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Public spending spat in Denmark: Defense Minister Nicolai Wammen under criticism for choice of new APC

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Denmark Defence minister Nicolai Wammen

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Every decision a politician makes represents danger to his or her career. In a recent project to upgrade the Danish army’s equipment, Nicolai Wammen, Denmark’s Defense ministry, has come under intense fire for its odd and shady choice. And yet, mainstream media haven’t addressed the mystery, despite there being a good story here. Is media silence on the matter bought with subsidization?

“Total amateurism” and “scandal of unseen dimension”, summed up (1) Troels Lund Poulsen, spokesman on Defense from the Liberals party. After brewing the deal for months, Denmark made its final decision (2) on which armored personnel carrier it would choose to replace its old fleet of Bradley M113. And on April 30th, 2015, the Piranha 5 from GDLS was chosen. Almost instantly, doubts were cast on the decision to resort to that specific vehicle. The response to those doubts also appeared suspicious, as both the government and the media went silent on the matter, as if they didn’t want it to get any attention.

The Danish Defense blog, Nytkampfly, an alternative yet reliable source, voiced its assessment on the deal (3). While it praised the choice of wheeled vehicles over tracked ones (3 of the 5 contenders were tracked), for its speed and flexibility, it was surprised at the choice of GDLS’s product, as it bluntly contradicted a Defense purchasing policy which is in place in Denmark, as it is in many other countries. Most Western or NATO-aligned countries choose to purchase off-the-shelf products which are already fielded in allied armies. The advantages yielded by this policy are many : soldiers and operators will know, from allied experience, what the vehicle is worth in real conditions; the cost of purchasing the equipment is much lower (as the manufacturer is selling large volumes), and operational maintenance is far easier, as troops on the battlefield can supply each other with parts and mechanics. Without this policy, armies would play Russian roulette every time they buy new equipment, and find out at their expense if the piece of kit has been properly designed or not; as well as make their maintenance and operational costs soar.

The NH-90 was sidetracked from the shipborne helicopter replacement project, in keeping with this policy. Too few allied or NATO countries used the helicopter and it was judged too likely that operational and maintenance problems could occur, or that expenses could quickly bloat.

This discrepancy was therefore noted by some defense experts, who sought clarifications on the deal. The government gave none and the mainstream media gave none. And that type of freezing-up will alert any dogged journalist, whether in a news agency or on a specialized blog: they know how to pick up on fishy details.

The reason for the blackout came out a few weeks later: the deal had been poorly designed (4), as the financial chapter securing had been overlooked. The purchasing contract was concluded in Swiss francs, a currency which has suffered substantial instability lately, and the Danish government hadn’t deemed necessary –or simply forgot!- to sign an exchange rate coverage contract. As a result, within a week, the cost of replacing the vehicles had already jumped by 16% (ie USD 50 million, on a contract worth over USD 450 million (5)) with no guarantees on where it could go. Given the Danish ambitions to boost their participation to allied operations and their diplomacy, such a blunder could lead to hindering Danish Defense capabilities.

The next chapter of the saga lies in media silence. Given that the Greenland (a Danish territory) Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond (6) had to resign over the misuse of a mere 18 000 dollars, one can only imagine the echo such a large (and avoidable) expense would have instantly hit headlines. And yet, nothing. Not a word from large newspaper and news agencies.

For the Nytkampfly blog, the reason is obvious: public subsidies (7), which can reach USD 3 million, and allow the government to keep a grip on media. The link between governments and media is under close scrutiny in Western countries. Governments gladly hand out subsidies, in the form of “support for media liberty of expression”. But if those budgets can be allocated, they can also be suppressed and therefore represent a lever on the press.

Perhaps the Danish government is simply stalling for time. Now that the flawed contract has become apparent to all, it isn’t impossible that Defense Minister Nicolai Wammen is sandbagging in order to give time to his teams to find ways to pull out of the deal or re-start the project. It would, after all, be the logical way to recoup the millions of dollars of public money lost. If that is the case, the next round will be rough: GDLS has shown pretty aggressive business ways in past deals. In the deals of the Santa Barbara Ascod 2, in the British FRES-SV (8) for example, GDLS tried to back out of signed clauses
20 years ago, the scandal would have flown under radar. Mainstream media, with their television reports and paper print, would have drowned out any critics of the deal. But in the day and age of instant information on the web, a simple blog will get as much traction and magnitude as a large news agency. A shift in information management which should bring far more transparency into political decisions.

(1) http://jyllands-posten.dk/politik/ECE7746812/Kurshop+kan+blive+en+bombe+under+milliardk%C3%B8b+af+nye+panserk%C3%B8ret%C3%B8jer/
(2) http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/land/vehicles/2015/05/05/general-dynamics-secure-afv-deal-but-danes-cancel-155mm-competition/26926019/
(3) http://nytkampfly.dk/archives/7000
(4) http://nytkampfly.dk/archives/7000
(5) http://jyllands-posten.dk/politik/ECE7746812/Kurshop+kan+blive+en+bombe+under+milliardk%C3%B8b+af+nye+panserk%C3%B8ret%C3%B8jer/
(6) http://www.thelocal.dk/20141001/greenland-government-in-tatters-over-expenses-scandal
(7) http://nytkampfly.dk/archives/7062
(8) http://archive.defensenews.com/article/20140913/DEFREG01/309130027/British-MoD-Reconsiders-Assembling-Scout-UK

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Europe

Working & Travelling In Greece

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Greece is a fantastic destination for many people, and for a number of different reasons. It you are keen to see some of the islands and soak up the sun, then you are in for a truly luxurious and paradisiacal time indeed. Similarly, if you just want to spend some time in Athens and see the major sights, then you will come away feeling refreshed and full of vigour from the sheer history and culture that surrounds you. But Greece is also a great place to consider if you are keen to work and travel at the same time. There are plenty of opportunities which you can grab there, and it is a perfect setting if you are a freelancer looking to work on the go. Let’s take a look at some of the things you might want to consider when you are thinking about working and travelling in Greece.

Your Itinerary

Greece Beach

Even if you plan to somewhat move around at leisure, you will probably still find it useful to have some kind of itinerary to work on. That will mean that that whole side of things has been taken care of, which won’t therefore be too much of a worry or a stress when you are trying to make the most of the time you have there. You can then work away, if you are freelancing, while also moving around as you have determined. You can always move away from this, and it is a good idea to have a kind of loose itinerary, but as long as you have one that is the main thing that matters. It will make working and travelling in Greece much easier and more likely to succeed.

The Technical Aspects

Because of the nature of working on the go, you will need to make sure that you have fully understood everything you need to do in order to keep your lifestyle working smoothly. That largely means looking into the more technical aspects of working on the go, which is something that you might find is easier than you would think. As long as you make a point of finding out how to sync contacts from iPhone to Mac so you can better keep in touch with people, and as long as you know what software you need to have to do your work, you should be able to travel the world and work as you please, so that is something to consider.

The Culture

Greece monument

You will probably find that Greek culture suits working very well, and it might be something that you want to think about in order to make sure that it is really the right place for you. It all depends on the nature of the work. For writers and other creatives, it could be the perfect backdrop, and you might feel that you simply never want to leave. However it is that you approach it, you can be sure that you are going to have a great time like this.

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Holidays in Tenerife

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Tenerife spain canary

Rent a Scooter in Tenerife expands your chances of enjoying this island to the fullest. You can reach all its corners as quickly and comfortably as possible. Do you dare to try tourism on two wheels?

Why rent a scooter in Tenerife?

The pleasure of riding a motorcycle

I can assure you that whoever tries the option of renting a scooter in Tenerife to spend their vacations, always repeats … and that, beyond its functional advantages, this means of transport is a way of life in itself, capable of make your journey much more fun. Time will fly by!

The small size of the motorcycles allows them to get into even the most remote routes, making possible to know each and every one of the best places in Tenerife (such as the Teide National Park, San Cristóbal de La Laguna, El Médano beach, the Port of the cross…).

A means of transport without troubles

Since Tenerife is an island, it turns out very complicated and expensive to transfer your own car or motorcycle there. Car and moto rental is revealed as the smartest way to travel through the Canary Islands, as it allows you to win in freedom of movement.

It is better to rent a scooter in Tenerife than a car, since these types of vehicles makes possible you a more economical, ecological and simple driving. Imagine the traffic jams and parking problems that you will save on board your motorcycle!

Rent a scooter in Tenerife optimizes your time

The holidays are short-lived, so any alternative that allows us to make the most of our stays abroad is welcome. Going by motorbike around the island makes it possible for you to take more advantage every day of your stay, as it allows you to get right where you want, without wasting time waiting for public transport.

Rent a scooter in Tenerife with Atlantic Moto: sure success

When you decide to rent a scooter in Tenerife to spend your holidays it is very important to go to a reliable company that, like veteran Atlantic Moto, takes care of even the smallest detail so that you only have to worry about enjoying your stay.

  • This company puts at your disposal the best scooter brands in the market (Suzuki, Aprilia, Honda, Kawasaki …), belonging to groups A, B, C and D.
  • Atlantic Moto provides you absolutely everything you need to enjoy your scooter, since its prices include such important elements as: lock, insurance, helmet, unlimited mileage … They even advise you on routes and stays on the island!
  • Everything is designed to simplify and speed up the collection of your scooter to the maximum, since you can pick it up at the Atlantis motorcycle office or at the reception of your hotel or holiday apartment.You can even ask to be taken it to the airport!
  • You can book your scooter without obligation, you just have to deposit 10% of the price, then you can modify or cancel said reservation, recovering said deposit.
  • The services of this company are very easy to hire, since you can rent your scooter in Tenerife from its website, which has a 100% secure payment system, which supports PayPal, bitcoin and Visa or Mastercard cards. What are you waiting for try it?
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The Best Handmade Souvenirs from Spain are Just a Click Away

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travel spain souvenir

Artisan decorative figurines are one of the most common purchases among the tourists who visit Spain and want to get something special as a souvenir to remember their stay. Spain’s craftsmanship is known throughout the world for the enormous talent behind it, and for years it has prompted tourists to visit the country and purchase ceramic figurines as souvenirs or to complete a previous larger collection of antiques.

But the people fond of arts and decoration who want to get pieces for their collections can’t always come to Spain to buy them. Indeed, lot of tourist can’t bring craft souvenirs back home because they do not have enough room in their suitcases, or because they want to keep traveling before returning to their countries and they can’t carry them around safely. Luckily, shopping is easier now thanks to the Internet, and customers can get products made in other countries from anywhere in the world. What used to require to go to a specific place, look around and ask for prices, and then proceed with the purchase, now is as simple and convenient as entering a website, click here and there and waiting at home for the product to arrive.

The craftmanship field is not foreign to this new concept of shopping. Some companies, especially in the souvenirs’ field, have noticed the needs of the modern public and have wisely approached a niche as specific as this one. For  this reason, there are online companies such as Toledogifts which are dedicated to the sale and distribution of these decorative figurines through the Internet. The e-commerce technology offers numerous facilities for the sale and distribution of handcrafts online, which makes posible several websites such may offer plenty of options and fair prices.

Toledogifts has brought internet solutions to a sector as traditional as ceramic and porcelain figures, craftsmanship in general. It is no longer necessary to travel to buy collectibles or anything like that, now all you have to do is go to their website and proceed through the catalog to choose what you like. Their online store stands out for its variety and professionalism. They sell high quality handmade products crafted by Spanish manufacturers, and they ship to any part of the world, allowing the customer to confortably receive the products at home, forgeting plane incoveniences.

The first thing that stands out in this company is its catalogue. Scrolling down the webpage, the user can find a wide range of the most popular craft products from every Spanish region. Thanks to the number of filters and options available -essential tools to speed up the search and, of course, the purchase-, you can easily find what you are looking for.

Toledogifts complies with the standards of online stores to ensure consumer satisfaction. Besides high quality products, they also offer the best delivery service. They take care of shipping in the shortest possible time and ensuring, above all, the proper protection of the pieces so that they are not damage during in the journey. Also, they always guarantee that the price is as close as possible to their real value.

Amog the different great products that can be found on this website, the unique damascenes from Toledo stand out. Damascene is defined as the art of inlaying gold on a soft iron base. Damascenes take their name from the city of Damascus, because it is craft technique which originated in the Syrian capital. Their origins are remote -there are vestiges of more than 1500 years old, and pieces have been found in different civilization, but the Imperial City of Toledo became the world’s largest producer of damascenes.

There are three different styles of damascenes: the traditional and genuine Arabic modeling, where the gold or silver thread is highlighted with chisels; the Renaissance style introduced in the 16th century and which represents floral, animal or landscape motifs; and also the new model called “vistas”, in which the city of Toledo is represented often centred on motifs of Don Quixote, so logically rooted in these Castilian-La Mancha lands. The pieces are beautiful and not so easy to find outside Spain, which makes them perfect for picky art collectors.

Other best-sellers of the webpage are artisan ceramic plates and porcelaine figures. Porcelain is considered a luxury material and is widely worked by artisans in Spain given its moldability property. Porcelain’s composition is kaolin, which provides the distinctive with pigmentation after it’s baked, feldspar and quartz. An artisan creates a clay figures inspired in the given design, providing it with the details that will be seen in the final figure. Afterwards, the artisan takes molds of and pours liquid porcelain in them. When the consistency is adecuate, molds are retired and the artisan will paste, polish, sculpt and bake the final figure.


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