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Posts Tagged ‘United States’

China’s military is rapidly expanding

Posted by msrb on January 28, 2009

Whatever the Moderators concerns about the political corruption in China, the rapid military expansion in the so-called “Chinese People’s Liberation Army” appears to be directly related to ‘wealth’ inequality and, consequently, China’s limited access to natural resources.

The following stats may explain why:

population-gdp2
China’s population is nearly 4 times larger than the US, yet its GDP is about ¼ of the United States, creating a disparity of about 16 to1 against China.

The following article appeared in the Mainlyichi Daily News on January 28, 2009 [See link below]

Why does China continue to undergo such rapid military expansion?

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/perspectives/news/20090127p2a00m0na001000c.html

China has issued a white paper entitled “China’s National Defense in 2008,” tracing shifts in its defense budget since the nation first implemented its open door policy in 1978. The dramatic increase in defense spending over the past 30 years is striking.

The first decade saw an average 3.5 percent rise in the defense budget. In the second decade the figure rose to an average increase of 14.5 percent, and the last decade, 15.9 percent. In recent years, the figure has exceeded Japan’s overall spending on national defense — in 2008, China’s military budget was 417.7 billion yuan (approximately 5.849 trillion yen). [US$1 = 90 yen - see date.]

According to Western military experts, however, China’s military spending is actually said to be two to three times the figure, once other military-related expenses designated for categories such as space exploration and foreign aid are taken into account.

Why does China continue to undergo such rapid military expansion? The white paper says that, “China will never seek hegemony or engage in military expansion now or in the future, no matter how developed it becomes.” But this does not amount to a rational explanation and does nothing to reassure neighboring countries.

At one time, China offered an increase in military personnel costs as a result of improved labor conditions as its justification for soaring military expenses. It is more realistic to assume, however, that China’s defense budget increase of recent years is due to qualitative changes made under the country’s shifting military strategy.

The white paper touches upon the military’s pelagic and space capabilities, and as if to confirm the country’s focus, the government has acknowledged its consideration of constructing aircraft carriers. China, furthermore, has succeeded in several manned spacecraft missions, has developed the missile technology necessary to shoot down satellites in orbit, and has continued launching its own positioning satellites crucial to guiding these missiles. China’s aspirations are transparent.

The country’s goal is no longer the preservation of its land, territorial waters, and airspace, but the safeguarding of national interests, now spread across the globe. A debate has emerged within the military about replacing the protection of “territorial boundaries” with that of “boundaries of national interests.” If military expansion is the purpose of this shift, how does it differ from the pursuit of hegemony? The white paper, alas, does not shed light on this question.

Currently the world’s third biggest economy, China obtains the oil and natural gas necessary to support its economic growth via massive pipelines running from Central Asia, Myanmar, and Russia. It has participated in oil field development in Africa and the Middle East, its tank vessels loaded with oil forming a queue in the Indian Ocean, and is hoping to explore undersea resources in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

The economic interests of the country have expanded on a worldwide scale. The Chinese Navy’s deployment of cutting-edge missile destroyers to the waters off the coast of Somalia was not a mere short-term measure for dealing with pirates, but a way to establish the foundations to develop sea lane defense capabilities to Africa’s coast.

How will China’s military buildup be affected by economic growth that has slowed drastically this year? Had this been the China of yesterday, it would have focused its budget on building the economy. Putting the brakes on military expansion once it has gained momentum is no easy task, however, and, whether there will be a shift in the relationship between the government and the military remains to be seen.

Copyright 2009 THE MAINICHI NEWSPAPERS. All rights reserved.

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Posted in access to resources, China's military, China's National Defense, economic interests, military buildup | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Ensuring National Security

Posted by feww on September 20, 2008

The following is a section from 13 things you should know!

How to Ensure National Security AND Create a Healthy Economy!

In a world savaged by human-induced climate catastrophes and human-enhanced natural ‘disasters,’ and in the absence of any foreign military threat to the United States, our leaders have proposed to spend our tax dollars (2009) as follows.

Total Outlays (Federal Funds): $2,650 billion
MILITARY: 54% and $1,449 billion
NON-MILITARY: 46% and $1,210 billion

The United States transformed its economy into a permanent military economy after WWII with a lion’s share of its resources committed to military spending.

Here’s the dilemma: A sane foreign policy would entail avoiding violence, rather than stirring chaos and starting wars so that the US can then intervene to end them. A peaceable United States, however, couldn’t justify an ever-growing military machine if there were no wars.

For the sake of protecting the military machine [and continue with the empire-building,] wars have become a permanent feature of world events.

As the overall size of the political economy grows, so does the need for creating more chaos and starting new wars through political deception and false-flag operations. Instead of ensuring national security and protecting the citizens, the military machine does its utmost to achieve the opposite result by endangering the country through creating wars and provoking violence throughout the world, simply to justify its own existence. Here is the classic example of “tail wagging the dog!”

What to Do!

To decrease the level of violence, the United States must undertake political and military decentralization. “Decentralization of the United States would also add to the security of other nations.” Say Herman E. Daly and John B. Cobb, Jr. in for the common good: redirecting the economy toward community, the environment, and a sustainable future.

“The United States has developed into a highly centralized society that could be virtually halted in its tracks by a few relatively small acts of sabotage. For example, the electrical grid on which the entire nation depends could be put out of commission [easily, by a determined saboteur.] A blackout would not stop the planes in the air or the tanks in the field, but the backup systems of communication, supply, and management would be disastrously disrupted. Yet defense planning pays little attention to these matters.” Say Daly and Cobb.

Aside from rare acts of sabotage, the disastrous impact of hurricane Ike on the power grid last week, which left up to 5 million people without power, should be a stark remainder and a wake-up call to how vulnerable our centralized power grid is to seasonal acts of nature, especially the natural phenomena enhanced by climate change.

Why isn’t decentralization happening? Daly and Cobb identify two major obstacles: “The first is the political power of groups that profit from military spending.  The second is extreme difficulty of dealing in a humane way with the rapid shift in the whole economy.”

At least one of the two obstacles could be overcome, however. “If the United States makes a clean environment, human health, and community stability its goals, alone with a commitment to becoming more self-sufficient economically, the transition from a military economy to a civilian one may be affected without enormous pain.”

The key to economic self-sufficiency is decentralized production of renewable energy. We concur with Daly and Cobb who assert, “increasing local dependence on small-scale solar plants [and wind energy] would do far more to reduce real national insecurity than additional billions [trillions] spent on bombs and submarines.”

But how does more economic self-sufficiency help national security?

“… where there is economic self-sufficiency, national security need not involve fighting wars with distant enemies.  It does not require the ability to conquer external powers. It requires only the ability to resist aggression against itself.  Would the federation all 50 states be a likely victim of conquest? Would these states be in danger from Mexico or Canada?”

How do we protect ourselves and stabilize our world? What would it take to fight a war of aggression waged against us?

In a stable, demilitarized world, we would need only a small civil defense force to protect us against any aggression. Kirkpatrick Sale in Human Scale says: “The long human record suggests that the problem of defense and warfare is exacerbated, not solved, by the large state, and that smaller societies …  tend to engage in fighting less and less violent consequences. Indicating that a world of human scale politics would not be a world without its conflicts and disputations, but would likely be a world of comparative stability.”

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Posted in Energy, environment, government, politics, tail wagging the dog | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

Google Censorship: Serious Violation of the US Constitution and International Law

Posted by msrb on June 16, 2008

The Human Rights of an Octogenarian Chinese Woman

Google has effectively blocked the following posts from its search engines:

Brave New Zealanders Bash Octogenarian Chinese Woman to Death and

New Zealand Racist Storm Worse Than China Quake at

New Zealand: Plumbing the Depth of Depravity

Google Censorship is a Flagrant Violation of Our Freedom of Speech!

Freedom of speech is being able to speak freely without censorship. The United States Constitution protects opinions under inalienable 1st Amendment free speech rights.

The right to freedom of speech is also guaranteed under international law through numerous human-rights instruments, notably under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

How much longer is Google allowed to continue its censorship in violation of the United States Constitution and the international law?

Posted in Energy, environment, government, money, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Food Fetishism, Cheap Oil and Pollution

Posted by msrb on April 28, 2008

Excerpts are from:

Environmental Cost of Shipping Groceries Around the World

The Food Chain

The New York Times April 26, 2008
by E. Rosenthal and D. Pinto

Cod caught off Norway is shipped to China to be turned into filets, then shipped back to Norway for sale. Argentine lemons fill supermarket shelves on the Citrus Coast of Spain, as local lemons rot on the ground. Half of Europe’s peas are grown and packaged in Kenya. ["Norwegian cod costs a manufacturer $1.36 a pound to process in Europe, but only 23 cents a pound in Asia." And the hell with internalizing the environmental costs. Oh, and it's nice to know there is still cod left off Norway!]

In the United States, FreshDirect proclaims kiwi season has expanded to “All year!” now that Italy has become the world’s leading supplier of New Zealand’s national fruit, taking over in the Southern Hemisphere’s winter.

And the penetration of mega-markets in nations from China to Mexico with supply and distribution chains that gird the globe — like Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco — has accelerated the trend.

But the movable feast comes at a cost: pollution — especially carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas — from transporting the food. [Include processing, packaging and refrigeration!]

Under longstanding trade agreements, fuel for international freight carried by sea and air is not taxed. Now, many economists, environmental advocates and politicians say it is time to make shippers and shoppers pay for the pollution, through taxes or other measures.

“We’re shifting goods around the world in a way that looks really bizarre,” said Paul Watkiss, an Oxford University economist who wrote a recent European Union report on food imports.

He noted that Britain, for example, imports — and exports — 15,000 tons of waffles a year, and similarly exchanges 20 tons of bottled water with Australia. More important, Mr. Watkiss said, “we are not paying the environmental cost of all that travel.”

[Cheap oil has distorted the notion of creating ‘economic gains’ to such great extents that governments subsidize the industry to export and import the same product, often in similar quantities, within the same fiscal period. Country A exports Q tons of product P to country B, while it imports Q tons of the same product P from country B at the same time, with a net zero gain in commodity exchange for either country. However, the exchange produces about 9Q tons of CO2e pollution, nine times the weight of the commodity that was flown in either direction, for every 1,000 miles that the consignment is airborne. See The Death of Homo Sapiens Sapiens (Part 1)]

The European Union, the world’s leading food importer, has increased imports 20 percent in the last five years. The value of fresh fruit and vegetables imported by the United States, in second place, nearly doubled from 2000 to 2006.

Under a little-known international treaty called the Convention on International Civil Aviation, signed in Chicago in 1944 to help the fledgling airline industry, fuel for international travel and transport of goods, including food, is exempt from taxes, unlike trucks, cars and buses. There is also no tax on fuel used by ocean freighters.

Proponents say ending these breaks could help ensure that producers and consumers pay the environmental cost of increasingly well-traveled food.
[Our weekly shopping basket includes items that would have flown more air miles than the average family fly in their lifetime! A 1kg (2.2lb) bag of New Zealand kiwifruit (in any of its cadmium, arsenic, lead, mercury… or organochlorine varieties) produces about 142kg (313lb) of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent gases) pollution flying to the US, or 188.7kg (416lb) of CO2e to Europe. See The Death of Homo Sapiens Sapiens (Part 1)]

And with far cheaper labor costs in African nations, Morocco and Egypt have displaced Spain in just a few seasons as important suppliers of tomatoes and salad greens to central Europe.

Some studies have calculated that as little as 3 percent of emissions from the food sector are caused by transportation. But Mr. Watkiss, the Oxford economist, said the percentage was growing rapidly. Moreover, imported foods generate more emissions than generally acknowledged because they require layers of packaging and, in the case of perishable food, refrigeration.

Britain, with its short growing season and powerful supermarket chains, imports 95 percent of its fruit and more than half of its vegetables. Food accounts for 25 percent of truck shipments in Britain, according to the British environmental agency, DEFRA.

Mr. Datson of Tesco acknowledged that there were environmental consequences to the increased distances food travels, but he said his company was merely responding to consumer appetites. “The offer and range has been growing because our customers want things like snap peas year round,” Mr. Datson said. “We don’t see our job as consumer choice editing.” [Tell that to melting ice!]

Global supermarket chains like Tesco and Carrefour, spreading throughout Eastern Europe and Asia, cater to a market for convenience foods, like washed lettuce and cut vegetables. They also help expand the reach of global brands.

Pringles potato chips, for example, are now sold in more than 180 countries, though they are manufactured in only a handful of places, said Kay Puryear, a spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble, which makes Pringles.

Proponents of taxing transportation fuel say it would end such distortions by changing the economic calculus.

“Food is traveling because transport has become so cheap in a world of globalization,” said Frederic Hague, head of Norway’s environmental group Bellona. “If it was just a matter of processing fish cheaper in China, I’d be happy with it traveling there. The problem is pollution.”

Switzerland, which does not belong to the E.U., already taxes trucks that cross its borders.
Some studies have shown that shipping fresh apples, onions and lamb from New Zealand might produce lower emissions than producing the goods in Europe … [Don't the statistics related to shipment of toxic food from New Zealand have a habit of defying physical laws and conventional maths?]

But those studies were done in New Zealand, and the food travel debate is inevitably intertwined with economic interests. [Right!]

Last month, Tony Burke, the Australian minister for agriculture, fisheries and forestry, said that carbon footprinting and labeling food miles — the distance food has traveled — was “nothing more than protectionism.” [O RLY?]

Box Fresh Organics, a popular British brand, advertises that 85 percent of its vegetables come from the British Midlands. But in winter, in its standard basket, only the potatoes and carrots are from Britain. The grapes are South African, the fennel is from Spain and the squash is Italian.

Related Links:

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Posted in Energy, environment, Global Warming, money, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Union of Concerned Scientists Issue Some Global Warming Snakeoil

Posted by msrb on August 22, 2007

The following post was submitted by Catherine T. CASF Member.

Global Warming Snakeoil

[The Union of Concerned (sic) Scientists have recently posted an article on their website under the banner of Global Warming, titled: Ten Personal Solutions. Unfortunately the article lacks adequate substance and stands short of persuading the informed readers that their personal choices can have a significant impact on global warming.

Ed Crane said: “The history of mankind is a history of the subjugation and exploitation of a great majority of people by an elite few by what has been appropriately termed the ‘ruling class’. The ruling class has many manifestations. It can take the form of a religious orthodoxy, a monarchy, a dictatorship of the proletariat, outright fascism, or, in the case of the United States, corporate statism. In each instance the ruling class relies on academics, scholars and ‘experts’ to legitimize and provide moral authority for its hegemony over the masses.”

Not surprisingly, UCS’s Ten Personal Solutions fails to make an impact in the absence of an appeal to readers for radical changes in their politics, businesses and lifestyles that are urgently needed to save the planet from the looming ecocide.

Cindy Smith, a member of Creating A Sustainable Future (CASF), has prepared a brief reply to the UCS’s Ten Personal Solutions to Global Warming which follows their article. - Harry Saloor, The Management School of Restorative Business.]

***

Global Warming: What You Can Do

Ten Personal Solutions

http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/ten-personal-solutions.html

Individual choices can have an impact on global climate change. Reducing your family’s heat-trapping emissions does not mean forgoing modern conveniences; it means making smart choices and using energy-efficient products, which may require an additional investment up front, but often pay you back in energy savings within a couple of years. Since Americans’ per capita emissions of heat-trapping gases is 5.6 tons—more than double the amount of western Europeans—we can all make choices that will greatly reduce our families’ global warming
impact.

“The Ten Commandments”

1. The car you drive: the most important personal climate decision. When you buy your next car, look for the one with the best fuel economy in its class. Each gallon of gas you use is responsible for 25 pounds of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. Better gas mileage not only reduces global warming, but will also save you thousands of dollars at the pump over the life of the vehicle. Compare the fuel economy of the cars you’re considering and look for new technologies like hybrid engines.

2. Choose clean power. More than half the electricity in the United States comes from polluting coal-fired power plants. And power plants are the single largest source of heat-trapping gas. None of us can live without electricity, but in some states, you can switch to electricity companies that provide 50 to 100 percent renewable energy. (For more information go to Green-e.org.)

3. Look for Energy Star. When it comes time to replace appliances, look for the Energy Star label on new appliances (refrigerators, freezers, furnaces, air conditioners, and water heaters use the most energy). These items may cost a bit more initially, but the energy savings will pay back the extra investment within a couple of years. Household energy savings really can make a difference: If each household in the United States replaced its existing appliances with the most efficient models available, we would save $15 billion in energy costs and eliminate 175 million tons of heat-trapping gases.

4. Unplug a freezer. One of the quickest ways to reduce your global warming impact is to unplug the extra refrigerator or freezer you rarely use (except when you need it for holidays and parties). This can reduce the typical family’s carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 10 percent.

5. Get a home energy audit. Take advantage of the free home energy audits offered by many utilities. Simple measures, such as installing a programmable thermostat to replace your old dial unit or sealing and insulating heating and cooling ducts, can each reduce a typical family’s carbon
dioxide emissions by about 5 percent.

6. Light bulbs matter. If every household in the United States replaced one regular light bulb with an energy-saving model, we could reduce global warming pollution by more than 90 billion pounds over the life of the bulbs; the same as taking 6.3 million cars off the road. So, replace your incandescent bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescents, which now come in all shapes and sizes. You’ll be doing your share to cut back on heat-trapping pollution and you’ll save money on your electric bills and light bulbs.

7. Think before you drive. If you own more than one vehicle, use the less fuel-efficient one only when you can fill it with passengers. Driving a full minivan may be kinder to the environment than two midsize cars. Whenever possible, join a carpool or take mass transit.

8. Buy good wood. When buying wood products, check for labels that indicate the source of the timber. Supporting forests that are managed in a sustainable fashion makes sense for biodiversity, and it may make sense for the climate too. Forests that are well managed are more likely to store carbon effectively because more trees are left standing and carbon-storing soils are less disturbed.

9. Plant a tree. You can also make a difference in your own backyard. Get a group in your neighborhood together and contact your local arborist or urban forester about planting trees on private property and public land. In addition to storing carbon, trees planted in and around urban areas and residences can provide much-needed shade in the summer, reducing energy bills and fossil fuel use.

10. Let policymakers know you are concerned about global warming. Our elected officials and business leaders need to hear from concerned citizens. Sign up for the Union of Concerned Scientists Action Network to ensure that policymakers get the timely, accurate information they need to make informed decisions about global warming solutions.

***

A Response to the UCS

by Cindy Smith
Creating A Sustainable Future

The Union of “Concerned Scientists,” or overpaid hypocrites?


Moses smashing the Tables of the Law, a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn

This must be a sick joke in 10 installments. Why don’t the Concerned Scientists tell you

1. The total number of “the best fuel economy cars” our planet can sustain?

2. Maximum amount of energy we could consume before the ecosystems collapse irreversibly?

3. The threshold at which the Energy Star turns into a “white dwarf!” How many more refrigerators, freezers, furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters … could we buy? Prey tell!

4. What is the total number of refrigerators and freezers that can remain plugged in?

5. How many new homes would it take to offset the “old” family’s carbon dioxide emissions reduction?

6. How much difference would their suggested steps make when each year more than 65 million cars and light commercial vehicles hit the roads globally?

7. See my reply to No. 6, above.

8. What are the total volumes of “good wood” that consumers can buy each year without destroying the forests and the environment?

9. When they doubt you, tell them to plant a tree! So you must be the good guys, otherwise you wouldn’t be saying that. Right?

10. Should we let policymakers and elected [sic] officials know we are concerned about global warming, climate change, dwindling natural capital before we impeach them for starting illegal wars, murdering a million plus people, torturing prisoners and spying on citizens, or after?

Fair Use Notice: In accordance with TITLE 17, CHAPTER 1, § 107 Limitations on exclusive rights

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work… for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching… scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

Posted in biodiversity, Bush, carbon dioxide, ecocide, ecosystems, Energy, Energy Star, environment, Global Warming, government, greenhouse gasses, lifestyle, money, oil, politics, snake oil, Snakeoil, spying on citizens, Union of Concerned Scientists, White Dwarf | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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