Saturday, 28 May 2011

Human impact of rising sea levels - stunning new report by two sosiologists

Two University of Wisconsin-Madison sosiologists have published a study of the "human impact of rising sea levels". In an online report, which according to EurekAlert will be published in the peer-reviewed journal Population and Environment Katherine Curtis, assistant professor of community and environmental sosiology and her colleague Annemarie Schneider describe their
stunning new findings:

"Not all places and not all people in those places will be impacted equally," says Katherine Curtis, an assistant professor of community and environmental sociology at UW-Madison.
A population's demographic, social, and economic profile affects the ways in which people can respond to local disaster, she adds. For example, children or elderly require a different approach to evacuation and resettlement than a largely working-age population, while workers from the agricultural lands of northern California will face different post-displacement labor challenges than those from the industrial corridor of New Jersey.

Read the entire piece here

The Curtis/Schneider report is groundbreaking in its bold conclusions. Who could have guessed that "not all places and not all people in those places will be impacted equally"! Or that "children or elderly require a different approach"!
However, Curtis and Schneider missed one thing: the oceans are not rising.

Putin on Blatter, Berlusconi and Strauss-Kahn

MOSCOW (AP)—Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has cast his support behind FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who is facing an investigation as part of bribery scandal.
Putin dismissed the charges against Blatter as “complete nonsense” in Friday’s comments carried by Russian news agencies.

Read the entire article here

Moscow - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday said he had substantial doubts that the sexual assault of a hotel maid allegedly by the former IMF chief occurred as has been reported in international media.

Read the entire article here

"Our friend Silvio Berlusconi is interested not only girls but also deals with concrete things", said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Bryansk region of his party, United Russia,

Read the entire article here

The rite of mafia initiation establishes not only a status as "man of honor", but also a ritual kinship, an almost religious communion (p. 76), that creates obligations of correctness and solidarity vis-à-vis the other members of the same mafia family and in principle also to all other mafia brothers (p. 81).
Mafia Brotherhoods: Organized Crime, Italian Style
Letizia Paoli

Oxford University Press, 2003

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Friday, 27 May 2011

Celebrating the variety of EU funding (by taxpayers): An urban parade laboratory

The scale and variety of European Union taxpayer funded projects is mindboggling. Regrettably the taxpayers themselves often do not seem to be aware of the richness on offer. This blog wants to make a small contribution towards redressing the problem by highlighting some of the past and present taxpayer funded EU projects.

The first one in this new series is a cultural project:

An urban
parade laboratory

Cultural organisations in the cities
of Belfast, Bologna, and Brussels
worked together during two years
to share and develop their reflections
and skills in carnival and
festival parades.

Myriam Stoffen, the lead organiser, who works with Zinneke in Bussels,
explains how the project brought new visions to the participants:
‘For all of us, organisations, artists, participants, this was a fascinating and
enriching project, full of passion.

More information here

These videos show "higlights" of the project, which EU taxpayers funded with 100 000 euros:  

The videos, which alse were part of the project, were called "Why, why, why not?!" A fitting name - without the not.  A free tip to the organisers of the next Urban Parade Laboratory: Adding the words "climate change" to the grant application will guarantee you at least double EU funding, probably more!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The European Central Bank - "a dumping ground for bad loans"

German Der Spiegel reveals the sad truth: The European Central Bank has become a dumping ground for bad loans:

While Europe is preoccupied with a possible restructuring of Greece's debt, huge risks lurk elsewhere -- in the balance sheet of the European Central Bank. The guardian of the single currency has taken on billions of euros worth of risky securities as collateral for loans to shore up the banks of struggling nations.
Since the beginning of the financial crisis, banks in countries like Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece have unloaded risks amounting to several hundred billion euros with central banks. The central banks have distributed large sums to their countries' financial institutions to prevent them from collapsing. They have accepted securities as collateral, many of which are -- to put it mildly -- not particularly valuable.
These risks are now on the ECB's books because the central banks of the euro countries are not autonomous but, rather, part of the ECB system. When banks in Ireland go bankrupt and their securities aren't worth enough, the euro countries must collectively account for the loss. Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, provides 27 percent of the ECB's capital, which means that it would have to pay for more than a quarter of all losses.
For 2010 and the two ensuing years, the Bundesbank has already decided to establish reserves for a total of €4.9 billion ($7 billion) to cover possible risks. The failure of a country like Greece, which would almost inevitably lead to the bankruptcy of a few Greek banks, would increase the bill dramatically, because the ECB is believed to have purchased Greek government bonds for €47 billion. Besides, by the end of April, the ECB had spent about €90 billion on refinancing Greek banks.
Former Bundesbank President Axel Weber criticized the ECB's program of purchasing government bonds issued by ailing euro member states. In the event of a bankruptcy or even a deferred payment, the ECB would be directly affected.
But even greater risks lurk in the accounts of commercial banks. The ECB accepted so-called asset-backed securities (ABS) as collateral. At the beginning of the year, these securities amounted to €480 billion. It was precisely such asset-backed securities that once triggered the real estate crisis in the United States. Now they are weighing on the mood and the balance sheet at the ECB.

No expert can say how the ECB can jettison these securities without dealing a fatal blow to the European banking system. The ECB is in a no-win situation now that it has become an enormous bad bank or, in other words, a dumping ground for bad loans, including ones from Ireland.

Read the entire article here

Without the euro and the European Central Bank, we would not have this kind of a mess, which may lead to a serious weakening of the whole European economy. The common currency was built by a number of European politicians, who intentionally chose to turn a blind a to basic economic realities. They are not anymore around to pay for their huge mistake. As always, the taxpayers will end up paying.

Shale gas revolution: EU spokesman in Moscow sides with Gazprom

Shale gas is going to be a game changer in  European energy politics. The shale gas revolution will end the Russian strangehold on European gas markets. Countries like Poland and Ukraine will never more be dependent on Russian gas.

That is why Poland´s prime minister Donald Tusk and his government are pushing hard to speed up the process:
“I will be engaging myself personally, as the head of the Polish government, in the optimization of conditions for the exploration, research, logistics and the business related to the production of shale gas,”  “It may happen that one of the fruits of this debate will be what’s priceless: a feeling of security and a hope for the future for millions of people….Poles are waiting for this gas.”

Shale gas will also be one of the priorities during the Polish EU presidency during the second half of this year:

Needless to say, Russia and its energy giant Gazprom are - and should be - worried. Its highly paid lobbyists are now working full time in order to put a stop to the European shale gas revolution. Gazprom has e.g. been looking at ways to help to promote the anti-shale film Gasland in Europe.

However, it is clear that Gazprom is not going to succeed, in spite of the fact that France has now made the incredibly stupid decision to ban shale gas exploration.

In a way one can understand that the Russians are trying to lobby against shale gas. But it is more difficult to understand why European Union officials should join them and work against the Polish plans to make shale gas a presidency priority. This is what the spokesman for the European Delegation to Russia
told the Moscow News:

Denis Daniilidis, spokesman for the European Delegation to Moscow, said there was a lack of conviction that shale gas will substantially alter the EU's energy relationship with Moscow.

"We do not share initial enthusiasm that this will bring about sweeping changes," he told The Moscow Times.

One can only wonder, who does this spokesman (Head of the Press and Information Section at the EU Delegation to Russia) think he is? Who has authorized him to speak for the EU on the future of shale gas in Europe? With "we", does he mean e.g. Van Rompuy, Barroso, Baroness Ashton, the European Council, or who? 

Mr. Daniilidis should concentrate on things he has some knowledge about:

(Kazan, 18 March, “Tatar-inform”, Zilya Tyamaeva). On March 26 the gastronomic festival “Taste Europe!” will be held in “Farfor” restaurant (hotel “Korston”). The gastronomic festival is organized in show format: son et lumière, excellent acoustic sound and set of DJ Redisco.
Later on, the head of press and information section of the Delegation of the EU to Russia – Denis Daniilidis will prepare traditional Greek meal - Taramasalata.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

WWF today - Extreme enviro-fundamentalists to be avoided

This is the kind of cute video that the WWF likes to use in order get donations from unsuspecting people

There are still quite a few people who remember the WWF as a benevolent panda-faced organisation trying to do good things for endangered animals. If you still are one of them, you´d better reconsider. The WWF of today is a totally different animal - a bunch of enviro-fundamentalists trying to destroy the lifestyle of ordinary people in the western countries.

Today for example the UK WWF demanded that one of the best things that has happened in recent years for improving the lot of ordinary people in the world - the shale gas revolution - should be stopped!

Shale gas not the answer – it’s a dangerous distraction

And over and above the local environmental issues, the fundamental point is that shale gas is not a solution to our energy requirements - it’s a dangerous distraction. We need to decarbonise our entire energy system, not increase reliance on fossil fuels.
As head of our climate team, Keith Allott, says: “Chasing after risky and hard-to-get fossil fuels like shale gas, tar sands or drilling for oil in the Arctic may seriously undermine the move towards renewables - which is the only effective and sustainable solution to our energy challenges

What the WWF is working for is described in their website:

Globally, people are using about 25% more natural resources than the planet can replace. In the UK, we’re consuming three times our fair share of the planet’s natural resources. We face an ‘ecological overshoot’ that will have severe consequences for both people and nature unless we humans change the way we live.

Although advances in technology have helped people to produce things more efficiently, the benefits have been swamped by ever-higher levels of consumption by affluent Western economies and the growing middle classes in the developing world.

Some 70% of humanity’s global footprint arises from carbon emissions; other pressures are linked to commodities such as crops, meat, fish and wood, and the freshwater we take from rivers and lakes.

WWF is seeking a One Planet Future where both people and nature thrive within their fair share of what’s available. We are developing a range of One Planet sustainability initiatives to support this goal, helping to bring sustainability and equity to production, trade and consumption.

Who are these WWF enviro-fundamentalists to decide how ordinary people should live their lives! Who are they to tell other people what their "fair share" should be! Say no to this bunch of dangerous extremists!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Greenpeace message to CEO:s: Either you do as we say, or .....

 "Corporate sustainability" is the latest fad among CEO:s in the UK, and probably elsewhere, too. The pressure from the government, environmental lobby groups and the mainstream media has become so strong that most business leaders now choose the politically correct green talk in order not to be singled out as villains by Greenpeace and other climate change fanatics.

If you do not toe the Greenpeace line, this is what happens:

Not surprsingly, the "green" climate change ideology has given birth to a wholly new business cathegory: the sustainability recruitment consultancy companies. Companies like Allen & York, a leading international Sustainability Recruitment consultancy, offering jobs in Environment, CSR & Sustainability, Renewable Energy and Carbon Management, are now cashing in on the climate change idiocy.

Allen & York´s "specialist" Victoria Kenrick gives one reason why every company needs a "dedicated" Chief Sustainability Officer; the Cameron government´s "CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme":

In addition, the UK government’s CRC Energy Efficiency scheme which came into effect in 2010 is a mandatory carbon emissions reporting and pricing scheme, with the first report due from organisations, which use more than 6,000MWh per year of electricity, in July 2011. Whilst there has been some controversy about the scheme, it still remains that from 2012, participants will be required to buy allowances from the Government, each year, to cover their emissions in the previous year.
This means that organizations that decrease their emissions can lower their costs under the CRC. Companies better positioned to improve their energy efficiency, and save on CRC costs, will be those with a CSO or Head of Sustainability in place, who is able to oversee energy management, sustainable procurement and corporate social responsibility issues, coupled with implementing accurate carbon reporting.

This is the truth about the Energy Efficiency Scheme:

this economic vandalism is being carried out of the basis of a theory that hypothesises CO2 is causing global warming. There is only correlation, no evidence of causation. The net effect of this smash and grab raid on company bank accounts and the cost of compliance, reporting and administration is an increase in the cost of goods and services to the ordinary consumer in the street.
We have departed from an age of reason and logic and entered an age where a belief system, shown to be a tissue of assertions impervious to evidence, holds sway. The real aim of this concerted effort is financial redistribution and an increase in the power and control of the state over its population. Some argue this is actually the embryonic development of a system of global governance, tied together with a common currency – carbon.

All these consultancies, Chief Sustainability Officers and Heads of Sustainability are of course new "green" jobs. But these are jobs that do not make any real contribution to the efficiency of a company. They are in reality "virtual" jobs, that would not exist without totally useless government  climate change schemes. But for the sake of political correctness, most CEO:s choose to join the bandwaggon. Not a very difficult decision, because they know that, at the end of the day, the consumers and tax payers end up paying for all of it.