Daily Archives: January 19, 2014

Palace intrigue

To bee or not to bee

To bee or not to bee

Prince Charles is said to be planning his succession now, to cut off the chance of his son usurping him in popular opinion. Alas for Shakespeare, the kingdom is so shrunken now that these machinations are restricted to combining Prince Charlie’s mother’s press office with his own – no dungeons in which to lock up ungrateful children, no armies massing on the shore. Sic transit gloria.

There is this small nugget of discord to encourage fans of royal discord:

Prince Charles was said to have  a difficult relationship with the Queen’s previous private secretary, Sir Robin (now Lord) Janvrin. By contrast, he has a good rapport with former Scots Guard Sir Christopher, 52, who took over the post in 2007.

“Like Charles, Sir Christopher is firmly wedded to the idea of a slimmed-down Monarchy, something that is believed to have upset Princes Andrew and Edward.”

If we see any attack helicopters hovering above the castle, we’ll know the fight’s on.


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Lest it be lost in all the rest of the bad news

Four GHS students are Intel Award semi-finalists.  That’s a huge accomplishment (no other school in the state had more than one) and GHS fosters these geniuses year after year. The school is large, and lazy students who are bright enough to just get by easily disappear between the cracks – I should know, I was one of them – but if your child has brains and motivation, she’ll do just fine at the school.


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Is it because he doesn’t like hoodies?

Obama: “I wouldn’t let my son play football.”

Barry Jr.

Barry Jr.

Role model

Role model


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Perhaps they sell real estate on the side

What's love got to do with it?

What’s love got to do with it?

Usually it’s amorous real estate agents who are caught doing the dirty in clients’ homes, but out in the Hamptons the cops do it too.

While the 1 percent’s away, the cops will play.

Shocked cops in tiny East Hampton Village say they caught a couple of frisky fellow flatfoots trespassing in a cottage down the road from police headquarters — reportedly to have sex.


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Is the UN’s climate chief right when she asserts that communism is the best way to fight global warming?

Mining rare earths for your Prius battery, China

Mining rare earths for your Prius battery, China

Ah, no. The biggest climate disasters are found in communist countries. And the system itself is to blame.

United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres said that democracy is a poor political system for fighting global warming. Communist China, she says, is the best model.

China may be the world’s top emitter of carbon dioxide and struggling with major pollution problems of their own, but the country is “doing it right” when it comes to fighting global warming says Figueres.

“They actually want to breathe air that they don’t have to look at,” she said. “They’re not doing this because they want to save the planet. They’re doing it because it’s in their national interest.”

Not even close, Christiana.

Not only a blight on the human condition, communism’s impact on the planet’s ecology has proven consistently ghastly.

When the Berlin Wall came down and the Iron Curtain was finally lifted to expose the inner workings of communism to Western eyes, one of the more shocking discoveries was the nightmarish scale of environmental destruction. The statistics for East Germany alone tell a horrific tale: at the time of its reunification with West Germany an estimated 42 percent of moving water and 24 percent of still waters were so polluted that they could not be used to process drinking water, almost half of the country’s lakes were considered dead or dying and unable to sustain fish or other forms of life, and only one-third of industrial sewage along with half of domestic sewage received treatment.

An estimated 44 percent of East German forests were damaged by acid rain — little surprise given that the country produced proportionally more sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and coal dust than any other in the world. In some areas of East Germany the level of air pollution was between eight and twelve times greater than that found in West Germany, and 40 percent of East Germany’s population lived in conditions that would have justified a smog warning across the border. Only one power station in East Germany had the necessary equipment to clean sulphur from emissions.

Sten Nilsson, a Swedish forest ecologist who was kicked out of East Germany in 1986 for his efforts at collecting data on the health of its forests, said in April 1990 that many forests were “dead, completely” and described the country as “on the verge of total ecological collapse.” The environmental policy of the communist government, according to then Environment Minister Karl-Hermann Steinberg in 1990, “was not only badly designed but didn’t exist.”

Perhaps nowhere suffered more grievous environmental harm than the town of Bitterfeld. Translated as “Bitterfield” in English, its name under the communist regime would prove apt. Pronounced by Der Spiegel as Europe’s dirtiest town, Greenpeace as well as government statistics suggested it may have been the filthiest in the entire world. Home to a variety of manufacturing facilities which spewed a witch’s brew of chemical and industrial byproducts into the air and water, Bitterfeld was nothing less than an environmental horror show. This is how the Washington Post’s Marc Fisher described the town in the spring of 1990:

Here, rivers flow red from steel mill waste, drinking water contains many times the European Community standards for heavy metals and other pollutants, and the air has killed so many trees — 75 percent in the Bitterfeld area — that even the most ambitious clean-up efforts now being planned would not reverse the damage. East Germany fills the air with sulfur dioxide at almost five times the West German rate and more than twice the Polish rate, according to a recent study. One chemical plant near here dumps 44 pounds of mercury into the Saale river each day — 10 times as much as the West German chemical company BASF pumps into the Rhine each year.

Writing for The New York Times in September of that year, reporter Marlise Simons said of Bitterfeld that “[t]he air stings, and the water in brooks and rivers has turned to syrup[.]” And a 1994 article in the UK newspaper The Independent recalled that in communist times the town’s leaves would turn brown by June, a local guest-house featured “gas-masks lining the walls of the lobby,” and that in the years since reunification “Bitterfeld’s children were sent for up to a month each year to the coast or the mountains” to give their lungs a break from the relentless assault.

A similar story was found in the Soviet Union. Writing for the now-defunct (and Ralph Nader-founded) Multinational Monitor in September 1990, James Ridgewaynoted widespread pollution of both the air and drinking water:

 40% of the Soviet people live in areas where air pollutants are three to four times the maximum allowable levels. Sanitation is primitive. Where it exists, for example in Moscow, it doesn’t work properly. Half of all industrial waste water in the capital city goes untreated. In Leningrad, nearly half of the children have intestinal disorders caused by drinking contaminated water from what was once Europe’s most pristine supply.

Central economic planning is also largely responsible for the devastation of the Aral Sea. Once the world’s fourth-largest lake, its massive decline can be directly traced to directives issued by top economic officials in Moscow:

In the early 1960, the Soviet government decided the two rivers that fed the Aral Sea, the Amu Darya in the south and the Syr Darya in the northeast, would be diverted to irrigate the desert, in an attempt to grow rice, melons, cereals, and cotton. This was part of the Soviet plan for cotton, or “white gold”, to become a major export.

…From 1960 to 1998, the [Aral Sea]’s surface area shrank by approximately 60%, and its volume by 80%…The amount of water it had lost is the equivalent of completely draining Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

The environmental destruction associated with communism is no coincidence or accident of history, but rather a perfectly logical outcome for at least three reasons. Perhaps most obviously, communism invariably means authoritarianism (how else would a New Soviet Man emerge to work towards the bright, shiny future prophesied by Marx and Engels without re-education camps and control over the levers of societal machinery?), with little tolerance for dissent or concerns about hazardous waste in the worker’s paradise. To voice the opinion that perhaps not quite all was well, or that the air smelled funny, was to invite suspicions being a saboteur, kulak or harboring bourgeois tendencies.

Chinese peasant toiling for the Greens

Chinese peasant toiling for the Greens

Second, communism means an absence of property rights, having all been surrendered to “the people,” which is to say the state. As that which belongs to everyone in fact belongs to no one, who is to be confronted over the factory sending toxic plumes into the sky which then descends on the cornfield, or the dumping of waste into the river plied by tourists on cruise boats? And who really owns the cornfield or the boats?

Lastly, communism also simply cannot compete with capitalism in the production of wealth and technology, both of which greatly assist in addressing environmental problems. Why should anyone be surprised that only one East German power station had the necessary equipment to scrub sulphur from its emissions? This, after all, was a country whose answer to Western automobiles — the Trabant launched in the late 1950s — did not even include a fuel gauge in its early versions, something first introduced decades prior (unsurprisingly the Trabant was also bad for the environment, emitting nine times the hydrocarbons and five times the carbon monoxide emissions of the average European car of 2007).

And so on. The point is not (just) that communism is a blight on human life and the environment, but that the UN’s claim to be combating global warming is founded on a dream to enslave the world’s population. It has nothing to do with saving the planet; it has everything to do with control.


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