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.
The Best Handmade Souvenirs from Spain are Just a Click Away
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.
Top 10 reasons to visit Iceland by car
For a long time Iceland was a well kept travellers secret. It was not the typical choice of holiday, but now this wonderful country is becoming more and more well known for that holiday of a lifetime and a chance to see and do things that you can’t do anywhere else in the world.
And there really is only one way to really experience this wild country properly and that is using car rental in Iceland to explore it for yourself. It is far better, and far cheaper, than trying to take day excursions with the other tourists and so many great adventures can be had this way. Here are the top reasons why touring Iceland’s roads absolutely should be your next holiday without delay.
1.The people are really, really nice
This is absolutely true. Icelandic people are very proud of their beautiful country and very keen to show it at its best to visitors. Other places in the world are known for quite a surly reception, but this is absolutely not the case here. You’ll notice it the second you head of to the car rental in Keflavik Airport. The conversation is easy, and english quite widely spoken which can make travel easier. Of course once you are out on the road exploring for yourself you should absolutely get chatting to the locals as you explore, they often know the best places to visit or eat that simply aren’t available on google or tripadvisor. Local knowledge is key for getting off the beaten track.
2.Iceland is really easy to navigate by road
Iceland is not a huge country, and there is one huge road that traverses most of it for about 190 miles. It is known as the Golden Circle. So this means that you have a great point of reference for when you are exploring. You can easily slip away from the main road to explore into the countryside, and then hop back on the Golden Circle to get to your next location. The roads are pretty well kept here – even the gravel ones, so you don’t need to worry too much about the terrain when choosing a hire car. Unless you are planning to get really off road that is.
3. The night sky is a thing of beauty
The night time is truly beautiful, especially in winter when the nights are much longer. With so little light pollution and the chance to see the aurora borealis this is a sight few people actually get to experience for themselves. Of course to really get the best of this opportunity there is really only one way to do it, instead of a car look at camper rental in Iceland instead and stay out all night. This is especially useful in the summer when the nights are very very short. This way you have all night to enjoy it while snuggled up warm in your sleeping bag.
4. The unspoiled beauty of Iceland
Of course the other great thing about Iceland camper rental is that by getting out of the towns and into the beautiful countryside you can see Iceland how it should be seen as a beautiful, scenic natural landscape. Imagine being able to camp somewhere so inspiring and free from the intervention of man and waking up to the freshest air and sounds of nature.
5. Visiting the villages gives you a real taste of Icelandic life
Most of the population don’t live in the major cities of Reykjavik, Isafjordur and Akureyri. Most life in smaller communities dotted around the country, and bearing in mind how friendly the people are, it is a chance to really embrace a different culture and take part.
6. Get out there and try the amazing fresh food
The great thing about hopping from village to village on your tour is the chance to try real local food. It is not too dissimilar to Scandinavian food, and there is of course plenty of fresh fish available, as well as lamb. You have probably heard of Skyr, the Icelandic cheese a little like yoghurt. Well here it is made into all types of delicious dishes you absolutely have to try.
7. Iceland has so many different landscapes
It is almost magical the different landscapes you can see. From grassy fields with Icelandic horses, to snow covered tundra, from magnificent coastlines to moonscapes and lava fields it is really something quite special and like nowhere else on earth. With your car you can experience all this, jumping out to hike on foot and get close to nature, before driving to what might seem like a completely different world at your next location.
8. You can watch the landscape change before your very eyes
There are volcanoes in Iceland, and the geology is formed on an every moving tectonic plate that is actually causing the country to grow in size by 2 cm every year. Its impressive and by driving up to the Lake Myvatn area you can see where steam is being vented from the heat under the earth’s crust. The volcano fields are also very beautiful, and give a strange quality to the landscape, almost like you have landed on the moon.
9. Take your binoculars with you, the bird watching is fantastic
With very few predators on Iceland, bird populations are able to thrive here. There are so many varieties, and depending on the time of year there is a chance to see many migratory birds too. It is not just birds you have a chance to see, you can also opt to go whale watching too at certain location. Heading out by boat to cruise alongside the magnificent animals.
10. You will feel like you have had the most amazing adventure
There is nowhere in the world quite like Iceland. Heading out on your road trip with nothing but a map and an open heart will help you discover wonders only shown to the few brave enough to get off the well travelled path. You’ll create memories hear that will last a lifetime.
Top tips for renting a car in Malaga
The Costa del Sol is a great choice of holiday destination. With many great places to see, absolutely glorious weather and a chance to enjoy the famous Mediterranean lifestyle it is perfect whether you are travelling with friends, as a couple or with a family.
Whether you are heading to Torremolinos, Marbella, Nerja or the city of Malaga, where the international airport is, the best way to make the most of your stay and give you the freedom to really explore the region is to rent a car. There is a lot of choice for car hire in Malaga airport, so here are some tips for getting the deal that is right for you.
Choose the right car for your group
Thinking about your budget, you can aim for a smaller car, such as the Toyota Aygo or the Fiat 500. Absolutely perfect for solo travel or as a couple.
However if you are travelling as a family, these smaller cars might not be right, especially when you have a lot of luggage to carry. But there are still some very good deals to be had on medium size cars like the Ford Focus or Nissan Juke.
However, if comfort is your top priority, and you want to drive around in style, then consider models like the BMW X5 or Range Rover Evoque.
Don’t forget the extras
You will need to be sure to add on any additional items you might need for the length of your hire. For example, if you would like more than one driver you will need to let the rental company know so that they can be included in the hire and therefore included in the insurance cover.
You should also be sure that you ask for child car seats, and that those car seats meet safety standards. It is often possible to hire a GPS loaded with local maps as well, that can be very handy when driving in a new country.
You should also double check the insurance details. The basic insurance might be great value, but it will usually only cover injury to passengers or theft of the vehicle, and won’t cover any damage. Event the theft cover will likely mean a very large excess will need to be paid. However opt for a package with full cover and excess protection and you will have far great peace of mind.
Book online for better deals and guaranteed availability
There is nothing worse than finally reaching your destination, queuing at passport control, waiting at the baggage collection point and then having to spend ages in a queue for car hire , when all you want to do is go and enjoy your holiday.
If you book online in advance you will not have to worry about all of that. You can simply head to the car pick up point, usually via a free shuttle bus that online takes a few minutes, and then be on your way to enjoying yourself.
Choose a car hire company with good service and 24 hour availability
This can make all the difference to your holiday. There are over 100 car hire companies at Malaga airport, however not all of them are able to offer good prices, good quality vehicles and excellent service.
Also if you are travelling at night, or your flight ends up delayed you want to be sure that this will not cause any problems for your rental. So be sure to choose a company that has a helpline telephone number open 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
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