I watched this instead of the Presidential “Debate” – San Miguel, MX

I have been assured by many this was a better use of time.






















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Some more Refugee thoughts with video

I have been thinking again about the controversy in the United States around the issue of Refugees.  The United States recently hit Obama’s goal of bringing in Syrian Refugees. I wrote some thoughts on this in November last year in the post: About Those Syrian Refugees…  I do hope things work out for these recent arrivals in the United States because they probably are not going home anytime soon.  They are now likely permanent residence of the United States.

Most refugee immigrants do not cause problems and are probably grateful to be here.  In the past few years in seems like the children of refugees have caused a bit more problems with attacks in Boston (Chechen) and Orlando (Afghanistan).  There have been more issues with groups of certain backgrounds integrating in Europe.  It might be true more people leaving Europe to join ISIS are second generation immigrants.  It would be interesting to look at this data.

Some cases of the United States bringing in a refugee population I think have been admirable.  For example the United States letting 60,000 ethnic Nepalese move to the country after they were kicked out of Bhutan, the country famous for creating the “Gross Happiness index”.   You can read this article from the Guardian while keeping that in mind – “Gross national happiness in Bhutan: the big idea from a tiny state that could change the world, Bhutan measures prosperity by gauging its citizens’ happiness levels, not the GDP. Now its ideas are attracting interest at the UN climate change conference in Doha”.  Sort of makes you think hmm with the context of expelling a large chunk of their population.  Or maybe the expulsion of the Nepalese made them more happy (What the asjfjsvdfsdsrwq!fs)?  The Nepalese community so far it seems has been doing ok in the USA.

Thinking about the Bhutanese and the Nepalese reminds me of the experiences between the Greeks and Turks.  Greece and Turkey seem to have worked better together after their population exchanges .  The Island of Cyprus is still divided and that does not looked to be solved soon.  Sometimes it seems or more than just sometimes forces seems to pull groups apart rather together.  The issues around why the ethnic Nepalese were kicked out of Bhutan in the first place, democracy, integration of outsiders successful or not cause and the effects of events and there ramifications has a lot to do with something I have been saying which is the decisions that are made don’t happen in vacuum.

Some visuals:

The Film Exodus staring Paul Newman about Refugees from Europe in the Middle East. :

I guess some people from the last film got displaced and end up in the film Deadline staring Christoper Walken.  Refugees made Refugees from the Refugees from Europe from in the last movie.  How often do people mistake Lebanon for Disneyland?:

Events on one side of the world can have far reaching repercussions on other parts of the world. This is true with the events and refugees in the last two clips in particular.  Issues surrounding this today causes controversy in places like Austin, Texas where I live today.  This is from an event at the University of Texas last year.  In this context could you call the Pro-Palestinian student protester an anti-refugee activist?

Sometimes there are a lot of unintended consequences with moving people around.

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Some Thoughts on Currency Investing 9.7.2016

Article: JIM ROGERS: ‘If we all bought North Korean currency, we’d all be rich someday’

Friend: Yeah, I think it’s a bit more complicated than they make it out to be.  Syrian pound went up 20% after Bashar took power though.  Stayed relatively flat, except for conflict with Israel in 2006, but of course it completely tanked in more recent years.  I’ve been watching Cuba too.  I think Cuba is probably the safest bet out of all of them.

Trevor: Maybe the spike in the Syrian Pound pre war can be a warning about how events can change rapidly.  Actually interesting to think just about that in particular because it shot up because Bashar was viewed as a relatively good guy in the region.  An eye doctor who spent a lot of time in the UK.  I don’t think the analogy of betting on the Chinese currency around the same time as China was reforming is great because I don’t think you would of made money (Looking this up it seems to be very TRUE).  China along with many developing countries aggressively hold down the value of their currency as a way of making their exports more competitive.  I think real estate could be a very good proxy for betting on a country’s economic growth.  But buying North Korean property is probably a little difficult.  Trading currencies are for short term trading gambling on a country’s central bank policies and trade flows.  Not investing in my opinion.  Just some thoughts….

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Oakland – Lake Merritt

Oakland – Lake Merritt

Interesting scenic lake to wander around next to downtown Oakland.

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Postwar: Retribution

Post War

2. Retribution

  • In Western Europe where real resistance had actually been some of the least in WWII the myth of resistance mattered most.
  • Milices Patriotiqueslossy-page1-220px-This_girl_pays_the_penalty_for_having_had_personal_relations_with_the_Germans._Here,_in_the_Montelimar_area,_France..._-_NARA_-_531211.tif
  • “Collaboration Horizontale”
  • Hiroshima mon amour
  • By April 1946 (Post WWII) 1,200 Jews were killed In liberated Poland.
  • Norway had the highest percent of people punished for Nazi collaboration.
  • France had low punishment for collaboration because there was so much of it.
  • Schio Prison
  • Pope Pius XII
  • Palmiro Togliatti
  • Robert Brasillach ( The execution remains a subject of some controversy, because Brasillach was executed for “intellectual crimes”, rather than military or political actions. )
  • Austria “Hitter’s first victim”… but high rates of Nazi membershipHis_Holiness_Pope_Pius_XII
  • Soviet judges judged crimes committed by Nazis which they themselves committed
  • French, British and American zones in Germany after democracy was returned any difference in voting???….  I can guess how the Soviet zone voted….
  • Hard to find non Nazis in Bonn after the war.  102 out of 122 doctors had been Nazis members.
  • Some Germans were made to watch concentration camp films to get food rations.
  • By 1952 one third of foreign ministry officials had been Nazi members.
  • Fredrich Flick
  • In 1952 25% of west Germans still had a good opinion of Hitler.
  • The combination of how many ex Nazis there were and the low support for the East German Communist, the Communist were more forgiving of Nazis.  In return many ex Nazis joined the communist.
  • Klaus Barbie
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Postwar: The Legacy of War

Post War

  1. The Legacy of War
  • “Everywhere there is a craving for miracles and cures.  The war has pushed the Naples-44Neapolitans back to the middle ages”. – Norman LewisNaples ’44
  • In September 1944 there were 7,487,000 foreigners working in Germany,  most against there will and they constituted 21 percent of the country’s labor force.
  • (WWII) The greatest material damage was done by the unprecedented bombing campaigns of the western allies in 1944- 1945, and the relentless advance of the red army from Stalingrad to Prague.  …. french coastal towns were destroyed by the American air force. …dozens of German cities were laid waste by American and British carpet bombing..
  • 75% of the buildings in Berlin were uninhabitable at wars end.
  • Estimate 19 million civilians died in WWII
  • Rough estimates twice as many Soviet civilian deaths as military
  • Stalin’s killing of 23,000 Polish officers in Katyn forest 1940Berlin in 1945
  • Population losses WWII Poland 1/5, USSR 1/11, Greece 1/14, Germany 1/15, France 1/77, Britain 1/125
  • At wars end in the Soviet Union women out numbered men by 20 million.
  • Marriage of Maria Braun (1979)
  • Soviet rape in invaded Germany: between 150,000 and 200,000 “Russian babies” were born in Germany 1945-46.
  • Dutch from Holland who refused work opportunities  in Pre-1939 Germany would loss their unemployment benefits back in Holland.  Trapped in WWII Germany, then having problems returning to Holland post war.
  • Postwar pogroms in Poland
  • Germans were 29% of the population of today’s Czech Republic in 1930 and 1.8% in 1950
  • During WWII 6,000 Germans administered 35 million French.  The French did not cause as much problems during the occupation as others…


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Some EU Brexit Thoughts

Well the Brits now seem to be on their way out of the European Union.  A lot of things still need be worked out and its probably going to be a confusing mess for those involved in the logistics of dislocation.  Maybe something will happen and they don’t end up leaving.

I do believe in the end goal of the EU or something greater but feel things have been rushed with the project.  With end goal I mean free movement of people.  Currently there are issues with this when you have open borders with counties with large income and cultural differences.  But slowly the world in coming closer together in terms of values and income.  People try to create their perfect government or society and hit set backs when they push things too quickly.  Rather long term success could be better had with a slow and steady pace of advancing ideas.

When the EU had set backs there was less lets stop and think about what just happened and more lets create an easy work around.  This was the case with the EU Constitution which failed in elections in France and Holland.  It was then quickly reformatted into the Lisbon Treaty and passed thought national parliaments.  Ireland voted on the Lisbon Treaty and it lost but then they had a re-vote a little later and it passed.  How often does that happen in elections?  The people vote wrong and then have a re-vote.  Many in the UK are already pushing for a re-vote from the vote last week.  I guess when the EU loses as in Ireland re-votes are always possible.

I have been generally sympathetic to the UK Out supporters in the In/Out debate.  Most of the issues I have with the EU are fixable.  Although these are things people have been pointing out for years and these things have not changed much for the better.  I also take issue with what I think is some hypocrisy of some from the IN side and the EU in general.

  • The Brexit side is constantly called racist yet the EU seems to be a club for majority White Christian countries.  Look at the EU map…  Now you may say Europe is Europe but could someone get away with calling anything besides the EU the “Euro Club” with similar entrance policies?
  • The EU has had a democracy deficit for years.  The elected EU parliament is more of a talking shop.  Again these complaints have been said for years and with not much changes.  Why?  Maybe because the Eurocrats lose so many elections.  Holland and France vote no on the EU constitution and then it magically becomes the Lisbon treaty and forced through.
  • EU Bureaucracy & Administration – The EU has more than a few different presidents.  Are they all needs?  The most questionable bureaucrat spending is packing up a few times a year and moving the EU Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg.  Make sense?

Brit FlagThere is just too much hypocrisy with the European leadership which causes credibility issues.  Things like when EU says they are cracking down on tax avoidance.  Yet the European commission president Jean Claude Junker when prime minister of Luxembourg was the one who set up a lot questionable tax deals.  Angela Merkel the German Chancellor  (who has the real power in the EU) likes criticizing human rights in Russia and Saudi Arabia but is the biggest buyer of Russian gas and allows German companies to sell army tanks to Saudi Arabia.

Hopefully the UK leaving will cause the Eurocrats to reflect on a few things and this all work out better down the road.  No rush needed 😉

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Montreal Mafia

montreal_-_qc_-_skylineBack in March I took a short trip to Montreal and met a few people from New York.  I mentioned to some of these guys that I read awhile back about some mafia killings in Montreal.  In New York its seems like the old Italian mafia is more of just a social club where some minor scams here and there are committed.  In Montreal there has been much more serious allegations of public corruption and attention getting killings.

Browsing Wikipedia’s list of prominent deaths recently I came across the name of Rocco Sollecito.

Rocco Sollecito, 67, was gunned down while driving a white BMW SUV in Laval on Friday morning, in what local police plainly termed a “mob hit.”

rocco-sollecitoRocco had spent some years with the Rizzuto crime family of Montreal and they have been taking a few hits recently.  Lorenzo (Skunk) Giordano was shot to death in a Montreal parking lot back in March.  The most dramatic of the killings in the last few years was the assassination of the family founder Nick Rizzuto.

NOV. 10, 2010: Nicolo Rizzuto, 86, was fatally shot by a single bullet that was fired by a sniper through the glass patio doors of his home in Montreal’s west end. The great-grandfather was killed in front of his wife and daughter

One of the main suspects of the killing of Nick was Salvatore “Sam” Calautti.  A loan collector/pizza shop owner who was himself killed three years later in Toronto.  Also around the same time as the killing of Nick Rizzuto:

Rizzuto’s grandson Nick Jr. was shot dead on a Montreal street in broad daylight last December. Rizzuto lieutenant Paolo Renda was kidnapped in May and is still missing. This summer, Agostino Cuntrera, another Rizzuto associate known as the “Seigneur” or lord of the St-Leonard borough, was gunned down with his bodyguard  in front of his warehouse.

Seems like the Rizzuto’s have been on the way out for the last couple of years…

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Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

20160616_195828I am admittedly am an extremely slow reader.  I started Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 by Tony Judt in April 2014 and I am only now finishing it up.  I highly recommend the book.  The book is around 700 pages of carefully linked together facts documenting the history of Europe from 1945 until around 2000.  The books makes an effort to steer clear of any strong ideological bent and focuses on the who, what, when, where of major events of the era.

A reason I took so long to get through the book was I was constantly distracted by items from the history which caused me to stop and do some extra research on the person, place, event etc.  I just started to take some notes on things I found interesting and to look up later.  I plan on just reviewing my notes and reposing some of what I noted and links to more information on the item.  Maybe it would be a way to adsorb the information better and others might find the notes and links interesting.  I highly recommend you get a copy of the book if you find the notes/links compelling.

Introduction:Grand Illusion

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Puebla, Mexico

From 2013 Trip to Mexico.

Puebla, Mexico

Churches everywhere in this city.

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