Define “Powerful”

Britain’s Daily Express just ran an article ranking the various countries’ passports in terms of what they term “power” — which for them means the number of foreign countries to visit without requiring an entry visa of some kind.

American passport holders have less power to travel visa-free compared to countries such as Germany, South Korea and the UK, having dropped down one tier in the Arton Capital passport index rankings since 2016.

Austria, Switzerland and Singapore rank with the above at or near the top of the list; we’re about fourth or so, because there are quite a few countries which require us to get a visa prior to arrival — India, as I once discovered for myself, being one.

And a lot of times, this is simply retaliation when we impose a visa restriction on their country:

Earlier this month, Turkey removed the visa-free status to the US after a row with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
US passports could be set to get weaker still, as the European Parliament voted to end visa-free travel for Americans back in March this year.
The vote came after Trump refused to allow visa-free travel to members of five EU countries: Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

Last time I looked, we still don’t need a visa to go to France for less than a 90-day period, which is good because I’m going to France for a week later on in the year and I’m damned if I would submit to their bureaucratic rigmarole just for that.

I once estimated that the average U.S. citizen will spend about $10,000-$12,000 (excluding airfare) over a two-week vacation trip to Europe. I am pretty sure that were the EU to make things more difficult for us to travel there, a number of people (myself included) would simply decide to go somewhere else — and thus spend our highly-prized U.S. dollars in a place where we’re apparently more welcome.

Which brings me back to the issue of “power”. Being able to visit a country without a visa does not fit my definition of power. This does.

If a citizen of a country is kidnapped or otherwise harmed when traveling in a foreign country, do you think the wrongdoers would feel more comfortable knowing that the victim is Singaporean (to pick one of the top passports at random), or an American?

Put even more simply: is there a risk that the Singaporean military would send a drone strike to snuff out the bad guys?

To me, that’s the real power of a passport: whether you can mess with your visitors with impunity, or whether you may get some more visitors from a Special Forces team in response.

So how does that make the U.S., U.K. and Germany (to name but three countries with bad-ass special forces) look now?

Of course, given the state of affairs right now, U.S. citizens face added insecurity when they travel because Muslim assholes look on us as high-visibility targets — so in that regard, we’re worse off than the South Koreans. Frankly, though, as long as Americans avoid traveling to places we’re warned about by the State Department, we do just fine. (And for those idiots who just have to spend their vacation in Yemen or Syria, you deserve everything you get.)

Right: I’m off to finish packing.

“Far Right”

…or maybe I should say, “far out”, in the terms of my yoot. Well well well, now lookee what happened in Austria yesterday:

The leader of Austria’s right-leaning People’s Party has declared victory in a national election that puts him on track to become the world’s youngest leader.
Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz, 31, claimed the win on Sunday night after projections gave his party a comfortable lead with more than 90 percent of the ballots counted.
He fell well short of a majority, but has not ruled out the possibility of forming a minority government once the final result comes in.

And with whom will this right-leaning People’s Party form a coalition?

With the Eurosceptic Freedom Party edging closer to finishing second in the election and with Kurz’s policies on immigration shifting right, a right wing alliance is emerging as the most likely outcome.

I bet the EU is filling their collectivist pants and plotting how to overturn this election, even as we speak…

 

Backlash

I see with interest that the people of Majorca have had enough:

Streets of Majorca were filled with 3,000 people protesting over mass tourism in a latest backlash in the British holiday hotspot.
Holidaymakers in the capital of Palma looked on as the angry crowd chanted “Without limits, there is no future” and “tourists go home”.
Spokeswoman Margalida Ramis said the holiday island was being saturated by visitors at the expense of the environment, local jobs, housing for residents and general co-existence.
She said the islands’ dependence on tourism was not a good thing from an economic point of view and was “precarious”.

I should point out that the “onlookers” (tourists) at this protest march probably outnumbered the protesters by about ten to one, which should give the proper perspective to the situation.

So let me see if I’ve got this straight: you encourage tourism by offering cheap hotel accommodation, allowing budget airline flights to land on your sun-drenched little Mediterranean island, and in general cater to the meme of “Holiday In Paradise”, and then you are shocked — shocked! — when a bunch of loutish drunks invade your little paradise and fuck things up?

Let’s be honest: the Balearic Islands have little to offer except tourism, so if tourists were suddenly to disappear, Majorca’s and Ibiza’s economies would fall into the pit, so to speak, their citizens’ standard of living would resemble that of a Third World village, i.e. grim and poverty-stricken, and they’d have to resort to fleecing the wealthy foreigners who’ve paid untold millions for their tropical getaways — which is what the Balearics used to do before the era of cheap flights, cheap accommodation and cheap booze.

There’s a solution, of course, but their government won’t take it: raise taxes on holidaymakers, institute curfews, imprison revelers who take it too far, and in general make it uncomfortable for tourists. (The cynic in me would suggest that they allow a different kind of visitor — Middle Eastern refugees / migrants — and let events take their natural course after that. If that doesn’t discourage tourism, nothing will.)

Makes the Florida spring break destinations look quite placid, by comparison.

Idiots

So last week came this tragic tale of a female kayaker who was murdered while canoeing along the Amazon River. Of course, there’s a lot more to this story than meets the tale, because sentient human beings (of which she is no more, and probably wasn’t then either), would ask questions about this foolhardy venture, such as, “Why was she doing this alone?” and “Why didn’t she listen to the warnings?“, as evidenced by this:

The 43-year-old was specifically warned about the danger of the water she was about to go through but insisted on sticking to her schedule as she was “losing time”.
In her last known conversation, the 43-year-old said she felt she had no choice but to carry on in order to complete her 4,000 odyssey from the Amazon source to the sea.
Tragically, her bravery and determination led her straight into the path of cold blooded killers who shot and stabbed her in her tent.
Shortly before her death — stunned that a foreign female canoeist was heading alone towards pirate territory — residents of a riverine community called her over as she passed by.

So let me see if I got this straight: this moron had created a self-imposed deadline or timeline for an already-dangerous venture, and then decided to ignore warnings and carry on.

If a man was trying to set a record by driving between, say, Chicago and St. Louis, was told that an ice storm had passed through Illinois, but decided to press on an drive at speed along the icy I-55 and then crashed and died, would we call his actions “brave and determined”, as some are calling the Amazonian kayaker? We’d call him a bloody fool, because he was, and so was Emma Kelty.

Here’s why I’m so dismissive of this tragedy on the Amazon: it was self-imposed and unnecessary. It’s like taking a shortcut through New York’s Central Park at 2am so you won’t miss a Gilligan’s Island rerun on your hotel room TV.

But enough analogies. Many years ago, a group of European tourists went on a “nature safari” in Botswana, during which they would “experience nature” or some such bollocks. You can guess what happened next. A lion came into the tent where a woman was sleeping, killed her instantly by crushing her skull in its jaws, then carried her off to finish his little gourmet meal in private. Well, there’s an experience in nature, isn’t it?

For all foolhardy adventures of this type, I have only two things to say: What the fuck were you thinking? and Mother Nature in the raw is an ice-cold bitch. Don’t even get me started about the folly of putting yourself in harm’s way without the proper means of self-protection.

And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter, because one should not spend too much time moaning about such tragedies, when people bring them on themselves by their arrogant stupidity.

The (Continuing) Pussification Of France

I know, France is already well down the slope when it comes to how French men are being emasculated. But this little snippet just makes me want to laugh painfully:

Emmanuel Macron [whose picture appears in the dictionary under “pussy-whipped little fart”, see below — Kim] wants to ban men from following women and asking for their phone number under new plans to end the ‘macho’ culture in France.
The 39-year-old French President vowed to crack down on harassment on public transport and in the street when he was on the election trail earlier this year.

You know, the definition of a male pussy includes the clause under “Pussy Politician” which is defined as one who, when there are difficult but critical actions to be taken (e.g. dealing with radical Islam) instead decides to deal with an irrelevant political issue (like this one).

A lot of male pussies are also in thrall to their mothers, e.g. Mrs. Macron:

Oh wait, that’s Macron’s sixty-four-year-old wife. My bad.

Anyway, there’s one more observation I’d like to make about about this issue:

A working party set up by, Marlene Schiappa, the under-secretary for gender equality, is now looking to produce legislation making it illegal to harass people in a public place – and this could mean outlawing wolf-whistles.

And one definition of a pussified government would be one that has pointless and stupid government posts like “under-secretary for gender equality”.

All that said, this Marlene Schiappa chick is pretty sexy:

…although I’m probably going to get fined by the gendarmes for saying she looks like she knows her way around an orgy.

 

Not Your Money To Spend

Great Britain has in its budget several billion dollars earmarked to the  Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development for “development”, so one would think that such money could be spent in rebuilding its Caribbean islands that were flattened by Hurricane Irma.

One would be wrong. In fact, the OECD has ruled that the three islands are classed as “too rich” and therefore do not fall within the “allowable” target parameters for the development money. Here’s how it works:

Britain is free to spend its aid wherever it wants – what is at issue is whether it counts towards the Government’s 0.7 per cent target.
Last year, the UK spent £13 billion on aid, money which went towards the target to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on international development. But aid money only counts towards the target if it meets rules set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
So under current rules, any money we give to the three overseas territories cannot count towards this total. Cash is only eligible if it goes towards a country on the OECD’s list of states which are deemed poor enough.
Countries are ranked according to need, which is intended to ensure the poorest countries take priority. While some UK territories are on this list, the three affected by Irma are not.

I’m sure this will come as welcome news to the British Virgin Islanders:

…and that’s just one town’s damage. Needless to say, various Brit politicians are spitting mad and demanding that the rules be “ripped up” — i.e. they’re advocating anarchy because, after all, rules are rules — but so far the OECD hasn’t budged, which means that the Brits will have to find the budget allocation somewhere else in the budget.

Didn’t one of our Founding Fathers warn against “foreign entanglements”? I think that this one would qualify as a good example thereof.