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Lebanon House Speaker: Israeli exploration in controversial maritime zone blasts UN-sponsored Framework Agreement

Al-Manar | September 18, 2021

In a statement issued today, House Speaker Nabih Berri called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take “urgent and immediate action in the direction of the UN Security Council and the international community to verify the possibility of a new Israeli attack on Lebanese sovereignty and rights,” following reports received about the “Halliburton” company winning the contract to explore for oil and gas in the disputed area between Lebanon and occupied Palestine.

Berri stressed that “the Israeli entity’s undertaking commissions and concluding offshore exploration contracts for Halliburton or other companies in the disputed area at sea represents a violation, or even a blow to the framework agreement sponsored by the United States of America and the United Nations.”

He also considered that “the reluctance and procrastination of the alliance of Total Novatek and Eni companies in starting the drilling operations, which were supposed to begin several months ago in Block No. 9 of the Lebanese side of the maritime borders, raises major questions.”

“The Israeli entity’s persistence in its aggression represents a threat to international peace and security,” Berri emphasized.

September 18, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment

After Two Recalls, GM Finally Just Tells Bolt EV Owners: “Don’t Park Your Car Within 50 Feet Of Another Car”

Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | September 16, 2021

After a series of recalls that we have documented here on Zero Hedge, General Motors looks to be taking its precautions with the Chevy Bolt one step further: the automaker is asking Bolt owners to park “at least 50 feet” from other vehicles if you’re going to leave your car in a parking deck.

GM spokesman Dan Flores, who we’re sure isn’t getting paid enough to deliver this line with a straight face, said this week: “In an effort to reduce potential damage to structures and nearby vehicles in the rare event of a potential fire, we recommend parking on the top floor or on an open-air deck and park 50 feet or more away from another vehicle. Additionally, we still request you do not leave your vehicle charging unattended, even if you are using a charging station in a parking deck.”

“We are aware of 12 GM confirmed battery fires that have been investigated involving Bolt EVs vehicles in the previous and new recall population,” he continued, telling The Detroit News. “We’re still working with LG around the clock to resolve the issue. Both companies understand the urgency to move as quickly as possible, but, again, the most important thing here is we have to get this right.”

Recall, back in July, General Motors issued their second recall for the Chevy Bolt after it announced that two Bolts had caught fire without impact and that at least one of the two was related to the battery and happened despite the owner getting a fix from a previous recall.

The second recall included all Bolt EVs from 2017 to 2019, encompassing 68,000 vehicles. 50,925 of those vehicles were located in the U.S. and they have batteries that are produced at LG Chem’s Ochang, South Korea, facility, the report notes.

A spokesman for GM said earlier this summer: “As part of GM’s commitment to safety, experts from GM and LG have identified the simultaneous presence of two rare manufacturing defects in the same battery cell as the root cause of battery fires in certain Chevrolet Bolt EVs. As part of this recall, GM will replace defective battery modules in the recall population. We will notify customers when replacement parts are ready.”

GM, at the time, was recommending that owners:

  • Return the vehicle to the 90% state of charge limitation using Hilltop Reserve mode (for 2017-2018 model years) or Target Charge Level mode (for 2019 model year), or visit a dealer to make that change.
  • Charge the vehicle after each use and avoid depleting the battery below  70 miles of remaining range.
  • Park the vehicle outside immediately after charging and do not leave the vehicle charging overnight.
  • Customers who have not received the advanced diagnostics software should visit their dealer to get the update.  After obtaining the software, limit the state of charge to 90% and follow the advice above.

We’re guessing those rules still run concurrent with the new “50 foot” rule.

Back in November of 2020, tens of thousands of Chevrolet Bolt vehicles were first recalled after the company became aware of “five fires involving the cars” that resulted in two injuries from smoke inhalation.

A notice was issued in November for 50,932 of the vehicles in the U.S. dating from 2017 to 2019. General Motors said the battery could “catch fire when charged to full or nearly full capacity,” at the time.

As a temporary fix, the company said it would be reprogramming its battery’s “hybrid propulsion control module 2” to only allow charging to 90%.

“This fix clearly looks as though it didn’t work and the company will likely now be forced to take more drastic measures.” we said about the recall in July. Apparently, we were right.

GM CFO Paul Jacobson commented last Friday at an RBC conference: “The number one focus right now obviously is to get the production line fixed, the manufacturing process cleaned up and get back into cell production and ultimately get a path for these vehicles to be repaired and … do what’s right for our customers.”

September 17, 2021 Posted by | Economics | | 1 Comment

Most Americans say Biden’s vaccine mandates for companies set bad precedent – poll

RT | September 13, 2021

The majority of Americans oppose President Biden’s vaccine mandate for employees of mid-size or larger companies, according to a recent poll which found many doubt his authority to impose such a rule and fear it will be abused.

Nearly six in ten (58.6%) Americans polled over the weekend believe the president lacks “constitutional authority” to force private businesses to mandate that employees receive vaccination against Covid-19, according to the Trafalgar Group, which published the results of its survey on Monday. Just 29.7% argued he did have the authority, while 11.7% were unsure.

The White House plans to roll out the vaccination mandate announced last week through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a subsidiary agency of the Department of Labor. Under the proposed rule, any business with 100 or more employees must require its workers to be vaccinated or receive weekly Covid-19 testing. The mandate is expected to affect as many as 100 million Americans.

Opinions regarding the president’s authority or lack thereof were strongly split along party lines, with 54.9% of Democrats agreeing Biden did in fact have the power to order private businesses to demand their employees be vaccinated. Among Republicans, however, 83.5% believed the president was overstepping his authority, and more than two thirds of independents and those with no party affiliation (68.2%) agreed Biden lacked the ability to make such demands.

Similarly, the vast majority of Republicans – 79.5% – believed the vaccine mandate set a dangerous precedent that “could be abused by future presidents on other issues,” an opinion shared by 58% of non-affiliated voters and even 30.4% of Democrats. The majority of those hailing from Biden’s party, however (54.4%), did not believe the mandate would be abused by future leaders.

Biden’s announcement on Thursday regarding the pending vaccine mandate has polarized the nation, with even many fully vaccinated Americans balking at using government muscle to force a controversial medical treatment on unwilling individuals. Several Republican governors have vowed not to enforce the mandate, a show of defiance which won support from 55.1% of the poll’s respondents. Some 40.1% opposed the governors’ efforts to block Biden’s mandates, however. Party affiliation heavily predicted whether one supported or opposed the dissident governors, with the majority of unaffiliated voters (62.3%) also supporting the governors who had vowed to block the mandate.

No timeframe has yet been unveiled for the mandate to take effect, though the White House has hinted OSHA will deliver the order “in the coming weeks.” There has been little discussion of exemptions, medical or otherwise, and the matter of who will be expected to pay for weekly testing for those who refuse vaccination remains up in the air. Companies that fail to heed the mandate have been threatened with enforcement fees of $14,000 per violation.

Conducted in partnership with the Convention of States Action, the poll surveyed 1,098 likely general election voters.

September 13, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

People’s Party of Canada is the only federal election candidate that opposes vaccine passports

By Tom Parker | Reclaim The Net | September 9, 2021

With the Canadian federal election less than two weeks away, only one of the top six parties has definitively opposed COVID vaccine passports and vowed to repeal them if elected; Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada.

The other parties – Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party of Canada, Erin O’Toole’s Conservative Party, Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrat Party, Yves-François Blanchet’s Bloc Québécois, Annamie Paul’s Green Party of Canada – have either expressed support for vaccine passports or not made a definitive statement on the issue.

The People’s Party’s COVID policy takes a strong stance against vaccine passports and includes a plan that details how the party intends to repeal and oppose vaccine passports and mandates if elected.

“Governments don’t want to admit that they were wrong and are imposing increasingly authoritarian measures on the population, including vaccine passports,” the People’s Party states in its COVID policy. “Both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated will suffer under a regime of segregation, constant control, and surveillance. It is illusory to believe that the virus can be eradicated. We have to learn to live with it, without destroying our way of life in the process.”

The People’s Party also notes that “both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated can get infected and transmit the virus, which negates the rationale for segregation and vaccine passports.”

If elected, the People’s Party has promised to:

  • Repeal vaccine passports for travelers
  • Repeal vaccine mandates and regular testing for federal civil servants and workers in federally regulated industries
  • Oppose vaccine mandates and passports imposed by provincial governments and support individuals and groups that challenge such measures in court

In addition to this strong stance against vaccine passports and mandates, the People’s Party has also vowed to promote an approach to the pandemic that “guarantees the freedom of Canadians to make decisions based on informed consent, and rejects coercion and discrimination.”

The People’s Party also promises to not follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) – a group whose recommendations have been used by Big Tech to justify the mass censorship of debate and dissent on a wide range of COVID-related topics.

To achieve this, the party vows to fire the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Theresa Tam if elected and replace her with “someone who will work with provincial agencies to implement a rational approach to the pandemic, instead of following the recommendations of the World Health Organization.”

Bernier has consistently reiterated the People’s Party’s strong stance against vaccine passports by displaying banners with a “No Vax Passports” slogan during campaign stops, speaking out against vaccine passports, and attending vaccine passport protests.

“Vaccine passports are inefficient, unconstitutional and immoral,” Bernier told True North in August. “They will not prevent the spread of the virus because we now know that vaccinated people can also spread it. They would create two types of citizens with different rights. I don’t want to live in a ’show-me-your-papers’ society. If that happens, whether you are vaccinated or not will be irrelevant. Everyone will lose their freedoms and suffer in a surveillance and police state.”

By contrast, Trudeau’s Liberals have promised a $1 billion COVID-19 proof-of-vaccination fund to assist provinces in developing and implementing their own systems. Trudeau has described provincial vaccine passports as an “interim measure, that will perhaps last a year or so” before federal vaccine passports are promised to support businesses that are sued for forcing vaccine passports.

O’Toole’s Conservatives and Singh’s New Democrats have also expressed support for a federal vaccine passport while Blanchet’s Bloc Québécois supports vaccine passports for international travel.

Paul’s Green Party has yet to make a definitive statement on vaccine passports. In August, Paul questioned the Liberals’ motives in announcing a plan for mandatory vaccination two days before calling an election and called for information on “how the plan will accommodate people with legitimate reasons for not getting vaccinated.”

Local Green Party candidates have given conflicting answers on vaccine passports. Simcoe North Green Party candidate Krystal Brooks stated “I believe vaccine passports should be mandatory for essential workers to decrease the spread” while Kootenay-Columbia Green Party candidate Rana Nelson said “We, as in the Green Party, are not going to force vaccines.”

September 9, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | 1 Comment

Anti-Tyrany Protests Growing Worldwide, Truckie Victory In Australia

By Brian Shilhavy | Health Impact News | September 8, 2021

All across the world there were massive protests against medical tyranny and COVID vaccine passports this past week, but most of these are not being reported by the corporate media.

In Australia, people are reporting that the cell phones of truckers were blocked so that they could not communicate and take photos and videos of their nationwide strike, which is apparently still in effect. There have been videos of empty shelves in some grocery stores, but the corporate media is reporting that it has nothing to do with the trucker strike.

South Australia, however, did drop their COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truck drivers.

In France, the reports are that the demonstrations against the vaccine passports are getting larger and larger every weekend.

I have put together a short video update, which also includes massive protests in Brazil, allegedly against pharmaceutical companies.

The corporate media in Brazil has reported that at least 32,000 people have now died after taking one of the COVID shots. See:

Over 32,000 People DEAD in Brazil Following COVID-19 Vaccines According to Official Media Report

We are also now seeing video clips of local protests in the U.S. One in New York City over the Labor Day weekend, and one in Waikiki, Hawaii.

This is from our Bitchute channel, and it will also be on our Rumble channel shortly.

September 8, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Solidarity and Activism, Video | | 1 Comment

Coup in Guinea, led by Israeli trained Colonel, hurts Russian interests 

Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya along with US Africa Command soldiers
By Lucas Leiroz | September 8, 2021

A recent coup in Guinea has left the world surprised and unanswered about what is really happening in the region. The military overthrew the president and seized power after some controversies involving alleged attempts by the former leader to perpetuate himself in power. Regardless of political factors on the domestic scene, the coup appears to have great international relevance, as it strongly harms Russian interests in Guinea.

On Sunday, Guinea’s armed forces arrested the country’s then president, Alpha Conde, and announced the dissolution of the government. According to witnesses, during the president’s detention, at least two people were injured in an intense firefight in and around the presidential palace, located in Conakry, the country’s capital. The military official who led the coup was Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, who, in statements to the local media, said that there will be a major reform in the country, with the formation of a new government, promulgation of a new constitution and beginning of a military administration.

Doumbouya heads a dissident military group that calls itself the “National Committee of Reconciliation and Development” (CNRD, in its French acronym). So far, little is known about such organization, which appears to have been formed a few days before the coup and does not seem to have a formal ideology or agenda to be defended, just joining soldiers dissatisfied with Conde’s government. The CNRD released videos proving that the former president is alive and safe, but there is still not enough information to affirm the conditions under which he is being treated.

To understand the case, we must pay attention to the background of the coup. Alpha Conde was elected for a third presidential term in October 2020 and was declared president the following month, in November. The opposition claimed fraud during the elections and initiated a crisis of legitimacy. The point most criticized by his opponents was Conde’s decision to amend the constitution so that he could be perpetuated in power. Guinea’s constitution forbade a president to run for office three times in a row, but Conde made a change in the legal text in order to be able to run and defeat his opponents. Despite being a complicated and controversial legal maneuver, Conde gained strong popular support and his permanence in power was the preference of most of the Guinea’s people, according to surveys carried out at the time.

On the other hand, the leader of the coup, Colonel Doumbouya, was until then a rather obscure figure to the national political scenario. Doumbouya is a former member of the French Foreign Legion, having served in military operations in Afghanistan and African countries. He received military training in Israel before returning to his country and assuming command of the special forces. There are photos circulating on the internet showing Doumbouya along with US Africa Command soldiers at the US embassy in Guinea – the circumstances are unknown but reveal some degree of connection between military dissidents and foreign agents.

The reason that explains why the strong opposition occurred between Condé and Doumbouya may be precisely in their foreign connections. Guinea is one of the largest aluminum and bauxite suppliers in the world. The coup strongly impacted the metals industry, which reached record highs in the price of aluminum. And one of the main aluminum and bauxite explorers in Guinea is the Russian company Rusal, which has been operating in the country for two decades and is responsible for managing several local firms and industries.

Obviously, there wasn’t a coup d’état just to stop Rusal’s actions in Guinea. The tension is due to the level of collaboration between the African country and Russia. Conde was interested in taking advantage of the partnership in the aluminum and bauxite business to increase economic cooperation and seek more Russian investments in Guinea. In June of this year, Conde sent a delegation of officials to Russia, during the 24th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, with the intention of starting a bilateral dialogue to attract more investment in Guinea, mainly in the infrastructure sector, which is a strategic point for the implementation of national development policies. In fact, Conde saw Russia as an opportunity for strategic international cooperation between two emerging nations, just as other African countries have seen in China, for example.

Certainly, no Western country will publicly support the coup, but the unstable situation in national politics will already be enough to prevent Russian investments in Guinea, so Guinea has been “neutralized” in this regard. Perhaps, in addition to Latin America, Africa is also in Washington’s plans since the US has lost strength in Asia. If this is confirmed, it is possible that in the near future we will see new coups taking place in other African states.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

September 8, 2021 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

They can’t hide the costs of Net Zero forever

By Patrick Benham-Crosswell | TCW Defending Freedom | September 6, 2021

THE run-up to the COP26 climate change jamboree in Glasgow later this year is probably not going as well as the government would like.  Despite being committed to Net Zero by Mrs May’s undebated and uncosted statutory instrument, the size of the likely costs can’t be hidden for ever and the guardian of the magic money tree, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, is fretting.

I have just produced a short book on Net Zero (brazen plug, you can buy it here) and, having spent several months trawling through the government’s own numbers, have reached the conclusions that the costs are huge (and possibly more than that). Replacing fossil fuels means we have to produce our energy from nuclear and renewables. At the moment they provide just about 10 per cent of our energy requirements. Making up the shortfall needs 30 to 50 Sizewell Cs, or 300 to 500 Small Modular Reactors, or 17,000 to 28,000 new offshore wind turbines. It will also need the electricity distribution grid to more or less quadruple in size. (The uncertainty primarily comes from whether Mr Gove can convert 25million homes to heat pumps, or whether we adopt hydrogen).

The cost of the generation alone comes out at something like £1trillion. Add to that car chargers, heat pumps, hydrogen electrolysers and suchlike and the costs could double. Or more.

The cost of energy will also rise. A report from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in 2016 (when Mrs May imposed Net Zero) forecast that the price of electricity would increase by at least 50 per cent. Which means that the UK is likely to be operating on a higher cost base than those economies which have not yet followed our lead and declared a net zero target. That’s most of the world – only Bhutan, Suriname, Uruguay, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Austria and Germany have followed Mrs May’s quixotic charge. I’m not sure Germany is serious – 25 per cent of its power comes from coal and it is phasing out nuclear power.

Hilariously (or tragically) the government is threatening to crack down on ‘greenwashing’, by which they mean the habit of suppliers claiming that buying their product saves the planet. Yet our political leaders maintain that it will all be fine, that Net Zero is achievable and all we need to do is plant some trees. If they looked at their own data they would know that this is not the case.

To cite one example, every now and then one of them will trumpet about carbon capture, use and storage. Capturing CO2 is tricky and expensive. The world CO2 demand is some 230million tons per year (mostly for the oil and food industries). That’s less than half of the UK’s current CO2 emissions. There is no chance of widescale use of COcaptured in the UK.

Of course there is already ample legislation on what may or may not be said in advertisements. New legislation is unnecessary.

As we have seen during the pandemic, this government has a habit of deploying misleading graphs and generally being economical with the truth. If they really wanted to improve the flow of information to the public they would apply the current law to their own presentations.

Hell will freeze over before that happens.

September 6, 2021 Posted by | Book Review, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Nuclear Power | | Leave a comment

Arctic has enough reserves to supply Russia for centuries – Russian official

RT | September 5, 2021

Russia will step up development of oil and gas reserves in the Arctic, which are sufficient to last the country centuries, according to Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.
“The potential of the Arctic zone is huge. Speaking about offshore resources only, those are 15 billion tons of oil and around 100 trillion cubic meters of gas. That will suffice for decades, hundreds of years if they are required and it is economically reasonable,” Novak said during the educational marathon ‘New Knowledge’ earlier this week, as cited by TASS.

These resources are too costly to extract so far, but Novak says the government is optimistic and has already taken steps to develop the means for it.

“Those are rather expensive projects, which require provision, certain subsidies, including on taxes, return on investment. The government has provided such incentives for projects like that. Certain taxes have been slashed to zero for offshore projects,” Novak stated, noting, however, that Russia will only dip into its Arctic resources in the case that other regions fail to provide them.

At the Eastern Economic Forum that took place in Russia’s Vladivostok this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the country bears a “huge responsibility” to have a “prudent” attitude toward natural resources of the Arctic.

“For Russia, this is of tremendous importance – the development of the region… The Arctic accounts for 18% of our territory and [its] reserves of raw materials are necessary not only to our country, but to the whole world,” the head of state said at the plenary session of the EEF.

“In this sense, we have a huge responsibility to treat this wealth prudently and thoughtfully,” Putin stressed.

September 5, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

The Collapse of Climate-Related Deaths

Climate-related deaths have fallen over 99 percent since 1920

By Gale Pooley | HumanProgress | September 3, 2021

Hurricane Ida has devastated the Gulf Coast. CNBC reports that “Ida made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday as a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 miles per hour, one of the strongest storms to hit the region since Hurricane Katrina.” The property damage will be significant. Nineteen deaths have been confirmed, and more will likely follow. Those deaths are tragic, but thanks to enhanced preparation and flood defenses, they are a small fraction of the 1,833 deaths caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Compare Ida to the Great Galveston Hurricane that made landfall on September 9th, 1900. The storm killed between 8,000 and 12,000 people. In 1915, another storm similar in strength struck Galveston. The 1915 storm resulted in only 53 deaths. How did Galveston reduce hurricane fatalities by 99 percent in 15 years? In a word, adaptation. In 1902, the residents of Galveston funded a 10-mile-long seawall, dredged sand from the shipping channel, and raised many buildings, some by as much as 17 feet.

Thankfully, the rest of the world is following Galveston’s example. Even the most dangerous storms kill fewer people than in the past. The Great Hurricane of 1780 killed between 22,000 and 27,000 people, making it the deadliest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. The second deadliest hurricane (Mitch) occurred in 1998 and killed just over 11,000.

Average deaths are declining as well. The Danish environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg has reported that climate-related deaths averaged 485,000 a year in the 1920s. Between 2010 and 2019, there was an average of 18,362 annual climate-related deaths. In 2020, the death rate dropped to 14,893. Based on what has been reported, there have been 5,569 climate-related deaths in 2021 so far.

So, adjusted for population, we went from 255.3 deaths per million in 1920 to 1.9 per million in 2020, a 99.25 percent decrease. In other words, for every climate-related death in 2020, we had 133.6 deaths in 1920.

The above numbers suggest that between 1920 and 2020, the world has become 13,260 percent safer from climate-related death (i.e., around 5 percent safer a year). Lomborg notes:

This is clearly the opposite of what you hear, but that is because we’re often just being told of one disaster after another – telling us how *many* events are happening. The number of reported events are increasing, but that is mainly due to better reporting, lower thresholds, and better accessibility (the CNN effect).

To avoid falling for the CNN effect, look at the number of dead per year as reported by the most respected global database, the International Disaster Database (https://public.emdat.be/). You can also read more from Lomborg’s peer-reviewed article here.

Will there continue to be dangerous weather and climate-related deaths? Yes, but we must put these catastrophes into context. Over the last 100 years, humanity has shown that we can adapt and thrive under varying climate conditions. Let facts, rather than advertising dollars, inform your thinking.

Professor Gale L. Pooley teaches economics at Brigham Young University, Hawaii. He is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute and a board member of HumanProgress.org

September 5, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

Journal Nature: COVID lockdowns are key to begin ‘personal carbon allowances’

Restrictions on individuals… that were unthinkable only 1 year before’ have us ‘more prepared to accept tracking & limitations’ to ‘achieve a safer climate’

September 4, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | 1 Comment

Lawmakers pave way for $1.2 trillion in new military spending over next 10 years

By Andrew Lautz | Responsible Statecraft | September 2, 2021

Reporters, lobbyists, activists, Biden administration officials and, of course, lawmakers and their staffs spent countless hours and an ocean of ink on the negotiations for and passage of a recent bipartisan infrastructure bill totaling around $1 trillion. Casual observers probably won’t hear as much, though, about two votes — one in the Senate and one in the House — that could pave the way for Congress to spend a whopping $1.2 trillion additional dollars on the military, above current projections, over the next decades. Here’s how.

These pages recently covered the Senate Armed Services Committee’s successful effort to add $25 billion in taxpayer-funded slush to the annual defense budget bill. Democrats and Republicans joined hands to fatten up the defense bill by 3.5 percent, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) casting the lone dissenting vote. That increase was just endorsed by the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) on Wednesday.

Lawmakers approved, again on a widespread and bipartisan basis, an amendment by the committee’s ranking Republican, Mike Rogers of Alabama, to add $23.9 billion to the House version of the defense bill. Rogers proudly noted that his amendment would provide for a five-percent increase over the defense budget topline enacted in the previous fiscal year. And that’s where the $1.2 trillion comes in.

Defense hawks in Congress have made no secret that they would like to see up to 5 percent growth in the defense budget each and every year. Rogers has said it. His Senate counterpart, Jim Inhofe (R-OK), has also said it. What few budget or military watchdogs have done is explain the compounding effects of 5 percent annual boosts to the defense budget.

Boosting the defense budget 5 percent each year over the next 10 fiscal years would leave the U.S. with a whopping $1.2 trillion defense budget by the end of the decade, heading into fiscal year (FY) 2031. Compare that 5 percent boost each year to what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office currently projects defense spending will be over the next 10 years (as of their most recent July 2021 estimate), and the delta (the difference between a 5 percent annual boost and current budget projections) over 10 years is astounding.

The difference is small in the upcoming fiscal year, FY 2022 — $778 billion if defense hawks get their 5 percent boost, versus $763 billion projected by the CBO. But the differences compound over time, exceeding a $100-billion delta in four years (FY 2026) and a $200-billion delta in eight years (FY 2030). By the end of the decade, FY 2031, the difference between the defense hawks’ ideal budget and the CBO projection is $253 billion — almost as much as was spent on the March 2020 $1,200 stimulus checks, to cite just one comparison.

Add it up over 10 years, and the defense hawks would have us spend $1,244,600,390,000 — that’s more than $1.2 trillion — more on defense than current projections. Unfortunately, the bipartisan votes in the Senate and House for a 5 percent defense budget increase in FY 2022 made this chilling possibility much more realistic.

It would be one thing if the defense hawks were proposing robust spending cuts — or tax increases, if that’s a particular lawmaker’s fancy -— to offset this additional $1.2 trillion in spending. But they are not. Rogers made no attempt to pay for his proposed $25 billion boost, nor did Senate Republicans who introduced their amendment on the Senate committee. And Democrats share plenty of the blame for eagerly supporting these amendments and allowing them to pass with wide bipartisan margins.

There are a number of ways to look at this $1.2-trillion budget-busting boost, depending on one’s political persuasions and policy preferences. Fiscal hawks will see another $1.2 trillion added to the record-high debt and deficit levels, high even by the COVID era’s historic standards. Progressives will argue that this $1.2 trillion could be spent on more pressing challenges like climate change and pandemic response. Regardless of where advocates and activists come down, this much is clear: a $1.2-trillion hike to the defense budget, without any corresponding offsets, comes at a significant cost to taxpayers.

It would be another thing if Rogers’ $23.9-billion push was devoted to urgent, emergency needs in the military. But in fact, billions of dollars are going toward the procurement of new ships, warplanes, and other weaponry that there is a questionable urgency for. Nearly a quarter of a billion dollars will go to the highly-troubled F-35 program. More than $3.6 billion will be earmarked for just four new warships for the Navy, whose shipyards are already overburdened and underperforming, while another $567 million is directed toward requiring the Navy to accelerate its production of Virginia-class submarines (whose program, by the way, has suffered from cost overruns and delays). More than $6.5 billion will be spread around on military construction projects across 14 states, the District of Columbia, and Poland. Maryland (16 projects earmarked), Florida (12), and New Mexico (11) appear to be winners.

And, like Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, another $3 billion in the Rogers amendment will go toward fulfilling 69 “wish list” requests from the service branches and combatant commands. Fiscal and military watchdogs have sharply criticized this practice, warning that lawmakers will abuse these annual “wish lists” and gum up the defense budget — which is exactly what the House and Senate committees have done.

A skeptic could claim that it’s “just” $25 billion this year, a drop in the bucket compared to the government’s trillions of dollars in COVID spending. But if the defense hawks get what they want, it will add up to $1.2 trillion over the next decade alone. That may not get the flashy headlines of an infrastructure bill, but it’ll have an even bigger impact on taxpayers’ pocketbooks.

September 3, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | | 6 Comments

Who would kill children to save the planet?

A new eco-movement would sacrifice millions of lives

BY TOM CHIVERS | UNHERD | AUGUST 13, 2021

Two things. First, economic growth saves children’s lives. That is one of the most basic, starkest facts about the modern world.

Second, there is a thing called the “degrowth movement”, which wants to stop economic growth. And, yes, this would lead almost inevitably to the unnecessary deaths of thousands of children a day.

Let’s deal with that first point first. For most of history, somewhere around a third of children died before their fifth birthday. That awful number has dropped enormously, but even now, it’s nearly one child in 25.

As child mortality has gone down, so has global poverty — while global economic output has increased. Correlation is not causation, of course – but this isn’t just true at a global level, but at a country-by-country level. Nowadays, if your country is rich, your children are more likely to live. That is amazingly obvious on this chart. If you live in the rich Iceland, for example, your child is 60 or 70 times less likely to die before its fifth birthday than if you live in the poor Central African Republic or Democratic Republic of Congo, where about one child in every 10 dies in its first five years.

And on that second point: some people really think that that economic growth should stop, right now. Jason Hickel is an anthropologist and one of the key voices in what is known as the “degrowth” movement. He argues that — in rich countries, at least1 — we ought to stop aiming for economic growth immediately. He thinks that “green” growth, the idea that we can grow our economies while reducing carbon emissions, is a chimera, or at least that it cannot happen fast enough to avoid disastrous outcomes from climate change.

Hickel, of course, denies that economic growth saves lives. In fact, he doubly denies it. First, he denies that global poverty has gone down as a result of economic growth. In 2019, he argued that all those famous charts showing a huge decline in global poverty are false, because they focus on very extreme poverty — people living on the equivalent of $1.90 a day or less. If you look at some more reasonable threshold of “poverty”, he says, such as $15 a day, the decline disappears.

This is straightforwardly untrue, for the record. Whatever threshold you use, people are getting richer. People have generally shifted from lower incomes to higher incomes, and as a result fewer children are dying.

And secondly, Hickel denies that economic growth does save children’s lives: or, rather, that it does beyond a certain, quite low level. “Past a certain point, the relationship between GDP and social outcomes breaks down or becomes irrelevant,” he says. “After that, what matters is distribution and access to public services.”

But this doesn’t seem to be true either. If it were, you’d see that very poor countries have consistently high child mortality, but that as you reach the middle-income and rich countries, it would be much more mixed. But in fact there’s still a strong relationship, and middle-income countries like China and Brazil have much higher infant mortality than rich countries like the UK and Japan. If you live in Brazil, there’s about a one in 60 chance that your child will die before its fifth birthday. In China, one in 100. In the UK, it’s way down at one in 250-ish.

You could look at the reduction in child mortality over time, as the world has become richer, as one of the great success stories of our time. In a way you’d be right to do so, but it is a hugely unfinished story. Children are still dying at an awful, unacceptable rate of about 14,000 a day — Max Roser of Our World In Data describes it as “equivalent to a crash of a jumbo jet with only children on board, every hour of every day of the year”.

Nonetheless, it is true that economic growth appears to have saved millions of children’s lives. That 14,000 a day would be something more like 100,000 a day, if children were dying at the rate they used to.

Also note that “economic growth” doesn’t necessarily mean “free-market capitalism”. As Noah Smith points out, a lot of the reduction in global poverty has been about smart government action (especially in Latin America), or China’s complicated industrial and economic reform, not simply free-market policies – although at the very least it’s fair to say that global capitalism hasn’t got in the way.

But this broadly positive story is a closed book to Hickel and the degrowth movement. It’s instinctively difficult to understand why anyone would want to deny it, but I have two theories.

One is that it’s very hard to acknowledge that things can get better without being good. It’s a common problem. It is, for instance, almost certainly true that the UK is much less racist and sexist than it used to be. But it’s also clearly true that there are real problems that continue to exist. It is extremely hard to say “the UK has become better with regards to racism and sexism” without people hearing “the UK is not racist or sexist”.

If you’re Jason Hickel, you might see people arguing that poverty has decreased, and assume that they mean “and therefore global poverty is no longer a problem”. That is, of course, absolutely not the case.

The second hypothesis is a more complicated one — and has to do with something called “prevalence-induced concept change”. Imagine that you have dedicated your life to some problem: say, reducing littering in a local park. You work really hard. You set up a charity and solicit donations; you put together a workforce. And, bit by bit, you successfully reduce the problem. The park becomes a bit less litter-filled. What do you do? Do you say to your charity’s staff, “The park is doing a bit better now, we probably don’t need so many of you. And we should probably reduce our demands for donations, as well”?

Human nature being what it is, probably not. More likely (and as happens in laboratory settings), you will simply start focusing on smaller and smaller things. Before, you had shopping trolleys in the pond and a dead sheep in the playground, and you focused on them. But now that they’ve gone, your attention will focus on the crisp packets and fag butts. Partly that’s because you now have the attention to spare, because the bigger problems have been solved; but it’s also partly because, if you start saying “actually the situation is a bit better now”, it will be harder to rally support for your cause.

I think this is a really important driver of human behaviour. It is very hard to ever admit things are getting better along any axis, because if you do, it feels like you’re saying: “So you can stop working hard to fix this problem.”

Similarly, if you’re Jason Hickel and you’ve dedicated your life to fighting global poverty (and to saying that global poverty is all because of capitalism and colonialism and that economic growth is bad), then it will be really inconvenient if someone says: “Actually, global poverty has decreased significantly, that reduction seems to be correlated with economic growth, and it has had amazing positive outcomes such as a huge reduction in child mortality.” It will be very tempting to find ways of ignoring that reality.

I worry, though, that it is counterproductive to tell people that all their hard work improving some situation has had no effect. If all those decades of buying low-energy lightbulbs and reducing flights and eating less meat have not improved the climate, then why shouldn’t I just stop bothering? If all those anti-racism campaigns and hate-speech laws and so on made no difference, what’s the point? And in the case of poverty, if economic growth doesn’t reduce global poverty, then it does indeed make sense to give up on growth altogether. But in reality, economic growth does reduce global poverty, and reduced poverty saves children’s lives.

But the degrowth movement is right, in one sense. Growth almost certainly can’t carry on forever. If the economy grows at 2% a year every year, which it roughly has for the last century or so, then it doubles in size every 35 years.

That’s not sustainable in the long term. In 8,250 years — as Holden Karnofsky of the Open Philanthropy Project points out — the economy would have grown to 3*1070 (that is, a 3 followed by 70 zeroes) times its current size. There are, for context, about one-third that many atoms in our galaxy. And 8,250 years isn’t very long: there are cities which have been around for longer.

Perhaps growth will continue into the far future. I could imagine some weird universe of simulated worlds and uploaded humans — and indeed others have. But probably, the more likely outcome is that growth slows or stops or reverses in the next few centuries.

The question, of course, is when it should stop. I, for one, would rather wait until the children stop dying so much. Hickel and the degrowth movement think it should be sooner. But if they want to make that case honestly, they should admit the reality of all the dead children.

FOOTNOTES

  1. It’s worth noting that Hickel doesn’t think we should stop aiming for growth everywhere: just in rich countries. But rich countries that buy much of the goods produced in poor countries, driving their growth, so that would be a very difficult needle to thread.

August 30, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment