Saturday, 29 June 2013

The European Council's fight against youth unemployment is a joke

Against the background of a weak short-term economic outlook, youth unemployment has reached unprecedented levels in several Member States, with huge human and social costs. Urgent action must be taken. 
Today, the European Council agreed on a comprehensive approach to combat youth unemployment, building on the following concrete measures: speeding up and frontloading of the Youth Employment Initiative; speeding up implementation of the Youth Guarantee; increased youth mobility and involvement of the social partners

Conclusions of the European Council (27/28 June 2013)

EU "president" Herman Van Rompuy is pleased with the "productive" EU "summit", which agreed a program to fight youth unemployment in Europe. Van Rompuy and the other summiteers may be proud of their achievement, but they should be ashamed. The EU initiative is only a drop in the ocean, which will not make any real difference. For once, I can agree with much of this analysis published in the World Socialist Web Site:
At their summit Thursday in Brussels, the government heads of the European Union decided to provide six billion euros for unemployed youth. The measure is officially described as a “Call to Action on Youth Unemployment.” In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is a travesty and insult to the intelligence of young people and only underscores the fact that an entire generation has no future in a capitalist Europe. 
In the 27 member countries of the EU, one in four young people under 25 is officially counted as unemployed—a total of 5.6 million people. The real figure is even higher since the official statistics take into account only those who have been looking for a job within the past four weeks and who can take on a new a job within two weeks.
The six billion euros are to be spent over the years 2014 and 2015. This amounts to an average of 45 euros per month per unemployed person, i.e., a drop in the ocean.
Even prominent corporate and political figures conceded that this is a token measure. Thomas Mayer, chief economist at Deutsche Bank, called it “more a form of symbolic politics,” and Martin Schulz, president of the EU Parliament, said the money allocated was “not enough.”
According to the European Commission, about 4.5 trillion euros of public funds have been allocated to prop up the continent’s banking system since 2008. Now the same European governments are freeing up 0.13 percent of this sum for European youth. This ratio indicates the relative importance attached by the ruling elite to the youth of Europe as compared to the banks.
The six billion euros is not even new money. Rather, it is to be diverted from other expenditures in the existing budget.
Of course,  the World Socialist Web Site writer Peter Schwarz is wrong when he claims that "an entire generation has no future in a capitalist Europe". On the contrary, the huge youth unemployment is a direct consequence of the centrally planned policies of the Brussels politburo. In a truly free European market, without the euro straightjacket, we would not have a serious youth unemployment problem.

Australian religious leaders jump on the alarmist global warming bandwagon

Religious leaders in Australia seem to be a credulous bunch of people. They do not realize that jumping on the alarmist global warming bandwagon will backfire:

MUSLIM, Uniting, Catholic and Hindu religious leaders are to write to the Federal Government and Opposition, urging quick climate change action to help avert a devastating 4C rise in global temperatures.
The religious leaders say they are as one on human-induced climate change and have called for bipartisan support for carbon pricing, the fast-tracking of renewable energy and the winding back of coal exports.
Carbon pricing is opposed by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott but supported by Labor.
The letter follows a prediction from scientists at a conference in Tasmania this week that sea level rises will likely be double the .5m forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the end of this century.
Professor Tim Naish, director of the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington, said the window was closing quickly on mitigation options in terms of a world response.
"Rises could be higher than what the upper bounds of IPCC would suggest," Prof Naish said. "We have got to prepare for a world with extreme climate. Wetter areas will be wetter and warmer places will get warmer."
CO2 levels have passed 400 ppm for the first time in 3 million years.
Weather bureau chief Rob Vertessy said humankind was changing the earth at a rapid pace and in a way that had never happened before.
"Change on the planet largely stems from population growth, growing consumption and that is going to accelerate all kinds of environmental processes," Dr Vertessy said.
"We are going to lose a lot more natural capital and the climate and earth will change with it."
Prominent religious leaders to sign the letter include the Grand Mufti Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammad; the Chair of Catholic Earthcare Australia, Archbishop Philip Wilson; the President of the Uniting Church Assembly, Rev Professor Andrew Dutney; and the Chair of the Hindu Council of Australia, Professor Nihal Agar.

Read the entire article here

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Wall Street Journal on Obama's war on carbon energy: "Natural gas is next"

In the presidential election campaign Barack Obama portrayed himself as a champion of the US shale gas revolution, taking credit for the fracking boom he had nothing to do with. Now, less than a year later, the president shows his true colors by announcing a de facto war on all forms of carbon energy, including shale gas. The Wall Street Journal also notes Obama's contempt for the democratic consent:

Daniel Shrag of Harvard, an Obama science adviser, told the New York Times Monday that "Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they're having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what's needed." At least he's honest, though in truth Mr. Obama's target is all forms of carbon energy. Natural gas is next. ---

Speaking of futility, Mr. Obama's ambitions will have no effect on global atmospheric carbon concentrations. Emissions are already falling in the U.S., thanks primarily to the shale gas boom, but emissions are rising in the developing world. Mr. Obama pandered to the climate-change absolutists by saying "We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society." But he never explained how his plan will reduce warming, or why climate models have failed to predict the warming slowdown of the last dozen or so years even as more CO2 is pumped into the atmosphere.


Most striking about this Obama legacy project is its contempt for democratic consent. Congress has consistently rejected an Obama-style "comprehensive" anticarbon energy plan. That was true even when Democrats ran the Senate with a filibuster-proof majority in 2009-2010 and killed his cap-and-trade energy bill. The only legislative justification for Mr. Obama's new plan is an abusive interpretation of the Clean Air Act, which was last revised in 1990 and never mentions carbon as a pollutant.
So instead Mr. Obama will impose these inherently political policy choices via unaccountable bureaucracies, with little or no debate. Mr. Obama might have at least announced his war on carbon before the election and let voters have a say. Instead he posed as the John the Baptist of fossil fuels in locales such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia—taking credit for the shale fracking boom he had nothing to do with and running ads attacking Mitt Romney as anticoal.
Now safely re-elected, Mr. Obama figures he can do what he pleases. The Americans who will be harmed will have to console themselves with 99 weeks of jobless benefits, food stamps and ObamaCare.
Read the entire editorial here

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Another flawed Stratfor article on Putin's Russia

Forbes has published the first part in a three-part  series on Russia's leadership after Putin eventually leaves office. There is no mention of the author/authors - the only information given is that the article is provided by Stratfor - but the text bears the hallmarks of Robert D. Kaplan, Chief Geopolitical Analyst at Stratfor. 
Although the article contains some interesting analysis, its point of departure is utterly false. Kaplan and his associates at Stratfor clearly idealize autocracy and dictatorship as the "natural" way of governing Russia:
Without a heavy-handed leader, Russia struggles to maintain stability. Instability is inherent to Russia given its massive, inhospitable territory, indefensible borders, hostile neighboring powers and diverse population. Only when it has had an autocratic leader who set up a system where competing factions are balanced against each other has Russia enjoyed prosperity and stability.
A system of balances under one resolute figure existed during the rule of some of the country’s most prominent leaders, such as Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Alexander II, Josef Stalin — and now Vladimir Putin.
Each Russian leader must create and tinker with this system to ensure the governing apparatus does not atrophy, fracture or rise in mutiny. For this reason, Russian leaders have continually had to rearrange the power circles beneath them. Significant adjustments have been necessary as Russia grows and stabilizes or declines and comes under threat.
In keeping with its general tone, the Stratfor article also emphasizes "the decade of chaos" during the Yeltsin presidency, completely neglecting the fact that Boris Yeltsin - in spite of his many mistakes - was a force for good, as professor Herbert J. Ellison points out in his book "Boris Yeltsin and Russia's Democratic Transformation":

He created a new office of Russian president, to which he was elected; designed a democratic constitution for the Soviet Union that precipitated a coup attempt by traditionalist communist leaders; granted independence to the nations of the Soviet Union; and replaced Communist Party rule with democracy and the socialist economy with a market economy. In a short period, he had succeeded in becoming the first popularly elected leader in a thousand years of Russian history. He had blocked violent attempts at counter-revolution and overcome powerful resistance to his reform program. His achievements rank among the most extraordinary feats of political leadership in the twentieth century.

And there were other good things during the Yeltsin presidency:

Of all of Russia's many rulers since the country was unified some 500 years ago (excluding the shortlived Provisional Government of 1917), Yeltsin was the only one who permitted almost complete freedom of speech and religion. The 1990s was the only time in Russian history when adherents of almost every ideology were free to express their views and criticize the government. Adherents of virtually every religion were for the first time free to practice their faith. Yeltsin also deserves credit for dismantling most of the Soviet Union's huge military-industrial complex, which once accounted for anywhere from a third to a half of GDP. Finally, the Yeltsin era saw a vast expansion of both political and economic freedom, even if tainted by corruption. Here too, there was greater progress than under any other Russian ruler, with the possible exception of the 19th century reformist Czar Alexander II, who abolished serfdom and thereby freed the majority of the population from a state of near-slavery.

Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng praises the success of democracy in Taiwan

Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese human rights activist, right now on a visit to Taiwan, has a clear message that should not be forgotten: 

Chen, who has long been a critic of China's botched human rights record, sought to encourage China to follow the example of Taiwan's democracy at a press conference on Monday in Taipei.
"The democracy and rule of law in Taiwan show that democracy is not an institution that is unique to the West," Chen said at the press conference, as reported by The New York Times. "The success of democracy in Taiwan also exposed the Chinese government's lie that democracy does not work for the Chinese."
According to The Associated Press, Chen went on to assert that China's eventual democratization could "spell the end of dictatorship for the entire humankind."
Read the entire aticle here

Monday, 24 June 2013

Kerry tells Indians - who celebrate the discovery of 133 new species - that "the science of climate change is screaming at us for action"

Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to India, has praised his old pal "Patch" - and his own over 20 years of climate alarmism: 

"For years, as Patch, as we call him fondly, Dr. Pachauri knows, I have been working on this in the United States, with others, where for over 20 years we all know we haven’t been able to do all that we want to do, for a number of different reasons." --

"From the hearings that I took part in with Al Gore back in 1987, the first hearings ever in the United States Senate on the subject of climate change, through the Rio Earth Summit that I attended, through Copenhagen, Kyoto, and many debates in between, I have watched in dismay while responsible people act irresponsibly, ignoring science and fact. This is an issue that is personal to the many people who’ve worked on it, like Dr. Pachauri, people who have invested time and reputation in order to try to get ahead of the curve." --

"And here in India, the home of so much of the history of science, we must recognize that today the science of climate change is screaming at us for action."

The screaming appears to have been so loud that Kerry could not hear that the Indians were celebrating the latest results of "climate change" in their country:

New Delhi: Scientists have discovered 133 new species of fauna in India and among the most significant is a bird - yet to be named - found in the Great Nicobar Island. 

Scientists have also discovered new species of spiders, reptiles, insects and fish in various parts of the country that have been compiled by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) in 'Animal Discoveries 2012'. 

Releasing the book recently, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarjan said India has only about two percent of the world's land surface, but is known to have over 7.52 percent of the total animal species in the world. 

"I am indeed happy to know that 133 species which are new to science were discovered by scientists from ZSI and other universities and colleges across the country. This shows the extent of biodiversity our country holds within it," Natarajan said. 

"I am sure that by exploring the various remote and isolated places within the 10 major biogeographic zones of our country, we can discover many more species," she added. 

It is estimated that about twice the present number of species still remain to be discovered in India alone. India accounts for over 92,000 animal species. Apart from these, scientists have also found 109 species of animals recorded for the first time in India. 

Elaborating on the important discoveries, ZSI director K. Venkataraman said: "A significant one would be that of a yet to be named bird in the Great Nicobar Island." 

"Though our researchers have taken a picture of this elusive bird during one of their surveys in the island, efforts are on to gather more information on this bird, including netting one for proper description," Venkataraman told IANS.