Saturday, 2 June 2012

Hillary Clinton hosted by the Arabs of the Arctic

One must admire Norway´s socialist Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his government. They manage to make all the politically correct "progressive" noises about global warming and sustainability while at the same working tirelessly to cash in on the sale of fossil fuels 
from Norway´s territorial waters. 

Thanks to its extensive reserves of petroleum, natural gas and hydropower, Norway now has the fourth highest per capita income in the world. And the billions just keep rolling into the Norwegian coffers. 

The next "big thing" for these Arctic Arabs will be the extensive utilisation of the fossil riches that lie buried under the cold waters of the northernmost areas. But, because there are others who also are competing for access to these abundant energy resources, Mr. Stoltenberg and his  fellow socialists have adopted a clever PR strategy, part of which is to invite foreign leaders and celebrities to the Arctic areas in order to give them a chance to "witness" global warming  - and get the right kind of photo opportunities for the media. ("Progressive" liberal and leftist media always publish these photos showing how concerned the visitors - and the hosts -  are about the urgent need to "fight global warming"). 

The latest climate change tourist in Tromso was US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who before the trip had this to say about her discussions with her Norwegian colleague: 

This morning we spent time on issues in the Arctic, which we certainly will follow up when we get to the Arctic. We touched upon climate change mitigation through supporting initiatives that actually bring difference. The world failed to get to one all-encompassing global deal on climate change a couple of years ago, but we are making progress on some individual projects such as fighting short-lived pollutants that have a dramatic effect in particular in the Arctic. We discussed that with the minister of the environment present, preparation for Rio+20, and other similar issues.

However, in addition to those usual phrases on climate change, the Secretary also was quite clear about where her real interests were - she was there primarily to claim a stake for the US in the scramble for the Arctic riches:  
 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton boarded a research ship on Saturday to tour the Arctic, where big powers are vying for vast deposits of oil, gas and minerals that are becoming available as the polar ice recedes. 
The top U.S. diplomat took the unusual step of visiting Tromso, a Norwegian town in the Arctic Circle, to dramatize U.S. interests in a once inaccessible region whose resources are up for grabs as the sea ice melts with climate change.  
"From a strategic standpoint, the Arctic has an increasing geopolitical importance as countries vie to protect their rights and extend their influence," Clinton told reporters in Oslo before making the nearly two-hour flight north to Tromso. 
The Norwegians know that they need an ally against Russia, their main competitor in the Arctic waters, which is why they are prepared to give a piece of the cake to US companies. This was the real agenda during Hillary Clinton´s visit to Norway. All the talk about climate change and global warming was just window dressing. 

Friday, 1 June 2012

"Spiritual author" compares "denialists" to Holocaust deniers

Truthout is according to Wikipedia a "nonprofit, progressive news organization in the United States that operates a web site and distributes a daily newsletter". The Truthout website has published an article written by Richard Schiffman, who is described as " the author of two biographies as well as a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, The Huffington Post, and on NPR and Monitor Radio."
In the article Schiffman, who maintains that "climate change is now virtually undisputed", joins the people who have condemned the Heartland Institute´s "offensive billboard campaign": 

The science only gets better with time, and climate change is now virtually undisputed - by the people who are doing the science, at any rate. That it remains a "controversial issue" long after the results are in is thanks to a well-funded cabal of free-market think tanks, corporations and business groups that hope to win in the political arena a fight that they have long since lost in the halls of science. They are abetted by a media whose relish for conflict and a scientifically nonsensical sense of supposed "balance" has led them to give the deniers equal airtime.

In May, the Heartland Institute put up a billboard on the Eisenhower Expressway outside of Chicago comparing believers in climate change to the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. A firestorm in the press quickly convinced the Institute to pull the plug on the offensive billboard campaign.

However, Schiffman himself thinks that it is quite OK to compare "denialists" to Holocaust deniers:

But the question remains: why is the media paying any attention to the discredited ideas of the denialists? We don't give Holocaust deniers equal time to vent their noxious views, so why offer it to the climate change deniers?
The analogy might seem far-fetched, but the findings of climate scientists tell us that it is apt. We are facing a potential holocaust for life on earth, which could destroy entire ecosystems, turn productive regions into dust bowls, multiply catastrophic weather events, wipe out a large proportion of the planet's species and cost us more in dollars (not to mention lives) than all the wars in history  combined.

In order to understand what kind of a man this self proclaimed scientific expert is, it is perhaps good to know how Schiffman himself chooses to introduce  himself on his own web page: 

"My name is Richard Schiffman. I am a spiritual author and a former journalist who started writing poetry a few years back."

"Spiritual poetry is an effort to find words for the wordless. As such, it is bound, in one sense, to fail. But, paradoxically, the effort to express the inexpressible can serve as "a finger pointing toward the moon," in the language of zen. That is to say, at its best spiritual poetry brings us to the edge of the Great Mystery in which we live and move."
ears back. I’m glad that I did! For me writing and reading poetry has become a meditation, a way to become reacquainted with my own deeper self. 
My name is Richard Schiffman. I am a spiritual author and a former journalist who started writing poetry a few years back

Rio+20 - The last UN mega conference?

The Rio+20 conference is about to open in Rio de Janeiro on June 20: 

The hype: 

"Rio+20 is everyone's conference, just as it is everyone's planet. Its goals, aspirations and its outcome will belong to all of us. 

Over 135 heads of state and government and up to 50,000 participants, including business executives and civil society representatives, will be present when the conference opens on Jun. 20. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon calls it "one of the most important conferences in U.N. history". 

Sha Zukangsecretary-general of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20

The reality: 

The largest-ever United Nations conference, a summit billed as a historic opportunity to build a greener future, appears to be going up in smoke.
U.S. President Barack Obama likely won't be there, and the leaders of Britain and Germany have bowed out.

And with fewer than six weeks to go until the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, negotiations to produce a final statement have stalled amid squabbling. Logistical snags, too, threaten to derail the event.
The average cost of a room in Rio during the conference has risen to $818 per night, according to a report this week by Agencia Brasil, the state-run news agency. And some hotels are taking advantage of the shortage of accommodations by requiring guests to book for an.  entire week, even if they intend to stay for just three or four nights.

 With a total of 33,000 beds for the estimated 50,000-plus visitors expected to flood the city for the June 20-22 summit, the mayor has resorted to asking residents to leave town and rent out their apartments to delegates.

Brazil will deploy 15,000 security forces for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held here in June, Defense Minister Celso Amorim said on Monday.

According to the plan, the Army and local police forces will patrol the streets, the Air Force and the Navy will patrol airspace and sea, and the Federal Police will be oversee foreign delegates' personal security.

The Army will also be in charge of the security of the People's Summit, a parallel conference to be held in another neighborhood and is expected to gather over 20,000 citizens.


This is the positive scenario: The sheer madness of the entire Rio+20 undertaking could  - and should - make it the last UN mega conference. But, knowing that there are thousands of UN, EU, national and other diplomats and bureaucrats, who´s main occupation is to plan and attend this kind of senseless jamborees (paid for by taxpayers), this hope may be too optimistic. 

Most Rio+20 delegates will be delighted to know that there is at least one place in Rio which will remain free of charge: The Copacabana!

However, if you want to rent a beach chair, be prepared to pay at least five times more than the ordinary R$4.00.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Spain: Adiós to the euro?

The euro endgame is coming closer. The exit of Greece is nothing compared to what will happen if/when Spain is forced to leave the common currency: 
Spain is in the gravest danger since the end of the Franco dictatorship as it is frozen out of capital markets and slides towards a showdown with Europe.
"We're in a situation of total emergency, the worst crisis we have ever lived through" said ex-premier Felipe Gonzalez, the country's elder statesman.
The warning came as yields on Spanish 10-year bonds spiked to 6.7%, pushing the "risk premium" over German Bunds to a post-euro high of 540 basis points.
The IBEX index of stocks in Madrid fell 2.6%, the lowest level since the dotcom bust in 2003.
Chaos over the euros 23.5bn (£18.8bn) rescue of crippled lender Bankia led to the abrupt resignation of central bank governor Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez, who testified to the senate that he had been muzzled to avoid enflaming events as confidence in the country drains away.
Roberts said the collapse in Spanish tax revenues is replicating the pattern in Greece. Fiscal revenues have fallen 4.85 over the past year and VAT returns have slumped 14.6%. Debt service costs have risen by 18%.
The country is caught in a classic deflationary vice: a rising debt burden on a shrinking economic base.
"Once you get into such a negative feedback loop, you can move beyond the point of no return quickly," Roberts said.
Read the entire article here

Al Gore - Once again proven wrong

Al Gore - Once again proven wrong


"Solar and wind energy projects like DESERTEC show that we have the technologies. We just have to start acting!" "This is not pie in the sky – this can be done. We [the USA] need to do it for our own economy."

Al Gore (May 2010)

Reality check:

"There was no surprise when German engineering group Siemens, one of the key promoters of the Desertec solar initiative in North Africa, admitted that the plan is “not yet competitive”. Pressed to say when this ambitious scheme might see the light of day, Berndt Utz, the project’s head, could only promise “certainly by the end of the century”.
As a result, many delegates seemed sceptical that intercontinental electricity distribution, such as that from Africa to Europe planned for Desertec, will see the light of day."
Fortunately Al Gore is not more in a position to make any important policy decisions. Otherwise the US would be in even bigger economic trouble. 

(image by wikipedia)

Angela Merkel and a former (second rate) KGB spy

Der Spiegel reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel tomorrow "will be welcoming a guest whose political career is one she would have liked to see ended years ago. But now he's more powerful than ever."

The guest is of course Vladimir Putin, who´s only German friend right now is probably former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who still maintains that the former second rate KGB spy is a "flawless" democrat. (Putin has thanked Schröder for his support by letting him have a well paid job as chairman of the board for the Russian/German Nord Stream pipeline). 

Merkel had according to Der Spiegel placed her bets on Dmitry Medvedev, whom Putin replaced as president: 

She thought he was capable of modernizing Russia and she had hoped he would run for re-election even though many experts thought it unlikely. Last September, when Medvedev and Putin, who was prime minister at the time, announced that they had agreed to trade offices long before, Merkel felt hoodwinked. She was forced to realize that the man she had placed such great hopes in was merely a Putin puppet.

Merkel was profoundly disappointed and there was an initial period of silence between the Chancellery and the Kremlin. Her low opinion of Putin was confirmed by accusations of ballot-box manipulation and smear campaigns against opposition figures during December's election for the Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament.

In recent days, Putin has again made clear what he thinks about the West: First, he didn't travel to Camp David in mid-May to attend the G-8 summit of the world's most important industrialized countries, and was then conspicuously absent from the NATO summit held in Chicago a few days later. Not quite a new Cold War, certainly, but a chilly peace.
The meeting in Berlin isn't likely to change the situation. No agreements are to be signed, as is usual for such meetings. Likewise, no progress will be made on contested issues, such as Moscow's call for the relaxation of visa restrictions, as neither Berlin nor Moscow has anything new to offer.

The fact that Angela Merkel at some stage thought that Putin´s puppet Medvedev actually would have been capable of modernizing Russia speaks volumes about the Chancellor´s naivety - and the low quality of her foreign policy advisers. 

It is, of course, excellent if Frau Merkel now has realized what kind of a man Putin is, but unfortunately she will not be able to hide another much graver mistake: After the Chancellor´s emotional and hasty  - and in the long run economically disastrous - energy transition policy decision last year, Germany is increasingly dependent on Russian energy. And Putin is of course well aware of that. 

If Angela Merkel is wise now, she will at least refrain from supporting the planned doubling of the capacity of the Nord Stream pipeline. Germany needs energy, but to become even more dependent on Russia would be a another huge mistake. 

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Pew Research survey: "European Unity on the Rocks"

It is now becoming increasingly clear that the entire European project has failed. The EU political leaders and the unelected Brussels bureaucrats still blabber about "ever closer integration" and economic and political union, but the Pew Research Center´s latest survey reveals the reality: 

The European project, which began with the creation of a small Common Market in 1957, grew to a larger Single Market in 1992 and then created a single currency in 2002, is a major casualty of the ongoing European sovereign debt crisis.
Across the eight European Union member countries surveyed, a median of only 34% think that European economic integration has strengthened their country’s economy. Indeed, majorities or near majorities in most nations now believe that the economic integration of Europe has actually weakened their economies. This is the opinion in Greece (70%), France (63%), Britain (61%), Italy (61%), the Czech Republic (59%) and Spain (50%). Only in Germany (59%) do most people say that their country has been well served by European integration.
Among the five euro area nations surveyed, a median of only 37% believes having the euro as their currency has been a good thing. This includes just 30% of the Italians and 31% of the French. At the same time, the three non-euro zone countries surveyed are quite happy they have kept their own currencies, including nearly three-quarters of the British (73%).
Moreover, as public criticism of European unity grows, faith in its benefits and institutions erodes. Since 2009, belief that European economic integration, the raison d’être of the European Union, has weakened their national economy has grown by 22 percentage points in the Czech Republic, 20 points in Italy, and 18 points in Spain. And, since 2007, the favorability of the European Union as an organization has fallen 20 points in Spain and the Czech Republic, 19 points in Italy and 14 points in Poland.

Supporters of the euro and the "European project" may take some comfort in this: 

Nevertheless, the symbols of a united Europe retain public support. Despite the falloff in EU favorability, most Europeans surveyed still see the European Union in a positive light, including 69% of the Poles, 68% of the Germans and 60% of the French and Spanish. And more than half in all five euro area countries surveyed – including 71% of the Greeks, 69% of the French and 66% of the Germans – would like to keep the euro as their currency and not return to the drachma, the franc, the mark or other national currencies.

In opinion polls it is not unusual that some of the replies conflict with the views expressed in some of the other  answers. That the "symbols of a united Europe" still retain public support reflects the fact that many people, though extremely critical in general, at least for the moment, are worried about what an end of the present system would mean. In such situations the tendency is often to favour the status quo.  However, it is likely that this will change as the economic situation in the eurozone - and in the European Union in general - continues to deteriorate. 

Germany is the "last bastion" of the europhiles, but even that is bound to change when the wheels of the German export machine are slowing down and the entire negative forces of Angela Merkel´s energy transition policy are fully felt: 

The public mood in Germany is considerably more positive than elsewhere in Europe. They are the only Europeans surveyed who are satisfied with the direction of their country and who think their economy is doing well. Germany is the only country where a majority of the population currently thinks that European economic integration has strengthened the national economy. Germans are most likely, by far, to say that EU membership has been a good thing. They are the least concerned about the lack of jobs, rising prices and the power of unions. Germany is the most admired country in the EU and its chancellor the most respected leader. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

Helmut Kohl should have stopped the euro project

Kohl should have stopped the euro project

Martin Feldstein, Professor of Economics at Harvard University and former Chairman of President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, sees the eurozone crisis as a result of France´s persistent pursuit of the "European project".

After World War II the two leading French politicians, Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman proposed the creation of a United States of EuropeThe two French politicians argued that a European political union similar to the one in America would prevent the kind of conflicts that had caused three major European wars, "an appealing idea, but one that overlooked America´s horrific Civil War", writes Feldstein. 

The Monnet-Schuman dream led to the Treaty of Rome and later - in order to create a sense of political unity - to the Treaty of Maastricht, which established the European Union.

What then followed was based on another French dream: 

The influential report “One market, one money,” issued in 1990 under the leadership of the former French Finance Minister Jacques Delors, called for the creation of a single currency, relying on the specious argument that the single market could not function well otherwise. More realistically, advocates of a single currency reasoned that it would cause people to identify as Europeans, and that the shift to a single European Central Bank would herald a shift of power away from national governments.
CommentsGermany resisted the euro, arguing that full political union should come first. Since there was no chance that the other countries would accept political union, Germany’s position seemed like a technical maneuver to prevent the establishment of the single currency. Germany was reluctant to give up the Deutsche Mark, a symbol of its economic power and commitment to price stability. Germany eventually agreed to the creation of the euro only when French President François Mitterrand made it a condition of France’s support for German reunification.
CommentsMoreover, under pressure from France, the Maastricht Treaty’s requirement that countries could introduce the euro only if their national debt was less than 60% of GDP was relaxed in order to admit countries that were seen to be “evolving” toward that goal. That modification allowed Greece, Spain, and Italy to be admitted.
CommentsThe pro-euro politicians ignored economists’ warnings that imposing a single currency on a dozen heterogeneous countries was bound to create serious economic problems. They regarded the economic risks as unimportant relative to their agenda of political unification.
Professor Feldstein´s obvious conclusion is that the European project clearly has failed to achieve what the French political leaders wanted:
Instead of the amity and sense of purpose of which Monnet and Schuman dreamed, there is conflict and disarray. Europe’s international role is shrinking, with the old G-5 having evolved into the G-20. And, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel setting conditions for the eurozone, France’s ambition to dominate European policy has been thwarted.
Read the entire article here

Professor Feldstein´s description is very much to the point. However, in naming "the fathers of failure", one should not forget former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, who could - and should - have stopped the euro project. Mitterand would not have been able to stop German reunification for very long. 

(image wikipedia)

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Russia - "A full-fledged mafia state"

The Russian born economist Alexei Bayer (now based in New York) has written a true account of Putin´s Russia: 

Over the past 12 years, Russia has become a full-fledged mafia state. One day, historians will chart its exact structure, but it seems clear that it consists of several large families headed by President Vladimir Putin's close associates and loyal oligarchs. Alongside them, countless crews of siloviki, bureaucrats, gangsters and affiliated businessmen work on their own, their networks varying from local to nationwide.
A friend recently had her car stolen. She reported it to the local police and soon got a call from a man, who, using the description of the car she had given the cops, demanded ransom. On the web, she discovered that it is a common racket. The usual result is that the victim loses the car and the money paid in fake ransom. She tried calling internal affairs investigators at the Moscow police, but they hung up on her.
A mafia state, by definition, cannot function efficiently. Laws are fundamental to all states, and even tyrannies rely on a set of rules. Since there are no rules in a mafia state, even minor decisions require complex deals that involve negotiating among various gangs and their conflicting interests. Agreements hold only as long as there is muscle to enforce them. The state is a tool of those who have the muscle, but a criminal can turn into a victim at a moment's notice.
Because all decisions are a trade-off, once something is decided it is very hard to change. The case of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky harms Russia's national prestige and Putin's personal reputation. Yet the thugs involved in this crime can't be brought to justice because this would infringe on some gang's interests.
But a mafia state contains the seeds of its own demise. In 2011, $84 billion of capital fled Russia, and another $33 billion was taken out of the country in the first quarter of 2012, even though the Russian economy is growing and the rest of the world is in a downturn. This money mainly belongs to bureaucrats, siloviki and other mafiosi. These beneficiaries of the mafia state don't trust their own system, nor do most of them want to live in Russia.

Read the entire Moscow Times article here


For some reason several of the "beneficiaries of the mafia state" have chosen to live in the United Kingdom

Jimmy Carter predicted the failure of solar power already in 1979

Former president Jimmy Carter does not always get the credit he deserves for some of the predictions he made during his brief tenure as US president. Carter  e.g. already in 1979 foresaw the future for the solar panels he had installed on the White House roof:  

Carter predicted that “a generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people
It turned out that Carter was spot on, with regard to the first alternative in his prediction: 
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History recently accepted a solar panel that was once installed on the White House. The panel was donated by Unity College in Unity, Maine, during a ceremony July 21. 

“Solar America,” an initiative undertaken by President Jimmy Carter’s administration, was established three decades ago. On June 30, 1979, 32 solar panels were installed on the roof of the White House above the Oval Office to heat water in the staff kitchen, which was often used by President Carter. The panels were removed in 1986 during the Reagan Presidency
The National Museum of American History press releaseAugust 18, 2009
Fortunately, Carter´s successor Ronald Reagan had his priorities right also on this matter
President Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, and one of his first moves was to order the solar panels removed. It was clear Reagan had a completely different take on energy consumption. "Reagan's political philosophy viewed the free market as the best arbiter of what was good for the country. Corporate self-interest, he felt, would steer the country in the right direction," the author Natalie Goldstein wrote in "Global Warming." 
George Charles Szego, the engineer who persuaded Carter to install the solar panels, reportedly claimed that Reagan Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan "felt that the equipment was just a joke, and he had it taken down." The panels were removed in 1986 when work was being done on the White House roof below the panels. 
Already in the fall of 2010 the Obama administration promised to install new solar panels on the White House roof. But now, almost two years later, there are still no solar panels there ...
On the other hand, one cannot blame Obama for wanting to avoid calling into mind a president who was voted out of the office after just one term ....

And in general, during an election year Obama hardly wishes to be associated with one of the greatest energy failures of our time