Free Markets, Free People

UN

Two new concerns for the freedom of the internet

One is domestic and the other is international.  On the domestic front we’re again confronted with “good intentions” being horribly and oppressively executed via a bad law.

Wending its way through Congress right now is legislation called the “Stop Online Piracy Act” or SOPA.  The intention is obviously laudable.  As “piracy” is usually defined, i.e. the theft of copyrighted material, it is certainly a function of government to attempt stop and or prosecute theft.

The problem isn’t found in the intent of the law, as I said.  It’s in how it would be executed – the regulations it must spawn to meet the law’s requirements. 

Stephen DeMaura and David Segal write about the effect it would have on political campaigns (their particular focus), but it certainly doesn’t take much to translate that effect onto blogs and many other types of websites.  Read through the scenario they outline that demonstrates a possible effect on a political campaign and then think blogs:

Here’s a plausible campaign scenario under SOPA. Imagine you are running for Congress in a competitive House district. You give a strong interview to a local morning news show and your campaign posts the clip on your website. When your opponent’s campaign sees the video, it decides to play hardball and sends a notice to your Internet service provider alerting them to what it deems “infringing content.” It doesn’t matter if the content is actually pirated. The ISP has five days to pull down your website and the offending clip or be sued. If you don’t take the video down, even if you believe that the content is protected under fair use, your website goes dark.

The ability of any entity to file an infringement notice is one of SOPA’s biggest problems. It creates an unprecedented “private right of action” that would allow a private party, without any involvement by a court, to effectively shut down a website. For a campaign, this would mean shouldering legal responsibility for all user-generated posts. As more issue-based and political campaigns utilize social media to spread their message and engage supporters, a site could be targeted not only for the campaign’s own posts but also for well-meaning comments from supporters.

It doesn’t take a particularly bright person to see how this sort of a law could be used in a broader sense to kill freedom of speech via frivolous attacks on a site’s content.  If QandO embarks on a campaign against a particular politician, for instance, and uses content that it deems to be “fair use” (and may indeed be fair use in a legal sense as well), all it takes is one person anywhere, whether they have a real interest or standing in the case, to file a complaint about “infringing content” and we’re gone unless we remove it.  Whether justified or not, the ISP is left in a position of having to enforce removal or face the cost of a lawsuit (whether a lawsuit is ever intended over the claim or not).  They will obviously move to protect their interests and that means dropping the so-called offender like a hot rock.

It would effectively chill free speech. 

As DeMaura and Segal note, there’s an alternative bill sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa:

The Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act would create a process for rights holders to protect their property that wouldn’t shut down entire sites over a small amount of copyrighted material. This legislation helps to solve copyright infringement while protecting the vitality of the U.S.-based Internet sector — an industry that has contributed 23 percent of the growth in world gross domestic product and has revolutionized the way we live.

Attack real on-line piracy?  Yes.  Do it with terrible law?  No.  SOPA should not see the legislative light of day.

Problem two?  The UN and other countries around the world want to have the ability to more directly control more of the internet.  Robert McDowell of the FCC lays it out:

The 193-member International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a U.N.agency, will meet in Dubai next December to renegotiate the 24-year-old treaty that deals with international oversight of the Internet. A growing number of countries are pushing greater governmental control and management of the Web’s availability, financial model and infrastructure.

They believe the current model is “dominated” by the U.S., and want to “take that control and power away,” Mr. McDowell said. China and Russia support the effort, but so do non-Western U.S. allies such as Brazil, South Africa and India.

“Thus far, those who are pushing for new intergovernmental powers over the Internet are far more energized and organized than those who favor the Internet freedom and prosperity,” he said.

The reason, of course, is fairly straight forward – cash and control:

While growth of the Internet has exploded under a minimal regulatory model over the past two decades, “significant government and civil society support is developing for a different policy outlook,” according to an analysis by lawyers David Gross and M. Ethan Lucarelli on the legal intelligence website www.lexology.com.

“Driven largely by the global financial troubles of recent years, together with persistent concerns about the implications of the growth of the Internet for national economies, social structures and cultures, some governments and others are now actively reconsidering the continuing viability of liberalization and competition-based policies,” they wrote.

So the plan, apparently, is to wrest control from the US via this treaty:

A bad treaty – which would need the support of only a bare majority of U.N.members to pass and which the United States could not veto – could bring “a whole parade of problems,” Mr. McDowell said.

The U.S. and other Western democracies would likely “opt out” of the treaty, he predicted, leading to a “Balkanization” of the global information network. Governments under the treaty would have greater authority to regulate rates and local access, and such critical emerging issues as cybersecurity and data privacy standards would be subject to international control.

Mr. McDowell said the treaty could open the door to allowing revenue-hungry national governments to charge Internet giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon for their data traffic on a “per click” basis. The more website visitors those companies get, the more they pay.

And, as we’ve watched so many times, a vital and growing market would suffer government intrusion and probable decline:

In 1988, when the treaty was signed, fewer than 100,000 people used the Internet, Mr. McDowell said. Shortly after it was privatized in 1995, that number jumped to 16 million users. As of this year, it is up to 2 billion users, with another 500,000 joining every day.

“This phenomenal growth was the direct result of governments keeping their hands off the Internet sphere and relying instead on a private-sector, multi-stakeholder Internet governance model to keep it thriving,” he said.

Mr. McDowell attributed the massive growth of the Internet to freedom.

“So the whole point is, the more it migrated away from government control, the more it blossomed,” he said.

Freedom?  Blossoming?  Growth?  Can’t have that.  It must have government control and, by the way, contribute much more in revenue than it is now.   Massive growth without significant contributions to government is just unacceptable in this day and time.  And freedom?  Anathema to the cult of government.  

The servant has become the master and masters instinctively try to gather more and more power to themselves.

This is just another in a long line of examples.  The result, of course, will be to cripple something that has been one of the few growth sectors in the global economy.  Government greed and the belief of elites that they must control everything via government will eventually kill this proverbial golden goose.  Instead of trying to enable more growth, they’re embarked on a campaign to limit and control any growth such that it provides increased revenue for government.  Whether it is best for the citizens or economy of the countries so inclined is apparently irrelevant to the quest for more control and cash.

Freedom should be on the march, but instead, we continually see examples of it on the decline.  The UN is one of the main culprits in that decline.  It is a global organization in search of more power.  Under the guise of global democracy, it is involved in killing freedom as it attempts to gather more and more power to itself.  It is as obvious as the nose on your face that global governance is its ultimate goal.  It can’t do that without exercising more control through willing members and generating more income from which it can demand a share. 

To the control freaks and authoritarians out there, the internet is a horrifically dangerous thing.  It provides much too much freedom for those they would control.  Consequently they seek to wrest that control away.  The UN is the perfect vehicle to provide the cover of legitimacy for such a power grab.

Again, here’s a treaty that has no business seeing the light of day.  However, if I had to guess, it will pass.  And freedom will take another giant step backward.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

NAACP petitions UN over alleged voter suppression in US

I’ve often wondered how important the integrity of the vote is to some politicians and groups.   Oh, they’ll argue that it is supremely important, but then when attempts are made to assure it, will fight the attempts tooth and nail.

The nation’s largest civil rights organization, as it likes to call itself, has petitioned the UN over what the UK’s Guardian describes as “a concerted effort to disenfranchise black and Latino voters ahead of next year’s presidential election.”

Let’s examine this “concerted effort” according to the NAACP.  First the setup:

Fourteen states have passed a total of 25 measures that will unfairly restrict the right to vote, among black and Hispanic voters in particular.

The new measures are focused – not coincidentally, the association insists – in states with the fastest growing black populations (Florida, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina) and Latino populations (South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee). The NAACP sees this as a cynical backlash to a surge in ethnic minority voting evident in 2008.

Actually they’re again trying to brand the South as “racist” by implication, but that’s another story. The particulars:

First of all, the registration of new voters is being impeded in several states by moves to block voter registration drives that have historically proved to be an important way of bringing black and Hispanic people to the poll.

No real specifics as to what that means.  Perhaps it means that voter registrations have to actually be verified with some form of identification.  Makes sense so dead people and illegals can’t vote.  They too have been historical constituencies of the Democrats,  right?  So this may simply be valid attempts to ensure the integrity of the voting system.

Four states – Florida, Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia – continue to withhold the vote from anyone convicted of a criminal offence. In Florida, offenders who have completed their sentences have to wait at least five years before they can even apply to restore their right to register to vote.

Across the US, more than 5 million Americans are denied the right to vote on grounds that they were convicted of a felony, 4 million of whom have fully completed their sentence and almost half of whom are black or Hispanic.

Losing your right to vote by being convicted of a felony has been something that has been in existence for quite some time.   It is hard to see that as primarily focused on “blacks and Hispanics”.  It is focused on criminals.  It shouldn’t have to be said, but no one makes blacks and Hispanics commit criminal offenses.

While it is certainly debatable as to whether or not criminals should retain or recover their right to vote, the premise that this is being done to disenfranchise minority voters seems to be nonsense.

Other measures have reduced the ease of early voting, a convenience that is disproportionately heavily used by African-Americans. Even more importantly, 34 states have introduced a requirement that voters carry photo ID cards on the day of the election itself.

Studies have showed that the proportion of voters who do not have access to valid photo ID cards is much higher among older African-Americans because they were not given birth certificates in the days of segregation. Students and young voters also often lack identification and are thus in danger of being stripped of their right to vote.

I stood in line at the grocery store yesterday as an elderly black woman wrote a check for her groceries.  The cashier asked to see a photo ID.  She quickly produced it.  This happens daily on a routine basis.  Anyone who doesn’t have a photo ID also doesn’t have a checking account which most people would find hard to believe.   We are routinely asked while engaged in commerce for photo IDs.  To cash a check, to buy alcohol (at a store, bar or restaurant), etc.  Additionally, most states provide free state photo IDs to those who don’t drive.

So this argument that it is unreasonable to ask for such an ID when the entire population obviously doesn’t think it is unreasonable for such requests by businesses and other government entities to ask for them is also nonsense.

Note also the complaint about “early voting”.  It hasn’t been ended, nor has anyone been barred from using it.  It just isn’t available for the long periods it once was previously.  That may be driven by budget constraints.   The complaint seems baseless and more of a complaint about convenience than disenfranchisement. 

Finally:

In Texas, a law has been passed that prevents students from voting on the basis of their college ID cards, while allowing anyone to cast their ballot if they can show a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

Can anyone spot the obvious problem here?  College ID cards are issued by schools who make no effort to determine citizenship or eligibility to vote.  Concealed carry permits are issued by the state after such a determination has been made.  The law makes perfect sense.

Examination of the particulars then raise questions about the efficacy of the charges. It also makes you wonder why they’re even being brought.  But without such a campaign, the NAACP really doesn’t have much of a reason for its existence does it?  A bit like NATO needing a war to justify its continued existence. 

Benjamin Jealous, the NAACP’s president, said the moves amounted to "a massive attempt at state-sponsored voter suppression." He added that the association will be urging the UN "to look at what is a co-ordinated campaign to disenfranchise persons of colour."

Remember that point when you read hyperbole such as this from Benjamin Jealous.  It is a publicity stunt.  A means of trying to justify the association’s continued existence.  But it is certainly not a campaign focused on the integrity of the voting system.  If it were, the NAACP, instead of fighting everything, would be assisting persons of color to comply with the laws … something pretty easy to do in this day and time.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

It is “global warming week” and the press will be full of it

Why?  Because there’s a UN meeting beginning in Durbin, South Africa on “climate change” and the propaganda will be freely flowing.

For instance:

A new round of United Nations climate talks is getting under way in Durban, South Africa, Monday. And domestic struggles here in the United States are hampering the global talks.

The United States is second only to China in emitting gases that cause global warming. Despite a presidential pledge to reduce emissions two years ago, we’re spewing more carbon dioxide than ever into the atmosphere.

That’s putting a crimp on the 20-year-long struggle to develop a meaningful climate treaty.

Really?  That’s what’s putting a crimp on it?  Or is the unquestioned acceptance of  the premise “emitting gases”  causes “global warming” perhaps the problem when it appears the “science” is falling apart?

What is interesting to me is to watch those who unquestionably accept this premise ignore the profound problems the “science” that supports this nonsense has shown.

Christopher  Booker does a good job of distilling the problem, here speaking of the UK government:

To grasp the almost suicidal state of unreality our Government has been driven into by the obsession with global warming, it is necessary to put together the two sides to an overall picture – each vividly highlighted by events of recent days.

On one hand there is the utterly lamentable state of the science which underpins it all, illuminated yet again by “Climategate 2.0”, the latest release of emails between the leading scientists who for years have been at the heart of the warming scare (which I return to below). On the other hand, we see the damage done by the political consequences of this scare, which will directly impinge, in various ways, on all our lives.

Like driving up energy costs to a point that energy poverty will be a common problem.  Booker has another nice body slam to the “premise” later on in his article:

While our Government remains trapped in its green dreamworld, similar horror stories pile up on every side, from that UBS report on the astronomically costly fiasco of the EU’s carbon-trading scheme, to our own Government’s “carbon floor price”, in effect a tax on CO2 emissions rising yearly from 2013. This alone will eventually be enough to double the cost of our electricity, and drive a further swathe of what remains of UK industry abroad, because we are the only country in the world to have devised something so idiotic.

All this madness ultimately rests on a blind faith in the threat of man-made global warming, which no one has done more to promote than the scientists whose private emails were again last week leaked onto the internet.

It is still not generally appreciated that the significance of these Climategate emails is that their authors, such as Michael Mann, are no ordinary scientists: they are a little group of fanatical insiders who have, for years, done more than anyone else to drive the warming scare, through their influence at the heart of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And what is most striking about the picture that emerges from these emails is just how questionable the work of these men appears.

That’s entirely true if you actually read through the released emails.  What you read isn’t science, it is “scientists” tailoring their “science” to fit a political agenda in order to keep the grant gravy train rolling.  The deniers, in this particular horror show, are the true believers who have, on faith, accepted the “premise” and refuse to question it or examine the evidence which argues strongly against it.

To be clear, the whole debate revolves around “climate sensitivity” to CO2.  Those on the side of man-made global warming claim the environment is highly sensitive to CO2.  The so-called “deniers” claim it isn’t at all.  And for those who’ve followed the debate, the real science seems to support the so-called “deniers”.

The climate may be less sensitive to carbon dioxide than we thought – and temperature rises this century could be smaller than expected. That’s the surprise result of a new analysis of the last ice age. However, the finding comes from considering just one climate model, and unless it can be replicated using other models, researchers are dubious that it is genuine.

As more greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere, more heat is trapped and temperatures go up – but by how much? The best estimates say that if the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles, temperatures will rise by 3 °C. This is the "climate sensitivity".

But the 3 °C figure is only an estimate. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the climate sensitivity could be anywhere between 2 and 4.5 °C. That means the temperature rise from a given release of carbon dioxide is still uncertain.

But you wouldn’t know that by listening to the alarmists (and much of the press) who continue to claim the science is settled.  And that’s in the face of this:

The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S.Department of Energy calculated, a sign of how feeble the world’s efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.

The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.

Yet:

… Prof Curry said, the project’s research data show there has been no increase in world temperatures since the end of the Nineties – a fact confirmed by a new analysis that The Mail on Sunday has obtained.

‘There is no scientific basis for saying that warming hasn’t stopped,’ she said. ‘To say that there is detracts from the credibility of the data, which is very unfortunate.’

[…]

… [S]he added, in the wake of the unexpected global warming standstill, many climate scientists who had previously rejected sceptics’ arguments were now taking them much more seriously.

They were finally addressing questions such as the influence of clouds, natural temperature cycles and solar radiation – as they should have done, she said, a long time ago.

But the true believers gathering in Durbin SA?  Still reject the fact that the so-called “science” of global warming is under fierce and sustained attack and is being found to be increasingly wanting in both substance and fact.

And I don’t know about you but it seems incredible to me that, as Prof. Curry notes, scientists are “finally addressing” the influence of “clouds, natural temperature cycles and solar radiation”. 

Finally!?  How in the world could “science” not have included those originally?  How could they have somehow been factored out?

That’s actually an easy question to answer.

Because including them wouldn’t have given the “scientists” in question the results necessary to support the “premise” cooked up by those pushing the man-made global warming agenda.  And that, of course, meant an end to the grant money of multi billions of dollars.

Meanwhile in Durbin this week, the real deniers are going to be busily trying to trade away your ability to purchase cheap and plentiful energy through various schemes which will advance their agenda and put the rest of humanity in an unrecoverable energy deficit.

Delegates at the conference will also be hammering out the details of a plan to administer the Green Climate Fund, money that is to help poor countries deal with climate change.

The fund is expected to grow over the next eight years to eventually distribute about $100 billion a year. However, it is still unclear where all of that money will come from and how it will be distributed.

In addition to the usual international development funds from the West, proposals include a carbon surcharge on international shipping and on air tickets, as well as a levy on international financial transactions.

This is what junk science tied to a political agenda brings.  And, as usual, you’ll be levied to pay the bill they agree on with your money and your way of life.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Palestinian state vote in the UN? Powder keg, match–some assembly required.

President Obama has one job area where he gets good marks, relatively speaking.  Not particularly high marks but the positive side is higher than the negative.   For the life of me, I’m not sure why, but that’s the way it is.   That area is foreign policy.

But that could take a but of a hit soon if what is afoot in the UN comes to pass:

The Obama administration has initiated a last-ditch diplomatic campaign to avert a confrontation this month over a plan by Palestinians to seek recognition as a state at the United Nations, but it may already be too late, according to senior American officials and foreign diplomats.

The Palestinians apparently see the Third World Debating Club, also known as the UN, as a venue to increase their power within the UN and use it to leverage their fight against Israel.

A General Assembly vote (the US has said it would veto a Security Council vote) would change the dynamic of the relationship the Palestinians now have with the UN.  The US does not have the votes to block a General Assembly okay, which means:

…a vote by the General Assembly to elevate the status of the Palestinians’ nonvoting observer “entity” to that of a nonvoting observer state. The change would pave the way for the Palestinians to join dozens of United Nations bodies and conventions, and it could strengthen their ability to pursue cases against Israel at the International Criminal Court.

Oh happy days.  That would certainly make the region more stable, no?

Of course, the Obama administration’s efforts at peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis is, as the New York Times charitably describes them, are “moribund”.   In fact, they’ve been an abject failure, partially because of the treatment Obama has meted out to Israel during his tenure.  Relations have been strained at times to say the least.  And this latest move by the Palestinians makes the situation even more difficult:

Senior officials said the administration wanted to avoid not only a veto but also the more symbolic and potent General Assembly vote that would leave the United States and only a handful of other nations in the opposition. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic maneuverings, said they feared that in either case a wave of anger could sweep the Palestinian territories and the wider Arab world at a time when the region is already in tumult. President Obama would be put in the position of threatening to veto recognition of the aspirations of most Palestinians or risk alienating Israel and its political supporters in the United States.

The solution?  Well, apparently the administration is trying to revive talks between the two because they seem to believe that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has said he’d forego the vote for substantive talks.

But the key here is to be found in the last sentence of the cited paragraph above.   And it all has to do with politics.   Either way, it seems Obama is screwed.  Unless he can find an alternative both sides accept (talks) he is going to definitely alienate one side or the other and their supporters as well.   In the US that means the Jewish voting bloc that provides him much funding or the left who’ve been Palestinian state supporters for years.   In the Middle East, the veto would be seen as the US again interfering and Obama would become just as “loved” as George Bush was.

The chances of getting talks moving again?  Probably not so good:

“If you put the alternative out there, then you’ve suddenly just changed the circumstances and changed the dynamic,” a senior administration official involved in the flurry of diplomacy said Thursday. “And that’s what we’re trying very much to do.”

Efforts to head off the Palestinian diplomatic drive have percolated all summer but have taken on urgency as the vote looms in the coming weeks. “It’s not clear to me how it can be avoided at the moment,” said Ghaith al-Omari, a former Palestinian negotiator who is now executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine in Washington. “An American veto could inflame emotions and bring anti-American sentiment to the forefront across the region.”

While some officials remain optimistic that a compromise can be found, the administration has simultaneously begun planning to limit the fallout of a statehood vote.

And fallout there will be regardless of what the US does.

It could also come to haunt Obama domestically as his action (or inaction) will indeed rebound on him negatively in one or the other parts of his base.  The one area in which he gets decent marks may soon be in the cellar with all the rest.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

The UN’s plan to dominate the world of energy and to redistribute wealth? “Climate change”

If you’ve ever wondered what the purpose was of the UN’s climate change agenda or where it is going, a new report makes it pretty obvious:

Two years ago, U.N. researchers were claiming that it would cost “as much as $600 billion a year over the next decade” to go green. Now, a new U.N. report has more than tripled that number to $1.9 trillion per year for 40 years.

So let’s do the math: That works out to a grand total of $76 trillion, over 40 years — or more than five times the entire Gross Domestic Product of the United States ($14.66 trillion a year). It’s all part of a “technological overhaul” “on the scale of the first industrial revolution” called for in the annual report. Except that the U.N. will apparently control this next industrial revolution.

The new 251-page report with the benign sounding name of the “World Economic and Social Survey 2011” is rife with goodies calling for “a radically new economic strategy” and “global governance.”

Throw in possible national energy use caps and a massive redistribution of wealth and the survey is trying to remake the entire globe. The report has the imprimatur of the U.N., with the preface signed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon – all part of the “goal of full decarbonization of the global energy system by 2050.”

Make no mistake, much of this has nothing to do with climate.

I couldn’t agree more with the last sentence.  This has never been about climate.  World governance, however,  is and always has been the end game of the “Third World Debating Club”, also known as the UN. 

Dan Gainor, who wrote the piece being quoted, then cites the press release from the UN concerning the report:

The press release for the report discusses the need “to achieve a decent living standard for people in developing countries, especially the 1.4 billion still living in extreme poverty, and the additional 2 billion people expected worldwide by 2050.” That sounds more like global redistribution of wealth than worrying about the earth’s thermostat.

Well if you really understand how this is being approached, Gainor is exactly right.   Let me explain.   Those living in “extreme poverty” – the 1.4 billion cited – live mostly without running water and electricity.  Anyone – what is the fastest way to remedy that situation?  Well on the power side, fossil fueled (i.e coal fired) power plants.  You can build them relatively cheaply and quickly and they can begin to provide the requisite power necessary to begin to lift these people out of poverty.

But of course, the UN couldn’t control that, could they?  Instead, it has decided the way to do this is through going green with complete “decarbonization” by 2050.  That is can control, because it has been the initiator of most of this nonsense about global warming and the absurd treaties that have gone with it.   If it can find a way to convince governments that the threat is real and to have them self-impose carbon restrictions on themselves based on the UN agenda, it will be the UN calling the shots.

So essentially the UN is holding these 1.4 billion hostage to their agenda by refusing to budge on their push for global “decarbonization” by 2050.  In essence they’re telling the extremely poor that they’re stuck with that condition because the simple and immediately available solution is unacceptable to them since it poses a threat to the environment.  They’ll just have to wait while the UN engineers this agenda to the detriment of economies everywhere and we all end up in poverty of some sort.

An example of where this could head can be found in the UK right now as Christopher Booker explains:

Three years ago, when the hysteria over global warming was still at its height, our own British politicians voted almost unanimously for the Climate Change Act committing us, uniquely in the world, to cut our CO2 emissions by 80 per cent within 40 years. Even on the Government’s own figures, show that this will cost us up to £18 billion every year until 2050 – it is by far the most expensive law ever passed by Parliament. As our politicians continually impose on us ever higher taxes and other costs supposedly in the cause of ‘fighting climate change’ they have been carried away by a collective fantasy that has no parallel in history.

The result has been quite predictable:

As energy prices go through the roof, shocking figures reveal one in four families has been plunged into fuel poverty. Consumer Focus warns as many as 6 million could be forced to choose between a hot meal or heating their homes this winter.

Here are the numbers:

As energy prices go through the roof, shocking figures reveal one in four families has been plunged into fuel poverty.

[…]

The figures are higher than the one in five first estimated and show for the first time wealthier families have also been hammered by spiralling fuel costs with 15% of middle classes now fuel poor.

Research from price comparison website uSwitch found the number would leap to one in three if housing costs were added in.

It means at least 18 million people are spending 10% or more of their take home pay on energy bills. Based on the new way of calculating fuel poverty, 47% of working class families and 22% of the middle classes fall into this bracket.

A quarter of families with a stay-at-home parent are fuel poor but uSwitch argues this figure would soar to 44% if mortgages or rents were included. The number of fuel poor single parent families would jump from 39% to 52% while pensioner numbers would rise from 33% to 36%.

According to the website, fuel bills have rocketed by 71% in the past five years rising from £660 a year in 2006 to £1,131 today.

In other words, the UK’s self-imposed carbon caps and attempts to use not-ready-for-primetime alternative and renewable energy sources has driven up energy costs to such a level that it has put 1 in 4 in the UK into what is known as “fuel poverty”.

Bottom line?

William Baker, Head of Fuel Poverty Policy added: “Rising energy prices will lead to a bigger bills and a huge upswing in fuel poverty. This will mean an increasing percentage of our population, especially those on low incomes, are more likely to live in colder or damp houses or face higher debt.”

Most who have taken the time to do some study of the subject of climate change have come to the conclusion the science supporting it is suspect and that the UN’s IPCC is a political organization, not a scientific one.   This new UN report just puts an exclamation  on
that point.  The UN has, for years, concocted various plans and schemes to give it a larger role in world governance.  Not satisfied with being a deliberative body with the aim of keeping the peace, it now is attempting to find ways to direct revenue via this, their most ambitious scheme to date, to who they choose should receive it.  It is indeed a revenue redistribution scheme.

The end result of enacting this plan would be disastrous to the world’s economies, would keep those 1.4 billion in extreme poverty in the same state and, as is being demonstrated in the UK, put even more of the world’s population in “fuel poverty”.

Time to kill this monster now, before it gets any further out of its cage.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Libya: The illegal “days, not weeks” war is in its third month

And mission creep continues apace because, as most military experts would have told you, you can’t change a government with a “no-fly zone” and only airpower.

So?  So …

French and British officials said this week that they were sending more than a dozen attack helicopters to allow for more precise ground attacks, particularly around Misurata, where loyalist forces continue to fire mortars and artillery despite rebel gains and heavy air attacks.

With no troops on the ground, NATO planners and pilots acknowledge that they often cannot pinpoint the shifting battle lines in cities like Misurata. “The front lines are more scattered,” said Col. L. S. Kjoeller, who commands four Danish F-16s flying eight daily strike missions from Sigonella air base in Sicily.

Unsaid in those two paragraphs, but reported elsewhere, are that groups of special operations types will be inserted to do targeting for the helicopter attack assets.  Yes, “boots on the ground”.

And why is this supposed war of days taking months if not longer?  Well, they obviously underestimated their foe and overestimated their capabilities.  Also, they planned for one mission and tried to execute another (no-fly and regime change) and don’t have the assets necessary to accomplish that real mission).  We’re now seeing them begin to understand that they may have bitten off more than they can chew – at least as they’re presently arrayed.

Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, the overall commander of NATO forces in the Mediterranean, said from his office in Naples that the allied mission has largely achieved its goal of protecting civilians, especially in eastern Libya, and has seriously damaged the Libyan military.

“Qaddafi will never be able to turn a large army on his people again, because it’s gone,” said Admiral Locklear, noting that the air campaign has wiped out more than half of Libya’s ammunition stockpiles and cut off most supply lines to forces in the field.

But the admiral acknowledged Colonel Qaddafi’s resiliency, and said that without sustained political and economic pressure as well, “the military piece will take a very long time.”

Not really  – if its mission is to establish and enforce a no-fly zone as we were told in the beginning.  And as is obvious, Adm. Locklear certainly isn’t talking days or weeks anymore.  He’s talking months and possibly longer.   Meanwhile, British papers are reporting the war of “days not weeks”, that their present visiting guest talked them into, is in the $1 billion to 1.5 billion pound range – a cost the debt ridden country can ill afford.  Makes you wonder how much longer they’re willing to wage it (even as they escalate their presence with attack helicopters).

Nice mess you’ve got there Mr. Obama.  So much for being against “dumb wars”,  huh?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Lawfare v. Warfare: Bin Laden family uses a little “Alinsky” on US and Obama

One of the “Rules for Radicals” that Saul Alinsky touted was:

"Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”

In a piece published by the New York Times, the “bin Laden family” condemns the attack on their father and demands that there be a reckoning:

If OBL has been killed in that operation as President of United States has claimed then we are just in questioning as per media reports that why an unarmed man was not arrested and tried in a court of law so that truth is revealed to the people of the world. If he has been summarily executed then, we question the propriety of such assassination where not only international law has been blatantly violated but USA has set a very different example whereby right to have a fair trial, and presumption of innocence until proven guilty by a court of law has been sacrificed on which western society is built and is standing when a trial of OBL was possible for any wrongdoing as that of Iraqi President Sadam Hussein and Serbian President Slobodan Miloševic’. We maintain that arbitrary killing is not a solution to political problems and crime’s adjudication as Justice must be seen to be done.

They’re also threatening to take the case to the International Criminal Court which would be an interesting turn of events.

The hidden premise, of course, is OBL was a criminal, not an unlawful combatant. The UN is also pushing that premise through its odious "Human Rights Council":

The United Nations (UN) affiliated human rights attorneys say the United States should release more details on the death of Osama Bin Laden during a military raid in Pakistan.They say in the statement that

actions taken by States in combating terrorism, especially in high profile cases, set precedents for the way in which the right to life will be treated in future instances.”

The statement, issued jointly by law professors Christof Heyns of South Africa’s University of Pretoria and Martin Scheinin of European University Institute in Florence, Italy, says that the “use of deadly force may be permissible” in certain circumstances “as a measure of last resort.” But they say that "the norm should be that terrorists be dealt with as criminals, through legal processes of arrest, trial and judicially decided punishment.” These guidelines, the men say, are “international standards on the use of force. [emphasis mine]

The death of bin Laden is being described in some quarters as an “extrajudicial killing”.  In fact, bin Laden was always considered to be an “unlawful combatant” by us and as such had no such protections.  In warfare, the targeted killing of an enemy, in this case unlawful combatant, is quite legal.

So what you are seeing here are competing premises, one saying terrorism is simply a criminal act and therefore terrorists must be treated as common criminals would be treated as well as afforded various rights because of that.  The other says these are enemies who have declared war on the US, committed numerous acts of war and, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, are “unlawful combatants” and enemies whose targeted killing is an accepted practice of warfare.

Lawfare vs. warfare.

I think we’ve been pretty clear since the beginning, with the AUMF (which the Obama administration ironically used as the legal basis for its raid into Pakistan), that we’re at war (and yes, I also accept the AUMF as a declaration of war).

Second guessing by all the world’s hand wringers should simply be ignored.  This isn’t a criminal matter.  It is a military matter and it was executed as such.  The lesson it teaches other terrorists who’ve declared war on “the Great Satan” is we are relentless and remorseless.  Those are two good messages to send.

As for the bin Laden family – sorry about dear old dad.  Go float a wreath.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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75 shot down in Syria by their own government. What no “R2P”?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a number of times about the reason or UN “principle” applied to Libya.  Its application to Libya was purely arbitrary.

Former case in point of that particular claim was Iran – wantonly gunning down protesters in the streets.  Present case in point is Syria:

FOR THE PAST five weeks, growing numbers of Syrians have been gathering in cities and towns across the country to demand political freedom — and the security forces of dictator Bashar al-Assad have been responding by opening fire on them. According to Syrian human rights groups, more than 220 people had been killed by Friday. And Friday may have been the worst day yet: According to Western news organizations, which mostly have had to gather information from outside the country, at least 75 people were gunned down in places that included the suburbs of Damascus, the city of Homs and a village near the southern town of Daraa, where the protests began.

Massacres on this scale usually prompt a strong response from Western democracies, as they should. Ambassadors are withdrawn; resolutions are introduced at the U.N. Security Council; international investigations are mounted and sanctions applied. In Syria’s case, none of this has happened. The Obama administration has denounced the violence — a presidential statement called Friday’s acts of repression “outrageous” — but otherwise remained passive. Even the ambassador it dispatched to Damascus during a congressional recess last year remains on post.

Where are the Chicki-hawks on this – Powers, Rice and Clinton?  Oh, yeah, I forgot, Hillary Clinton claims that Assad is a “reformer” and that the big difference is that Assad isn’t using or threatening to use his airplanes to kill his own people.  I’m sure that makes a big difference to those dead Syrian protesters.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not calling for yet another intervention anywhere.  That’s not the point of this.  My point is about the purely arbitrary application of a so-called “principle” or “right” the UN has invented and calls the “Right to Protect” (R2P).  Apparently some protestors enjoy more rights than others to their lives.

If anyone, given what has occurred within the last 2-3 years or so, can point out the “bright line” over which a country can step and prompt the invocation of R2P, I’d be grateful.

To this point I can’t figure out what that line is.  Syria figured it was 20 KIAs a day.  But when they did 3x+ that, eh, no biggie.  Everyone’s favorite word for use when they don’t plan on doing anything  – “outrage” – was used so apparently diplomatic necessities have been served and its now time to ignore the massacres until it is again appropriate to declare the next occurrence an outrage.  That’s the treatment “reformers” get, don’t you know?

~McQ

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You knew it was coming–Arab League wants UN enforced No Fly Zone over Gaza

It was only a matter of time for the real reason behind the “right to protect” (R2P) principle the UN has adopted to become apparent.

The Arab League provides it in its appeal to the UN:

The Arab League (AL) said on Sunday it would ask the United Nations to consider imposing a no-fly zone over the Gaza Strip to protect the civilians against Israeli air strikes.

In a statement issued after an emergency meeting of the pan- Arab organization at the permanent delegates’ level in its Cairo headquarter, the AL said it would ask the United Nation Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the Israeli aggression over Gaza to lift the siege and impose a no-fly zone against the Israeli military to protect civilians.

The statement rejected the double standard policies towards the Palestinian case, urging the UN Security Council and the Quartet committee to bear all responsibilities for halting the subsequent massacres and provide an international protection for the unarmed citizens.

Now, this shouldn’t have a chance since it takes a vote of the Security Council to pass something like this and the US, with a permanent seat, has the right to veto any resolution calling for such a measure.

And a few years ago I’d have had no worries about there even being a ghost of a chance of such a measure being agreed too by the US.  I have no such assurance now with this administration.  And don’t forget, they got the cooperation of the Security Council recently for the imposition of the Libyan NFZ, so they’ll be asked for cooperation on this – it’s the trap that may have been set from the outset.

Of course, unaddressed by the AL is the provocation for the latest round of air attacks from Israel by the terrorist group Hamas:

Violence in Gaza started when Hamas, which holds sway there, fired a rocket at an Israeli school bus, critically wounding a 16- year-old student. Hamas later said it did not know the bus was carrying students.

Hamas more than “holds sway there” – Hamas “governs” there.   What it continues to do is execute acts of war against Israel and then whines when Israel reacts.  What the AL is doing is attempting to get the US to level the playing field and create better opportunities for Hamas to continue firing rockets into Israel.  And, of course, brave Hamas always ensures it does its provocations from areas with high densities of civilians.  And Hamas could give a rip whether there were students on the bus.  Read the description again – it was a freakin’ school bus.  What else did they expect to be on it?

Note too that the AL uses precisely the argument that I and others who wrote about the application of R2P said would happen.  The citing of a “double-standard” (you’ll do Libya but not Gaza?).  It’s nonsense on a stick, of course, because supposedly R2P is there to protect civilians from their own government, not another government retaliating against deadly attacks by their own government.

This again illustrates the danger of such “principles” as the UN’s R2P.  It is now being considered a tool by the weak but tyrannical in an effort to downgrade the defensive abilities of Israel to protect itself. 

I say give them the go-ahead and let the AL enforce the NFZ.  It will be good for fighter jet sales as the IAF will scatter pieces and parts of the various AL air forces over the Gaza strip as a result.

~McQ

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Mission creep or lack of a mission?

You can this coming from a mile off:

As rebel forces backed by allied warplanes pushed toward one of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s most crucial bastions of support, the American military warned on Monday that the insurgents’ rapid advances could quickly be reversed without continued coalition air support.

“The regime still vastly overmatches opposition forces militarily,” Gen. Carter F. Ham, the ranking American in the coalition operation, warned in an email message on Monday. “The regime possesses the capability to roll them back very quickly. Coalition air power is the major reason that has not happened.”

Uh, okay, I accept the fact that without the coalition attacking Gadhafi ground units, the “rebels” wouldn’t be able to “advance” or enjoy any gains whatsoever.

But wasn’t the ostensible reason for establishing the no-fly zone and the reason for the UN mission to protect civilians from being killed by their government?  Hasn’t that been accomplished?

So why do we care if “rebel advances” might be “quickly…reversed”?

Unless, of course, the real purpose of the mission, under the flag of “protecting civilians” is to run Gadhafi out of power?  And, one then assumes, install a different government (the “rebels” one supposes, of whom we know very little except they come from an area that was one of the major provider of jihadists to Iraq and Afghanistan and one of their leaders admits to having served there in that capacity).

Then and only then does a concern for the state of the “rebel” advance make any sense or have any meaning at all.

General Ham’s warning, however, offered a somber counterpoint and underscored the essential role of Western airstrikes, now focused mainly on Colonel Qaddafi’s ground troops, in reversing the rebels’ fortunes. It also framed anew the question of how the poorly equipped and disorganized rebel forces might fare against Colonel Qaddafi’s garrison in Surt, where air cover may be less useful.

Wait, wait … again, if the mission is the protection of civilians who cares how the “poorly equipped and disorganized rebel forces” might fare anywhere?

That only matters if there’s a mission in addition to the stated one, i.e. protecting civilians.

Oh, and what happens if the “rebels”, in their push into territory mostly deemed to be that of Gadhafi supporters, begin killing civilians?  Do we hit the “rebels” then?  Or are civilians only a concern when Gadhafi’s military kills them?

Some will argue that the UN resolution authorized “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya.  I assume the follow on argument is that the best way to “protect civilians” is to take sides and topple Gadhafi?

That’s certainly not how this war was described in the beginning – you know a “limited time, limited scope military action”?  We were assured that it wouldn’t take long and it would only seek to keep the Libyan government from killing civilians.

Now we seem to be hinting around about the need for our airpower to support the cause of a rebellion that has the possibility – because they are so poorly equipped, untrained and disorganized – of lasting for months, if not years.

As you can tell, there are far more questions than apparent answers.  I’m looking forward to Obama’s speech tonight.  It should be an interesting affair.  He’s got to communicate why he went to war, why UN sanctioning was sufficient for committing us to war, why he didn’t consult or seek Congressional approval, what the mission in Libya is and what the end state of that mission should be as well as an exit strategy.

Anyone want to bet how many of those questions will still remain unanswered after the speech?

~McQ

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