Google’s Boss Testified

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai testified before the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week.  In the course of his testimony, he made some interesting claims.

“Even as we expand into new markets we never forget our American roots,” Mr Pichai said in his opening statement.

Not just roots, though. It’s important that Pichai and his team remember our American culture and values, too.  It’s not at all clear that he/they do.

As an American company, we cherish the values and freedoms that have allowed us to grow and serve so many users.  I am proud to say we do work, and we will continue to work, with the government to keep our country safe and secure.

Pay the Vig

…or else.  The truth will out, at least for a significant fraction of the “caravan.”

One group of a hundred, under the alleged leadership of Honduran Alfonso Guerreo Ulloa, has gone to the US Consulate in Tijuana with an extortion demand: give us $50,000—per each, which works out to $5 million in all, if my third grade arithmetic doesn’t fail me—to go home and start a small business (we promise), or we’ll storm your border and break in forcibly.

Wait—I thought one of the major reasons these folks left Honduras was to escape the gangs’ extortion of small business owners/operators.  So now they want 50 large to go back and…pay off those gangs?

Bring It

With President Donald Trump’s formal notice to Russia that the US will pull out of the Treaty on Intermediate-range Nuclear Force, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened an arms race.

Our American partners apparently believe that the situation has changed to such an extent that the US should have such weapons.
What answer will they have from our side? It’s simple: we’ll do it too.

In addition to that,

The head of the Russian armed forces warned that if the deal collapses, the targets of subsequent military exchanges would be US missile sites hosted by allies within striking distance of Russia rather than American soil.

What’s So Hard?

Great Britain is agonizing over how to deal with the People’s Republic of China’s Huawei Technologies Co and the latter’s desire to supply the nation’s 5G mobile network.  On the matter of Huawei’s having supplied the predecessor 4G network, Great Britain thinks it had arrived at “an understanding” with Huawei concerning the latter’s behavior vis-à-vis the installed 4G—which, astonishingly, allowed Huawei to monitor “aspects” of 4G tech.  Britain’s MI6 head, Alex Younger, seems to be the chief agonizer.

5G will by and large be based on Chinese technology, chiefly with Huawei. We need to decide whether we are comfortable with the ownership of these platforms in the case where our allies take quite a definite position…This is not straightforward[.]

Veterans Administration Fails Again

Recall the VA’s failure regarding paying our veterans all of the funds they’re due under the GI Bill; those student veterans are being shorted the money they’re owed.  That shortchanging will continue next year due to a “software glitch” that the VA isn’t fixing any time soon.

Now we get the VA’s Undersecretary of Benefits, Paul Lawrence, saying that the agency has no plans to retroactively pay shortchanged GI Bill recipients or to make next year’s VA victims whole.  He didn’t even have the integrity to admit this to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee before which he was testifying—under oath, mind you, as is typical for witnesses before Congressional hearings—until he’d been pressed on the matter by several Congressmen.

Ukraine and Russia, Again

The Wall Street Journal had an editorial on this earlier, but they’re selling the Ukraine situation short along with several others.

The [Russian] attack violated a 2003 treaty that designated the Azov Sea as shared territory between Russia and Ukraine.

Sadly, this accepts as fait accompli the existing invasion, partition, and occupation of Ukraine by Russia.

The attack, and that invasion, partition, and occupation, also violated, and violate, the Budapest Memorandum, which the Western signers (the US and UK) appear too timid to enforce—even though we’d be confronting a country whose economy is roughly akin to that of the Black P-Stone Nation, and whose morals are those of MS-13.

Another Betrayal

Recall Russia’s latest provocation (which amounts to an act of war), consisting of ships of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet ramming a Ukrainian tugboat and firing on and seizing the Ukrainian three-ship flotilla of which that tug was a part along with the “detention” of the crews of the three ships.

Germany—Chancellor Angela Merkel—has magnanimously offered to mediate the matter.

A European Army

There’s a nascent move afoot to create a European army to which, presumably, all the member nations of the EU would contribute men, equipment, and money.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested to the European Parliament last Tuesday that such a force

would complement NATO.

I’ll leave aside the question of how the EU’s member nations would pay for such an establishment when they’re having so much trouble finding ways—or reasons—to pay for their commitment (of all of 2% of their respective GDPs) to NATO.

Cold War Mentality and Objectivity

As Australia and Papua New Guinea work together to reconstitute a WWII naval base on the island, a People’s Republic of China official objected to those two nations moving to improve their ability to defend themselves.  Lu Kang, the PRC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of Information Director-General, said

We hope the relevant countries, and relevant people, can discard the Cold War mentality…and view China’s relations with Pacific islands in an objective way.

This is Meeting a 2% Commitment?

This is a pretty ugly performance by what used to be a top-drawer defense establishment.

Germany’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that only 39 percent of large items, such as tanks and helicopters, delivered to the Bundeswehr in 2017 did not require improvement before deployment.

That’s against an already shockingly low goal of a 70% Operational Ready status for already delivered military equipment—like those tanks and helicopters.

And this:

Only 27 of the 71 Pumas delivered last year; half of the eight A400M delivered; two among seven Tiger combat helicopters; and four among seven NH90 transport helicopters, were operationally ready last year….
Among four new Eurofighter combat jets delivered in 2017, one could be used.