Saturday, May 28, 2005
OUR NEXT HUMANITARIAN WAR
Strangely enough Sudan is the main country so far to choose to make its oil dealing with China rather than the US. One of the less spectacular but more credible theories is that Bush's decision to attack Iraq, coming shortly after Iraq's decision to price its oil in Euros rather than dollars, thus encouraging the rest of OPEC to do so, thus removing the dollar from its preeminent position, thus making it difficult for the US to sustain its debt mountain, was a least partly caused by that decision.
I have no doubt whatsoever that current disapproval of the Sudanese regime would cease if they just fell into place on this matter. As I have said before whenever our government start talking about human rights it is purely because they are getting us ready to kill somebody.
This from Human Rights Watch (bear in mind that HRW is a overwhelmingly financed by US Trusts & has a long history of blatantly pushing ever possible propaganda lie about Serbs (& censoring the real acts of their Nazi friends) & has, invariably acted in a manner consistent with being a vehicle for racist State Dept propaganda.
CHINA’S INVOLVEMENT IN SUDAN: ARMS AND OIL
China’s need for oil reserves for its growing domestic economy has caused its government to pursue investments in many countries of marginal stability and democracy, but its greatest oil success abroad has been in Sudan.
Questions about China’s financing of arms sales to Sudan and allegations of Chinese prison labor used in the construction of Sudan’s oil pipeline were never addressed.
Arms Trade between China and Sudan
China was not new to Sudan. By the time it invested in GNPOC in December 1996, it was already a familiar arms dealer to many Sudanese governments. The Nimeiri government (1969-85) bought weapons from China. But these purchases rose in the 1990s due to Sudan’s internal war and the promise of improved finances and enhanced international credit derived from its oil potential.
Weapons deliveries from China to Sudan since 1995 have included ammunition, tanks, helicopters, and fighter aircraft. China also became a major supplier of antipersonnel and antitank mines after 1980, according to a Sudanese government official.1387 The SPLA in 1997 overran government garrison towns in the south, and in one town alone, Yei, a Human Rights Watch researcher saw eight Chinese 122 mm towed howitzers, five Chinese-made T-59 tanks, and one Chinese 37 mm anti-aircraft gun abandoned by the government army.1388
Human Rights Watch concluded that while China’s motivation for this arms trade appeared to be primarily economic, China made available easy financing for some of these arms purchases.1389
China’s Need to Acquire Foreign Oil Reserves
China invested in Sudan’s nascent oil industry because of its need to acquire foreign oil reserves. While China expected its industrial development to make increasing demands for more oil, the Chinese oilfields had, by the late 1990s, already passed their peak production. “China until recently relied on its vast northeastern Daqing oilfield to fuel its energy needs, but output is declining and it has yet to find new large domestic supplies,” according to the Chinese government news agency Xinhua.1390
Two U.S. Army analysts whose work was cited as part of a key intelligence failure on Iraq have received job performance awards for the past three years, The Washington Post reported.Of course in Britain Blair ensured that Scarlett was promoted long ago. Yet more proof, if any was needed, that our collective governments knew perfectly well that the WMDs lie was a lie used to promote war.
The civilian analysts work at the Army's National Ground Intelligence Centre (ANGIC), one of the agencies criticised by President George W. Bush's commission investigating U.S. intelligence.
Ahead of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the analysts concluded it was unlikely that aluminium tubes sought by Baghdad were for use in Iraq's rocket arsenal. The Bush administration used that finding as evidence that Saddam Hussein was rebuilding Iraq's nuclear weapons program, the paper said.
The problem, according to the commission, which cited the two analysts' work, is that they did not seek or obtain information available from the Energy Department and elsewhere showing that the tubes were indeed the type used for years as rocket-motor cases by Iraq's military. The panel said the finding represented a "serious lapse in analytic tradecraft" because the center's personnel "could and should have conducted a more exhaustive examination of the question."
A Pentagon spokesman said the awards to the analysts were to recognise their overall contributions on the job.
The most important proof of this, to my mind, is that the IAEC had to call on the US to occupy Iraqi nuclear labs 2 weeks after they declared victory because local looters were unknowingly running off with highly radioactive material. Quite obviously, if the US had thought there was even the slightest chance that WMDs existed they would have ensured that the very first thing they did was to seize such sites to stop the resistance or al Quaeda elements doing so - this was at a time when we were told with a straight face, that there was enough botulism toxin missing to kill every western city.
Instead they seized the oil ministry buildings.
Friday, May 27, 2005
1) Climate Change and Sustainable EnergyNot one of these statements is unambiguously true. The evidence for warming is slight & amounts to half a degree over the last century & half a degree is not going to melt glaciers. Such warming is less than has happened in the past so it is as likely that fluctuations in solar output (eg the Maunder Minimum) may be the primary driver - it is even possible that the genuine increase in CO2 is an effect not a cause of warming. This is an issue which deserves considerable serious research & should be addressed by action only when we actually know what is going on.
Our world is warming. Climate change is a serious long-term threat that has the potential to affect every part of the globe. And we know that by increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mankind’s activities are contributing to this warming. This is an issue we must address now.
The more I look at how we are governed the more it becomes apparent that our leaders really aren't any smarter or well informed than the rest of us & often considerably more biased.
2)At the same time, the world’s energy needs are growing rapidly. Access to secure, reliable and affordable energy sources is fundamentally important for economic stability and growth.2 is sufficiently obvious to be a cliche. 3 is wrong because we know exactly how to provide all the energy we need cheaply, reliably & sustainably - by nuclear power. The current "challenge" is purely to find a nonexistent system which will work as well as the existing system & there ain't no such animal. This is a "problem" which is insoluble but not serious.
3) Meeting these energy needs in a sustainable way is one of the greatest long-term challenges we face as a global community. At the same time, the world’s energy needs are growing rapidly. Access to secure, reliable and affordable energy sources is fundamentally important for economic stability and growth.
The great advantage of "renewable" power is that it provides gainful employment to enormous numbers of bureaucrats, inspectors, subsidy dispensers, subsidy recipients & assorted paper pushers for whom atomic physics is to complicated. Since they can never solve the problem this way they can never do themselves out of a job there is, in fact, an almost complete unity between the G8 leaders & their "opponents". Indeed when you look at the extent that anti-nuclear energy advocates like Scottish Renewables & the Carbon Trust use government provided taxpayers money to frighten the taxpayers with demonstrably dishonest propaganda it is clear that the alliance between global movers & the "environmental" movement is no accident.
The full text can be found here. It is full of phrases like "landmark agreement", "we need to work together", "clear sense of direction", "strong & sustainable economic growth" & "develop a Technical Assistance Facility to assist in the development of better policy frameworks". You won't miss much.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
The Allander Institute has done a considerable service to Scotland, and Professor Brian Ashcroft and his associates have made a number of interesting points (Opinion, 23 May).On the same day Jim Mather, SNP enterprise spokesman, had an article, also on Professor Ashcroft's previous article, putting very much the same points.
However, they say that compared to poorer countries like Ireland, South Korea and China, we are bound to lose out because they are playing "catch up" with us. History shows the opposite. On balance, the fastest growing economies have been the richest and the average rate of world growth is increasing as it gets wealthier.
China may appear to contradict this, but its growth has been concentrated in the wealthier coastal provinces while the poorer hinterland relatively stagnates. South Korea already has 60 per cent of our incomes. Ireland is not playing "catch up", as it passed us a few years ago.
Also, too many of the proposed solutions, such as "skills training for the under-fives" and "achieving coherent planning" are top down and, while well-intentioned, could easily increase government spending. We spend 54 per cent of our money on government, which, even if it were not inefficient, produces no tangible goods. We must cut such spending.
The template for growth has been provided by Ireland - cutting planning restrictions, regulations, and business taxes unleashed an entrepreneurial spirit in a country which had little history of it and produced 7 per cent growth. Scotland could do even better.
However, while it can help Scotland do better, it does not offer a credible means to transform the country or its poor record of economic growth.Even more remarkably, if I am reading this right, he is offering SNP support for the next Enterprise Minister, should he be seriously committed to growth, rather than platitudes, as has previously been done. If so then this would indicate a considerable step forward in political maturity in the SNP & an example of the cross party consensus by which Holyrood (& traditionally any Parliament) was supposed to work & Westminster never does.
In other words, if the Jim Wallace/ Jack McConnell strategy was to copy Mikhail Gorbachev and simply tinker with the existing constitutional model, this book recommends enhanced "Gorbachev". But it is still not enough. All of those involved should talk to the Compaq and British Airways executives who did too little too late in response to Dell and EasyJet and look at how radical the Irish and others have been in transforming their nations.
There are still those who argue that there is no job to do, that Scotland is doing fine; those people include Adair Turner, who bizarrely proposes that Scotland should simply accept relatively poorer economic performance.
Well, that won't wash. The data proves there is a real and compelling need for radical change. Any analysis of that data proves that Scotland's persistently low level of economic growth is the core problem. It's no surprise, then, that a consistent majority of people are in favour of more power for the parliament. They know that fine tuning a failed economic model will not do and that we must tilt the currently un-level playing field in Scotland's favour.
That is why, at the general election, the SNP proposed reducing corporation tax, business rates and water charges to trigger higher levels of economic growth, in an attempt to converge with the higher living standards enjoyed elsewhere.
Such action would be all the more justified when we see Scotland falling from 21st to 22nd in the 2005 IMD table of 30 smaller countries, with the Czech Republic and Hungary rapidly closing on us.
In the meantime, there is the issue of finding a new minister of enterprise and lifelong learning. Frankly, it is not an attractive job, as, without powers, it simply cannot be done and cannot counter the gravitational pull of London and the south-east of England.This is also good tactics on the SNP's part, since, if they are aiming at forming the government next time they are aiming at building contacts with the Lib Dems & supporting a radical Lib Dem Enterprise Minister would do so. Since the Lib Dems are also restive under Labour they would be very well advised to accept such olive branches. At the very least it opens their partner options from 1 to 2.
However, there must be hope that, eventually, an enterprise minister will clamor to change the remit and change Scotland for the better.
That would need someone who is obsessed about Scottish competitiveness, aware of Scotland's many positive attributes and able to sell Scotland to anyone. That person would also be straight-talking, intolerant of claptrap and catchphrases unless they were coupled with real powers, and with an ability to help Scottish business lower costs, boost quality and add real customer-audited value.
In short, we need a new enterprise minister who is willing to confront his colleagues and be fired in order to be in a position to engage the people of Scotland and help produce a genuine national recovery. Otherwise, the next incumbent will prove that, in the mouth of the Executive, "top priority" is a euphemism for "badge of shame" or "embarrassment".
And Scotland urgently deserves better. It is time for pragmatism and an enterprise minister who will get his or her name in the history books.
I have earlier expressed my approval of Ross Finnie's competence, actuarial experience & willingness to take tough decisions (aiming fishing subsidies at cutting the fishing fleet rather than merely open ended subsidy, which annoyed the SNP but was right).
The other letter is from Glasgow Lib Dem Cllr Naill Walker in support of nuclear power. Naill is a genuine environmentalist. He is involved in cleaning up the Kelvin, in an entirely hands on manner. As such he is could clearly be expected to oppose nuclear as part of the general package deal on environmentalist positions. However he is intelligent, able to count (another accountant) & has the intellectual honesty to recognise the black hole we are diving into & the political bravery to openly say so (he also said something similar at this spring's conference).
Those attacking nuclear energy on its safety record should ponder this. How many thousands of coal miners have died in accidents or had their health ruined? Many people have also died in oil exploration accidents such as Piper Alpha. They say nuclear power is expensive, but what about the huge hidden costs of fossil fuels? The costs of climate change are unimaginable.
There are problems involved in disposing of radioactive waste, but progress is being made. It would be preferable if renewable energy could provide our needs, but our demand for energy is increasing and we need nuclear power to fill the gap.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
By the 19th century, the victory of liberalism seemed complete, and government had little power to tax and meddle. The extension of the franchise was seen as a further enhancement of popular liberty. But without formal limits on the power of government, it triggered the cycle of the ever- expanding state we have seen since then.I would suggest here that my hobbyhorse of economic growth may provide some answer to this question. Growth, over any period of time, increases the standard of living of everybody far more than even the most serious redistribution ever could. If a massive state sector not devoted to production is inimical to growth then it is & can be shown to be, inimical to the economic interests of voters.
In the US, a formal constitution has preserved the division of power, and entrenched certain liberties. But it has failed to halt the accretion of state power. In terms of the volume of taxes and legislation, the US hardly differs from any other western democracy.
Further reading: The Policy Institute Site with paper in full
Should liberals despair at this trend? It is certainly hard to see how the tightening dynamic of democracy and big government can be stopped. But it is well to remember that in historical terms this is a recent phenomenon.
Even the oldest modern democracies have only developed fully in the last hundred years or so. Things can change quickly. We must strive to remind people of the benefits of limited government, and urge them to transfer their allegiance away from democracy as an end in itself, and back to liberty.
QUESTION TIME LIE
By any objective standard the Iraq invasion, criminal as it was, was vastly more lawful than bombing democratic Belgrade to assist in genocide of a nation to whom we were & are legally committed to "take no action against the territorial integrity & unity of"(Helsinki Treaty). It should be a matter of the deepest shame to any Lib Dem politician that they violated every principle liberalism is supposed to represent merely because they were following orders.
Instead Mr Taylor has deliberately lied on national TV. I have sent this email to him & subsequently to the party & its leaders. Should any of them, or indeed anybody in the world wish to defend Taylor or the Lib Dems I will let you know:
copy of letter sent to Matthew Taylor MP. The party may wish either to justify his statement or to dissociate yourselves from it.
Matthew Taylor MP (Lib Dem)
Last night on Question Time (19th May). You stated that NATO's KLA Genocide War was, unlike the invasion of Iraq, a legal act. While I accept that that statement represents the very highest standard of honesty or indeed decency of which you, acting as a spokesman for you party, or as an individual, are capable, it appears to be a complete, deliberate & absolute lie.
You knew that particular war was fought knowingly & deliberately to assist your KLA hirelings to commit genocide. The desire to commit genocide is not a lawful reason for war. Whether you knew in advance that you would also be asisting in the kidnap, rape & sale of thousands of schoolchildren, I cannot say, though obviously you have expressed no current objection to doing so.
I intend to publish this letter on my blog & thus will obviously do you the courtesy of including your reply, or failing that any from your party which is equally implicated in your pro-Nazi lie, detailing why you claimed to believe that that particular illegal war was legal.