Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday In The News

Shanghai: The controversial construction of a People's Liberation Army port in Hong Kong's historic Victoria Harbour has been approved, amid growing unease about China's role in the former British colony.

The port proposal was "unanimously" passed by Hong Kong's planning board, China's state broadcaster announced.
The port, which would be the PLA's first in Hong Kong, was first discussed in 1994 as part of pre-handover talks between London and Beijing, the broadcaster CCTV claimed.

PLA's presence in such a central and historic part of Hong Kong is highly symbolic and has added to concerns over Communist Party meddling.
The former colony was guaranteed a "high degree of autonomy" from Beijing under the "one country, two systems" model introduced after the handover in 1997. Yet the true extent of that autonomy has been questioned in recent months.
Last week, Hong Kong's Foreign Correspondents' Club warned that outside interference threatened "to erode Hong Kong's unique position as a bastion of free expression under Chinese rule". Reporters Without Borders said local press freedom was "in jeopardy".
Those alerts came after Kevin Lau Chun-to, the editor of the Chinese-language broadsheetMing Pao, was sidelined in January amid speculation that his employers had ceded to pressure from Beijing.
Participants in yesterday's Hong Kong marathon wore blue ribbons in protest against dwindling press freedom.

China is now the second largest economy in the world and for the last 30 years China's economy has been growing at an astonishing rate, wowing the world, as spending and investment has been undertaken on a scale never seen before in human history - 30 new airports, 26,000 miles of motorways and a new skyscraper every five days have been built in China in the last five years. But as we (and Michael Pettis, George Soros, and Jim Chanos - among many others) have warned, it is all eerily reminiscent of what happened in the West... the vast majority of it has been built on credit. This has now left the Chinese economy with huge debts and questions over whether much of the money can ever be paid back (spoiler alert: it can't and it won't).

The BBC's Robert Peston travels to China to investigate how this mighty economic giant could actually be in serious trouble.

"There is an unresolved self-contradiction in China’s current policies: restarting the furnaces also reignites exponential debt growth, which cannot be sustained for much longer than a couple of years."

The "eerie resemblances"  to the US in 2008 have profound consequences for China and the world - nowhere is that more dangerously exposed (just as in the US) than in the Chinese shadow banking sector as explained above.

Of course, the situation has become critical now as reform-imposed credit-crunch is rapidly spreading up the food chain proving that China has no painless way out and can only stoke the fire more in their already-burning house - as we noted here...

In this context, the January number is precisely what it appears: the bank's logical response to a liquidity crunch as the Chinese regime finds itself in the same spot that the Fed has been in for the past 5 years - it must keep the monetary spice flowing, or else the party is over. And just like the Fed, and now the BOJ, so too does China not want to deal with the fall out if all it takes to created yet another quarter of increasingly subpar economic growth is another record of funny money conceived out of thin air.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has announced plans to set up a European communications network as part of a broad counter-espionage offensive designed to curb mass surveillance conducted by the US National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ.

The move is her government’s first tangible response to public and political indignation over NSA and GCHQ spying in Europe, which was exposed last October with revelations that the US had bugged Ms Merkel’s mobile phone and that MI6 operated a listening post from the British Embassy in Berlin.
Announcing the project in her weekly podcast, Ms Merkel said she envisaged setting up a European communications network which would offer protection from NSA surveillance by side-stepping the current arrangement whereby emails and other internet data automatically pass through the United States.

The NSA’s German phone and internet surveillance operation is reported to be one of the biggest in the EU. In co-operation with GCHQ it has direct access to undersea cables carrying transatlantic communications between Europe and the US.
Ms Merkel said she planned to discuss the project with the French President, François Hollande, when she meets him in Paris on Wednesday. “Above all we’ll talk about European providers that offer security to our citizens, so that one shouldn’t have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic,” she said. “Rather one could build up a communications network inside Europe.”
French government officials responded by saying Paris intended to “take up” the German initiative.
Ms Merkel’s proposals appear to be part of a wider German counter-espionage offensive, reported to be under way in several of Germany’s intelligence agencies, against NSA and GCHQ surveillance.

Al Qaeda-linked terrorists bombed a tour bus in the Egyptian Sinai on Sunday, killing three Christian tourists from South Korea that the Muslim Brotherhood later insisted were “Zionists.”
Several hours after the bombing, the Muslim Brotherhood’s official Arabic-language Twitter feed carried an update on “the killing of 3 Zionists and injuring of 14 others in a bus explosion in Taba in Sinai,” as reported byThe Times of Israel.
The attack occurred not far from the border crossing on the outskirts of the Israeli resort town of Eilat. The South Korean church group had been on a tour of Egypt, Israel and Turkey.

The victims and the rest of the 33 total passengers on the bus were members of Jincheon Jungang Presbyterian Church. A spokesman told reporters that congregants had saved money for years to celebrate the church’s 60th anniversary by visiting biblical sites in the Middle East.
South Korea’s government expressed outrage over the bombing, and vowed to increase anti-terror efforts in response.
With the attack occurring so close to its border, and the tourists having been en route to Israel anyway, the Jewish state dispatched a fleet of ambulances to the border, but they were denied entry by Egyptian authorities.
Meanwhile, Egyptian analysts feared the attack could mark a return to terrorists targeting foreign tourists in order to harm the regime in Cairo. Egypt relies on tourism just as heavily as Israel does, and even a small wave of terrorist attacks can have major economic repercussions.

Think the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is winding down? Think again. In 2013 alone, one of Judaism’s holiest sites, the traditional tomb of the biblical matriarch Rachel, was attacked no fewer than 200 times by Palestinian mobs.
Rachel’s Tomb, located just inside Bethlehem, is a highly frequented place of prayer for religious Jews. While the holy site is situated in Palestinian-controlled territory, the “Oslo Accords” afford Israel security control over Rachel’s Tomb in order to ensure the right of Jews to worship there.

Even so, the situation is not good. At a meeting of the Knesset’s Interior Committee last week, MK David Azulai (Shas) noted that Rachel’s Tomb had suffered 200 attacks last year, with 119 explosive devices being hurled at Jewish worshipers and the police and soldiers tasked with protecting them.
The residents of Bethlehem very often and very loudly complain about the massive security wall Israel built around Rachel’s Tomb several years ago. But, as the relentless attacks on Jewish worshipers have again demonstrated, such drastic security measures have become an unfortunate necessity.

[Well, of course, only if it involves higher taxes, which is the ultimate goal of any 'climate change' preparations...Unfortunately, for them, the global warming lie will trump common sense, and they have traveled too far down that path to reverse it now]

In the past few years we have seen a dramatic demonstration of the deadly effects of prolonged cold weather. From Chicago to China, Egypt to Argentina, India to the Antarctic, new low temperature and snowfall records have been set.
This has led to severe hardship for millions — and increased death rates.

The first half of this year’s Northern Hemisphere (NH) winter season was especially brutal. December 2013 and January 2014 were the third-coldest Decembers and Januaries in the past 30 years averaged over the contiguous 48 United States, with temperatures plummeting to −10°C in Atlanta and −26°C in Chicago. Residents of North East India struggled with unusually severe snow and −10°C temperatures without home heating. Snow and extreme cold also impacted the Kashmir Valley in India, where many elderly and very young people died of hypothermia. At the time of this writing, most of India is two to five degrees C colder than usual, a serious problem when 95% of all Indian homes lack central heating.

In mid-December, Cairo experienced its first snowfall in over a century, and Jerusalem was hit by a snowstorm called the “fiercest in 20 years.” On December 17, 59% of the contiguous United States was snow-covered, a level the National Weather Service claims has not been seen on that date in at least a decade.
Contrary to the claims of groups such as Ecology Ottawa — which last week held an event titled “the Future of Snow and Skiing in a Warming World” — winter snow cover in the NH has gradually increased since 1967.

Not just during this winter season has weather been unusually cold. March 2013 was the coldest month for Berlin in 100 years. In the same month, low temperature records were set in the United Kingdom, and UK Office for National Statistics reported: “An estimated 31,100 excess winter deaths occurred in England and Wales in 2012/13 — a 29% increase compared with the previous winter.”
All-time low temperature records were also set in Antarctica in 2013. As demonstrated by the global warming research mission aboard the MV Akademik Schokalskiy — the Russian ship stuck in Antarctic ice for two weeks starting on Christmas Day, 2013 — southern sea ice is now more extensive than at any time in the modern-day record.
At the opposite pole, summer sea ice increased by almost 2.4 million square kilometers during 2013 over 2012, the largest year-to-year increase since satellite records began.
The 2011/12 winter was especially severe in Eastern Europe, where temperatures plunged below −40°C and hundreds of people died.
Overall, the NH has witnessed four severe winters since 2000: 2002/03, 2005/06, 2007/08, 2009/10. Most operational forecasters agree that much of this is unprecedented in recent history.
According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this shouldn’t be happening. The IPCCasserted in their Fourth Assessment Report (2007) that, as an impact of the carbon dioxide (CO2)-induced global warming that activists say is still going on:
There is likely to be a decline in the frequency of cold air outbreaks (i.e., periods of extreme cold lasting from several days to over a week) in NH winter in most areas.

Always looking for environmental phenomena to blame on human activities, the White House now says the opposite of the IPCC: man-made global warming caused this winter’s extreme cold. IPCC forecasts indicate that it should have warmed 0.3°C in the past fifteen years. Instead, global warming stopped 17 years ago. Indeed, 134 climate experts from 18 countries wrote in their as-yet-unanswered November 24, 2012 open letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:
Global warming that has not occurred cannot have caused the extreme weather of the past few years.
Yet, in his January 8 online video, Dr. John Holdren — President Obama’s Science and Technology advisor — explained that as a consequence of recent global warming that he maintains is occurring, the Arctic is warming roughly twice as fast as the mid-latitudes. This means that the temperature difference between the Arctic and the contiguous U.S is shrinking, thereby weakening the circumpolar vortex, a swirling mass of cold air that hovers over the Arctic. The result is that the boundaries of the vortex become wavier, allowing increased excursions of cold Arctic air into more southerly regions.
Holdren acknowledged that “there will be continuing debate about exactly what is happening,” but concluded:
I believe the odds are that we can expect, as a result of global warming, to see more of this pattern of extreme cold in the mid-latitudes.
A quick look at meteorological history shows that Holdren’s leap in faith is unfounded. A weather phenomenon similar to what happened this winter also occurred during the 1962/1963 winter, when global cooling was underway. Miami experienced −12°C in December 1962, and most of Europe was exceptionally cold, with the average daily temperatures 4°C lower than usual at many weather stations.
Similarly, towards the end of the global cooling period that lasted from 1945 to the mid-‘70s, Time wrote (June 24, 1974):
Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds — the so-called circumpolar vortex — that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world.

Meteorology textbooks show that such cold weather outbreaks happen often due to distortions in the boundaries of the polar vortex — and have nothing to do with global warming, or cooling, however caused.
Holdren was right to assert that “no single weather episode can either prove or disprove global climate change.” So we will have to wait a few more years to see if the recent cooling will continue or not. However, 17 years with no global warming and recent very cold winters is a troubling trend, which if it continues will result in serious problems for humanity.
This will be especially true if the current obsession with global warming continues, leaving the public unprepared for cold weather events.
Of particularl concern are the warnings from solar scientists that over the next three decades, we are headed toward significant global cooling as the sun weakens into a grand minimum. The last time the sun was as weak as solar experts predict will occur starting after 2030, the Earth was in a particularly cold phase of the Little Ice Age that lasted from about 1350-1850, a period when there was great misery around the world.
Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov of Russia’s Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg warns:
After the maximum of solar Cycle 24, from approximately 2014, we can expect the start of the next bicentennial cycle of deep cooling with a Little Ice Age in 2055 plus or minus 11 years.
History shows that such cold times are far more dangerous than warm periods. That is why geologists call past warm epochs “optimums,” and cold times “dark ages.”

While not accepting that a 2°C rise in temperature is likely, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) explains:
Multiple lines of evidence suggest a 2°C rise in temperature would not be harmful to the biosphere. The period termed the Holocene Climatic Optimum (c. 8,000 ybp) was 2–3°C warmer than today (Alley, 2000), and the planet attained similar temperatures for several million years during the Miocene and Pliocene (Zachos et al., 2001). Biodiversity is encouraged by warmer rather than colder temperatures (Idso and Idso, 2009), and higher temperatures and elevated CO2 greatly stimulate the growth of most plants (Idso and Idso, 2011).
The climate change debate should move away from unsubstantiated warming fears and focus instead on determining if the extreme cold of recent years is a precursor to significant global cooling. If it is, then reliable and inexpensive energy sources such as coal-fired electricity generation will become crucially important for our survival. The last thing we should be doing is closing down these stations in the questionable belief that we are helping to prevent global warming, a phenomenon that has already stopped all on its own.

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