Saturday, 12 March 2011

Gordon Brown on Anna Politkovskaya: 'She paid the ultimate price for integrity'

(A Russian Diary)

Former British PM Gordon Brown has written an article which hopefully will be read and understood also in the Kemlin:

Anna Politkovskaya's death in the first decade of the 21st century is a story that could have been foretold, but a tragedy that should be unthinkable in a free world.

Read the entire article here.

The end of nuclear power?

At this stage it is, of course, impossible to know what the consequenses of the damaged Japanese nuclear reactors will be. Hopefully there will be no serious radioactive leaks.

However, one consequence, seems likely: there will probably be no nuclear power renaissance in the world - or at least not in Europe.

Libya: Diplomacy not enough

A representative for the anti-Gaddafi movement in Libya has appealed for military action against madman Gaddafi´s superior military force:

Libya's revolutionary leadership has appealed for France and Britain to launch air strikes against an intensive assault by Muammar Gaddafi's forces that has forced the rebel army to retreat towards its eastern stronghold of Benghazi.
The Provisional Transitional National Council said that calls by European leaders for Gaddafi to quit and the threat of more sanctions were not enough as the regime regains its footing after the initial shock of the popular uprising.
The revolutionaries fear that the hesitation by most European states and the US to take direct action is providing a breathing space for Gaddafi to continue his attempts to crush the uprising in areas around Tripoli and to move toward Benghazi.
"If you don't want to do something, you rely on the diplomatic side. It is not enough when people are dying," said Iman Bugaighis, spokeswoman for the revolutionary council. "We need more than diplomacy. We need a no-fly zone but we need more than that. We need air strikes. I think they know where to bomb if they want to bomb. They know how to intervene. It's urgent."

The sad truth is, however, that neither the EU, US or NATO are prepared to offer anything else than words - at this stage anyway. Only if the Gaddafi mercenaries perpetrate a bloodbath which can be shown on television is it likely that the West will act. But because there are not enough journalists and cameras in large areas of Libyea right now, the Gaddafi mercenaries seem to be able to operate rather freely. In addition, western news media coverage is for the time being dominated by reports from Japan.

There was a time when the US had a leader who was prepared to act:

Japan earthquake - Reuters live coverage

Reuters has a good live coverage page from Japan:

Friday, 11 March 2011

China will become unstable

Gordon C. Chang, the author of the book "The Coming Collaps of China" has written a lengthy, but interesting article for the World Affairs Journal. Chang´s analysis most certainly will add to the nervousnesss of China´s present communist leaders:

As the acceptability of protest grows in China, the popularity of the Chinese government slides. “I don’t know anyone who believes in the party anymore,” one Shanghai resident said to me a few years ago. The strength of the Communist Party has been eroded by widespread disenchantment, occasional crises, continual restructuring, and the enervating effect of the passage of time. Although it is big, it is also corrupt, reviled, and often ineffective. In some parts of the countryside it no longer operates, having been replaced by clans and gangs with loose ties to officials. It’s doubtful the party even commands the loyalty of its own members. Many cadres are opportunistic careerists and many, for good or ill, disregard orders from the center. “Now, no Communist official is loyal to or will sacrifice for the party,” said democracy activist Peng Ming, just after he was released by the regime. “When I was in jail, the prison warden and guards were very respectful to me. Even when I criticized them, they would not criticize me back. Why? They said, ‘This regime will not last long. Who knows you won’t be our next leader? If we mistreat you now, you will come after us when you come to power.’”

People’s intense devotion to their rulers—evident during the eras of Mao and Deng—is noticeably absent from China today. The change in attitude has even affected the People’s Liberation Army, last line of defense for the party. Last July, in an extraordinary incident, junior Chinese officers openly complained about the corruption and failings of their country’s civilian leadership to their Russian counterparts during joint “antiterror” exercises.

If revolution is merely “a trivial shift in the emphasis of suffering,” as playwright Tom Stoppard once noted, the silent, slow-motion crisis of legitimacy in China could have real consequences. Anything can happen in a country filled with secret societies, revolutionary cells, private armies, illegal political parties, underground congregations, and clandestine triads. The risk for the regime is that one of these groups will launch an insurrection—some mass incidents already come close to rising to that level—or that some minor incident will trigger a fight that becomes a conflagration.

Under such a scenario, the party could be confronted with another million singing, shouting, chanting souls in Tiananmen Square. Deng Xiaoping preserved the regime last time by employing brute force, but it’s unlikely that a weakened party would have the ability to get away with another slaughter in the future. Ordinary soldiers probably would not kill fellow citizens on behalf of a regime that has lost the love and loyalty of most of its people. 

Read the entire article here.

There number of protests will increase in China:

"The Pact for the Euro"

The latest version of the German-French "competitiveness" pact to save the euro, does not seem to convince the Economist´s columnist Charlemagne:

Yet to get this, Mrs Merkel has struck a Faustian bargain with France’s Nicolas Sarkozy. He does not care for her economic medicine, but wants a euro-zone “economic government” to restore lost French influence (one senior Eurocrat remarks that France needs Germany to disguise its weakness, and Germany needs France to disguise its strength). But as the pact is made more palatable to others, it may get less appealing to Mrs Merkel. And that may make her even more reluctant to open her purse.
The danger is that the pact may make the crisis worse. In the short term, a less-than-grand bargain could trigger a new bout of market nerves. In the longer term the pact may lead not to competitiveness but to divisiveness. What to do? Mr Tusk and others might end up joining the pact, if only to preserve the single market—Europe’s biggest competitive advantage.

Read the entire column here.

EU´s finest achievements in 2010

                                       The common mobile phone charger. The EU´s finest hour in 2010?

(official EU image)

As a European citizen I have often been wondering, what the European Union actually has been doing for me recently. Therefore I was positively surprised to find a clear and concise answer to my questions at the official European Union website.

The following text is attached to the EU video "Europe and you":

Have you ever wondered what exactly is that the European Union does for you? If so, this video provides the answer with a brief glimpse at 10 actions that have been put in place over the past year and that will make a real difference in the lives of each and everyone of us.

The first - and probably the most important - point in the "documentary" is:

"Securing a sound economy and stronger financial markets".

That´s really great, I thought. While e.g. the US has had to deal with the consequenses of the financial crisis, at least Brussels last year "secured a sound economy" and even "made the financial markets stronger".

 Then I happened to see this article in the Economist:

Real output in the euro zone remains well below the pre-recession peak. Even in Germany, a rapid recovery has left a big GDP hole, and the euro zone ex-Germany has very nearly been moving sideways. A lacklustre output recovery has translated into  lagging labour markets. Germany's unemployment rate fell in September, but joblessness for the euro zone as a whole rose, from 10% to 10.1%. The pain is worst in the struggling peripheral economies; in Spain the unemployment rate has risen steadily since April and is now at 20.8%.

At the same time workers are struggling, governments are pushing through painful austerity packages. Some of the countries battered by bond markets began cutting in 2010. But as the chart at right indicates, everyone gets into the game in 2011, and cuts in most countries will intensify. Across the whole of the euro area, cuts worth about 1% of GDP will be pushed through, but the austerity will be focused on the parts of the euro economy that are performing the worst—Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Greece

Well, people make mistakes. In a huge bureaucracy like the EU, video producers might inadvertently have ended up using some not quite fresh material. They would not make things up, would they?

The other really important EU achievement in 2010 was this, according to the EU video:

"creating new jobs"

Great, I thought. At least the EU in 2010 created a lot of new jobs in a crisis-ridden world. Then I went to the official Eurostat website, and found the following information for 2010:

Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate fell in eleven Member States, remained stable in two and increased in fourteen. The largest falls were observed in Estonia (16.1 % to 14.3 % between the fourth quarters of 2009 and 2010), Malta (7.2 % to 6.1 %) and Sweden (8.9 % to 7.9 %). The highest increases were registered in Greece (9.7 % to 12.9 % between the third quarters of 2009 and 2010), Hungary (11.0 % to 12.6 %) and Lithuania (15.9 % to 17.4 % between the fourth quarters of 2009 and 2010). Between January 2010 and January 2011, the unemployment rate for males fell from 9.9 % to 9.8 % in the euro area and from 9.7 % to 9.6 % in the EU-27. The female unemployment rate increased from 10.0 % to 10.1 % in the euro area and from 9.3 % to 9.5 % in the EU-27. In January 2011, the youth unemployment rate (those aged below 25) was 19.9 % in the euro area and 20.6 % in the EU-27. In January 2010 it was 20.2 % and 20.7 % respectively. The lowest rates were observed in the Netherlands (7.8 % ), Austria (8.0 % ) and Germany (8.3 % ), and the highest in Spain (43.1 % ), Slovakia (37.7 % ) and Lithuania (34.4 % in the fourth quarter of 2010).

Not a lot of jobs created: unemployment fell in nine member countries and increased in fourteen.

For me, this was enough. The Brussels gravy train eurocrats seem to be so blinded be their own cosy and luxurious world, that they think ordinary people are prepared to accept any dishonest "facts" they try to peddle.

Maybe that the "common charger" for mobile phones - one of the points in the video - actually was the single most important EU achievement last year?  (I don´t know, and I don´t care, since I am able to charge my old Nokia quite well with the original charger. And by the way,  has anybody seen the beautiful new eurocharger after the PR-picture was taken?)  

I know that the EU "achievments" video must have been discussed at a great number of lengthy eurocrat "working group" meetings in Brussels. The representatives of all the different "DG´s" were asked to contribute "achievements" that would be popular among ordinary Europeans. Finally an "über" working group chose the most appealing proposals to be included in the video. The video is certainly considered to be an important part of the EU´s campaign to "reach out". After all the arduous work, one can only wonder, why the final product is less than impressive. Could it be, that there actually is not very much to boast with in addition to the common charger?    

US top intelligence official: Gaddafi will win

With forces loyal to Moammar Kadafi continuing to pound and push rebel forces into retreat, America's top intelligence official said the Libyan dictator was likely to prevail in the long term, a fresh indication that the current reliance on diplomacy by Western nations may not be enough to topple him.

In a blunt assessment, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Senate panel Thursday that the battlefield momentum had begun to shift toward Kadafi's regime and, because of its superior firepower and logistical capabilities, "I think over the longer term that the regime will prevail."

The retired Air Force general said his assessment was based in part on secret intelligence, which indicated that special military units loyal to Kadafi and equipped with tanks and artillery have been able to maintain and replenish their weapons.

Even if Kadafi doesn't defeat the rebels, Clapper said,
Libya could end up split into two or three parts in "a Somali-like situation," which senators said would be disastrous for U.S. interests.

Clapper's comments sent the
White House scrambling to organize an unusual on-the-record conference call with reporters by national security advisor Thomas Donilon, who said Clapper's view didn't take into account the pressure the U.S. and other countries were bringing, such as economic sanctions, travel bans and the freezing of assets.

"We've isolated Kadafi and denied him resources," Donilon said. "We're ensuring accountability, building international support and building capabilities to assist the Libyan people. It's a fluid situation and it's not going to be resolved overnight. But … we've acted quite swiftly and steadily to ramp up our efforts," Donilon said.

Read the entire article here.

The "europeanization" of the US

British conservative member of the European Parliament, Daniel Hannan warns Americans about president Obama´s plan to "europeanize" the US. In an article published in the Wall Street Journal Hannan describes what Obama is trying to do:

He is not pursuing a set of random initiatives lashed arbitrarily together, but a program of comprehensive Europeanization: European health care, European welfare, European carbon taxes, European day care, European college education, even a European foreign policy, based on engagement with supranational technocracies, nuclear disarmament and a reluctance to deploy forces overseas.

The difference between the traditional American way and the European approach is according to Hannan this:

The critical difference between the American and European unions has to do with the location of power. The U.S. was founded on what we might loosely call the Jeffersonian ideal: the notion that decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the people they affect. The EU, by contrast, was based on precisely the opposite ideal. Article One of its foundational treaty commits its nations to establish "an ever-closer union."
From that distinction, much follows. The U.S. has evolved a series of unique institutions designed to limit the power of the state: recall mechanisms, ballot initiatives, balanced budget rules, open primaries, localism, states' rights, term limits, the direct election of public officials, from the sheriff to the school board. The EU, by contrast, has placed supreme power in the hands of 27 unelected Commissioners, who have been made deliberately invulnerable to public opinion

The will of the people is generally seen by Eurocrats as an obstacle to overcome, not a reason to change direction. When France, the Netherlands and Ireland voted against the European Constitution, the referendum results were swatted aside and the document adopted regardless. For, in Brussels, the ruling doctrine—that the nation-state must be transcended—is seen as more important than freedom, democracy or the rule of law.

Hannan concludes his article with the following words:

Throughout my career in politics, I have campaigned to apply Jeffersonian democracy to British political conditions, to recover those British freedoms that have flourished more happily in America than in their native soil, to repatriate our revolution. So you can imagine how I feel when I see the U.S. making the same mistakes that Britain has made: expanding its government, regulating private commerce, centralizing its jurisdiction, breaking the link between taxation and representation, abandoning its sovereignty.

You deserve better, cousins. And we expect better.

Read the entire article here.

Having observed the development of the Europaen Union from different angles for quite a few years now, I must say that Mr. Hannan´s description is very much to the point. Fortunately, more and more Europeans have began to understand the reality, too, and the support for eurocritical views is increasing in several countries. Take for example Finland, where the parliamentary elections in April may lead to a major victory for the True Finns, a party that favours withdrawal from the EU, restrictions on immigration and the abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol. The Financial Times describes the leader of the True Finns, Timo Soini (MEP) in a recent article:

But by this time next month, Mr Soini could be the new face of Europe. True Finns, the party he heads, is within striking distance of becoming Finland’s largest bloc in national elections on April 17 – using a potent mix of economic populism and anger at recent EU bail-outs.
“We have been doing our homework: we don’t have a budget deficit, we have done quite well tackling unemployment,” says Mr Soini in his spartan Brussels office, whose walls are adorned only with a Christian cross and a photograph of his young children. But nations such as Greece, whose previous government falsified economic data, had not. “Now [we must help] those people who have lied – this is the suspicious mind up north, because quite many people think the south is milking our cow.”
Much has been made about growing public anger in Europe’s periphery over Brussels-imposed austerity measures, from rioting in the streets of Athens to the overthrow of the long-ruling Fianna Fáil party two weeks ago in Dublin. But less well documented has been the seething bitterness in the eurozone’s fiscally prudent north that Mr Soini represents.
That public resentment is threatening to destabilise governments in Germany, Finland and the Netherlands just as the EU enters the final stretch of negotiations over a much-touted “comprehensive package” of reforms aimed at, once and for all, putting an end to the eurozone’s debt crisis.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Biden in Moscow: "Maybe sometimes we do expect too much progress too quickly,"

(image by the White House)

Joe Biden has been on a "reset" mission to Moscow. Gone is the tough talk about Russian aggression in Georgia, its "withering" economy and its struggle to come to terms with its loss of international status:

Washington's high expectations for Russia, compared with China or India, are not a result of lingering Cold War sentiments, Biden said, Bloomberg reported. "Maybe sometimes we do expect too much progress too quickly," he said. "But the expectation is born out of admiration and respect, not out of disrespect."

Biden also expressed support for Medvedev´s  modernization mission:

"We fully support Medvedev's vision of a nation powered by innovation and modernization".

Biden certainly must know that Medvedev´s "mission", the Skolkovo "Silicon Valley" project, is a joke.

The obvious reason for Biden´s new soft approach is this:

In a further sign of cooperation, the Kremlin announced on Wednesday that Medvedev had approved an agreement to let U.S. weapons and troops bound for Afghanistan fly over Russia, Bloomberg reported.

With Biden and First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov watching, Boeing signed a contract with Aeroflot to deliver eight 777 airliners: six Boeing 777 300ERs and two Boeing 777-200ERs.

Read the entire Moscow Times article here.

One political and one business deal seem te be enough for the international statesman Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. to make him forget the values that made his own country great.

New Study: Spiders adapt to global warming (quite like humans)

A new study shows that spiders are able to adapt to global warming. This is, of course, evident even without any new studies. There has been "climate change" for millions of years, and both flora and fauna have ajdusted, some better, some not quite as well. Even if there would be some degree of human induced global warming - which remains to be proven - homo sapiens would be able to adjust. One can only  hope that the new spider study will make some of the most ardent believers in the catasthropic global warming religion start thinking about the possibility of human adaptation: "Yes, we can, if the spiders can". That would already be a step forward ....

The predatory behaviour of spiders is unaffected by increased temperatures, according to research by Yale University, suggesting some species can adapt to global warming.

The Yale research examined a well-studied grassland food web, made up of a predatory spider, its grasshopper prey, and the plants grasshoppers fed on. The spider’s predatory behaviour is known to be temperature-sensitive, decreasing with increased temperatures. Researchers had expected higher temperatures to stop the spiders preying on grasshoppers, leading to more plants being eaten.

However, in the study, spider populations from warmer areas tolerated higher temperature ranges better than the populations from cooler areas and continued to control the grasshopper popualtion. This suggests they can adapt to local conditions and maintain their vital role in the community despite increased temperatures.

‘Species are almost certainly adapting to the climate change Earth has experienced during the past century,' study author Dr Brandon Barton told the Ecologist. 'My results show that species have the capacity to adapt to a range of temperatures, similar to those predicted by climate change models, and that a species’ role in the community can be conserved by this adaptation.’ 

Warmists as they are, the researchers - not surprisingly -  felt the need to add the following warning:

Despite species ability to adapt, Barton remains unconvinced this can eliminate the negative impacts of climate change.‘Whether understated or exaggerated, all evidence suggests that the wide-reaching direct and indirect effects of climate change will have innumerable consequences on biological systems globally.’

Read the entire article here.

The heatwave in Russia was NOT caused by global warming

"Unfortunately, what is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past," Dmitri A. Medvedev, the Russian president, told top advisers during a meeting on the heat wave last July."
Dmitry Medvedev, President of Russia

Last summer , during the heath wave in western RussiaMedvedev was one of the numerous voices declaring that it was all due to "climate change". Those - like Patrick Michaels below -. who already then disagreed were drowned by the force of the global warming choir:

Now, a new study by two scientists at NOAA confirms that the deadly heat wave was not caused by global warming:

The deadly heat wave that seared Russia last summer was driven primarily by a natural weather phenomenon, not man-made causes, government researchers said in a study Wednesday.
In their report, the scientists concluded that the extreme temperatures were caused by the formation of a blocking pattern, a massive high-pressure ridge that halted the normal movement of cooling storms from the west and allowed warm air to flow north from the tropics. Such anomalies are relatively common and the result of natural actions, though the intensity of the one over Russia was highly unusual.
The role of human-caused warming could not be discerned from the natural weather patterns behind the event, Dr. Dole said.

Martin Hoerling, co-author of the study and head of the climate attribution team at the Earth System Research Laboratory, said that the  frequency and intensity of blocking patterns is not driven primarily by heat and should not increase with the expected rise in global temperatures over the 21st century due to man-made causes.

Because the researchers are employed by the the warmist NOOA, it is not surprising that they have added this caveat to their report:

Although they found no human fingerprint on the 2010 heat wave, the NOAA scientists cautioned that man-made emissions would cause a steady rise in background temperatures, raising the likelihood of natural heat waves’ turning into far more extreme events.
By 2060, they said, models show that intense heat waves could occur as frequently as once every decade.

Read the entire article here.

Gaddafi´s "foreign legion" of mercenaries should be eliminated

Madman Gaddafi´s allies and diplomats are deserting him, but he can still count on the mercenaries in his "Islamic legion" formed after the French Foreign Legion:

The African fighters that Gadhafi is allegedly using against protesters come from several nations, representing a map of the Libyan leader's often contentious history with his neighbours.
Many young citizens of Mali and Niger who flocked to Libya in the 1970s and 1980s were ethnic Tuaregs and were recruited into an "Islamic Legion" modeled on the French Foreign Legion.
A Tuareg politician in Mali said he believes 16,000 Tuareg remain in the Libyan security forces, based in Tripoli and Sabha but not in Benghazi, a major city that has broken away from Gadhafi's rule.
"We've been getting updates from some of them by phone," Ibrahim Ag Mohamed Assaleh told The Associated Press. "They say their orders are to protect Gadhafi and they will defend him to the end."
Witnesses in Libya have reported African fighters shooting at protesters or being captured by anti-Gadhafi forces. Witnesses have described mercenaries being flown in to put down the rebellion, but most fighters are already in the strife-torn country.

Read the entire article here, and another piece here.


(image by French Foreign Legion)

The original French Foreign Legion was founded on this day 180 years ago by king Louis-Philippe to support his war in Algeria. President Sarkozy could give the legion a nice "birthday present" by allowing them to take out Gaddafi´s bad imitation.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

China: the luxury - and the misery

It´s boomtime for this German export product in China

These days both Western and Chinese media are full of stories about the booming market for luxury products in China. The communist government openly boasts about how China soon is to overtake Japan as the number one market for luxury products:

BEIJING, March 7 (Xinhua) -- China is expected to surpass Japan to become the world's largest consumer of high-end goods by 2015, Commerce Minister Chen Deming said Monday.
This shift was attributed to China's large population, rising income and inadequate supplies of home-made high-end brands, Chen told reporters.
Consumption of high-end products in China rose 23 percent in 2010, he said, adding that the number of Chinese people shopping for luxury goods overseas increased 30 percent.
The government will develop the country's own brands and work out measures to let foreign brands sell their China-made products directly in China's market to benefit Chinese consumers, he said.
China will also improve its sales network and strengthen regulations in retail markets to reduce charges in circulation, he said.
The Economist is equally excited - the luxury products will "add a little color" to the lifes of chinese consumers:
China’s growing taste for bling is a good thing not only for makers of luxury goods but also for Chinese consumers. It is a symptom of the fact that they have more to spend, that necessities no longer gobble up every spare yuan and that they can afford to add a little colour to their lives. Mao Zedong would not have approved, but his former serfs ignore his frowns and merrily fritter away the banknotes that still depict his face.

As a believer in free markets I have nothing against luxury products (although it is not difficult to live without them), but it is good to remember, that there is another side to the Chinese miracle, which is not quite as glamorous and "colorful" as the one described by comrade Chen Deming and the Economist:

China's disabled exploited as slaves

In an economy where manual labor is in demand, ruthless recruiters often prey on the mentally disabled. One man, held at a brick kiln, is one of countless slaves who endured torture and deplorable living conditions.

Read the entire Los Angeles Times article here.

The Chinese Laogai are the largest gulags of our times, providing slave labour for the fast growing Chinese economy. The admirable Laogai Research Foundation, established by Laogai survivor Harry Wu, has this to say about the China´s huge machinery of repression:

Putin the fundraiser - money missing

You may remember back in December, Vladimir Putin "performed" at a charity gala in St. Petersburg organized by a friend of his in order to raise money for sick children. Among the enthralled celebrities in the audience were actors Sharon Stone, Kevin Costner, Monica Belluci and Alain Delon.

Now the Moscow Times reports that no money has reached the children:

In what could prove an embarrassment to Putin, people linked to the event are even offering mixed accounts of whether any aid had been promised in the first place.
Putin played a tune from a popular Soviet-era spy movie and delivered a solid rendition of "Blueberry Hill," singing with a live jazz band, during the Dec. 10 charity show at the Ice Palace in St. Petersburg.
The show, also attended by the actors Monica Bellucci, Alain Delon and Mickey Rourke, aimed to help children with oncological and ophthalmological diseases, according to organizers, one of whom is an old acquaintance of Putin.
But a sick child's mother has told President Dmitry Medvedev via his Twitter page that hospitals still have not received money or equipment that the money was supposed to buy.
"I think I have a right to know how the raised money was used," wrote Olga Kuznetsova, mother of 13-year-old Liza, who has cancer.
She said seats at the private charity party were sold for up to 1 million rubles ($35,000), but the organizers behind a foundation called Federation have transferred none to the sick.

Well, while waiting for the money to re-appear, you can always watch this, slitghtly improved version of Putin´s "Blueberry hill":

UNICEF spreading global warming propaganda

UNICEF used to be a respectable organization helping children in need all over the world. The organisation is probably doing some of those traditional good things even now, but one wonders, why it has chosen to start spreading alarmist climate scare propaganda to those it is supposed to help:

The video is according to MarketingWeek part of UNICEF´s digital campaign "to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on children and aid projects in developing countries".

The charity has partnered with environmental non-profit group Do The Green Thing to create a 90 second illustrated video featuring a character called Climate Kid voiced by broadcaster Jon Snow.
The video illustrates how the boy would need to adapt to cope with the effects of climate change, such as drought and flooding, on his environment.

There are fortunately still a number of organizations that have remained true to what they were supposed to work for. From now on my own small contributions go to them - not to UNICEF.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

We are not running out of oil or other energy resources

We have been reading about peak oil for decades now - and new scare stories -like this one - are published almost daily.  But should we believe these scaremongers, who often also happent o be believers in the man-made global warming religion? Of course not. There is no need to believe that we are running out of natural resources any time soon:

Prof. Steve Horwitz addresses the common belief that the world is running out of natural resources. Instead, there are economic reasons why we will never run out of many resources. In a free market system, prices signal scarcity. So as a resource becomes more scarce, it becomes more expensive, which incentivizes people to use less of it and develop new alternatives, or to find new reserves of that resource that were previously unknown or unprofitable. We have seen throughout history that the human mind's ability to innovate, coupled with a free market economic system, is an unlimited resource that can overcome the limitations we perceive with natural resources.

Professor Horwitz´s home page.

"Operation Night Dragon" - Chinese cyber attacks worrying West

China appears to be actively pursuing cyber attacks primarily against Western goverments and companies. The latest attacks are part of a campaign that is known as "Operation Night Dragon":

March 8, 2011: Network security experts throughout the West are calling the increasing number of attacks on corporate and government computer systems as operation "Night Dragon," and describe it as a major Chinese effort to grab as much valuable information as they can before Western defenses get stronger. China is the likely culprit because so many of the operations have been traced back to China, many of the hacking tools are known to be of Chinese origin, and so much of the information is particularly useful to Chinese companies, or the Chinese military. Moreover, China has refused to assist Western network security specialists and law enforcement efforts in getting access to the Chinese based servers that much of the information is being sent back to.

Read the entire article here

More on "Operation Night Dragon":

Chinese hackers working regular business hours shifts stole sensitive intellectual property from energy companies for as long as four years using relatively unsophisticated intrusion methods in an operation dubbed "Night Dragon," according to a new report from security vendor McAfee.
The oil, gas and petrochemical companies targeted were hit with technical attacks on their public-facing Web sites, said Greg Day , director of security strategy. The hackers also used persuasive social-engineering techniques to get key executives in Kazakhstan, Taiwan, Greece, and the U.S. to divulge information.

The attacks have been linked to China due to the use of Chinese hacking tools commonly seen on underground hacking forums. Further, the attacks appeared to originate from computers on IP addresses in Beijing, between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time there, suggesting that the culprits were regular company employees rather than freelance or unprofessional hackers, McAfee said in its report.

Bloomberg recently reported that Exxon, Shell and BP are among the companies recently targeted by Chinese cyber attacks:

Computer hackers working through Internet servers in China broke into and stole proprietary information from the networks of six U.S. and European energy companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc, according to one of the companies and investigators who declined to be identified.

According to a US Department of Defense report published last year, the Pentagon is increasingly worried about the Chinese cyber war activities:

“However, developing capabilities for cyberwarfare is consistent with authoritative PLA military writings,” the report added, revealing US fears of China's focus in this area. The People's Liberation Army has already stated that cyberwarfare will be a primary focus of its renewed military programme over the next decade, stating that it wants to close the gap with the US, which is seen as the dominant player in the virtual battleground.

The report also uncovered knowledge of a Chinese digital spying system that affected over a hundred countries: “In March 2009, Canadian researchers uncovered an electronic spy network, apparently based mainly in China, which had reportedly infiltrated Indian and other nations’ government offices around the world. More than 1,300 computers in 103 countries were identified.”

The report highlighted PLA investment in electronic countermeasures, defences against electronic attack, and computer network operations (CNO). It revealed China's efforts to develop electronic and infrared decoys, angle reflectors, and false target generators, as well computer network attacks, computer network exploitation, and computer network defence.

If that were not enough, the PLA is also apparently working on developing viruses to attack enemy computers and networks, even devoting entire information warfare units for this single goal.
US worries about Chinese cyber attacks also feature in cables leaked through Wikileaks:
The US fears China is plotting internet warfare via private companies that are known to have recruited top hackers.
According to leaked cables, the state department is concerned about Beijing's close working relationship with two major providers of information security in China. The companies have hired experienced hackers, who include Lin Yong, aka Lion, who founded the Honker Union of China, a Chinese hacker group that emerged after the US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 and launched a series of cyber attacks on US government-related websites.

EU climate change fraud: Germany alone lost 850 million euro

The reality behind the EU climate change madness is slowly becoming visible. Germany alone has lost hundreds of millions of euros in tax revenues to frauds involving carbon trading:

On March 7th Alexander Badle senior prosecutor for the Office of the Attorney General of Germany issued a statement, saying that tax fraud on carbon dioxide emission trading has cost the government an estimated total of EUR 850 million in lost revenues. The figure emerged throughout the course of the ongoing investigations into frauds allegedly committed by 120 companies operating in Germany and registered across Europe and in the United Arab Emirates.
The investigations were prompted in 2009 when evidence arose of multinational companies across the EU using “carousel fraud” to bypass taxes on carbon emissions trading. Initial Interpol investigations estimated that the schemes cost EU tax authorities a cumulative EUR 5 billion.
Alexander Badle said that 180 people are being investigated for their roles in the carousel schemes, with four people already in custody. Alexander Badle went on to say that seven people who are being investigated are employees of Deutsche Bank AG. The bank has replied, saying that an investigation conducted on its own behalf has shown no evidence of wrong doing.
Read the entire article here.

The EU Emission Trading System was closed for two weeks in February due to fraud and theft. EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard then promised the following action:

 “The commission has identified a range of actions member states can already take in the short term to further improve security. For example, by regularly reviewing security plans, by reinforcing registry account policies and identity checks, by training registry users, etcetera.”

 “For the medium and long term, we reinforce efforts to identify solutions in co-operation both with member states and through a regular dialogue with stakeholders.”

"Regular dialogue with stakeholders" - that sounds tough! The criminals using loopholes in the EU legislation must be scared stiff. Unfortunately Ms. Hedegaard and the other EU climate change promoters do not need to have a dialogue with the real stakeholders - the European taxpayers - because they are unelected buraucrats.

The carbon criminals must have studied this official EU "documentary" closely:

Harvard professor´s cosy relationship with Gaddafi

                                              Nye: "Tall and handsome"

Harvard professor Joseph S. Nye Jr. (of "soft power" fame) had this to say about Libya´s dictator in 2007:

How serious was Qaddafi about exercising soft power? And just how different was this new Qaddafi--with his preference for diplomacy over weapons--from the old? On a cool February morning, a car whisked me to a compound in the middle of Tripoli that was fortified with multiple layers of green metal gates. Inside the gates stood several large tents. Qaddafi greeted me at the entrance to one. He wore his trademark hat as well as two cloaks--an outer black embroidered one, and a plain tan one underneath. He was both tall and handsome in a craggy sort of way. He moved with ease and spoke softly. Occasionally, he used English, but he was clearly more comfortable speaking Arabic with an interpreter. We sat in plastic chairs by a table on which five of my books were spread out--including Soft Power. Sure enough, a half hour into our conversation, he asked how Libya might increase its soft power on the world stage.

Read the entire 2007 article published in The New Republic in here.

What is interesting is that when Nye wrote the article, he did not disclose that he had travelled to Libya as a paid consultant of the Monitor Group, a firm working for the Gaddafi regime:

In February 2007 Harvard professor Joseph Nye Jr., who developed the concept of "soft power," visited Libya and sipped tea for three hours with Muammar Qaddafi. Months later, he penned an elegant description of the chat for The New Republic, reporting that Qaddafi had been interested in discussing "direct democracy." Nye noted that "there is no doubt that" the Libyan autocrat "acts differently on the world stage today than he did in decades past. And the fact that he took so much time to discuss ideas—including soft power—with a visiting professor suggests that he is actively seeking a new strategy." The article struck a hopeful tone: that there was a new Qaddafi. It also noted that Nye had gone to Libya "at the invitation of the Monitor Group, a consulting company that is helping Libya open itself to the global economy."
Nye did not disclose all. He had actually traveled to Tripoli as a paid consultant of the Monitor Group (a relationship he disclosed in an email to Mother Jones), and the firm was working under a $3 million-per-year contract with Libya. Monitor, a Boston-based consulting firm with ties to the Harvard Business School, had been retained, according to internal documents obtained by a Libyan dissident group, not to promote economic development, but "to enhance the profile of Libya and Muammar Qadhafi." So The New Republic published an article sympathetic to Qaddafi that had been written by a prominent American intellectual paid by a firm that was being compensated by Libya to burnish the dictator's image.

Read the entire article in the Mother Jones magazine here.

Harvard professors - or at least one of them -  apparently are not anymore the kind of intellectual giants that they have been perceived to be.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Putin´s dream of controlling Europe´s energy future is over (2)

German Der Spiegel focuses on the coming shale gas revolution in Europe, which will put an end to Putin´s dream of controlling Europe´s energy future:

Bad news for Russia:
With each new project, more and more gas floods into the market, which is already saturated today, as evidenced by price trends in the United States. Almost every other commodity has become more expensive in the last year, while the price of natural gas has dropped by 27 percent. And the pricing pressure could continue if the gas supply keeps growing, says John Corben of the International Energy Agency in Paris. "It will help keep prices down."
This is bad news for Russia. The Kremlin derives a large share of its national budget from the exploitation of mineral resources. The Russians have invested billions in the infrastructure needed to develop key markets in Europe for the long term. That infrastructure includes the Nord Stream pipeline through the Baltic Sea, which is slated to go into operation later this year.
The final preparations are now underway at the construction site in Lubmin on Germany's Baltic Sea coast. This is where the pipes emerge from the waters of the Bay of Greifswald, marking the end of the two 1,224-kilometer (765-mile) pipelines that were installed on the sea floor using special ships. Just past the beach in Lubmin, workers are building giant valves, each as tall as a two-story building. The valves will regulate the flow of gas in the future. Nord Stream is expected to supply about 26 million households with electricity and heat.
But whether the investment will pay off is still unclear. The old calculations, from the days when the gas-oil price link was still fully applicable, are now obsolete. Even less clear is the outlook for the two other major European projects: South Stream, which will link Russia with Europe farther south, and, most of all, for Nabucco, the European Union alternative, which will transport gas from non-Russian suppliers and is intended to make Europe less dependent on Russia. Companies within the Nabucco consortium are already in exploratory talks with the EU, with the goal of bringing together segments of the Nabucco and South Stream projects, currently competitors.
Will Poland Become Next Norway?
In addition to changing worldwide energy markets, the emergence of new gas sources is leading to shifts in the global balance of power. Indeed, the dominant position of classic production countries, especially Russia, could soon erode strongly. Poland, on the other hand, could become a relevant player in the global market. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslav Sikorski already envisions transforming his country into the "next Norway" -- rich, important and independent -- particularly of its giant neighbor Russia.

Read the entire article here.

More information about shale gas in Europe here.
The Spiegel journalists are cautiously writing that "whether the investment will pay off is still unclear". Unless German and other European greens - with the support of Gazprom - succeed in seriously delaying the shale gas revolution in Europe, there is no uncertainty - the Nord Stream will never be a sound investment. This bad news for Russia is excellent news for consumers in Europe. And when the easy profits dry out in Russia, the end of the Putin era is in sight. THEN there will be an excellent chance of  building a real strategic partnership between the European Union and a new, more democratic Russia.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The paranoia of China´s commmunist rulers: Clampdown on St. Patrick´s Day parade

"Revolutionary" celebration in Shanghai
(image by flickr)

China´s communist rulers are increasingly worried about the possibility of popular uprisings against their authoritarian regime. The latest sign of growing paranoia is the clampdown on the Shanghai Irish community´s St. Patrick´s day parade:

The Chinese authorities have begun a clampdown on activities by foreigners, including the Shanghai's St. Patrick's Day parade, as they are deemed threatening to political stability.
The authorities' decision to initiate the clampdown stemmed from an anonymous Internet campaign urging the people of China to emulate the protests and revolutions that have taken place across the Middle East in recent weeks.
Shanghai authorities have objected to the location of the annual St. Patrick's Day parade which was set to take place on March 12. Over 2,000 people were expected to congregate which pressurized the Irish organizations involved to cancel the event.  
The St. Patrick's Day parade was set to take place on a major street near a cinema which had been mentioned in the anonymous Internet campaign. The campaign urged people to gather every Sunday to show their displeasure with the Chinese government.
The Irish consul general in Shanghai, Conor O’Riordan, said concerns over the parade came to a boil on Monday. The Chinese officials had agreed to allow the parade if they found a "more modest" route.
Unable to change the route at such short notice, they canceled the event. A volunteer-run organization will hold an invitation-only, indoor event instead.

Read the entire story here.


Happy St. Patrick´s day to you, comrade Hu Jintao and to all your government colleagues! No parade this year, but you can at least listen to this message.

Medvedev - no more Mr. nice guy?

The person at Russia´s RIA Novosti news service, who wrote this piece of news, seems to have a sense of humour:
Medvedev orders Putin to tighten Russia´s anti-gaming laws

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has instructed the government to improve legislation outlawing gambling, which has been widely flouted since it was introduced almost two years ago, the Kremlin press service said on Saturday.
Medvedev has given Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Justice Minister Yury Chaika and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin two weeks to propose legal changes that would support the country's fight against the illegal gambling business.

Read the entire piece here.

Or maybe this is a sign that the real Medvedev is much tougher than anybody could have imagined. What happens, if Putin does not make the deadline set by the president? Maybe Medvedev will immediately take action and order him fired? Putin must be scared stiff. In two weeks, we will find out ...