Saturday, 20 April 2013

U.S. State Department on Putin's Russia: Corruption "widespread throughout the executive, legislative, and judicial branches at all levels of government"

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin

The U.S. State Department has just released its Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Russia 2012. The report begins by stating that power in Russia's "highly centralized political system" is "increasingly concentrated in the president". 
The State Department should, of course, have used less "diplomatic" language here: What they in reality say, is that Vladimir Putin is a dictator. 
In general, however, the State Department report is clear about the situation in Putin's Russia:
Corruption was widespread throughout the executive, legislative, and judicial branches at all levels of government. Manifestations included bribery of officials, misuse of budgetary resources, theft of government property, kickbacks in the procurement process, extortion, and improper use of official position to secure personal profits. While there were prosecutions for bribery, a general lack of enforcement remained a problem. Official corruption continued to be rampant in numerous areas, including education, military conscription, healthcare, commerce, housing, pensions/social welfare, law enforcement, and the judicial system.
The executive summary focuses on three main issues: 
1. Restrictions of Civil Liberties: Following increased mobilization of civil society and mass demonstrations in reaction to elections, the government introduced a series of measures limiting political pluralism. During the year Russia adopted laws that impose harsh fines for unsanctioned meetings; identify nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as “foreign agents” if they engage in “political activity” while receiving foreign funding; suspend NGOs that have U.S. citizen members or receive U.S. support and are engaged in “political activity” or “pose a threat to Russian interests”; recriminalize libel; allow authorities to block Web sites without a court order; and significantly expand the definition of treason. Media outlets were pressured to alter their coverage or to fire reporters and editors critical of the government.
2. Violations of Electoral Processes: Domestic and international observers described the presidential campaign as skewed in favor of the ruling party’s candidate, Vladimir Putin. Procedural irregularities marred voting, with reports of vote fraud, administrative measures disadvantaging the opposition, and pressure on election monitoring groups. Several gubernatorial elections in October were likewise criticized.
3. Administration of Justice: Due process was denied during the detentions and trials of protesters arrested following the May 6 demonstration in Moscow in which a small group of the protestors engaged in violence; in the detention, trial, and sentencing of the members of the punk rock group Pussy Riot, who were charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred; and searches and criminal cases lodged against several political activists. Individuals responsible for the deaths of prominent journalists, activists, and whistleblowers, notably Sergey Magnitskiy, have yet to be brought to be brought to justice.
Other problems reported during the year included: allegations of torture and excessive force by law enforcement officials; life-threatening prison conditions; interference in the judiciary and the right to a fair trial; abridgement of the right to privacy; restrictions on minority religions; widespread corruption; societal and official intimidation of civil society and labor activists; limitations on the rights of workers; trafficking in persons; attacks on migrants and select religious and ethnic minorities; and discrimination against and limitation of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons.
The government failed to take adequate steps to prosecute or punish most officials who committed abuses, resulting in a climate of impunity.
Russia and Vladimir Putin should of course be treated by the U.S. government as the kind of  corrupt and criminal dictatorship described in the U.S. State Department report. Sadly, however, the Obama regime does not seem to take its own report seriously. Instead, Obama chooses to send "constructive" messages to the dictator. 

Friday, 19 April 2013

A welcome return to reality - World Bank chief Jim Young Kim now defends coal: "we’ve got to face this issue of people needing energy,”

Jim Young Kim: World Bank has to be "realistic about the cost of using renewable energy to meet the needs of poorer nations"
Remember when World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in November last year warned about a world "on track to a '4°C world' marked by extreme heat-waves and life-threatening sea level rise"?:
"A 4°C warmer world can, and must be, avoided – we need to hold warming below 2°C," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. "Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest."
Well, what a great pleasure it is now to welcome the same Jim Yong Kim back to the real world
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has defended the organisation’s investment in coal power plants.
In 2010 a third of the development bank’s $12bn energy budget was invested in fossil fuel power plants raising concerns about its commitment to climate action. --

He said he has instructed the bank’s employees to look for alternatives to coal but that it had to be realistic about the cost of using renewable energy to meet the needs of poorer nations – citing the funding of a new coal power plant in Kosovo. --

“We would certainly love to be able to move in the direction of having all of our investments go into renewable energy, but as I said, we’ve got to face this issue of people needing energy,” said Kim.

The next step for Kim is to make sure that the share of fossil fuel plants in the World Bank's energy budget grows from one third to at least two thirds. (The remaining third should cover nuclear power projects). 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

China's red capitalists cashing in on the economic mess created by Europe's failed political leaders

The owners of Volvo Car Corporation are nowadays Chinese.

"First they took our jobs by inundating Europe with cheap plagiarized products made by slave workers. Now they are buying up what is left of formerly profitable companies." 

The economic mess - a deadly cocktail of a failed common currency, insane climate change policies and disastrous tax payer subsidized wind and solar energy programs - created by Europe's political leaders is an open invitation for China's ruling red elite to come and take over what is left of once profitable industries in the European Union

Europe has become the world's largest recipient of foreign investment by Chinese firms. While North America largely views them with suspicion, China's state-owned corporations have been largely welcomed in a continent plagued by recession and in desperate need of cash.

Chinese state-owned companies are expanding their influence in Europe, investing more than $12.6 billion (€9.6 billion) in the Continent last year, according to a study by the Hong Kong-based private equity firm A Capital.

The amount represented an increase of about one-fifth in comparison to 2011, and was all together larger than investments in North America and Asia combined. About 86 percent of the investments were in the service and industrial sectors.

"Many Chinese investors regard Europe's current weakness as an opportunity to jump in," said A Capital CEO André Loesekrug-Pietri. "They're looking for technology, know-how, high-value brands -- and they find them here." Many European firms are world leaders in sectors like industrial manufacturing, auto manufacturing, the environment and health care.

The Chinese leadership is setting these key sectors as a top priority in their newest five-year plan. The State Council is supporting companies' expansions abroad with cheap credit and tax breaks, with 93 percent of Chinese investments in Europe coming from state-owned corporations.

"In Europe, the resistance to these kinds of investments is lower than in other places," Loesekrug-Pietri said. Reservations about the opaque interests of Chinese state companies are greater in the United States, where the government Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) essentially blocked the sale of US aircraft manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft to a Chinese buyer for national security reasons. In 2008, the committee blocked the now-defunct electronics maker 3Com from being partially sold to Chinese state corporation Huawei.

In contrast, Europe has been a largely welcoming place for Chinese buyers. State fund CIC acquired a 10-percent stake in London's Heathrow Airport late last year, and a 7-percent stake in the French satellite provider Eutelsat. And Portugal's government negotiated its largest-ever privatization in late 2011, agreeing to sell its 21-percent stake in the massive power company Energias de Portugal to China's Three Gorges. The sale was Lisbon's first privatization mandated under its bailout program earlier that year.

The man interviewed by German Der Spiegel, A Capital CEO André Loesekrug-Pietri, must be a rather naive person, or - more probably - have a personal interest in Chinese foreign investment activities:

"The Europeans see things more pragmatically than the Americans," said Loesekrug-Pietri. The economies of recession-plagued Southern Europe are particularly in need of fresh capital. In addition, many small and mid-sized companies -- the so-called Mittelstand that are the backbone of the German economy -- are hoping their new shareholders will provide easier access to the booming Chinese market.
"What we're seeing with these deals is just the beginning," Loesekrug-Pietri said, adding that the coming years show tremendous potential.

Read the entire article here

If there really are German and other European business leaders, who believe that Chinese government investors will save Europe from the failures created by the political leaders, they will soon be in for a huge disappointment. 

While the Chinese are buying European companies and technology, the European Union - in spite of being in the middle of a seemingly endless recession -  continues to pour European taxpayers' hard earned money into dubious climate change projects in China:

The EU will help China in meeting its environmental, energy- and carbon-intensity targets and in the long run, contribute towards achieving a global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The EU support will result - through pilot projects - in providing technical assistance, training and fostering exchanges of experience, best practice and know-how in areas like the low-carbon economy and the green economy. The three projects -for which the EU contribution amounts to €25 million- will be implemented over a period of 4 years and focus on areas like water, waste and heavy metal pollution, emission trading system (ETS) and sustainable urbanisation. 

China's ruling communist autocrats of course accept the EU development aid with a polite smile. But behind Barroso's and Hedegaard's backs, they must be laughing. 


It took less than five seconds to find out about Loesekrug-Pietri:

André Loesekrug-Pietri is the founder of A Capital, the first private equity group focused on Chinese outbound investments, and has fifteen years of private equity, automotive and aerospace industry experience. The most recent transaction conducted by A Capital was China's largest private conglomerate Fosun's strategic investment into Club Méditerranée.

(image by wiki)

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Great news from the European Union: The European Parliament today dealt a blow to EU's flagship climate change programs

Good news coming from the European Union have become extremely rare these days. That's why it gives such a great pleasure to announce that the European Parliament today has decided to more or less scrap two of EU's flagship climate change programs

- The European Parliament dealt a blow (hopefully a deadly one) to the EU's idiotic cap-and-trade system.

- The European Parliament backed a proposal to freeze charges on carbon emissions on intercontinental flights in order to prevent a global trade dispute (which the European Union was bound to lose)

European lawmakers dealt a blow to one of Europe's flagship policies on fighting climate change when they voted Tuesday against tightening the bloc's system of making companies pay for pollution.

The European Union cap-and-trade system — the world's biggest — was introduced in 2005 in the hope of encouraging industries to reduce emissions and invest in greener technologies.

The system is designed to limit the carbon dioxide emissions of power plants and big factories in the EU by issuing permits for each ton of carbon they can emit. Companies can trade these certificates, providing an incentive to cut emissions. Over time, the number of allowances will be lowered, thus cutting overall emissions in the EU. Carbon dioxide emissions are blamed for fostering global warming.

However the system is currently not working because the prices for licenses have dropped amid lower-than-expected demand, languishing at around 5 euros ($6.5) per ton

The outcome of the plenary vote in the European Parliament was uncertain until the last minute. But the Commission's proposal looked less likely to succeed last week when the EPP said it was against the move as it would force rising costs on businesses at a time of economic crisis.

"It is right not to interfere with a market-based trading system," said Herbert Reul, conservative lawmaker and member of the parliament's main center-right bloc, the European People Party's caucus. "The European industry needs a reliable framework."

Of course, the warmist EU bureaucrats and politicians are furious:

The Commission deplored the lawmaker's move.

"Europe needs a robust carbon market to meet our climate targets and spur innovation," EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told lawmakers.

Proponents of the system have said failing to reform the system means it is bound to sink into irrelevance, hurting the prospects of similar initiatives in other industrialized countries.

"With today's decision, the European Parliament missed the opportunity to strengthen the emission trading system," said Hildegard Mueller, the head of the German utilities lobby group. The one-time measure to reduce the number of allowances would have helped to stabilize the prices, "if at a low level," she said.

The climb down on the intercontinental carbon emissions charges was the other welcome piece of news: 

Also Tuesday, lawmakers backed a proposal to freeze charges on carbon emissions for intercontinental flights, in a move that helps prevent a global trade dispute.

This means all flights travelling to or from countries outside the European Union are excluded from a carbon tax for a year pending an international agreement in negotiations at the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Read the entire article here


During the last few years there have been many reasons to be critical of the way the European Parliament operates. If the parliament continues on today's promising path, maybe it's time to think about reconsidering that view. However, it is certainly more realistic to believe that today's good news is nothing but a very temporary return to sanity in Brussels

As dictator Putin accelerates his clampdown on opposition, Obama sends his security adviser to Moscow for a "positive" chat

 I'm not the first and, unfortunately, will not be the last: we must be ready for the fact that they will jail many more people. They've stolen billions, they know people are outraged by this, that millions of people share my attitude towards them and they are protecting themselves.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny 
(most likely to be jailed after a show trial ordered by Vladimir Putin)

Vladimir Putin is continuing his crusade against the remnants of opposition to his criminal regime. However, this does not seem to bother U.S. president Obama too much. Instead Obama dispatched his national security adviser Tom Donilon to Moscow in order to meet with the dictator and a number of his henchmen. 

Putin - and a Russia expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington - are rejoicing: 
The announcement of a “bilateral summit” meeting in Russia in September, and of the planned meeting between the two presidents on the sidelines of a Group of 8 meeting in Northern Ireland in mid-June, came as Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, met in Moscow on Monday with Mr. Putin and other top officials to push for renewed cooperation on security issue.  ++
The White House confirmed that Mr. Donilon had delivered a letter from Mr. Obama, but officials would not discuss its contents. Mr. Donilon later met with Yuri Ushakov, a senior adviser to Mr. Putin on foreign policy and a former ambassador to the United States. Other officials who took part, included a Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, and the American ambassador in Moscow, Michael A. McFaul, as well as Rose Gottemoeller, an assistant secretary of state.
Mr. Ushakov told the Interfax news agency that Mr. Donilon’s visit and the letter from Mr. Obama had sent “positive signals.” Mr. Ushakov said the letter from Mr. Obama “covers military-political problems, among them missile defense and nuclear arsenals.” He added, “The Putin-Donilon conversation had a rather positive nature, same as the messages sent by the Obama administration.”
Samuel Charap, a Russia expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington, said the announcement of the meetings between the two presidents was important because it sent a signal to officials at all levels that they could engage. He said this was particularly important given the Kremlin’s decidedly anti-American posture in recent months.
“To have that green light issued jointly in a very public way,” Mr. Charap said, “this is a step forward.”
Read the entire article here

British Chambers of Commerce survey: EU is putting burdens on British businesses and making them uncompetitive

The few remaining British EU enthusiasts - including the BBC - have traditionally been eager to stress how much UK businesses benefit from EU membership. However, a new survey by the British Chambers of Commerce shows that a majority of British companies believe that EU is putting burdens on them and making them uncompetitive:

British businesses are largely in favour of a re-negotiation of the UK's relationship with the European Union, the the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) believes.
An 'EU Business Barometer' from the BCC gathered responses from more than 4,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors across the UK.
Its main finding was that most companies believe that re-negotiation - rather than further integration or outright withdrawal - is most likely to deliver business and economic benefit to the UK. Only 15% see the current situation as positive.
John Longworth, director general of the BCC, told the Today programme: "Businesses are looking to have the best outcome for themselves and for the UK.
"They definitely believe that the EU is putting burdens on them that make them uncompetitive in the world market."

Read the entire article here

Monday, 15 April 2013

EU "president" Van Rompuy seems to think that ordinary Europeans are stupid

Herman is tweeting:
 12 Apr
Every year around 1 trillion € is lost to tax evasion & avoidance. Unfair to citizens, companies & serious problem for member states
EU "president" Herman Van Rompuy is desperately trying to find a pseudo activity that he thinks will be popular among European citizens, who are increasingly skeptic about the costly - and failed - euro rescue policies. The haiku poet seems to think that tax evasion is the golden opportunity to make the EUSSR popular again:
The fight against tax evasion will be on the agenda of the next European Union summit in May, EU president Herman Van Rompuy said Friday.
"Every year a trillion euros are lost in tax evasion and tax avoidance" in Europe, Van Rompuy said in a video message. "I have decided to put tax evasion on the agenda of the next May 22" summit.
Van Rompuy, who chairs the talks between the bloc's 27 leaders, said the amount lost each year equalled the GDP of Spain, the EU's fifth biggest economy, and was 100 times the size of the 10-billion-euro bailout just agreed for Cyprus.
"Tax evasion is unfair to citizens" as well as to companies, Van Rompuy said. "We simply cannot afford or tolerate tax complacency."
A renewed drive to stamp out tax fraud has launched in Europe amid a scandal embroiling French President Francois Hollande's government and is likely to figure prominently at talks in Dublin on Friday and Saturday between the EU's finance ministers.
However, Van Rompuy is seriously underestimating the intelligence of European citizens, who,according to an old Scandinavian saying, are not prepared to accept a goat guarding a cabbage patch:
The European Union is still wasting billions every year, spending watchdogs said today as they refused to sign off  official accounts - again.
It is the 18th successive year that the Court of Auditors has said the EU’s finances were in such a mess that they could not be given a clean bill of health. In fact errors are still on the rise.
It included a ‘special premium’ paid to a farmer for 150 sheep which did not exist and 200,000 euros paid for a two-storey "laboratory" for producing fruit in Lombardy, Italy which inspectors found had ‘predominantly the charters of a private residence’.
The revelations will heap pressure on David Cameron who suffered a humiliating Commons defeat last week as Labour and Tory rebels united to demand he insist on a cut on the vast budget at talks next month.
The 27 member states and the executive Commission stand accused of failing to do enough to track billions of pounds in spending at a time when countries are imposing deep spending cuts at homes.
The Court of Auditors said that errors in EU payments had risen to 3.9 per cent from the 2011 budget of almost 130billion euros (£104billion).
It added that there were ‘too many cases of EU money not hitting the target or being used sub-optimally’.

Read the entire article here

And it is so easy for an overpaid bureaucrat, like Van Rompuy - who barely pays any taxes himself - to talk about other peoples' tax evasion: 

A ruling by the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice upheld the long-held exemption that spares former EU officials from paying national taxes on their EU earnings.
Instead, they pay a special low-rate EU community tax that starts at just eight per cent.
It means former EU commissioners, including Lord Kinnock and Lord Mandelson, can receive their five-figure taxpayer-funded pensions at far lower tax rates than are paid by other British citizens.
The decision is bound to infuriate millions of pensioners.
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, said: “Tax, for Eurocrats, is something that happens to other people.”
Robert Oxley, Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Taxpayers are fed up of funding the lavish lifestyle of EU staff while having to tighten their own belts at home. This ruling is further evidence that the EU elite is out of touch with reality.” --
Recent research showed that European taxpayers are now spending £1billion a year on pensions for retired officials. British taxpayers contributed around £135million in 2010.
The Luxembourg court ruling upholds a “privileges and immunities” protocol that dates back more than 50 years.
Read the entire article here

Canadian forestry company shows how to deal with envirofundamentalist Greenpeace

Lies and intimidation have been the core of Greenpeace's campaigns against forest companies for years now. Most companies have chosen not to take a fight with the greenmailers fearing a no-win situation. Finally, one company, Canadian Resolute shows how to deal with the envirofundamentalist NGO:

In December, Greenpeace pulled the trigger, claiming it had proof from GPS-tagged video and pictures that one of the coalition industry members, Resolute Forest Products, was building logging roads in areas forbidden by the agreement. It released pictures it said were taken in August 2012 in Quebec’s Montagnes Blanches region, and it promptly resigned from the CBFA (Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement). --

Unlike Kimberly-Clark and Quebec-based hardware and lumber retailer Rona, which buckled under harsh criticism and paid greenmail, Resolute fought back, providing documentation that the allegations were untrue. It supplied “concrete milestones” that it had reached for caribou protection and the implementation of best practices.
When its prey did not drop, Greenpeace reloaded and fired again. Spokesperson Shane Moffat trumpeted “Greenpeace’s science-based advocacy for responsible forestry” as the group issued a report,Boreal Alarm that threatened to wreak havoc on Resolute’s brand if it didn’t junk its logging practices, already approved under the terms of the CBFA coalition, in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.
Greenpeace and its key allies were surprised at Resolute’s resoluteness. But the company believed it was standing on firm factual ground and refused to be bullied. Finally in a huge embarrassment, on March 19, the activist group admitted it had bungled its “investigation” and that the unimpeachable videos and photos were just plain wrong. Even as it crowed about its 40 years of commitment to “best available science and research,” Greenpeace admitted it relied on “inaccurate maps” before launching its highly public and damaging attacks.
Read the entire article here
The Resolute way of taking on Greenpeace will hopefully encourage other companies worldwide to do the same. It is time to stop the job destroying envirofundamentalist greenmailers! 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

UK MPs getting serious about stopping the wind power idiocy: "The time has come to stop feeding this extraordinary cash cow"

Wind turbines in Ardrossan, Scotland. 
(image wikipedia)

Finally, the opposition against the inefficient, bird killing and landscape destroying monstrous wind turbines is getting serious in Britain:

Wind farm developers are facing a dramatic escalation of opposition from dozens of MPs who say they will fight every application in their constituencies.

The MPs, many of whom have until now only opposed particular proposals, believe their intervention will make it more difficult for planning permission to be given.
In a fresh protest against the Government’s support for onshore wind turbines, backbenchers said their constituencies had reached “tipping point” and would be ruined by further development.
They are sharing advice on running local campaigns against wind farms after the Tory head of a larger cross party group of MPs opposed to the spread of onshore wind distributed a manual on how to fight proposals by developers.
The move comes after the group of 106 MPs - 101 of them Tories - called on the Government to cut generous subsidies, which they say are driving the expansion of wind farms. In a letter to the Prime Minister in February last year they warned it was “unwise” to make consumers subsidise “inefficient and intermittent energy production”.
Geoffrey Cox, the MP for Torridge and West Devon, one of the signatories to the letter said: “There are now so many turbine applications that the whole of our district is affected. I believe we have now reached a tipping point.  ==
Mr Cox said the proposals for six turbines on privately owned farmland in Torridge followed the construction of “dozens” of turbines in the last three years.
He said: “Torridge is now facing over 60 applications. They are going to make a fundamental change to the character of this exquisite landscape, trashing an ancient and beautiful countryside for the sake of filling the pockets of developers with consumer subsidies.
“These are some of the most romantic and attractive destinations in our country and yet we are erecting giant machines which litter the countryside. The time has come to stop feeding this extraordinary cash cow.”
The UK MPs now fighting the wind turbine scam are also serving as important role models in the growing global anti wind power movement. It's time to stop the wasteful wind turbine idiocy!