Archive for the ‘Foreign governments’ Category

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What Caused Venezuela’s Tragic Collapse?

August 10, 2017

Socialism kills.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

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The engineering is settled (2)

January 17, 2017

Here’s an article from Manhattan Contrarian about the problems of making renewable energy financially feasible.

Or as I put it last April, the Engineering Is Settled.

A Dose Of Renewable Energy Realism

In the campaign to jettison fossil fuels as the main source of our energy and replace them with so-called “renewables,” a notable feature is the lack of discussion of the costs and practicalities of trying to make intermittent sources like wind and solar work to run a 24/7/365 electricity grid. Is there any problem here that deserves consideration? In Tuesday’s post I noted that in my home state of New York we are about to try to replace our big Indian Point nuclear power plant with mostly wind-generated power. Actually, we already have wind turbines with approximately the same “capacity” as Indian Point, but unfortunately over the course of a full year they only generate about one-quarter as much electricity as Indian Point. Still, can’t that problem be solved just by buying four times as many wind turbines? It may be a little pricey, but is there any reason why that won’t work?

In a publication called Energy Post on January 10, prominent German economist Heiner Flassbeck has a piece that addresses this question. The headline is “The End of the Energiewende?” Of course the problem is that the wind turbines don’t just run steadily and predictably at one-quarter of capacity; rather, they swing wildly and unpredictably back and forth between generating at near 100% of capacity and generating almost nothing. The “almost nothing” mode can persist for days or even weeks. In Germany under a program called Energiewende (“energy transition”), in effect since 2010, they have been pushing to raise the percentage of energy they obtain from wind and solar, and have gotten the percent of their electricity supply from those sources all the way up to 31%. But Flassbeck now looks at what just occurred during the month of December 2016:

This winter could go down in history as the event that proved the German energy transition to be unsubstantiated and incapable of becoming a success story. Electricity from wind and solar generation has been catastrophically low for several weeks. December brought new declines. A persistent winter high-pressure system with dense fog throughout Central Europe has been sufficient to unmask the fairy tale of a successful energy transition….

Here is a chart from Flassbeck’s piece showing German electricity demand through the first half of the month of December, against the sources of the electricity that supplied that demand. Among the sources, solar, on-shore wind, and off-shore wind are broken out separately:

power-demand-germany-dec-2016

As you can see, at some times wind and solar sources supplied as much as half or more of the demand for electricity, but at other times they supplied almost nothing. Flassbeck: […]

I would dearly love to install solar panels and go off the grid. And I’ve been watching the prices and the expected equipment lifetimes for a couple of decades now to decide when it will make financial sense.

But the problem of storing the energy aside, there are periods of weather like our current one. Today was the sixth gloomy, sunless day in a row in Missouri. That’s not unusual in January or February in the center of the US; it’s more common than not, I believe.

On the other hand, if I still lived in Tucson I’d probably have done it by now. (Check your insolation.)

H.T. Jeff G

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Inside Venezuela’s hidden healthcare crisis

January 11, 2017

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Feliz Año Nuevo, Venezuela

December 28, 2016

I wish I could say this news was a surprise. But I can’t and I doubt many others can either.

Venezuela military trafficking food as people go hungry

Puerto Cabello, Venezuela — When hunger drew tens of thousands of Venezuelans to the streets last summer in protest, President Nicolas Maduro turned to the military to manage the country’s diminished food supply, putting generals in charge of everything from butter to rice.

But instead of fighting hunger, the military is making money from it, an Associated Press investigation shows. That’s what grocer Jose Campos found when he ran out of pantry staples this year. In the middle of the night, he would travel to an illegal market run by the military to buy corn flour — at 100 times the government-set price.

“The military would be watching over whole bags of money,” Campos said. “They always had what I needed.”

With much of the oil country on the verge of starvation and malnourished children dying in pediatric wards, food trafficking has become big business in Venezuela. And the military is at the heart of the graft, according to documents and interviews with more than 60 officials, company owners and workers, including five former generals.

As a result, food is not reaching those who most need it. […]

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The beams in our eyes

December 26, 2016

Saying “The Russians hacked the election” is really lame in my view. It’s the kind of statement intended to get a knee-jerk reaction from the implication that Russians hacked the voting process. I don’t know of any reputable claims of that happening and I don’t believe it did.

Since the Democrats don’t disavow the content of their hacked e-mails, their claim that they were injured by the release of those messages basically shows that they were hoist by their own petard. "Oops… we didn’t want that to go public."

FWIW, the Wall Street Journal reports that Russian hackers tried to get into the Republicans’ systems too.

So John Podesta was hacked. The election was not.

Or see this tweet for an even pithier (and more amusing) summary.

Personally, I thought that Jonathon Gruber’s comments about how the PPACA was passed would be enough to keep anyone from voting for Secretary Clinton.


But all that said, a separate and more important point is that the U.S. isn’t blameless in this regard. This article from the Independent Institute’s The Beacon recounts ways the U.S. has interfered in the elections or governments of other countries.

Russia’s Election Hacks Are Child’s Play

The FBI and CIA are in agreement that Russia in some way interfered in the U.S. election. What is known so far is that Russian hackers were able to access the emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. Hackers also breached the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

According to sources, the Russian government sought to hinder the Clinton campaign and work to assist Trump in winning the presidency. […]

People seem floored by these revelations. How could Russia interfere in the workings of the U.S. political process? How dare they try to manipulate the outcome of a presidential election?!

I’m reminded of a Biblical passage.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own?

Those barking loudly over Russia’s involvement with the U.S. political process would do well to take a look at the history of U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. government has a long history, some two hundred years long, of interfering in the politics of other countries—and we’re not just talking emails. […]

1898—In the aftermath of the Spanish-American war, the U.S. government invaded the Philippines, reneging on a deal with Philippine rebels to help the nation win independence and overthrowing the country’s new government.

1903—The U.S. government helped Panama secede from Colombia. […]

1953—The U.S. government launched operations to overthrow the government in Guatemala. […]

1958-1960—CIA engineered at least three coups in Laos.

1966—Kwame Nkrumah was the Prime Minister of Ghana when the country gained independence from the British. The U.S. government was not fond of his socialist, anti-imperialist views. As such, the U.S. government, via the CIA, worked to oust him in a coup in 1966.

(Note: the above is woefully incomplete. For a couple more list of U.S. efforts to interfere in other countries’ governance, see here and here.) […]

And this article doesn’t mention either the U.S. involvement in the Iranian coup of 1953 (which succeeded) or the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 (which failed).


Update 1/1/17::

A little humor about the DNC hacking from IowaHawk, who was on a roll last Friday (the 30th).

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Feliz Navidad, Venezuela

December 11, 2016

Ho, ho, ho… The socialist destruction of Venezuelan society grinds on.

The BBC reports:

Venezuela seizes Christmas toys to distribute to poor

Venezuelan authorities have arrested two toy company executives and seized almost four million toys, which they say they will distribute to the poor.

Officials accused the company of hoarding toys and hiking prices in the run-up to Christmas.
Last week, the government issued an order to retailers to reduce prices on a range of goods by 30%.

Business owners say the order is a populist political move, and pushing them towards bankruptcy.

Venezuela’s consumer protection agency, Sundde, said toy distributor Kreisel had stockpiled the goods and was reselling them at a margin of up to 50,000%.

“Our children are sacred, we will not let them rob you of Christmas,” it said in a tweet, along with photos and video of thousands of boxes of toys.

[One tweet in Spanish omitted here.]

[…]

Via InternationalLiberty


During this last year, the Venezuelan government and its opposition have been in talks mediated by the Vatican. The topics ranged from politics to allowing humanitarian aid to Venezuelans. Here’s a report from the Caracas Chronicles about the humanitarian aid.

The government steals medicine donated by the Catholic church
The Humanitarian Channel Today

Remember the "Humanitarian Channel" the government and the opposition had agreed to set up in Vatican-mediated talks? That’s right, the one that was meant to be administered by Caritas, the Catholic Church’s global charity. That one.

How’s that been going?

Well, funny you should ask…

[Five tweets in Spanish omitted here.]

In short, the government’s tax inspectorate, Seniat, openly announces that they’re impounding church-donated medicines at port because they lack requisite customs paperwork. The shipment was declared "legally abandoned" and then "adjudicated" to the government-run Social Security administration.

You’d think that would make for some awkwardness at the next set of talks, right?

Joke’s on you: the government’s not going to talks anymore, sucker!


Left image caption: I hate you all…
Text: The ‘Grinch’ of Maduro and Diosdado robbed the Venezuelans of Christmas. The saddest in the 21st century

(Who’s Diosdado? The Frank Underwood of Venezuela.)

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Bringing Thatcher to France

December 10, 2016

Since I don’t follow European politics this is a surprising turn of events to me (reported by CapX).

François Fillon: The man bringing Thatcher to France

It came as no little surprise when, three years ago, François Fillon accepted my invitation to participate in the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty, organised by Britain’s Centre for Policy Studies. Needless to say, no other French politician even bothered to answer the invitations I hardly bothered to send out.

In French political debate, “Thatcher” is used in the same way as “the Vichy regime” – as a label that disqualifies an opponent from office forever. Open and avowed Thatcherites in Paris are a fringe movement of degenerate right-wingers, tolerated purely as a sign of open-mindedness, in the same way as advocates of cannibalism or sado-masochism.

But there Mr Fillon was. All of a sudden, a Gaullist with a fondness for the “French social model” […] had morphed into an unrepentant free-marketeer, promising to slash taxes and liberalise the labour market with a forcefulness that would make the IMF blush. […]

Over the past few years, he has assembled a team of like-minded economists and entrepreneurs and put together a detailed program of reforms with a credible implementation timeline.

The plan includes disposing of 500,000 civil servants and cutting public spending by €110 billion. It also covers critical social reforms, such as granting a greater level of autonomy to state schools (a proposal distantly inspired by Britain’s academies) and shaking up the health care system (for example by funding non-essential treatments via private health insurance).

For that, Fillon had been the butt of journalists’ and fellow politicians’ ridicule – until the electorate unexpectedly gave him a sweeping victory in the first round of the primary election for the centre-right Republican party (44 per cent of the vote against 28 per cent for Alain Juppé, with Sarkozy eliminated after coming in a humiliating third).

How did this miracle occur? Because Fillon’s message struck a chord. From the farmer sick of spending a third of his time doing paperwork (according to the latest surveys), to the entrepreneur stifled by regulation, to middle classes strangled by taxes, a popular revolt is starting to emerge. After decades of bureaucratic doziness, could France be starting to roar again? […]

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