Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Long European Winter

     For as long as summer seems to be in Australia, winter is no better in Europe.  Because some crazy stuff is happening there right now.
     First of all, let's talk about flying in Europe.  Probably not a good idea.  Well, I shouldn't say that.  Now it is probably safe, but up until recently there was someone floating around A SERIES of European airlines who was piloting commerical jet aircraft, like the kind you take to Cancun every spring break, without a license.  Oh yeah.
     Authorities in Amsterdam, working off of a tip from Swedish authorities, stepped aboard a Boeing 737 at Schiphol Airport and arrested the man, who was about to fly 101 people to Ankara, Turkey, on behalf of Corendon Airlines.  Upon arresting him, authorities said that he expressed relief that his years of deception were over, even ripping off his pilots stripes and throwing them on the ground.  Or on the floor of the cockpit.
    And he really shouldn't have, he was as good a piolt as anyone.  He had a pilot's license at one time, although it was only to fly small planes and it expired long ago.  But that didn't stop him from flying.  No.  In fact, he racked up 10,000 hours of flying for several airlines over the course of 13 years.  He had worked at Corendon for two years and had "expertly misled the company with his false papers."  And Corendon wasn't alone.
     It's too bad he got caught though, really.  He could have landed a cushy job flying Germans to their Greek Isles, if a German plan goes through.  See, I don't know if you have heard, Company, but the Greek economy isn't doing so well.  I mean, really not well, and there are people who are worried about the Greek state.  Seriously, some think the economy there will collapse.  Anyway, some political allies of German Chancellor Angela Merkel have come out publicly and said that the Greeks should sell some of their over 6,000 islands as a way of making some money.
     The reason that they say this is because they are idiots, and they don't want to help.  They were happy to get Greece into the European Union to get all that tarrif-free olive oil and passportless vacations to see the Parthenon, but now that the new kid is having a rough time they aren't so excited.  Anyway, Greece has over 6,000 islands, and only 275 are inhabited, and there is always a market in countries with strong economies, countries like Germany, for islands for rich to have vacation villas.
     I hate to say it, because I think this is the stupidest idea in the history of ideas, but the Germans are operating on pretty sound fiscal principles.  When you are broke and can't pay your debts, you have to sell off your assets to do so.  And that is one of Greece's best assets.  Many of the islands are already owned by the rich and famous, and they can be had for as little as $2 million, if you have the cash. 
     The Germans say they want to start a dialogue about what Greece can do to help itself, but I get the impression that there is something more sinister going on here, with greater stakes.  The advisors who came up with this idea are pressuring Merkel to not promise any foreign aid when meeting with the Greek Prime Minister later this month.  And it's no surprise that 84% of Germans have said that they don't want to help Greece in a recent poll.  Well, if that's how you are going to be then I guess I want some of our Marshall Plan money back.
      Anyway, that is what's going on across the pond during the long European winter.  The Swedes are flying planes without license.  And the Dutch are arresting them.  The Germans want to buy Greece, the French are cleaning up after a massive storm, and the British are making Top Gear.  So all is well.  But spring can't come soon enough.

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