Death rattle of the Euro?

May 31, 2010

A group of British economists have urged the Greek government to abandon the European Union’s currency and default on its €300/$365 billion debt to save its economy:

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), a London-based consultancy, has warned Greek ministers they will be unable to escape their debt trap without devaluing their own currency to boost exports. The only way this can happen is if Greece returns to its own currency.

Greek politicians have played down the prospect of abandoning the euro, which could lead to the break-up of the single currency.

Speaking from Athens yesterday, Doug McWilliams, chief executive of the CEBR, said: “Leaving the euro would mean the new currency will fall by a minimum of 15%. But as the national debt is valued in euros, this would raise the debt from its current level of 120% of GDP to 140% overnight.

“So part of the package of leaving the euro must be to convert the debt into the new domestic currency unilaterally.”

Greece’s departure from the euro would prove disastrous for German and French banks, to which it owes billions of euros.

This could make the US banking crash look like a minor fender-bender by comparison. And if Greece flees the Euro and walks away from its debt, could Portugal, Italy, and Spain, three other major debtors, be far behind? And what about the political stability of the EU itself? Germans are already angry and resentful at Greek profligacy; how will they react to having the hundreds of billions in Greek bonds they hold repudiated?

Twenty years ago, we watched the Berlin Wall suddenly come down and the Soviet empire collapse almost overnight. We may be watching something similar with the European Union.

RELATED: Soeren Kern examines what a collapse of the Euro would mean for the United States.

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Unclear on the concept, 1st amendment edition

May 31, 2010

We revere free speech in the United States, rightly considering it one of the essential liberties of a free people. In fact, we consider it so important that our ancestors made the protection of free speech a part of the Bill of Rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

(Emphasis added)

So, I have to ask, what part of “no law … abridging” does Michigan State Senator Bruce Patterson not understand?

A Michigan lawmaker wants to license reporters to ensure they’re credible and vet them for “good moral character.”

Senator Bruce Patterson is introducing legislation that will regulate reporters much like the state does with hairdressers, auto mechanics and plumbers. Patterson, who also practices constitutional law, says that the general public is being overwhelmed by an increasing number of media outlets–traditional, online and citizen generated–and an even greater amount misinformation.

“Legitimate media sources are critically important to our government,” he said.

He told FoxNews.com that some reporters covering state politics don’t know what they’re talking about and they’re working for publications he’s never heard of, so he wants to install a process that’ll help him and the general public figure out which reporters to trust.

“We have to be able to get good information,” he said. “We have to be able to rely on the source and to understand the credentials of the source.”

There’s a face-palm moment in almost every paragraph. Does it not occur to the esteemed senator that giving government, over which the press exercises a watchdog function, the power to decide which is a legitimate source of information and which isn’t might have a bit of a chilling effect on that same free press? If you say or write the wrong thing, do you lose your license? And how has that “licensed journalism” thing worked out in, say, Cuba, Senator?

Patterson’s bill, for which he can find no co-sponsors (It seems some pols still have a sense of shame), would impose the following requirements:

According to the bill, reporters must provide the licensing board proof of:

  • “Good moral character” and demonstrate they have industry “ethics standards acceptable to the board.”
  • Possession of a degree in journalism or other degree substantially equivalent.
  • Not less than 3 years experience as a reporter or any other relevant background information.
  • Awards or recognition related to being a reporter.
  • Three or more writing samples.

The article goes on to say registration with the state would be voluntary and that no one would be barred from acting as a journalist in Michigan without a license, but, come on. Inevitably, some schmuck legislator who’s mad at the press would want to make registration a requirement “for the public good.” And the very act of registration almost certainly will create a legitimate/illegitimate distinction in the mind of the public that in turn will put pressure on journalists (staff or independent)  to submit to licensing in order to maintain credibility.

Even if this doesn’t violate the letter of the 1st Amendment, it sure as the Devil goes against its spirit. And this guy practices constitutional law? Between him and con-law professor Barack Obama, maybe we should consider licensing constitutional lawyers, instead.

Really, Senator, I think the good people of Michigan are smart enough to decide what is a legitimate news source and what isn’t without the state’s help.

(via Big Journalism)


Blame mankind

May 30, 2010

The New Scientist is an interesting magazine, but it’s been in the pocket of the global-warming alarmists for as long as I can remember. Now, not content to point the finger at modern industrial society (for a problem that doesn’t exist), they argue that ancient hunter-gatherers in North America brought on global cooling by wiping out woolly mammoths.

You see, the only things keeping us from freezing were their mammoth farts:

When hunters arrived in North America and drove mammoths and other large mammals to extinction, the methane balance of the atmosphere could have changed as a result, triggering the global cool spell that followed. The large grazing animals would have produced copious amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from their digestive systems. They vanished about 13,000 years ago.

Felisa Smith at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque has calculated that when these animals were around they would have emitted 9.6 megatonnes of methane annually. Ice core records show atmospheric methane levels plunged from about 700 parts per billion to just 500 ppb at the time of their extinction. Disappearance of methane emissions from the extinct species is a possible cause, Smith says (Nature Geoscience, DOI: 10.1038/ngeo877).

“It is conceivable that this drop in methane contributed to the Younger Dryas cooling episode,” says Smith. This would mean humans have been changing global climate since well before the dawn of civilisation.

Note the equivocations used to reach the conclusion: “could have,” “calculated,” “possible,” and “conceivable.” All guesswork and estimates used to make the reader think it’s not just possible, but probable that man adversely changed his climate through his foolishness – with implications for the modern day, of course.  Bear in mind, no one was around to accurately measure mammoth flatulence, nor even the population of the mammoths, themselves. So Ms. Smith’s estimate of the methane output is based on assumptions, ever subject to error.

More importantly, to assume that, because the temperature drop followed the disappearance of the mammoths, the two must be related by cause and effect is to make the logical error of post hoc ergo propter hoc, “because B comes after A, A must have caused B.” It’s possible also that dropping temperatures combined with the slaughter wrought by early North Americans lead to the demise of the mammoths, as opposed to the other way round. Perhaps even an outside factor was responsible for the temperature drop, and the mammoths had nothing to do with it. Who knows?

I dont know

The point isn’t to pick on Ms. Smith, who, we can assume, is a competent researcher simply positing a theory based on the results of her study. Instead, the problem lies with the journalist’s presentation, which is slanted in a way to influence the reader to think this is the most likely and reasonable explanation – and by extension toward acceptance of the theory of modern anthropogenic global warming. No criticism of Ms. Smith’s thesis is offered, nor any alternate explanation for the Younger Dryas cooling.

That’s not journalism. That’s advocacy.

(via Instapundit)


Hillary Clinton: the rich don’t pay their fair share

May 30, 2010

ReasonTV’s Nick Gillespie looks at the hard facts behind the Secretary of State’s assertion and reminds us that the definition of “fair” depends on your point of view:

UPDATE/RELATED: At Big Government, Thomas del Beccaro writes about a debate between Larry Kudlow, Stephen Moore, and former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich about fairness and the proper level of taxation.


Mad science: here to solve a problem that does not exist

May 30, 2010

They laughed at me in Vienna, the fools!

It seems there’s no lack of weird and wonderful (to put it nicely) ideas to fight the (non-existent) threat of anthropogenic global warming. The latest comes from a meeting of scientists in Monterey, California, at which physicist David Keith suggested spraying the world with sulfuric acid:

None of the scientists in the room so much as blinked when David Keith suggested saving the world with spy planes spraying sulfuric acid.

Keith, a physicist at the University of Calgary in Canada, was facing an audience not likely to be shocked: nearly 200 other researchers, some of whom had their own radical ideas for fighting global warming. His concept was to spray a mist of sulfuric acid high in the stratosphere to form particles called sulfate aerosols, which would act like a sprinkling of tiny sunshades for the overheating Earth.

Keith’s idea may sound outrageous, but it is just one of many proposals for bumping the global thermostat down a couple of degrees by tinkering directly with the planet’s heating and cooling systems.

If that isn’t begging to invoke the law of unintended consequences… I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.  Silly


BP means “Bastard Petroleum”

May 30, 2010

My God, if this story is true, then BP stands revealed as not just incompetent, but as lying sacks of you-know-what, too. From The New York Times:

Documents Show Early Worries About Safety of Rig

Internal documents from BP show that there were serious problems and safety concerns with the Deepwater Horizon rig far earlier than those the company described to Congress last week.

The problems involved the well casing and the blowout preventer, which are considered critical pieces in the chain of events that led to the disaster on the rig.

The documents show that in March, after several weeks of problems on the rig, BP was struggling with a loss of “well control.” And as far back as 11 months ago, it was concerned about the well casing and the blowout preventer.

On June 22, for example, BP engineers expressed concerns that the metal casing the company wanted to use might collapse under high pressure.

“This would certainly be a worst-case scenario,” Mark E. Hafle, a senior drilling engineer at BP, warned in an internal report. “However, I have seen it happen so know it can occur.”

The company went ahead with the casing, but only after getting special permission from BP colleagues because it violated the company’s safety policies and design standards. The internal reports do not explain why the company allowed for an exception. BP documents released last week to The Times revealed that company officials knew the casing was the riskier of two options.

As the article goes on to say, these pukes from BP testified before a panel composed of Coast Guard officers and officials from the Minerals Management Service that they didn’t think BP was “taking risks.” And yet the documents show they knew of serious problems well before the blowout. They told baldfaced lies to the board and may well have lied in their testimony to Congress, too.

This is appalling. Like the mad scientist in an old movie who forges on with his insane project in the face of all the warning signs, these idiots ignored clear signals that they had a serious problem on their hand, and now the Gulf of Mexico and the states bordering it are paying a terrible price for BP’s folly.

Not only should BP be civilly liable for every penny of the damage done, but I hope to God the Department of Justice and the State of Louisiana go after these rat-turds in criminal actions, too.

(via Allahpundit)

Mark E. Hafle

The anger in New Orleans

May 28, 2010

Radio host Garland Robinette rips everyone outside Louisiana for the what’s befallen his state:

Can’t say I blame him.