Saturday, 10 December 2011

David Pryce-Jones: It is common knowledge that Putin has stolen an immense fortune

David Pryce-Jones´s take on Russia´s de facto dictator is worth reading:

The demonstrations in Moscow illuminate a dark sky like a flash of lightning. A storm might be on its way. Vladimir Putin has corrupted the country and thousands of outraged Russians are prepared to take to the streets in protest. More than just a reactionary, Putin is a throwback who in a process as inexorable as it is tragic has built what can only be called the post-modern version of Communism. In the manner of the old Soviet Central Committee, he and his cronies have made sure to monopolize power and wealth, those two engines of the Kremlin.
It is common knowledge that Putin has stolen an immense fortune, and has the state building him palaces and amassing collections of art for him. He has cut down freedom of speech to the point where it is virtually non-existent. It is taken for granted that he authorised the murder of anyone standing in his way, many of them journalists like Anna Politkovskaya or dissident exiles like Alexander Litvinenko. The way he bankrupted, imprisoned and arbitrarily extended the massive sentence of the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky is perhaps the greatest running scandal anywhere on the continent. Press-ganged, the judiciary has no independence. Grigory Yavlinsky, a possible future democratic leader, comments bleakly about these demonstrations that in Russia, “There is no rule of law.”

Read the entire article here

The "Great Power" speaks

A German journalist, writing in Der Spiegel, spells it out:

The euro crisis has exposed a kind of creative momentum that is in the process of creating something new. A new Europe. It is an entity which Chancellor Angela Merkel calls a "fiscal union." But in reality, Europe is on the path toward becoming a federal country. Germany and France would lead, as became clear on Thursday night in Brussels.

What Herr Nellas really means, is that Germany will lead (France is mentioned as "co-leader" only to make it look that Germany is not the sole leader).

And looking at the world from the viewpoint of the new and mighty "great power", there is not much room for minor countries like the UK:

Europe, though, can work fine without the British. But what kind of future does Great Britain have without the Continent and without the euro? Will it, in the future, focus exclusively on its alliance with the United States? Will the Commonwealth become a greater priority? What is this small country's role in a world made up great powers such as China, Russia, Europe and the US?

Of course it would be nice if the peoples of the EU membes states would be given a chance to say whether they want to be part of this new "great power". But that is apparently not part of of the script.

It no surprise that Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of European Studies, Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow and Honorary Chair of the European Studies Centre at Oxford, welcomes a Europe led by Germany:

Welcome to a German Europe. In return, there are more funds for bailouts and at least a hint that the European Central Bank (ECB) will intervene more actively in the markets. Germany picks up the tab. On paper, that adds up to a big step towards a fiscal and transfer union for the current members of the eurozone, and eight others committed to join it in future. It's a step from the confederal towards the federal.

Consequently, the professor thinks that Cameron´s decision is bad for Britain:

Cameron's "no" is not just a fateful moment for these islands. It's a bad moment for Europe.


Yes, another - more wellknown - German shared Herr Nellas´s view on small states:

"The day of small States is past. . .

The world according to EU´s Connie Hedegaard

The European Union is apparantly too small for its überwarmist, former Danish journalist Connie Hedegaard. Now she thinks that she speaks for the entire world:

China, the US and India are the three remaining major economies that have yet to make clear signals on the EU proposal, which is a roadmap to begin negotiations on a new legally binding treaty on global warming that would kick in from 2020.
Hedegaard told the conference: "We need to get them on board today – we don't have many hours left. The world is waiting for them."

Friday, 9 December 2011

A tribute to the High Representatives of the European Union

Today this blog pays tribute to the tireless High Representatives of the European Union, who - shoulder to shoulder with democratically elected political leaders - once again have saved the euro, and indeed the future of the entire Union.

There are many of you who should be thanked for your unselfish daily toil, sacrificing quality time with families and friends in order to bring all of us stability, success and peace of mind.

Today, may the President of the European Union, Mr. Herman van Rompuy symbolise all of you:

Durban COP 17: A fake "road map leading nowhere" in the making?

The warmists at the Durban COP 17 are desperately trying to agree some kind of a fake "road map" which is then branded a "great success":

The European Union said it was encouraged its "road map" to legally binding commitments by 2015 to cut greenhouse gas emissions was gaining traction at the talks, which are due to wrap up in the South African port of Durban on Friday.

However an "EU source, speaking on condition of anonymity" was prepared to tell the truth about the US negotiators:

"They can agree to a road map leading nowhere but not a road map leading to a legally binding deal, which is what the EU wants"

The EU source of course knows that the US Congress will oppose any kind of binding deal.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Former maoist Barroso again lectures democratically elected leaders

One of the European Union´s two - soon to be three - unelected "presidents", former Portuguese maoist José Barroso today once again showed his arrogance and utter contempt for democratically elected leaders:


Barroso, who once called the EU an empire, appears to think that he is some kind of a mini-emperor with the right to rebuke democratically elected heads of state and government. It is hight time that somebody finally tells him to shut up.

Quote of the week

"Corporations don't exist without people and without the planet."

Beatriz Perez, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, The Coca-Cola Company
(At COP 17 side event in Durban)

"In Praise of Euroskeptics"

Robert Taylor´s "In Praise of Euroskeptics" is definitevely recommended reading:

Euroskeptics have been through it, both in Britain and elsewhere. The haughty laughter, the insults, the patronizing comments, like "little Englander," suggesting both stupidity and insularity. Despite the fact, or perhaps because, Margaret Thatcher was the biggest and most famous euroskeptic of the lot, "euroenthusiasts," among them Tony Blair, took every opportunity to suggest that our argument was based on emotion rather than reason.
In fact the reverse was true. Euroskeptics realized that it was crazy to have a single exchange rate and interest rate applied to somewhere as massive and diverse as the European Union. For unlike Americans we Europeans share no common loyalty to our Union. There is no sense of European nation, and therefore no intrinsic acceptance that our own countries within the Union should be prepared to accept economic hardship for the wider good. Quite the reverse; each country is in it precisely for what it can get out.
To ignore this self-evident reality was Europe's big mistake, even if it took more than a decade to show just how big. Simply, economic union requires political union. And you can't sustain that without the will of the people.

But there is the prospect of an even bigger crisis, if the EU leaders decide to "save" the euro:

Now European leaders are poised to decide whether to forge fiscal as well as monetary union. If they do so, thereby saving the euro, the world will no doubt sigh with relief as short-term catastrophe is avoided.
Yet celebration might be premature. The drive towards ever-closer union has already caused one crisis. The next could be even worse.

Read the entire article here

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Yet another president for the EU?

Merkozy´s letter to "president" van Rompuy is now public and discussed by various pundits. My only comment relates to the the paragraph in the latter that is called "A strengthened institutional architecture".

• Regular summits – at least twice a year - of the Euro area heads of State and Government with a permanent president. These summits will provide strategic orientations on the economic and fiscal policies in the euro area. The impact of our domestic economic and fiscal policies on the euro area should be considered as a matter of common interest, while safeguarding national responsibility.

That means that the European Union (or at least the eurozone) will have yet another permanent president (presumably with a huge staff to assist him - and maybe also a new building to house it). What a wonderfully creative and totally unexpected solution! Although I am not certain that haiku Herman and his colleague, the former maoist Barroso will be thrilled by the prospect of yet another rival arriving on the scene.  

The European Union in Durban

The European Union is, as expected, contributing significantly to make the Durban COP 17 climate change jamboree a success - for airlines offering first and business class flights and the Durban luxury hotels. Nobody will probably know exactly how many official EU climate tourists delegates are finally to join the mega beach party, but we could well be talking about hundreds.

The European Parliament already has a delegation of 15 MEP:s (plus a number of assistants) in Durban, led by the German social democrat Jo Leinen:

Delegation members

Chair Jo Leinen (S&D, DE), Vice-chair Karl-Heinz Florenz (EPP, DE), Kriton Arsenis (S&D, EL), Bairbre De Brún (GUE/NGL, UK), Pilar Del Castillo (EPP, ES), Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA, NL), Elisabetta Gardini (EPP, IT), Dan Jørgensen (S&D, DK), Corinne Lepage (ALDE, FR), Vladko Panayotov (ALDE, BG), Anna Rosbach (ECR, DK), Oreste Rossi (EFD, IT), Richard Seeber (EPP, AT), Francisco Sosa Wagner (unattached, ES) and Marita Ulvskog (S&D, SE)

The MEP:s will certainly have excellent opportunities to enjoy "side events" on the beach - their official Durban schedule does not appear to be overwhelming:

In their Durban programme, MEPs will discuss negotiations with the Commission and Polish Presidency, meet counterparts from other parliaments (Japan, South Africa and Mexico), as well as local and international NGO representatives.  

  The taxpayers of Europe wish the European Parliament delegation a nice stay in Durban! Don´t forget the sun tan lotion!


Fighting "climate change" in Papua New Guinea - courtesy of Australian taxpayers

The European Union, the US and many other governments are spending millions and millions of euros and dollars on "fighting climate change" in many of the world´s poor areas. Here is an example of what has been achieved, in this case through the generosity of the Australian taxpayers (via AUSaid):

The playing and singing is not at all bad, but hopefully the AUSaid team will provide the group with some more interesting lyrics  ...
How about e.g. Waltzing Matilda?

China´s communist rulers trying to find "a complete mechanism for social management" against protests

The number of strikes and protests are increasing in China, and the countries communist rulers do not seem to know what to do. So far their main approach to the growing problem has been the usual one - ordering the country´s wast security machinery to clamp down on the protesters by using force. The corrupted ruling elite may succeed in this for a while, but when the number of protests keeps growing, the likelyhood that the rulers will find "a complete mechanism for social management,” is not very great .....

Tens of thousands of factory workers in southern Guangdong province employed in the footwear, garment, watchmaking, furniture and electronics industries have taken strike action in recent weeks. Public and municipal sector workers have also taken strike action in Nanjing (public sanitation workers) and Shanghai (public hospital staff). In the Sichuan capital, Chengdu, several hundred state-owned enterprise (SOE) workers staged a three-day (28-30 November) sit-in protest over a share distribution plan following privatisation of the factory.

Around 100 staff blocked and barricaded a supermarket owned by British chain Tesco in the Zhejiang city of Jinhua. The store is to close and workers are fighting for unpaid wages. Bus drivers and taxi drivers have been involved in separate stoppages over low pay and unfair competition in Shandong, Hainan and Guangxi provinces.

Some recent strikes “showed a new level of sophistication” according to Geoffrey Crothall, a commentator for the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin. A good example of this is the coordinated one-day strike by several thousand workers at five of PepsiCo’s 24 plants. The workers – at factories in Chongqing, Chengdu, Fuzhou, Lanzhou and Nanchang – protested last month at PepsiCo’s decision to sell its China arm to Taiwanese-owned Tingyi, fearing that existing terms and conditions of work will be undermined by the deal.

PepsiCo workers made use of weibo micro-blogging sites to publicise their dispute, again underlining a high degree of planning and coordination, which is sorely needed in the struggle for workers’ rights in China. So afraid were the authorities of this example, that ‘Pepsi’ was added to the list of blocked words on internet search engines.

Police and local government officials have generally taken a tough line towards recent disputes, as in the case of the Hi-P strike in Shanghai. Ten workers at the huge Yucheng shoe factory in Dongguan were injured when police cracked down on a protest march involving thousands last month (see:
Upsurge of strikes in southern China).

The recent upturn in strikes has sounded alarm bells within the summits of the ‘communist’ dictatorship. Zhou Yongkang, China’s top security official, warned earlier this week about the spectre of social unrest arising due to the state of the economy.

“Especially when facing the negative effects of the market economy, we still have not formed a complete mechanism for social management,” Zhou said. How to do so, he said, “is the great and urgent task before us.”

Read the entire article here
(The site is not exactly my cup of tea, but on this subject I think their reporting is sound)

The euro crisis: Waiting for December 9

While we are waiting for yet another "summit" - the one on December 9 - in the endless line of EU crisis meetings, I thought it might be interesting to highlight these two interesting comments:

D.K. Matai writing in the Market Oracle:

Germany's Next Move

Dr Merkel also wants to rewrite the euro rulebook by reopening the Lisbon Treaty, meaning a negotiation amongst all 27 EU states that would also involve the European parliament and the European commission. Given the enormous complexity of this proposed reformation, coupled with the existential crisis of the Eurozone at present, this would suggest that the entire process may not be achieved in time to save the euro and is therefore utterly implausible. Given the German reputation for "gründlichkeit" or thoroughness, is Germany really preparing for something else? Is all of this just a big red herring? Reliable media sources have already published reports that Germany has contingency plans in place to exit the Eurozone quickly and resurrect the Deutschemark including the issuance of paper currency.

Designed to Fail

Many distinguished members of the ATCA 5000 have expressed grave reservations in private in regard to the solidity, viability and sincerity of the German proposals because they appear at one level to be designed to fail. The failure of adoption of the German plans across the Eurozone member nations could feasibly be construed by Germany as a justification for their exit. As a result, Germany could attempt to abandon the euro and resurrect the Deutschemark without incurring blame. They could even turn around and claim that they have clean hands and it was a fault of the weaker members of the Eurozone that various nations refused to participate in full financial integration that would have paved the way to save the Eurozone. Thus, all blame could be cast on the weaker members of the Eurozone.

We will have to wait and see, but I think the above scenario has something to it. What you see is in politics often not what you will get.

Russ Roberts on Cafe Hajek also has a good point:

On my exercise bike at the gym the other day, I caught a snippet of the Stuart Varney Show. Three guests were discussing the European crisis. John Stossel argued for letting market forces work–if I remember correctly, he wanted those banks that had lent money to Greece and Italy and Spain to bear costs, possibly severe costs like losing their money. One of the guests (I don’t know who it was) strongly disagreed. His argument was that Stossel’s solution would lead to the apocalypse. That was his argument. We risked the end of civilization–banks could go broke leading to a depression and then we’d all be worse off. Varney agreed. Stossel’s idea of market discipline was simply too dangerous.
Stossel gave a good answer. He said but what if we get the apocalypse anyway? Maybe all we’re doing is kicking the can down the road and making the reckoning even worse than it otherwise would be. His answer is made more powerful by recent history. In 2008, we rescued the creditors relentlessly that helped pave the way for this crisis. What will the next one look like?
I have a different problem with the apocalypse argument. How do you know if it’s true? Where’s the evidence that letting banks lose some, or most or even all of the money they unwisely lent or invested in bonds is going to lead to a disaster? Where are the data that make this claim credible other than a bald assertion?
But I have an even bigger problem with the apocalypse argument. If the threat of banks taking a haircut risks the apocalypse then we may as well admit the game is over. Just give the banks our wallets and checkbooks and go home. It’s the end of capitalism and the end of democracy. I’d prefer an apocalypse.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The beginning of the end for Putin

More and more Russians have had enough of Vladimir Putin´s corrupted regime of thugs. Putin has answered in the same way as all dictators - by arresting peaceful demonstrators:

Russian riot police have arrested hundreds of activists in central Moscow to stop a new protest alleging that elections were rigged in favour of Vladimir Putin's ruling party.
Helmeted police in green camouflage and interior ministry troops deployed in force for an event that was organised through the internet after a rare thousands-strong protest on Monday startled the authorities.
Opposition supporters shouted "Shame on you fascists" and "Russia without Putin" in a tense stand-off with hundreds of pro-Kremlin youth who descended on the site in advance.

Read the entire article here

Putin should know - and he probably does know - that this the beginning of the end of his regime. He may be able to stay on for a while with the help of his corrupted and brutal security machinery, but sooner or later he will be forced out.


US senator John McCain, a leading critic of Putin, today tweeted this (according to FT):

 “Dear Vlad [prime minister Vladimir Putin], the Arab spring is coming to a neighbourhood near you”.

And this is the prediction of Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:

"Putin´s system is disintegrating with frightening speed. My guess is that it won´t survive until the next elections."

Is there global warming on the "new Earth"?

NASA has found a "new Earth":

A newly discovered planet is eerily similar to Earth and is sitting outside our solar system in what seems to be the ideal place for life, except for one hitch. It’s a bit too big.
The planet is smack in the middle of what astronomers call the Goldilocks zone, that hard to find place that’s not too hot, not too cold, where water, which is essential for life, doesn’t freeze or boil. And it has a shopping mall-like surface temperature of near 72 degrees, scientists say.

The new planet — named Kepler-22b — has key aspects it shares with Earth. It circles a star that could be the twin of our sun and at just about the same distance. The planet’s year of 290 days is even close to ours. It likely has water and rock.
The planet is 600 light years away. Each light year is 5.9 trillion miles. It would take a space shuttle about 22 million years to get there.

Read the entire article here


Congrulations to NASA. Hopefully NASA did not use James Hansen to measure the "shopping mall-like temperature of near 72". On the other hand, we would all benefit if Hansen from now on would switch to fighting "global warming" on Kepler-22b.

Less than 10% of the Swedes want the euro

Sweden is not going to join the euro countries anytime soon, that´s for sure. Less than 10% of the Swedes think that their country should adopt the crisis-ridden European currency, according to a new opinion poll. This is a record low, according to the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet.

Anybody surprised?

Durban COP 17: In praise of India

"India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all".

Will Durant

The Independent reports from Durban that India is now the leading opponent of a "new comprehensive global-warming treaty":

The Indians are refusing to approve anything that might put a brake on their economy, now expanding with growth in 2010 estimated at 10.4 per cent. Its carbon emissions are growing at more than 9 per cent a year, the fastest of any major nation, and the country has shot up to become the world's third biggest carbon emitter, after China and the US.

But the Indians are relying on this growth to take hundreds of millions of their nearly 1.2 billion people out of poverty and they want nothing to do with curbing these emissions.

Instead, along with some other emerging economies, India is seeking a renewal of the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 climate agreement due to run out next year under which Western industrialised countries agreed to make reductions in their emissions of greenhouse gases, while developing countries such as China and India had no obligations to make cuts at all.

India has to be congrutaled for its wise policy. That India supports a renewal of the Kyoto Protocol is not surprising, either. Why should India - and other developing countries - want to oppose this self-inflicted madness that is seriously hurting the economies of its competitors, the western industrialised countries?

(image by Wikipedia)

Monday, 5 December 2011

The new Libya "wildly ambitious" in Durban

Flashback 2007:

The Libyan government has announced the creation of what it claims is "the world’s first sustainable region". It’s backed by architects Foster and Partners, enthusiastically endorsed by Sir Nicholas Stern – and directed by the Colonel’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.
The Green Mountain Conservation and Development Authority (GMCDA) will cover the northeastern region of Jabal al Akhdar (literally, ‘Green Mountain’). This encompasses several of the country’s major cities, including Benghazi, and stretches from the coast inland to a plateau featuring junipers, cypresses and wild olives. According to Norman Foster, it’s "one of the most beautiful and little known landscapes on earth"…
Sir Nicholas Stern… has given his blessing: "If we are to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change… we need urgently to build new economic and social models of development on a substantial scale. The GMCDA will show how environmental and cultural objectives can help to build a thriving and sustainable local economy in a crucial part of the world." Among other organisations involved are UNESCO, WWF and the Prince of Wales School of Traditional Arts.

Luckily, madman Gaddafi and his sons have been replaced by other people. But whether this new Libyan "project" is much more realistic than the 2007 undertaking, remains to be seen:

Libya is wildly ambitious and clearly already trying to revolutionise thinking on climate change and science. It plans a monster geoengineering project that would not just cool the Earth by 6C and cut carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2021, it says, but would reverse global warming, provide power for 2 billion people, lower sea levels and restore the climate of 1750. Wow. How, you ask? Easily, says Muftah Elarbash, who describes himself as a Libyan environmental engineer who is on the delegation. He wants to build, at a cost of around $45 trillion, several dozen giant, 15km wide "venting towers" to create constant winds in the desert to drive massive windfarms which would then electrify the world. "Once that is done the maximum ambient temperature of 26.2C will be reached in 2020 - 6C below the catastrophic threshold temperature of 32". He reckons that by 2080 the climate will be back to that seen in 1750.

Read the entire article here


I would not be surprised if  the Prince of Wales and Sir Nicholas Stern would lend their support also to this new Libyan fantasy project.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

A tale of two Chinas

A tale of two Chinas:

             The "secret" behind German and other luxury brands´ extraordinary export success in China?

The other side of the coin
Commentary 1:

China’s consumption of luxury goods is on the rise, amounting to $10.7 billion or 25 percent of the global luxury market.
Wang Ning, a professor of sociology at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangdong Province told Sound of Hope Radio that he sees China’s luxury consumption as part of a black market, because the sources of the income used for such purchases are not transparent and do not come from legal sources.
“In the Chinese power cycle, one’s authority is evaluated by the gifts one receives,” the sociologist Wang told Guangzhou Daily. “Louis Vuitton is the most recognizable luxury brand in China and thus becomes the symbol of authority.”
In China, if one wants to climb the corporate ladder, one must kowtow to one’s supervisor. If one wants to do business, one must have support from state officials. Businesses bribing state officials and businesses conspiring with officials have become very common.
East China Normal University law professor Dai Keting told Oriental Outlook magazine that corrupt officials are not only the end consumers but also the driving force of luxury goods consumption in China.
In recent years, many reports about corrupt officials have listed the luxury brands they have received as bribes. A reporter from Legal Evening News did a survey of 100 local bribery cases between 2005 and 2007 and found that small luxury goods, followed by cars and houses, are among the most popular bribes.
In 2008, the former Director of Fushun City’s Land Planning Bureau Jiang Runli was charged with corruption. It was discovered that 55-year-old Jiang owned six different pieces of real estate, 253 different luxury handbags, 1,246 items of designer clothing, over 600 pieces of jewelry, and 48 luxury watches.

Read the entire article here

Commentary 2:

Rich Chinese buy cars for cash and want to have all the luxury goods that they can get. Therefore, China is now the third largest market for e.g. Daimler – a company which is included in more of Danske Invest’s European portfolios.
When the Chinese who can afford expensive cars are buying a new Mercedes, they to not hold back. They want the luxury version with the largest motor together with all the extra equipment that they can get – and when it comes to that, they are different from the more “modest” car buyers in Europe and the USA.

Within a very short period of time, China has become the third largest market for German car producers. And the most profitable market. This is so precisely because the cars are sold in the most expensive versions here.

“Both Mercedes and BMW are experiencing increasing sales in China. During the first half of 2011, the Chinese have bought approx. 50% more Mercedes cars than during the first half year 2010," says Asger Lund Nielsen from Danske Capital. He is providing investment advice for Danske Invest on European car stocks. In his view, China will become an even larger market for e.g. Daimler - who stands behind the Mercedes-brand - in step with the increasing number of wealthy Chinese.

Read the entire article here


China´s luxury consumtion - "part of a black market, because the sources of the income used for such purchases are not transparent and do not come from legal sources" - seems to be a main driver of the German export "miracle".  At the same time China is flooding the West with Christmas decorations, toys and other products made in slave labour camps. 

Not a very pleasant development.