Saturday, June 30, 2007

Craig Murray on Lockerbie affair

From late 1989 to 1992 I [Craig Murray] was the Head of the Maritime Section of the FCO and No 2 in the Aviation and Maritime Department (for those into FCO arcana, the Maritime Section was headed by a Grade 5 First Secretary and the Aviation Section by a Grade 6 First Secretary). This was the period of the invasion of Kuwait and first Gulf War, in which the Maritime Section, including me, mostly got picked up and deposited in an underground bunker as the FCO part of the Embargo Surveillance Centre. We did intelligence analysis on Iraqi attempts at weapons procurement and organised interdiction worldwide.

In this period I mostly lived in my underground bunker, quite literally, and didn't get back to the FCO much to keep an eye on the rest of my section. On one occasion when I did, I was told something remarkable by a colleague in Aviation section.

At this time we suddenly switched from blaming Iran and Syria for the Lockerbie bombing to blaming Libya. This was part of a diplomatic drive to isolate Iraq from its neighbours in the run-up to the invasion. Aviation section were seeing all the intelligence on Lockerbie, for obvious reasons. A colleague there told me, in a deeply worried way, that he/she had the most extraordinary intelligence report which showed conclusively that it was really Syria, not Libya, that bombed the Pan Am jet, and that the switch was pure expediency.

I asked if I could see the report, and my colleague declined, saying this was too sensitive and dangerous; the report was marked for named eyes only. That in itself was extremely unusual - normally we would pass intelligence reports freely to each other, signing the register for them.

Craig has some good commenters:

There are some such 'Affairs' that quite simply override any considerations of truth, honesty and justice for a mere individual. Seems to me that ME policy, ruled by the absolute Western Alliance imperative of maintaining a measure of control over what remains of the planets oil endowment, is the daddy of them all.

I do not know where the truth lies but the shannigans surrounding that Lockerbie conviction certainly render it suspect. It is refreshing that a tainted Scottish legal system has conceded as much and that the evidence will be re-aired; but I won't hold my breath on a different outcome if it requires light to be shed on those dark recesses. My guess is that TPTB will move heaven and earth to have that conviction upheld. In their world certain ends justify any means; the truth is what you (or rather 'they') make it and the public are simply lied to. It is one of the reasons why, at Privy Council level, the term 'Honest Politician' is an oxymoron.

When I saw the news item about the Lockerbie appeal my first thought was: I expect they will take the opportunity to pin it on Iran now, since there is obviously a major campaign to throw everything that has even half a chance of leaving a mark, let alone sticking, at Iran as part of the standard pre-attack demonisation.

Syria, I would have thought, is less likely to be officially implicated, because so far as I can tell, it doesn't seem any longer to be directly in the cross-hairs. I may be wrong on that, obviously, and certainly Syria is still a major target for those who most strongly influence US foreign policy. If they can't find any way to stick it on Iran, they will be happy to throw it at Syria.

It was touch and go a couple of years ago whether Syria or Iran would get hit first, imo. Most probably it is only the surprisingly strong resistance of Iraq to pacification that has saved both Syria and Iran from attack so far....

Personally, I'm sceptical enough about our capacity to convict the right person in the majority of ordinary criminal trials - anything that involves "security" is more likely a wrongful detention or conviction than not, imo, given the kind of "evidence" that gets used and the instinctive deference to authority of ordinary people (jurors, judges) in such situations.

This is something that people need to understand and bear in mind in debates on the death penalty, as well as government powers of detention. The state is both malign and incompetent, in general.

Also worth bearing in mind that the vast majority of those suffering Abu Ghraib-like treatment in Iraq and around the US' global archipelago of detention sites are just ordinary people unlucky enough to be picked up by the US state machinery, and not "terrorists" at all - at least, before they go in.

Only a fool would believe the unsupported word of the proven liars in the US and UK governments on anything regarding the ME, and most especially when it's bad-mouthing an "axis of evil" member.

I keep an open mind on the Lockerbie perpetrator's identity.

The only thing that is reasonably safe to assume at the moment, though, is that this is being reopened now in order to facilitate a desired attack on Iran by contributing to the ongoing demonisation campaign.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Liberal and Labor, make a call: how much heat can you stand?

The Age:
More than anything else, there is one number that really counts. It is the first step on the ladder of climate-change policy — and it is the one to which neither Labor nor the Coalition is willing to give an answer.

Given the science and likely impacts, how hot are we willing to let the planet get? Two degrees, three degrees, four degrees hotter?

And what risk will we accept of exceeding this target?

Temperatures have, already, risen 0.74 degrees above pre-industrial levels and, even if human activity added no more to current greenhouse gas levels, the planet will continue to warm about 1.4 degrees due to lags in the climate system.

The CSIRO last year predicted that, if we exceed a two-degree rise, 97 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef will be bleached annually and an 80 per cent loss of Kakadu's freshwater wetlands is likely. At just under three degrees, there's a 99 per cent risk of Greenland irreversibly melting, with an eventual global sea level rise of five to seven metres.

In the two to three-degree range, we can conservatively pencil in about 20 per cent of the planet's species becoming extinct and a one in five chance of the oceanic currents that regulate the planet's temperature simply shutting down.

A three-degree rise is simply way outside human experience. The last time it was that hot, in the Pliocene, 3 million years ago, beech trees grew in the Transantarctic mountains and seas were 25 metres higher.

If we can limit warming to less than two degrees, knowing about 1.4 degrees is already locked in, the consequences will still be severe, but the risk of triggering runaway climate-change events (where we lose the capacity to control the consequences) lessens significantly.

Such figures as quoted suggest both the seriousness and the immediacy of the problem. Stern stated that we had a narrow window of 10-15 years to address the problem. But both major parties are still playing politics with the issue and are fundamentally unserious about tackling it, especially the Liberals.

A CSIRO submission to the Prime Minister's emissions taskforce that says a 60 to 90 per cent cut to industrialised countries' emissions is needed to stabilise climate change.

But Australia, as one of the worst emitters among the industrialised countries, requires a cut at the higher end of this range.

The CSIRO research and other research makes it clear that the "temperature stabilisation" associated with a 60 per cent cut is considered by many as too risky, giving us a massive 80 to 85 per cent chance of overshooting a two-degree target. Labor's policy for Australia of a 60 per cent cut by 2050 is therefore more about hope than science.

Caught between the science and the politics, Labor's Peter Garrett talks vaguely in the two to three-degree range, never being specific, never committing Labor to putting even one foot on the first rung of the climate change policy ladder — an unambiguous target.

And Labor does not have a short-term target — in many ways much more important than targets five decades away.

The Greens policy is to achieve emissions cuts of 30 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050. This would give us an 80 per cent chance of keeping the temperature rise below two degrees. To maximise the chance of staying below two degrees, we must make big cuts early. For John Howard, a climate-change sceptic, this is more about smoothing over a political problem than real action. But Labor, too, falls short of the mark — they do not even set a temperature target.

Professor Tim Flannery, the Australian of the Year environmentalist, said recently his greatest wish was that political parties would state their "temperature limits" as to how hot the planet should get. The Greens recently moved a motion in the Senate to have a two-degree limit endorsed as Australia's target. The ALP joined with the Coalition to defeat the motion.

Jonathan Alter: Best Ideas for Fixing America? Listen to Gore, Bradley

Jonathan Alter: Best Ideas for Fixing America? Listen to Gore, Bradley: "There's another way to cut emissions that might be more politically palatable than a steep gas tax, which has long been a nonstarter. It's an even bigger idea--a 'sky trust,' as described briefly in the book 'Capitalism 3.0' by Peter Barnes, who argues that the atmosphere is a 'commons' that belongs to everyone. A sky trust would be modeled on the way Alaska handles oil revenue or how a waste-management company would operate if it owned dumping rights to the sky. Instead of the proceeds of a steep carbon tax going to the government, where it might be wasted, the 'assessments' would go into a huge trust, then sent back to all stakeholders (the public) in the form of a dividend check at the end of the year, the same amount for each person. Those who drive more and are thus assessed more also usually live in parts of the country where the cost of living is lower and the rebate check would go further. And people who cut their carbon footprints would likely end up ahead of the game."

This is similar to Jeff Smith's longheld idea of the Citizen's Dividend. It has the twin advantage that it is both just and efficient to declare the atmosphere a commons and to impose taxation on polluters in proportion to pollution. The cost of such a scheme would only be felt indirectly in terms of increased prices for carbon-heavy products, but the benefit would be directly appreciated in terms of the cheque to every citizen, thus maximising its chance of political acceptance.

Of course, there are other good claims on revenue so raised, for example that it should be invested in renewable energy or in public transport or other essential infrastructure. Perhaps an allocation in some proportion could be made, eg 50% dividend, 50% infrastructure. But some scheme of revenue hypothecation increasingly deserves serious consideration.

Henderson: Unseen faces on the ABC 'board'

Henderson on the ABC 'board': "Bob Hawke's Labor government clashed with the ABC over its lack of balance in covering the first Gulf War. Hawke maintained that the ABC was criticising his government from the left."

'Critising the government from the left' could serve as a useful definition of the very purpose of genuine journalism.

If its not doing this, then journalism is 'stenographing' government lies and propaganda, or worse, 'criticising it from the right', as in Michael Ledeen's infamous 'Faster, Please' demand for more war, death, chaos and destruction in the Middle East.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Al-Qaeda No.3 Threatens America

Ranting and railing, fingerpointing and threatening, Al-Qaeda No.3 Adam Yehiye Gadahn aka Azzam al-Amriki aka Adam the American launches a tirade (in English) against Bush and the 'Crusader Coalition.' Bombastic demands and threats are issued in more or less equal measure. Bush is attacked as a 'babykiller and war criminal' who sent the US on a 'death march to breakdown and disintegration.' Bush leads an 'empire of evil' and his crusade is a 'colossal failure'. He is 'losing on all fronts, and losing big time.' He 'lives in a cocoon of his own making, and prefers to remain ignorant.'

Australia gets an indirect mention as a 'loyal but stoopid ally'.

Well, if the US wants peace the terms have been pretty much laid down, according to Al-Qaeda. All they have to do is close their empire and withdraw from Muslim lands, 'from Afghanistan to Zanzibar'; stop aid for 'the bastard state of Israel', leave Islamic countries alone; end propaganda to Islam; release all Muslim prisoners etc. And the big news is, the US doesnt even have to give up its freedoms! All in all, not a bad deal for Americans, but of course totally uninteresting for the ruling corporate/political elite.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Noam Chomsky interviewed by Michael Shank

Chomsky Takes on the World (Bank), Noam Chomsky interviewed by Michael Shank:
Michael Shank: Given that the U.S. Congress is no longer calling for binding timelines for troop withdrawal, how is this indicative of a broader struggle between the executive and legislative branches?

Noam Chomsky: There are a number of issues. One is the unitary executive conception. The Republican Party happens to be right now in the hands of a very extreme fringe. That goes from the legal system and the Federalist Society to the executive and so on. What they basically want, to put it simply, is a kind of an elective dictatorship. The chief executive should have total control over the executive branch. And the executive branch should dominate the other branches. That’s an effective mode of authoritarian control, natural for those whose dislike of democracy goes beyond the norm.

There’s a real fascist streak there, definitely. And Congress, to some extent, is trying to recreate more of a balance between the executive and legislative branch. So that’s part of the struggle. Part of it is just that neither party is willing to face the consequences of a withdrawal from Iraq. It’s not a trivial matter. First of all, there’s almost no public discussion of the issues involved in the war. Why did we invade? Why don’t we want to get out?

I was listening to the National Public Radio tribute to David Halberstam the other day, and they had on Neil Sheehan, David Greenway, and others. They were talking correctly about these young reporters in Vietnam who with great courage stood up against power and told truth to power. Which is correct, but what truth did they tell to power? The truth they told to power was: "you’re not winning the war." I listened through the hour and there were never any questions like: should you be fighting the war or should you be invading another country? The answer to that is not the kind of truth you tell to power.

In fact, it’s rather similar to what critical journalists in the Soviet Union were saying in the 1980s. They were saying, “Yeah we’re not winning the war in Afghanistan.” From my point of view, that’s not telling truth to power. Truth to power would be: why are you invading Afghanistan, what right do you have to commit crimes against peace and against humanity? But that question never came up. And the same is true in the discussion of Iraq. The question of whether it’s legitimate to have a victory doesn’t even arise. In fact, the current debate about Iraq reminds me very much of the dove/hawk debate over Vietnam.

Take, for example, Arthur Schlesinger, leading historian, Kennedy advisor, and so on. He was originally a strong supporter of the war during the Kennedy years. But by the mid-1960s, there was a mood spreading in the country generally, but also among the elites, that the war is not wise, it’s harming us. Then he had a book that came out in 1966 called Bitter Heritage, which is very much like what’s happening today. He was one of the extreme liberal critics of the war by then. He said, “We all pray that the hawks will be correct in thinking that sending more troops will bring us victory. And if they are, we’ll be praising the wisdom and statesmanship of the American government in winning a victory in a land that they’ve left in wreck and ruin. But it doesn’t look like it’s going to work.”

You can translate that almost verbatim into the liberal dove critique of the war today. There’s no question about whether we are justified in invading another country. The only question is: is this tactic going to work, or is some other tactic going to work, or maybe no tactic and it’s costing us too much. And those are the limits of the presidential debates, the congressional discussion, and the media discussion.

Invading Iraq was the kind of crime for which Nazi war criminals were hanged at Nuremberg. They were hanged, primarily, for crimes against peace, i.e. aggression, the supreme international crime. Von Ribbentrop, foreign minister, was hanged. One of the main charges was that he supported a preemptive war against Norway. It’s kind of striking that at the end of the Nuremberg tribunal, the chief counsel for the prosecution Justice Robert Jackson, an American justice, made some pretty eloquent speeches about the nature of the tribunal. After the sentencing, he said, “We’re handing the defendants a poisoned chalice and if we sip from it we must be subject to the same charges and sentencing or else we’re just showing that the proceedings are a farce.” So if they mean anything the principles have to apply to us.

Try to find a discussion of that anywhere, either in the case of Vietnam or in the case of Iraq, or any other aggression.

This is what I call the Chomskyan Revolution: That the standards of criticism and condemnation that we apply to the crimes and atrocities of other powers should also be applied to ourselves, our friends and our allies. Prior to this revolution, it has not occured to most people that this should be done. It is almost subconsciously assumed that we are 'good' and they are 'evil'. But subsequent to Chomsky, people will be ashamed to be caught denouncing the crimes of Hitler or Genghis Khan or other enemies without having on record even more prominent condemnations of crimes for which we are responsible right now, and could stop - if we exercised our citizen's power.

Chomsky goes on in this interview to discuss Wolfowitz and the World Bank.

Review of A.Cockburn's Rumsfeld bio

Socialist Review: "What emerges is a transfixing portrait of a man whose vanity and venality are matched only by his ruthless careerism and serial incompetence."

"Rumsfeld's creepy obsession with disappearing off to take part in nuclear war simulation games for the Pentagon is also revealed. Cockburn quotes an official involved with organising these games: "Rumsfeld always wanted to move to retaliation as quickly as possible. He was one who always went for the extreme option."

"The sections on Iraq and the "war on terror" are full of extraordinary revelations. Cockburn provides detailed evidence about how Rumsfeld not only authorised torture in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib - he personally micromanaged it, issuing instructions from his Pentagon office as to how particular prisoners should be treated.

"But the most striking aspect of Cockburn's account of Rumsfeld is the portrait it paints of a US elite composed of thoroughly corrupt individuals who absolutely loathe each other. Marx famously described the ruling class as a "band of warring brothers". The levels of venom that the super-rich Republican hawks sling at each other are truly eye-popping."

Israel: Mythologizing a 20th Century Accident - by Gabriel Kolko

Israel: Mythologizing a 20th Century Accident - by Gabriel Kolko: "A state based on religion rather than the will of all of its inhabitants was at the end of the 19th century not only a medieval notion but also a very eccentric idea"

You can say that again. It would be hard to imagine anything more bizarre or sillier than this Zionist idea.

It was also full of countless contradictions, based not merely on the conflicts between theological dogmas and democracy but also vast cultural differences among Jews, all of which were to appear later. Europe's Jews have precious little in common, and their mores and languages are very distinct. But the gap between Jews from Europe and those from the Arab world was far, far greater. Moreover, there were many radically different kinds of Zionism within a small movement, ranging from the religiously motivated to Marxists who wanted to cease being Jews altogether and, as Ber Borochov would have it, become "normal." In the end, all that was to unite Israel was a military ethic premised on a hatred of those "others" around them – and it was to become a warrior-state, a virtual Sparta dominated by its army....

In 1913 British Intelligence estimated that perhaps one percent of the Jews had Zionist affiliations, a figure that rose in the Russian Pale – which contained about six million Jews – as the war became longer.

It was scarcely an accident that in November 1917 Lord Arthur Balfour was to make Britain's historic endorsement of a Jewish homeland in their newly mandated territory of Palestine in a letter to Rothschild. Some of these Englishmen also shared the Biblical view that it was the destiny of Jews to return to their ancient soil. Others thought that this gesture would help keep Russia in the war, and that nefarious Jews had the influence to do so. Most saw a Jewish state as a means of consolidating British power in the vast Islamic region....

It is a Zionist myth that there were many Jews who wished to go to a primitive, hot, dusty place and did so. They did not – and all of the available numbers prove this conclusively.... For every Jew who went to Palestine from 1890 to 1924, at least 27 went to the Western Hemisphere alone....

Hitler's importance must always be set in a larger context. Without him there never would have been a flow of Jews out of Germany, and very probably no state of Israel, but also crucial was the U.S. 1924 Immigration Act. Migrants went to Palestine out of necessity, in the vast majority of cases, not choice. Both of these factors were crucial, and to determine their relative importance is an abstract, futile enterprise. But without either the Zionist project of creating a Jewish state in Palestine would have remained another exotic Viennese concoction, never to be realized, because while the Jews in the Diaspora were in favor of a Jewish state, virtually none living in safe nations were ever to uproot themselves and embark on Aliyah – the return to the ancient homeland. They had no reason to do so.

Helioleftism: Conservative bloggers denounce Heliocentrism as leftist/liberal plot

Blogs 4 Brownback: In the Republican candidate presidential debates not long ago, 3 out of 10 candidates, including Senator Sam Brownback, put up their hands and said they did not believe in evolution. More than 50% of Americans also do not believe. It's amazing how backward, ignorant and superstitious that country is. Of course it is in the interests of the ruling elite to keep them ignorant, and keep getting them out to vote for right-wing candidates that are drifting towards pseudo-fascism. Get a load of these comments:

What’s truly astounding is the ridiculous self-contradictory nonsense that NASA tries to foist on a gullible public. They say that space is a vacuum, and that they’ve actually been to outer space, but everybody knows that people explode when they’re placed in a vacuum.

So where are the exploding astronauts? Huh? Where are they?

Jesus does not look kindly upon fibbers, and those NASA people are going to have some explaining to do when the rapture comes....

The Helioleftists are so blinded by their own hatred of Jesus and America that it is impossible to reason with them. Just try casually mentioning the possibility that the earth may be stationary and the heathens will start calling you all sorts of nasty names - anything to distract from the fact that their argument is not based on logic or reasoning, but instead the result of blind faith from the brainwashing they received in our communist public school system.

Someone valiantly tries to refute these ideas but somehow I suspect the effort could be futile:

You are all so stupid that I’m losing faith in humanity as we speak.

The Earth is not flat. In fact, if you had a clue, you’d realize the Flat Earth Society is a JOKE website. The Earth is round. Believe me I take pictures of it with the satellite I’m paid to monitor every single day. Yes, a real satellite that is actually IN space. Believe it you tin-foil hat wearing retards.

The Earth does revolve around the sun. Copernicus was right. You are a moron. Just because you can’t possibly comprehend how to scientifically use your brains to uncover facts about our universe that are previously unknown doesn’t mean you should dog on the guy that put in all the hard work to figure it out.

Astronauts don’t explode in space because of a little thing called PRESSURIZED ENVIRONMENTS. A pressurized environment mimics the AIR PRESSURE that we experience down on Earth. If you paid attention in 7th grade science class and were not living in la-la land, you would know this.

I’m a Christian, and I’m pretty sure Jesus loves everyone, even you. You’re lucky in this regard, because you’re pretty much pissing everyone off who God blessed with a completely functional brain. I’m sorry about your lack of intellect and your amazing ability to get wrapped up in anything that anyone posts online says, but you should all consider martyrdom for the sake of the herd to become stronger. Just look at those fun people at the Heaven’s Gate, they really helped out society, just as I have faith that you will too.

Brownback supporters fight back with what I have to admit is one of the more innovative arguments against global warming:

Once you start tugging, the whole rotten edifice of “science” comes crashing down. The periodic table, for example, is obviously satanist.

And if there’s no globe, there’s no global warming!

Evil is simply self-serving lies, to justify violence, crimes and injustice; and to persuade or dull people into submission. In the war of ideas, the fight for truth and justice, I believe firmly that all citizens must engage, including scientists, and relentlessly refute the lies and make the argument for truth, with patience, logic and evidence. As Chomsky said, the responsibility of intellectuals (and citizens) is clear: to speak the truth and to expose lies. Thus the following is a kind of modern day hero. But even Chomsky would have got fed up with this, decades ago:

You have doubts because you are ignorant. That is not an insult; I am not calling you dumb, just very poorly educated. The “logical arguments” that you use to develop your model of the universe are flawed.

For example: you posted that if the earth is round then things will slide off the top of it. The problem with that is that if the earth is round there is no top! In fact the sand falling off a beach ball can be used to prove that there is gravity, and that it does indeed point towards the mass center of a round earth. You can do the experiment yourself, if you don’t trust anyone else. Just record very accurately which way sand falls, move a few hundred miles in any direction and test it again. Repeat as often as you want. You will see that the direction that the sand falls at each location is directly toward a point, locating the mass center of the earth. If the earth was flat the results of the test would result in the problems for a flat earth that you state for a round earth! As you moved farther away from the direction that the sand falls you would be pulled at steeper and steeper angles relative to the surface of a flat earth. But for a round earth you are simple pulled toward the center, and the surface is on average perpendicular to the lines through the center, making standing straight up, mean standing straight away from the center. Up is out.

Science is a very simple thing, which allows mere mortals as you and I to find the truth. You don’t have to philosophize, guess, or believe in mythologies. You can know the answers for many questions, and prove them repeatable entirely yourself, with no need for liars (be they scientists or preachers, anyone can lie) to be involved. Simply pose a possible answer to your question, determine a way to test the answer and perform the test. That is all science is: A test to determine the truth of a possible answer to a question. I don’t think that a method for finding the truth should be considered evil by anyone.

I think it is very important that humans stop basing our actions on beliefs. Creatures like us that have very powerful tools can do too much damage that way. If you have a gun, and you believe a bad guy is in your house and you shoot, there is a chance of killing your friend. You can not afford to base that action on what you believe, you must absolutely know before you shoot.

If you are the commander in chief of a nation that has incredibly powerful military capabilities, including nuclear weapons, you can not “shoot” based on what you believe. You can do too much damage that way. You need to know.

If a guy like you doesn’t know, then he should not be trying to telling others about science… you can do too much damage that way. And trust me, based on the statements that you make I can KNOW that you do not know.

Naturally, many of these right-wingers are angered by what they call the 'liberal bias' which they see everwhere, such as in Wikipedia. So they create their own:

Conservapedia is just like Wikipedia, except that its 11,000 entries read like they were personally vetted by Pat Robertson and the 700 Club. Fed up with Wikipedia's purported liberal bias, Conservapedia's founder, Andrew Schlafly, son of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, has created "an encyclopedia you can trust."

And you can trust them, to give you some pretty loopy definitions. Their entry on kangaroos, for instance, says that, "like all modern animals . . . kangaroos are the descendants of the two founding members of the modern kangaroo baramin that were taken aboard Noah's Ark prior to the Great Flood."

You may not recognize the word "baramin." It's a 20th-century creationist neologism that refers to the species God placed on earth during Creation Week. Special for kids: I wouldn't use that word on the biology final. Although maybe your parents could sue the local school board for failing to teach the Book of Genesis in science class.

More on Conserva-kangaroos: "After the Flood, these kangaroos bred from the Ark passengers migrated to Australia. There is debate whether this migration happened over land with lower sea levels during the post-flood ice age, or before the supercontinent of Pangea broke apart, or if they rafted on mats of vegetation torn up by the receding flood waters."

What I would give right now for an image of several kangaroos on a vegetation mat raft paddling all the way from Mt Ararat to Australia.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Latest Scary Airport Terrorist Plot Probably a Fraud Just Like the Rest of Them

I don’t believe ‘em for a second: "There’s no al Qaeda in America. As always, the biggest threat to our lives and liberties is the national government of the United States. Now you know how the rest of the world feels.

"Partial list of bogus domestic terrorism plots “busted” by the Federal Cops since 9/11 (all the false warnings are too numerous to mention.)"

See the article for the list. Government loves terror plots in the same way it loves war: the best excuse to increase power, diminish liberty and justify its existence. 'War is the health of the State.'

The Real Ugliness of Religious Fundamentalism

Eliyahu advocates carpet bombing Gaza: "'If they don't stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand,' said Shmuel Eliyahu. 'And if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop.'"

As Chris Floyd says, why not six million? But there are only about one million Palestinians in the Gaza strip so one million would be a virtual genocide.

Don't make peace with the Palestinians, say, along the lines of the Arab League offer. Instead, murder them - all of them. Read the article again - the Rabbi said this, wrote to the Prime Minister in fact. How can such a person have any position in Israel or anywhere else for that matter? This sort of thing brings down lethal disgrace and discredit for Israel, Zionism and the 'Jewish State.'

Year ago a big fuss and a bunch of denials were made when Israel Shahak alleged that a Rabbi taught that you need not help an Arab in distress on the Sabbath. Now look at the genocidal, murderous filth coming from a 'religious leader'.

When a position is indefensible logically or morally, when it is mere militarism, authoritarianism, imperialism and land hunger, religious fanaticism may be invoked. Perhaps this explains the rise of fundamentalism in the US, Israel and Al-Qaeda. Naturally it is a perversion of religion which brings it into the deepest disrepute.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

AEI favours carbon tax over cap & trade

Even the American Enterprise Institute is critiquing the 'cap and trade' proposal: This is one of the better articles (with argument and figures) explaining and advocating the carbon tax.

Establishing allowances and accounting systems for GHG emissions across industries is going to be vastly more difficult and highly politicized. The forest products industry, for example, will reasonably want credits for creating carbon sinks in the trees it plants and harvests, but the manufacturing sector that uses these wood products as a raw material will want credit for sequestering carbon. The difference will have to be split in some arbitrary manner that will surely introduce economic distortions in the marketplace. The auto industry will want credits for GHG innovations, while industries and businesses of all kinds will lobby for credits for reducing mobile source emissions from changes to their auto and truck fleets. There are going to be winners and losers in this allocation process. Multiply this problem across sectors and industries and it becomes evident that a GHG emissions-trading system is going to be highly complex and unwieldy, and too susceptible to rent-seeking influence in Washington. The problem of politically adjusting competing interests will be compounded on the international scale. The long-running diplomatic conflicts that can be observed over purported subsidies for aircraft (i.e., Boeing versus Airbus) and the European Union's agricultural subsidies and trade barriers are examples of the kinds of conflicts that will be endemic to any international emissions-trading scheme.

The favored solution to these problems is to over-allocate the number of initial permits both to ease the cost and to encourage the rapid start-up of a market for trades. This was the course the European Union took with its Emissions Trading System (ETS), and it has very nearly led to the collapse of the system. Because emissions permits were over-allocated, the price of emissions permits plummeted, and little--if any--emissions reductions have taken place because of the ETS. The over-allocation of initial permits merely postpones both emissions cuts and the economic pain involved.

In addition to that, if permits are granted without charge it is a vast handover of a now-valuable public resource (the atmosphere) to the polluting parties themselves with no compensation to the public which must suffer. In other words it is a vast privatisation or enclosure of the commons, and it seems to me that this factor is what drives its 'popularity' ahead of a better solution, the carbon tax.

Most economists believe a carbon tax (a tax on the quantity of CO2 emitted when using energy) would be a superior policy alternative to an emissions-trading regime. In fact, the irony is that there is a broad consensus in favor of a carbon tax everywhere except on Capitol Hill, where the "T word" is anathema....

There are many reasons for preferring a revenue-neutral carbon tax regime (in which taxes are placed on the carbon emissions of fuel use, with revenues used to reduce other taxes) to emissions trading. Among them are:

* Effectiveness and Efficiency. A revenue-neutral carbon tax shift is almost certain to reduce GHG emissions efficiently. As economist William Pizer observes, "Specifically, a carbon tax equal to the damage per ton of CO2 will lead to exactly the right balance between the cost of reducing emissions and the resulting benefits of less global warming."[10] Despite the popular assumption that a cap-and-trade regime is more certain because it is a quantity control rather than a price control, such a scheme only works in very limited circumstances that do not apply to GHG control. The great potential for fraud attendant on such a system creates significant doubt about its effectiveness, as experience has shown in both theory and practice in the gyrations of the European ETS.

The likelihood of effectiveness also cannot be said for regulations such as increased vehicle fuel economy standards....

* Incentive Creation. [otherwise known as Incentive Taxation] Putting a price on the carbon emissions attendant on fuel use would create numerous incentives to reduce the use of carbon-intensive energy. The increased costs of energy would flow through the economy, ultimately giving consumers incentives to reduce their use of electricity, transportation fuels, home heating oil, and so forth. Consumers, motivated by the tax, would have incentives to buy more efficient appliances, to buy and drive more efficient cars, and to better insulate their homes or construct them with more attention to energy conservation. A carbon tax would also create incentives for consumers to demand lower-carbon power sources from their local utilities. A carbon tax, as its cost flowed down the chains of production into consumer products, would lead manufacturers to become more efficient and consumers to economize in consumption. At all levels in the economy, a carbon tax would create a profit niche for environmental entrepreneurs to find ways to deliver lower-carbon energy at competitive prices. Finally, a carbon tax would also serve to level (somewhat) the playing field among solar power, wind power, nuclear power, and carbon-based fuels by internalizing the cost of carbon emission into the price of the various forms of energy.

* Less Corruption. Unlike carbon cap-and-trade initiatives, a carbon tax would create little incentive or opportunity for rent-seeking or cheating.

The article continues, describing a number of other advantages such as Elimination of superfluous regulations, price stabilization, adjustability and certainty, Preexisting Collection Mechanisms, Keeping Revenue In-Country, Mitigation of General Economic Damages. One benefit that is not mentioned is the mere fact of revenue raised, which could be advantageously expended in the form of public transport, research and education, or other essential infrastructure. Instead, in keeping with the overriding dogma that all taxes are bad (which is completely refuted by this whole argument in favour of carbon taxes), the article insists that any carbon tax must be revenue neutral.

The article then gives some useful projection on the impacts of an initial imposition of a carbon tax.

It seems clear enough that the case for the carbon tax has been made, it is only politics in the negative and damaging sense of the word that is preventing this necessary policy from coming forward sooner rather than later. One way of overcoming this political resistance could be to insist that an across the board carbon tax with no exemptions be introduced as soon as possible, but the that rate of the tax initially imposed could be responsive to political pressure.