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Wednesday, November 26, 2014 5:39 PM


Thanksgiving Travel Nightmare: Over 700 Flights Canceled, Major Storms; Black Friday Ice; Please Drive Safely


If you are traveling tonight or tomorrow, please take extra time.

If you are traveling by plane, please check your flight schedule. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled, thousands of other flights delayed.

Thanksgiving Travel Nightmare

Accuweather reports Snowstorm Creates Thanksgiving Travel Nightmare in East

A snowstorm pummeling the East has produced lengthy flight delays and treacherous travel on roadways Wednesday. As snow rapidly exits the Northeast into Thanksgiving Day, there will still be some travel trouble spots in the wake of the storm.

Aircraft displaced and delayed by the storm in the East may lead to additional flight delays and cancellations on Thanksgiving Day across the nation. Passengers may have to schedule a different flight on an alternate route to get to their destination.

In anticipation of delays or cancellations, several airlines, including US Airways, American and Delta, have announced they will waive change fees for passengers scheduled to fly into airports in the line of the storm.
Snowfall Wednesday-Thursday



Accuweather's Live Blog reports Accidents in Eastern Snowstorm Create a Maze for Thanksgiving Travelers

Over 700 Flights Cancelled

Flight Aware shows over 700 flights cancelled into or within the United States. There have been over 7,000 delays.

Flight Aware Misery Map



For an interactive map, click on Misery Map then click on a city to see the accompanying misery.

Black Ice on Black Friday

Finally Accweather predicts Patchy Ice, Snow May Slow Early-Morning Surge of Shoppers.

Please drive safely!
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

12:34 PM


Google vs. Sun vs. France: Too Big, Too Powerful, Too Free


I happen to like the sun. By definition, the earth would not even be a planet without the sun. No one on earth would be alive without free sunshine.

I happen to like Google. I could survive without Google, but like the sun, much of what Google provides is free.

Free Google Things

  • Free internet services including the best search engine in the world
  • Free Gmail
  • Free research on self-driving cars
  • Free research on other robotics
  • Free blog software
  • Free hosting and storage for blogs
  • Free ads on my blog (and those ads make me money)

For a discussion of the implications of a self-driving car, please see Google Unveils Self-Driving Car, No Steering Wheel, No Accelerator, No Brake Pedal; Self-Driving Taxi Has Arrived. Who, other than city bureaucrats with their taxi licensing scheme will not want lower taxi fares?

For a discussion of other Google robotic research, please see More Robots: Google's "Atlas" Robot Mimics "Karate Kid"; Flying Defibrillator "Ambulance Drone" Unveiled; Fed Has No Answer.

Green Energy Handouts vs. Google

Unlike "green energy" parasites that could not exist without government subsidies (taxpayer dollars), Google, like the sun does what it does for free. Google does not ask for money from the government to promote autonomous cars, robots, or anything else.

Instead, Google research has created thousands of very high-paying jobs. Those job-holders pay taxes.

What's not to like?

Enter the French

France does not like Google. Yesterday, Yahoo! reported on France's Desperate Battle to Erase Google, Netflix and Uber from Existence.
Ever since Minitel bit dust, the continental power has been hopping mad about American domination of Internet services. And over the past weeks, attacks on U.S. giants have escalated from Paris to Lille.

Netflix is right now in the middle of an ambitious European expansion drive that started in Scandinavia and is fanning out south. Sure enough, France’s Association for the Protection of Consumers and Users has now sued Netflix for “malicious and illegal clauses.”

Uber’s French launch has been, if anything, more controversial than the Netflix debut. Infuriated taxi drivers in Lille have attacked a student for trying to enter an Uber car, first attempting to block her from opening the car door, then allegedly throwing a bottle at her head. The UberPOP service is about 20% cheaper than French taxis.

The French legal attacks on Google are too numerous to list here but the latest one actually has an entirely novel twist. France is now threatening Google with a hefty, €1,000 penalty for every defamatory link the company fails to remove from its global network of Google subsidiaries.
Google’s Tax Setup Faces French Challenge

Yahoo! noted numerous French attacks on Google.

Here is a key one as described by the Wall Street Journal: Google’s Tax Setup Faces French Challenge.

I have a simple remedy for this tax avoidance madness. Abolish corporate income taxes.

No country would have any tax advantage over any other country and all of the waste in time and effort and legal costs to maneuver taxes can be spent on research and more productive activities!

Right to Be Forgotten

Now the EU is in on the Google Attack. Please consider the New York Times article ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Should Apply Worldwide, E.U. Panel Says.
Privacy watchdogs in the European Union issued guidelines on Wednesday calling on the company to apply the recent ruling on the so-called right to be forgotten to all Google search results.

The new guidelines, issued by a panel composed of privacy regulators from the bloc’s 28 member states, would require Google and other search engines in certain cases to take down links at the request of individuals in the companies’ search domains in Europe as well as outside the region.

The guidelines also raised questions about whether Europe’s data protection rules — which are some of the most stringent in the world — could be enforced beyond the 28-member bloc, and if American tech companies like Google and Microsoft would have to comply with the privacy ruling in their American operations.

“This is a line that U.S. companies will be very reluctant to cross,” said Ian Brown, a professor of information security and privacy at the University of Oxford, in discussing the potential global use of Europe’s privacy ruling. “It will come down to who blinks first. The companies or the privacy regulators.”
Guidelines Optional

Guidelines are not rules. It will be up to European Union member countries to decide how to apply them. Enter France once again.

France insists whatever it decides applies to the entire world.

For example, the Guardian reports Google’s French arm faces daily €1,000 fines over links to defamatory article.
Google’s French subsidiary has been ordered to pay daily fines of €1,000 unless links to a defamatory article are removed from the parent company’s entire global network.

The punitive judgment by the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance, based on the controversial right to be forgotten online established by the European Court of Justice, breaks new ground in making the subsidiary liable for the activities of its parent company – in this case Google Inc.

The court handed down the ruling in September but it has barely been reported on outside France. At one level, the decision represents a pioneering attempt by a European court to enforce its order of justice on the internet worldwide.

Google has said it is considering its options and that it already removes links to defamatory online articles, fulfiling its legal obligations to French citizens. The French decision follows the May ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the case of Mario Costeja González, a Spanish man who succeeded in ordering Google to remove links to an old article saying that his home was being repossessed to pay off debts.

His lawyers argued that it was a matter of his privacy and that Google had to delete “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” data from its search results – what has become known as the right to be forgotten.
Too Big, Too Powerful, Too Free

This is what it all boils down to. Google is too big, too, powerful, and above all, too free for the French.

France does not like anything cheaper, or better. Thus the attacks not only on Google, but on Amazon (for free shipping of books), on Facebook, on Netflix, on the Uber taxi service, on anything and everything cheaper.

Save the Bookstores

July 10, 2014: Amazon Charges Penny for Shipping Following France Ruling Shipping Cannot Be Free; "No Competition" Laws

October 03, 2013: France Vows to "Save the Bookstores", Fixes Price of Books

What's the Goal?

France's Cultural Minister called Amazon a “destroyer of bookshops”. But what's the goal? Is it to save the bookstores or to get people to read?

If the goal is to get people to read books, logic would dictate the cheaper the price the better. Kindle, Nook, and other eBook readers come to mind.

Petition of the Candle Makers

Ironically, French economist Frederic Bastiat lampooned protectionism back in 1845 when he penned 'Petition of the Candle Makers', mocking the sun's "unfair trade advantage" over candle-makers.

We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price; for the moment he appears, our sales cease, all the consumers turn to him, and a branch of French industry whose ramifications are innumerable is all at once reduced to complete stagnation. This rival, which is none other than the sun, is waging war on us so mercilessly we suspect he is being stirred up against us by perfidious Albion (excellent diplomacy nowadays!), particularly because he has for that haughty island a respect that he does not show for us.”

"No Competition" Laws

"Unfair competition" laws should be called what they really are: "No competition" laws, complete with higher prices, poor service, and higher unemployment.

France Cannot Compete

Government spending is already 56% of GDP. Hollande has threatened to take over steel, auto makers, and other industries to preserve jobs. Every month, France becomes less and less competitive.

People flee France because of excess taxes. French corporations are reluctant to expand because of preposterous work rules.

France forced inane agricultural tariffs on the rest of Europe to save inefficient French farms from "unfair competition".

The economic fools in France would tax the sun if they could. They can't, so they do the next closest thing: attack Google.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 5:00 PM


Merkel Will Blink First, Not Putin


The cold war took another twist last week when a Senior German Politician Endorsed Russian Takeover of Crimea.

Former state premier Matthias Platzeck, chairman of the German-Russian Forum business lobby and erstwhile Social Democrat (SPD) chief, is the first high-ranking German to say the West should endorse the annexation as a way to help resolve the Ukraine crisis.

Platzeck, 60, told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper: "A wise man changes his mind - a fool never will... The annexation of Crimea must be retroactively arranged under international law so that it's acceptable for everyone."

Platzeck, Brandenburg's popular state premier from 2002 to 2013, struck a nerve in eastern Germany where there is far less support for sanctions against Russia than in the West.

"We have to find a resolution so that Putin won't walk off the field as the loser," said Platzeck, whose career was nurtured by ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder - a friend of Putin. He said areas held by separatists will never be part of Ukraine.
Political Infighting

Platzeck's statement shocked a lot of people including German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier who stated Germany will Never Accept Crimea Annexation.

"We don't accept what has happened and we don't accept Europe's borders being changed again 70 years after the war," said Steinmeier.

Cracks Form

Der Spiegel reports Cracks Form in Berlin Over Russia Stance.
A political solution is more distant than ever in the Russia conflict, with the German government and EU having exhausted their diplomatic options. A rift may now be growing between Chancellor Merkel and her foreign minister over Berlin's tough stance against Moscow.
Dead End for Merkel

Today, Reuters reports Merkel Hits Diplomatic Dead-End With Putin.
Since February, when the pro-Russian president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, fled Kiev amid violent protests on the Maidan square, Germany has taken the lead in trying to convince Putin to engage with the West.

Merkel has spoken to him by phone three dozen times. Her Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a member of the Social Democrats (SPD), traditionally a Russia-friendly party, has invested hundreds of hours trying to secure a negotiated solution to the conflict.

Now, German officials say, they have run out of ideas about how they might sway the Russian leader. The channels of communication with Putin will remain open, but Berlin is girding for a long standoff, akin to a second Cold War.
Explaining the Dead-End

Perhaps things are at a dead end precisely because of statements like "Germany will Never Accept Crimea Annexation" by Foreign Minister Steinmeier.

Does talking make any sense if that is the position of Germany?

Putin Peels Away at Sanction Support
Matthias Platzeck, a former leader of the SPD, broke ranks earlier this month and urged Germany to recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea.

This week, Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukaev is being hosted by Russia-friendly businessmen in Stuttgart, the heart of German industry.

Russia also appears to be extending a hand to right-wing opposition parties in Europe. France's National Front confirmed at the weekend that it had secured a 9 million euro loan from a Moscow-based bank.

The first set of EU sanctions is due to expire in March and will need to be renewed. German officials say Italy, Hungary and Slovakia will be the most difficult countries to keep on board.

"Putin will be trying to peel countries away in the run-up to March," said one. Another described the battle to keep the EU united on Russia as a "Herculean task".
Slow Squeeze
Against the backdrop of this fragile EU consensus, ratcheting up economic sanctions further is seen as a "no go" in Berlin for now.

That would change, German officials say, if Russian-backed separatists carved out a corridor of control from eastern Ukraine to Crimea by taking the strategic city of Mariupol.

For Merkel however, the showdown seems to be evolving from a fast-moving tit-for-tat affair into a longer game in which the West slowly squeezes Russia's struggling economy in the hope that Putin eventually blinks.
Merkel Will Blink First

With support for sanctions eroding in several countries, with political infighting in Germany, and with German sentiment shifting more pro-Russia, the odds are that Merkel changes her tune first.

After all, she is the political chameleon, not Putin.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

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