Saturday, 7 May 2011

Taiwan´s president Ma Ying-jeou: "Sooner or later" there will be democracy in China

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou speaks about democracy in communist China in an interview for German Der Spiegel:

Ma: Of course, there will be many difficulties in bringing about a fully democratic system in mainland China. But when a society enjoys universal education and a prosperous economy, and when a middle class has appeared, more and more people will express their views about public policies. This has happened in Taiwan, Southeast Asian countries, Latin America as well as Arab countries. From relative poverty through reform and opening-up to the world, mainland China has experienced tremendous economic growth over the past several decades. And the advent of the Internet has enabled more and more people to express their opinions on public policies. This phenomenon is impossible to prevent, and I feel that sooner or later mainland China will move toward greater freedom and democracy.

Ma is right. Human rights, freedom and democracy are coming also to China. The present corrupt leadership may still be able to crack down on human rights activists for a while, but not  very long.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Are people becoming stupid and shrinking in size because of global warming?


                              Stupid miniature people - Is this the future?


Today I found myself thinking about some of the serious challenges facing humanity in the future:


Bigger Brains Make Smarter People

For more than a century some of the biggest minds in science have debated whether brain size has anything to do with intelligence. A new study suggests it does.
Bigger brains make for smarter people, says Michael McDaniel, an industrial and organizational psychologist at Virginia Commonwealth University.
"For all age and sex groups, it is now very clear that brain volume and intelligence are related," McDaniel said.
In the old days, measuring brain size involved either the imprecise method of putting a tape around a person's skull or waiting until they died to examine their noggins. Over the past five years or so, various research groups have studied brain size using new imaging techniques that provide a more accurate gauge.
McDaniel examined 26 mostly recent brain-imaging studies to reach his conclusion.

Read the entire article published in LiveScience here

Compare this with a scientific paper published by Jessica Ash, a graduate student in psychology, and professor of evolutionary psychology Gordon G. Gallup Jr. in Human Nature magazine, described in ScienceDaily:

Global Warming Could Be Reversing A Trend That Led To Bigger Human Brains

"Specifically, we found that as the distance from the equator increased, north or south, so did brain size."
"the study provides evidence of the role of climate and migration away from the equator as selective forces in promoting human intelligence, and that the recent trend toward global warming may be reversing a trend that led to brain expansion in humans."

Read the entire article here

And its not only the brains that shrink. People and animals are actually thought to shrink in size due to global warming:

"Scientists postulate that the relationship between a warmer climate and smaller animals may be true for the animal kingdom as a whole."

And co-author Janet Gardner asks the question:

"How small can a bird go before its physiology is altered to the point where it can’t survive?”

Gardner did apparently not ask the obvious follow-up question: How small can a human being go before its physiology is altered to the point where it actually disappears?

So, if we are to believe the scientists (who believe in human induced global warming), the future of homo sapiens does, indeed, not appear to be very enticing:

In the year 2100 the earth will be populated by about 10 billion less than smart miniature people, basking in the hot sun of tropical jungles like Greenland and Alaska. "Think small" will be the winning political slogan of the century. People will probably not even realize how small they are, because all other animals and plants have shrunk in the same way!

Seriously speaking, there is no reason to worry: The predictions of the climate change alarmists will turn out to be as wrong as all of their other forecasts!  

Greece leaves the eurozone?

This is interesting:

Der Spiegel:

The debt crisis in Greece has taken on a dramatic new twist. Sources with information about the government's actions have informed SPIEGEL ONLINE that Athens is considering withdrawing from the euro zone. The common currency area's finance ministers and representatives of the European Commission are holding a secret crisis meeting in Luxembourg on Friday night.

AP-US Today:
 Greece is denying a report by a German magazine website that it is considering leaving the euro currency.

Is this the beginning of the end of the eurozone in its present form?

A definition of membership in the European Union

This recent definition by Irwin Stelzer is one of the best I have seen: 

Membership of the European Union is not a condition. It is a process. That process is clear: a steady transfer of power from nation states to Brussels. Eurocrats are not accountable to voters; they are judged only by their peers, the test of success being the expansion of power and the size of the bureaucracy over which they preside. Every effort is made to frame actions and decisions so that voters need not be consulted: witness the recent decision of the European Commission to amend Article 136 of the Lisbon Treaty merely by announcing an addition that permits the establishment of a permanent bailout mechanism to transfer credit from one country to another. This is the very thing the Germans were promised would not happen when they signed up to the Lisbon Treaty.

Read the entire New Statesman article here

(Irwin Stelzer is director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute and a columnist for the Sunday Times)

Not a (Europe) day without new EU fraud and corruption

Happy Europe Day on May 9! Let´s celebrate with "Connie´s Glacier Special"

EU fraud and corruption cases are now so numerous that they are seldom even reported in the main media. Here are just a couple of the latest examples:

NEARLY 6,000 Andalucian firms have been accused of misusing 23 million euros of EU funding.
The companies allegedly took grants to create new jobs for the unemployed and then laid them off.
In order to qualify for the grants – between 1,500 and 3,000 euros per employee – companies were expected to offer jobseekers a permanent contract and keep them on the payroll for at least four years.
However, according to the Employment minister Manuel Recio, in at least 3,790 cases the new employees were fired as soon as the grant was paid out.
The latest findings come after an investigation into the job history of 15,063 people.
And the numbers are expected to be even higher as 44,177 people are still to be investigated.

Read the entire article here

Italian authorities investigate suspected fraud network in EU-funded research projects
05 May 2011 | 13:58 | FOCUS News Agency
Home / European Union
Brussels. Italian authorities announced today in Milan that, on the basis of information and assistance received from OLAF and the European Commission, the Italian judiciary has concluded a criminal investigation into a suspected fraud network in EU-funded research projects. The investigation in Italy concerns 22 projects with a total amount of funding paid of more than 50 million euro and is part of a broader OLAF investigation.
“Thanks to intensive cooperation over several years between OLAF, the European Commission, the Italian judiciary and Guardia di Finanza, a very sophisticated fraudulent network affecting the EU’s research budget has been eliminated. This case shows that OLAF and the European Commission by working closely together with judicial authorities in the Member States can successfully fight fraud against the EU budget,” said OLAF Director-General Giovanni Kessler, the press service of OLAF announced.
Evidence initially collected by the Commission (DG Information Society and Media) in the course of its audit work has been combined with information gathered by OLAF. Networks of inter-related companies operating in several Member States are suspected of claiming reimbursements of non-existent expenses in an organised manner using fictitious companies as partners or sub-contractors of research project consortia.
The suspected fraudulent activities were organised in a very sophisticated manner, with the intention of deceiving the Commission's control mechanisms. The organisational structures created were deliberately opaque and span several countries. Some of the methods used are similar to those used in money laundering and other organised crime schemes

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Hague versus Ashton

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has in a "landmark speech" eloquently defended his government´s emphasis on bilateral relations instead of relying on the EU´s External Action Service:

"UK champions own diplomacy over EU 'action service'

"I have never believed that the EU could or should act as if it were a nation state with a national foreign policy. Any attempt by EU institutions to do so would end in embarrassing failure," he said. "Over the last year we have placed a renewed emphasis on bilateral relations, alongside Britain's role in multilateral institutions."
The speech reflects traditional Conservative Party policy and Britain's eurosceptic culture. But it comes at a testing time for the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, a member of the Tories' rival Labour Party.
Ashton has over the past year tried to forge a single EU foreign policy on explosive issues such as the Middle East peace process and the Arab spring. But the UK and France have time and again taken the lead on big ticket items, leaving her to play catch-up.
In a bad day for the EU's high representative, Belgian foreign minister Steven Vanackere also on Wednesday told Belgian daily Le Soir that Ashton has left a vacuum at the centre of EU policy-making.
"If there is silence and this silence is 'occupied' by France, Germany etc., Belgium will search for partners in

Read the entire article here

Hague´s choice of words was probably welcomed by most people in the UK, but on the other hand, quite a few would probably like to remind him of some of his, and David Cameron´s  previous, not so euro-critical moves.  

And almost while Hague was speaking, his EU colleague, "foreign minister", Labour Baroness Cathrine Ashton was giving her own "victory speech" at the UN:

EU wins super-observer status at UN

The European Union on Tuesday secured super-observer status at the United Nations after overcoming objections from small states that they could see their influence eroded

A vote was passed by the 192-nation UN General Assembly after high-powered lobbying by EU foreign affairs representative Catherine Ashton and ambassadors from the 27-nation bloc.

"What you will hear is a clearer voice to the United Nations from the European Union," but one that is "extremely and absolutely respectful" of the UN institutions

Read the entire article here

It certainly looks like Mr. Hague´s man in New York, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Ambassador of the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations, also participated in the "high-powered lobbying" for making the EU "act as if it were a nation state".  

No surprise that this was what EU "president" "Haiku-Herman" Van Rompuy tweeted after the vote:

Herman Van Rompuy
Thanks to today's @ Resolution, the European Union achieves an important recognition as a global actor at the United Nations
I wonder, what, if anything, William Hague tweeted?

In praise of shale gas - James Delingpole at his best

                                                          The first shale gas well from 1980

James Delingpole at his best:

What I simply want to do here in my first blog back (and no, my health thing hasn’t got better yet, I’m afraid, so please don’t expect me to be too Stakhanovite in my production rate) is remind you of the horrendous socio-political crisis we in the free world are facing today: one in which economic progress and commonsense threaten to be undermined at every turn by an insidious, mendacious and terrifyingly powerful global green movement which has its tentacles in almost every pie from the Obama administration to David Cameron’s Coalition to the EU to the UN to the MSM to the schools, universities and NGOs. The ideology of these Watermelons has virtually nothing to do with saving the environment (if it were, they’d be embracing shale gas wholesale) and almost everything to do with an instinctive loathing for economic growth combined with a bullying, puritanical urge to impose energy policy by diktat rather than by allowing the market to decide the most effective method.
Shale gas won’t die: the economic arguments in its favour are too powerful for it to be ignored (especially in countries like Poland, which has massive shale gas reserves and, like most of the former Eastern Bloc really has no desire to be blackmailed by Vladimir Putin’s Russia any longer than is necessary). But what we are going to see in the next few months and years are very concerted efforts by green campaigners and their sympathisers in the EU to besmirch the name of shale gas in favour of their preferred (and – of course – disastrously expensive and environmentally destructive) power source, renewable energy.
We mustn’t allow them to get away with it. Our economic future – not to mention the size of our fuel bills – depends on it.

Read the entire article here

In his column Delingpole describes the Global Warming Foundation´s new report "The Shale Gas Shock", written by Matt Ridley and with a foreword by Freeman Dyson.

An excerpt from Freeman Dyson´s foreword:

It is not a perfect solution to our economic and environmental problems, but it is here when it is needed, and it makes an enormous difference to the human condition. Matt Ridley gives us a fair and even-handed account of the environmental costs and benefits of shale gas. The lessons to be learned are clear. The environmental costs of shale gas are much smaller than the environmental costs of coal. Because of shale gas, the air in Beijing will be cleaned up as the air in London was cleaned up sixty years ago. Because of shale gas, clean air will no longer be a luxury that only rich countries can afford. Because of shale gas, wealth and health will be distributed more equitably over the face of our planet.

From Matt Ridley´s own introduction:

Cheap And Abundant Energy Is On Hand
Shale gas is good news for America and China (which probably has even more of it than America), consumers (cheap fuel means higher standards of living) and farmers (fertiliser is made from gas). It is bad news for Russia and Iran (which hoped to corner the gas market in coming decades), for coal (until now the cheapest fuel for electricity) and for the nuclear and wind industries. The last two had expected to be rescued from dependence on subsidies by rising fossil fuel prices. They may now not be.
The losers are formidable enemies, so there is a movement, whose fans range from Gazprom to Greenpeace, to strangle the shale-gas industry at birth, by claiming that drilling for it contaminates water with carcinogenic and even radioactive chemicals. This turns out to be true only in the sense that coffee is carcinogenic, bananas radioactive and dihydrogen monoxide (water) a chemical.

You can download Matt Ridley's report on the shale gas revolution and its implications here

What Ridley says about Gazprom, Greenpeace and the other losers is, of course, true. They will do their utmost in order to strangle the coming shale gas revolution. It is now up to sane people to make sure that they will not succeed.

Here, and here is what we have previously written about shale gas in Europe.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

"India lets its girls die"

The Indian economy is booming. Forbes tells us that 50 Indian billionaires have made it to its list of the world´s richest people. There is, however, a darker side to the Indian success story; India is failing its girls:

The starving girls in this hospital ward include a 21-month-old with arms and legs the size of twigs and an emaciated 1-year-old with huge, vacant eyes. Without urgent medical care, most will not live to see their next birthday.
They point to a painful reality revealed in India's most recent census: Despite a booming economy and big cities full of luxury cars and glittering malls, the country is failing its girls.
Early results show India has 914 girls under age 6 for every 1,000 boys. A decade ago, many were horrified when the ratio was 927 to 1,000.
The discrimination happens through abortions of female fetuses and sheer neglect of young girls, despite years of high-profile campaigns to address the issue. So serious is the problem that it's illegal for medical personnel to reveal the gender of an unborn fetus, although evidence suggests the ban is widely circumvented.
"My mother-in-law says a boy is necessary," says Sanju, holding her severely malnourished 9-month-old daughter in her lap in the hospital. She doesn't admit to deliberately starving the girl but only shrugs her own thin shoulders when asked why her daughter is so sick.
She will try again for a son in a year or two, she says.

Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense in marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry. Hindu custom also dictates that only sons can light their parents' funeral pyres.
But it's not simply that girls are more expensive for impoverished families. The census data shows that the worst offenders are the relatively wealthy northern states of Punjab and Haryana.

Read the entire article here

"Place-based people" and climate change

Stories told by "place-based people" are now cited as "scientific" proof that human induced global warming is happening. Science Now  reports about "the largest study of its kind, Bawa and his graduate student Pashupati Chaudhary interviewed 250 households in 18 Himalayan villages that are between 2000 and 3000 meters above sea level.":

 A group of women told the researchers that all their lives they had washed their food containers every 3 or 4 days. But recently, they found that they had to wash them every 2 days: a few degrees increase in temperature was causing food to spoil more rapidly. In addition, villagers who lived at higher altitudes spoke of unusually hot summers and early springs. At lower altitudes, they complained of mosquitoes that had never before infested the area, the team reports online today in Biology Letters.
Villagers also noted that common plants such as rhododendrons had moved upward into cooler areas and that other species had disappeared

Susan Crate, an anthropologist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, says there is much to be learned from what she calls "place-based people," who "watch the weather closely and know the signs, smell rain in the air, tell the direction of the wind, the way the animals act. These people," she says, "are incredible experts on their environments."
The study, says Crate, is fantastic in that it shows how local perceptions are consistent and can be verified scientifically. The beauty, she says, is how local peoples' stories can help us understand the diverse ways that climate change affects different parts of the earth.

Read the entire article here


"Place-based" Americans have another "fantastic" story to tell:

Despite years of warnings, scientific consensus, global treaty negotiations and the appearance of predicted increased instances of violent weather and climate refugees, nearly half of Americans don't worry about global warming. According to Gallup, the number of Americans who worry "a great deal" or "a fair amount" about climate change has decreased from 63% of respondents in 2001 to 51% today.

And there are more "fantastic" stories from "place-based" people in France and the UK:

Not only do Westerners express a statistical disregard for the dangers of climate change, but the number of those who believe there is something to fear from the weather is declining. In France, for example, the poll numbers indicate that the percentage of respondents who consider global warming “a serious threat” has declined from 75 percent to 59 percent since 2007.
In the United Kingdom, home of the “Climategate” scandal, the percentage has fallen from 69 percent to 57 percent over the same period.

Regrettably, Susan Crate and other alarmist scientists show little interest in these stories of millions of "place-based people". And the reason is obvious: Most ordinary Americans and Europeans are knowledgeable enough to realize that the entire alarmist "story" is too weak to be beliavable. That is why it is safer for Crate et consortes to travel to exotic places, where indoctrinating indigenous "place-based" people is easy.

Hypocrite of the Year: Monaco´s Albert faces tough competition from prince Charles

Last week we thought Monaco´s "green" prince Albert would be the likely winner of our Climate change Hypocrite of the Year award. Now it turns out that Albert has got a serious challenger, Britain´s prince Charles:

Also James Cameron and Robert Redford have entered the competition:

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Drinking rum and cola - sponsored by EU taxpayers

Here is a hot tip for EU citizens: Why not celebrate the long awaited summer season with the classical Caribbean rum and coke drink! There is a special reason for choosing an original Caribbean rum: You already have contributed about €70 million to "making it export-ready" for you to consume! If you have any questions about why your money is used for this purpose, contact "Chef de file Delegation in Barbados":

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 654C BB11000 or Palm Beach Corporate Centre, Hastings, Christ Church, BB15156, Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies
Tel: 246 - 434.85.01
Fax: 246 - 427.86.87

The EU´s Caribbean "Rum programme" is described in the official EU document "Jamaica - European Community, Country Strategy Paper and National Indicative Programme for the period 2008 - 2013". You can download the document here

Integrated Development Programme for the ACP Caribbiean Rum Sector (regional programme: Chef de file Delegation in Barbados)
The programme aims to enhance the competitiveness of the rum sector by making it export-ready in the segment of branded products. Its three main components are: (i) institutional capacity building of the West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA); (ii) plant modernisation and meeting environmental needs; (iii) implementation of a distribution and marketing strategy.
The total project cost is estimated at about €146 Million, of which 70 million will be founded by EC from intra ACP Resources.

Do not hesitate to contact the "Chef de file". The EU "embassy" in Bridgetown, led by His Excellency, Sr. Valeriano Diaz has about 50 diplomats and other employees, so I am convinced that one of them, in spite of  the busy beach party season, will find time to answer your questions. If you so wish, you can also give your contribution to the EU rum programme by suggesting brand names for future EU-subsidised distilled Caribbean  beverages. Wouldn´t it  be nice e.g. to have a "Rompuy´s Reserve", a "Captain Barroso XO Extra Strong", a"Baroness Ashton´s Super Light" or perhaps a "Connie´s  Climate Candy Cane Rum  2030" to be enjoyed on very special occasions (like when new euro bail-out packages haven been agreed)?  

Russia is using Bin Laden´s death as pretext for their brutal killings in the Caucasus

Anna Politovskaya was murdered because she spoke out about the brutal Russian killings in Chechnia

Russia is - as was to be expected - using the death of  Osama Bin Laden as a pretext for continuing its brutal and murderous campaign against North Caucasus insurgents:

In its statement Monday, the Foreign Ministry likened bin Laden to slain Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev and the U.S. anti-terrorism operations in Pakistan to Russian security services' own operations in the North Caucasus, where, it said, a hunt continues for al-Qaida emissaries.

However, as the Moscow Times points out:

Still, not a single Chechen has ever been arrested outside Russia for involvement in al-Qaida. The few Russian citizens arrested by coalition forces in Afghanistan and then jailed in the Guantanamo prison comprised natives of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and Kabardino-Balkaria. All were later sent back to Russia, where they were released.

Andrei Soldatov, a security analyst with the Agentura think tank, said playing up al-Qaida's presence in the North Caucasus helps Russian authorities pretend that they are fighting a common enemy with the United States and other Western countries.
"This naturally allows them to undercut foreign criticism of the brutal anti-terrorism efforts in the North Caucasus," he said.

Enver Kisriyev, a Caucasus expert with the Institute of Ethnography and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Science, concurred, saying, "Claiming to be fighting al-Qaida allows federal and local security officials to often operate outside the legal limits."

Bin Laden's death will have little effect on the activities of North Caucasus rebels because they do not share al-Qaida's global goal of fighting the United States, which it sees as the biggest enemy of Islam, Soldatov said.

The Moscow Times also reports that president Obama had notified the Kremlin about Bin Laden´s death before he made a public announcement:

"We appreciate it that the Russian authorities were sufficiently informed before the official statement by U.S. President Barack Obama," the Foreign Ministry said Monday in a brief statement.

There does not seem to have been any reports about Obama informing his western allies in the same way. If he did not do it, one wonders what particular reason he had to inform the Kremlin?

Prisoners´ radio station in Jamaica - paid for by the European taxpayers

This Jamaican radio station is soon getting EU competition

The fact that some of the European Union member countries are struggling to avoid total economic and social disaster does not in the least seem to worry those eurocrats who hand out lavish EU funding to countries in the third world. The latest example comes from Jamaica, where His Excellency,  EU ambassador Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni recently has been busy distributing $70 million worth of  project aid (for two years), a great deal of which is going to inmates in Jamaican prisons. For us, the European tax payers, it may be interesting to know that we are paying for e.g. the following:

" Free FM radio network broadcasting for 4,570 inmates from Fort Augusta, Rio Cobre, South Camp Road and Tower Street Prisons" and "licenses for the operation of a radio station"

 "24 inmate leaders will participate in a special rehabilitation programme to empower them through improved leadership skills"

" music, computer and craft labs"

Read the entire article here


By the way, it will be interesting to hear, what name the inmates will choose for their radio station; "The Voice of the Prisoners, Your Local EU station" would be an excellent symbolic choice - also for all future EU-sponsored stations in Europe.

There is one thing the bosses in Brussels most likely are going to blame His Excellency, Mr. Alemannni for: He should, of course, have included a workshop on climate change for the inmates! 

Seriously speaking: Why should we, the European tax payers, pay for an prisoner´s radio station in Jamaica? Or leadership and music courses for Jamaican inmates?

Monday, 2 May 2011

"Europe’s Painful Farewell" - an excellent Australian analysis

"The European Union lacks the basic constitutive element of a nation state, namely a people"

Sometimes it takes an outside observer to figure out what is really going on in Europe. Take e.g. Dr. Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich, who has written an excellent analysis - Europe’s Painful Farewell: An Essay on the Decline of the Old World - for the Australian Centre for Independent Studies.

Here are some of the points Dr. Hartwich makes:

European integration was a response to the catastrophes of the two world wars. By binding European nations closer together and integrating them in the framework of the European Union, it was hoped that former rivalries could be overcome and lasting peace and prosperity be created.

As it turns out, despite these efforts Europe has remained a continent with countries so different that they cannot be effectively harmonised under the EU banner. Above all, their diversity and a lack of a common European identity make it impossible to organise European affairs under the model of a national state. The European Union lacks the basic constitutive element of a nation state, namely a people.
Given the inadequate structures of the European Union, Europe is unable to come to grips with its three most difficult challenges: the state of public finances; the ageing of its population; and the integration of migrants from other cultural backgrounds.

The financial problems are not limited to Greece and other countries at the periphery of the Eurozone. Even supposedly stable countries such as Britain and Germany have long lived beyond their means, accumulating enormous amounts of debt in the process. Part of Europe’s debt problems are hidden in pension liabilities. Once they are taken into account, the scale of Europe’s debt is frightening at several times annual economic output in many countries.

Read the summary of Mr. Hartwich´s essay here

"Moscow's power couple grows apart" - complete nonsense

Today´s Independent has an article, headlined "Moscow's power couple grows apart", written by Shaun Walker on the "fighting" supposedly going on between Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev:

But a strange thing has happened. The two politicians have begun to disagree publicly. For months, people on the teams of each man have been fighting and jostling behind the scenes, keen to have their man in the top job. But the two men themselves had stayed out of the bickering.
That has changed. When Mr Putin last month made a comment that Nato action against Libya was reminiscent of the "crusades", Mr Medvedev rebuked him in public and referred to the language as "unacceptable".
With each passing week, there are more signs of discord. Last week, one of the Kremlin's longest-standing advisers, Gleb Pavlovsky, was sacked. He said it was because he had come out in support of Mr Medvedev. "I violated the tandem's silent discipline: say nothing about a candidate until everything is decided," Mr Pavlovsky said. "I thought it was ridiculous and impossible. I could not be silent in this situation, which caused a problem for the Kremlin."

Read the entire article here

Walker´s piece is just one of many similar stories recently published by western media. It is difficult to understand why people like Walker write these kind of things. There is no "power couple". The journalists must know that Putin, who gave Medvedev his present puppet job, is the man in charge. Medvedev may have some slightly more liberal views, but he and his "team" members are totally powerless and do not - and will not - have the slightest chance to make any real moves without the approval of  Putin. If they try, they will soon disappear from the political scene. That is the reality.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Transparency International: Climate change money 'wide open to major corruption'

"Where huge amounts of money flow through new and untested financial markets and mechanisms, there is a risk of corruption,"

This is what Transparency International has to say about the billions of dollars that are going to be - and in many cases already are - distributed to some of the world´s most corrupt countries in the name of fighting (imaginary) human caused climate change:

Corruption is threatening global steps to combat climate change, a new report from Transparency International (TI) warned yesterday. Billions of pounds will be plundered and wasted, it says, unless stronger measures are introduced against embezzlement and misappropriation.
The organisation warns that 20 nations most vulnerable to climate change – where millions in grants and aid will be targeted – are judged to be among the most corrupt in the world – and stronger oversight is needed to ensure the funds are properly spent. None of the countries, which include Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Vietnam, scores higher than 3.6 on TI's influential Corruption Perception Index, where 0 is wholly corrupt and 10 "very clean".

The report, Global Corruption Report: Climate Change, estimates the total investment into combating global climate change will reach almost $700bn (£420bn) by 2020. "Where huge amounts of money flow through new and untested financial markets and mechanisms, there is a risk of corruption," it says.
Carbon markets, the main financial tool for combating climate change, have already been hit by fraud, the report points out. In January, the European Union's carbon market was shut down after it was attacked by cyber-hackers. More than three million carbon credits were stolen from government and private company accounts.
The system has also been hit by repeated tax frauds. One scheme to meet all of Europe's power needs from concentrated solar power plants covering 1 per cent of the Sahara desert was undermined after experts said bureaucratic complexity and corruption in north Africa raised the risks and costs of investment there. After an investigation by Spanish officials, it was discovered that more than one in 10 of its solar parks was falsely registered as operational, despite making no contribution to the energy grid.

Read the entire article here

The TI report may be read by some of the EU bureaucrats so generously distributing tax payers´ billions to corrupted regimes, but it is highly unlikely that they will actually take any serious action to prevent the growing fraud connected with climate change money - partly because the "vulnerable" regimes on the receiving side will object to meddling in their "internal affairs". But that does not worry the true believers in the climate change religion too much. The main thing seems to be that the European Union is able to boast about being a "global leader" in combating climate change. And, of course, EU bureacrats are used to living with waste and fraud - one only needs to think about the what happens to much of the money handed out as structural and agricultural aid.

Why is there so little mafia activity in communist China?

I am probably not the only person who has been wondering why there are so few reports about traditional mafia operations in China. Is it because the communist regime is so effectively fighting criminality? Not really. The answer is to be found in Frederico Varese´s ( Varese is a professor of criminlogy at Oxford) book "Mafias on the Move":

 Given the shortcomings of the Chinese legal system, why haven't they permeated the People's Republic? The answer is simple: Corrupt government officials are performing mafia-like services so competently that the real mafias can't compete. Bribe-taking Communist Party cadres act as a "protective umbrella" for all kinds of businesses.

"Since any economic activity in China is subject to intrusive inspections and requires several permits, and independent courts are not effective in protecting the victims of officials' harassment, even entrepreneurs producing legal commodities, such as light bulbs, can benefit from entering into such arrangements," Mr. Varese writes. "The umbrella system ensures continued control over the economy by officials, albeit one that distorts incentives and produces significant waste."

That's not to say Chinese officials are shy about skimming from illegal activity too. Prostitution, illegal in China, is a prime example. Prostitutes are caught, judged and punished by the police under administrative law—they can be sentenced to severe fines or imprisoned without ever facing a judge. Practically, this means police protecting brothels can coerce prostitutes and brothel owners.

Read the entire article here


In Russia we have a somewhat different situation, compared with China:

Russia and its intelligence agencies are using mafia bosses to carry out criminal operations such as arms trafficking, according to allegations contained in the US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

The Kremlin's spy agencies have such a close relationship with top organised criminals that Russia has become a "virtual 'mafia state'," the cables say. The gangsters enjoy secret support and protection and in effect work "as a complement to state structures".