocalyptic way, destroying jobs, wealth and economies, with gay abandon. The out of touch bureaucrats supposedly running the EUSSR, remain as out of touch with reality as ever. While Brexit has set off a gold rush for London’s retailers.

No industry, no growth: Southern Europe’s production start declining after euro adoption

25 October 2016.
Some say that the common currency prevents less productive economies from cheating by weakening their national currencies and forces them to become more efficient and competitive. Industrial production data shows that it is not the case. Italy, France, Greece and Portugal have not only stopped producing more; they are producing now less than in 1990! The decay started immediately after the introduction of the euro in 2002!

The OECD industrial production data analysis leads to the following conclusions:
1. since 1990 industrial production (manufacturing and construction included) has been growing in volume at large, even in the most developed countries;
2. the disproportion between industrial output in Germany and two other biggest euroarea economies, Italy and France, occurred already just after the 2001-2002 crisis;
3. Southern Europe’s economies have lost their ability to rebound in industrial production alongside the adoption of the euro.
1. Industrial output can increase
In most of the most developed countries in the world industrial production has grown in volume since 1990, although a great deal of manufacturing capacities have been moved from the West to the emerging markets. Moreover, in countries like the USA, Israel, Switzerland, Austria and Germany the output has surpassed the 2008 pre-crisis levels. However, if we take a look at the euroarea or the Group of Seven (G7), then numbers are still lower than in 2008 but definitely higher than in 1990.

2. The euroarea has a problem
A closer look at the European industrial production numbers gives a clear signal: something bad has happened after 2000. Before the introduction of euro, production trends ran more or less in the same direction. Meanwhile after the 2001-2002 crisis, French and Italian output did not rebound, while production in Germany expanded enormously and was able to reach the 2008 level quickly after the last crisis. Industry in France and Italy not only has not rebounded but also has started to curb.

3. Southern Europe will not rebound with the euro
Countries with a sovereign currency can easily rebuild their economies after recession because of one simple mechanism: depreciation. A relatively strong currency (strong in comparison to the economic condition) would not have to be a problem for Italy or Greece if there still were some capacities for more debt. Then internal consumption could prop up industrial production. But Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal have had neither a weak sovereign currency nor the possibility of incurring more debt.

Industry is very important for the economy, as it creates jobs and innovations. The euroarea in the current form is preventing Southern Europe’s industry from developing  because of a different type of the economy there. “Roman” economies are not worse than than Germany’s. They just need other tools, so restricting all these various economies in the German fashion will destroy the euro as well as the European unity.

Euro-Area Economic Growth Marred by French Services Slowdown

November 4, 2016 — 9:00 AM GMT Updated on November 4, 2016 — 9:27 AM GMT
Economic momentum in the euro area accelerated less than forecast in October amid weaker growth in French services, highlighting the risks to the region’s recovery.

A Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing and services rose to 53.3, up from 52.6 in September, but below an Oct. 24 reading of 53.7, IHS Markit said on Friday. A gauge for service activity missed an earlier estimate by 0.7 point, reflecting a slowdown in France and smaller euro-area nations.

“The weaker-than-previously indicated expansion in October raises doubts about whether the euro zone is breaking out of the sluggish growth phase seen throughout much of this year,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit. However, high order backlogs and a boost in hiring and business confidence suggest “that growth will pick up as we move closer toward the end of the year.”

The 19-nation currency bloc has seen a slow but steady recovery as the European Central Bank supports the economy with unprecedented stimulus. Still, headwinds including the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union and several upcoming elections could test the region’s resilience. Several member countries are already feeling the crunch.

“The economic data out of the euro-zone have failed to show any signs of confidence,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets U.K. Ltd. in London. “The only country which has beaten the forecast is Germany -- no surprise. France, the problem child of the euro zone, failed to impress once again.”

Germany delivers frosty warning to Britain's Johnson on Brexit

Fri Nov 4, 2016 | 4:13pm EDT
Johnson, a leading advocate of Britain leaving the European Union, struck a conciliatory note on his first visit to Berlin as foreign secretary, saying he thought Brexit could be a "win-win" for Britain and the EU.

But his host Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has been outspoken in his criticism of Johnson and other Brexit campaigners in the past, delivered a frosty warning that Britain should not delay the start of exit talks and that London would not be allowed to cherry-pick in the negotiations.

"Dear Boris, you have to understand that our priority is keeping the EU-27 together," Steinmeier told a joint news conference.

"Our view is clear and we've said it before - we can't talk about easing the conditions for access to the single market on the one hand and allowing Britain to reject those elements it sees as unattractive on the other."

Johnson has irked the German government by dismissing as "baloney" the link between the EU's core principle of free movement, which eurosceptics say makes it impossible to control immigration to Britain, and access to its tariff-free single market, which benefits British businesses. EU leaders have said repeatedly that Britain cannot have one without the other.

He started off the news conference in German with a twist on a famous speech by U.S. President John F. Kennedy, declaring "Ich bin nicht ein Berliner" (I am not a Berliner), but noting that his wife was born there.
He said the bilateral relationship was of "absolutely fundamental importance" and a guarantor of peace, stability and economic prosperity in Europe.

Johnson said the British government would stick with its plans to trigger divorce proceedings by the end of March despite a court ruling on Thursday that demands the government consult parliament before invoking Article 50 of the EU treaty to serve notice to its 27 partners.

"I don't think it will interfere with the timetable for that process," Johnson said, noting that the government planned to appeal the ruling and that there was no question of Britain changing course on Brexit.

EU commissioner apologizes for remarks on China, gays

Thu Nov 3, 2016 | 12:06pm EDT
Germany's European commissioner apologized for offending China, gay people and French-speaking Belgians on Thursday as the EU executive tried to end days of scandalized commentary that might have jeopardized trade.

Guenther Oettinger said in a statement released by the Commission that he now realized his remarks to a German business forum last week had "hurt" people. He had called Chinese people "slit-eyes", joked about "compulsory gay marriage" and railed at a Belgian region's efforts to block an EU-Canada trade deal.

A spokesman for the EU executive, which is trying to improve relations with Beijing despite disputes over trade policy and human rights, said Oettinger had released the apology after a call from Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday.

His U-turn came a day after the Chinese foreign ministry condemned his remarks and said they reflected a "baffling sense of superiority" among Western politicians.

Oettinger, 63, had previously accepted only that his comments on Oct. 25 had been "somewhat sloppy". He retained the confidence of Chancellor Angela Merkel, a fellow conservative though not a close ally, who had nominated the former state premier to Berlin's seat on the Commission seven years ago.

But the widening outcry threatened not only to hurt EU-China relations but Juncker's management of his team. Last Friday, before his comments had been widely reported, Juncker announced Oettinger's promotion from digital affairs to vice president for the budget, succeeding his departing Bulgarian colleague.

In his 300-word apology, in which he also explained that his intent had been to jolt businesses out of any complacency toward Chinese competition, Oettinger said he had had time to reflect.

"I can now see that the words I used have created bad feelings and may even have hurt people," he wrote. "This was not my intention and I would like to apologize for any remark that was not as respectful as it should have been.

Oettinger described his comments using the German phrase "frei von der Leber" - "free from the liver", or very blunt.

He said he wanted to give a wake-up call to his German audience and to Europeans. "I have great respect for the dynamics of the Chinese economy – China is a partner and a tough competitor," Oettinger added.

He said he was misquoted in reports that he called French-speaking, Socialist-led Wallonia a tiny region run by communists and that, as a former premier of the rich manufacturing state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, he took regional opinions "very seriously".

Eurostar Sees Christmas Rush to London as Pound Lures Parisians

November 4, 2016 — 1:45 PM GMT
Eurostar International Ltd. said the pound’s decline against the euro following Britain’s vote to quit the European Union is stimulating tourist travel to the U.K. and helping to offset a decline in demand for visits to Paris and Brussels following terrorist attacks there.

The number of people traveling from France to the U.K. on Eurostar’s Channel Tunnel express trains jumped 18 percent during October’s school holidays, providing a positive note after a “challenging summer,” the company said in a statement Friday.

“With the weakening of the pound, the U.K. is proving to be an attractive destination,” Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Petrovic said in the release. “The outlook to the end of the year is encouraging, with many travelers taking day trips to London to do their Christmas shopping.”

The pound has declined 15 percent versus the euro this year, with its slide accelerating after the June 23 Brexit vote. While that’s reduced the purchasing power of Britons visiting the continent, it has made travel to London, one of Europe’s pricier cities, more affordable from nations using the single currency.

While third-quarter passenger numbers shrank 10 percent to 2.6 million, they’ve gained 8 percent in the past eight weeks amid “signs of recovery in the trading environment,” Eurostar said. Quarterly revenue slid 8 percent to 184 million pounds ($230 million).

The company will go ahead with the biggest expansion since its foundation in 1994 next year, with the start of services that will link London with Amsterdam in less than four hours via Brussels and Rotterdam.

That’s after Petrovic said last month he’d reduce frequencies on existing routes and eliminate about 80 posts in response to declining demand and as the introduction of 10 longer e320 trains allows Eurostar to maintain capacity levels with fewer departures.

With a difficult year ahead on both sides of the Atlantic, this looks to be a good time to once again top up insurance holdings of fully paid up physical gold and silver.

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right.

H. L. Mencken.

In other news electric vehicles might need a pause.

Battery explosion turns crashed Tesla into a massive fireball

04 November 2016
After crashing into a tree, a Tesla Model S violently burst into flames causing cells from its lithium-ion battery to explode.
The video above shows parts of the batteries, which can burn for up to 24 hours, bursting into flames after the crash and shooting into the air like fireworks. The single-vehicle crash, which killed the driver and a passenger, occurred Thursday morning in Indianapolis, WTHR reported.

In a press conference following the accident, Indianapolis Fire Department Battalion Chief Kevin Jones explained that although he and his team have been trained on how to respond to fires in hybrid or electrical vehicles, fires related to high-voltage lithium-ion batteries require "copious amounts of water" to extinguish and burn at an extremely high temperature. 
Jones described the scene of the fatal crash, noting debris and battery cells were strewed approximately 100 feet in each direction. 

"Some of those smaller cells that had broken apart began firing off almost like projectiles around the rescuers," Jones said, before he noted he had not seen anything of this magnitude before. 

Another witness, Al Finnell, told The Associated Press that he saw the car hit the tree before it bounced around and exploded. "... all the car parts went up in the air and I had to accelerate just to get away from it," he said.

Jones explained that the accident occurred after the driver lost control of the vehicle while driving 
at a high speed. He also made it clear that large fires following high-speed crashes are not unique to electric vehicles. 

“If you have collisions at high rates of speed with impacts like that, regardless if it’s a traditional power vehicle via gasoline or hybrid or all electric, you can see a fire in a vehicle like that or severe damage," Jones said. "And so to say it was simply because it was an electric vehicle, you can’t say that because we’ve seen collisions that are non-electric vehicles with just as bad of damage or fire.”

A Tesla spokesperson told Mashable the company believed Autopilot was not turned on during the crash. If Autopilot had been engaged "it would have limited the vehicle’s speed to less than 35 mph on this street, which is inconsistent with witness statements and the damage sustained," according to the spokesperson. 

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