A world-class military tries to subdue a vast land (England versus the American rebels)

Portions of The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III (Andrew Roberts) are, unfortunately, timely.

The American rebellion surprised the experts:

One of the reasons why British politicians failed to comprehend that Americans would soon be agitating for nationhood was the paradoxical one, considering the propaganda of the independence movement twelve years later, that they were not being persecuted in any discernible way. ‘The colonists were the least oppressed of all peoples then on earth, politically, economically and nationally,’ noted Hans Kohn in his seminal book The Idea of Nationalism in 1944, written when half the world knew genuine oppression. ‘Politically the colonists were infinitely freer than any people on the European continent; they were even freer than Englishmen in Great Britain. The favourable conditions of frontier life had brought Milton’s and Locke’s teachings and English constitutional liberties to faster and fuller fruition in the colonies than in the mother country.’19 Royal governors and colonial assemblies generally ruled Americans with the lightest of touches, and the colonists certainly paid the lightest of taxes in the empire. The average American in 1770 paid a tiny fraction of what his British cousin paid in direct taxes, and crucially all of what he did pay stayed in America.

In the words of Edmund Burke’s biographer, ‘The general belief was that responsible people in the colonies accepted British sovereignty; that the disturbances in America were the work of a small minority of trouble-makers; and that American resistance would collapse if confronted with a show of force. If a war proved necessary, Britain would win it quickly and easily. Not until Appeasement in the 1930s did virtually the entire British establishment get something so important so badly wrong.

The British Army was tasked with domestic policing as well as wars with foreign nations because there was no permanent police force in England until 1829. The number of soldiers was miniscule by modern standards:

In 1775 there were only 48,000 men in the entire British Army, including the 8,000 already stationed in North America, which with its other global commitments would be nothing like enough to subdue the 2.5 million inhabitants of thirteen colonies that stretched over a thousand miles from north to south and several hundred miles inland.

In the summer of 1775, the British Army had 10,000 men already in America (mostly in or around Boston) and Canada, or sailing there; 7,700 in Gibraltar, Minorca and the West Indies; 7,000 in Ireland, which at half its normal peacetime establishment was dangerously low; and the remaining 23,000 in the United Kingdom, the minimum number for defence and domestic control, of whom 1,500 were unfit for duty.

The Cabinet continued to suffer under the delusion that the British Army and Royal Navy that had defeated France (with her population of more than twenty-five million) and Spain (nine million) only a decade earlier, and won a great empire in Canada and India, would, if necessary, similarly destroy the untrained and semi-organized militias of far fewer Americans. The crucial difference was of course that Britain had not needed to invade and occupy France or Spain in order to be victorious in 1763.

What were these professional soldiers up against?

As well as their proficiency with firearms, the Americans also had the advantage of numbers. According to Benjamin Franklin’s calculation in 1766, if a quarter of the remaining male population bore arms, and Loyalists, pacifists and seamen were deducted, about a quarter of a million Americans could theoretically fight against the Crown.

Supplying troops in the field wasn’t any easier then:

The logistical supply problem was immense too: because the local population tended to be hostile – with the American Loyalists providing far fewer troops than the British government had hoped for and expected – food had to be either foraged (that is, requisitioned, with all the local unpopularity that entailed) or bought (routinely at high margins), or else transported 3,000 miles over an ocean that was vulnerable to storms, colonial privateers and, later, enemy navies. Once the British armies penetrated inland, their lack of knowledge of the interior and the inescapable problems of reinforcement and supply both told against them heavily.

I recommend The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III, but you might want to skim over some of the exhaustive/exhausting explanations of 18th century English politics (at least as complex as anything we have today and political disputes quite often resulted in violent clashes).

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Potential explanation for the Ukraine situation

A reader comment on Why didn’t Ukraine become a NATO member back in the 1990s? highlighted this 2018 lecture at Yale by a French-Russian-American guy, 83 years old at the time(!), who was formerly a Soviet spokesman. Starting at about 19:00 he summarizes the various insults that the U.S. and NATO have inflected on the post-Soviet Russians. These include the 1998 expansion of NATO, breaking explicit promises made to the Soviets, recognizing the split off of Kosovo from Serbia, rejecting Putin’s proposals to join NATO and the EU, returning nothing for Putin’s assistance post 9/11.

He highlights Thomas Friedman, not for being smart enough to marry the daughter of a billionaire and fret about global warming from inside an 11,000-square-foot mansion, but for a 1998 article about the NATO expansion:

So when I reached George Kennan by phone to get his reaction to the Senate’s ratification of NATO expansion it was no surprise to find that the man who was the architect of America’s successful containment of the Soviet Union and one of the great American statesmen of the 20th century was ready with an answer.

”I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. ”I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.”

The point about “neither the resources nor the intention” reminds me of a question at a Chinese New Year party in Miami: “Why does Joe Biden want to defend the Ukraine border when he won’t defend our own?”

”I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don’t people understand? Our differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.

If we are unlucky they will say, as Mr. Kennan predicts, that NATO expansion set up a situation in which NATO now has to either expand all the way to Russia’s border, triggering a new cold war, or stop expanding after these three new countries and create a new dividing line through Europe.

Thanks to Western resolve and the courage of Russian democrats, that Soviet Empire collapsed without a shot, spawning a democratic Russia, setting free the former Soviet republics and leading to unprecedented arms control agreements with the U.S.

And what was America’s response? It was to expand the NATO cold-war alliance against Russia and bring it closer to Russia’s borders.

As he said goodbye to me on the phone, Mr. Kennan added just one more thing: ”This has been my life, and it pains me to see it so screwed up in the end.”

Geopolitics is a complex topic so I don’t think Pozner or Kennan has access to the whole truth (but Friedman does! Marry a rich woman and live under Maryland family law so that she can’t get rid of you without ruinous financial consequences). However, the Pozner lecture is a good refresher for Americans who’ve forgotten everything that we’ve done in Europe during the past 30 years.

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Why didn’t Ukraine become a NATO member back in the 1990s?

In a comment on MIT weighs in regarding the war in Ukraine, Paul wrote the following:


sure looks like NATO poking the Russian bear to me.

What’s inside the referenced January 10, 2022 NATO document?

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General: On membership. We have reiterated the decision we made at the Bucharest Summit in 2008 and we stand by that decision. We help Ukraine to move towards a NATO membership by implementing reforms, by meeting NATO standards. … Meaning that it is for Ukraine and the 30 NATO Allies to decide when Ukraine is ready for membership.

Let’s ignore for the moment the question of whether it was wise, as Russian forces gathered on the borders of Ukraine, to talk about the inevitability of Ukraine’s future membership in NATO, exactly what the Russians were objecting to. The question for today’s post regards “NATO standards”.

Let’s step back and look at Jens Stoltenberg? Wikipedia says Mx. Stoltenberg is “a Norwegian politician”. He/she/ze/they is not someone with military experience, in other words, and yet he/she/ze/they leads what is supposedly a military enterprise. Below is a 2018 meeting where we can see how mild-mannered he/she/ze/they is compared to Donald Trump, who points out that Germany’s continued fossil fuel purchases from Russia work against the organization’s mission.

Hindsight is 20/20, but if the goal was to have Ukraine as part of NATO, why wasn’t that done in 1994, when the Budapest Memorandum was signed? Putin’s leadership of Russia did not begin until 1999.

NATO in January 2022 said that Ukraine could join NATO “by implementing reforms” and “by meeting NATO standards,” but what was deficient about Ukraine from NATO’s perspective? It can’t be about fighting spirit, can it? There are plenty of countries in NATO that are not renowned for military valor. What “reforms” did Ukraine need? They had already stopped paying Hunter Biden (and, indirectly, “the big guy”, though $2.5 million of this cash was harvested by a retired-stripper-turned-family-court-entrepreneur; see BBC for a summary), right?

If countries that have historically crumbled at the first hint of a foreign invasion can be part of NATO, what was the obstacle to Ukraine’s membership years or decades ago?

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Ukrainians on the Ukraine situation

The situation in Ukraine is bewildering to those of us who received parochial American educations. The Wall Street Journal attempts to explain it in “Putin’s Endgame: Unravel the Post-Cold War Agreements That Humiliated Russia”:

The Russian leader is trying to stop further enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, whose expansion he sees as encroaching on Russia’s security and part of the West’s deception and broken promises. He wants NATO to scale back its military reach to the 1990s, before it expanded east of Germany.

In sum, Mr. Putin seeks to undo many of the security consequences of the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, an event the Russian leader has called the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century.

Looking back, many current and former Western officials say it is clear that the U.S. and its allies handled relations with Moscow poorly in the 1990s, and that the triumphalism over winning the Cold War was excessive.

“Although I think that Western diplomacy was arrogant and incompetent in the 1990s, and we’re paying the price now, that is not a reason for Putin to put himself in a posture that makes other people think he’s about to launch a war,” said Rodric Braithwaite, who was British ambassador to Moscow when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Yet in 1994, Russia joined with the U.S. and U.K. in committing “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” and “to refrain from the threat or use of force” against it, a security guarantee that helped persuade Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons.

Where are the US and the UK today with their “security guarantee”? (See the Budapest Memorandum.)

A successful friend who grew up in Ukraine:

Overheard young Swiss on a chairlift:
Guy 1: All this stuff with Ukraine is crazy. If World War III happened, it would be kind of cool. But also kind of not cool.
Guy 2: Yeah, it would not be. But you know, if we [Switzerland] manage to repeat what we did in WW2, we should be fine.

An American on the European response (putting the amazing new undersea pipeline on hold):

Man the Germans are sticking it to Putin. They are only going to buy half of their natural gas from him.

A Deplorable American with a Ph.D. in biology:

New sanctions are going to be about as effective against Putin and Russia as cloth masks were against the coronavirus.

From an aircraft mechanic:

If Putin takes over the Ukraine does Hunter still get his board of director payments?

An American passionate about free speech:

I am curious to see how long it takes for Twitter to suspend Putin’s account for spreading misinformation. Or does suspension apply only to “mean tweets”?

One question is whether the 44 million people who live in the Ukraine can qualify for asylum in the U.S. A person who says “my spouse is hitting me” qualifies for permanent residence in the U.S. and, if he/she/ze/they does not wish to work all that much, a lifetime of associated means-tested subsidies for housing, health care, food, and smartphone. As fearsome and difficult to escape as a domestic partner might be, a shooting war involving the powerful Russian Army is surely scarier. (Note that the New York Department of Health actually spends more than what the Russians spend on their entire military.)

I asked a friend who gets a paycheck from the refugee-industrial complex what would stop all 44 million Ukrainians from going to Mexico, walking across the Rio Grande, and saying “I request asylum”. His response:

They might qualify, but due to Trump policy that courts have not let Biden rescind, asylum seekers are being sent back across the border to wait in Mexico. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the case. They might have a better chance of getting asylum if flew into NY on a tourist or other visa and then got a lawyer and filed asylum claim.

Me: “I don’t see how one can argue that Ukraine is not a dangerous place to be right now.”

Covid rule is different. That’s called “Title 42” and allows for immediate deportations due to health crisis. It also depends which city your hearing is held in. Rate along southern border is much lower than in NY. And if you have a lawyer, about 10x better chance. I would agree those fleeing Ukraine have a decent claim, but you’d still have to convince asylum judge. Being a political dissident or member of religious minority is better than just saying “I’m scared of war”. If Russians or Separatists declare that they’re looking for you that would help. You need to be able to convince a judge that you have a reasonable fear of persecution. Asylum seeker must show that they have a “well-founded fear of persecution in their home country on account of either race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.” That’s the legal principle.

He pointed out that Temporary Protected Status would also be an option for Ukrainians who wished to be far away from any armed conflict.

Haitians had it after earthquake.

(“Temporary” for Haitians began in 2010 and was recently extended to at least 2023. Children born in the U.S. in when “temporary” began are now biologically capable of having children themselves.)

The question of 44 million Ukrainians being entitled to come here makes me wonder a bit about what kind of society the U.S. is building by giving immigration priority to those who say that they are at risk of being attacked somewhere else. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, for example, people migrated to the U.S. because they liked the idea of living in the U.S. Now we are filling the U.S. to a Chinese/Indian density with people who say that they don’t want to live wherever they’ve been living. It isn’t that they are attracted to what they perceive as American cultural values, for example, but they are repelled by threats against life and limb wherever they are. They might find American cultural values, such as hatred of Asians and discrimination against Blacks and those who identify as “women”, abhorrent, as Eileen Gu does, but living in the U.S. is nonetheless preferable to suffering inescapable domestic or gang violence in their home countries.

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Did banking leave London after Brexit?

Expert prediction was that Brexit would destroy London’s status as a financial center. Who knows more about London and economics than the Economist? A little over one month before the herd voted (June 2016), the educated elites told them what a terrible idea it would be to vote “leave”. A May 7, 2016 article titled “City blues”:

The Economist told the rabble that employment would fall, “total British trade would fall by [more than $100 billion] per year”, and “some firms would relocate to other EU financial hubs.” (Sadly, of course, because the elites forgot to take away their right to vote, one month later the rabble voted to leave.)

“How ‘Brexit’ Could Alter London, the World’s Banker” (NYT, May 11, 2017):

a large piece of London’s banking business depends on its inclusion in the European Union. Britain is now moving to exit the union, jeopardizing its status as a leading global financial center.

At the high end of estimates, as many as 80,000 finance positions could depart over the next two years.

Brexit was January 31, 2020. Have 80,000 finance positions departed for the greener pastures of the shrunken EU? (but maybe the NYT actually meant that 80,000 jobs would be lost through May 2019?)

“‘Brexit’ Imperils London’s Claim as Banker to the Planet” (NYT, also May 11, 2017):

Many of the transactions Citigroup oversees here are dependent on Britain’s inclusion in the European Union. Italian banks tap London’s vast pools of money to strengthen tattered balance sheets. German manufacturers borrow funds for expansion. Swiss money managers ply their fortunes. Citigroup and other global banks manage much of this activity, executing trades, and ensuring that money lands where it is supposed to, leaning heavily on their London operations.

In March, Prime Minister Theresa May set in motion Britain’s pending divorce from the European Union, starting talks with Europe to resolve future dealings across the English Channel.

[How is it a “divorce“? Will the EU never have to work again because they’re going to collect so much in child support or alimony from the UK?]

“It’s the British who will lose the most,” Mr. Macron said in a pre-election interview with the global affairs magazine Monocle. “The British are making a serious mistake over the long term.”

If a rupture across the channel results, global banks like Citi stand to feel significant consequences.

Somewhere between one-fifth and one-third of London’s financial undertakings now involve clients based in Europe. Much of this business is dependent on so-called passports that give financial firms in one European Union nation permission to operate in the others. Free of a deal preserving the essentials of passport rights, many of these trades would be effectively illegal. The rules and regulatory proclivities of 27 remaining European Union nations would have to be satisfied.

Brexit, as it is known, has jeopardized London’s status as banker to the planet. London will surely retain credentials as one of the world’s most important financial centers. Yet it is likely to surrender stature to European competitors exploiting Brexit as an opportunity to capture spoils.

We’re at the precise two-year anniversary of Brexit. What actually happened to the City of London’s status as Europe’s finance capital?

An academic paper titled “Resilience in the City of London: the fate of UK financial services after Brexit” says

Brexit has had no significant impact on jobs and London has consolidated its position as the chief location for financial FDI, FinTech funding, and attracting new firms. Most unexpectedly, the City has increased its dominance in major infrastructure markets such as over-the-counter clearing of (euro-denominated) derivatives and foreign exchange—although it has lost out in the handling of repurchase agreements and share trading.

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Why is the conflict over Ukraine happening now?

Please forgive my ignorance of everything that happens beyond the borders of the U.S. (and/or beyond the borders of Palm Beach County), but I’m hoping that readers who follow matters international, especially those who live in Europe, can explain the Russia-Ukraine-NATO-US situation to me.

Why now? What has changed to create this conflict? Why wouldn’t it have happened in 2018, for example?

The New York Times assured us that Vladimir Putin controlled Donald Trump. From 2019, for example, “Donald Trump: The Russia File” (a consensus piece from the entire Editorial Board):

Standing on the White House lawn on Monday morning, his own government shut down around him, the president of the United States was asked by reporters if he was working for Russia.

He said that he was not. “Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it’s a disgrace that you even asked that question, because it’s a whole big fat hoax,” President Trump said.

Yet the reporters were right to ask, given Mr. Trump’s bizarre pattern of behavior toward a Russian regime that the Republican Party quite recently regarded as America’s chief rival. Indeed, it’s unnerving that more people — particularly in the leadership of the Republican Party — aren’t alarmed by Mr. Trump’s secretive communications with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and reliance on his word over the conclusions of American intelligence agencies.

Given the direct control of U.S. politics that U.S. media asserted that Russia was exercising from 2016 through 2020, if Putin wanted to do something in Ukraine without American interference, wouldn’t it have made sense to do it while a Russian puppet (Donald Trump) was in charge in D.C.?

Russia annexed Crimea during the Obama administration (Wikipedia) and took a lot of heat for that. Unless we/NATO/Europe has done something recently to antagonize Russia, wouldn’t it have made sense for Russia to do whatever it is doing now back in 2014 so that it would have had to suffer only one round of sanctions?

Finally, given that the U.S. is packed with immigrants from both Ukraine and Russia, I wonder what the consequences for this dispute will be here. Our corner of Florida in particular is home to both Ukrainians and Russians (many had been living in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, but moved when lockdowns and school closures were imposed). Can expats from Ukraine and Russia get along? I remember when Crimea was annexed, a Massachusetts immigrant from Crimea was vocal in support of Putin and the annexation (her father was a Russian military officer).

This is a big story in U.S. media recently and yet I have no idea what Americans are supposed to know about the situation.


  • New York state public and welfare health spending compared to Russia’s military budget: How much is $88 billion? Mexico spends about $1050 per person on health care. That includes health care for the rich, middle class, and poor. Mexico’s population is roughly 130 million so this works out to about $136 billion. In other words, with only 20 million people, New York spends close to as much on public health and welfare health insurance as Mexico does to care for its entire population, including cosmetic surgery for the richest people in Polanco. (How are the results in the Mexican system? Mexican life expectancy is about one year less than American life expectancy.) Comparisons between coronavirus and war are common. What if we wanted to have a military force with supersonic fighter jets, nuclear-powered submarines, an aircraft carrier, nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, nearly 1 million active-duty troops, and 2 million reservists? Somewhere around $70 billion is what Russia spends. In other words, New York state spends more for public health and welfare health care than Russia spends to fund what might be the world’s most powerful military (let’s hope that we never find out who is actually the strongest!).
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Manufacturing a U.S. citizen in 9 months

The phenomenon of anchor babies merits a Wikipedia page: “a child born to a non-citizen mother in a country that has birthright citizenship which will therefore help the mother and other family members gain legal residency.” The term itself is hateful, according to the New York Times, and therefore used by haters such as Donald Trump (a 2015 article). Whatever these new U.S. citizens are called, it is popularly believed that the pregnant mom has to travel to the U.S., thus limiting production.

Would it be possible to produce an anchor baby remotely? The answer turns out to be “yes”.

While chatting recently with a European friend, I learned that many of the things that we cherish are illegal in Europe. Abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy, for example, is generally illegal in Germany. Surrogacy is illegal almost everywhere in Europe, but it is not illegal to write a check to the U.S. industrial-reproductive complex and produce a baby via surrogacy here in the U.S. The resulting birthright U.S. citizen will have European genetic parents and be entitled to a U.S. passport.

A combination of a 19th century rule regarding former slaves and 21st century reproductive technology!

Related (mostly showing that I am late to learn about this!):

  • Payment for surrogate mothers: “Per month of pregnancy the surrogate mother is receiving about $2800. … the woman who seeks to get paid for having an abortion gets paid at least $83,333 per month of pregnancy, 30X as much as the woman who gets paid for having a baby.” (the post is from 2014, so it doesn’t highlight that men are just as likely to get pregnant as women.
  • “Whoa, Baby! Why American Surrogates Are in Demand for Chinese Families” (Hollywood Reporter 2016): Of course, any baby born via surrogate in the U.S. has birthright citizenship. “The Chinese couples really like that because a lot of them want to come back and forth,” says Molly O’Brien, a fertility lawyer with offices in Torrance who frequently travels to China to participate in information sessions for would-be parents, often sponsored by doctors offices or assisted-reproduction agencies. “Maybe they eventually want that child to be able to go to college here.”
  • “Coming to U.S. for Baby, and Womb to Carry It” (NYT, 2014): “… the situation is quite different in Portugal — as it is in most of the world where the hiring of a woman to carry a child is forbidden.” (Note the hurtful assumption, in which a prospective pregnant person is presumed to identify as a “woman”)
  • “Made in America” (The New Republic, 2017): “For years, we’ve looked to China for cheap labor. Now Chinese couples are coming to the U.S. for a new form of outsourcing: hiring American women to produce babies.” (Note the hateful language, in which pregnant people are referred to as “women”)
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Irish Vaccine Samizdat

A friend in Ireland sent me this meme, which is widely circulating on WhatsApp:

This is a counterpoint to Irish media pieces such as “Ireland will face severe Covid lockdown if people behave irresponsibly, O’Dea says”. See also “Irish Deputy PM says the 5% of the nation’s unvaccinated population is causing a problem” (CNN).

What has Ireland gained for its 21 months of trench warfare against SARS-CoV-2? On April 28, 2020, the New York Times used Ireland as a reference point for Sweden’s COVID-19-tagged death rate and they were roughly equal. On the COVID-19 death rate leaderboard, Ireland now sits 9 places below give-the-finger-to-the-virus Sweden. For folks who measure a society’s success by the single number of cumulative COVID-19 death rate, this makes Ireland’s 21 months of living under restrictions well worth it. The trend, however, is for Ireland and Sweden to converge on this grim statistic.

(Unlike Facebook, WhatsApp doesn’t seem to correct COVID-19 wrongthink. The 94% vaccinated stat above might look like it needs correction, but I think that, like many other Europeans, the Irish measure vaccination rate by looking at the percentage of people who are eligible for a vaccine, not by looking at the percentage of all humans, including those too young to be eligible, for example.)

Is meme consistent with official data? From the Google:

Note that “Irish lockdown” is pretty much the opposite of a Maskachusetts lockdown. In Ireland, schools remained open and generally unmasked while adults could not travel more than 2 km from their houses (enforced with police checkpoints), could not gather and drink alcohol, etc. In Boston, on the other hand, the public schools were essentially closed for 18 months while watering holes for adults, alcohol stores, and marijuana shops remained open. Adults could drive 30 miles from their homes at any hour of the day or night to meet a new friend from Tinder.


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Brexit fallout: Royal Dutch Shell moves its headquarters to London

We were informed that Brexit (January 31, 2020) would cause multinationals to move their headquarters to the EU. This week we learn, however, “Royal Dutch Shell has announced a plan to move its headquarters to the UK as part of proposals to simplify the company’s structure” (BBC):

The oil giant will ask shareholders to vote on shifting its tax residence from the Netherlands to the UK.

Shell’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, will relocate to the UK.

The company’s chief financial officer, Jessica Uhl, will also move, alongside seven other senior employees.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng welcomed Shell’s announcement, tweeting that it was “a clear vote of confidence in the British economy”.

The Dutch government, however, said it was “unpleasantly surprised” by Shell’s proposal.

Stef Blok, economic affairs and climate minister, said: “We are in a dialogue with the management of Shell over the consequences of this plan for jobs, crucial investment decisions and sustainability.”

Shell has been incorporated in the UK and had a Dutch tax residence – as well as the dual share structure – since 2005.

The changes also mean the company will drop “Royal Dutch” from its title and be renamed Shell. This element dates back to 1890 when the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company was formed. That company merged with the UK’s Shell Transport and Trading Company in 1907.

“Carrying the Royal designation has been a source of immense pride and honour for Shell for more than 130 years,” Shell said.

Shares in Shell rose by nearly 2% on Monday morning.

How will the Dutch enjoy their new freedom from sharing a country with the top climate destroyers in the Shell executive suite? “Netherlands imposes lockdown measures as Covid cases hit new high” (Guardian, 11/12/2021):

The Netherlands will become the first western European country to impose a partial lockdown since the summer, introducing strict new measures from Saturday in the face of record numbers of new Covid-19 infections.

Gatherings at home would be limited to a maximum of four guests, all amateur and professional sporting events must be held behind closed doors, and home working was advised except in “absolutely unavoidable” circumstances, Rutte said.

The virus is everywhere and needs to combated everywhere. I want every Dutch citizen to be asking, can I do more? Can I do better? We had hoped with the vaccines we wouldn’t have to do this, but we see the same situation all across Europe.”

Charlie is everywhere and this is his Tet Offensive. But if we put all of our resources into defense, the war is eminently winnable.

(I asked a Dutch friend about these situations. On the Shell move, in his view, it was as simple as cutting the corporation’s tax bill. Except for in Germany, which refuses to bend the rules for the politically connected, Europe is much like the U.S. in which states compete by offering special deals for the biggest companies and, in this case, Boris Johnson was offering Shell a better deal. On COVID, my friend said that the current outbreak is primarily due to immigrants in the Netherlands who were, in his view, both more likely to be infected with and less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19. His perspective is confirmed to some extent by “What is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on immigrants and their children?” (OECD, October 2020), in which immigrants are roughly twice as likely to show up as a “confirmed case” (meaning they actually accessed the health care system and got a test) compared to the native-born. The government had previously reduced the number of hospital rooms per capita in the Netherlands as a cost-savings measure and if the hospitals now fill up it will discredit the government’s competence. World Bank data show that the number of beds per capita in the Netherlands is down by almost half since 1990, only partly due to population growth via immigration; the U.S. also has a reduced capacity per capita since 1990 (population growth from 250 million to 333 million combined with insufficient wealth to build new hospitals can explain much of this).)

In other European news, it looks like they’re getting closer to the proposal put forward here of rounding up the unvaccinated and placing them in Protection Camps. “Austria to impose Covid lockdown for the unvaccinated age 12 and older” (CNN):

Under the measures announced on Sunday, the unvaccinated are ordered to stay home except for a few limited reasons; the rules will be policed by officers carrying out spot checks on those who are out.

The lockdown plan which was agreed in September called for unvaccinated Austrians to face a stay-at-home order once 30% of intensive-care beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients. Unvaccinated people are already excluded from entertainment venues, restaurants, hairdressers and other parts of public life in Austria.

In neighboring Germany, ministers have ramped up their rhetoric towards those who are not inoculated. Its capital Berlin announced on Wednesday it will ban people who are not vaccinated from indoor dining, bars, gyms, hairdressers and cinemas from next week.

Now wouldn’t it be simpler if everyone had an RFID chip instead of relying on the police to “spot check” folks’ papers?

Returning to the main theme… gasoline was about $3.30 per gallon at the Shell station in Indiantown, Florida (when does that name get changed?) this weekend. And we used that gasoline to go to the Stuart Air Show where we saw the AeroShell Aerobatic Team (Canon R5 body and cheap/light 800/11 lens):

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German and Swiss restaurants refuse to accept CDC cards as proof of vaccination

I was chatting with a pilot friend who returned to his native Germany recently and reported that he’d been unable to get into restaurants. “They refused to accept my CDC card as proof of vaccination,” he said, “because they said it was too easy to forge one.”

I mentioned this at a pilot gathering in Palm Beach and one of the guys at my table said, “the same thing happened to me in Switzerland. Nobody would accept the CDC card.”

What papers do you need to show? “It’s called a European vaccine certificate,” my German friend explained. “You get this from a pharmacist [QR code with some text] then load in app or if you are old show on paper. It’s tied to a Europe-wide database and issued by the local CDC equivalent. It can only be put into the database by authorized pharmacists and some other designated officials, but not doctors.”

So enjoy your trip to Europe, but if you got vaccinated in the U.S., don’t plan to be indoors at museums, restaurants, etc.

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