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Archive for September 2015


The Automotive Edge

VM Tricks the World But Pays the Price

September 24th 2015

It went through the press like a thunderstorm: Volkswagen installed a software in its diesel engine controllers that detected when the car was under test. In such situations it reduced the harmful exhaust to the legal limit; otherwise it blew untenable many exhaust fumes into the air. The trick clearly was applied to circumvent the environmental legislation in the USA and other countries. Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn was forced to step back – but which effects will this revelation have?

It’s a shame for the German automotive industry that a honourable company like Volkswagen resorts to such means to better its position in the competition. There could be no other solution for Mr. Winterkorn than to step back. There is reason to fear that this dirty little trick has the potential to substantially damage the standing of the Volkswagen group, the diesel technology and the German automotive industry as a whole. Read more ..


Vote 2016

Trust of the People Eroding over Hilary Email Server

September 24th 2015

Hillary Clinton

Despite her assertions to the contrary, the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s email address is not just an issue for the reporters she wishes would stop peppering her with questions on the topic.  It is an issue that gets right to the heart of a vital question—shouldn’t the American people trust the person they elect to sit in the Oval Office as president? 

 Abraham Lincoln once said, “The people when rightly and fully trusted will return the trust.” If only the inverse were true.  However, the track record of obfuscations and lack of forthrightness by Mrs. Clinton make it increasingly hard for her to be trusted.

 That certainly seems to be the opinion of the people.  But don’t just take my word for it, look at the numbers in recent surveys.  

 A national Quinnipiac University poll released last month indicated that “trustworthy” and “honest” are not words that a majority of Americans would use to describe her. In fact, nearly six in 10 of those who participated in the study said that she did not possess those traits.  The respondents included people from all across the political spectrum. Read more ..


Europe on Edge

Britain's Status as a Trading Nation Ties It to Europe

September 8th 2015

British army privates on parade

At some point in the next two years, British voters will decide whether to remain a part of the European Union. This will be the first time Britons have been consulted on the subject since 1975, when 67 percent voted to stay in. If it does decide to leave, the United Kingdom will become the first country to leave the European Union since it was created as the European Community in 1957. The repercussions would be felt not just in Britain, but also across the Continent and indeed across the world. To predict the eventual result of the vote, it is first important to understand the factors that have kept the United Kingdom in the union this long.

The story starts with geography. Britain is a relatively small island situated off a large but historically divided continent. It is narrow, with navigable rivers, natural resources and fertile land. These factors have various implications for the country's development. As an island with narrow dimensions, the coast is always nearby, making a large portion of the population maritime. Add an ample supply of wood, and conditions are ripe for the construction of a strong navy. Read more ..


Europe on Edge

Europe Rethinks the Schengen Agreement

September 3rd 2015

Syrian Refugees

When France, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg signed the Schengen Agreement in 1985, they envisioned a system in which people and goods could move from one country to another without barriers. This vision was largely realized: Since its implementation in 1995, the Schengen Agreement eliminated border controls between its signatories and created a common visa policy for 26 countries.

The treaty was a key step in the creation of a federal Europe. By eliminating border controls, member states gave up a basic element of national sovereignty. The agreement also required a significant degree of trust among its signatories, because it put the responsibility for checking foreigners' identities and baggage on the country of first entry into the Schengen area. Once people have entered a Schengen country, they can move freely across most of Europe without facing any additional controls. Read more ..


After the Holocaust

Pondering Hitler's Legacy

September 1st 2015

Hitler

Happenstance has brought me today to a house on the Austria-Germany border, just south of Salzburg. That puts me about 3 miles from the German town of Berchtesgaden, on the German side of the border. Adolf Hitler's home, the Berghof, was just outside the town, on a mountain in the Bavarian Alps. To the extent that Hitler had a home, this was it, and it was the place where Hitler met with many notables, particularly before the war began.

As it happens, today is the 76th anniversary of the start of World War II in Europe. It is always a strange feeling to be here. There is a sense of history present here, but it is mostly a sense of the mind, since Berchtesgaden is an attractive but ordinary place. It always feels as if towns like this should have a patina of extraordinariness sticking to everything. But that isn't how history works. There is a patina of mind, but not of place. On Sept. 1 of any year since 1939, and at a place like this, there is a sense of urgency to extract the real meaning of the man who lived in a house on the mountain I am looking at. Read more ..


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