Saturday, June 10, 2006
ON COALITION IN SCOTLAND & THE SNP'S ATTITUDE TO THE TORIES
Assuming that it will take 3 parties to make a majority making enemies of the Tories means that the only coalition the SNP could enter would be a Labour one (in which Labour could insist on dominance if only because they would know they could always cut a deal with the Tories). It is possible that the SNP are deliberately trying to force the the creation of a unionist Labour/SLD/Tory coalition in the hopes that the independence minded SNP/SSP/Greens will take power next time - if so I think this would be both a betrayal of the Scots people & a long odds bet.
The alternative I have given would require a degree of goodwill from the Tories which the SNP have no right to expect but somebody has to break logjams.
The problem with Alec Salmond girning about the Tories being prepared to do a deal with Labour after the next election is that the SNP have nobody to blame for this but themselves They have made it a constitutional point that they not enter a coalition with Tories so what is a poor Annabel to do? To form a majority at the next election will probably take 3 large parties & to form a minority government will take two. In many ways, with their Irish style pro-growth policies the SNP would be a good fit with the left moving Tories but so long as the SNP take this attitude simple maths shows that Labour & the SLD have 2 x 3 party options & 3 x 2 party ones whereas the SNP & Tories have 1 & 2 respectively. Thus the odds are, by the SNP's attitude, they will keep a discredited Labour in power
There are some other options. That the Greens will grow (& prove sufficiently reasonable) as to sustain a 2 party coalition but I don't find that very credible. That the Tories might offer to support an SNP grouping in confidence votes until their next conference when the membership could decide whether the SNP would change their rules & stay in government, or not. Finally, bearing in mind that David Cameron's 18 month policy review will, if the Scottish Tories don't produce their own policies, leave them going into an election totally unable to say what they stand for. Thus facing an electoral meltdown.
It would be a bad thing for Scotland if Labour were kept in power not by their own abilities but by the kamikaze tactics of the opposition.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Before the first world war 2 competing systems of alliances grew up aimed at each other both trying to maintain the international order, in their own interests. This happened because the Concert of Europe (agreement between the 5 great powers) had broken down.Then I read this article in Asia Times which puts it as much less a military organisation but, in some ways more alarmingly, as an energy alliance.
The origins of this group committed to stopping incursion of "terrorists & armed gangs" & stopping seccession is clearly aimed at what happened to Yugoslavia. By destroying all concept of the rule of law in going to war to help KLA Moslem terrorists commit genocide NATO are directly responsible for the creation of the SCO.
It is vital that the NATO states stop throwing their weight around & start supporting a peaceful & lawful international order. America may consider Iran a rogue terrorist supporting state but many in the world, with considerable legal reason, consider America one. Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.
In recent months, however, this strategy of global energy dominance has shown signs of producing just the opposite: a kind of "coalition of the unwilling", states that increasingly see no other prospect, despite traditional animosities, but to cooperate to oppose what they see as a US push to control the future security of their energyWhile the US, Britain & NATO have been going around proving how important they are by attacking people the SCO Members (Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan & now Iran) have been getting richer & making the world safer for each other. Once again our official media have been reporting only the particular screw-ups inIraq which we are involved in & ignoring the big picture.
.......Curiously, Washington has repeatedly accused China of "not playing by the rules", in terms of its oil politics, declaring that China is guilty of "seeking to control energy at the source", as though that had not been US energy policy for the past century.
.......Next Thursday, member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by China and Russia, will reportedly invite Iran, currently an observer, into full membership. Even if full membership is postponed, as has been mooted, the fact remains that Russia and China both want to seal closer cooperation with Iran in Eurasian energy cooperation.
....... SPEAKING FREELY
US outflanked in Eurasia energy politics
By F William Engdahl
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.
The United States' global energy-control strategy, it's now clear to most, was the actual reason for the highly costly regime change in Iraq, euphemistically dubbed "democracy" by Washington. But while it is preoccupied with implanting democracy in the Middle East, the United States is quietly being outflanked in the rush to secure and control major energy sources of the Persian Gulf, the Central Asian Caspian Basin, Africa and beyond.
The quest for energy control has informed Washington's support for high-risk "color revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan in recent months. It lies behind US activity in West Africa, as well as in Sudan, source of 7% of
China's oil imports. It lies behind US policy vis-a-vis President Hugo Chavez' Venezuela and President Evo Morales' Bolivia.
In recent months, however, this strategy of global energy dominance has shown signs of producing just the opposite: a kind of "coalition of the unwilling", states that increasingly see no other prospect, despite traditional animosities, but to cooperate to oppose what they see as a US push to control the future security of their energy.
If the trend of recent events continues, it won't be US-style democracy that is spreading, but rather Russian and Chinese influence over major oil and gas supplies.
Some in Washington are beginning to realize that important figures might have been too clumsy in recent public statements about both China and Russia, two nations whose cooperation in some form is essential to the success of the global US energy project.
Ripping into China and Russia
Contrary to advice from older China hands, including former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, architect of president Richard Nixon's 1972 opening to China, the White House denied visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao the honor of a full state dinner when he visited in April, serving instead a short "state lunch". Hu was publicly humiliated by a well-known Falungong heckler at the White House press conference.
A few weeks later, Vice President Dick Cheney slapped Russian President Vladimir Putin with the most open attack on Russia's internal human-rights policy as well as its energy policy in a speech in the Baltic state of Lithuania. There, Cheney declared of Russia, "The government has unfairly and improperly restricted the rights of her people." He accused Russia of energy "intimidation and blackmail". Some days later, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reiterated that Russia should be "pressed" on democratic reforms. Rice also slapped China in the face in March during a trip to Southeast Asia, calling China a "negative force" in Asia.
Curiously, Washington has repeatedly accused China of "not playing by the rules", in terms of its oil politics, declaring that China is guilty of "seeking to control energy at the source", as though that had not been US energy policy for the past century.
The significance of taking aim simultaneously at both Russia and China, the two Eurasian giants, the one the largest investor in US Treasury bonds, the other the world's second-most-developed military nuclear power, reflects the realization in Washington that all may not be as seamless in the quest for global domination as originally promised by various strategists in and around the administration of President George W Bush.
Next Thursday, member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by China and Russia, will reportedly invite Iran, currently an observer, into full membership. Even if full membership is postponed, as has been mooted, the fact remains that Russia and China both want to seal closer cooperation with Iran in Eurasian energy cooperation.
The SCO was founded in June 2001 by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its stated goal was to facilitate "cooperation in political affairs, economy and trade, scientific-technical, cultural, and educational spheres as well as in energy, transportation, tourism, and environment protection fields". Recently, however, the SCO is beginning to look like an energy-financial bloc in Central Asia consciously being developed to serve as a counter-pole to US hegemony.
Russia's energy geopolitics
In recent months SCO members have taken several potentially strategic steps to distance themselves from energy and monetary dependence on the US. In his recent State of the Union speech, President Putin announced that Russia is planning to make the ruble convertible into other major currencies and to use it in its oil and gas transactions.
A convertible ruble is to be introduced, according to latest Russian statements, on July 1, six months earlier than originally planned. Russia also has stated it plans to shift a share of its now considerable dollar reserves away from the US currency and that it will use 40 billion US dollars to purchase gold reserves.
Russia's state-owned natural-gas transport company, Transneft, has consolidated its pipeline control to become the sole exporter of Russian natural gas. Russia has by far the world's largest natural-gas reserves and Iran the second-largest. With Iran inside, the SCO would control the vast majority of the world's natural-gas reserves, as well as a significant portion of its oil reserves
........ China energy geopolitics also in high gear
For its part, Beijing is also moving to "secure energy at the sources". China's booming economy, with 10% growth, requires massive natural resources. China became a net importer of oil in 1993. By 2045, China will depend on imported oil for 45% of its energy needs.
On May 26, crude oil began to flow into China through a newly completed pipeline from Atasu, Kazakhstan, to the Alataw Pass in China's far-western region of Xinjiang, a 1,000-kilometer route announced only last year. It marked the first time oil is being pumped directly into China. Kazakhstan is also a member of the SCO, but had been regarded by Washington since the collapse of the Soviet Union as in its sphere of influence, with ChevronTexaco, Rice's former oil company, the major oil developer.
By 2011 the pipeline with extend some 3,000km to Dushanzi, where the Chinese are building their largest oil refinery, due to completed by 2008. China financed the entire $700 million pipeline and will buy the oil. Last year the China National Petroleum Corp bought PetroKazakhstan for $4.2 billion and will use it to develop oilfields in Kazakhstan.
China is also in negotiations with Russia for a pipeline to deliver Siberian oil to northeastern China, a project that could be completed by 2008, and a natural-gas pipeline from Russia to Heilongjiang province in China's northeast. China just passed Japan to rank as world's second-largest oil importer behind the United States.
Beijing and Moscow are also integrating their electricity grids. Late last month the China State Grid Corp announced plans to increase imports of Russian electricity fivefold by 2010.
While I very strongly believe in the importance of dissenting opinions (you may have guessed) I do not intend to allow obscenities & obvious lies from him. This means I will not knowingly be publishing comments from Mr Lam of Quebec (under numerous aliases). Should he ever be willing to debate without obscenities & allow honest comments on his blog I would be happy to change this. I very much regret if this ever inadvertently results in me disallowing any anonymous comment from a real human being.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
"While theoretical reasons for the hormesis effect are weak, arguably because it is not a well researched field, it has been proven for a century that radiatiion hormesis does work in the laboratory on bacterial cultures & plants. It can be argued whether the evidence is sufficient to conclude that it works also for large multicellular life forms such as tigers & ourselves (I think it is) but it certainly works at the cellular level.
Support for hormesis in the laboratory can be found here
" Bhattarcharjee in 1996 showed that when the mice preirradiated with just adapting doses of 1 cGy/day for 5 days (without a challenge dose), thymic lymphoma was induced in 16% of the animals (Bhattarcharjee 1996). Interstingly, when preirradiated mice were exposed to a 2 Gy challenge dose, thymic lymphoma was induced again in 16% of the animals. However, the challenge dose alone, induced thymic lymphoma in 46% of the mice. From these results, it can be concluded that the low dose preirradiation possibly cancel the induction of thymic lymphoma by the 2 Gy challenge dose. In 1996, Azzam and his colleagues showed that a single exposure of C3H 10T1/2 cells to doses as low as 0.1 cGy reduces the risk of neoplastic transformations. They suggested that a single low-dose at background or occupational exposurelevels, may reduce cancer risk."
In a less scientific part of the same article we see that just as it used to be entirely PC to fear global cooling at one time the beneficial effects of radioactivity were entirely trendy
In the early days of X-rays and radioactivity it was generally believed that ionizing radiation has numerous beneficial effects. It was claimed that blindness might be cured by X-rays. Ladies corsets contained radium! Drinking mineral water containing radium was very popular. People went to spas to drink radioactive water or stayed for hours in caves to be irradiated by ionizing radiation (for a review see Wolff 1992). Between 1925 and 1930 over 400,000 bottles of distilled water containing radium 226 and radium 228 were sold. It was advertised that some mixtures could treat over 150 disease, especially lassitude and sexually impotence (Macklis 1990).Actually if you go back to, at least, the times of the ancient Romans "taking the waters" at volcanic springs has been considered useful. Apart from the presence of sulpher in such water its main difference from rain is a very high rate of radioactivity. The Romans obviously could not measure this but did see effects.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
The environmental activist group Greenpeace wanted to be prepared to counter President Bush's visit last week to Pennsylvania to promote his nuclear energy policy.
"This volatile and dangerous source of energy" is no answer to the country's energy needs, shouted a Greenpeace fact sheet, decrying the "threat" posed by the reactors Bush visited in Limerick. But after that assertion, the Greenpeace authors were apparently stumped while searching for the ideal menacing metaphor.
"In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]," the sheet said.
The Greenpeace spokesman who issued the memo, Steve Smith, told the Web site that a colleague was making a joke in a draft that was then mistakenly released.
The final version did not mention Armageddon; instead it warned of plane crashes and reactor meltdowns.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
So should we stay.
Firstly the EU is often held up as having prevented war in Europe. I disagree. The reason FranGermanyrmany didn't go to war during the Cold war is that the USSR was the big player & anything else was irrelevant. To that extent the EU wbuttresstress to NATO rather than an opponent of conflict. Indeed the only war there has been in Europe is directly the EU's fault. The Yugoslav wars came about because Germany told the leaders of Slovenia, Croatia & Bosnia/Hercegovina that they would veto Yugoslav membership of the EU but support separatist states joining. There is however a serious military problem in Europe. The technological nature of war is now such that the relatively advanced nations of Europe could all produce & deliver their own WMDs. Since distances are so small this could give any one of about 30 countries a first strike capability against all the others. It may be inconceivable that anybody would ever do so but in war the inceivable happens. Thus we definitely need some restriction on our sovereignty.
Secondly, in my view, the thing that brought Europe to pre-eminence is its divisions. When Cheng Ho the Chinese explorer returned to China in the 1430s & found the Emperor's opinion had changed there was nobody else to supChinesehines exploration. When Christopher Columbus, 60 years later, found the king of Portugal would not support him he tried the king of France & then England & finally Spain because these options were open to him. A single dominating Eurogovernmentement able to control such things as GM & nuclear power destroys our greatest strength.
Thirdly the facts speak for themselves. The world's economy is growing at nearly 5%. Europe's at 2% per annum. We would be better to be tied to a rising rather than a falling region.
To go rather further on the question of how to bring this about I think it is worth saying that so long as we have our present electoral system whereby power lies, almost entirely, in whichever of 2 parties happens to have the larger vote, & within that among the party organisers it is (A) unlikely that the population will have the enthusiasm for British "democratic" institutions which would make them seriously more popular than Brussels & (B) people will have a serious chance to vote on these lines - currently anti-EU opinion sees their best chance as capturing the Tory party & using it as a vehicle for pulling out. I would suggest that they should, at least equally devote themselves to bringing about a proportional electroal system.This would producesome strange bedfellows (ie the Lib Dems & SNP0 but that is how majorities are built.