Saturday, 25 December 2010

A popular book

Former US President George W Bush´s memoir "Decision Points" has sold an astonishing two million copies in less than two monts, according to the publisher, Crown Publishing Group. And the book is not even out in paperback yet. According to the publisher, no other hardcover non-fiction book has sold even one million copies in 2010. Quite an achievement by the man who´s intellectual ability was universally berated by liberal and leftist media.

By contrast, former president Bill Clinton´s memoir has only managed to sell 2,2 million copies since it was published in 2004.

Chinese clone Russia´s Su-27 fighter

China was for a long time the major buyer of Russian weapon systems, but times have changed, reports the Wall Street Journal:

ZHUHAI, China—A year after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a cash-strapped Kremlin began selling China a chunk of its vast military arsenal, including the pride of the Russian air force, the Sukhoi-27 fighter jet.
For the next 15 years, Russia was China's biggest arms supplier, providing $20 billion to $30 billion of fighters, destroyers, submarines, tanks and missiles. It even sold Beijing a license to make the Su-27 fighter jet—with imported Russian parts.

Today, Russia's military bonanza is over, and China's is just beginning.
After decades of importing and reverse-engineering Russian arms, China has reached a tipping point: It now can produce many of its own advanced weapons—including high-tech fighter jets like the Su-27—and is on the verge of building an aircraft carrier.
Not only have Chinese engineers cloned the prized Su-27's avionics and radar but they are fitting it with the last piece in the technological puzzle, a Chinese jet engine.
In the past two years, Beijing hasn't placed a major order from Moscow..

Many western companies, including major ones, seem to be unbelievably credulous in their dealings with the Chinese. Sooner or later they will regret it. The Chinese are also extremely active in the area of industrial espionage - as are the Russians.

Friday, 24 December 2010

About Merkel´s Christian values - and the EU Commission´s lack of them

It is encouraging that German Chanchellor Angela Merkel has began to speak out for Christian values in Europe:

"We have too few discussions about the Christian view of mankind," Merkel claimed in a recent speech. She then stressed that Germany needs to reflect more upon "the values that guide us, about our Judeo-Christian tradition." It was one way, Merkel maintained, of bringing "about cohesion in our society."

Samuel Gregg, Director of Research at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty offers this commentary:

On one level, Merkel is surely stating the blindingly obvious. How can Europeans ask Muslim immigrants to integrate into European society and respect European values without Europeans themselves being clear in their own minds about what values are at the core of European identity and where these values come from?

And as much as significant portions of European society would like to deny it, it's simply a historical fact that the idea of Europe and European values such as liberty, equality before the law, and solidarity did not suddenly appear ex nihilo in the late seventeenth-century with the various Enlightenments. Central to the formation of European identity and such values was the synthesis of Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem achieved by Christianity following the Roman Empire's collapse in the West in 476 A.D.

Indeed there's plenty of evidence that the antecedents of most of the various freedoms and genuine achievements of the various Enlightenments are to be found in Christianity. There is increasing recognition, for example, that the idea of human rights was first given concrete expression by medieval canon lawyers.

The European Commission does not seem to share Merkel´s view. It has printed more than three million copies of a planner for secondary schools that includes Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Jewish holidays, without at all mentioning Christian holidays!

The GalliaWatch blog comments:

The page for December 25 is empty and at the bottom is the following message:

"A true friend is someone who shares your worries and your joy". It would be hard to find something more "religiously" correct!

The calendar includes Muslim Hindu, Sikh, Jewish holidays. Among others... Not to mention Europe Day and other key dates of the EU. No Christian holiday is mentioned even though Christianity is the religion of most Europeans. Johanna Touzel, spokesperson for COMECE (Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union) found the planner "unbelievable". A spokesperson for the European Commission spoke of an "error". He pointed out that future editions of this planner would not mention any religious holiday...

Remove everything rather than speak of Christmas!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

China offers EU a helping hand (2)

In an earlier post I wrote about China offering the crisis ridden euro a helping hand:

China has promised to take further “concerted action” to support European financial stabilisation, including continuing to buy the bonds of countries at the centre of the sovereign debt crisis, according to senior European officials.

What we have here is a developing country (according to its own definition) governed by a communist party elite in reality bailing out the EU, the international "success story", that for "over half a century has brought political stability and economic prosperity to its citizens" and is "the world’s biggest donor of development aid to poorer countries".

Sic transit gloria mundi!

Here is how China defines itself, according to the editor of the China Daily newspaper:

Despite its overtaking Japan in second quarter economic output, the basic fact that China is still in the primary stage of socialism determines that the country will still be a developing nation for a long period in the future.

And here is how the European Union defines itself, according to its official website:

The European Union – a success story

The European Union needs no introduction. Over half a century, it has brought political stability and economic prosperity to its citizens. It has created a frontier-free single market and a single currency, the euro. It has reunited a fractured continent. The European Union is a major economic and commercial power and the world’s biggest donor of development aid to poorer countries. Its membership has grown from six to 27 nations, bringing the EU’s population to nearly half a billion.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Piers Corbyn - the weather forecaster who beats the Met Office and all the other forecasters

London Mayor Boris Johnson is impressed by the accuracy of Piers Corbyn´s long range weather forecasts. Corbyn, who works in a modest office, regularly beats the government supported Met Office and all the other big weather forecasting institutions with hundreds of experts and huge supercomputers. Corbyn forecasted the December severe winter weather already in May - and now he thinks a mini ice age is a possibility:

Piers Corbyn works in an undistinguished office in Borough High Street. He has no telescope or supercomputer. Armed only with a laptop, huge quantities of publicly available data and a first-class degree in astrophysics, he gets it right again and again.
Back in November, when the Met Office was still doing its "mild winter" schtick, Corbyn said it would be the coldest for 100 years. Indeed, it was back in May that he first predicted a snowy December, and he put his own money on a white Christmas about a month before the Met Office made any such forecast. He said that the Met Office would be wrong about last year's mythical "barbecue summer", and he was vindicated. He was closer to the truth about last winter, too.
He seems to get it right about 85 per cent of the time and serious business people - notably in farming - are starting to invest in his forecasts. In the eyes of many punters, he puts the taxpayer-funded Met Office to shame. How on earth does he do it? He studies the Sun.
He looks at the flow of particles from the Sun, and how they interact with the upper atmosphere, especially air currents such as the jet stream, and he looks at how the Moon and other factors influence those streaming particles.
He takes a snapshot of what the Sun is doing at any given moment, and then he looks back at the record to see when it last did something similar. Then he checks what the weather was like on Earth at the time - and he makes a prophecy.
I have not a clue whether his methods are sound or not. But when so many of his forecasts seem to come true, and when he seems to be so consistently ahead of the Met Office, I feel I want to know more. Piers Corbyn believes that the last three winters could be the harbinger of a mini ice age that could be upon us by 2035, and that it could start to be colder than at any time in the last 200 years. He goes on to speculate that a genuine ice age might then settle in, since an ice age is now cyclically overdue.

If you are interested in learning more about Piers Corbyn, here is his homepage.

Johnson has for some time been a "warmist", believing in the global warming propaganda, which is why he still pays homage to this imaginary problem in his otherwise good column.

China offers EU a helping hand

China has, according to FT, promised charitable action in order to help the crisis ridden euro:

China has promised to take further “concerted action” to support European financial stabilisation, including continuing to buy the bonds of countries at the centre of the sovereign debt crisis, according to senior European officials.
The officials, who declined to be named, said Wang Qishan, a Chinese vice-premier, had given assurances that China would step up support for European stabilisation efforts “if necessary”. Mr Wang made the pledge during the third annual China-EU High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue, held in Beijing on Tuesday.

FT, citing EU officials, also notes that China has not formally linked its support to some specific issues, but that it has asked the EU to be granted "market economy" status and the lifting of the arms embargo.

I think it is likely that we will not hear any strong criticism of e.g. China´s human rights violations from the EU leaders in the near future.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Obama - a one term president?

Commentator and analyst Nile Gardiner thinks that Obama might might not get a second term:

2010 is a year President Obama will definitely want to forget, after his party’s humiliating drubbing at the hands of voters in the November mid-terms. As I’ve noted previously, there is no sign at all of any kind of recovery for the president, and several new polls show that Barack Obama continues his steep downward spiral. On current projections, the president looks on course to become a one-term president, and a pretty undistinguished one at that.
According to the latest Fox News/ Opinion Dynamics poll, just 29 percent of US voters predict that Obama will be re-elected in 2012 – with 64 percent saying that he will not succeed in winning another term, an 18 percent increase from a year ago. Only 35 percent of Americans think Obama deserves re-election, compared to 53 percent who believe the country would be better off with someone else.

And Gardiner is not the only one who thinks Obama might end up as a one term president. This wellknown personality - who describes himself as "we the people" - has also suggested this possibility.

Suggested Christmas reading

If you still are not sure what Christmas book you would like to buy to a friend, your wife/husband or yourself, here is my recommendation: Buy Daniel Hannan´s new book  The New Road to Serfdom: A Letter of Warning to America. It is excellent reading not only for Americans, but also for Europeans - even so called europhiles.

There is much too little critical thinking about the European Union. Most politicians do not dare to challenge the "official consensus". Among the several thousand Brussels correspondents, only a handful qualify as real investigative journalists. The overwhelming majority are happy to act as parrots for politicians and bureaucrats, in the name of political correctness.

That is why it is so good to have politicians like Daniel Hannan (MEP), whose deep knowledge of the American political system makes him an ideal person to compare the present day EU and the US.

Watch and listen here to Hannan introducing his new book in Washington DC in order to get a taste of Hannan´s message.

Monday, 20 December 2010

"Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past"

The Independent:

Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past

Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain's culture, as warmer winters - which scientists are attributing to global climate change - produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.
According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event".
"Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.

Yes, that was 10 years ago.

Today, on the first page of the same newspaper:
The economic impact of the freezing winter will deepen this week as Britain prepares for more travel gridlock, and millions of workers, travellers and shoppers were expected to stay at home in the run-up to Christmas rather than brave the icy conditions.
Heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures cost the aviation and retail industries many millions of pounds in lost revenue during one of the most crucial weekends of the year.
Heathrow, the world's busiest international airport, was closed to all but a handful of flights on Saturday and yesterday, forcing thousands to abandon their festive travel plans. Meanwhile, shopping centres in the South were also badly hit as consumers were forced to postpone buying Christmas presents on what had been billed as "Super Saturday". But with the Met Office predicting no let-up in freezing conditions and more snow likely in the South-east, the North and Scotland, economists fear that the knock-on effects will begin to hit the whole of the UK's economy at a key moment in its fragile recovery from recession

Sunday, 19 December 2010

The euro crisis: Endgame or not?

Two wellknown economists, Nouriel Roubini and Tim Congdon offer their takes of what will happen to the euro. Not unsurprisingly, their views differ somewhat. Nourine has described himself as the most europhile economist on his side of the Atlantic, while Congdon on the other hand is quite critical with regard to the euro.


Thus, in addition to an orderly resolution regime for banks, Europe must also implement early orderly restructurings of distressed sovereigns' public debt. Waiting until 2013 to implement these restructurings, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposes, will destroy confidence, as it implies a much larger haircut on residual private claims on sovereign borrowers.
Orderly market-based restructurings via exchange offers need to occur in 2011. Such exchange offers can limit private creditors' losses if they are done early. That way, formal haircuts on the face value of debt can be avoided via new bonds that include only a maturity extension and an interest-rate cap that is set below today's unsustainable market rates. Waiting to restructure unsustainable debts would only lead to disorderly workouts and severe haircuts for some private creditors.
Finally, Europe needs policies that restore competitiveness and growth to the eurozone's periphery, where GDP is either still contracting (Greece, Spain, and Ireland) or barely growing (Italy and Portugal). Without growth, it will be difficult to stabilize public and private debts and deficits as a share of GDP—the most important indicator of fiscal sustainability. Moreover, without growth, the social and political backlash against painful belt-tightening will eventually undermine austerity and reform.
Unfortunately, fiscal austerity and structural reforms are—at least in the short run—recessionary and deflationary. So other policies are needed to restore growth. The ECB should pursue a much looser monetary policy to jump-start growth, with a weaker euro to help boost the periphery's competitiveness. In addition, Germany should delay its fiscal consolidation; if anything, it should cut taxes for a couple of years to boost its own growth and—via trade—that of the periphery.
In the next few months, it will become clear whether European policymakers can compromise and implement reforms that dampen the threat of a eurozone breakup. Either the EU moves in the direction of a more stable equilibrium of closer integration, or the risk of an unstable and disorderly breakup scenario will rise significantly.

Read the whole piece here.


Many commentators and officials seem to think that the creation of a large inter- and cross-governmental financing facility for troubled nations is the answer. Well, that may be the answer to something, but – by itself – it will do nothing to boost Eurozone activity. For that the priority has to be faster growth of Eurozone M3, about which the ECB appears to have given no thought whatever. Given that policy-making is in chaos, market participants have to take pre-emptive action in case the Eurozone does break up. Everyone knows that the European Union has been able to cope – by the extension of blanket guarantees to governments and banks – with the crises in the small PIGS (i.e., Portugal, Ireland and Greece), precisely because they are small. But Germany and France cannot give blanket guarantees to the governments and banking systems of Spain and/or Italy, now precisely because Spain and Italy are large (the extension of guarantees to countries as big as Spain and Italy would – obviously – affect the creditworthiness of Germany and France).
So we appear to be reaching some sort of endgame. The final rupture is likely to see the ECB in Frankfurt telling a national central bank that it will have to refuse requests for help from that nation’s government and/or banking system. In this context, it is interesting that the ECB has recently taken action to boost its capital base.
Anyhow the latest ECB weekly return shows a sharp and resumed rise in lending to the commercial banking systems. These new loans – very probably, although not certainly – are loans to PIGs banks that are running out of cash. If a trend is unsustainable, it will stop. No one knows the exact date of the Eurozone’s breakup. Nevertheless, unless a big boom gets under way soon, the Eurozone will break up in 2011. A big boom would follow the deliberate large-scale monetisation of public deficits/debt, but the Germans are wholly opposed to that, and it is impossible to see rapid and effective agreement on scale, instrument and method by the relevant authorities in the Eurozone.

Link to Dr. Congdon´s article.

I would not bet on it, but I think Congdon might be closer to the truth.

McCain: "Russia Remains a State of Lawlessness"

Senator John McCain calls Russia "a Sate of lawlessness" in an interview for Le Figaro. The senator also has a message to president Sarkozy. (The Georgian Daily has published a translation of the interview.)

We are not dealing with a world power. We are dealing with a nation which, whatever its stated intentions, remains a State of lawlessness. As revealed by one of the WikiLeaks cables, a group of individuals with a mafia-like behaviour is governing the country, with Putin at their head. Regarding Russia's conduct, I would like to stress the crucial issue of Georgia. On that subject, I am extremely disappointed that President Sarkozy does not insist more in highlighting that the Russians remain in perpetual violation of the cease-fire agreement he personally negotiated. Russia continues to occupy 20% of the Georgian territory, with complete impunity. This should worry the French president more than anyone else.