Saturday, 21 May 2011

The negative effects of development aid

It is encouraging to note that more and more economists and other experts in the developing countries have began to question the prevailing politically correct western aid ideology. One such voice of sanity -regrettably anonymous -  comes from Sierra Leone. His - or hers - wise thoughts about the negative effects of the dependence on aid are published on the webpage:

I think aid has made my country, by and large, poorer and the prospect of economic growth dismal. This man-made "humanitarian disaster" has left Sierra Leone with a huge debt burden and a poorly managed economy. It has increased poverty and corruption, created an inflationary prone market and discouraged foreign investments. But we have a choice to change course and find responsible ways to better manage our debt and economy. Otherwise, we will always see our promising young men and women languishing in the corners of our streets with no job or income to support their families.
Furthermore, the size of our international debt and the risk level has made investors less attracted to finding good market in Sierra Leone. And why do we have a huge percentage of our national budget largely coming from the Department for International Development (DFID) in the United Kingdom (UK), the European Union (EU), China, Japan and the United States of America? Why do we seem to believe that investors can bring their capital investments when they know we cannot even account for our own money let alone the "aid dollars" they give us?
Frankly, Sierra Leone must take the long road that leads to a donor-free economy with an investment strategy that establishes job creation, access to capital markets and surplus foreign reserves. Our nation must participate in the China "new African initiatives" of large scale investment in infrastructure. We must increase free trade with the European Union (EU), Japan and the United States in agricultural products (not only mineral resources).
But we are seriously a long way from reducing our dependency on aid and the culture of debt that has paralyzed the economic spine of our government. We need some strong leadership to take us out of the depressive state of our donor addictions. We need a debt management strategy with comprehensive national debt laws that will help to bring our spiraling debt under control.
As the Zambian Economist, Dambisa Mayo categorically said: "Aid has been and continues to be an unmitigated political, economic and humanitarian disaster for most part of the developing world" and for Sierra Leone, it is time to end that dependency which has fostered too much corruption, discouraged economic creativity that leads to innovation and prosperity for all.

Read the entire article here

However, these sensible thoughts are not shared by the representatives of the world's biggest development aid donor, the European Union. The EU´s development commissioner, former Latvian politician Andris Piebalgs e.g. is mainly focusing on the amount of money poured into the developing countries - often easily finding its way to the coffers of less than democratic regimes.

Here is a recent example of  the commissioner´s thinking:

But this is no reason for complacency and I stressed in April that aid budgets must be increased if we are to meet our ambitious goals for 2015 and remain credible. I still believe that despite the temporary set backs we will reach the target on time. It’s really in everybody’s interest to invest in developing countries and help them to get on the right track of inclusive growth and development.
Our commitment is also noticeable if you look at the numbers. EU aid to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) increased by 78 % from €8.3 billion in 2000 to €15 billion in 2010. The share of Gross National Income (GNI) spent on aid to LDCs rose from 0.09% in 2000 to 0.13% in 2010. The EU is still by far the largest donor to the LDCs (56 % of aid worldwide in 2010). The share of Commission-managed EU aid to the LDCs rose from 21.6 % in 2000 to 29.9 % in 2009.

Read the whole piece here

Whistleblowers in Russia and the EU share same fate

A Russian officer has been dismissed after blowing the whistle on the Interior Ministry for serving Russian troops with dog food and other alleged wrongdoings:

In a 10-minute video posted on the internet earlier this month, former Major Igor Matveyev alleged that officers in the eastern city of Vladivostok were involved in the widespread corruption, including serving dog food to soldiers to skim money, Reuters reported.

"It's embarrassing to say but soldiers here were fed dog food. It was fed to them as stew," Matveyev told Reuters. He added that dog food labels were replaced with labels reading “premium quality beef.”

He also said illegal migrants were housed at a military base and used for construction jobs. "They were Koreans or Chinese, I don't know because they did not have any documents," he said.

Further, he accused the officers of illegally selling properties from the base for a profit.

Read the entire article here

There are quite a few similarities between the successor state to the USSR and the EU - also known as  EUSSR. One of them is that whistleblowers share the same fate.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Barack Obama (neocon)

                       The newly converted "neocon" president speaking

Politics is sometimes fascinating. Who would e.g. have believed that Barack Obama would transform himself  to a virtual neocon, adopting the Bush democracy agenda? But that´s what he appears to have done, according to Power Line´s John Hinderaker - and columnist Charles Krauthammer, who both analyse Obama´s Middle East speech  :

John Hinderaker:

Barack Obama, Neocon?

President Obama delivered a speech on the Middle East at the State Department today. If one takes it seriously, it signified--with one key exception--Obama's transformation into a virtual clone of his predecessor. President Bush's democracy agenda, which Obama once scornfully rejected, has now been adopted as Obama's own:
The status quo is not sustainable. Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they are built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder. ...
The United States supports a set of universal rights. And these rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders -- whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran.

And we support political and economic reform in the Middle East and North Africa that can meet the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people throughout the region. ...

it will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy.
So Obama finds himself announcing principles that are indistinguishable from those advanced by President Bush in 2003. Obama even credited Iraq as an exemplar of Middle Eastern democracy:
[O]ne of the broader lessons to be drawn from this period is that sectarian divides need not lead to conflict. In Iraq, we see the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy. The Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence in favor of a democratic process, even as they've taken full responsibility for their own security. Of course, like all new democracies, they will face setbacks. But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress. And as they do, we will be proud to stand with them as a steadfast partner.

Read the entire post here

Charles Krauthammer:

Herewith, President Obama´s May 19 Middle East speech, annotated:
"It will be the policy of the United States  to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy."
With this Obama openly, unreservedly and without a trace of irony or self-reflection adopts the Bush Doctrine, which made the spread of democracy the key U.S. objective in the Middle East.
"Too many leaders in the region tried to direct their people's grievances elsewhere. The West was blamed as the source of all ills."
Note how even Obama's rationale matches Bush's. Bush argued that because the roots of 9/11 were to be found in the deflected anger of repressed Middle Eastern peoples, our response would require a democratic transformation of the region.
"We have a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals."
A fine critique of exactly the kind of "realism" the Obama administration prided itself for having practiced in its first two years.
How far did this concession to Bush go? Note Obama's example of the democratization we're aiming for. He actually said:
"In Iraq, we see the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy. There, the Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence for a democratic process ... Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region."
Hail the Bush-Obama doctrine.

Read the entire column here

The "sinking" Maldives saved by a Dutch construction company

                       Dutch built floating islands - future for the Maldives?

The president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed has for years now been one of the "stars" of the "progressive" global climate change establishment. But, now it appears that he does not need to do any more underwater cabinet meeting stunts: In case Nasheed´s tiny island state actually would begin to disappear - which, of course, is highly unlikely according to those scientists who have real knowledge about the situation - the country can continue its existense on floating islands to be constructed by a Dutch company!

The Maldives government and the Dutch Docklands company have already signed an agreement to build the first floating islands, which among other things will include a floating golf course:

"We told the president of the Maldives we can transform you from climate refugees to climate innovators," said Paul van de Camp, chief executive officer of floating architecture specialists Dutch Docklands, developer of the project, CNN reports.

The $500 million project will offer a course with 27 holes situated on three interlinked islands. The development also includes villas and a conservation center.

(The Maldive islands government says it will not have to pay any of the costs. One would not be surprised if  the Dutch construction company and the Maldive government  already have secured major EU climate change funding for the project).

Read the entire article here

The CEO of  Dutch Docklands, Paul van de Camp said in an interview that this mega project will "diversify the Maldivian fame in the outside world", so the publicity seeking Nasheed should be pleased. Now, there should not be any need for him to continue his hoax about the rising sea levels as a consequence of  human induced climate change. Instead, cabinet meetings on the floating golf island could make great photo opportunities for the international media!

Neither will there be any need for the  new "Hollywood style" documentary ,"The Island President",  which was announced in a presidential press release on April 24:

 A Hollywood-style documentary feature film about the Maldives and climate change will be premiered at an international film festival later this year.
‘The Island President’ is a fly-on-the-wall, 90-minute documentary film, which highlights the Maldives’ efforts to combat climate change and rising sea levels

The film has been made by Actual Films, an Oscar and Emmy-winning American documentary film company, based in San Francisco.

As could be expected, the producers of the film give Nasheed the full Hollywood super hero "treatment" in the documentary (but this will be of no use anymore, thanks to the Dutch!)

The productions costs of the film were 1,5 million USD, according to the same press release:

The film was paid for in its entirety through grants from the Ford Foundation, the American Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the MacArthur Foundation, the Atlantic Foundation, the Sundance Institute, and small donations from American well wishers.

It is interesting to note that there still seems to be some loose money around in the US for this kind of dubious projects

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

UN chief propagandists already hyping next year´s Rio sustainability carneval

The Welcome Ceremony at the UN 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development was a religion-resembling pageant venerating Mother Earth

"There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with Nature; there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result from eating from the tree of knowledge; and as a result of our actions, there is a judgment day coming for all of us. We are energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment, just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs imbibe".
          Michael Crichton, 2003

The enormous United Nations hype machinery, led by its South Korean Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, has already gone into overdrive in its propaganda campaign leading up to next year´s mega event, The Earth Summit, also known as the Fourth United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or "Rio+20", to be helt in Brazil in June next year.

Thousands of politicians, bureaucrats, environmentalists and journalists have already made preliminary flight and hotel bookings for the Rio de Janeiro sustainability carneval, sponsored by the world´s tax payers.

And, of course, the main event is preceded by tens, if not hundreds of smaller gatherings in all corners of the world.

Only the other day the UN nineteenth Commission on Sustainable Development held a 10 day meeting in New York with "Government ministers from about 50 countries attending the segment, which was designed to give impetus to preparations for the Fourth UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, which will be held in the Brazilian city in June 2012."

The Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon himself spoke at the New York gathering:

Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need for fundamental changes in humanity’s resource consumption patterns and values, saying the planet’s natural environment is under unprecedented pressure with far-reaching social and economic consequences.

“We must also create an enhanced architecture for sustainable development governance at the national, regional and international levels. This is critical to advancing sustainable development. Our watchwords must be ‘implementation’ and ‘action’,”

A few days later, another of the UN bigwigs,  Kandeh K. Yumkella, Director-General of UNIDO was busy hyping the same themes in St. Petersburg:

The world must radically alter the way it produces and consumes materials if genuinely sustainable development is going to take root, the head of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said today. “This is how we can green our economies, our growth strategies and our industries, creating new green jobs, stimulating green investments and encouraging green innovations.”

Before anybody gets too excited about the UN "Rio+20", it may be useful to read what professor Philip Stott ( Emeritus Professor of Biogeography at the University of London) wrote about its predecessor, "Rio+10" in 2002:

'Sustainable development' is just dangerous nonsense

Where conferences on "sustainable development" are concerned, Schumacher's precept, "small is beautiful", has been long abandoned. Later this month, 65,000 delegates will descend on Johannesburg for "Earth Summit 2002" - the World Summit on Environment and Development.
These will include 106 government heads, 10,000 officials from 174 countries, and 6,000 journalists. The BBC team alone could top 100. Twenty UN bodies will be represented. A second parallel conference, comprising a kaleidoscope of lobbyists from ornithologists to oil magnates, has already received 15,000 registrations. Sustaining the whole caboodle will be 27,000 police, who may well be relieved that George W Bush is unlikely to attend.
Auden's Unknown Citizen might well ask: "What on earth is it all about?" The answer is, an empty phrase that Humpty Dumpty could employ to mean anything. "Sustainable development" was born out of the Green agenda of the 1970s and 1980s, including such apocalyptic constructs as the population timebomb and limits to growth, both of which proved false.
It received an initial airing in the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987, but gained hegemony during the UN Conference on Environment and Development, held at Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Rio generated a programme, Agenda 21, for implementing sustainable development throughout the world. The Johannesburg jamboree is effectively Rio+10, a push for a revitalised and integrated UN system for sustainable development.

David O´Sullivan - The life of a top EU bureaucrat

David O´Sullivan, the Irish born Chief Operating Officer of  the European External Action Service, is the quintessential succesful EU bureaucrat:

  • Director General for Trade, European Commission, 2005-2010
  • Secretary General of the European Commission, 2000-2005
  • Head of Cabinet of Romando Prodi, President of the European Commission, 1999-2000
  • Director-General DGXXII - Educations, Training and Youth, 0271999-05/1999
  • Director DGV/G Employment and Social Affairs - responsible for the management of resources, 1998-1999
  • Director DG V/B Employment and Social Affairs - responsible for policy coordination, the European Social Fund, 1996-1998
  • Member - and from December 1994 - Deputy Head of Cabinet to Commissioner Padraig Flynn responsible for employment policy, the social dialogue and labour law, 1993-1996
  • Head of Unit, Task force for Human Resources, Education, Youth and Training (Now DG EAC) responsible for the COMETT and TEMPUS programmes, and coordination of training assistance to Central and Eastern Europe, 1989-1992
  • Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Peter Sutherland, responsible for Social Affairs and Relations with the European Parliament, 1985-1989
  • First Secretary (Economic and Commercial), Delegation of the European Commission in Japan, 1981-1985
  • European Commission, Brussels (Directorate General for External Relations), 1979-1981
No wonder, that Mr. O´Sullivan has had a remarkable EU career. He appears to be an intelligent, soft speaking official, who after more than 30 years as an EU bureaucrat never fails to toe the official line - and above all, never publicly expresses any personal views about anything of importance. And never, ever says a critical word about his bosses. Those are some of the essential qualities necessary for reaching the top posts in the massive EU hieararchy. If you are prepared to sacrify your own freedom of action in this way, the reward is a Brussels life in luxury and retirement benefits that few people can even dream of. (Just as an example: Right now, there are 150 Latvians working in the EU Commission, who earn 50% more than their Prime Minister!).

The problem with the eurocrats is, that they live a priveleged life in a closed Brussels elite society, without contacts with the real world of ordinary people. Many of the more honest eurocrats even think that they actually are doing something useful - a feeling that makes it easier for them to pretend that they actually deserve all the extraordinary benefits.

Here are some of the "highlights" of the EU´Observer´s interview" with O´Sullivan:

"At the end of the day, it's the member states that decide whether they want to speak with one voice, and there are moments when there are divergences,"

"The high representative has difficulty expressing a common European view if one doesn't exist."

"It is our hope that the service will facilitate this process … we cannot at the end of the day change fundamental disagreements between member states," he said.

Mr. O´Sullivans answers are, of course, an easy way to reply to the critics of the unnecessary and wasteful new External Action Service: Blame the failure on unspecified member countries, and then just go on expanding the "service" there is no real need for. The most urgent matter for this bureaucrat is now, how to organise the move of his 1500 fellow bureacrats to a brand new building - with room for an even larger number of  well paid colleagues in the near future ....

Poland must not let the EU destroy its shale gas future

US President Barack Obana will discuss the importance of Poland's shale gas deposits for Europe's energy security during his two-day visit to Poland, starting on May 27. One must hope that Poland uses the meeting with Obama to strongly point out to that it will not accept any moves by the European Union to try to prevent it from investing in shale gas. Polish media have recently reported that there are strong forces within the EU - particularly in France and Germany - which would like to impose a Europe wide moratorium on shale gas exploration:

French deputies' Wednesday decision to ban hydraulic fracturing, a key method used in shale gas extraction, has raised fears that the European Union may create regulations that will put an end on Poland's shale gas dreams.
Maciej Kaliski, head of the department of oil and gas in the Ministry of Economy told Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that Poland will not have many allies, as there are influential groups in Brussels which want to restrict the development of shale gas in Europe.
According to geologist Jan Krason, a strong nuclear lobby and Russian gas supplier Gazprom stand behind the French ban, DGP reports.
"Some 80 percent of energy in France comes from nuclear sources. Shale gas poses competition for their energy sector," he told the newspaper.
Meanwhile, Poland wants shale gas extraction to be a common European project and intends to promote this source of energy during its presidency of the EU. The issue is also to be discussed during president Barack Obama's visit to Poland on May 27.

Read the entire article here

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Strauss-Kahn - the $3000 a night suite official

"Life is Magnifique" at the New York Sofitel!

The serious accusations against the IMF´s French chief  Dominique Strauss-Kahn will be dealt with by a court in New York in due time. We will have to wait for the outcome of the proceedings.

However, the arrest of  Strauss-Kahn raises at least one other question:  According to the New York Police spokesman Paul Browne the IMF boss spent the night in a luxurious hotel suite costing $3000 per night.

If a wealthy person chooses to spend the night in luxury, it is of course his or her own choice, which I have no objections to. But when the boss of a taxpayer funded organisation, like the IMF, makes the same choice while travelling on behalf of his organisation, we have a totally different ballgame. What makes Strauss-Kahn´s behaviour even more disgusting is that he has has for years now been forcing crisis countries to accept huge austerity packages, which have dealt hard blows to their already suffering citizens.

And M. Strauss-Kahn´s behaviour is just a tip of the iceberg. The top bureaucrats of all major international organisations - including the European Union - are all enjoying a life in luxury, out of sight of ordinary people, who as taxpayers end up paying for it all. No wonder that these bureaucrats use every opportunity to increase the powers of their organisations - usually they do it by hiding their actual agenda behind lofty, idealistic sounding speeches about the need for more "integration" and "closer cooperation". Most mainsteam media journalists know about this, but they almost never write about it, because they are afraid of  being ostrasized (and thus unable to get any "background" information from the bureaucrats and politicians).

It is time for honest people to start putting an end to this taxpayer funded gravy train and demand journalists and newspapers to do their job!

Arrest of French IMF chief Strauss-Kahn throws euro rescue into disarray

The arrest of the French IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn throws further euro rescue efforts into disarray:

Mr. Strauss-Kahn was arrested Saturday in New York for an alleged sexual assault of a maid in a Manhattan hotel, authorities said. According to a law enforcement official, Mr. Strauss-Kahn allegedly forced a cleaning woman onto his bed and sexually assaulted her at around 1 p.m. Saturday inside his room at the Sofitel Hotel near Times Square.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, was headed to Europe to discuss the worsening European debt crisis with top leaders there. He was scheduled to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday and financial ministers in the Euro Group on Monday and Tuesday.

Read the entire article here

This is not the first time Strauss-Kahn is in trouble. New York Times in 1999:

Rising Star in French Cabinet Falls in a Corruption Inquiry

Last week, the Paris prosecutor's office gave a green light for an investigation of Mr. Strauss-Kahn for fraud in his role as a lawyer in a property deal in the mid-1990's.

According to several newspaper reports, the investigation centers on accusations that Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 50, was paid about $100,000 for the deal but did no work. There are also accusations that documents were forged to justify the payments.

And this in 2008:

In October 2008, Strauss-Kahn issued an apology to the IMF staff after accusations that he had a sexual relationship with an IMF subordinate.  
"While this incident constituted an error in judgment on my part, for which I take full responsibility, I firmly believe that I have not abused my position," Strauss-Kahn wrote in an email to IMF staff.  

And this:

"Like all great political animals, he has trouble controlling himself," says the writer, who has produced Les secrets d'un présidentiable (Secrets of a Presidential Contender) under the pseudonym, Cassandre. She describes Strauss-Kahn - or DSK as the high-profile Socialist politician is known to the French media - as "always on the hunt".
When he enters a room, whether a café and office or a private place, the ritual is always the same, she says. He surveys the room for attractive women and having spotted his prey, bombards them with text messages, usually with the opener: "I want you".
Given the evidence of some women who spoke to the writer for her book, this is very possible.
One of them, a novelist called Tristane Banon, claims she had to fight DSK off with kicks and punches when he invited her to a meeting, while the actress Danielle Evenou said: "Who hasn't been cornered by Dominique Strauss-Kahn?"


It has also been widely believed that Strass-Kahn had ambitions to run in the coming French presidential elections. It can now be said with certainty that the French socialist party has to find another candidate. And it also obvious that IMF will have to find a new chief. This time Mr. Strauss-Kahn´s influential European friends will not be able to rescue him.

The end of Strauss-Kahn´s international activities will be an additional bonus for climate change realists, too. After all, he was the person who introduced the stupid idea of a 100 billion dollar  "Greend fund" money transfer to developing countries:

"IMF staff is working on the idea of a “Green Fund” with the capacity to raise $100 billion a year by 2020"

"Much of this financing should come as grants or highly-concessional loans. For this, we need subsidies. Ultimately, these will have to come as budgetary transfers from developed countries, drawing on scaled-up carbon taxes and expanded carbon trading mechanisms. But these new revenue sources will take time to put in place. So we need an interim solution. A “Green Fund” could provide a mechanism that could act as a bridge to large-scale carbon-based financing in the medium term. And IMF quotas could provide a key for burden sharing, to help overcome one of the obstacles to an agreement."