Saturday, 26 March 2011

Krauthammer on Obama´s lack of leadership

"America is led by a man determined that it should not"

Charles Krauthammer is not amused by the kind of leadership Barack Obama has shown during the Libya crisis. And it is not difficult to agree with what he is saying:

And as for the United States, who knows what American policy is. Administration officials insist we are not trying to bring down Gaddafi, even as the president insists that he must go. Although on Tuesday Obama did add “unless he changes his approach.” Approach, mind you.
In any case, for Obama, military objectives take a back seat to diplomatic appearances. The president is obsessed with pretending that we are not running the operation — a dismaying expression of Obama’s view that his country is so tainted by its various sins that it lacks the moral legitimacy to . . . what? Save Third World people from massacre?
Obama seems equally obsessed with handing off the lead role. Hand off to whom? NATO? Quarreling amid Turkish resistance (see above), NATO still can’t agree on taking over command of the airstrike campaign, which is what has kept the Libyan rebels alive.
This confusion is purely the result of Obama’s decision to get America into the war and then immediately relinquish American command. Never modest about himself, Obama is supremely modest about his country. America should be merely “one of the partners among many,” he said Monday. No primus inter pares for him. Even the Clinton administration spoke of America as the indispensable nation. And it remains so. Yet at a time when the world is hungry for America to lead — no one has anything near our capabilities, experience and resources — America is led by a man determined that it should not.
A man who dithers over parchment. Who starts a war from which he wants out right away. Good God. If you go to take Vienna, take Vienna. If you’re not prepared to do so, better then to stay home and do nothing.

Read the entire column here.


As we have pointed out several times already, only the US is capable of leading an operation like the one going on in Libya now. Formally NATO can take over, but in reality the US stays as leader, want it or not. Obama´s active avoidance of visible leadership is not very clever, because everybody - including the muslim countries - knows who is the real leader.
The internal bickering within NATO is also very damaging with regard to the future of the alliance. The worst performer is Germany, which in reality has allied itself with Russia and China. And sometimes one wonders, why Turkey is a member of the alliance?

Friday, 25 March 2011

EU should not let Gazprom dictate its energy policy

                                           The planned megalomaniac Gazprom Tower in St. Petersburg

Robert Amsterdam wonders whether the EU will be able to say no to the (for the time being) mighty Gazprom:

Russia is positively gigantic in the energy news today, dominating headlines as crises in Japan and Libya allow it to step forward as the country that has all the answers, or at least, all of the supplies.  Solidifying its image as a reliable provider, Gazprom has been supplying gas to Europe to make up for a lack of Libyan supplies, and it was reported today that Russia will double its oil exports to Japan this year (to reach a total of 18 million tons), as well as sending a 100,000 ton shipment of LNG, as the country struggles to meet additional demand.  And let's not forget that, should Gaddafi remain in power, Russia will be the first country to benefit from its energy resources, reminding us today that it is 'maintain[ing] diplomatic relations with the current Libyan authorities,' as calls for a ceasefire garner increasing global support and the stakes rise over the possibility of Gaddafi stepping down.

In light of all this, it will be interesting to see how the EU responds to Russia's proposals on the Third Energy Package.  The package was designed to "unbundle" the over-concentration of energy assets in Europe, and would inevitably lead to Gazprom's being forced to relinquish control of pipelines that it already owns.  Furthermore, under the rules of the package, the South Stream project (whose Slovenian section is the latest to be sealed in, with a new deal struck yesterday) would be in 'direct conflict with the EU's energy market legislation'.  Russia therefore wants the EU to alter the wording of the rules to ensure that Russia does not have to sell off any of its pipeline network: and Sergei Shmatko is now eagerly 'waiting for the reply'. 

But at Russia's current level of energy domination, can the answer be anything other than resounding compliance?

One certainly must hope that the EU will have enough courage not to give in to Gazproms demands. But, knowing how close Germany is to Putin´s Russia (e.g. through Nord Stream) it would not be a big surprise if the Russians would be able to have it their way. Such a solution would, however, be an enormous mistake from a European point of view. The only clever thing would be to speed up shale gas exploration in Poland and other countries. Shale gas will effectively end the Russian energy domination in Europe, providing that German and other greenies are not succesful in their wish to make it an impossible dream. Meanwhile, some kind of temporary deal with Gazprom should be arranged - without  Europe giving up its principles.

Why hotels are showing such a great interest in the "Earth Hour"

The famous Hilton New York Waldorf Astoria encourages guests to switch off the room lights during "Earth Hour". (That will also prevent the guests from noticing other, less appealing "guests" in the room)

There may be several reasons why hotels are so interested in promoting "Earth Hour". However, the major reason is obvious: By turning lights and other electric equipment off they can save a few bucks while at the same time being able to pretend that they care about "sustainability" and the need to prevent "climate change".  It is a continuation of their traditional dishonest campaign asking people not to demand daily clean towels and bed sheets etc.

Hilton Worldwide is a fine example of this corporate hypocrisy:

Hotels Around the World Participate to Support Energy Conservation “We intend to make a big difference through our sustainable actions, and Earth Hour is a unique opportunity for the Hilton Worldwide portfolio of brands to show its continued commitment to this important effort.”
Hilton Worldwide and its portfolio of 10 distinct hotel brands announced its participation to celebrate Earth Hour 2011 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, March 26, 2011. As more than a billion people and organizations around the world turn off their lights in support of energy conservation, Earth Hour will be recognized at thousands of hotels in Hilton Worldwide’s portfolio of brands including Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations.
“As a global company with more than 3,600 hotels in 82 countries, Hilton Worldwide is always looking for ways to reduce energy consumption,” said Paul Brown, President of Global Brands & Commercial Services, Hilton Worldwide.
  • Switching off main building exterior lighting and rooftop neon signage
  • Shutting down business center equipment
  • Dimming interior lights in lobby and reception area
  • Encouraging guests to switch off their room lights
  • Staging special candle-lit dinners and events to raise awareness
Hilton Worldwide has also encouraged properties within its portfolio to get creative with their Earth Hour celebrations. The Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu will encourage guests to turn off their lights and televisions and join in its second annual hour of storytelling titled “Ghost Stories, Myths & Legends of Hawaii” with one of Hawaii’s master storytellers, while the Mersin Hilton in Sokak, Turkey, is organizing a show for local students to increase their knowledge about the environment. Additional properties including the Hilton London Kensington, the Hilton Cartagena in Colombia and others around the world will recognize the initiative by creating special drinks and menus with a “green” theme, as well as preparing only cold menu items.


Yes, I  believe Paul Brown, President of Global Brands & Commercial Serviceswhen he says that "Hilton Worldwide is always looking for ways to reduce energy consumption” - everybody wants to cut costs. But he - and others in the hotel business - should cut out the dishonest crap about "sustainability". And Hilton Worldwide seems to take pride in announcing that they are "Shutting down business center equipment" during the earth hour. This is, of course, an outrage. Busy business excecutives paying a lot of money for staying at Hilton hotels are prevented from using the business centers because some stupid President of Global Brands & Commercial Services has decided to close the "equipment" during "Earth Hour".

No, Mr. Brown, this is not acceptable! There are fortunately other excellent - and even better - hotels, which have chosen not to join the fake "Earth Hour" bandwaggon. These hotels are not "Dimming interior lights in lobby and reception area" either. And they also offer decent hot meals!

And, Mr. Brown, here is some free advice for you to consider, if you are planning to add some new "sustainability" measures  at the Hilton hotels during next year´s "Earth Hour":

  • No water in bathrooms (by reducing the use of water, we can surely fight global warming effectively)
  • Toilet paper will be removed from the guest rooms during "Earth Hour" (good against gobal warming)
  • Lifts in all hotels will be closed during " Earth Hour" (saves electricity and prevents global warming)
  • Only vegetarian cold food is served (very good against global warming)
  • No room service during "Earth Hour" (less phone calls and waiter activity prevents global warming)
  • Cold water in all pools (very good in fight against global warming)
  • Only people who believe in human induced global warming are allowed to stay in the hotels on that day (This would be the ultimate sustainability activity making Hilton Worldwide a global leader in the fight against global warming)

I wish you and the "Hilton Portfolio of Brands" the best of  luck with the planning of next year´s "Earth Hour"!

Oh, one additional piece of  free advice:
In light of what you are doing, you might want to change your slogan "Filling the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality" to e.g. "Replacing the light and warmth of hospitability with the darkness of North Korea"

Operation "Odyssey Dawn" - in reality the US will always be in charge

                                        USS Mount Whitney

As we have pointed out earlier, the public debate about who will be in charge of operation Odyssey Dawn is a sideshow - in reality the US is the only power with the capacity to lead a major operation like this:

The command debate, however, may be more for political show than about real changes on the ground if NATO eventually does take the mantle, according to Lawrence Korb, from the Center for American Progress think-tank.
"It will help to change the perception of the operation," particularly in the Arab world, Korb told AFP. "The US is a critical part of the operation but we want to do it behind the scene."
French jets dropped the first bombs in the conflict before Tomahawk cruise missiles followed from US and British submarines.
Now the 12-country coalition includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Qatar, Spain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
More than half the 350 aircraft involved belong to the United States, but Gortney said that over the preceding 24 hours partner nations had flown "roughly half" of the 130 coalition sorties.
Twenty-six of the 38 ships in the Gulf of Sirte enforcing the UN arms embargo -- also under NATO command -- are from other countries, and Turkey has now offered five ships and a submarine.
But with several submarines, destroyers, the USS Mount Whitney command-and-control vessel, specialized surveillance aircraft as well as its fleet of fighter jets, the United States -- also the main contributor to NATO -- will remain at the heart of operations.
"The phrase that we use is that the United States will contribute its unique military capabilities to whatever this second phase of operation would be," General Carter Ham, the commander of US forces, told ABC News.
"There's probably some intelligence support that we would continue to provide, some communications, tankers for aircraft.... But we wouldn't see probably a large number of fighter aircraft for example."
Ham said he was confident command could be handed over "relatively quickly" but admitted there were some "very, very complex" procedures, especially with air operations, that might lengthen that transition period.

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Adieu, Assad!

An open letter to Syria´s president Bashar al-Assad

Dear Mr. President,

By now, you could have been an outstanding opthalmologist, helping your people to see a better future, had not the death of your brother Basil  in 1994 interrupted your studies in London and brought you back to Syria in order to be "educated" as the successor of your father. When your father died in 2000, you were "elected" as the President of the Syrian Arab Republic.

Many people, both inside and outside of your country, had great expectations about a new, more human and democratic future for Syria, when you took over after your brutal father. Unfortunately, eleven years later, these hopes and prayers have not been answered. Syria has not become the beacon of freedom and democracy in the Arab world. On the contrary, during the last few days, it has become more and more obvious that you are nothing more than a bloodthirsty dictator, ordering your security forces to shoot and kill civilians demonstrating for a freer and better Syria:

Tonight, I noticed that you sent your "regime's face to the outside world", Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban (with a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Warwick) to lie to Western media about the killings. Unfortunately I have to tell you, that her performance was not very convincing - and you must know why; lies are seldom convincing.

Here is what Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch has to say about the way you treat your own citizen:

The Syrian government has shown no qualms about shooting dead its own citizens for speaking out. Syrians have shown incredible courage in daring to protest publicly against one of the most repressive governments in the region, and they shouldn't have to pay with their lives.

I sincerely hope that you realise by now, that your time is up. You may be able to terrorise your own citizens for a while still, but you can be assured that soon you will share the fate of  Hosni Mubarak, (the soon to be ousted) Muammar Gaddafi and other brutal tyrants.

I have only one piece of advice for you: leave the country, before it is too late. Hugo Chavez, or some other remaining authoritarain leader, would probably still welcome you as an honoured guest.

It is time to say:

Adieu, Mr. President!

Germany is destroying NATO

The German government is acting in a more and more confusing and strange manner with regard to the Libyan operation "Odyssey Dawn":

A German military spokesman said it was recalling two frigates and AWACS surveillance plane crews from the Mediterranean, after fears they would be drawn into the conflict if NATO takes over control from the U.S.
Today the German defence ministry announced Berlin had pulled out of any military operations in the Mediterranean.
A ministry spokesman said two frigates and two other ships with a crew of 550 would be reverted to German command.
Some 60 to 70 German troops participating in NATO-operated AWACS surveillance operations in the Mediterranean would also be withdrawn, according to the ministry.

Read the entire article here.

Angela Merkel´s and foreign minister Guido Westerwelle´s handling of the Libya crisis is a total failure, which could lead to serious consequences. One has to ask the question: With members like Germany, what is the use of the NATO alliance? The Germans have previously also avoided  responsibility - e.g. in Afganistan - to participate in tough actions, but this time their non-action is nothing less than scandalous.
One wonders, does Merkel take her cue from Putin´s friend Gerhard Schröder - or worse - directly from Mr.Putin?

Former German foreign minister Joschka Fisher was very critical already after the UN Security Council vote:

"Germany has lost its credibility in the United Nations and in the Middle East," wrote former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in a contribution to the Tuesday edition of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. "German hopes for a permanent seat on the Security Council have been permanently dashed and one is now fearful of Europe's future."

Klaus Naumann, formerly the general inspector of the Bundeswehr -- the highest ranking position in the German military, was even harsher in his assessment:

"Germany's hopes for a permanent Security Council seat can be buried. Even the idea of an EU seat is damaged," he wrote in a piece for the business daily Handelsblatt. "Germany has turned the idea of a unified European Union foreign policy into a farce

Read the entire article here.


Joschka Fischer has amplified his criticism in another article:

never has Germany been more isolated. The country has lost its credibility with the United Nations and in the Middle East; its claim to a permanent seat on the Security Council has just been trashed for good; and one really must fear the worst for Europe.
UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorized the current mission to protect Libyans, had the explicit or tacit agreement of the Security Council’s five veto-wielding powers. It also had the backing of a majority of the Council, the support of the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and the open military participation of two Arab states. So what more did the German government need to endorse the intervention?
What use is vocal multilateralism, what use are German leaders’ lofty speeches about international law being exercised by the Security Council, if Germany refuses to endorse a resolution for the protection of Libya’s citizens from a brutal regime employing all means at its disposal in its fight for survival? Nothing. Empty talk. And that will not be forgotten in the region, in the UN, or among Germany’s friends.
All I can say is that I feel ashamed for this failure of the German government and – unfortunately – also for the leaders of the red and green opposition parties who at first applauded this scandalous mistake!

Libya: The reality of the multilateral alliance

New York Times columnist David Brooks confirms, what professor Stephen Carter said earlier:

Finally, multilateral efforts are built around a fiction. The people who organize coalitions pretend that all the parties are sharing the burdens. In reality, only the U.S. can do many of the tasks. If the other nations falter, the U.S. will have to leap in and assume the entire burden. America’s partners go in knowing they do not bear ultimate responsibility for success or failure. Americans do.
All of this is not to say the world should do nothing while Qaddafi unleashes his demonic fury. Nor is this a defense of unilateralism. But we should not pretend we have found a superior way to fight a war. Multilateralism works best as a garment clothing American leadership. Besides, the legitimacy of a war is not established by how it is organized but by what it achieves.

Read the entire column here. 

Let´s hope NATO will be allowed to take a formal leading role in Libya, at the same time recognizing that the operations in reality will continue to be led by the US.

EU chief climate alarmist: Wind power is "very, very cheap"

(Sometimes there are problems with wind turbines - even in Denmark)

In the wake of the nuclear disaster in Japan , EU climate change commissioner, former Danish journalist Connie Hedegaard is praising offshore wind energy:

 "Some people tend to believe that nuclear is very, very cheap, but offshore wind is cheaper than nuclear. People should believe that this is very, very cheap."

But, as usual, Hedegaard does not know what she is talking about. German Der Spiegel has looked into the costs - particularly for the consumer - of offshore wind parks:

According to information obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE, the government plans to raise the feed-in tariff paid to the operators of offshore wind farms from €0.15 to €0.18 per kilowatt hour (kWh). In return for this higher rate, the subsidy's duration will be pared down from 14 months to nine months. The energy industry, at least, is adamant about this last point.
This would entail the second increase in subsidies for offshore wind energy within just a few years' time. For their electricity, wind farm operators would receive more than three times the going rate for energy on spot markets.
But although this would be a boon for investors, it would only mean additional costs for consumers over the long term. The electricity lobby argues that the money companies would get upfront from the higher subsidy rate would leave the total cost to the government and taxpayers unchanged due to its shorter duration. But the money for these wind-energy subsidies comes from surcharges on the utility bills of German households, known as a Renewable Energy Act (EEG) assessment. Since that money would be taken out of consumer pockets and put into company pockets earlier, the latter would reap the benefits of having that capital on hand.

Likewise, the guarantee of higher profits does not reduce the massive risks investors assume in setting up an offshore wind farm. "Building a wind farm often gobbles up more than a billion euros," Albers says. For investors, insecure terms are often the rule. The technology has yet to be proven. In recent years, major electric utility companies, such as E.on, RWE and Vattenfall, and smaller builders of wind-turbine facilities have been forced to suffer a number of setbacks.

In an earlier article, Der Spiegel came to the same conlusion:

 In the first nine years, at least, electricity customers could expect to see substantially higher EEG assessments on their electricity bills, while the utilities' profits would go up considerably. For them, the implementation of the model would be a real coup. They would receive the government subsidies within a significantly shorter time period and, after nine years, could sell the electricity from the wind farms, which will have been written off by then, at market prices.

As a result, the value of the operating companies would rise on the utilities' balance sheets, and so would the profits from the offshore wind farms. According to KPMG calculations, profits would go up from about seven percent today to almost 12 percent.
The industry hasn't been able to make such profits with its newly built, conventional coal and natural gas power plants in years. Nevertheless, the German Environment Ministry can apparently reconcile itself with the model. Its reasons are entirely pragmatic. According to ministry officials, the construction of offshore wind farms is now so far behind schedule that it is a pleasant surprise when anything happens at all.

Here we go again! (as Ronald Reagan used to say). The unelected EU bureaucrats live in their own cosy world, with a lot of tax payers´ money to throw around. It does not bother them the least - because they do not have to face the voters - that it´s the consumers who end up paying for all these "very, very cheap" wind energy farms.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Operation "Odyssey Dawn"

Stephen L. Carter, Professor of Law at Yale, tells the true story of Operation Odyssey Dawn:

All of the squabbling among the allies over Libya ignores the simple fact that this is America's war. Stephen Carter says no one else has the firepower it takes for humanitarian interventions.

American officials insist that they are eager to hand off the Libyan war to the allies to run. They want to avoid, says The New York Times, lengthy involvement in "a third armed conflict in a Muslim country." Easy to understand; not so easy to accomplish. Despite what news reports say, the Libyan war is very much an American show. We are supplying not only the logistics, but the bulk of the weaponry, the crucial technology, and the more important personnel. We could carry the entire weight of battle very easily without our titular allies; but none of them, singularly or in combination, could do it without us.

Although the media keep reporting the Libyan war as though the U.S. is some sort of junior partner, the truth is the other way around. It is an American war, with a bit of support from other players. Here the data are instructive. Remember the opening salvo of the war, those 124 cruise missiles launched against the Libyan air-defense systems? According to the headlines, they were fired by American and British warships. Indeed they were. The Americans fired 122. The British fired two. Many of the U.S. Tomahawks fired so far—probably most, possibly all—were evidently the Block IV model, the latest generation, smart and maneuverable in midair, and a weapon possessed by no other member of the coalition. (Cruise missiles cost over $1 million apiece, and the newer models as much as $2 million. Are we likely to run out? According to National Journal, the Defense Department buys 200 Tomahawks each year—more than any other country has in its entire arsenal.)

The cruise-missile attacks were aimed largely at degrading Libya's antiaircraft defenses, which were considerable. As several observers have pointed out, no member of the coalition aside from the U.S. possesses the expertise and munitions to accomplish that goal. The U.S. has supplied nearly half the aircraft involved in Operation Odyssey Dawn, including the B-2 Stealth bombers that flew all the way from Missouri to join the war, and has flown the great majority of the actual combat missions. Although the Defense Department insists that this week the allies will begin to take the lead, flying most of the sorties, it is not clear whether they have the money. The U.S. spends more than 40 cents of every defense dollar spent on the face of the earth. The Libyan war is likely to cost well in excess of $1 billion a week. Nobody else can afford it. Thus, the longer the war drags on, the more likely it is to become an all-American show.

Some more facts about the operation:

  •  Italy, for example, does not want its pilots to fire, except at aircraft that are actually airborne. But Italian pilots have flown no combat missions yet, and the Libyan air force, in practical terms, no longer exists.

  • France, for example, possesses only one aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, currently stationed off the Libyan coast. Britain has none

  •  Remember the Harrier jump jet, the vertical takeoff and landing craft the British designed and Hollywood made famous? They are a mainstay of the U.S. Marine Corps, but Britain no longer operates any

Professor Carters conclusion:

 If other NATO countries hope ever again to be equal partners, they will have to increase their defense spending significantly. True, they could wait instead for us to reduce ours. But then the world would be left with no one able to prevent a slaughter—even in those rare instances when the world decides to try.

Read the entire article here.

There is not much to add to what the professor is telling us. It is, of course, possible that NATO will formally take over the leadership, but that does not change the basic truth, that the US will remain the country de facto running the operation, like it or not.

Congratulations to China´s cyber censors!

A couple of weeks ago I was pleased to note to that these pages had been visited by somebody in Communist China. Now I am less pleased - but not at all surprised - to hear that China´s censors have gone into action and blocked the site. Congratulations to you, silent censors somewhere over there, for a job well done! I am convinced that you will be praised by the comrades in your mighty Communist Party. Maybe you are even in for a pay rise and a career advancement!

And, on the other hand, your action makes me just a little proud. After this, I feel almost as important as US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton!

"Searches for "Hillary Clinton" Blocked in China"

In a certain way I can understand that the present Communist rulers of China do not like posts like this one, or this one, or this one, or this one. But sooner or later they will have to face the truth.

One more thing:

Dear Chinese Cyber Censors,

I have now added  this wonderful music video to my site in order for you to be able to report back to the  comrades in the CPC that your swift and decisive action has led to a clear improvement:

Lord Stern, the Al Gore of academics, has not given up his climate crusade

The Al Gore of the academics, Lord Stern, is continuing his global warming scaremongering campaign. This time Baron Stern of Brentford, speaking at his own London School of Economics (which, by the way, has recently been in the headlines for accepting ample funding from the Gaddafi family)  issued stern warnings about "something catastrophic" that will reverse human development:

Lord Nicholas Stern delivered a public lecture at the School on “The Low-Carbon Industrial Revolution” last Thursday, 17th March, as part of the events series, LSE Works.
Lord Stern is chair of the School’s Grantham Research Institute of Climate Change and the Environment, and author of the Stern Review on Climate Change.
He opened the lecture by outlining the magnitude of climate change, which he cited as one of the defining problems facing our generation.
“This isn’t a small probability of something uncomfortable, it’s a high probability of something catastrophic”, Stern said, adding climate change has the potential to cause mass migration and “extended global conflict”.
“High carbon growth is not a serious option”, he argued, as “business as usual will create a situation so horrible that it will halt and reverse human development”.
Stern called for an “industrial revolution”, while condemning sceptics’ arguments as “logically, obviously flawed”.
Michael Jacobs and Gerard Lyons also spoke at the event. Jacobs, a visiting professor at the LSE, reinforced Stern’s statement, saying, “the evidence for climate change is now pretty unequivocal” and “there is absolutely no question given the impact of climate change that we have to go down the low carbon path”.
Both Stern and Jacobs said politics of this issue are unavoidable, which Stern said is problematic given governments tend to be more concerned with getting reelected than making difficult choices regarding the environment.
Both Stern and Gerard Lyons lauded China for taking the right steps to combat climate change. Lord Stern said “they will be teaching us a lot in the next ten years”.

Most people will probably remember some of the good Lord´s previous  scaremongering "forecasts":

“If we continue with business as usual we would be looking at temperature increases of 5 degrees centigrade by early next century,” he said.“We have not seen those sort of conditions for 30million years. These kind of changes will have huge consequences — southern Europe is likely to be a desert; hundreds of millions of people will have to move. There will be severe global conflict.”It is a crisis, he said, that “will come to us incredibly fast and the scale of the risk is huge”.
Rich countries would need to commit themselves to spending $50billion (£31billion) a year by 2015 to help poor countries to deal with the costs of adapting to the climate change that was now inevitable. The US would need to provide perhaps $20billion of this total, he said, while the UK would need to spend $5billion a year — equivalent to £53 for every man, woman and child.

“In the next five years if the rich world can’t put $50billion on the table then there will be real questions about whether or not they are serious,” Lord Stern said. “I would see the US as giving at least $15billion to $20billion, but that is small beer in terms of the US economy. I believe President Obama understands this very well.”

And, of course we should all go vegetarian:

"Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.”

Here is a video from last summer, showing how good Stern is in recycling his standard scaremongering lecture ( each time charging a nice fee for re-reading his text):

I have often wondered why a charlatan like Lord Stern is so sought after as a lecturer at all kinds of gatherings. Having rewatched this and some other of his presentations, the following reasons come to my mind:

With his smooth, soft spoken delivery - although not in quite perfect Oxford English - Lord Stern projects the superior confidence of a British elite university don, who is used to be seated at the high table. Listen how he, without the smallest hesitation, gives his audience exact future ppm numbers and "facts" about coming 5 °C warming. He must himself know that much - as a matter of fact almost everything - of what he is telling his listeners are not facts - only some kind of worst case theoretical scenarious based on highly unreliable model studies. But giving the entire picture would spoil his basic message, without which he would lose his status and source of living. And as long as there are credulous people who are prepared to listen - and even pay for listening - to his scaremongering, everything seems to be fine for the good Lord. But, as a wellknown singer and songwriter used to say - The Times They Are a-Changin' ... and soon Baron Stern of Brentford will have very few listeners, indeed.

In praising China, Lord Stern continues the fine British academic tradition of "useful idiots", who admire communist dictators. And he does not seem bothered by what real experts say about his report:

Dr Richard Tol, one of the world’s leading environmental economists, dismissed its more lurid projections as “preposterous”.
Dr Tol concluded: “In sum the Stern Review is very selective in the studies it quotes”, invariably seeking to emphasise only “the most pessimistic” of them. The report, Dr Tol added, could only be “dismissed as alarmist and incompetent.”

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Flashback: Two honoured participants at the G8 meeting in Italy in June 2009


You probably recognize two familiar North-African faces among the participants of the G8 meeting in Italy in June 2009:

And the lunch during the "food security" talks was, of course, oustanding:

(At about 1,03 min. you can see The Guide of the Great Revolution complaining to his friend, the host, that he got very little sleep the night before because the bungabunga/zenga zenga party went on until the morning hours)

To confirm the presence of the two honoured participants, here is a picture and captions offered by the EU audiovisual service:

José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, and Fredrik Reinfeldt, Swedish Prime Minister and President in office of the Council of the EU, participated in the G8 Summit that took place under the Italian Presidency in L'Aquila, a town devastated by the 6 April earthquake. The G8 leaders discussed global economy, including international trade, climate change and energy, Africa and development, as well as food safety.
Dmitri Medvedev, President of Russia, Barack Obama, President of the United States, Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, José Manuel Barroso, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Guide of the Great Revolution of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and Chairman of the African Union, José Eduardo Dos Santos, President of Angola, and Hosni Moubarak, President of Egypt (from left to right)

In the picture President José Manuel Barroso is most likely discussing climate change with the Guide of the Great Revolution of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

The return of Putin´s puppet as good cop

Russia´s president Medvedev - Putin´s puppet - is now getting a lot of  publicity in Western media for his "brave" words of criticisim against his master:

Medvedev appeared to rebuke Putin for comparing Western calls for action on Libya with the crusades on Monday, in the sharpest public difference yet between the members of Russia's ruling 'tandem' ahead of 2012 elections.
"We are talking about different levels of assessment here," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Slovenia.
"The assessment expressed by the prime minister is nothing other than his personal opinion. The assessment expressed by the head of state (Medvedev) is the only official position of the Russian Federation, which everyone is adhering to," he said.
Putin, widely regarded as the most powerful man in Russia, told workers at a missile factory that a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing use of force against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi "resembles medieval calls for crusades."
Just hours later, Medvedev said the use of such terms was unacceptable and could stir up more violence, his sharpest ever public criticism of Putin.

There is, of course, nothing new in this; Medvedev is back in the role of good cop against the bad cop Putin. But what is absolutely clear, is there has not been any change in the power structure: Putin is the master - and there are absolutely no signs that this reality would change any time soon.

The master speaking:

It is also interesting to note that Medvedev is worried about the use of "indiscriminate force" by the no-fly zone coalition:

(Reuters) - President Dmitry Medvedev told U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday that Russia was concerned over possible civilian casualties in what he called the "indiscriminate" use of force in Libya, the Kremlin said.
"Medvedev voiced his concern over how the U.N. Security Council resolution on imposing a no-fly zone is being implemented, (and) possible deaths among the civilian population in connection with the indiscriminate use of force by aviation," the Kremlin said.

In this video Medvedev, among other things speaks about "disproportionate" use of force by the coalition forces in Libya:

Medvedev´s choice of words is really over the top. Here we have a representative of a country, which is widely known to have used indiscriminate and disproportionate force against its own people (e.g. in Chechnya) and e.g. against Georgia, lecturing the US and other Western countries. And with regard to human rights in general, Putin´s Russia is among the worst offenders, according to Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations.

Robert Gates, visiting Moscow right now, should let his hosts know what is proper language, and what not. But maybe this is just another "reset" mission with a lot of friendly words?

Addition at 10.25 PM (local time):
Putin as a born-again orthodox:

- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that all those responsible for civilian casualties in Libya should pray for the salvation of their own souls.

Maybe he should start by praying for the salvation of his own soul, as he is personally responsible for the killing of hundreds - if not thousands - of innocent people.

Flashback: EU commission president José Barroso


This video shows young José Manuel Barroso as a passionate maoist student leader in 1976 in Portugal:

Times - and Mr. Barroso - have changed. Now the President of the Commission of the European Union enjoys to be seen in somewhat different company:

But life is not always 100% rosy for this bureaucrat, who was not elected by the people of Europe:

And this handshake the President probably would like to forget:

Handshake between José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, and Muammar al-Gaddafi, Guide of the Great Revolution of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (official EU caption)

Some (de facto) dictators are still very acceptable "strategic partners", although the Russians, according to cables leaked by Wikileaks, do not seem to hold Mr. Barroso in very high regard:

               In good mood after an excellent lunch (not official EU caption)

Of course, the salary (on the same level as US president Obama´s 400.000 USD a year) and all the other benefits and perks (e.g. a retirement pension, equivalent of up to 70 percent of their final commission salary, from the age of 65, and a golden parachute system for former commissioners, under which they can get up to 65 percent of their salary for three years after leaving their post.) makes it a little bit easer for the former maoist to endure some of the less enjoyable moments on the job.

Monday, 21 March 2011

How to celebrate "Earth Hour" on 26th March - some bright ideas

Soon it is again time for one of the global warming religion´s  most "holy" - and stupid - annual events, the "Earth Hour". But don´t despair, there are many pleasant ways to join the greenies on Saturday 26th March. Here are a couple of suggestions to inspire you:

Remember to buy enough old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs (In Europe it might be difficult) well ahead of the event.

At 8.30 PM sharp, turn on all the lights in your house. (If you want to improve the effect, bring your X-mas lights temporarily from the basement to give some additional light)

This is the day for all of us to go Green . Open your windows and turn on this video (as loud as possible in order to help your possibly "dark" neighbours to enjoy the music):

Park your car in front of your house with the all lights on. Do as shown in this educational video:

If you are a trucker, park your well lit truck in a place where as many people as possible can see it. Or, if you have to work on than evening, make sure that all possible lights are on and working!
Check out this educational video for truckers in order to find out whether you need to install better lights:

If you are professional enough to be able to put on your own light show, March 26 is the time to do it. Here is a nice video to inspire your creativity:

Good luck!
And remember that by keeping all lights on you are contributing to a well balanced grid. A sudden huge fall in demand during the "earth hour" may be be harmful.
Pass on this message to friends and colleagues who also might want to celebrate "Earth Hour" in a proper and stylish way.

Sponsored by

World Wide Foundation for the Protection of Endangered Energy Users

Libya: The Russian-German(-Chinese) anti-coalition alliance is well and alive

Russia´s de facto dictator Putin´s reacton to the UN sanctioned coalition´s operations in Libya should not come as a surprise to anybody:

Russia's prime minister is strongly criticizing the U.N. resolution allowing international use of force in Libya, saying it reminds him of the Crusades.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also says the military actions against Libya prove that Russia is correct in its drive to strengthen its own defenses.
Putin's remarks on Monday, reported by Russian news agencies, came as U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates began a visit to Russia aimed at easing Moscow's worries over a proposed NATO missile defense shield in Europe.
Putin's statements indicated that Russian suspicion of the West and the United States in particular remains strong. Russia abstained in the U.N. Security Council vote on the resolution authorizing force in Libya.

Neither should Putin´s de facto ally´s - Germany´s - reaction come as a surprise. Herr Westerwelle was not as blunt is Putin, but basically he seems to share Putin´s view about the coalition operations:

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, however, offered Moussa's comments as evidence that Germany's decision not to participate in the operation had been justified.
"This does not mean that we are neutral," Westerwelle said on his way into the same meeting. "This does not mean that we have any sympathy with the dictator Gadhafi. It means that we see the risks, and when we listen closely to what the Arab League yesterday said, unfortunately we see that we had reasons for our concerns."

Read the entire article here.

China interferes with G-mail

China´s communist regime is again showing signs of extreme nervousness with regard to the internet. Now it has started to interfere with Google´s G-mail:

According to the search giant, Chinese customers and advertisers have increasingly been complaining about their Gmail service in the past month. Attempts by users to send messages, mark messages as unread and use other services have generated problems for Gmail customers.

In the wake of the catastrophic earthquake in Japan, Google set up an application to help people find relatives and friends lost in the disaster. This service too seems to have been compromised.

"Relating to Google there is no issue on our side. We have checked extensively. This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail," said a Google spokesman.

Read the entire article here.

Libya´s top "command center" on the target list?

                                                                Could this "command center" be targeted?

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the coalition isn’t targeting the Libyan leader himself, although President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and other U.S. officials have called for an end to the Gaddafi government.

However, one of the main goals of the mission is destroy Libyan command centers:

A Libyan command center, which was near Qaddafi’s residence, was destroyed, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

(Read the entire piece here)

In reality Gaddafi himself is of course the most important "command center". Therefore it seems clear that the elimination of this "center" is on the top of the target list, in spite of what Gates says. With the disappearance of this main "command center" all other military centers would cease to exist.  

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Gaddafi flashback: How different everything was less than two years ago


(Note that in the second video a mock hanging - representing the fate of the "colonialists"-  is part of the "entertainment")

How different the world looked from Gaddafi´s point of view in September 2009, when "the King of Kings" celebrated his 40 years on the "throne". The party on the video was intended for a wider audience. The A-list VIP guests were of course treated royally, as the Independent reported at that time from Tripoli:

In Libya, power and prestige accrues to one man. Guests at the celebrations had just watched as the whole of African history was rewritten to place the son of modest Bedouins at the centre of it.
For once, the famously long-winded leader didn't speak. He simply stood to receive the congratulations of those around him.
For companies operating in this context, sycophancy is encouraged and expected. A glossy-coloured pullout in this week's Tripoli Post to commemorate the anniversary of the great "al-Fatah revolution", as Col Gaddafi's 1969 power grab is called, demonstrated this.
Page after page is dedicated to a large corporate advertisement, each rivalling the next in expressions of admiration and gratitude to the Libyan leader. The corporations doing the bowing and scraping read like a roll call of the energy and arms manufacturers hoping to buy or sell a piece of the increasingly rich country: French military aviation company Dassault; Russian energy giant Gazprom; and Spain's oil and gas major Repsol.
The ads are a shrewd investment. Unlike the comparatively camera-shy Saudi royals or the conservative elites in the Gulf states, the 67-year-old Gaddafi enjoys being the centre of attention. And despite his Bedouin tents and protestations of modesty, he enjoys being gauche. The A-list who dined in Tripoli's Green Square enjoyed a meal prepared by the acclaimed Parisian restaurant Le Nôtre. They were handed limited edition gold Chopard watches with an outline of Africa on the face and a single diamond marking Libya.

Those who followed Col Gaddafi's entourage as it swept away from the party yesterday would have seen that it left three unused and unusual golf carts in its wake. These days the self-styled Lion of the Desert travels between tees in a trio of Hummer 3 carts that had been delivered the day before by a British courier from Humberside airport. The post mark had been left on the passenger's seat.

The Telegraph added:

A comic opera chorus of military officials in gold braid and peaked caps looked on as an ageing Col Gaddafi greeted dozens of second and third world leaders. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez took top billing by default on a guest list that included Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, and Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president. Detachments of soldiers from across Africa were provided a modicum of glamour by a French Foreign Legion band. Italy's version of the Red Devils flew overhead but only after a spat about the colour of their exhaust trail was resolved.
Europe’s most recognisable attendees were the heads of assorted fashion houses and luxury goods shops.

A couple of days before the celebrations the Tripoli Post announced the arrival of these guests:

Rome confirmed last week that the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is to travel to Tripoli on Sunday to take part in celebration of the 40th anniversary and also to mark the first anniversary of a friendship treaty signed in 31 August 2008.

The Spanish royal couple will also take part in the celebrations

(However, some advisers must have intervened in the last minute, since Berlusconi and the royal couple are not to be seen among the guests in the video. As a matter of fact, Berlusconi met with Gaddafi in Libya for the anniversary of the friendship treaty on 31 August, but did not stay for the actual celebrations - probably because his advisers had seen the list of other attending "dignitaries")

Those "limited edition Chopard watches" are most certainly going to be collectors´ item in the future. So, if you´ve got one, keep it in a safe Swiss bank vault as an investment.

Here is a little background info on the nice watches, which Gaddafi bought for the modest sum of about 8 million Swiss Francs (about 9 million USD):

The order was for 250 limited edition watches valued at around 8 million Swiss Francs. They should each have the likeness of Mr. Gaddafi on them in some form and were ordered to celebrate his 40th anniversary of being in office there. Gaddafi, if evidenced by his love of "intense" sunglasses, will likely enjoy the blingy reminders of his "victories" over the competition for that long.

It is a tricky move for Chopard to accept an order from someone with such a spotty record on human rights and so forth. The company is known to be majorly hurting due to the weak economy, especially as it is pointed to the luxury industry. The move was likely due to the large amount of the order. You know what they say, desperate times call for despot orders.
(Old Swiss saying?)

US takes lead in Libya operations

Obama in Rio:
Mindful of public concern of entangling the United States in another conflict on top of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama took pains to stress the limited U.S. military role in Libya.
He insisted that U.S. forces were supporting, not leading, the international coalition against Gaddafi and there would be no commitment of American ground troops. Nevertheless, he could still face tough questions from anti-war liberals at home.
In Rio, festive crowds lined the streets to greet the arrival of Obama's motorcade at his beachfront hotel on Saturday night.

Read the entire article here.

Pentagon acknowledged the strike on Libya -- the biggest military intervention in the Arab world since the 2003 invasion of Iraq -- was being spearheaded initially by the United States.
"We are on the leading edge of coalition operations, where the United States, under General (Carter) Ham in Africa Command, is in charge. He's in command of this at this point," said Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, director of the U.S. military's Joint Staff.

Read the entire arctile here.

Who is leading the US?

Bad news for dictators: easy way to avoid internet shutdowns

Dictators and authoritarian regimes are desperately trying to prevent access to the internet. Fortunately, it is not very difficult to circumvent politically motivated internet shutdowns, reports The Economist:

WITH a tin can, some copper wire and a few dollars’ worth of nuts, bolts and other hardware, a do-it-yourselfer can build a makeshift directional antenna. A mobile phone, souped-up with such an antenna, can talk to a network tower that is dozens of kilometres beyond its normal range (about 5km, or 3 miles). As Gregory Rehm, the author of an online assembly guide for such things, puts it, homemade antennae are “as cool as the other side of the pillow on a hot night”. Of late, however, such antennae have proved much more than simply cool.
According to Jeff Moss, a communications adviser to America’s Department of Homeland Security, their existence has recently been valuable to the operation of several groups of revolutionaries in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere. To get round government shutdowns of internet and mobile-phone networks, resourceful dissidents have used such makeshift antennae to link their computers and handsets to more orthodox transmission equipment in neighbouring countries.

Read the entire article here.

Here is Gregory Rehm´s page, with more information:

How To Build A Tin Can Waveguide WiFi Antenna

Here is one simple way of building a mobile phone internet antenna booster: