Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Deal

“Senior European officials” are sad because the deal might be in jeopardy.  They even wrote a letter to President Donald Trump, worrying that

their efforts to save the Iranian nuclear accord by maintaining major trade and investment with Tehran are buckling in the face of planned US sanctions.

My heart bleeds.  These worthies shouldn’t be trying to trade with a terrorist-supporting nation bent on getting nuclear weapons.  Especially since Iran will use those weapons to fulfill its long-standing commitment to destroy Israel, and it will sell such weapons to its terrorist clients for them to use…on Europe as well as on us.

Offensive, Is It?

Recall that President Donald Trump has decided to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum on national security grounds, and that these tariffs impact Canadian (among other nations’) imports to the US.  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds it offensive that Trump considers Canada a security threat to the US.

Really, he said that.

No, what’s offensive is Trudeau’s cynical distortion of the purpose of those tariffs.  The national security threat for us is our inability to produce our own steel and aluminum, not the steel and aluminum we might import.  Whether tariffs are the best way to encourage recovery of that ability can be debated, but it’s clearly self-sufficiency that’s our concern, not imports per se.

Private Enterprise and Social Media

In one of The Wall Street Journal‘s frequent debate articles, this time about whether businesses should allow employees to use social media at work, a couple of comments made by the pro-use debater jumped out at me.

When I first began helping companies use Twitter and Facebook more than a decade ago, every organization started with this question: how can we use social media without compromising our security and privacy obligations?

Cybersecurity

A quick thought on this threat to our personal financial wellbeing, our companies’ wellbeing, and our collective wellbeing.  The Wall Street Journal ran an article on the subject earlier in the week, and this bit jumped out at me [emphasis added].

To better understand how far we have to go in creating a cybersafe culture, consider this: if you were taking a tour through a nuclear plant, and there was a big red valve with a sign on it that said “Do not touch,” how many of you would turn it? None, I would guess. But in a phishing test conducted at a major financial-services firm, one of the test emails actually said: “This is a Phishing Test. Clicking the link below will cause harm to your computer.” At least one executive clicked it! When asked why, he said, “I was curious to see what it would do.”

An Argument

…for leaving the European Union altogether.

By openly invoking the role of investors, financial markets and the defense of the eurozone in his speech on Sunday, the president [Italian President Sergio Mattarella] lends credence to the populist argument that Italy has become the battleground in a war between the international establishment and national democracies. Even if populists win the elections, their supporters believe, they will never be allowed to hold power for fear that they would oppose the dogma that dominates the eurozone.

Europe’s Italian Crisis

Europe is a-roil over Italy’s inability to form a government at any time since the nation’s elections some months ago.  And so is the old guard in Italy.

Italy’s woes rippled across the eurozone, driven by investor worries that an exit by the bloc’s third-largest economy could force others out.

Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco said this with a straight face:

We must never forget that we are only ever a few short steps away from the very serious risk of losing the irreplaceable asset of trust[.]

Australian Trade with the PRC

Australia is finding much of its exports to the People’s Republic of China piling up in PRC ports (Australian wine is the proximate subject of the WSJ piece at the link)—not because the customers no longer want them but because the PRC government objects to Australian policies designed to limit PRC meddling in Australian domestic affairs.

From that, there’s this remark by Rob Taylor, the piece’s author:

Australia faces an awkward diplomatic balancing act in trying to address concerns about political interference while relying heavily on China for its economic well-being.

Out of Touch?

President Donald Trump signed three Executive Orders impacting public service unions.  One of interest to me is this one.

The third restricts how much on-the-job time federal employees can spend on labor-union duties.

Naturally, the unions management teams are in an uproar over the requirement to have their members spend their work time…working.

Time an employee spends on union activities is time not spent on the work for which the employee was hired.  Union activity work is an additional duty requested by the union; it needs to be done entirely on the employee’s own time.  This restriction is a good start, but the union task time needs to be eliminated altogether from the employee’s work time.  The Federal government—all employers, come to that—hire individual workers, they don’t hire unions.  Unions aren’t temp agencies that provide workers.

Compensation

Germany has decided to compensate two major utility companies for the government-forced shutdown of their nuclear power plants, shutdowns caused by government diktat, not by any plant failure or unsafe performance.

Sometime in the future, that is, in an amount to be determined.

The precise compensation sums depended on the development of electricity prices in Germany, the government said, adding that a concrete figure could only be calculated in 2023.

Those electricity prices already is rising rapidly from the loss of cheap, reliable electricity sources—coal-fired plants are being forced to close, too, in favor of wind- and solar-generated electricity.

Student Loan Delinquency

…rates are declining.  Or so a headline number implies.

The share of new delinquencies on student loans has fallen to the lowest level in more than decade—and it’s not just due to the healthy labor market.

In the first quarter, slightly over 9% of student debt outstanding was newly delinquent….

Aside from employment rates, which encourage jobs as trade-off for college, the decline is laid off to a couple of causes.

[F]forbearance[] allows borrowers to go months without making a payment while remaining in good standing on their debt.

And