Archive for May 2010
Mr Obama’s promises to extend the hand of friendship to unpleasant nations have been slapped down by dictators.
Pyongyang is clearly capable of attacking the South for no reason at all as in response to international censure and restrictions.
North Korea has literally shot itself to new depths of incivility.
A North Korean torpedo was responsible for the death of 46 sailors who perished despite its denial.
An explosion buckled the ship and sent it to the bottom as unexpectedly as a North Korean bomber blew up a South Korean airliner near Thailand.
War is unthinkable on the Korean peninsula. So too, however, are murderous and unprovoked attacks.
Reference: Ocean’s fish could disappear, Bangkok Post, May 19, 2010
A UN report called “The Green Economy” says that our oceans are running out of fish (Ocean’s fish could disappear, Bangkok Post, May 19, 2010) and that environmental upheaval, ecological destruction around the planet, over-fishing, over-population, and government subsidies to the fishing industry are to blame.
This scare is not new. It was used at least twice before, first in 1977 (“Sea’s riches running out”) and again in 1994 (“Oceans running out of fish”). However scary the 2010 version of this story may be, with the reader left to contemplate oceans devoid of fish, it is comforting to note in retrospect that the catastrophic forecasts in prior scares about oceans running out of fish turned out to be wrong.
It appears that calamity scientists are running out of ideas having lost their grip on both the ozone hole scare and the global warming scare and now find themselves fishing for calamities.
Cha-am Jamal, Thailand
If you think that the objective of foreign aid is to help poor countries to get economic development started or to end poverty as so nobly stated by Jeffrey Sachs in The end of poverty, you will find that it has been a complete and utter failure and that if anything it has done more harm than good.
In other words, if you look at how foreign aid has benefited recipient countries, you find an industry that has spent trillions of dollars since its inception and has achieved nothing. As reference to support this conclusion, take a look at one of these books.
- Graham Hancock, The lords of poverty
- Michael Maren, The road to hell
- Dambisa Moyo, Dead aid
- Bill Easterly, The white man’s burden
- Glenn Hubbard, The aid trap
They tell of the utter failure of foreign aid to achieve any of its stated objectives of economic development and poverty reduction as described in The end of poverty.
On the other hand, if you look at how foreign aid has benefited donors you get an entirely different picture. From case studies of foreign aid one may derive certain perverse motivations that have more to do with gains to donors than the end of poverty. Some gains from foreign aid that has accrued to donors include the following:
- provide employment for economists, aid workers, and specialists
- protect agriculture markets and subsidies
- develop markets in recipient countries for goods and services
- explore and capture investment opportunities
- explore and capture sources for energy and raw materials
- export values and culture
- develop soft power
- cultivate values and practices in the recipient country to benefit the donor
- maintain the rich-poor divide with the rich nations as caretakers of the poor
- leverage international trade advantages
- leverage political and military advantages
The rich donor nations compete with each other for global dominance and influence and it would seem that foreign aid is one of the tools used in this game. The international aid business should therefore be judged according to these more meaningful goals because it has been shown that the attempt to evaluate them according to their stated goal of ending poverty has not led to any meaningful results.
The international aid business does not make a lot of sense if you look at it from the recipient’s point of view but it can take on new meaning and interpretation when viewed from the donor’s perspective.
Cha-am Jamal, Thailand
1. There are neither natural nor cyclical changes on earth. Therefore all measured changes in nature are a trends and they are man made.
2. If its concentration is going up it is a bad thing and higher concentrations of this thing will be the end of the world.
3. If its concentration is going down it is a good thing and if we run out of this thing it will be the end of the world.
4. All man made trends lead to catastrophic results for the environment and by extension, the planet itself.
5. Scientists can save the planet because these catastrophic ends can be avoided by human intervention prescribed by scientists.
6. Human intervention is necessary even if our science is flawed because humanity can’t take the chance that we could be right.
7. We are the managers of nature and we must take care of the planet because it can’t take care of itself.
Airlines are rushing to switch from time tested kerosene-based jet fuel to biofuels at great cost and risk (Lufthansa will start using biofuels on flights by 2012, Bangkok Post, May 11, 2010). They are lured by the riches of the carbon credits they can sell in the emissions trading market. Biofuels have value in the emissions trading market because global warming scientists were pushing biofuels as an antidote for climate change.
When their call was heeded by Asian palm oil growers and they began to plant new palm oil plantations to supply the new biodiesel market thus created, climate scientists made a u-turn on the biofuels idea. Headlines in 2008 proclaimed palm oil as a disaster saying things like “Asia’s growing palm oil farms seen as climate change threat”, “Biofuels are harming developing countries” and “Palm oil may be an ecological disaster”.
So now, since this onslaught on biofuels by climate scientists in 2008, biofuels have lost their previously advertised value as renewable energy that can save the planet. Yet, it still carries billions of Euros in carbon credit value in the emissions trading market set up to save the planet. As things stand today, in 2010, climate science rewards biofuels consumption while at the same time calling for a ban on its production. It is one of many contradictions that have confused, befuddled, and discredited climate scientists and their half baked campaign against carbon dioxide.
Cha-am Jamal, Thailand
Bernard Trink quotes James Rollins to ask why we have magnets in our brain (Book Reviews, Bangkok Post, May 14, 2010) as if that were a mystery. It used to be one but now scientists report that if you wave a magnet near the right TPJ section of our brain it impairs our moral judgement of other people’s behavior. They conclude that the magnets must therefore have a moral judgement function. The media has been quick to label the magnetic property of the TPJ a ” moral compass”.
Cha-am Jamal, Thailand
Thailand does not have the power to influence every decision and every case brought before the UN human rights body after tomorrow.
One can hope that the new members will try to take advantage of quiet diplomacy.
The world body and its successive leaders have the power to use the bully pulpit and inform world opinion.
UN members also voted in countries that were far from being considered democratic exemplars like Pakistan, Egypt, China, and Cuba.
We will be staring at the next problem of the drought, which looks set to come after the oppressive hear.