Sunday, 18 December 2011

Invasion of Goa - 50 years

December 18th 1961, the armed forces of the self described "pacifist" Nehru, attack Portuguese India, the first and last bastion of European civilization in the subcontinent.

Portuguese India - Coat of Arms
Map of Portuguese territories in India
A few lines by the poet M.Daedalus (, to honour the day:

Goa 1961

A taciturn rain envelops the morning,
Tears drop from the cross of a white basilica,
India wears a Mediterranean nostalgia.

Man-made thunders agitate the palm-trees
The birds ebb in the ungrateful firmament
Afonso de Albuquerque is invoked in Konkani
"Nehru is coming" a soldier shouts
"Bandit, not pundit!" somebody retorts.

Pathetically the radio plays patriotic songs
Gagged by jet aircraft gutting the clouds
Shiva avenges the kingdom of Cambay
Kalashnikovs echo the screams of Bijapur
Salazar flies away in yesterday's newspaper
The Queen of the Orient drowns in the Mandovi.

Elephants loose their composure
Austins and Peugeots lie abandoned on the harbour road
Oranges and panic are spread over the pier
A man in white suit wraps a fist full of earth
Panjim dies for the sake of a life to be invented.

The empire sheds European and Asian blood
Dadra and Nagar Aveli, were the first perfidious blows
Goa, Daman and Diu completed the five wounds.


Friday, 9 December 2011

Dec 9, 2011: the first day of Europe's new life

Merkel and Sarkozy point the way... or poking fun at Cameron?
Today, 20 years after the Maastricht Treaty, the temptation may be to start a long rant on Britain's often successful attempts to block European integration, in general acting on behalf of its former colonies across the Atlantic. Thirty eight years of British Euro-skepticism and hostility have now been repaid with simple indifference. Britain was always the spanner in the European works, or as Der Spiegel puts it "the fly in the European soup"!

Anyway, let bygones be bygones and let us celebrate the first day of a new era: a two-speed Europe.

We are done with the hypocrisy, no more lowest common denominator agreements. The continent will march on forwards, and the island north of La Manche can continue swimming towards America... except that maybe Scotland may decide to join us later on.

History proved the Charles de Gaulle was right all the time: Britain should never have entered, having instead some kind of association agreement at the same level of Turkey. The unprepared US-led enlargement towards the East was also an error: although these nations are an absolutely essential part of Europe, the calendar was all wrong, i.e. deepening of the Union should have came before a formal enlargement. This has led us to a moment when only creative destruction will solve the problem, and Merkel and Sarkozy have earned their place in history. The debt crisis is Europe's blessing in disguise.

So we have a draft intergovernmental treaty, but that is only a first step. Europe now needs the instruments of representative democracy. Of course integrated economic policies, foriegn policy and defense are essential, but none are totally legitimate without the creation of European-wide political parties. Without truly European parties setting the agenda, we will always face the risk of crippling balkanization.

Having solved the problem of a Union eternaly blocked by the British, of course the intergovernmental agreement (the "compact") itself still has to run the gauntlet of approval in each signatory country. Furthermore, a 'fiscal union' may come in many forms, and the devil is in the detail. 'Fiscal union' at most will be an euphemism for common rules for budgetary discipline across the Eurozone, there will be no merger of tax structures and authorities.

Naturally the less naïve among us are also raising fundamental doubts on the sufficiency of the intergovernmental agreement as a tool to return public debt markets to normality, strong tools such as Eurobonds or the ability of the ECB to make large scale bond purchases or increase money supply remain off the agenda. Even simple budgetary discipline rules imposed from outside will only be effective if non-compliance will lead to powerful sanctions. Writing budget prudence into the constitution of each member country per se is not enough, if politicians have a talent is is fudging the rules. In case it was forgotten: rules for budgetary discipline across the EU are already in place. The Euro convergence criteria (aka Maastricht criteria) require that member states keep deficits below 3 per cent of GDP and ratio of gross government debt to GDP must not exceed 60% at the end of the preceding fiscal year.

Charles de Gaulle vindicated at last - Gallic revenge on the Brits

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Muammar Gaddafi: he died fighting, as per his promise

Muammar Gaddafi killed - rebels drag the body
May he rest in peace, Muammar Gaddafi 1942-2011.
The man fought against all the odds and died fighting after air and ground attacks.
Gaddafi stayed true to his words, that he would stay in Libya till the bitter end.
Rarely does a politician keeps his promises in such a dramatic way.

"There is a conspiracy to control Libyan oil and to control Libyan land, to colonise Libya once again. This is impossible, impossible. We will fight until the last man and last woman to defend Libya from east to west, north to south." 

and in his last will:

"Let the free people of the world know that we could have bargained over and sold out our cause in return for a personal secure and stable life. We received many offers to this effect but we chose to be at the vanguard of the confrontation as a badge of duty and honour.
Even if we do not win immediately, we will give a lesson to future generations that choosing to protect the nation is an honour and selling it out is the greatest betrayal that history will remember forever despite the attempts of the others to tell you otherwise."

Ha-Makom yenahem etkhem b'tokh sha ar aveilei Tzion vYerushalayim

After Iraq, Egypt and Tunisia, another Arab nation is ready for "Democracy".
We already have seen what "democracy" has brought to Iraq, and Egypt, and it seems that less blood flowed and more tolerance existed under Saddam and Mubarak. The only positive secondary effects will be some degree of freedom for Kurds and Berbers, but even those will be lost in a return to medieval Islamic intolerance.

Intelligence and real-politik are gone from our Washington lead foreign policy. As if the self defeating wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not enough, the West will live to regret supporting these revolutions.

For how long will beautiful Damascus keep a Christian quarter?
Good luck Bashar!

Colonel Gadhafi in his glory days (1969)
Col. Muammar Gaddafi, the Jewish-descendent leader of Libya is greeted by President Hussein Obama, the Muslim Raïs of America - Hypocrisy in motion, an operetta like prelude to a backstabbing

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Evolving World Power Balance: China's first aircraft carrier starts sea trials

Chinese aircraft carrier Shi-Lang - artist's impression - pennant number 83

She was known as Riga when her keel was laid down in Nikolayev (Ukraine SSR) in 1985, to be the second ship in the Admiral Kuznetsov class. She was launched in 1988, and renamed Varyag in 1990, as Riga was in the process of becoming a foreign city. Construction stopped by 1992, with the ship structurally complete but without equipment or weapons.

With the dissolution of the USSR, the Ukraine became the owner, but lacked the money and expertise to proceed. The Varyag rusted for several years and then was stripped. In early 1998, she lacked engines, a rudder, and much of her operating systems.

It was purchased from the Ukraine at auction for US$20 million by Chong Lot Travel Agency, believed to be acting as a proxy for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). At the time Chong Lot stated that the ship would become a floating entertainment center and casino in Macau.

As expected, Macau wasn't to be the final destination, though it would be interesting if the old Portuguese naval center would become an important base for the PLAN. In 2005, the Varyag ended up at a dry dock in Dalian, home to the PLA Dalian Naval Academy. There, China's first batch of carrier aviators began training in 2008, undergoing a four-year course.

The Chinese have been in touch with Russian naval construction firms, and may have purchased plans and technology for equipment installed in the Kuznetsov. Until last year, progress was slow. On June 8, 2011 the chief of China's General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) confirmed that China's first aircraft carrier was under construction. On the morning of August 10 the ship began her first sea trials.

Under the PLAN the carrier will bear the highly symbolic name of Shi Lang (施琅). Shī Láng; 1621-1696) was a Ming-Qing admiral. He was commander-in-chief of the Manchu fleets which destroyed the power of the Zheng family and conquered Formosa (Taiwan) in 1681.

Observers predict that she will call Sanya Naval Base on China's southern Hainan Island her mother port. If that proves true, the carrier will be assigned to the PLA Navy's South China Sea Fleet, likely sailing back and forth from the Persian Gulf to help secure Beijing's crude oil shipping line.

But besides a defensive role in protecting the vital routes for raw materials, a new offensive capability is created, projecting Chinese power. Taiwanese, Indian, Vietnamese, Thai and Australians will have to re-think their regional positions.

But of course it is the US that face the main challenge. In the short term the Chinese carrier is more a symbol for the Chinese than a menace to the US. This does not mean that real menaces do no come in other forms: the Americas should worry about their own carriers vulnerability as more of the Chinese  Dong Feng 21D carrier killer missiles (anti-ship ballistic missile / ASBM) are deployed and as rumors of a tactical naval nuclear missile start to be whispered.

Anyway, it's been some time now since history did not end: the Pacific is no longer an American lake and more is in the pipeline, e.g. in the form of a Chinese designed nuclear powered aircraft carrier. Furthermore Beijing's naval ambitions are now global, no ocean should be considered off-limits and the prospect of Chinese naval bases abroad should be faced seriously.

The years of a single super power are going away fast!

Naval Ensign of the People's Republic of China - the PLAN flag will become an ever more common sight in the world's oceans and ports - 中国人民解放军海军军旗
Dong Feng DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) on parade in Peking - 东风-21中程弹道导弹
She has been seen at sea: DigitalGlobe, a commercial US satellite company, says the Shi-Lang has been photographed on December 8th off the Chinese coast by one of the company's satellites, image below:

Satellite image of the Chinese aircraft carrier Shi-Lang off the PRC's coast (c) DigitalGlobe
Update, Sept 25, 2012: it's official, the Riga is now in service as the Liaoning (辽宁号航空母舰 - hull number: 16), after the province of the same name. Only the Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark fighters are missing now. The J-15 carrier-based combat plane was adapted from the Sukhoi Su-33.

Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark fighter (歼-15) - prototype in flight - notice the hook for carrier landings

Friday, 29 July 2011

Peak Oil - scaremongering again

Aljazeera has jumped on the peak oil bandwagon! Their feature "the scourge of peak oil" is alarmist and lacks economic justification. Dahr Jamail and the chaps in Doha did not do their homework this time, drafting a scaremongering senseless piece.

World oil production - 1970-2010

Many of the arguments proposed have long been discredited by economists and the concept is bogus modelling. The Hubbert curve is a mere Malthusian curiosity. We have reserves for decades and as the prices increase, so will reserves, as new exploration is justified and deposits with higher extraction costs become viable. Scarcity of cheap reserves may slowly rise prices, but brings other reserves to the market. New technology changes both supply and demand and substitution cannot be ignored. Economic exhaustion is not anywhere near, and economic exhaustion will precede physical exhaustion.

Anyway, today's prices already include the best available information about the market, so they will not have exponential growth as prophets of doom try to spread to attract followers.
Marion King Hubbert - geoscientist who introduced the Peak Oil concept

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

India doubles its Uranium reserves

Uranium ore
India's Atomic Energy Commission disclosed a new uranium discovery in Tummalapalle in Kadapa district, state of Andhra Pradesh, with reserves of 150.000 tonnes effectively doubles India's Uranium reserves.

India's nuclear energy programme is under-supplied and the new source is most welcome to keep it viable and limit its dependence from foreign suppliers. On the nuclear weapons front, India's pursuit of a nuclear triad is also increasing demand: soon the first of its Arihant class of nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed submarines will be operational, more will follow.

Clearly good news for India, but may yet prove to be a factor in global instability. India first nuclear weapon was designated PNE, for 'peaceful nuclear explosive', such irony may fail to make its neighbours smile.

Pakistan, although lacking indigenous uranium, may feel compelled to compete. With the country on an uncontrolled downward spiral, some in Islamabad may take less than reasonable decisions, and more seriously we are all wondering when will a Pakistani nuclear warhead reach the wrong hands. China too, may see this as a threat, specially in terms of projected power and rivalry in the oceans, though we shouldn't expect any actions from the People's Republic that defy either prudence or intelligence.
INS Arihant - Indian nuclear submarine under construction (based on the Soviet Akula class)

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

EU to cap airline greenhouse gas emissions

Contrails of a McDonnell Douglas aircraft (Contrails are just vapour, CO2 is invisible)

As of next year airlines that fly in and out of the European Union must come under the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Those based outside the EU can opt out if they prove to abide to similar regulation in their home countries. The entire industry in both Europe and abroad is trying to have the new regulations annulled or at least postponed.

All large polluting sectors in the EU are already subject to the ETS, but the airline industry works in a global way, so subjecting foreign airlines to it will cause all kinds of conflicts and may invite retaliation in several forms. On the other hand, subjecting only EU based airlines to the ETS would make them noncompetitive in routes shared with non-EU competitors.

Charging for carbon emissions is a practical method to reduced them. The debate on price versus quantity instruments in tackling climate change has been on for decades. Abatement costs might change in the future due to: fuel prices, domestic energy demand, energy saving technologies, etc. A carbon tax fixes the marginal cost of abatement, but allows the quantity of abatement to vary with economic conditions. A cap fixes the amount of abatement instead. Trading emissions in a market allows for cuts where they are most efficient, i.e. cheaper. Once a decision is taken by policy makers to tackle emissions both a cap and trade scheme or a carbon taxes are options. Economics theory shows these are equivalent only under certainty. However, certainty is a scarce commodity and cap and trade can lead to high volatility in the markets.

The Economist explains this well (Duffing the Cap, 15/06/2007): "taxes deal more efficiently than do permits with the uncertainty surrounding carbon control. In the neat world of economic theory, carbon reduction makes sense until the marginal cost of cutting carbon emissions is equal to the marginal benefit of cutting carbon emissions. If policymakers knew the exact shape of these cost and benefit curves, it would matter little whether they reached this optimal level by targeting the quantity of emissions (through a cap) or setting the price (through a tax). But in the real world, politicians are fumbling in the dark. And that fumbling favours a tax. If policymakers set a carbon tax too low, too much carbon will be emitted. But since the environmental effect of greenhouse gases builds up over time, a temporary excess will make little difference to the overall path of global warming. Before much damage is done to the environment, the carbon tax can be raised. Misjudging the number of permits, in contrast, could send permit prices either skywards or through the floor, with immediate, and costly, economic consequences. Worse, a fixed allotment of permits makes no adjustment for the business cycle (firms produce and pollute less during a recession). Cap-and-trade schemes cause unnecessary economic damage because the price of permits can be volatile. Both big cap-and-trade schemes in existence today—Europe's Emissions-Trading Scheme for carbon and America's market for trading sulphur-dioxide permits (to reduce acid rain)— suggest this volatility can be acute. America has had tradable permits for SO2 since the mid-1990s. Their price has varied, on average, by more than 40% a year. Given carbon's importance in the economy, similar fluctuations could significantly affect everything from inflation to consumer spending. Extreme price volatility might also deter people from investing in green technology. Even without the volatility, some economists reckon that a cap-and-trade system produces fewer incentives than a carbon tax for climate-friendly innovation. A tax provides a clear price floor for carbon and hence a minimum return for any innovation. Under a cap-and-trade system, in contrast, an invention that reduced the cost of cutting carbon emissions could itself push down the price of permits, reducing investors' returns."

Though some Economics disagree, Pindyck in his 2006 paper 'Uncertainty in Environmental Economics', states: "Weitzman (1974) [...] showed that in the presence of cost uncertainty, whether a price-based instrument or a quantity-based instrument is best depends on the relative slopes of the marginal benefit function and marginal cost function. If the marginal benefit function is steeply sloped but the marginal cost function is relatively flat, a quantity-based instrument (e.g., an emissions quota) is preferable: an error in the amount of emissions can be quite costly, but not so for an error in the cost of the emissions reduction. The opposite would be the case if the marginal cost function is steeply sloped and the marginal benefit function is flat. Of course in a world of certainty, either instrument will be equally effective. [emphasis added] If there is substantial uncertainty and the slopes of the marginal benefit and cost functions differ considerably, the choice of instrument can be crucial."

Anyway, in the big picture airlines only account for about 2% of greenhouse gases emissions, so maybe we could focus on more serious culprits, remember the Pareto principle?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Leon Panetta: 'slightly' late

Leon Panetta and the Flag of al-Qaeda
The new US secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, didn't waste time in Arlington, VA or across the Potomac river and was quickly on the ground in Afghanistan.

Furthermore he seems to have a strategy against Al-Qaeda!

Panetta says that the defeat of al-Qaeda is within reach. For this goal to be achieved he gathers killing or capturing "around 10 to 20 key leaders" of Al-Qaeda and its branches will suffice.

All very well, but did Panetta look at the calendar lately?

This strategy is almost 10 years late! Such actions should have been done long ago, before any invasion, when Al-Qaeda was still emerging.

The misguided decision to declare war on terror opened a huge Pandora box with many sub-compartments. Full scale warfare created more more enemies of the West than it eliminated, while sacrificing the moral high-ground  in places like Guantanamo bay. The declaration of war made a rag-tag bunch of Islamic militants once financed, armed and trained by the US feel that they could fight a war with the West on equal terms. This empowerment was fundamental for Al-Quaeda. Should an approach based on intelligence, the judiciary and the modern tools of special-ops have been used from the start, terrorists would never have been given the glamour and glorification they got, they would be simple criminals and we would be re-assured of our values.

The acts of the US government since 9/11 have resulted in the alienation of the Muslim world against the west. Every Muslim can become a Jihadist by his own decision at any moment, Al-Quaeda is now a personal affair and an organized framework in not a requirement. This is now almost irreversible. If 10 or 20 leaders are killed, the odds are even more will take their place.

Still it is good to see that someone with a background in intelligence, justifies the word. A clever Sicilian-American, probably signore Panetta has preached this gospel before (in his CIA hat), to deaf ears and empty brains in DC. Probably this idea entered presidential circle "brains" only after the Abbottabad raid.

We are not optimistic, but we sincerely wish Mr Panetta, the best of luck!
His luck is also the luck of the Western world.

Friday, 8 July 2011

South Sudan: welcome to the world

A bit of Africa that manages to escape the Islamic sphere!
That is worth celebrating!
Not since the liberation of East-Timor from Indonesia have we seen such an event!
Lets home some decent governance will follow...

Best wishes for South-Sudan!

... and don't forget: make it simple for visitors, e.g. visas on arrival at Juba airport would be a good sign!
A few tourists won't harm the economy, or do you intend to live only from oil and food aid?

man holds a Southern Sudan Flag

Monday, 4 July 2011

The Japanese find vast deposits of Rare Earths in the Pacific

With China enjoying a near monopoly over Rare Earths' production, news of alternative sources are very welcome.

The deposits we located following a survey by a team from the University of Tokyo. The Rare Earths are in the bottom of the Pacific, in international waters east and west of Hawaii, and east of French Polynesia, at depths of 3,500 to 6,000 metres.

However finding new reserves means nothing if their recovery costs are not competitive, as vast other sources exist on shore that are not being exploited (because both costs and environmental issues). Technology for recovery of such deposits is in its early stages, so cost are bound to be non-competitive with the prices offer by the People's Republic.

Anyway in a crisis situation, where like last year, China imposed a short lived embargo on Japan, alternative sources may be the only sources, so there is on more backstop solution.

Furthermore the scale of the discovery may be a game changer in terms of physical scarcity considerations: the University of Tokyo estimates these deposits to contain 80 to 100 billion tonnes of Rare Earths, while current viable reserves are about 110 billion tonnes (USGS). Nevertheless one major issue is still unclear: exactly which elements were found.

As time progresses we'll see how important this discovery will be, but as usual in Economics, the "crisis" will probably solve itself. Prices are rising, and less competitive mines will be competitive again entering the positive rents area. Molycorp is already restarting operations at the Mountain Pass mine in California, certainly others will follow. No physical scarcity is in sight!

table of rare earth elements

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

US: 50% of black men without a high-school diploma spend time in jail

The ever reliable, pro-American and far from any suspicion of being liberal, "The Economist", publishes a tongue-in-cheek ironic article on today's US penal system, "Sing Sing or the lash". However one must draw conclusions that go far beyond crime and punishment, and enter the sphere of a failed society.

The numbers are unpalatable, and seem to be conveniently ignored by political leaders, inteligentsya, the vast middle-class and minority leaders. They shame all of them:

  • In the US the incarceration rate is five times the world average;
  • One in every 31 Americans is under some form of correctional control;
  • One in every 11 blacks is under some form of correctional control;
and most shockingly:
  • 50% of black men without a high-school diploma spend time in jail!
Such figures would in any self-conscious country create a large brouhaha, massive doses of self-analysis and endless debate. Not so in the land of the brave and free!

A country that spends many times more money on its military establishment, allegedly trying to fix other countries, than on education at home should stop and re-think its priorities.

Some thing is deeply wrong, if you think that every other lower class black gent you come across on the street is a criminal. 

What did all the integration and civil rights rethoric achieve?

It has clearly failed not only black Americans, but all Americans.

Furthermore nothing seems to have changed with a mulato president, Hussein Obama, who is already dragging the country into a third self-inflicted war in Libya.

Wake up America, Tahrir Square is on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, 
DC 20500, telephone (202) 456-1414!

prisoners in the pillory with one being whipped, USA 1907
World map showing incarceration rate per 100,000 citizens, data from UN Human Development Report 2007/8

Monday, 20 June 2011

NATO: why should Europe finance America's folie?

Lord Ismay, first Secretary General of NATO, stated the mission of the organization without any ambiguity: “To keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” To this, the post 9/11 history has de facto added "support any American acts of madness across the globe".

Is this something we should spend European tax payer Euros on? Either the original mission or the new extension?

America always calls the wars to be fought; then an acquiescent NATO, waits for orders from the Pentagon, rewritten in Brussels. European forces are a mere foreign legion serving in an American imperial army.
Robert Gates

All this is bad as it is, but last week, Robert Gates, in his final days as US defense secretary, accused in a resentful tone, the European partners in Nato of not pulling their own fair share of the weight. Mr Gates stated that America is unfairly burdened with providing funding for and the muscle behind NATO.

What does Europe need the US for? Bombing civilian targets in Belgrade? Invading sovereign states under false pretenses? Practice torture and extra-judicial killings? Transforming the Muslim world into a nest of fanatics?

Has Europe forgot where the US was when needed? The French learned a lesson from the Suez crisis, but apparently not the Brits! Why do we need an "ally" that finances and trains the terrorists that massacre our civilian populations, as they did in the Portuguese colony of Angola?

We cannot criticize Mr Gates, he thinks he is acting in the best interest of America... as he did when supporting the Taliban. However we must strongly whip our politicians for their silence and inaction.

Any cent spent supporting US military action across the world is a crime against all European citizens.

Or are we in the same pathetic situation of Japan, who still pays the US for its own occupation?

Not only must NATO be consigned to history, and replaced by a European army, but all American troops must be removed from European soil.

A European Army is needed

PS: list of European countries hosting US occupation forces:
Shame you government into making them leave!

  • Denmark (Greenland)
  • Germany (Including nuclear weapons)
  • Greece (Including nuclear weapons)
  • Italy (Including nuclear weapons)
  • United Kingdom (Including nuclear weapons)
  • Spain
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Belgium
  • Portugal (mostly Azores)
  • Netherlands (Including nuclear weapons)
  • France 
  • Poland 
  • Serbia (in occupied Kosovo Metochia province)

Monday, 13 June 2011

Belgium: will someone put the sick man of Europe out of his misery?

The end of Belgium - language map
Belgians like to be a bit special and peculiar, maybe that's the only thing that unites them.
...errr that is as the saying goes, if there are any Belgians besides the king!

Today the "country" marks one full year since elections gave modest victories to the anti-Belgium NVA nationalist in Dutch-speaking Flanders and to the pro-Belgium PS Socialists in Wallonia. The two parties have been a 100% failure in forming a government during a year of either bitter talks or absolute silence.

The care-taker government deals well with non strategic issues, but only those. Similarly investors procrastinate any major decisions.

Gentlemen, lets face the facts: Belgium was never a nation, why keep the charade? For the sake of French jokes?

Will someone please put the sick man of Europe out of his misery?

Lets have a civilized Czechoslovakian divorce, having Wallonia and Flanders as nations within the European Union.

The German areas can be returned to Germany: they were stolen from it in 1929 anyway. Some southern areas should be part of Luxembourg.

Brussels can become "Brussels, FD", i.e. the Federal District for the European Capital.

As time goes by, nobody will be shocked if Wallonia and/or Flanders would like to join France or the Netherlands.

Lets get moving!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Libya - another war based on lies

William James (1842-1910), the father of modern Psychology  said "There's nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it." (this quote is often wrongly attributed to the Reichsminister für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, making it sexier).

Anyway, everywhere we turn we see NATO members stating that bombings in Libya are for the "protection of civilians", when it is in plain sight that regime change is the goal... even if the country's infrastructure is wiped out in the process and if the casualties of a full fledged war are much higher than a simple insurrection suppression by Khadaffi. Acephalous journalists echo this propaganda view like  inebriated parrots.

This protection of civilians euphemism bears a deja vu feeling when we think about the chorus line on "weapons of mass destruction" endelessly repetead by the Bush administration to get rid of Saddam Hussein. However now it is more serious, besides President Hussein Obama, such words are also coming from the European side of the Atlantic. From Sarkozy, from Cameroon... These men should know better!

Come the day when Europe actually needs to fight a war for legitimate reasons, the public will be saturated and credibility exhausted. As if no one knew about Peter and the wolf...

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Tornadoes and houses fit for three little pigs

Tornados are a common weather phenomenon. However the destruction and death toll caused year after year, decade upon decade, by tornadoes in the US is totally unjustifiable.

The images of devastated cities illustrate the root of the problem: buildings with a reinforced concrete structure are left standing, with minor damage, but timber framed houses are totally smashed. Remember the straw and stick houses in the "three little pigs"? Sounds familiar?

The problem is that most housing is made of these fragile timber structures. This is a fraud that the construction industry has been perpetrating on America for a long time, convincing Americans to pay for wooden huts as if they were proper houses.

Why doesn't tornado coverage in the media ever ask, "why are houses destroyed"?
This destruction is not inevitable, measures can be taken. As most countries regulate construction in seismic zones, a similar approach must be take where there is a relevant tornado risk. This is in the public interest, even if it may not please the construction lobby.

Or can't America build houses that survive a little wind? Not enough civil engineers?

Tornadoes, wooden houses and concrete buildings

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Velcro flags

It is interesting to see how in the American Army Combat Uniform (ACU) the US flag is not sewn, but simply attached with velcro.

Why is it not permanent?

Are American soldiers going to remove it at some stage of the fighting and swap to a "flag of convenience"?

Maybe become Canadians instantly?

Other NATO armies use velcro only for the IR flags (infra-red), with the true colours properly sewn.

Chinese soldiers also have they flags proudly sewn on their left shoulders...

flags in US and Chinese army uniforms

Sunday, 8 May 2011

hats off to Ghaddafi!

Today Ghaddafi caught NATO's airforce (the de facto rebels' airforce) on the wrong foot:

Pesticide-spraying planes did a clean raid over Misurata, destroying the rebels´ fuel supplies.

A true David against Golias operation, improvised with the "resources of the land".

You've got to admire the man's nerve and his determination to survive against all odds. And considering his intelligence, the rumours that he is of Jewish origin are ever more credible!

montage - Jewish Muammar Gaddafi wearing a Keppah

As our SAS colleagues say: "who dares wins".

I guess a few people in DC, Paris and London are having second thoughts!

Misurata fuel tanks on fire - Libya civil war

Does anybody doubt that a full blown civil war will cause more instability, destruction and casualties than what would have been a simple and clean insurrection suppression? Haven't politicians bombing theoretically to avoid civilian casualties failed to notice the qualifying adjective "civil" in civil war?

Ghaddafi will probably eventually fall, but many now calling for his departure will probably in hindsight miss him. In the "democracies" established in "Hi"-raq and Egypt more people are killed than under their totalitarian predecessors, and life for Christians and other minorities became impossible.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Bin Laden - only idiots would kill him!

Given the chance of capturing Bin Laden, only idiots would kill him!

The man should be an endless source of information on the Islamist networks worldwide.

Finding him unarmed, given a chance of apprehending him alive, would any intelligent person kill him?

Of course Americans have a reputation of shooting first, and asking questions after, but there must be someone in the administration with an IQ above chicken level.

So, I would not be surprised if for the next few months Mr Laden would still be alive.
Probably locked in a cubicle somewhere, under daily torture, until he spills all the information.

Then one day, his mind properly drained, he will receive a merciful shot in the head and his body will be destroyed. Maybe even dumped at sea...

Of course the US would never bring the man to a court of law, where his career financed and propped by several American administrations would be publicly scrutinized. Americans cannot stomach that they created and nurtured Mr Laden.

Furthermore, any court process would end in the death penalty. An execution of Mr Laden would certainly bring back to the US some of the bad karma they have for long spread across the globe.

Bin Laden may well be alive, undergoing torture somewhere in the globe.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Krugman: disturb your orthodoxy!

thought of the day, that may last for a while:

"...if you’ve reached the point where you don’t pay attention to anything that might disturb your orthodoxy, you’re not doing science, you’re not even pursuing a discipline. All you’re doing is perpetuating a smug, closed-minded sect."

Paul Krugman on the NYT

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Evidence that Kosovo's leadership was complicit in grisly crimes

KOSOVO marked the third anniversary of its independence on February 17th in sombre mood. Only last July the country's leaders were riding high last year in the wake of anadvisory opinion by the International Court of Justice that its declaration of independence had not been illegal. Now their reputations are in tatters.
First came allegations of fraud in last December’s elections, which angered its strongest supporter, the United States. Soon afterwards, a report produced by Dick Marty, a Swiss politician and former prosecutor, made lurid claims about the involvement of Kosovo's leadership in organised crime. In the last few days two new documentss have come to light that appear to bolster the most nightmarish of those allegations. 
First, a disclaimer. In Balkan politics, the dictum, “if you are not with us, you are against us” usually applies. Some readers have attacked this blog simply for reporting on the Marty affair. As a fog of confusion, claims and counter-claims swirls over the allegations laid against Kosovo's leaders, we lay out here what is already known about the issue, and what is new.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

British PM on Muslims in the UK: State multiculturalism has failed!

Echoing the declarations of of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (October 2010), the British PM admits that Muslim integration in Europe has failed:

" Do they believe in universal human rights - including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism? "

What are you waiting for Mr Cameron?