The euro declines against the dollar but French production continues to fall; very insistent rumors are going around regarding the “virtual” sinking of an American aircraft carrier off the Florida coast by a French submarine; thieves stole the faucets from bathroom plumbing of the BND headquarters (Leggilo in italiano)
La France dans la merde — The spectacular contrast dividing the European economies broadened even further in February. Manufacturing production data show that the contraction of the French industrial economy—underway for a solid nine months now—is taking place evening more rapidly than the ongoing Greek collapse.
In spite of an 8% decline in the value to the euro against the dollar, according to the “Markit PMI” index, French production fell from 49.2 in January to an alarming 47.6 at the end of February. The index, which tracks trends, sets “50” as the value separating contraction from growth. Greek deindustrialization stabilized at 48,4 in the same period.
German expansion has instead been underway for 22 straight months and even Italy is showing a slight increase—at least as a tendency—in industrial production.
La France victorieuse — In theory, it’s a secret, but very insistent rumors are going around regarding the “virtual” sinking of the American aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, off the Florida coast by the French submarine Saphir during recent combined naval maneuvers.
The Saphir, which has seen thirty years of service, managed to penetrate the defensive screen of twenty-some cruisers, frigates and other warships protecting the Roosevelt and to virtually send the ship to the bottom—along with a good part of the ships acting as her screening elements.
The news appeared—briefly—on the site of the French Ministry of Defense, but was then rapidly taken down. Certainly an innocent oversight on someone’s part…
Beyond simply military embarrassment, the news will have an impact on the debate underway regarding the role of carriers as the key elements on American naval doctrine. These “queens of the sea” are the most powerful warships ever built, but some observers believe that progress in satellite surveillance and in missile combat have transformed them instead into nothing more than the most costly targets ever to float on water.
The Roosevelt is one of ten ships belonging to the “Nimitz” class of aircraft carriers. Fully loaded, she displaces around a hundred thousand tons, is about 1,100 feet long and has a crew of 5,000 men between sailors and the pilots and technicians of the carrier air wing she hosts (roughly 90 war planes).
A new “Gerald Ford” class of American carriers is now under construction to take the place of the Nimitz ships—at a cost of $12.7 billion a piece for the first three units—that is “naked”, without planes, munitions or men.
Secret Plumbing — The international press is reporting from Berlin that the new headquarters of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND)—Germany’s answer to the CIA—has been badly damaged after thieves stole the faucets from bathroom plumbing on the upper floors of the structure, still under construction, flooding the lower floors with water.
According to the Berliner Zeitung, the damage amounts to several million euro. German police are understood to be considering several different hypothesis to explain the theft, including the possible revenge of an unpaid supplier.
The huge 260,000 square meter (about 2.8 million square feet) building is—or at least is supposed to be—under intense security as it sits mostly empty awaiting its new occupants, 4,000 German intelligence officers. They were however supposed to have arrived in 2011. The site, whose cost has ballooned from the 900 million euro it was originally expected to cost to beyond 1.3 billion euro (about $1.4 billion) today, is now expected to be occupied in 2017.