Streetwise Professor

September 8, 2013

Der Spiegel Huffs and Puffs About Wind In Its Efforts to Blow Angela’s House Down

Filed under: Economics,Energy,History,Military,Politics — The Professor @ 8:00 am

I’ve written about Germany’s bizarre Energiewende program before.  It massively subsidizes renewables, and pays for the subsidy with a huge premium slapped onto electricity rates, although some big industrial consumers are immune.  The most wasteful part of the program is the huge subsidies for wind, especially offshore wind.  Now Der Spiegel chimes in with a very, very long article savaging the program. (Complete with a bonus snark at greens posing as “saviors of the world.”)

I agree with most of what’s in the article, though I am hardly a big fan of the Swedish approach that Der Spiegel touts as an alternative: it’s just a less bad, and less expensive, than the German way.  If anthropogenic CO2 is a problem, slap a tax on it and let people figure out how to respond efficiently, rather than subsidizing specific technologies and suppliers.  The regressivity of the scheme is also not the worst thing about it, though it’s hardly a feature.  What is interesting is that the allegedly “social” Germans, who carp about American inequality, would implement such a regressive scheme.

One other thing to note, which might lead me to discount the brutal nature of the article if I didn’t know about Energiewende from other sources.  The article is clearly aimed at Merkel and her government: the program is laid entirely at her feet.  Thus, the article is a part of Der Spiegel’s unremitting attacks on Frau Merkel in the lead up to the election that will be held in a couple of weeks.  The most prominent part of those attacks is, of course, the Snowden coverage.

Ironically, the Der Spiegel site appears to be down now.  No doubt part of a US operation to silence the brave Laura.

But maybe it’s German intelligence.  For today Reuters reveals that-brace yourselves-Germany has an intelligence service.  And an intelligence service that collects electronic intelligence on foreigners no less!  Who knew? It even has at least one “naval reconnaissance vessel” that plies international waters scooping up information from the international ether.  (“Reconnaissance”, of course, being a fancy name for “spy”.)

Syrian brigade and division commanders had been asking the Presidential Palace to allow them to use chemical weapons for the last four-and-a-half months, according to radio messages intercepted by German spies, but permission had always been denied, the paper said.

This could mean Assad may not have personally approved the attack close to Damascus on August 21 in which more than 1,400 are estimated to have been killed, intelligence officers suggested.

Germany’s foreign intelligence agency (BND) could not be reached for comment.

Bild said the radio traffic was intercepted by a German naval reconnaissance vessel, the Oker, sailing close to the Syrian coast.

The BND couldn’t be reached? What, are they secretive or something?

And they also intercept phone calls!  I think I’m going to faint:

Members of the foreign affairs committee present at the briefing told Reuters Schindler had said that although the BND did not have absolute proof Assad’s government was responsible, it had much evidence to suggest it was.

This included a phone call German spies intercepted between a Hezbollah official and the Iranian Embassy in Damascus in which the official said Assad had ordered the attack.

But I’m sure Germany would never intercept anything on the Internet, so Laura and Jake can continue to take refuge in Berlin in good conscience.  I’m also sure that it knows exactly who the bad guys are so it only intercepts their communications, and only when they’re plotting bad things.  No NSA needle in a haystack programs for Fritz.

In further irony, Der Spiegel originally posted a story about the interception of the phone call . . . in a brief web posting without a byline.  (I’d link that, but like I say, Der Spiegel’s website is down now.)

Update: The Der Spiegel site is back up now.

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