Uncle Sugar’s try to stop China-sponsored AIIB was a fiasco and a failure


Click to enlarge — No one from the GOUSA in this photo

The Obama administration’s vain attempt to prevent allies from joining China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is feeding a growing perception that U.S. influence in Asia is declining and America is losing its 70-year grip on global economic institutions…

The administration’s campaign against China’s new investment bank stands in contrast to its push for greater regional leadership to battle Islamic extremists, remedy climate change and address other global issues. And while administration officials argue that domestic economic realities limit America’s ability to police the world, they’re trying to resist the reality of China’s growing economic clout, said a U.S. official who requested anonymity to speak frankly.

The U.S. “knows only too well that China is rising and that it wants to reshape the global order, and it is trying to prevent this from happening.” said Tom Miller, senior Asia analyst at Gavekal Dragonomics…

That’s leaving the U.S. increasingly isolated.

Although the administration has refused to join the $100 billion AIIB and urged others to follow suit, allies such as Australia, the U.K., South Korea, Germany and France are among the more than 40 countries that have joined the new bank, which will fund infrastructure in Asia and be fully established by year’s end…

The most damaging part of this at the moment is the reaction of the allies; it’s a real snubbing,” said Mathew Burrows, a former U.S. intelligence analyst who’s now director of the Strategic Foresight Initiative at the Atlantic Council, a Washington policy group. “I think we fumbled badly, but I’m not convinced that there was any way to get the Chinese to back down on this institution.”

RTFA for lots more fact and forecasting – though it tag ends with shortsighted foolishness from a White House flunky.

The body of the article takes you all the way back to the end of World war 2 and US assumption of the mantle of Imperial Superpower. For all the factors involved in the end of the Cold War – our military-industrial complex presumed nothing else in the world was changing. And that was a critical financial mistake. For the fact remains that bodies like the IMF so long dominated by American political capital can’t even get minimal reforms past Congressional reactionaries – with or without Obama’s leadership. And probably would have been too late, anyway.

The rest of the world has already noted the change even if our tame media won’t say so without permission.

Idaho fines Feds thousand$ over missed radioactive cleanup deadline


Shiny

State environmental regulators are cracking down on the U.S. Department of Energy over continued delays in the treatment of 900,000 gallons of liquid radioactive waste located at the department’s desert site.

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality officials said…the agency will fine DOE $3,600 per day for missing a state-mandated Dec. 31 cleanup deadline. If the liquid waste still isn’t treated or removed from three 50-year-old stainless steel tanks by July 1, the amount will increase to $6,000 per day…

The Integrated Waste Treatment Unit was built more than five years ago in order to treat the liquid sodium-bearing waste stored in the tanks. The treatment process is supposed to turn the liquid waste into a more manageable powder, similar to laundry detergent.

But the first-of-its-kind treatment facility has encountered numerous problems and has yet to get beyond the testing phase.

So the liquid waste – leftovers from reprocessing of high-level radiation spent nuclear fuel – continues to sit in the aging tanks, which are located inside a concrete vault at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center…

Your tax dollars at work.

Think things might move faster if they moved the storage tanks filled with radioactive waste to the front lawn of the White House.

Fossil fuel electricity under real threat from solar and wind power

windfarmsea
Click to enlargeStiftung OFFSHORE-WINDENERGIE

Of all the developed nations, few have pushed harder than Germany to find a solution to global warming. And towering symbols of that drive are appearing in the middle of the North Sea.

They are wind turbines, standing as far as 60 miles from the mainland, stretching as high as 60-story buildings and costing up to $30 million apiece. On some of these giant machines, a single blade roughly equals the wingspan of the largest airliner in the sky, the Airbus A380. By year’s end, scores of new turbines will be sending low-emission electricity to German cities hundreds of miles to the south.

It will be another milestone in Germany’s costly attempt to remake its electricity system, an ambitious project that has already produced striking results: Germans will soon be getting 30 percent of their power from renewable energy sources. Many smaller countries are beating that, but Germany is by far the largest industrial power to reach that level in the modern era. It is more than twice the percentage in the United States.

Germany’s relentless push into renewable energy has implications far beyond its shores. By creating huge demand for wind turbines and especially for solar panels, it has helped lure big Chinese manufacturers into the market, and that combination is driving down costs faster than almost anyone thought possible just a few years ago.

Electric utility executives all over the world are watching nervously as technologies they once dismissed as irrelevant begin to threaten their long-established business plans. Fights are erupting across the United States over the future rules for renewable power. Many poor countries, once intent on building coal-fired power plants to bring electricity to their people, are discussing whether they might leapfrog the fossil age and build clean grids from the outset.

A reckoning is at hand, and nowhere is that clearer than in Germany. Even as the country sets records nearly every month for renewable power production, the changes have devastated its utility companies, whose profits from power generation have collapsed.

Professional naysayers, bought-and-paid-for skeptics, conservative ideologues rooted to political failures like Ayn Rand see the fruit of their labors rejected by economic reality – as usual. Solid facts, real advances are beginning to progress as predicted – or better. That won’t shut them up. The money tap remains wide open. But, ordinary folks, working class, middle class, however you slice and dice your class analysis, are starting to reap the benefits of the new means of renewable energy production.

No one is more tradition-bound than public utilities. They function like constipated manure machines. They’ve been producing cowshit for research and analysis for so many generations they are incapable of changing their business model to match a dynamic economic landscape.

Meanwhile, globalized competition encouraged by the group of nations acting responsibly to counter climate change are affecting the cash flow and profits of corporations sitting around like children in a temper tantrum – demanding the people who recognized the need for change now spend tax dollars to bail them out of their self-generated disaster.

They should be replaced by common sense, scientific, economic solutions. Send them away. Build them a leaky rest home next to one of the Koch Brothers coal heaps.

Still waiting for millions of nutballs – Operation American Spring flops big time!

Operation American Spring, the mass D.C. rally aiming to force several top government officials — including the president — to resign, spent a portion of its first day at the capital assuring people tuning into its livestream that more people are on the way. The protest’s lead organizer, Harry Riley, promised 10 million to 30 million people would show up for his event…

Friday’s crowd appeared to be in the dozens to hundreds…

This, understandably, has caused a lot of schadenfreude among those who might not care too much for militia-style anti-government groups — the organizers set expectations for this rally astronomically high, and their turnout was even worse than we thought it was going to be. Weirdly, the only people who might understand how the Operation American Spring people my feel right now — virtually everyone who trekked to D.C. is a true believer, to be sure — might be the early Occupy Wall Street organizers who were there on the first day of the protests in 2011. They, too, had a crowd of just hundreds at first, after advertising a mass rally for months. But Occupy, at least temporarily, became something bigger. There are no signs at this point that Operation American Spring will become something too.

One of the Texas-based organizers for the protest put it this way to the Washington Times: “This is a very poor turnout. It ain’t no millions. And it ain’t looking like there’s going to be millions. Hundreds is more like it.”

That’s in part because of the hard-to-swallow rhetoric present at the Operation American Spring camp, and in part because the rally based its entire plan of action on the assumption that about 10 million people would show up, at the very least. How do you have 1 million people occupy the capital when about 250 show up, total..?

Our perpetual question is easy to answer, this morning. Ignorant or stupid?

I’d say dumber than a hoe-handle! No one in America believes the crap they think is gospel

If you hadn’t noticed – the Global War on Drugs is a failure

LSE War on Drugs

The war on drugs must end and the battle to change international drug policies must begin, says a new report from the London School of Economics.

Five Nobel Prize-winning economists signed off on the 84-page report entitled Ending the Drug Wars: Report of the LSE Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy authored by leading drug policy experts and supported by political figures from around the world calling for drug law reform.

The authors offer compelling evidence that achieving a “drug-free world” based solely on a prohibitionist model is an expensive and wasted effort. According to John Collins, co-ordinator of LSE IDEAS International Drug Policy Project and editor of the report, the drug policy experts’ recommendations show how the war on drugs is a failure requiring a “major rethink of international drug policies…”

Based on rigorous economic and social analyses of primarily the U.S., Latin America, West Africa and Asia, the authors urge that global resources shift from prosecution and imprisonment to more “effective evidence-based polices” such as harm reduction, treatment and public health strategies. Similar recommendations are suggested for Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

The report also says the drug war epidemic has produced “negative outcomes and collateral damage.” Prohibition helps push illicit drug prices up exorbitantly compared to what they would cost in a legally controlled market.

Current policies have helped push the black market drug trade to as much as $300 billion, and the 40 per cent of the world’s nine million prison inmates are jailed for drug-related offences — a figure that jumps to 59 per cent in the U.S. Moreover, between 70 and 85 per cent of American inmates are in need of substance abuse treatment.

The report emphasizes that while prohibition holds some value in decreasing drug dependence, the harm to society is gravely outweighed due to violence, government corruption and collateral damage associated with the drug war, especially in drug producing countries like Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala.

Dr. Benedikt Fischer…thinks prohibition is an outdated weapon to fight the modern war on drugs. “The advocates of prohibition had about a century to prove that their approach is actually effective and we’re still waiting for the positive evidence,” he says. “I think it’s fair game to now say, look let’s give some alternative approaches a chance and on an evidence base, not based on ideology.”

RTFA if you need a little more depth on the study and its conclusions.

Read the study itself if you need a bit more ammunition in the battle for reason versus ignorance – with the idiots in charge of the asylum we call government.

Tech contracts now requiring data storage offshore from USA

Firms in the UK and Canada are reportedly updating their cloud contracts to demand that their data be kept out of the US. The report doesn’t contain enough details, however, to say if this is a trend or an isolated incident.

Is this the backlash? A handful of companies are requiring cloud service providers to promise — in writing — that they won’t store any client data in the United States, according to Bloomberg.

The report says that a British grocery chain and a Canadian pharma company have responded to the ongoing US surveillance scandal by adding language to existing contracts that mandate suppliers to segment their data and keep it out of America.

The report of the revised contracts comes as the cloud computing industry continues to digest news that America’s National Security Agency is tapping underwater cables and infiltrating the servers of storage providers as part of a sweeping counter-terrorism program…

So does the Bloomberg report portend the start of a trend? It’s too soon to say. The report, which also claimed a Canadian agency had asked for the “no data in USA” clause, was based on a single source (an Indiana security firm known as Rook Consulting) and did not name any of the companies involved.

And, while such reports are eye-catching, they also provide a public relations opportunity for cloud providers outside of the US.. to drum up business. In the meantime, it’s unclear if European cloud providers have the capacity to take over existing large-scale data storage contracts, and to what degree companies’ existing cloud contracts dissuade them from switching services.

Are we to give thanks to the NSA for providing a great reason for offshoring business from the United States? Roberts’ article doesn’t ask the important question: What idiots in our government skipped past the question of how being the most intrusive Big Brother in the World would affect American businesses dependent on guaranteeing security to their clients?

If I was working in communications with valuable data there is no way on Earth I would trust an American corporation to provide me with anymore privacy than the American government seems to allow. Which is damned little.

Tech degrees drop 11% in United States – jobs openings rise 13% – what’s wrong with this picture?

The number of technology degrees issued by U.S. schools in the past decade fell 11 percent while technology jobs grew 13 percent, CareerBuilder said.

A study…released Thursday said the decline in tech-related degrees between 2003 and 2012 was especially drastic in larger metropolitan areas. The greatest decreases were in New York City (52 percent), San Francisco (55 percent), Atlanta (33 percent), Miami (32 percent) and Los Angeles (31 percent).

“The slowdown in IT degrees over the last decade may have been influenced, in part, by the dot-com bubble collapse and by more recent trends of tech workers being trained by employers or trained through informal programs outside of a traditional academic setting,” said Matt Ferguson, chief executive officer of CareerBuilder. “The deficit in IT degree completions is concerning when you consider that there is already a considerable gap between the demand for and supply of IT labor in the U.S. today. Degrees in health professions, engineering, business, liberal arts and education are growing rapidly and we need IT degrees to keep pace.”

Other areas grew closer to proportionate demand during the same period. Especially health-related work. But, what’s the problem here?

I rail often about our incompetent public schools. It appears, now, they aren’t even doing a capable job of guidance for the inadequate number of students who manage to graduate with college qualifications.

Right-wing Brits crash-and-burn in local elections – call on members to breed more voters!

The British National Party has urged its members to procreate after it lost every seat it contested in the English local elections on Thursday.

The BNP fielded 99 candidates but did not win a seat. It lost the one county council seat it held in Lancashire, leaving Nick Griffin’s party with just two councillors.

In a post on the party’s website, members are urged to have bigger families to counter large families had by non-Britons.

Northernscot claims that 51% of the US population is non-white and says that to prevent the same thing happening in Britain, “BNP members and nationalists” need to breed more.

“I know, by now you will be giggling over this suggestion. But think about it, nationalists need to buck the trend of 1.8 children per white household. We need to aim between 3 and 4 children each if not more,” he writes. “And the bonus is that making babies is fun! So fellow nationalists, less TV and more fun! Let’s do our bit for Britain and our race…”

I don’t doubt there is plenty of giggling – over the desperation of these nutballs.

“We must look at ways of building up the white population in Britain,” he said, “There are a few ways that this can be done. Firstly immigration of white Europeans, although this causes problems in jobs and housing, in the end if they stay their children will slowly become pro-British, or their children’s children will at least…”

“…Nick Griffin is always going on about being outbred and in the past he has said members need to put away their boots and go and meet women. The problem is that your typical BNP member is a social pariah who is more into pornography than starting a family…”

Sounds familiar, eh? Some of the soul-searching going on in the Republican Party after two defeats by Obama sounds like this. It pairs nicely with the anti-woman, anti-abortion, anti-birth control agitprop from the Catholic and other fundamentalist factions in the Tea Party.