The Chinese Example: Forget Warming, And Cut Emissions Anyway

 Civilizer

Global warming continues to be this year’s hot complaint.  The greening of America has seeped into retailers, advertiser, and consumers, and all thanks to the rallying cry “Stop Global Warming.”  Al Gore made an alarmist film rife with errors and got a Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar for it, because he was trying to “Stop Global Warming.”  You can buy everything from an environmentally friendly light bulb to environmentally friendly floors for your house, so you can help “Stop Global Warming.”  Well I never thought I’d say this, but:

To hell with global warming.  Take a look.

A smog-o-rific satellite image of China

That picture up there is a photograph of China taken from space.  See all that dark gray stuff?  That would be all the stuff that China’s factories belch into the atmosphere.  And it’s a perfect example of why we do have to cut emissions, develop cleaner energy, and more prudent land management strategies, and why global warming has to take a back seat.  The example of China illustrates the situation perfectly.

China, of course, is hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics.  “Hosting” is kind of a funny word, as they seem like the kind of host who welcomes you into their home and then dispatches their German Shepherd to watch you like a hawk and take a bite out of your thigh if you touch the candlesticks.  But in any case, it’s their big event on the world stage.  And they had so badly fouled their air that they had to shut everything down in and around Beijing well ahead of the start of the Games to try and get things athlete-ready.  The air is so bad, the great Haile Gebrselassie has refused to compete in Beijing.  But underneath that nauseating claim are some pretty shocking facts:  Air pollution kills approximately 656,000 Chinese people a year, and water pollution another 95,600.  More people die of pollution-related causes in China than die of cancer in the United States each year, or heart disease.

And how about this, for all you dismal scientists out there:  on a combined basis, air and water pollution cost China 5.8% of its GDP – around $100 billion annually.  And oh yeah – all that smog probably exacerbates global warming. 

Now, I’m not saying that global warming is a liberal con job, or that it doesn’t exist.  The evidence that global warming is happening is pretty hard to refute, and I’ve no doubt that humanity has a hand in it.  But remember, this planet has been going through climactic shifts and cycles since time out of mind.  And also remember that while human activity has a tremendous impact on the planet, our capacity to affect the climate is dwarfed by our capacity to affect conditions on the ground and our own quality of life. 

China is a microcosm of the wider world.  Their most pressing problem isn’t global warming, and it isn’t their most solvable problem, either.  The same goes for the rest of us.  Keep in mind that China shut down the country for several months and their air is still a mess – you think if you buy some different lightbulbs and drive a Prius that you can reverse something like global warming?  Really?  You think if a few enlightened people in pockets of the world straighten up and fly right, it will reverse centuries of industrialized by-product, and the millions of cars on the road?

But let’s look at what would happen in China, and in fact the entire world, if we developed clean, alternative fuels instead of burned oil, gas, and coal – less cancer, cleaner water, healthier watersheds and ecosystems, stable animal populations, and budgets that aren’t as stressed by the health care and/or clean-up costs that come with all that stuff.  But if we push that stuff aside and just keep talking about global warming, then what happens when the skeptics break through?  What happens when they plant enough doubt in enough people’s minds about this whole global warming thing?  After all, no lay people really understand the science behind it – here’s a fun game: find some passionate global warming guy or girl on a college campus and ask them to explain carbon-feedback loops.  See?  They mostly just know what Al Gore put in a movie, and we all know he’s full of shit most of the time.  Wasn’t his wife that crazy chick who tried to ban W.A.S.P.? (Truth be told I wish she’d succeeded there)

Gas prices drop, these stupid things will come right back

I’ll tell you what will happen – people will decide they don’t have to worry anymore.  They’ll buy regular old bulbs again, they’ll stop buying hybrid cars, they won’t worry about recycling that much.  Global warming has at least served one purpose.  It’s woken people up to the fact that we can’t continue to live the way we do without serious consequences to the long-term viability of the planet.

But it’s time to shift the focus.  China isn’t shutting its factories down because of global warming.  They’re doing it because the world is coming to visit this summer, and the Chinese government understands that no one wants to live or compete in the smog, the algae blooms, and the runoff.

So why should the rest of us put up with it anywhere else?

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Unacceptable

 Civilizer

I repeat myself:  why, when a people are apocalyptically stricken by any number of scourges (genocide, natural disaster, starvation), does the world see fit to sit on its hands and allow the government which makes aid almost impossible to continue to govern?  They are killing their own people, either directly through violent repression or indirectly through the incompetent or criminal diversion of aid.  At some point, the right of humans to live in a nation with a bare minimum of humanitarian conditions  must supercede the so-called “sovereign right” of a government to hold power in a country.

A Mexican Submarine? Geez, That Punchline Writes Itself

 Civilizer

Hey kids, thinking about turning down that college scholarship to pursue a lucrative career in the cross-border drug trade?  Well here’s a pretty good reason to reconsider:  if you follow through on that narco-trafficking idea, there’s a chance a Mexican drug lord unaccustomed to hearing the word “No” will insist that you climb aboard a second or probably third-hand “makeshift” submarine to smuggle cocaine up the Pacific coast of Mexico and the United States.  And the words “makeshift” and “submarine” are two words that do not belong together under any circumstances.

The U.N. “Regrets,” Dictators Shrug

 Civilizer

Chalk up the Zimbabwe “elections” as yet another nail in the coffin of the United Nations’ credibility.  Zimbabwe’s best chance yet for meaningful change mangled by widespread coercion and intimidation, a people beset for generations by corruption-fed poverty and dictatorship, and the U.N. “regret[s] that the election went ahead in these circumstances.”  Now that’s inspiring.  My heart went a million miles an hour, reading the full text of the statement. 

These people desperately need intervention, and the U.N. can’t even come up with a finger-wag, instead opting for the sorrowful shake of the head and tongue-cluck.  What’s the matter folks?  Leave your balls in Kosovo?  Zimbabwe is yet another example of a humanitarian failing on this planet, and all your blue helmets are cleaner and shinier than the one worn by Peyton Manning’s backup.

 Zimbabwe, along with Darfur, is yet another shining example of the concept of national sovereignty being an absolute crock.  My stance on the issue might be slightly impolitic, but we really ought to be splitting democracies into 2 categories:  Real and Rubber Stamps For Dictators.  Real ones, like those in America and Western Europe, you may notice, are often hotly and bitterly contested.  A tremendous amount of power and influence (and therefore $$$) hangs in the balance.  And yet, even when the situation becomes chaotic (see Bush v. Gore), you don’t see any coups, leaders refusing to step down, or voters forced to pull a lever at gunpoint.  That’s what’s called “political stability,” and if a country has it, then by all means, U.N., let that country handle its own affairs.

And then there’s countries like Zimbabwe.  For God’s sake, Mugabe is sending goon squads into a flea market over there with orders to find people who lack the telltale red-dyed finger proving that they voted, and to force them to vote for Mugabe.  It’s called Operation: Red Finger.  Stable countries like the United States have to guard against what I have come to call “South Carolina tactics” – slanderous robocalling, push polls, anonymous fliers claiming that Barack Obama eats children – and over in Zimbabwe, the government rapes people.  Now, again, political correctness be damned, that’s when you send in an international force of people with tanks, guns, fighter planes, and the Active Denial System, and you go all Pantera on the resident concubine-raping, statue-erecting, aid-diverting tyrant’s ass.  

What could possibly be the argument for standing to the side when this is happening?  “The people have spoken”?  Bullshit, the people have spoken the way a ventriloquist’s dummy has spoken – forced to say what the guy with his hand up its ass makes it say.  “Countries must be allowed to conduct their own affairs?”  Yeah, and a guy should be allowed to do what he wants in his own house, but if he starts hitting his wife and dealing guns and crack out of his garage, it’s probably not out of line to get the cops over there and have them chuck a tear gas canister or two into the rumpus room.  

My point is that dictators are interested in one thing – staying in power.  The push for democracy in vogue as of late might pressure them to have elections, but you can bet the farm they’re going to do everything in their power to manipulate that election, up to and including making some poor shopkeeper vote to keep them in power by putting a knife to his wife’s neck.  “International pressure” is a sham these days, because worse-than-shit countries like Russia and China, permanent members of the Security Council, will always find a way to prop up an evil regime as long as they can get at their natural resources and/or destabilize U.S. influence in the region.  China, for example, recently took the extraordinary step of condemning the Zimbabwe sham election, but just a couple months ago had no problem shipping weapons and ammunition to Mugabe’s government.  You can bargain, cajole, and sanction all you want, but a guy that refuses to play by the rules of international law only truly responds to one thing: force, the same thing that keeps him in power. 

Robert Mugabe has governed at the point of a gun for long enough.  Let’s see how the bastard likes it when there’s one pointed at him.

Shazam! Sunday News Roundup: May 25, 2008

 Captain Marvel

Top Story! – Turkey: “Common Ground” Found In Israel-Syria Talks

A common ground was reached in Israel and Syria talks that were held in Istanbul during the week and the indirect talks between the two countries would continue, the Turkish foreign minister said on Thursday…[click here for more]

Environmental News – EU Agrees To Outlaw “Green Crimes”

After eight years of negotiation, the European Parliament has reached an agreement with member states on legislation that will force national governments to apply criminal sanctions to those causing deliberate or negligent damage to the environment…[click here for more]

U.S. Politics News – Senate Race in Minnesota Shows Power Of Bloggers

On a laptop at a kitchen table in this cheery Twin Cities suburb, headlines ripping into Al Franken, the satirist whose campaign for the United States Senate is seen as one of the most competitive in the nation, are written up day after day for Minnesota Democrats Exposed, a political blog created by a former Republican Party researcher…[click here for more]

Asia News – Burma “Still Uses Child Soldiers”

Burma has been named as the most persistent user of child soldiers, with thousands in its armed forces – some as young as 11, a human rights group says…[click here for more

Business News – Fund Manager Is To Refinance Stalled Auction-Rate Notes

Nuveen Investments, the largest American manager of closed-end funds, said on Wednesday that it had a commitment for up to $1.75 billion in liquidity support to help refinance the troubled auction-rate preferred shares its funds once issued.  But the funds are now struggling. Most of them use leverage to enhance returns, and many of them borrowed that leverage in the auction-rate market, which is now effectively in liquidation…[click here for more]

Sports News – Big Brown Has Hoof Injury, Still Expected To Race

Big Brown’s perfect path has its first bump.  The unbeaten Triple Crown contender has a slight crack on his left front hoof, although trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. was confident the injury won’t keep his colt from running in the Belmont Stakes in less than two weeks…[click here for more]

Shazam! Sunday News Roundup: May 11, 2008

 Captain Marvel 

Top Story! – Sadrists and Iraqi Government Reach Truce Deal

The Iraqi government and leaders of the movement of the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr agreed Saturday to a truce, brokered with help from Iran, that would end more than a month of bloody fighting in the vast, crowded Sadr City section of Baghdad.  The deal would allow the sides to pull back from what was becoming a messy and unpopular showdown in the months leading up to crucial provincial elections…[click here for more

Africa News – Niger Delta Push For U.S. Mediator

Ex-US President Jimmy Carter could play a positive role in mediating between Nigeria’s government and oil militants, a Rivers State spokesman told the BBC.  Rivers is the last state where Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) militants are not in talks…[click here for more]

Europe News – Controversial Proposals For German National Security

WAS it the start of a serious debate about German security, or a blueprint for militarism and a presidential style of foreign policy at odds with German tradition? Or both? These questions arose on May 6th, when parliamentarians of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the senior partner in the “grand coalition”, issued a paper calling for the creation of a national security council; and for fewer limits on the deployment of armed forces at home and abroad…[click here for more

Business News – Dollar Bulls Gain Control As Futures Signal High-Flying Euro Close To Peak

For the first time since December 2005, futures traders are turning bullish on the dollar.

The difference in the number of wagers by hedge funds and other large speculators on a gain in the greenback versus the euro, known as net longs, was 21,315 on April 29, figures from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in Washington show. There were net-short positions in each of the previous 123 weeks…[click here for more]

Gun-Running News – Viktor Bout Indicted For Conspiracy To Kill Americans And Other Terrorism-Related Charges

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Acting Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced the unsealing of an indictment against international arms dealer Viktor Bout for conspiring to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to the FARC to be used to kill Americans in Colombia…[click here for more]

Environment News – Huge Reservoir In Works For Everglades

Earth-moving equipment and high explosives are laying the foundation for a mammoth construction project: a reservoir bigger than Manhattan designed to revive the ecosystem of the once-famed River of Grass.  More than a century after the first homes and farms took shape in the Everglades, decades of flood-control projects have left the region parched and near ecological collapse. Now crews are building what will be the world’s largest aboveground manmade reservoir to restore some natural water flow to the wetlands…[click here for more]

Sports News – O.J. Mayo Received Gifts, Cash

Former USC basketball player O.J. Mayo, a projected lottery pick in this year’s NBA draft, received thousands of dollars in cash, clothes and other benefits in apparent violation of NCAA rules while he was still in high school and during his one year in college, a former Mayo associate told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”…[click here for more]

Meet China’s Olympic Goon Squad

 Civilizer

You’re the new family in the neighborhood.  You’re planning on throwing a big backyard barbecue for everyone on your block, because you really want to make a great first impression on your new neighbors and there are some really nasty rumors floating around about you…that you only let your kids watch episodes of Father Knows Best on DVD and don’t let them use the interwebsnet for anything, even school, or you blindfold and beat them if they get a B on a math test, or you’re the ones who were shooting dogs and cats in your old neighborhood, including the tagged and registered ones, and grinding up their penises into a tonic because yours didn’t happen to work properly.

So you’re gonna throw this big soirée so the whole neighborhood can come over and see for themselves that rumors are all they are, and that you’re really a swell hybrid of draconian communist governance and unrestrained, exploitative capitalism bunch of people who you don’t have to feel nervous or queasy around, and you’re going to be great neighbors that your guests are going to want to get to know better.  This party is going to be so awesome, so wonderful, so by-God (actually you don’t believe in God but pardon the expression) cozy that the assembled throng in your back yard won’t even notice the sulfuric runoff in your koi pond.

Obviously, the centerpiece of any good barbecue is the food, specifically the steaks.  No doubt your guests will ooh and ah as you have the thick, pink, marbled prime cuts brought out from the kitchen and ceremoniously placed at the grill where you will commence the preparation of a delicious meal.  Now, this presentation is where you set the tone.  There’s a lot you could do here…have the wife carry them out on a silver platter (or the husband…just kidding!  You don’t have much regard for the rights of womenfolk around your house.), or sprinkle flower petals along your path to the grill.  Or maybe release some doves – people like doves; they’re peaceful and whatever.

 

Or, uh, yeah…you could hire a bunch of ex-military, cracked-out Hell’s Angels with poor impulse control to “escort” the steak to the grill and put any protesting vegetarians standing nearby in a nerve hold.  That’s a good idea too.