Saturday, 11 August 2012

China´s prison camp system worse than the Gulag

"Since 1949, around 40-50 million people have been imprisoned in the Laogai, of which approx. 20-25 million have perished, i. e. they were tortured to death". 
The Laogai Research Foundation

Communist China has won many gold medals at the London Olympics. However, these successes should not make people forget about the terrible reality of the country´s wast network of forced labor prison camps. This article by Peter Müller (The International Society for Human Rights) is still as topical today as when it was written in 2007: 

In order to uphold its rule and to suppress its people, every dictatorship must be accompanied by a prison system, whether it is a concentration camp (in which the prisoner's work is exploited for economic gain) or other types of camps.  In every respect, the Chinese Communist labour reform camps-- in terms of scope, cruelty, and the number of people imprisoned—not only rivals the Soviet systems.  In fact it surpasses it.

What actually is the fate of the people sent to the Laogai ?  How do they suffer ?  Generally speaking the living conditions in Gulag and Laogai camps are rather similar - Hard labour daily for up to 12-14 hours, in China 7 days a week and only 4-5 holidays per annum.  The day’s task is followed by lecture and indoctrination time of at least 2 hours.  Both systems “offered” unacceptable sleeping and sanitary conditions, insufficient and/or unsuitable clothing, almost no visitors and no mail, never enough food, never enough sleep.  Both systems use heavy punishments such as solitary confinement, reduced food, sleep prevention, interrogations at night, executions, of course mass executions too, torture, and – even worse - torture and slayings by fellow inmates. 
On top of all these dreadful conditions the Laogai exercises sometimes very sophisticated mental torture, e. g. by demanding self confessions.  Once done – the prisoner has no chance of evading or refusing – renewed confessions are requested.  Since the prisoner has not received an official court sentence, he does not know when he shall be free again.  Thus there is no hope of freedom.  It is destroyed on purpose.  Spying and reporting on fellow inmates is demanded to prove one’s ‘progress to personal reform’.  There is no privacy whatsoever, in some camps the prisoners live and work day and night without any clothing – in order to break down their remaining resistance and their personalities.  Probably worst of all is a constant flood of letters from friends and relatives, incl. parents, children, spouses.  These letters accuse the prisoner of political and other “crimes”.  The writers distance themselves from the prisoner, canceling all former relationships.  The prisoner is thus totally deprived of all warmth, hope, and confidence.  Consequently the suicide rate is high, very very high. 
Regardless of the exact numbers, millions of people are currently suffering within the Laogai, and more are sentenced to serve time in the camps every day.  The Chinese government considers national statistics about the Laogai to be state secrets.  But the Laogai is a difficult thing to keep secret.  It remains the most extensive and secretive network of forced labor camps operated by any country in the world


We have no right to forget about those deprived of their freedom in the Laogai. 
The Laogai is not a dying institution as some have suggested. It is true that the composition of the camps has changed. In the past, the majority of criminals were jailed for political reasons.  The majority of today's inmates are incarcerated for more common crimes. Nevertheless, this does not indicate a fundamental change in the nature of the Laogai.  To the contrary, the Chinese government's dependence on the Laogai as its primary tool of suppression is as strong now as it was in the days of Chairman Mao Zedong's rule.

For those imprisoned for common crimes but deprived of their due process or forced to labor under barbaric conditions, the Laogai is alive. For those imprisoned for publicizing their beliefs, for those caught fighting for Tibetan and Uighur independence or Trade Unions, for those persecuted for asserting their religious rights, the Laogai is very much a living institution.  Only the attention of the world can bring about an end to their suffering.

Why do business with the People’s Republic of China ?  Why travel there as a tourist ?  Why invest money there ?  Why buy Chinese goods ?  Why support the Olympic Games of a criminal regime ?

The inhuman Laogai system in China justifies each and every Boycott

Read the entire article here

University of Michigan economics professor: Shale gas revolution is a "win, win, win, win situation"


"commercial customers are paying inflation-adjusted natural gas prices that are close to the lowest in recent history, and about half the 2008 price" 

University of Michigan economics professor Mark J. Perry explains why the shale gas revolution is one of the most important developments for the US economy in at least 60 years:

America's ongoing shale-based energy revolution is one of the real bright spots in an otherwise somewhat gloomy economy, and provides one of the best reasons to be bullish about America's future. The shale revolution is creating thousands of well-paying, shovel-ready jobs in Texas, North Dakota and Ohio, and thousands of indirect jobs in industries that support the shale boom (sand, drilling equipment, transportation, infrastructure, steel pipe, restaurants, etc.). In addition, the abundant shale gas is driving down energy prices for industrial, commercial, residential and electricity-generating users, which frees up billions of dollars that can be spent on other goods and services throughout the economy, providing an energy-based stimulus to the economy.
Cheap natural gas is also translating into cheaper electricity rates, as low-cost natural gas displaces coal. Further, cheap and abundant natural gas is sparking a manufacturing renaissance in energy-intensive industries like chemicals, fertilizers, and steel. And unlike renewable energies like solar and wind, the natural gas boom is happening without any taxpayer-funded grants, subsidies, credits and loans. Finally, we get an environmental bonus of lower CO2 emissions as natural gas replaces coal for electricity generation. Sure seems like a win, win, win, win situation to me.
Read the entire article here
There is more than enough clean shale gas and oil in the US and elsewhere for at least one hundred years, probably for even longer. That´s why it is sheer madness to waste taxpayers´ money on subsidizing inefficient and unreliable wind and solar energy, which are still technically in a primitive state of development and commercially not viable. 

Friday, 10 August 2012

Catholic bishops urge Filipinos to recite a global warming prayer

The victims of the recent heavy floods in the Philippines deserve all our sympathy. Hopefully they will receive the assistance they need, also from the Catholic church

However, the prayer that the secretary for the Catholic Bishops´ Conference of the Philippines urges Filipinos to recite because of the flooding is questionable, to say the least: 

“Almighty Father, we raise our hearts to You in gratitude for the wonders of creation of which we are part, for Your providence in sustaining us in our needs, and for Your wisdom that guides the course of the universe.
“We acknowledge our sins against You and the rest of creation.

“We have not been good stewards of Nature.

“We have confused Your command to subdue the earth.
“The environment is made to suffer our wrongdoing, and now we reap the harvest of our abuse and indifference.
“Global warming is upon us. Typhoons, floods, volcanic eruption, and other natural calamities occur in increasing number and intensity.
“We turn to You, our loving Father, and beg forgiveness for our sins.
“We ask that we, our loved ones and our hard earned possessions be spared from the threat of calamities, natural and man-made.
“We beseech You to inspire us all to grow into responsible stewards of Your creation, and generous neighbors to those in need.
Read the entire article here
The Catholic church makes a serious mistake in joining the church of global warming. The radical far left enviro-fundamentalists are dangerous bedfellows for the Christian church. 

Patrick Moore: Oil is the "most important source of energy to support our civilization"

Former leading Greenpeace activist Patrick Moore confronts Bill McKibben and the rest of the green ideologists:  

For example it has become part of environmental ideology, as stated by Bill McKibben in the current Rolling Stone, that the fossil fuel industries are "Public Enemy Number One." Oil is particularly vilified as evidenced by high-profile campaigns to stop pipelines, drilling, tankers, oil sands, and anything else to do with producing or transporting oil. Oil is responsible for 36% of global energy and is therefore the most important source of energy to support our civilization. If it is the aim of "environmentalists" to stop fossil fuel production and use, end fracking, end coal mining, end the use of oil, then they are promoting a policy that would have disastrous consequences for human civilization and the environment. If we stopped using fossil fuel today, or by 2020 as Al Gore proposes, at least half the human population would perish and there wouldn't be a tree left on the planet with a year, as people struggled to find enough energy to stay alive.

What Dr. Moore is saying about human caused global warming is also worth reading: 
One thing is certain, there is no "scientific proof" as the term is generally understood, that human emissions are the main cause of climate change today. Even the IPCC only claims that it is "very likely" (a judgement, in their own words, not a proof) that human emissions are responsible for "most" of the warming "since the mid-20th century" (1950). Therefore they are not claiming that humans caused the 0.4C warming between 1910-1940, but they are claiming that we are the main cause of the 0.4C warming between 1970 and 2000. Yet they provide no opinion as to what did cause the warming between 1910-1940. There is a logical inconsistency here that has never been addressed. It is also important to note that the IPCC does not speak of "catastrophe", that is left to the fanatics and perpetual doom-sayers.
The causes of climate change are first the sun, as it is responsible for the existence of climate. Then there are many cycles of earth rotation around the sun and on its own axis. Then there is the chemistry of the atmosphere which seems to be the only factor that matters, and only CO2 concentration, for the true believers/warmists/climate catastrophists etc.
What most people don't realize, partly because the media never explains it, is that there is no dispute over whether CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and all else being equal would result in a warming of the climate. The fundamental dispute is about water in the atmosphere, either in the form of water vapour (a gas) or clouds (water in liquid form). It is generally accepted that a warmer climate will result in more water evaporating from the land and sea and therefore resulting in a higher level of water in the atmosphere, partly because the warmer the air is the more water it can hold. All of the models used by the IPCC assume that this increase in water vapour will result in a positive feedback in the order of 3-4 times the increase in temperature that would be caused by the increase in CO2 alone.
Many scientists do not agree with this, or do not agree that we know enough about the impact of increased water to predict the outcome. Some scientists believe increased water will have a negative feedback instead, due to increased cloud cover. It all depends on how much, and a t what altitudes, latitudes and times of day that water is in the form of a gas (vapour) or a liquid (clouds). So if  a certain increase in CO2 would theoretically cause a 1.0C increase in temperature, then if water caused a 3-4 times positive feedback the temperature would actually increase by 3-4C. This is why the warming predicted by the models is so large. Whereas if there was a negative feedback of 0.5 times then the temperature would only rise 0.5C.
The global average temperature has now been flat for the past 15 years, as all the while CO2 emissions have continued to increase. There are only 2 possible explanations for, either there is some equally powerful natural factor that is suppressing the warming that should be caused by CO2, or CO2 is only a minor contributor to warming in the first place.
Read the entire article here

New poll: New Zealanders now less concerned about global warming than in 2008

Global warming scaremongering is not working in New Zealand either. The number of people who consider climate change an "urgent and immediate problem" is now considerably smaller than in 2008:

The proportion of New Zealanders who believe climate change is an urgent and immediate problem has fallen from more than three quarters to just over half in the last four years, according to a new survey.
The poll for the Carbon News website found that 52.4 percent of adult New Zealanders considered climate change to be either an urgent problem (21.4 percent) or a problem for now (31 percent).
14 percent said it was a problem for later, 19.5 percent said it wasn't a problem, and 14.1 per cent said they didn't know, according to a statement from Carbon News Friday.
A similar poll conducted in 2008 showed that 75.4 percent of New Zealanders considered it to be an urgent problem (26.1 percent) or a problem for now (49.3 percent), while 9.2 percent said it was a problem for later, 13 percent said it wasn't a problem, and 2.4 percent said they didn't know.
The statement from Carbon News, a specialist information service on the carbon markets, said the drop was in line with a recent survey by Yale University, which showed that over the same period, the number of respondents ranking climate change as a high or very high priority for the U.S. government had dropped from 54 percent to 40 percent.
Read the entire article here

Bob Lutz on the "green jobs" scam

Bob Lutz, the legendary automotive industry top executive, explains why "green jobs" are - and will remain - a failure: 

But as result of the belief that fossil fuels are bringing on global warming, governments, federal and state, have created a new job category called “green.” This category flies in the face of all accepted economic theory, in that the goal of this employment is not to increase economic efficiency (thereby providing lower costs, higher profitability, an increase in capital which, in turn, permits more investment and still more jobs) but, instead, to DISPLACE energy sources that are cheaper and more readily available.
“Green” job creation, almost always supported by massive government subsidies, does not further economic activity — it is actually harmful. Assigning massive amounts of capital, private or government, to a business or industry with a negative payback is a misallocation of resources, much like a car company spending hundreds of millions on a vehicle that either fails to sell, or sells at less than it costs to produce.
The wind turbine industry, as well as the current generation of solar cells, are prime examples of “new” industries created in the name of “sustainability.” With massive infusions of taxpayer capital, accompanied by mandates that energy companies have to use a certain percentage of the output “or else,” new “green” workers are hired. Their product costs more than the market price of traditional energy sources, so the economic effect is negative. Energy costs are the very core of a nation’s industrial competitiveness. High energy costs have what economists call a “multiplier effect”: they raise the downstream cost of every process in the system until the end product reaches the consumer. They suck wealth out of the system through lower sales, lower margins, reduced returns on investment and slower capital formation, which, in turn, reduces new investment and legitimate job creation. This is not how the private enterprise system is supposed to work. Centrally-directed investment and job creation into activities that produce negative economic value is the stuff of Socialism. As history has proven time and time again, it only works until all the money is gone. That doesn’t sound like “sustainability” to this writer.
Read the entire article here

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Dutch historian on Europe: Nationalism makes democracy possible

"You cannot have democratic accountability in anything bigger than a nation state"
Václav Klaus

The Dutch historian and lawyer Thierry Baudet has written a thought-provoking article about empire and nationalism in Europe. Baudet´s case for nation states and nationalism instead of Brussels empire is rather convincing: 

Partisans of the European project invariably argue that nationalism leads to war and while the development of Europe will safeguard peace – a noble objective that is more than sufficient compensation for any loss in democracy, sovereignty and transparency caused by Brussels. However, this theory is fundamentally flawed.
Nationalism does not lead to war. Attempts to build European empires lead to war. The urge to impose a straitjacket on the will of peoples will leads to war. In short, the European project will lead to war.
Fascism and Nazism were both focused on the creation of Europe. As early as 1933, Mussolini declared that Europe could once again exert its power in the world if it succeeded in establishing a certain political unity.
Oppression exerted by a centralised regime is a source of tension, and one of the major lessons of the First World War was the “principle of self-determination” – most notably promoted by Woodrow Wilson, who advocated respect for different nationalities, arguing that they should not be dissolved and integrated in larger entities.
If we look further back in history, once again we see that it was not “nationalism” but imperialism and the desire to unify Europe that led to wars. Take for example the Napoleonic Wars. For the well-being of Europe, Napoleon wanted the same principles to apply throughout the continent: a European law, a high court of European justice, a common currency, the same units of measurement, the same laws, and so on. Napoleon expected that thereafter Europe would rapidly become a single united nation.
The idea that nationalism leads to war while European unification promotes peace is therefore false. And let’s not forget that Europe has not been at “peace” over the last 50 years. During most of that period, the countries of Europe were engaged in a fight to the death with the Soviet Union, which was once again the expression of yet another anti-national philosophy – in this case communism. As the Communist Manifesto insisted, “Working men have no country.”
As you might expect, today’s attempt to bring about political unity in Europe is a major source of tensions. The political landscape in virtually every country in Europe has now been marked by the emergence of increasingly powerful parties that are opposed to the established order.

Nationalism makes democracy possible

Distrust of the South is increasingly prevalent in Northern Europe, and vice-versa. Here again, it is not nationalism but the European project which is the source of the conflict. It follows that we should seek to create a Europe that is radically different to the current EU.
What we need is a Europe without a central regime: a Europe comprised of nation states, which are not afraid of national differences, and willing to cooperate with each other. The authority of nation states over their own borders should be restored, so that they themselves can decide who they want to allow in their territory.
In the service of their economic interest, they should opt for flexible visa regimes, which will nonetheless allow them to keep control of crime and immigration. We will also have to dissolve the euro to give nation states some monetary breathing space so that they can once again set their own interest rates in response to local conditions. Finally, we will have to get rid of harmonisation which undermines diversity.
Far from being a source of conflict, nationalism is the force that makes democracy possible. Without this unifying force, parliaments would be unable to take legitimate decisions. As the example of Belgium has shown, a lack of national unity can make the administration of a country extremely difficult. The irrational fear of nationalism could ultimately result in the establishment of a restrictive empire in Brussels. The time has come to call a halt and restore the nation state.
Read the entire article here

New study: Grasslands doing fine even during severe droughts

Grasslands adapt well to droughts. That is the main message of a new study:

For much of the year drought has been plaguing American grasslands. But a recent study found that grasses do not appear to be losing the turf war against climate when it comes to surviving with little precipitation.

The Kansas State University-led study looked at the drought tolerance of 426 species of grass from around the world. The goal was to better understand how grasslands in different parts of the world may respond to the changes in frequency and severity of drought in the future.

Grasslands have several important ecological functions, according to Joseph Craine, research assistant professor of biology and the study's lead author. Grasslands convert and store carbon dioxide, are a food source for grazing animals like cattle and bison, and help cool the surrounding atmosphere. "The idea is that if you maintain a diverse grassland, you'll have a large number of drought-tolerant species ready to take over critical functions if there is a change in climate or an extended period of drought, like what we've had this year," Craine said. "Yet, we've never known which grasslands have drought-tolerant species in them." Craine conducted the study with Kansas State University's Troy Ocheltree, research assistant of biology; Jesse Nippert, assistant professor of biology; Gene Towne, biology research associate and Konza Prairie Biological Station fire chief; and Adam Skibbe, information resource specialist for the Division of Biology, as well as with colleagues from the University of Oregon and the Nature Conservancy in Minneapolis, Minn. It is the largest study conducted to quantify how tolerant grass species are to severe drought.

When comparing the drought resistance across the sampled species, the team found that drought-resistant grasses are well distributed across the world. As a result, grasslands are more likely to tolerate the increased periods and intensity of drought that are predicted with climate change in the future, Craine said. "If we still have grasslands that are diverse, the grasslands are going to continue to function relatively well and not change too much," Craine said. 

The benefits of a diverse grassland are evident when the U.S. faced a drought in the 1980s, said Towne, who also collects plant community data. "After that drought we saw a booming explosion of tall grasses the following year," Towne said. "So it really backs up what the study found: that drought forces the grasslands to adapt to the weather conditions so they can get through that rough period."


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Another benefit of the shale gas revolution: A bright and clean future for shipping

The  M/S Viking Grace - to be delivered in January 2013 from the STX  Finland Turky shipyard - will be the largest passenger ferry to operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG), making it the most environmentally sound and energy efficient large passenger vessel in the industry to date. 

Two years ago, the world´s largest ship engine builder Wärtsilä´s Jaakko Eskola predicted a bright future for gas powered ships: 
The number of ships powered by liquefied natural gas may jump 10-fold within five years as anti-pollution rules force owners to switch to the cleaner- burning fuel, the industry’s biggest engine maker said.
“LNG is the future for shipping,” Jaakko Eskola, head of ship power at Helsinki-based Waertsilae Oyj, said by phone on Nov. 12 from Shanghai. Between 800 and 1,000 vessels may use the fuel by 2015, up from about 100 today, he said.

The recent upsurge in the number of LNG ship projects proves that Eskola was right:
“Increasing focus on LNG as a clean and cost effective ship fuel has brought forward initiatives throughout the shipping industry, preparing the ground for a more rapid introduction of LNG as fuel for ships in all segments,” said Mr. Remi Eriksen, COO of DNV Asia Pacific & Middle East. “We believe 500 LNG fuelled ships will be on order by 2015, several thousands by 2020,” he said.
“From a slow start, the interest in LNG as fuel is now very much on the increase. We see studies and projects initiated among national governments, major ship yards and ship owners. Key players throughout the shipping industry are assessing the benefits and risks of going for LNG fuelled vessels, either as conversions or new buildings. This greater interest is creating a momentum that in itself increases the speed in which LNG will be introduced to all segments of shipping.”
The fast growth of the LNG power sector has surprised analysts
Accelerating growth is what you would expect under these circumstances. What surprised us is the rate,” Tom Campbell, LNG-fuel analyst at Zeus,said. “High oil prices, impending emissions regulations and technical advancements are propelling the market faster than we expected.”
A key factor is International Maritime Organization Tier III emissions standards, which are slated to take effect in 2015-2016. The regulations require operators to reduce sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions. For existing ships, after-exhaust treatment is proving more popular, but for newbuilds, operators are taking advantage of LNG’s unique properties.
As LNG is better understood, architects are able to design ships specifically for LNG storage and propulsion,” Campbell said. “Firms such as Wärtsilä now offer integrated onboard fuel delivery systems and power units for shipbuilders.
Zeus’ survey finds that LNG usage is growing beyond coastal ferries in Europe and offshore service vessels for the oil and gas industry, to large cruise ferries and container vessels while expanding geographically from Europe to North America and Asia. Currently projects underway in Belgium, Sweden, Finland, South Korea, Singapore, Japan and elsewhere have made efforts to offer LNG bunkering and incentives to support LNG-fueled marine technology.

LNG powered ships should be of particular interest for countries like the US and Canada, with their huge resources of shale gas: 
Taking North America as an example, the US and Canada are replete with very competitively priced gas as a result of its recent discoveries of shale and other unconventional gas. Powering North American fleets of OSVs, regional ferries, fishing boats, Great Lakers and inland waterway vessels with gas makes eminent good sense from a commercial point of view. 

The fast growth of clean gas power in ships is another testimony to the benefits of the shale gas revolution, which is paving the way for great energy solutions for all kinds of future transportation problems. And all this is taking place without any senseless and costly government or EU regulations! 

(image by STX Finland)

Obama´s failed Russia policy

This is the grim reality of dictator Vladimir Putin´s Russia
In other words, in the last two weeks Moscow has turned into a city where every day one runs a real risk of being arrested for no apparent reason — and brutally arrested at that. At the same time, Parliament is considering a bill that would effectively ban street protests altogether. Over the last 12 years, Putin has eliminated most elections, monopolized all major media and destroyed the political party system, leaving only the street for any opposition. And now even that is being taken away.
Yes, I really mean to say that Putin is a dictator. The only reason this is still questioned after all that we have seen in Russia is that Western leaders and Western media refuse to call him one — while being perfectly content, for example, to brand Belorussia’s Alexandr G. Lukashenko this way. For this I see no good explanation.
And how is the Obama administration reacting to the continuously worsening human rights situation in Russia? If one is to believe Obama´s ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, the US policy is "not pursuing a policy of linkage".  In reality this means that dictator Putin is free to continue his policy of destroying what little is left of human rights and democracy in Russia, without risking any real sanctions from the US. Trade and co-operation in " literally hundreds of other areas" will continue no matter what Putin does: 

We in the Obama administration have been very clear: we want to engage with Russia, government and society, on security issues, economic issues, democracy and human rights issues. And we do that every day. I do that every day in doing my job in Russia. What we don’t want to do is to link issues which we think are unrelated. So we have been trying very diligently to avoid linkage between, say, issues with respect to European security and trade, or issues with respect to human rights and security. We deliberately are not pursuing a policy of linkage.
So, with respect to Jackson-Vanik and PNTR (Permanent Normalized Trade Relations), we have worked very hard with the Russian government to assist them, and I am just quoting back Mr. Putin himself, he said this to my president in Los Cabos [Mexico] a few weeks ago. We helped with that process of Russia’s accession into the World Trade Organization and now we need to finish our part of that by lifting Jackson-Vanik. We want to do that in one thing. We also want to address human rights violations in Russia and, by the way, in all countries around the world. We have looked very closely into the tragic death, the wrongful death, of Mr. Magnitsky, the lawyer, and we have taken action with respect to that already. And therefore, we don’t see why these two things should be linked. We don’t think one needs to replace the other.
But we have a democracy, we have an open system, other senators, other members of Congress, other NGOs have spoken loudly on this. It is a debate going on in Washington. I don’t know how it will end; I know what our position is. We are going to work very hard to make sure whatever disagreement we have about this legislation, however it ends – and I really don’t know how it will end because I’m not an expert on the US Congress. I want to make sure your viewers understand, but we are going to work hard to say, “Let’s deal with this in this room and let’s continue to co-operate in literally hundreds of other areas that we co-operate with Russia in today.”  That’s what we are going to try to do.
Read the entire article here
Let´s hope that the US Congress will finally pass the Magnitsky act, which would at least  partially prevent the Obama administration from pursuing its catastrophic Russia policy: 
The Magnitsky act is hardly going to change Russia overnight. It might result in retaliation by Russia. But it has consequences that Russian officials — most of whom park their assets abroad — really care about. It has the potential to make a difference, just as Jackson-Vanik once did. If only Congress could pass it.
Meanwhile, after suggesting last week that the Russian trade bill would be deferred until after the election, the House leadership quickly backpedaled. Now Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, says it will be brought to a vote in September, before Congress departs again to run for re-election.
I’m not holding my breath.
Read the entire article here

Monday, 6 August 2012

Mario Monti - the amateur as Prime Minister

The technocrat who does not master the art of doublespeak

Mario Monti, Italy´s unelected technocrat Prime Minister has enraged politicians of all parties in Germany - and probably elsewhere, too - with his latest statement

Monti said that European leaders needed to defend their freedom to act against parliaments. "If governments allow themselves to be entirely bound to the decisions of their parliament, without protecting their own freedom to act, a break up of Europe would be a more probable outcome than deeper integration."
Since taking office in Italy in November, Monti has led a cabinet of technocrats that has the support of a broad majority in parliament. Nevertheless, when it comes to economic reforms, austerity measures and the euro bailout, Monti often struggles to patch together a majority ahead of key votes. But his comments also appear to be directed at Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel requires parliamentary approval for most of her major bailout policies.
In Berlin, a number of politicians have spoken out against Monti's comments. "The acceptance of the euro and its rescue is strengthened through national parliaments and not weakened," Joachim Poss, deputy floor leader for the center-left Social Democratic Party, told the Rheinische Post newspaper. The politician said it appeared that the image of parliament in Italy had suffered during the "unspeakable Berlusconi years."
Meanwhile, Frank Schäffler, a prominent euro-skeptic with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party, the junior partner in Merkel's coalition government, said any possible collapse of the European Union would be a product of too little democracy and rule of law rather than too much. His party colleague, FDP floor leader Rainer Brüderle, said when implementing the necessary reforms, people needed to "take care that Europe retains sufficient democratic legitimization."
'We Need Strengthening, Not Weakening of European Democracy'
Criticism of Monti erupted over the weekend after SPIEGEL pre-released quotes from the interview. Michael Grosse-Brömer a senior official with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union said that while a government's ability to act is of decisive importance, "that doesn't in any way justify an attempt to limit the parliamentary controls that are necessary in a democracy."
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, also of the FDP, joined the debate as well, saying that when it comes to European issues, "it is beyond discussion. We need a strengthening, not a weakening of democratic legitimation in Europe."

The sad truth is that the leaders of Europe have practiced exactly what Monti preaches during the last twenty or so years. But they have done it surreptitiously. By openly demanding a smaller role for the parliaments, the technocrat Monti shows that he is not a professional politician, who masters the art of doublespeak. 

(image by wikipedia)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

José Manuel Barroso - an ideal choice to head the new EEC

The Russian EU mission in Brussels recently informed diplomats and journalists in the EU capital about Vladimir Putin´s major foreign policy initiative, the Eurasian Economic Union

The Union aims to create an EU-like suprantional group in the Caucasus. Currently, the group is effectively a customs union but by 2015, the goal is to create a regional free-trade zone with a Eurasian Economic Commission to oversee joint policies, and an independent court to judge rules breaches. Unified monetary, tax and macroeconomic policies are eventually supposed to follow.

In February, the three current members–Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus–agreed to set up the Commission. Where better to trumpet the success than down the road (literally) from its apparent role model, the European Commission, the EU executive.

There is every reason to hope for success for the Eurasian Economic Union. As its European role model is slowly but certainly collapsing, most more or less useless  EU Commissioners could actually be re-located to Putin´s Eurasian Economic Commission. The former Portuguese maoist José Manuel Barroso would e.g. be an ideal candidate for the job as President of this new EEC. His experience as one of the driving forces of the EUSSR would be an invaluable asset when Putin tries to build his new empire.