Monday, March 24, 2014

Canadian TV meteorologist on global warming

Canadian TV meteorologist on the need for some of that missing global warming.
Great video!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Putin Acted Because Obama is So Strong

Some things democrats say are pure parody, except that they mean them seriously. Democrat Chris Murphy, (D Ct.) of the senate Foreign Relations Committee said that. You have to see it to believe it.



Really now, does he think we are that stupid? Or is HE that stupid. Don't these people even try to learn about a subject before they pontificate on it? This is a man who is on an important committee that, among other things, takes a leading role in creating policy.

Question: Does Obama believe this? We already know that Vladimir Putin does not. http://www.caintv.com/dem.senator-says-putin-is-pani

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Trey Gowdy Tells Congress

Trey Gowdy tells congress that they can either stand for something or they can stand for nothing. Watch:


Monday, March 10, 2014

More Sitcom than CENTCOM

Guest Post By Spengler (David P. Goldman)

American foreign policy is more sitcom than CENTCOM. That in a way is the good news. Our failures are comic while those of other nations are tragic. Americans do not understand the tragic impulses of other peoples because they are exceptional. The Europeans failed as nationalists, and are failing as post-nationalists.

Because Americans are not an ethnicity but a union of immigrants committed to a concept, our nationalism discloses a universal impulse. We blunder when we forget how exceptional we are, and ignore the tragic impulses that impinge on other peoples.

Only once in the past century have we read the world aright. We got it wrong when Woodrow Wilson proposed a utopian postwar vision in 1919, when the isolationists tried to stay out of the European conflict in the late 1930s, when Roosevelt and Truman let Stalin absorb Eastern Europe, when we overextended and then turned tail in Vietnam, and when we undertook to turn Iraq and Afghanistan into Western-style democracies. Ronald Reagan got it right when he decided that it was time to roll back communism - but he also understood that we would have to live with Russia as a nation.

We have stumbled into the world's troubles like incongruous clowns in a tragedy: we observe the anguished faces of the other characters and conclude that everyone else on stage is insane. That is how Americans view Russian President Vladimir Putin. As Time magazine reported last week:
An Obama administration official leaked to the New York Times on Sunday the fact that German Chancellor Angela Merkel told President Obama she wasn't sure if Putin was in touch with reality. "In another world," Merkel reportedly said, according to the leak. Then in a conference call with reporters later in the day, three administration officials took turns firing rhetorical shots: "[B]eing inside Putin's head is not someplace anyone wants to be."
I doubt that Merkel ever said it, but that's a different question. Russia, as Colonel Ralph Peters (retired) told Sean Hannity last week, "believes in Russia"; to the Obamoids, belief in one's country is prima facie evidence of mental defect. Hillary Clinton, Senator John McCain and Senator Marco Rubio meanwhile compare Putin to Hitler, an example of what the late Leo Strauss derided as "reduction ad Hitlerium".

Contrast that to President Obama's characterization of Iran in his interview with Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldberg:
[If] you look at Iranian behavior, they are strategic, and they're not impulsive. They have a worldview, and they see their interests, and they respond to costs and benefits.
That's been the longstanding view of this administration.

Just how does one define rationality in global politics? Here is a question that helps: What is the rational self-interest of a nation that will cease to exist within the horizon of present-day expectations? We look uncomprehendingly on the petty wars of perished peoples and marvel at the sheer vanity of their forgotten battles. How do we know that someone in the future won't look back at us the same way? There have been Great Extinctions of the Peoples before in world history, but never with the breadth and speed of the demographic declines in our own era. That should give us something of an objective gauge with which to judge the rationality of actors.

Iran's unprecedented fertility decline has accelerated - from about 7 children per female in 1979 to only 1.6 last year, according to a UN estimate. Russia, meanwhile, is struggling to emerge from what seemed like a demographic death-sentence only a few years ago. Ukraine is Europe's poster-boy for demographic death.

Iran is dying a slow and dreadful death: by mid-century more than a third of its people will be over 60, and by the end of the century, half its people will be over 60, imposing an impossible burden on a poor country. Its rulers are taking urgent steps to reverse the fertility decline, opening clinics to treat infertility, which reportedly affects one-fifth of all Iranian couples, against a world average of around 8%. Why infertility is so widespread in Iran is unclear; it might be due to the fact that the reported incidence of chlamydia, a bacterial STD that causes infertility, is several times higher in Iran than in Western countries. Former president Mahmud Ahmadinejad began campaigning for earlier marriage and bigger families in 2009, but fertility has continued to fall.

I argued nearly a decade ago (see Demographics and Iran's imperial design, Asia Times Online, September 13, 2005) that Iran's decision to acquire nuclear weapons is an entirely rational response to its demographic decline: "Iran's motives for acquiring nuclear power are not only economic but strategic. Like Hitler and Stalin, Ahmadinejad looks to imperial expansion as a solution for economic crisis at home. ... This may appear to be a desperate gamble, but conditions call for desperate gambles. Ahmadinejad is not a throwback, as I wrote with a dismissiveness that seems painful in hindsight. He has taken the measure of his country's crisis, and determined to meet it head-on. Washington, from what I can tell, has no idea what sort of opponent it confronts."

Iran is rational, but not in the way Obama seems to believe. If you need $100,000 for an operation that will save your life and have only $10,000, it is rational to bet the whole stake at 10:1 odds. Iran must break out or break down. That is why it will gamble on nuclear weapons acquisition.

Total fertility rate for Russia, Ukraine, and Iran

Source: UN and CIA

Apart from some fine work by the demographer Nicholas Eberstadt, though, the glaring facts of Iran's demographic predicament have escaped notice by America's policymakers. Not so the demographics of Russia: the prevailing view among Western analysts (and especially hawkish ones) holds that Russia is a doomed nation. In December 2011, Professor Eberstadt published an essay entitled "The Dying Bear: Russia's Demographic Disaster" in Foreign Affairs. Last year I reviewed on this site Ilan Berman's book Implosion, which stated this widely held view as follows:
Russia is dying. Russia is undergoing a catastrophic post-Soviet societal decline due to abysmal health standards, runaway drug addiction, and an AIDS crisis that officials have termed an "epidemic." The population of the Russian Federation is declining by close to half a million souls every year due to death and emigration. At this rate, the once-mighty Russian state could lose a quarter of its population by the middle of this century. And according to some projections, if Russia's demographic trajectory does not change, its population could plummet to as little as fifty-two million people by 2080. It's a phenomenon demographers have described as "the emptying of Russia" - a wholesale implosion of Russia's human capital and a collapse of its prospects as a viable modern state. (See Reports of Russia's death are exaggerated, Asia Times Online, October 15, 2013).
A specter is haunting Russia: the specter of depopulation. The cohort of Russian women of child-bearing age is so depleted that even a recovery of Russia's birth rate will not forestall severe problems. Nonetheless I thought Berman's thesis one-sided and overstated. Russia's total fertility rate has recovered from around 1.2 a decade ago to 1.7 last year, and Russia's population increased slightly in 2013 for the first time in almost two decades.

We do not know quite why this has occurred, but it seems that Putin's aggressive efforts to promote fertility have had some effect - unlike in Iran. Like Jonah's prophecy to Nineveh, the threat of extinction may have motivated Russia to change course. And like Jonah, our modern prophets rankle at the prospect that the ban of doom may have been lifted.

I suspect that Russia's revived nationalism has a great deal to do with rising fertility. That includes the revival of the Orthodox Church, which is consubstantial with the Russian state. Countries that lose their faith and their identity also lose their motivation to bring new generations into the world; that is how civilizations die, the title of my 2011 book on demographics and geopolitics. Putin's nationalism is also a rational response to an existential threat. The Germans might go gentle into that good night, but Russia will fight for its identity and its future existence.

Russian nationalism - historically an imperial more than a national identity - always was a brutal business, and especially nasty towards national minorities, as my ancestors from the Pale of Jewish Settlement on the Western order of the Russian Empire knew all too well.

A core goal of Putin's national revivalism is the reintegration of Russians left stranded in the "near abroad" by the collapse of the Soviet Union: Russia's imperial policy of salting its border states with Russian settlers backfired when the evil Soviet empire collapsed. From the Russian vantage point this is not a matter of scoring points but an existential issue, a sine qua non of what it means to be Russian, and exemplary of the motivation for Russians to want their culture to continue.

Western pundits ridicule Putin's claim that Russia is a bulwark against Western decadence. From a Western standpoint, Putin's methods are repugnant. But they are the only methods Russia has ever known. The problem is that Western Europe is decadent. Most European countries are headed for demographic extinction. Russia, which seemed passed the point of no return, is struggling to retrace its steps.

Total Fertility Rate for Russia and Selected European Countries

Source: UN and CIA


That leaves the West with a conundrum concerning the Russian intervention in Crimea and possibly elsewhere in Russian-majority areas in Ukraine. Russia does not want to be like other European countries. Hungary, Poland, and the Baltic States have the lowest fertility rates of any nations in the West, ranging from just 0.82 children per female for ethnic Magyars in Hungary (excluding the Roma) to about 1.2 for Poland. That is where Russia was in 2000. Russia prefers the fecund past to the bleak future of the Europeans. That is why the nations of Europe fought the First World War 100 years ago: to avoid becoming what they are today. They fought to sustain belief in their destiny as nations. As Col. Peters said in the cited interview, "Putin believes in Russia's destiny."

The re-assertion of Russian identity, meanwhile, is as brutal a business as Russian self-assertion has been since the time of Peter the Great. Putin's patriotism is not my patriotism. I don't particularly like what Putin did in Crimea, but it was delusional to expect any other course of action. Russia is short of Russians, and it cannot ignore the 22 million Russians left stranded in newly independent republics of the former Soviet Union.

The Obama administration is staffed by the sort of utopian liberal internationalists who attended conflict-resolution seminars at Ivy League colleges. Putin seems a throwback, and that is just what he is: he is trying to revert to Russian identity prior to the 1917 October Revolution, not without some success. To compare him to Hitler is Billingsgate. The hawks seem upset that Russia has not chosen to accept its decline with Stoic resignation. It is easier to condemn Russian brutality than to suggest an alternative path by which Russia would remain viable a century from now.

It was inevitable that Russia would intervene if Ukraine became unstable. It is tragic in the full sense of the world, namely an outcome to which the participants are driven by circumstances they cannot control. Russia's interest in Ukraine, particularly in the Russian-speaking eastern half of the country, is existential not opportunistic.

As in Georgia, there was nothing the United States (let alone the Europeans) could have done to hinder it, and nothing they can do to reverse it. The tragedy will play itself out, and at the end of it - the very end - there will be no Ukraine, because there will be no Ukrainians.

Whether Russia survives into the next century is an open question upon which the crude conclusions of hawkish foreign policy analysts shed no light. I do not know the answer, but I am sure that America will have to deal with Russia as a strategic power for the indefinite future - a power of second rank, perhaps, but not one to be trifled with in its back yard.

I am an American and a hawk who wants America to be the world's dominant superpower. Whatever our errors, we are the only nation in the world capable of altruism. We hawks had a mandate after September 11, 2011, such as no-one had in America since Pearl Harbor, and we misplayed hand after hand until our chips are nearly gone. If we fail to understand the underlying trends that drive events and the motivations of the main actors, we will be out of the game entirely.

What should we have done in Ukraine? As I wrote on February 20, the West had the opportunity to promote a constitutional referendum including the option of partition. If Russian speakers in Crimea or the Donbas region preferred affiliation with Russia, so be it. Ukraine's constitution was in ruins before the Russians moved in. The odious Viktor Yanukovich beat the "Gas Princess" Yulia Timoshenko in a reasonably fair election in 2010, and proceeded to abuse his presidential powers. When the Maidan Square demonstrators chased him out, Ukraine's parliament voted unanimously to dismiss him. The absence of a single "nay" recalls Soviet-era majorities.

The West could have been midwife to a new national consensus - either a single Ukraine reaffirmed by popular mandate, or a decent divorce on the Czech-Slovak model, or perhaps a federal solution somewhere in between. Instead, we encouraged a constitutional crisis in Ukraine. Now we are stuck with the dubious Ms Timoshenko, one of the wealthiest oligarchs to emerge from Ukraine's post-independence theft of national assets, and an intransigent Russia in possession of Crimea.

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman. He is Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum, from which this post is reprinted. His book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Too) was published by Regnery Press in September 2011. A volume of his essays on culture, religion and economics, It's Not the End of the World - It's Just the End of You, also appeared that fall, from Van Praag Press.



Saturday, March 08, 2014

Two Cows - by Matthias Varga

TWO COWS - by Matthias Varga

SOCIALISM
You have 2 cows.
You give one to your neighbour

COMMUNISM
You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and gives you some milk

FASCISM
You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and sells you some milk

NAZISM
You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and shoots you

BUREAUCRATISM
You have 2 cows.
The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away

TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM
You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income

ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND (VENTURE) CAPITALISM
You have two cows.
You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by
your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.
The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States , leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release.
The public then buys your bull.

SURREALISM
You have two giraffes.
The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
Later, you hire a consultant to analyze why the cow has dropped dead.

A GREEK CORPORATION
You have two cows. 

You borrow lots of euros to build barns, milking sheds, hay stores, feed sheds, dairies, cold stores, abattoir, cheese unit and packing sheds.
You still only have two cows.

A FRENCH CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You go on strike, organise a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

A JAPANESE CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce
twenty times the milk. You then create a clever cow cartoon image called a Cowkimona and market it worldwide.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows,
but you don't know where they are.
You decide to have lunch.

A SWISS CORPORATION
You have 5000 cows. 

None of them belong to you.
You charge the owners for storing them.

A CHINESE CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them.
You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity.
You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You worship them.

A BRITISH CORPORATION
You have two cows.
Both are mad.

AN IRAQI CORPORATION
Everyone thinks you have lots of cows.
You tell them that you have none.
No-one believes you, so they bomb the ** out of you and invade your country.
You still have no cows, but at least you are now a Democracy.

AN AUSTRALIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.
Business seems pretty good.
You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

A NEW ZEALAND CORPORATION
You have two cows.
The one on the left looks very attractive...

Friday, March 07, 2014

Snowden Testimony to EU Parliament

Edward Snowden testified to the European Union Parliament testified today. At least this is the say that his testimony was published. His introductory remarks are included here in full. This was originally published on the EU Parliament web page, including quite a few questions. Link in .pdf.

Introductory Statement

1)
I would like to thank the European Parliament for the invitation to provide testimony for your inquiry into the Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens. The suspicionless surveillance programs of the NSA, GCHQ, and so many others that we learned about over the last year endanger a number of basic rights which, in aggregate, constitute the foundation of liberal societies.

The first principle any inquiry must take into account is that despite extraordinary political  pressure to do so, no western government has been able to present evidence showing that such  programs are necessary. In the United States, the heads of our spying services once claimed that 54 terrorist attacks had been stopped by mass surveillance, but two independent White House reviews with access to the classified evidence on which this claim was founded concluded it was untrue, as did a Federal Court.

Looking at the US government's reports here is valuable. The most recent of these investigations, performed by the White House's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, determined that the mass surveillance program investigated was not only ineffective -- they found it had never stopped even a single imminent terrorist attack -- but that it had no basis in law. In less diplomatic language, they discovered the United States was operating an unlawful mass surveillance program, and the greatest success the program had ever produced was discovering a taxi driver in the United States transferring $8,500 dollars to Somalia in 2007.

After noting that even this unimpressive success -  uncovering evidence of a single unlawful  bank transfer -- would have been achieved without bulk collection, the Board recommended that the unlawful mass surveillance program be ended. Unfortunately, we know from press reports that this program is still operating today.

I believe that suspicionless surveillance not only fails to make us safe, but it actually makes us less safe. By squandering precious, limited resources on "collecting it all," we end up with more analysts trying to make sense of harmless political dissent and fewer investigators running down real leads. I believe investing in mass surveillance at the expense of traditional, proven methods can cost lives, and history has shown my concerns are justified.

Despite the extraordinary intrusions of the NSA and EU national governments into private communications world-wide, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the "Underwear Bomber," was allowed to board an airplane traveling from Europe to the United States in 2009. The 290  persons on board were not saved by mass surveillance, but by his own incompetence, when he failed to detonate the device. While even Mutallab's own father warned the US government he was dangerous in November 2009, our resources were tied up monitoring online games and tapping German ministers. That extraordinary tip-off didn't get Mutallab a dedicated US investigator. All we gave him was a US visa. 

Nor did the US government's comprehensive monitoring of Americans at home stop the Boston Bombers. Despite the Russians specifically warning us about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the FBI couldn't do more than a cursory investigation -- although they did plenty of worthless computer-based searching - and failed to discover the plot. 264 people were injured, and 3 died. The resources that could have paid for a real investigation had been spent on monitoring the call records of everyone in America.

This should not have happened. I worked for the United States' Central Intelligence Agency. The National Security Agency. The Defense Intelligence Agency. I love my country, and I believe that spying serves a vital purpose and must continue. And I have risked my life, my family, and my freedom to tell you the truth.

The NSA granted me the authority to monitor communications world-wide using its mass surveillance systems, including within the United States. I have personally targeted individuals using these systems under both the President of the United States' Executive Order 12333 and the US Congress' FAA 702. I know the good and the bad of these systems, and what they can and cannot do, and I am telling you that without getting out of my chair, I could have read the private communications of any member of this committee, as well as any ordinary citizen. I swear under  penalty of perjury that this is true.

These are not the capabilities in which free societies invest. Mass surveillance violates our rights, risks our safety, and threatens our way of life.

If even the US government, after determining mass surveillance is unlawful and unnecessary, continues to operate to engage in mass surveillance, we have a problem. I consider the United States Government to be generally responsible, and I hope you will agree with me. Accordingly, this begs the question many legislative bodies implicated in mass surveillance have sought to avoid: if even the US is willing to knowingly violate the rights of billions of innocents -- and I say billions without exaggeration -- for nothing more substantial than a "potential" intelligence advantage that has never materialized, what are other governments going to do?

Whether we like it or not, the international norms of tomorrow are being constructed today, right now, by the work of bodies like this committee. If liberal states decide that the convenience of spies is more valuable than the rights of their citizens, the inevitable result will  be states that are both less liberal and less safe.

Thank you.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Chess, Ghetto Style

D'Angelo Barksdale: Now look, check it, it's simple, it's simple. See this? This the kingpin, a'ight? And he the man. You get the other dude's king, you got the game. But he trying to get your king too, so you gotta protect it. Now, the king, he move one space any direction he damn choose, 'cause he's the king. Like this, this, this, a'ight? But he ain't got no hustle. But the rest of these motherfuckers on the team, they got his back. And they run so deep, he really ain't gotta do shit.

Preston 'Bodie' Broadus: Like your uncle.

D'Angelo Barksdale: Yeah, like my uncle. You see this? This the queen. She smart, she fast. She move any way she want, as far as she want. And she is the go-get-shit-done piece.

Wallace: Remind me of Stringer.
D'Angelo Barksdale: And this over here is the castle. Like the stash. It can move like this, and like this.

Wallace: Dog, stash don't move, man.

D'Angelo Barksdale: C'mon, yo, think. How many time we move the stash house this week? Right? And every time we move the stash, we gotta move a little muscle with it, right? To protect it.

Preston 'Bodie' Broadus: True, true, you right. All right, what about them little baldheaded bitches right there?

D'Angelo Barksdale: These right here, these are the pawns. They like the soldiers. They move like this, one space forward only. Except when they fight, then it's like this. And they like the front lines, they be out in the field.

Wallace: So how do you get to be the king?

D'Angelo Barksdale: It ain't like that. See, the king stay the king, a'ight? Everything stay who he is. Except for the pawns. Now, if the pawn make it all the way down to the other dude's side, he get to be queen. And like I said, the queen ain't no bitch. She got all the moves.

Preston 'Bodie' Broadus: A'ight, so if I make it to the other end, I win.

D'Angelo Barksdale: If you catch the other dude's king and trap it, then you win.

Preston 'Bodie' Broadus: A'ight, but if I make it to the end, I'm top dog.

D'Angelo Barksdale: Nah, yo, it ain't like that. Look, the pawns, man, in the game, they get capped quick. They be out the game early.

Preston 'Bodie' Broadus: Unless they some smart-ass pawns.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Offshore Wind Turbines for "Taming Hurricanes"

I thought this was a parody, until I realized that it wasn't. Funding sources include NSF and NASA. Is there nothing too outlandish for the Warmists in government and academia? Read the comments. This stuff isn't funny anymore. Desperate Warmists who are unable to feel shame cling to straws to keep the true believers on board.

The paper requires several trillion dollars of wind turbines to ameliorate a few mph of hurricane winds. I wonder what the unanticipated effects of that much wind disruption will be on weather and wildlife. Science reports both sides of the data. This is more of an advertisement for a product - sales puff is not science. From their website:
3:30 p.m., Feb. 25, 2014–The University of Delaware will steer the way toward making offshore wind turbines a reality in the United States through a new initiative announced today at a major industry conference. The Special Initiative on Offshore Wind, housed at the University’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, will serve as an independent catalyst for offshore wind development and add momentum to a promising industry that is at a critical juncture.”
That is not science, it is advocacy.

Claim: Offshore Wind Turbines for ‘Taming Hurricanes’ | Watts Up With That?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Testimony of Greenpeace Founder to the U.S. Senate on Climate Change

Statement of Patrick Moore, Ph.D. Before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight

February 25, 2014

“Natural Resource Adaptation: Protecting ecosystems and economies”

Chairman Whitehouse, Ranking Member Inhofe, and members of the Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify at today’s hearing.

In 1971, as a PhD student in ecology I joined an activist group in a church basement in Vancouver Canada and sailed on a small boat across the Pacific to protest US Hydrogen bomb testing in Alaska. We became Greenpeace.

After 15 years in the top committee I had to leave as Greenpeace took a sharp turn to the political left, and began to adopt policies that I could not accept from my scientific perspective. Climate change was not an issue when I abandoned Greenpeace, but it certainly is now.

There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years. If there were such a proof it would be written down for all to see. No actual proof, as it is understood in science, exists.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states: “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20 th century.” (My emphasis)

“Extremely likely” is not a scientific term but rather a judgment, as in a court of law. The IPCC defines “extremely likely” as a “95-100% probability”. But upon further examination it is clear that these numbers are not the result of any mathematical calculation or statistical analysis. They have been “invented” as a construct within the IPCC report to express “expert judgment”, as determined by the IPCC contributors.

These judgments are based, almost entirely, on the results of sophisticated computer models designed to predict the future of global climate. As noted by many observers, including Dr. Freeman Dyson of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies, a computer model is not a crystal ball. We may think it sophisticated, but we cannot predict the future with a computer model any more than we can make predictions with crystal balls, throwing bones, or by appealing to the Gods.

Perhaps the simplest way to expose the fallacy of “extreme certainty” is to look at the historical record. With the historical record, we do have some degree of certainty compared to predictions of the future. When modern life evolved over 500 million years ago, CO2 was more than 10 times higher than today, yet life flourished at this time. Then an Ice Age occurred 450 million years ago when CO2 was 10 times higher than today. There is some correlation, but little evidence, to support a direct causal relationship between CO2 and global temperature through the millennia. The fact that we had both higher temperatures and an ice age at a time when CO2 emissions were 10 times higher than they are today fundamentally contradicts the certainty that human-caused CO2 emissions are the main cause of global warming.

Today we remain locked in what is essentially still the Pleistocene Ice Age, with an average global temperature of 14.5°C. This compares with a low of about 12°C during the periods of maximum glaciation in this Ice Age to an average of 22°C during the Greenhouse Ages, which occurred over longer time periods prior to the most recent Ice Age. During the Greenhouse Ages, there was no ice on either pole and all the land was tropical and sub-tropical, from pole to pole. As recently as 5 million years ago the Canadian Arctic islands were completely forested. Today, we live in an unusually cold period in the history of life on earth and there is no reason to believe that a warmer climate would be anything but beneficial for humans and the majority of other species. There is ample reason to believe that a sharp cooling of the climate would bring disastrous results for human civilization.

Moving closer to the present day, it is instructive to study the record of average global temperature during the past 130 years. The IPCC states that humans are the dominant cause of warming “since the mid-20th century”, which is 1950. From 1910 to 1940 there was an increase in global average temperature of 0.5°C over that 30-year period. Then there was a 30-year “pause” until 1970. This was followed by an increase of 0.57°C during the 30-year period from 1970 to 2000. Since then there has been no increase, perhaps a slight decrease, in average global temperature. This in itself tends to negate the validity of the computer models, as CO2 emissions have continued to accelerate during this time.

The increase in temperature between 1910-1940 was virtually identical to the increase between 1970-2000. Yet the IPCC does not attribute the increase from 1910- 1940 to “human influence.” They are clear in their belief that human emissions impact only the increase “since the mid-20th century”. Why does the IPCC believe that a virtually identical increase in temperature after 1950 is caused mainly by “human influence”, when it has no explanation for the nearly identical increase from 1910- 1940?

It is important to recognize, in the face of dire predictions about a 2°C rise in global average temperature, that humans are a tropical species. We evolved at the equator in a climate where freezing weather did not exist. The only reasons we can survive these cold climates are fire, clothing, and housing. It could be said that frost and ice are the enemies of life, except for those relatively few species that have evolved to adapt to freezing temperatures during this Pleistocene Ice Age. It is “extremely likely” that a warmer temperature than today’s would be far better than a cooler one.

I realize that my comments are contrary to much of the speculation about our climate that is bandied about today. However, I am confident that history will bear me out, both in terms of the futility of relying on computer models to predict the future, and the fact that warmer temperatures are better than colder temperatures for most species.

If we wish to preserve natural biodiversity, wildlife, and human well being, we should simultaneously plan for both warming and cooling, recognizing that cooling would be the most damaging of the two trends. We do not know whether the present pause in temperature will remain for some time, or whether it will go up or down at some time in the near future. What we do know with “extreme certainty” is that the climate is always changing, between pauses, and that we are not capable, with our limited knowledge, of predicting which way it will go next.

Thank you for the opportunity to present my views on this important subject.


Attached please find the chapter on climate change from my book,
“Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible
Environmentalist”. I would request it be made part of the record.



Testimony reposted from Watts Up With That?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Atmospheric Aerosol Eddies and Flows

This remarkable video from NASA GSFC Space Science shown aerosol flows in the troposphere. The animation shows the emission and transport of key tropospheric aerosols from August 17, 2006 to April 10, 2007. It shows the aerosol optical thickness of black and organic carbon (in green), dust (in red/orange), sulfates (in white), and sea salt (in blue) from a 10 km resolution GEOS-5 “nature run.”

What is most interesting to me is that huge continuous dust storm out of Africa. The Trade Winds pick up the dust. When the Trade Winds blow west this dust fertilizes the Atlantic equatorial ocean.

Also interesting is the sulfate flows from populated areas. Notice that the heaviest flows come from China and India, then Europe, then North America. Fascinating.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Where are the Global Warmists for Freedom?

Philosopher Daren Jonescu offers what is perhaps the best explanation of the global warming phenomenon ever. It is all about the politics, not the science. Human beings, not climate models. Moral authority, not science. Too much great stuff to excerpt, you are gonna have to read the whole thing. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Writings From Climate Experts

Some on-the-record musings from climate experts, PHDs all

1. Dr Robert Balling: “The IPCC notes that “No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected.” This did not appear in the IPCC Summary for Policymakers.

2. Dr Lucka Bogataj: “Rising levels of airborne carbon dioxide don’t cause global temperatures to rise…. temperature changed first and some 700 years later a change in aerial content of carbon dioxide followed.”

3. Dr John Christy: “Little known to the public is the fact that most of the scientists involved with the IPCC do not agree that global warming is occurring. Its findings have been consistently misrepresented and/or politicized with each succeeding report.”

4. Dr Rosa Compagnucci: “Humans have only contributed a few tenths of a degree to warming on Earth. Solar activity is a key driver of climate.”

5. Dr Richard Courtney: “The empirical evidence strongly indicates that the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis is wrong.”

6. Dr Judith Curry: “I’m not going to just spout off and endorse the IPCC because I don’t have confidence in the process.”

7. Dr Robert Davis: “Global temperatures have not been changing as state of the art climate models predicted they would. Not a single mention of satellite temperature observations appears in the IPCC Summary for Policymakers.”

8. Dr Willem de Lange: “In 1996 the IPCC listed me as one of approximately 3000 “scientists” who agreed that there was a discernible human influence on climate. I didn’t. There is no evidence to support the hypothesis that runaway catastrophic climate change is due to human activities.”

9. Dr Chris de Freitas: “Government decision-makers should have heard by now that the basis for the long-standing claim that carbon dioxide is a major driver of global climate is being questioned; along with it the hitherto assumed need for costly measures to restrict carbon dioxide emissions. If they have not heard, it is because of the din of global warming hysteria that relies on the logical fallacy of ‘argument from ignorance’ and predictions of computer models.”

10. Dr Oliver Frauenfeld: “Much more progress is necessary regarding our current understanding of climate and our abilities to model it.”

11. Dr Peter Dietze: “Using a flawed eddy diffusion model, the IPCC has grossly underestimated the future oceanic carbon dioxide uptake.”

12. Dr John Everett: “It is time for a reality check. The oceans and coastal zones have been far warmer and colder than is projected in the present scenarios of climate change. I have reviewed the IPCC and more recent scientific literature and believe that there is not a problem with increased acidification, even up to the unlikely levels in the most-used IPCC scenarios.”

13. Dr Eigil Friis-Christensen: “The IPCC refused to consider the sun’s effect on the Earth’s climate as a topic worthy of investigation. The IPCC conceived its task only as investigating potential human causes of climate change.”

14. Dr Lee Gerhard: “I never fully accepted or denied the anthropogenic global warming concept until the furore started after NASA’s James Hansen’s wild claims in the late 1980s. I went to the [scientific] literature to study the basis of the claim, starting with first principles. My studies then led me to believe that the claims were false.”

15. Dr Indur Goklany: “Climate change is unlikely to be the world’s most important environmental problem of the 21st century. There is no signal in the mortality data to indicate increases in the overall frequencies or severities of extreme weather events, despite large increases in the population at risk.”

16. Dr Vincent Gray: “The [IPCC] climate change statement is an orchestrated litany of lies.”

17. Dr Mike Hulme: “Claims such as ’2500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous … The actual number of scientists who backed that claim was only a few dozen.”

18. Dr Kiminori Itoh: “There are many factors which cause climate change. Considering only greenhouse gases is nonsense and harmful.”

19. Dr Yuri Izrael: “There is no proven link between human activity and global warming. I think the panic over global warming is totally unjustified. There is no serious threat to the climate.”

20. Dr Steven Japar: “Temperature measurements show that the climate model-predicted mid-troposphere hot zone is non-existent. This is more than sufficient to invalidate global climate models and projections made with them.”

21. Dr Georg Kaser: “This number [of receding glaciers reported by the IPCC] is not just a little bit wrong, it is far out by any order of magnitude … It is so wrong that it is not even worth discussing.”

22. Dr Aynsley Kellow: “I’m not holding my breath for criticism to be taken on board, which underscores a fault in the whole peer review process for the IPCC: there is no chance of a chapter [of the IPCC report] ever being rejected for publication, no matter how flawed it might be.”

23. Dr Madhav Khandekar: “I have carefully analysed adverse impacts of climate change as projected by the IPCC and have discounted these claims as exaggerated and lacking any supporting evidence.”

24. Dr Hans Labohm: “The alarmist passages in the IPCC Summary for Policymakers have been skewed through an elaborate and sophisticated process of spin-doctoring.”

25. Dr Andrew Lacis: “There is no scientific merit to be found in the Executive Summary. The presentation sounds like something put together by Greenpeace activists and their legal department.”

26. Dr Chris Landsea: “I cannot in good faith continue to contribute to a process that I view as both being motivated by pre-conceived agendas and being scientifically unsound.”

27. Dr Richard Lindzen: “The IPCC process is driven by politics rather than science. It uses summaries to misrepresent what scientists say and exploits public ignorance.”

28. Dr Harry Lins: “Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now. The case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated.”

29. Dr Philip Lloyd: “I am doing a detailed assessment of the IPCC reports and the Summaries for Policy Makers, identifying the way in which the Summaries have distorted the science. I have found examples of a summary saying precisely the opposite of what the scientists said.”

30. Dr Martin Manning: “Some government delegates influencing the IPCC Summary for Policymakers misrepresent or contradict the lead authors.”

31. Dr Stephen McIntyre: “The many references in the popular media to a ‘consensus of thousands of scientists’ are both a great exaggeration and also misleading.”

32. Dr Patrick Michaels: “The rates of warming, on multiple time scales, have now invalidated the suite of IPCC climate models. No, the science is not settled.”

33. Dr Nils-Axel Morner: “If you go around the globe, you find no sea level rise anywhere.”

34. Dr Johannes Oerlemans: “The IPCC has become too political. Many scientists have not been able to resist the siren call of fame, research funding and meetings in exotic places that awaits them if they are willing to compromise scientific principles and integrity in support of the man-made global-warming doctrine.”

35. Dr Roger Pielke: “All of my comments were ignored without even a rebuttal. At that point, I concluded that the IPCC Reports were actually intended to be advocacy documents designed to produce particular policy actions, but not a true and honest assessment of the understanding of the climate system.”

36. Dr Paul Reiter: “As far as the science being ‘settled,’ I think that is an obscenity. The fact is the science is being distorted by people who are not scientists.”

37. Dr Murray Salby: “I have an involuntary gag reflex whenever someone says the science is settled. Anyone who thinks the science is settled on this topic is in fantasia.”

38. Dr Tom Segalstad: “The IPCC global warming model is not supported by the scientific data.”

.39. Dr Fred Singer: “Isn’t it remarkable that the Policymakers Summary of the IPCC report avoids mentioning the satellite data altogether, or even the existence of satellites — probably because the data show a slight cooling over the last 18 years, in direct contradiction of the calculations from climate models?”

40. Dr Hajo Smit: “There is clear cut solar-climate coupling and a very strong natural variability of climate on all historical time scales. Currently I hardly believe anymore that there is any relevant relationship between human CO2 emissions and climate change.”

41. Dr Richard Tol: “The IPCC attracted more people with political rather than academic motives. In AR4, green activists held key positions in the IPCC and they succeeded in excluding or neutralising opposite voices.”

42. Dr Tom Tripp: “There is so much of a natural variability in weather it makes it difficult to come to a scientifically valid conclusion that global warming is man made.”

.43. Dr Gerd-Rainer Weber: “Most of the extremist views about climate change have little or no scientific basis.”

44. Dr David Wojick: “The public is not well served by this constant drumbeat of alarms fed by computer models manipulated by advocates.”

45. Dr Miklos Zagoni: “I am positively convinced that the anthropogenic global warming theory is wrong.”

 46. Dr Eduardo Zorita: “Editors, reviewers and authors of alternative studies, analysis, interpretations, even based on the same data we have at our disposal, have been bullied and subtly blackmailed.”

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Popular Technology.net: 1350+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skeptic Arguments Against ACC/AGW Alarm

1350+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Support Skeptic Arguments



As the Great Backdown continues, more and more scholarly papers support the skeptical view of the existence of catastrophic human caused global warming. Here Popular Technology finds over 1350 such papers. 

Reason and Accountability 

 

Or just the good part...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New Dimensions of U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Russia | Stratfor

By George Friedman

The struggle for some of the most strategic territory in the
world took an interesting twist this week. Last week we discussed what
appeared to be a significant shift in German national strategy in which
Berlin seemed to declare a new doctrine of increased assertiveness in
the world -- a shift that followed intense German interest in Ukraine.
This week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, in a
now-famous cell phone conversation, declared her strong contempt for the
European Union and its weakness and counseled the U.S. ambassador to
Ukraine to proceed quickly and without the Europeans to piece together a
specific opposition coalition before the Russians saw what was
happening and took action.

This is a new twist not because it makes clear that the United States is not the only country intercepting phone calls, but because it puts U.S. policy in Ukraine in a new light and forces us to reconsider U.S. strategy toward Russia and Germany. Nuland's cell phone conversation is hardly definitive, but it is an additional indicator of American strategic thinking.

Recent U.S. Foreign Policy Shifts

U.S. foreign policy has evolved during the past few years.
Previously, the United States was focused heavily on the Islamic world
and, more important, tended to regard the use of force as an early
option in the execution of U.S. policy rather than as a last resort.
This was true not only in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also in Africa and
elsewhere. The strategy was successful when its goal was to destroy an
enemy military force. It proved far more difficult to use in occupying
countries and shaping their internal and foreign policies. Military
force has intrinsic limits.

The alternative has been a shift to a balance-of-power strategy in which the United States
relies on the natural schisms that exist in every region to block the
emergence of regional hegemons and contain unrest and groups that could
threaten U.S. interests. The best example of the old policy is Libya,
where the United States directly intervened with air power and special
operations forces on the ground to unseat Moammar Gadhafi. Western
efforts to replace him with a regime favorable to the United States and
its allies have not succeeded. The new strategy can be seen in Syria,
where rather than directly intervening the United States has stood back
and allowed the warring factions to expend their energy on each other,
preventing either side from diverting resources to activities that might
challenge U.S. interests.

Behind this is a schism in U.S. foreign policy that has more to do
with motivation than actual action. On one side, there are those who
consciously support the Syria model for the United States as not
necessarily the best moral option but the only practical option there
is. On the other, there are those who argue on behalf of moral
interventions, as we saw in Libya, and removing tyrants as an end in
itself. Given the outcome in Libya, this faction is on the defensive,
as it must explain how an intervention will actually improve the moral
situation. Given that this faction also tended to oppose Iraq, it must
show how an intervention will not degenerate into Iraqi-type warfare.
That is hard to do, so for all the rhetoric, the United States is by
default falling into a balance-of-power model.

The Geopolitical Battle in Ukraine

Russia
emerged as a problem for the United States after the Orange Revolution
in 2004, when the United States, supporting anti-Russian factions in Ukraine,
succeeded in crafting a relatively pro-Western, anti-Russian
government. The Russians read this as U.S. intelligence operations
designed to create an anti-Russian Ukraine that, as we have
written, would directly challenge Russian strategic and economic
interests. Moreover, Moscow saw the Orange Revolution (along with the
Rose Revolution) as a dress rehearsal for something that could occur in
Russia next. The Russian response
was to use its own covert capabilities, in conjunction with economic
pressure from natural gas cutoffs, to undermine Ukraine's government and
to use its war with Georgia as a striking reminder of the resurrection
of Russian military capabilities. These moves, plus disappointment with
Western aid, allowed a more pro-Russian government to emerge in Kiev,
reducing the Russians' fears and increasing their confidence. In time,
Moscow became more effective and assertive in playing its cards right in
the Middle East -- giving rise to the current situations in Syria and
Iran and elsewhere.

Washington had two options. One was to allow the balance of power to
assert itself, in this case relying on the Europeans to contain the
Russians. The other was to continue to follow the balance of power
model but at a notch higher than pure passivity. As Nuland's call shows,
U.S. confidence in Europe's will for and interest in blocking the
Russians was low; hence a purely passive model would not work. The next
step was the lowest possible level of involvement to contain the
Russians and counter their moves in the Middle East. This meant a very
limited and not too covert support for anti-Russian, pro-European
demonstrators -- the re-creation of a pro-Western, anti-Russian
government in Ukraine. To a considerable degree, the U.S. talks with
Iran also allow Washington to deny the Russians an Iranian
card, although the Syrian theater still allows the Kremlin some room to
maneuver.

The United States is not prepared to intervene in the former Soviet
Union. Russia is not a global power, and its military has many
weaknesses, but it is by far the strongest in the region and is able to
project power in the former Soviet periphery, as the war with Georgia
showed. At the moment, the U.S. military also has many weaknesses.
Having fought for more than a decade in the core of the Islamic world,
the U.S. military is highly focused on a way of war not relevant to the
former Soviet Union, its alliance structure around the former Soviet
Union is frayed and not supportive of war, and the inevitable post-war
cutbacks that traditionally follow any war the United States fights are
cutting into capabilities. A direct intervention, even were it
contemplated (which it is not), is not an option. The only correlation
of forces that matters is what exists at a given point in time in a
given place. In that sense, the closer U.S. forces get to the Russian
homeland, the greater the advantage the Russians have.

Instead, the United States did the same thing that it did prior to
the Orange Revolution: back the type of intervention that both the human
rights advocates and the balance-of-power advocates could
support. Giving financial and psychological support to the demonstrators
protesting Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich's decision to reject a
closer relationship with Europe, and later protesting the government's
attempt to suppress the demonstrations, preserved the possibility of
regime change in Ukraine, with minimal exposure and risk to the United
States.

Dissatisfaction with the German Approach

As we said last week, it appeared that it was the Germans
who were particularly pressing the issue, and that they were the ones
virtually controlling one of the leaders of the protests, Vitali
Klitschko. The United States appeared to be taking a back seat to
Germany. Indeed, Berlin's statements indicating that it is prepared to
take a more assertive role in the world appeared to be a historic shift
in German foreign policy.

The statements were even more notable since, over the years, Germany
appeared to have been moving closer to Russia on economic and strategic
issues. Neither country was comfortable with U.S. aggressiveness in the
Middle East and Southwest Asia. Both countries shared the need to create
new economic relationships in the face of the European economic
crisis and the need to contain the United States. Hence, the apparent
German shift was startling.

Although Germany's move should not be dismissed, its meaning was not
as clear as it seemed. In her cell phone call, Nuland is clearly
dismissing the Germans, Klitschko and all their efforts in Ukraine. This
could mean that the strategy was too feeble for American tastes (Berlin
cannot, after all, risk too big a confrontation with Moscow). Or it
could mean that when the Germans said they were planning to be more
assertive, their new boldness was meant to head off U.S.
efforts. Looking at this week's events, it is not clear what the Germans
meant.

What is clear is that the United States was not satisfied with
Germany and the European Union. Logically, this meant that the United
States intended to be more aggressive than the Germans in supporting
opponents of the regime. This is a touchy issue for human rights
advocates, or should be. Yanukovich is the elected president of
Ukraine, winner of an election that is generally agreed to have been
honest (even though his constitutional amendments and subsequent
parliamentary elections may not have been). He was acting within his
authority in rejecting the deal with the European Union. If
demonstrators can unseat an elected president because they disagree with
his actions, they have set a precedent that undermines
constitutionalism. Even if he was rough in suppressing the
demonstrators, it does not nullify his election.

From a balance of power strategy, however, it makes great sense. A
pro-Western, even ambiguous, Ukraine poses a profound strategic problem
for Russia. It would be as if Texas became pro-Russian, and the
Mississippi River system, oil production, the Midwest and the
Southwest became vulnerable. The Russian ability to engage in Iran or
Syria suddenly contracts. Moscow's focus must be on Ukraine.

Using the demonstrations to create a massive problem for Russia does
two things. It creates a real strategic challenge for the Russians and
forces them on the defensive. Second, it reminds Russia that Washington
has capabilities and options that make challenging the United States
difficult. And it can be framed in a way that human rights advocates
will applaud in spite of the constitutional issues, enemies of the
Iranian talks will appreciate and Central Europeans from Poland to
Romania will see as a sign of U.S. commitment to the region. The United
States will re-emerge as an alternative to Germany and Russia. It is a
brilliant stroke.

Its one weakness, if we can call it that, is that it is hard to see
how it can work. Russia has significant economic leverage in Ukraine, it
is not clear that pro-Western demonstrators are in the majority, and
Russian covert capabilities in Ukraine outstrip American capabilities.
The Federal Security Service and Foreign Intelligence Service have been
collecting files on Ukrainians for a long time. We would expect
that after the Olympics in Sochi, the Russians could play their trump
cards.

On the other hand, even if the play fails, the United States will
have demonstrated that it is back in the game and that the Russians
should look around their periphery and wonder where the United States
will act next. Putting someone in a defensive crouch does not require
that the first punch work. It is enough for the opponent to
understand that the next punch will come when he is least expecting it.
The mere willingness of the United States to engage will change the
expectations of Central Europe, cause tensions between the Central
Europeans and the Germans and create an opening for the United States.

The Pressure on Russia

Of course, the question is whether and where the Russians will answer
the Americans, or even if they will consider the U.S.
actions significant at all. In a sense, Syria was Moscow's move and this
is the countermove. The Russians can choose to call the game. They have
many reasons to. Their economy is under pressure. The Germans may not
rally to the United States, but they will not break from it. And if the
United States ups the ante in Central Europe, Russian inroads there will
dissolve.

If the Russians are now an American problem, which they are, and if
the United States is not going to revert to a direct intervention mode,
which it cannot, then this strategy makes sense. At the very least it
gives the Russians a problem and a sense of insecurity that can curb
their actions elsewhere. At best it could create a regime that might not
counterbalance Russia but could make pipelines and ports vulnerable --
especially with U.S. help.

The public interception of Nuland's phone call was not all that
embarrassing. It showed the world that the United States, not Germany,
is leading the way in Ukraine. And it showed the Russians that the
Americans care so little, they will express it on an open cell phone
line. Nuland's obscene dismissal of the European Union and treatment of
Russia as a problem to deal with confirms a U.S. policy: The United
States is not going to war, but passivity is over.
New Dimensions of U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Russia is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

A More Assertive German Foreign Policy | Stratfor


By George Friedman and Marc Lanthemann

The Ukrainian crisis is important in itself, but the behavior it has elicited from Germany is perhaps more important. Berlin directly challenged Ukraine's elected president for refusing to tighten relations with the European Union and for mistreating Ukrainians who protested his decision. In challenging President Viktor Yanukovich, Berlin also challenged Russia, a reflection of Germany's recent brazen foreign policy.

Since the end of World War II, Germany has pursued a relatively tame
foreign policy. But over the past week, Berlin appeared to have
acknowledged the need for a fairly dramatic change. German leaders,
including the chancellor, the president, the foreign minister and the
defense minister, have called for a new framework that contravenes the
restraint Germany has practiced for so long. They want Germany to assume
a greater international role by becoming more involved outside its
borders politically and militarily.

For Berlin, the announcement of this high-level strategic shift comes
amid a maelstrom of geopolitical currents. As the de facto leader of
the European Union, Germany has to contend with and correct the slow failure of the European project. It has to adjust to the U.S. policy of global disengagement,
and it must manage a complex, necessary and dangerous relationship with
Russia. A meek foreign policy is not well suited to confront the
situation in which Germany now finds itself. If Germany doesn't act,
then who will? And if someone else does, will it be in Germany's
interest? The latter is perhaps the more intriguing question.

Setting Boundaries

Such a reconfiguration shows that Germany has its own national
interests that may differ from those of its alliance partners. For most
countries, this would seem self-evident. But for Germany, it is a
radical position, given its experience in World War II. It has refrained
from asserting a strong foreign policy and from promoting its national
interest lest it revive fears of German aggression and German
nationalism. The Germans may have decided that this position is no
longer tenable -- and that promoting their national interests does not
carry the risk it once did.

The timing of the announcement, as Ukraine's strategic position
between Russia and Europe continues to make headlines, was not
coincidental. While the timing benefited Germany, it would be a mistake
to ascribe too much importance to Ukraine itself, particularly from the
German perspective. That is not to say Ukraine should be discounted
entirely. As a borderland between the European Peninsula and Russia, its
future potentially matters to Germany -- if not now then perhaps in the
future, when unexpected regional realities might show themselves.

Ukraine is an indispensable borderland for Russia, but it has little
value for any modern power that has no designs against Russia. It is one
of the gateways into the heart of Russia. A hostile power occupying
Ukraine would threaten Russian national security. But the reverse is not
true: Ukraine is not a primary route from Russia into Europe (World War
II is a notable exception) because the Carpathian Mountains discourage
invasion. So unless the Germans are planning a new war with Russia --
and they aren't -- Ukraine matters little to Europe or the Germans.

The same is true in the economic realm. Ukraine is important to
Russia, particularly for transporting energy to Europe. But outside of
energy transport, Ukraine is not that important to Europe. Indeed, for
all that has been said about Ukraine's relationship to the European
Union, it has never been clear why the bloc has made it such a
contentious issue. The European Union is tottering under the weight of
Southern Europe's enormously high unemployment rate, Eastern Europe's
uncertainty about the value of being part of Europe's banking system and
currency union, and a growing policy rift between France and Germany.
The chances that the Europeans would add Ukraine to an organization that
already boasts Greece, Cyprus and other crippled economies are so slim
that considerations to the contrary would be irrational. The fact that
Ukraine is not getting into the bloc makes German policy even harder to
fathom.

Of course, some European countries have more of an interest in
Ukraine than others, particularly those formerly in the Soviet sphere of
influence. For Poland and the Baltic states, Russia remains the major
geopolitical foe in a way that Western Europe cannot fully comprehend.
These relatively small and new members cannot compel the EU heavyweights
to commit to a plan of action that would go too far in provoking
Russia, but they can still push their peers to take a more measured
action.

During the Orange Revolution, U.S.-led Western powers openly funded
opposition groups in the former Soviet states, threatening Russia's
strategic interests to the point that it had to eventually invade Georgia
to show the consequences of Western meddling. Over the past month,
Germany has been behaving similarly, albeit to a smaller degree: opening
partisan ties and giving relatively low-cost financial and rhetorical
support to opposition groups that can irritate Russia without actually
causing an immediate break with Moscow.

For the past decade, Germany could not afford to alienate Russia,
which Berlin thought could be the answers to some of Germany's problems.
It could reliably supply relatively cheap energy, it was a potential
source of low-cost labor, and it was a potential destination market for
German exporters looking for alternatives to stagnating EU markets.

Diplomatically, Moscow could have become a close ally and strategic
partner as erstwhile allies appeared to be growing increasingly hostile
to Germany. Relations with the United States were tense ever since
Berlin refused to participate in the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, and
Chancellor Angela Merkel's support for EU-wide austerity measures
strained Germany's ties with Southern Europe and France.

But the reality was otherwise. There is a fit between Germany and
Russia, but it is at best an imperfect one. Russia never industrialized
or modernized as Germany and many others had hoped as it reaped the
profits of high commodity prices. Under President Vladimir Putin, Moscow
became increasingly autocratic and went on the political and economic
offensive in Central and Eastern Europe.

This conflicts with Germany's strategic goals. Berlin's core
imperative is to preserve its economic power, which is highly dependent
on exports. The European economic crisis has caused consumption to
falter in the European Union, leading Berlin to search for export
markets further afield. While it has had some success in China and the
United States for certain industries, it has not been able to shed its
overwhelming dependence on European markets as a general destination for
its goods. Thus, Germany's only possible course of action is preserving
and eventually reinvigorating the free trade zone in Europe.

Russia's resurgence in Central Europe has concerned EU members in
that region. On the surface, the Germans were prepared to live with that
resurgence even though it appeared to threaten to unravel the bloc.
Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are indispensable components of
the German industrial supply chain and a source of relatively cheap
skilled labor. That they should remain in the German sphere of influence
is a non-negotiable position for Berlin.

These issues are not new, but until now Germany had been constrained
in how it could establish firm boundaries with Moscow. Berlin believed
its dependence on Russian energy was a vulnerability that Russia could
exploit if it chose to. In addition, it was concerned about Russia's
ability to wrest Central Europe from EU control. In a worst-case
scenario, Germany would end up with a fragmented Europe, a distant
United States and a hostile Russia.

The fact that Germany actively supported opposition groups in
Ukraine, particularly in the absence of a pressing strategic imperative
to do so, is a sign that something has changed in Berlin's calculus
toward Russia. It seems as though the German government has determined
that Russia is facing major challenges at home; that its position in
Europe is weaker than it appears; that the risk of energy cutoffs are
minimal; and that there are no long-term economic benefits to an
economic relationship with Russia that goes beyond energy trade. That
last point cannot be overstated. Russia is poised to remain the most
important supplier of energy to Europe, and while the dependency runs
both ways -- Europe is Russia's largest customer -- Germany will make
sure the flow of energy continues unimpeded.

With the United States increasingly depending on a balance of power
approach to its foreign policy, relying more heavily on regional actors
to manage threats, the long-term U.S. security guarantees that had been
the hallmark of European defense since 1945 can no longer be counted on
in Berlin. As NATO continues to fray and the challenges posed by an
increasingly volatile Russia loom, Germany seems to be taking the first
step back into establishing a new national and regional security
framework.

A New Element

Germany's talk of a new, more assertive foreign policy that relies
more heavily on its military is, however, not solely linked to concerns
over Russia or the United States. Germany has accepted that its only
option is to rally Europe but as the past six years have shown, it has
had limited success on the economic front. The European Union is an
economic entity, but economics has turned from being the binding element
to being a centrifugal force. Either something new must be introduced
into the European experiment, or it might come undone.

Berlin believes that holding the European Union together requires
adding another dimension that it heretofore has withheld in its dealing
with the bloc: military-political relations. Standing up to a weakening
Russia will appeal to Central European nations, and taking a more active
role overseas would endear Berlin to Paris. Germany's allusions that it
would expand its international military operations, particularly in
Africa, is a clear nod to France, which has consistently expressed its
desire for a deeper military and political partnership with Germany.

Notably, the drive to bring Germany closer to France in the short
term could create tensions between them in the long term. Last week's
summit between British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President
Francois Hollande was a reminder that France and the United Kingdom may
have extremely different views regarding the European Union but still
see each other as a military partner and, more important, as a
counterweight to Germany.

Of course, Germany is in no position to take military action. It is
in a position to posit the possibility in some vague way, thereby
generating political forces that can temporarily hold things together.
Berlin needs to buy time, particularly in Central Europe, where Hungary
has embarked on an independent course and is being watched carefully by
others. With the United States unwilling to become involved, Germany
either becomes the counterweight or lives with the consequences.

At first, Germany's actions seemed confusing and uncharacteristic.
But they become more sensible when you consider that that Berlin is
looking for other tools to hold the European Union together as it
re-evaluates Russia. So far, Germany's announcement has been met
positively, mainly outside Germany, but the tension that a stronger and
more assertive Berlin exerts on the European continent and the global
stage are sure to come to the fore again. For now, however, Merkel has
no choice.


A More Assertive German Foreign Policy is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Searching for Time Travelers on the Internet | The Volokh Conspiracy

Searching for Time Travelers on the Internet | The Volokh Conspiracy

Yet another scientific study that finds zero data upon which to report. I would expect that, in a more efficient world, we would not require public money to be used in the reporting of failure. Bad enough that we funded the spurious research in the first place.

In a paper pre-published on arXiv, a pair of actual physics professors detail their exhaustive efforts to canvass the Internet for evidence of time travelers.
[Snip]
Time travel has captured the public imagination for much of the past century, but little has been done to actually search for time travelers.
[Snip}
They go on to explain that they approached the problem by scouring the Web for tweets, Google searches, and other online postings about events—such as a comet or the naming of a new pope—that hadn’t happened yet at the time they were posted. “Given practical verifiability concerns,” the researchers note, “only time travelers from the future were investigated.” That’s understandable: Time travelers from the past presumably wouldn’t have had prescient insights to offer. Sadly, it seems, neither did any time travelers from the future. “No time travelers were discovered,” the researchers report.
The tone might be a bit light, but the money spent on this research was as real as it gets.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Ford: 'We have GPS in your car, so we know what you're doing' | The Daily Caller

Ford: 'We know what you're doing' | The Daily Caller

Only 96% of new cars have GPS capability, so they do not have all the info on EVERYBODY. Yet.

A top Ford executive made a startling admission about the amount of data the auto maker tracks from its customers at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show this week.
“We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it,” Ford Vice-President Jim Farley told a crowd in Las Vegas during the show. “We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing.”


Of all mass-produced vehicles in 2013, about 96 percent had computers recording and transmitting the type of data Farley was talking about. Police have even begun using such data to investigate car accidents.
What a bizarre boast for an auto executive to make. But then, maybe it was just a gaffe, so everything is OK.

For Every One Job Added, Nearly 5 People Left the Workforce | The Weekly Standard

For Every One Job Added, Nearly 5 People Left the Workforce | The Weekly Standard

Senator Jeff Sessions has the grim facts:
Today’s jobs report underscores a deeper problem facing our economy: a large and growing block of people who are chronically jobless and completely outside the workforce. In December, the economy added only 74,000 jobs – not nearly enough to keep up with population growth –and 347,000 left the workforce. That means for every one job added, nearly 5 people left the workforce entirely. There are now nearly 92 million Americans outside the workforce, resulting in the lowest participation rate in 36 years.
And remember that 36 years ago, many more wives stayed at home and took care of their household.


Wednesday, January 08, 2014

De Blasio's Horse-Drawn Carriage Ban | The American Spectator

De Blasio's Horse-Drawn Carriage Ban | The American Spectator

Call it Carriage-Gate. The far-left new mayor of NYC has taken it upon himself to make banning New York City's hansom cabs his first priority. Robert Stacey McCain has a neat piece of investigative journalism on the budding scandal. Apparently the socialist mayor is in the pocket of real estate tycoons, and is using humanitarian groups for cover. Read the piece - it's a laugh a minute. The hypocrisy of the left always makes me smile.