Saturday, 9 June 2012

The eurozone on the brink: Spain asks for invitation to beggars´ banquet

Spain has now declared that it will join the not anymore so exclusive club of eurozone beggars: 
Spain indicated during a conference call of the euro zone's 17 financeministers that it wanted aid for its banks but would not specify the amount until two independent consultants deliver their assessment of the capital needs some time before June 21.
Roger C. Altman, chairman of Evercore Partners and former deputy Treasury secretary under President Clinton from 1993 to 1994 describes the dire situation for the entire eurozone:
Europe is on the verge of financial chaos. Global capital markets, now the most powerful force on earth, are rapidly losing confidence in the financial coherence of the 17-nation euro zone. A market implosion there, like that triggered by Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008, may not be far off. Not only would that dismantle the euro zone, but it could also usher in another global economic slump: in effect, a second leg of the Great Recession, analogous to that of 1937.
This risk is evident in the structure of global interest rates. At one level, U.S. Treasury bonds are now carrying the lowest yields in history, as gigantic sums of money seek a safe haven from this crisis. At another level, the weaker euro-zone countries, such as Spain and Italy, are paying stratospheric rates because investors are increasingly questioning their solvency. And there’s Greece, whose even higher rates signify its bankrupt condition. In addition, larger businesses and wealthy individuals are moving all of their cash and securities out of banks in these weakening countries. This undermines their financial systems.
It should again be stressed that the euro crisis is entirely self afflicted. The politicians - among them Germany´s Helmut Kohl - who created the common currency, against the advice of most economists are the ones to be blamed.

Friday, 8 June 2012

The destructive power of the failed euro project hits Spain

The destructive power of the failed euro project is hitting Spain with full force. The once so proud kingdom is according to news reports going to beg for rescue money from Brussels tomorrow. But the question remains,  whether there will be enough money to bail out the Spanish banks:

While the International Monetary Fund thinks Spanish banks require €40bn or so in fresh capital, any loan package may have to be much larger to restore shattered confidence in the country.
Megan Greene from Roubini Global Economics says Spain's banks will need up to €250bn, a claim that no longer looks extreme. New troubles are emerging daily. The Bank of Spain said on Thursday that Catalunya Caixa and Novagalicia will need a total of €9bn in new state funds.
JP Morgan is expecting the final package for Spain to rise above €350bn, while RBS says the rescue will "morph" into a full-blown rescue of €370bn to €450bn over time -- by far the largest in world history.
"Where is the money going to come from?" said Simon Derrick from BNY Mellon. "Half-measures are not going to work at this stage and it is not clear that the funding is available."
Read the entire article here
What makes the case of Spain so sad, is that Spain´s poor people will  be the ones who are going to suffer most of the euro madness - and there are many of them. Few people outside of Spain know that among the EU countries only Romania and Latvia have a higher poverty rate than Spain: 

The study commissioned by the Spanish Roman Catholic Church charity organisation, draws attention to the danger facing 11 million people who could fall below the poverty threshold, while confirming that there are around 30.000 homeless people across the country.

Among the findings in the report ‘Exclusion and Social Development 2012’ was pusblished this week by Caritas Spain it states that already 22% of Spanish households are living under the poverty line with a further 30% facing serious difficulties in making ends meet at the end of the month and 580.000 Spaniards, nearly 3.3% of the population, receiving no income whatsoever.

“There are more poor people than last year, and they are poorer. After four years of financial hardship poverty is more widespread, more intense and it is creating a polarised society in which the difference between rich and poor is growing,” said Caritas Secretary Mora.

Spain is among the European countries with the highest poverty rates, totalling up to 21.8% of the population -- over the EU average of 16.4%. Only Romania and Latvia rank before Spain in the list.

Czar Putin is flexing his muscles

              Vladimir Putin is afraid of peaceful demonstrators - as all authoritarians and dictators are

Vladimir Putin, the thug masquerading as president of Russia, has barely been back in the Kremlin for four weeks, but he is already flexing his muscles: 

This week, the Russian parliament approved a controversial bill which will significantly restrict the right to demonstrate. Under the new law, individuals who take part in unauthorized protests could face maximum penalties of 300,000 rubles (€7,400 or $9,300) or 200 hours of community service, while organizations could face fines of up to 1 million rubles. The fines are a massive increase over the previous penalties.

German newspapers have - rightly - been rather scathing in their comments. Here are a couple of examples: 

The center-left daily Der Tagesspiegel: 

"Who will still have the courage to oppose Putin on the streets when threatened with financial ruin? The new law is an answer to the large-scale demonstrations that Russia has seen since the parliamentary election in 2011. It is also an expression of the state power's absolute helplessness, because ultimately it shows the fear Russia's leaders have of their own fellow citizens."
"Instead of reacting to the protest movement and ushering in more democracy, Putin is leading his country in the opposite direction. Nothing good can be expected to come from his next four years in office."

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

"The restriction of the right to demonstrate by the Russian parliament represents the essence of Vladimir Putin's rule: the arbitary exercising of power, cloaked in a pretense of legality. While media loyal to the regime have praised, as a sign of liberalism, the fact that the maxium penalties in the original bill were significantly reduced during the law's passage through the parliamentary consulation process, a host of clauses were written into the law which de facto abolish the right to demonstrate."
"It was already the case in the past that the right to demonstrate existed more in theory than in practice, but even that was apparently too dangerous for Putin, after he was forced to witness, in the months before his re-election, just how quickly theory can turn into practice."

Read the entire article here

Regrettably, there seems to have been no reaction from the Merkel government. They are probably too busy trying to fix the unfixable euro crisis and the the mess created by the failed energy transition policy. 

New peer reviewed study: Good food, walking and cycling keep climate change away

A team of "international experts" have published a paper on climate change in this week´s edition of PloS Medicine

The experts are from institutions in South Africa, Sweden and Germany. They will be highlighting the need to enhance climate and health benefits at the UN level.
The authors state that there is proof of significant health impacts of climate change in many sectors and these impacts lead to crisis in public health very similar to the impact of tobacco on the health of individuals. The authors highlight that this negative impact on health is because the general population is not sufficiently informed on the importance of public health.

The authors suggest that reduction in climatic impact and individual health benefits can be achieved if individuals are encouraged to cycle and walk instead of using other modes of transport and to eat healthy locally produced foodstuffs.

Maybe there is something to what these "international experts" say. Why not just eat, drink and be merry? A certain amount of cycling and walking will not hurt, either. If all these beneficial activities help to keep us away from Dr.Pachauri and the rest of the UN global warming hoaxters, then the fresh PloS Medicine paper would have served a real purpose. 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Football legend Beckenbauer joins Putin´s Gazprom team

Franz Beckenbauer will join former Stasi  agent  Matthias Warnig  in  Putin´s  Gazprom team
(image by wikipedia)

Germany´s soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer is probably in a great need of cash. Otherwise it is difficult to understand why the former soccer star allows himself to be used as a promoter of Gazprom, the state controlled gas giant, used as a political weapon by Russia´s lifetime ruler Vladimir Putin.

Gazprom is facing inreasing problems in Germany - and the rest of Europe - due to the American led shale gas revolution and economic stagnation, as well as political concerns. 

Schröder together with his friend, the  "flawless democrat"

The Gazprom bosses obviously think that Beckenbauer, will do a better job as former chancellor Gerhard Schröder as the company´s public face in Germany. You may remember that Schöder, who was rewarded by his friend Vladimir Putin with the well paid job as chairman of the board of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, still maintains that the former second rate KGB spy is a "flawless" democrat.
Putin and his protege, former Stasi agent Matthias Warnig
Schröder has never had any problems working together with Nord Stream´s CEO Matthias Warnig, an old Stasi agent and friend of Putin´s from his time as a KGB spy in DDR. It will be interesting to see how well "Der Kaiser"as Beckenbauer is called by fans in Germany - will be able to co-operate with the former Stasi spy and his former KGB friend in the Kremlin

The Heartland Conference and the Chicagoland media

This letter to the Editor of the Madison Record is worth citing in its entirety: 

To the Editor:

The question, "When a tree falls in a lonely forest, and no animal is near by to hear it, does it make a sound?" appears to have originated in the 1910 book Physics by Charles Riborg Mann and George Ransom Twiss. 

The same question could be asked of the recently held Seventh International Conference on Climate Change sponsored by Chicago-based Heartland Institute. 

From May 21-23, an impressive group of about 50 experts from around the world, among them physicists, astronauts, meteorologists, physicians, politicians, policy analysts, a head of state and a member of the European Parliament, met at Hilton Chicago Hotel united in their belief that the battle over climate change demands honest debate based scientific evidence, not empty appeals to a mythical "consensus" of those advancing a political agenda.

As with a tree in the forest, the ICCC7 conference was ignored - censored - by the Chicagoland media. Not a single one bothered to send a reporter to cover the event. 

But the event did happen! 

SunNews, Canada's version of Fox New, produced a spectacular hour-long special on global warming using footage from the event. 

Canada's Financial Post published excerpts from the comments made by Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic. 

Heartland recorded all the presentations and has posted them on a Web site at

Heartland's conferences may be criticized for featuring only skeptics of man-made global warming, but this year, more than 50 "warmists" were invited to speak, but all refused to show up.

It is fair to judge a scientific theory by whether advocates are willing to show up to defend their position. By this measure, the theory of catastrophic anthropogenic (man-made) global warming is a failure. Its advocates fall on their faces when pitted against scientists and economists dealing with the hard facts of scientific truth.

Shame on the Chicago media for their dogmatic, closed-minded approach to global warming by choosing to stand with the Al Gore camp instead of doing their job and reporting on the real scientific and policy debates taking place right now over the causes and consequences of climate change. 

It's way past time for the Chicago media and media outlets across this nation to stop feeding false propaganda to its readers and to realize that not only Illinois but this nation will suffer economically and competitively in the future world market if restricted from using its own natural resources of coal, oil and nuclear to produce cheap energy.

Nancy J. Thorner
Lake Bluff, Ill.

UNEP is scaremongering on the eve of the megalomaniac Rio+20 conference

The megalomaniac UN Rio+20 conference is soon to open in Rio de Janeiro. True to its traditions, UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) is trying to hype the event with a new version of the armageddon awaiting us if the "world leaders and nations meeting at Rio+20" do not agree on "a decisive and defining transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient, job-generating Green economy".

The usual UN scaremongering is included in the fifth edition of the Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5), "launched on the even of the Rio+20 Summit":

The report cautions that if humanity does not urgently change its ways, several critical thresholds may be exceeded, beyond which abrupt and generally irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet could occur. 
"If current trends continue, if current patterns of production and consumption of natural resources prevail and cannot be reversed and 'decoupled', then governments will preside over unprecedented levels of damage and degradation, said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
GEO-5 reminds world leaders and nations meeting at Rio+20 why a decisive and defining transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient, job-generating Green Economy is urgently needed, said Mr. Steiner. ―The scientific evidence, built over decades, is overwhelming and leaves little room for doubt."The moment has come to put away the paralysis of indecision, acknowledge the facts and face up to the common humanity that unites all peoples, he added. ―Rio+20 is a moment to turn sustainable development from aspiration and patchy implementation into a genuine path to progress and prosperity for this and the next generations to come.

The UNEP also informs us about the enormous waste of resources which was required to produce this piece of green propaganda:

The report was produced over three years in a process that involved more than six hundred experts worldwide, who collated and analyzed data from every 
continent to build up a detailed picture of the world‘s wellbeing.

Putin´s and Schröder´s Nord Stream will not get any gas from the Shtokman field

Vladimir Putin´s and former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder´s pet project, the Nord Stream gas pipeline, will be the big loser after Russian energy giant Gazprom´s apparent decision to make the arctic Shtokman development 100% LNG based: 

"Our decision to switch to 100 percent LNG is a reflection of the supply-demand balance in Europe," Alexander Medvedev, deputy chairman of the company's management committee, told reporters at a global gas conference in Kuala Lumpur.

The Shtokman development, which is a partnership between the Russian gas giant, Norway's Statoil and France's Total , has repeatedly been delayed because of rising costs, decreasing demand and, above all, the impact of the US shale gas boom. 

 French Total owns 25%, Norway´s Statoil 24% and Russia´s Gazprom has the decisive majority stake 51% of Shtokman, one of the world's largest gas fields with reserves of 3.7 trillion cubic meters located offshore in the Barents Sea.
According to earlier plans Gazprom intended to sell gas from the Shtokman field via the Nord Stream pipeline, which would have required the construction of a new pipeline connecting the Kola peninsula with the the Nord Stream pipeline. The fact that this connecting pipeline will not be built could seriously impact the long term profitability of Nord Stream. 
Whether Statoil and Total will remain as partners in the "new" Shtokman LNG project is not clear. Last month Gazprom´s chief executive said that the company is seeking new partners for the revamped Shtokman project. A couple of days ago a Statoil representative told reporters in Baku that the Norwegian energy company "has no plans to leave Shtokman". 
What we see here, is the impact of the gamechanging US led shale gas revolution. And this is just the beginning ....

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Merkel´s energy transition: Energy prices now so high that low-income Germans not able to pay

"The primary reason for these costs can be seen on rooftops throughout Germany" 

The sad truth about German chancellor Angela Merkel´s failed energy transition policy is becoming more and more evident. Subsidised wind and solar power production has led to higher energy prices that low-income and unemployed Germans are not able to pay anymore. And further increases are in the pipeline ...

More than a year has passed since the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in Japan prompted Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, to vote to gradually phase out the country's nuclear power plants, replacing them wherever possible with renewable energy sources. Yet it is only now that a serious discussion is beginning over the costs of the nuclear phase-out.
Chancellor Angela Merkel made the transition to renewable energy a top priority after dismissing her environment minister, Norbert Röttgen, last month, but essential questions remain unanswered. Who will pay for this supposed "joint effort," in Merkel's words? What's the upper limit on costs? And when will voters' positive view of the nuclear phase-out give way to frustration over rising costs?
Rising energy costs are especially embarrassing for German leaders because, until very recently, they claimed to have everything under control. Merkel more or less offered a price guarantee in a speech on the energy turnaround she gave in front of the Bundestag last year.
"We must continue to provide both businesses and individual citizens with affordable energy," Merkel said at the time. "The costs to consumers as a result of the EEG must not exceed their current level."
That's a promise the chancellor won't be able to keep. This fall, the Federal Network Agency is expected to announce rates that are 30 to 50 percent higher than current levels, putting consumers' contribution to renewable energy subsidies between 4.7 and 5.3 euro cents per kilowatt hour of energy, plus sales tax, up from the current level of 3.59 cents. Bareiss, the CDU's energy specialist, has even talked of "potentially more than six cents" per kilowatt hour, which would be an increase of nearly 70 percent.
The primary reason for these costs can be seen on rooftops throughout Germany. Energy consumers will pay €100 billion over the next 20 years to subsidize photovoltaics installed before the end of 2011. The first several months of this year added at least €5 billion to that amount.
Meanwhile, many low-income and unemployed Germans have reached the limits of what they're able to pay, as the example of Aminta Seck in Berlin shows. As a single mother, Seck receives €860 a month in government assistance. By law, €40 of that amount is intended primarily to cover energy costs.
In reality, though, the money isn't enough. Despite moving out of her old apartment and into a smaller one, Seck consistently comes up a few euros short each month, an amount she then has to pay as a lump sum at the end of the year. "I manage to come up with the money for the energy bill in the summer," she says, "but in the winter, when it's dark, it's just not possible."
Once the electricity has been shut off, it's difficult for consumers to climb out from under their debts, since in addition to settling their overdue bills, they have to pay a fee of up to €80 to have the power turned back on.

"My clients end up waiting at least a week, and in extreme cases even up to two months," says social worker Renate Stark, who works in Prenzlauer Berg at Caritas, a social services organization, and counsels people who have fallen behind on their energy bills.
Stark says she's already seen the effects of the transition to renewable energy sources. "In the past, at most one client per month came to me because of problems paying energy bills," she says. "Now it's at least 30."
This makes it all the more astonishing how casually politicians -- from all parties -- have disregarded the societal consequences of their project. While the government and opposition quarreled for months over a few euros' difference in Hartz IV payments, they essentially formed a grand coalition when it came to subsidizing solar panels.

Read the entire article here

A delusional commander of Putin´s armed forces

There are numerous signs showing that lifetime president Vladimir Putin´s Russia is becoming increasingly delusional. Putin´s commander of the armed forces, General Nikolai Makarov, appears to be one of the worst afflicted. He seems think that he is living in the Soviet Union of the 70s: 

Russia's efforts to re-establish its great power status and to increase its influence in great power politics are manifesting themselves on a concrete level in policy toward Finland.
      Moscow has made note of Finland’s defence and security policy decisions, and the Russian government is becoming more open in attempts to influence those decisions.
      Perhaps the bluntest message in recent history came when General Nikolai Makarov, the commander of the Russian armed forces, offered a fusillade of views concerning Finland at an event organised by the Finnish National Defence Course Association at the University of Helsinki.
In previous years Russia’s official stance was that it is up to Finland to decide whether or not to join NATO. However, this view now seems to have changed quite radically.
      Makarov warned directly that possible NATO membership for Finland would constitute a military threat against Russia. Russia is also concerned about closer military cooperation between Finland and NATO.
      General Makarov mentioned as examples the military exercises held in Northern Norway earlier this year, as well as the manoeuvres held in the Baltic Sea in 2010.
Even defence cooperation among the Nordic Countries was seen by Makarov to be a military threat to Russia.
      Makarov did not stop at the international activities of Finland's Defence Forces. In his speech he wondered why the Finnish Air Force is holding so many exercises near the Russian border, and why an exercise by the Army was given the name “East”.
      “We feel that these kinds of actions are not compatible with the aim for bilateral cooperation”, Makarov said.
One of the participants in the meeting was Charly Salonius-Pasternak, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, who said that such straight talk has not been heard in Finland in recent times. In her view, it is clear that the general’s warnings about cooperation with NATO had the approval of the highest political level.
      “Russia wants to show that it is a regional great power, an in its view, all neighbouring countries are part of its sphere of interest”, Salonius-Pasternak said.
Minister of Defence Stefan Wallin (Swed. People’s Party) commented on the speech by saying that Finland is a free country, where people can express their opinions freely.
      “Finland evaluates its relationship with NATO in a manner consistent with its government policy programme on the basis of its own security and defence policy interests. This sentence says that Finland makes its assessments and deci,sions itself and independently”, Wallin told Helsingin Sanomat.


Maybe Russia´s strategic partner, the European Union, could make an offer to the general to be treated at some appropriate institution in e.g. Germany, France or the UK? Or maybe the Obama administration would be able to locate the required treatment for this representative of its reset partner in one of the excellent US military hospitals? 

The German team at Euro2012 concentrates on fighting global warming

The leader´s of the German team at the soon to begin Euro2012 soccer championship tournament must be rather convinced about the excellence of their players. Otherwise it is difficult to understand why they have chosen to use a lot of their time and efforts to, of all things, fighting climate change/global warming.

At today´s team press conference in Poland, the German soccer bosses proudly announced that "the protection of the climate and the environment is of central importance to the DFB" (the German football association). The journalists attending the press briefing were also told that the DFB Polish press center is run on "clean" electricity from wind turbines owned by the German energy company RWE in Poland.

The DFB bosses did not tell the media what will happen on the days when the wind does not blow. Maybe Schweinsteiger, Goméz, Lahm and the other German soccer stars will then have to buy some "dirty" Polish coal for a barbeque in the green?

A representative of the RWE energy company also took part in the press conference. He of course was enthusiastic about RWEs  "green values". In addition he offered the sport journalists free E-bikes to take home, in an attempt to get good press coverage for his green hype. 

University of East Anglia philosopher wants brainwashed green puppets to rule the world

The ongoing UK Hay Festival of Literature & Arts this year included a debate on philosophy, politics and communication. Based on this brief report, published in the Telegraph, one of the two debaters - professor Mike Hulme - offered some words of wisdom at the debate: 

If climate scientists are partially responsible for beating they have taken over the last two and a half years, how much are they themselves to blame? Two academics from the University of East Anglia - at the heart of the storm since thousands of emails were leaked in November 2009- give very different answers.
Mike Hulme, professor of climate science, believes that scientists ascribed too much certainty to their findings and went beyond the constraints of their discipline to make value judgements and recommendations for action. Rupert Read, reader, in philosophy, says that , on the contrary, they have not been courageous enough and should be bolder about issuing warnings about its consequences. After a vigorous debate, a show of hands showed that the audience overwhelmingly sided with Read.
The fact that UEA reader Read, "who works closely with environmentalist scientists, in eco-philosophy" won the debate is of course no surprise; people attending this kind of festivals and debates are mostly leftist and "progressive" supporters of the climate change orthodoxy. 
However, It may be interesting to look a little bit closer at what kind of an academic the debate "winner" is: 
Rupert Read, who also is "the Eastern Region Green party coordinator" in the UK - does not think much of the current democratic system in the UK (or elsewhere), which in his view is 
"rule by an arbitrary subsection of the people: an elective dictatorship of 
present people over future people."
This "dictatorship" should, according to a Green House think tank report , written by Read, be replaced by a "third Parliamentary House with specific reference to care for future generations, which would comprise": 
  • a number of individuals chosen by lot
  • trained and supported by relevant experts (see Appendix B, below);
  • serving for a specified non-renewable term;

Read´s third Parliamentary House, "The council of Guardians of Future Generations", would of course have extensive - in reality dictatorial - powers:
a) To veto in whole or in part new 
legislation that threatened the 
basic needs and fundamental 
interests of future people.

b) To force a review, on petitioning, if 
appropriate and merited, of any 
existing legislation that threatens the 
basic needs and fundamental 
interests of future people 

one might give the Guardians the right to 
review major administrative 
decisions which substantially 
affected future people
You might of course ask, how these people, arbitrarily chosen by lot, would be able to make all the difficult decisions on behalf of the "future generations".
Reader Read has an (not very surprising) answer also to that: The "Guardians" would be trained, brainwashed and supervised by a number of (enviro-fundamentalist) "experts": 
a year in which 
to ‘train up’ for the role, including an 
intensive programme of civic learning, 
basic law, educational options, some 
time spent encountering ‘out in the 
field’ the so-called ‘ecosystem 
services’ that need preserving if the 
future well-being of humanity is to be 
protected and whose fate is at present 
in the balance, etc..  

The Guardians would be supported 
both in their training and in their day 
to day roles as Guardians by a highlevel and diverse support staff of 
administrators, facilitators and experts

Guardians would have access to the 
cream of the country’s and indeed 
much of the world’s expertise, in every 
sense of the word ‘expertise’. (One 
would expect them to consult NGOs, 
And Rupert Read´s "Guardians" would not only be installed in London:
We needn’t just imagine national 
Guardians. There is no reason why 
there shouldn’t be Guardians presiding 
over local council decisions too (and 
also internationally, for example at the 
EU, and perhaps the UN.

Good luck, Dr. Read with your project! You will certainly find a handful of enviro-fundamentalist supporters also outside the tenth in Hay, but fortunately the rest of us will  be spared your "Guardians of Future Generations".

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Putin´s cossacks soon to guard border against China

Vladimir Putin wants to use cossacks as boarder guards against China
Vladimir Putin has been meeting his fellow autocrats in Peking. They have one shared interest: Discouraging demands for democracy everywhere. However, despite the talk about "strategic partnership", the reality of the relationship is this:

"Russia can talk about a strategic partnership with China but they will never be actual allies because China is too much of a potential threat to Russia," a Western diplomat said. "Russia cannot avoid being concerned about China."
Suggesting Russia's fears over China, Moscow has been bolstering its military presence in the Far East and around China with plans to move the first of its newest class of submarines to the Pacific Fleet at Vladivostok
Other programs, some of them more colorful than of obvious strategic significance, are aimed at strengthening Russia's borders. The next school year will include the training of the region's first corps of Cossacks, according to local media - a reference to the informal frontier force used by the tsars to repel enemies and whose name has been revived amid a general nostalgia for the imperial past under Putin's 12-year dominance.
Read the entire article here
Without doubt, we will soon see photos of Czar Vladimir riding among the cossacks somewhere in the eastern borderlands of his huge empire. 
(image by wikipedia)

The astonishing US shale gas revolution

In Europe and many other countries news about the US shale gas revolution are dominated by lies and misinformation spread by enviro-fundamentalist scaremongers. The Economist´s sober analysis is a welcome change:

Between 2005 and 2010 the country’s shale-gas industry, which produces natural gas from shale rock by bombarding it with water and chemicals in a technique known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” grew by 45 per cent a year. As a proportion of America’s overall gas production, shale gas has increased from four per cent in 2005 to 24 per cent today.
America produces more gas than it knows what to do with. Its storage facilities are rapidly filling, and its gas price — because prices for gas, unlike oil, are set regionally — has collapsed. Last month it dipped below $2 per million British thermal units, less than a sixth of the pre-boom price and too low for producers to break even.
Those are problems most European and Asian countries, which respectively pay roughly four and six times more for their gas, would relish. America’s gas boom confers a huge economic advantage. It has created hundreds of thousands of jobs, directly and indirectly, and it has rejuvenated several industries, including petrochemicals, where ethane produced from natural gas is a raw material.
The gas price is likely to rise in the next few years because of increasing demand. Peter Voser, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, an oil firm with big shale-gas investments, expects it to double by 2015.
Yet it will remain below European and Asian prices, so the industry should still grow. America is estimated to have enough gas to sustain its current production rate for more than a century.
This is astonishing. Barely five years ago America was expected to be a big gas importer. Between 2000 and 2010 it built infrastructure to “re-gasify” more than 100 billion cubic metres of imported liquefied natural gas. In 2011, however, American LNG imports were less than 20 bcm. Efforts are now underway to convert idle re-gasification terminals into liquefaction facilities in order to export LNG. Plans for a terminal in Sabine Pass, La., are expected to be approved in June.
The shock waves of America’s gas boom are being felt elsewhere. Development of Russia's vast Shtokman gas field in the Barents Sea, a $40-billion project which was intended to supply America with LNG, has stalled. Qatari LNG, once earmarked for America, is going to energy-starved Japan. A bigger change is expected, however, with large-scale shale-gas production possible in Argentina, Australia, China and several European countries, including Poland and Ukraine.
The Economist mentions the environmental issues in connection with the "fracking" process, but rightly points out that they can be managed: 
The greens have a case, but they exaggerate it. So long as well shafts are properly sealed, there is hardly any risk that fracking will poison groundwater. By eliminating venting, methane emissions can be kept to an acceptable minimum.
All major studies have confirmed that shale gas extraction, properly managed, does not pose any serious environmental risks. 
Shale gas is the backbone of the US economic revival. Shale oil will add to the positive development. And the shale gas revolution will not be confined only to the US: BP e.g. forecasts that "growth in shale oil and gas supplies, along with other fuel sources, will make the western hemisphere virtually self-sufficient in energy by 2030."

Monday, 4 June 2012

Climate change: The European Union´s efforts in Africa are beginning to bear fruit

Global warming/climate change, the centerpiece of the European Union´s foreign policy in Africa is finally beginning to bear fruit. The efforts of  visiting EU leaders and the vast network of EU embassies in Africa have not been in vain: African politicians have learned to hide their own mistakes by blaming their own failures on global warming, created by the "rich" industrialized countries. Here is one recent example: 

“While Africa is not the major contributor to environmental problems, it has nevertheless suffered most from the impacts of climate change, and this has severely affected our efforts towards increasing agricultural productivity,” the Speaker of Parliament Kadaga Rebecca told participants from several African Parliaments.

It is of course true that yield levels of many food commodities produced in Africa are below international averages. Here are some of the real reasons for the backwardness, which the "participants from several African Parliaments" chose not to discuss:  

– lack of knowledge of up-to-date technologies and practices,
– low use of improved seed,
– low use of fertiliser,
– inadequate irrigation and
– lack of incentives for farmers in the absence of remunerative markets.
In many places, these sector-specific problems are compounded by overarching issues, including
– political instability and violent conflict,
– weak institutions of governance and ineffective policies or
rural people’s poor health.  

And the European teachings are not applicable only to economic activities. Now even a fourth of all deaths in Africa seem to be caused by global warming (of western origin):

About twenty three percent of the deaths recorded in Africa are linked to environmental factors according to statistics recorded by African Parliamentarians meeting in Kampala. 

Dictators and madmen can count on Valdimir Putin´s friendship

Dictators and madmen - from Assad to Lukashenko -  wherever they are, have one thing in common - they can count on the unrelenting friendship of Russia´s ruler Vladimir Putin

Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are ... 

"In Chechnya, human rights are observed more than anywhere else," he said in a statement published on his website Friday.
He said Washington was ignoring local traditions outside the United States. "100,000 people have their own centuries-old principles. … You cannot destroy them by pressing them into American standards," he said.

The truth about Kadyrov:

Rights groups have long implicated Kadyrov in killings and abductions in Chechnya, which he is seen as governing as his personal fiefdom with the Kremlin's blessing. Kadyrov denies wrongdoing.
The State Department report dwells at length on the case of Umar Israilov, a Chechen refugee and former bodyguard of Kadyrov who was shot and killed in Vienna in 2010.
An Austrian court last year convicted three Chechens of organizing the murder. A fourth suspect, accused of pulling the trigger, Letscha Bogatirov, "was promoted by the Kadyrov government following the killing as a reward for his actions," the U.S. report said.

The New York Times sketches the background to the Israilov case: 

In complaints to Russian prosecutors and to the European Court of Human Rights, Mr. Israilov and his father, Sharpuddi Israilov, said that Mr. Kadyrov, in previous government positions, had instigated a campaign of abductions of suspected separatists and their families, and then personally tortured detainees, including the Israilovs, and ordered killings or was present as detainees were put to death. The court documents, filed in late 2006, included the first formal complaints levied against Mr. Kadyrov by an insider from his circle, and appear to have been the first to accuse Mr. Kadyrov personally in the human rights court.
Taken together, the complaints sketched the inner workings of busy institutional torture centers, part of a joint Russian-Chechen effort to subdue the separatists through force and collective punishment, and install the Kadyrov family in power. The complaints also described the brutality of one of Mr. Kadyrov's closest confidants, Adam Delimkhanov, who since 2007 has been a member of Russia's Duma, the lower house of Parliament.

A Washington Times article has more about the Kadyrov´s human rights abuses: 

Chechnya’s government is openly approving of families that kill female relatives who violate their sense of honor, as this Russian republic embraces a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam after decades of religious suppression under Soviet rule.
In the past five years, the bodies of dozens of young Chechen women have been found dumped in woods, abandoned in alleys and left along roads in the capital, Grozny, and neighboring villages.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov publicly announced that the dead women had “loose morals” and were rightfully shot by male relatives. He went on to describe women as the property of their husbands, and said their main role is to bear children.
“You hear about these cases almost every day,” said a local human rights defender, who asked that her name not be used out of fear for her safety. “It is hard for me to investigate this topic, yet I worked on it with [human rights activist] Natasha [Estemirova] for a while. But, I can’t anymore. I am too scared now. I’ve almost given up, really.”
Estemirova, who angered Chechen authorities with reports of torture, abductions and extrajudicial killings, was found in the woods in 2009 in the neighboring region of Ingushetia with gunshot wounds to the head and chest. Her killer or killers have not been found.
The Association for Threatened Peoples (APM) criticises the decision of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin to nominate the current Prime Minister of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov as transitional president of the Chechen Republic. For APM, Kadyrov “should be brought before an international court and not receive a governmental assignation.” According to research conducted by the human rights organisation, Kadyrov and his personal militia are directly responsible for a large number of homicides, rapes and kidnappings of Chechen civilians, among which, many children. Kadyrov has set up various illegal prisons in which whoever is suspected of belonging to Chechen liberation movements disappears and undergoes torture. Under the regime of Kadyrov the number of disappearance of relatives of combatants and presumed combatants has skyrocketed – thus reports the  communiqué of the APM.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: The euro "has essentially broken down"

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor of The Daily Telegraph, is convinced that the euro "has essentially broken down as a viable economic and political undertaking": 

On a single day, the European Commission said monetary union was in danger of "disintegration" and the European Central Bank said it was "unsustainable" as constructed. Their plaintive cries may have fallen on deaf ears in Berlin, but they were heard all too clearly by investors across the world.
Joschka Fischer, Germany’s former vice-Chancellor, said EU leaders have two weeks left to save the project.
"Europe continues to try to quench the fire with gasoline – German-enforced austerity. In a mere three years, the eurozone’s financial crisis has become an existential crisis for Europe."
"Let’s not delude ourselves: If the euro falls apart, so will the European Union, triggering a global economic crisis on a scale that most people alive today have never experienced," he said.
Mr Fischer has the matter backwards. The euro itself is the chief cause of the existential crisis he discerns. Yet he is right that three precious year have been squandered, and that Europe‘s policy mix has been atrociously misguided. The pace of fiscal tightening has been too extreme, made much worse by the ECB’s monetary tightening last year. This inflicted a double-barrelled shock on Southern Europe. The whehole region was forced back into slump before it had reached "escape velocity".
Read the entire article here
The next few weeks promise to be interesting in Europe. There will be two major euro projects to watch closely - the one mainly happening in Brussels, and the one kicking off in Poland and Ukraine this weekend. Hopefully there will be fewer own goals in the latter one than we have witnessed in the Brussels game. 

Putin again caught peddling lies - this time about arming Assad

Syria´s dictator Bashar al-Assad, who continues the mass killings of civilians in his country, must be delighted by his Russian friend Vladimir Putin´s assurances of support. 

Russia´s dictator, former second rate KGB spy Putin, still gives his full backing to the criminal Assad regime, although he is trying to hide his support by peddling these blatant lies to Western audiences: 

"All those who claim that [Russia] supports any particular regime -- in this case President Assad's regime -- are wrong," he said. "We have had good relations with Syria for many years but we do not support either side."

The Russian president also said that, while his country is selling weapons to Syria,  it "did not supply any arms [to Syria] that could be used in a civil conflict."
 US secretary of State Hillary Clinton has no illusions about Obama´s "reset partner":
Russia’s unrelenting support for the Bashar Al Assad regime is helping to slide Syria into civil war, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday.
“We believe that the continuous supply of arms has strengthened the Al Assad regime,” she said.

In fact, just days before Putin came up with his lies, a Russian ship loaded with ammunition docked at the Russian naval base Taurus in Syria: 
Western officials confirmed information from Human Rights First that the ship arrived on Saturday, bringinge to the Syrian port of Tartus a cache of heavy weapons for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who for 14 months has used his security forces to attack an increasingly militarized opposition.

"Today's updated shipping databases show that the Professor Katsman did in fact dock in the port of Tartus on May 26, 2012 before heading to Piraeus, Greece," Sadia Hameed of Human Rights First told Reuters.
These are the sad facts about Russia´s arms deliveries to the mass murderer in Damascus
- Russia has been selling Syria weapons since the Soviet period, starting with the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
- However, Russia became Syria's main arms supplier after the fall of the Soviet Union, when Russia absolved Syria of $9.8 billion of its $13.4 billion debt in exchange for making Tartus a permanent Russian military base. Tartus is Russia´s only naval presence in the Mediterranen. 

- Currently, 10 percent of Russian global arms shipments head to Syria, and contracts are worth about $1.5 billion.

And this has happened after the Syrian uprising and Assad´s crackdown began in March, 2011:

- Shipments of small arms, which are harder for international agencies to trace, rise starting in March.
- Throughout 2011, Russia continued to sell Syria missile defense systems -- including the Buk-M2E surface-to-air missile system and Bastion-P coastal defense missile systems.
- Total weapons sales to Syria in 2011 reached $1 billion.

 The Chariot, a Russian flagged ship carrying arms from Rosoboronexport, heads for Tartus despite telling the European Unionthat it would change course. The ship is believed to be carrying sniper rifles. At that time, Syrian snipers were killing protestors in Homs, Damascus and other cities. (January 2012)

One can only wonder why Vladimir Putin still is received like a statesman in the West. He should be treated no less harshly than his friend Aleksander Lukashenko in Belarus.