The Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO) published a monograph clarifying the projected short and long-term costs of anti-Russian sanctions to the EU 28 plus Switzerland. A summary of the report published Friday has confirmed that Europe as a whole expects €92.34 billion in long-term losses, along with over 2.2 million lost jobs.
While the report attempts to downplay somewhat the losses attributed to sanctions, noting that politicized export restrictions must be considered together with the ongoing Russian recession and other factors, the figures speak for themselves.
The report projects an “observed decline in exports and tourism expenditures of €34 billion value added in the short run, with employment effects on up to 0.9 million people.” Switching to a longer-term perspective, the report estimates “the economic effects increas[ing] to up to 2.2 million jobs (around 1 percent of total employment) and €92 billion (0.8 percent of total value added), respectively.”
Commenting on the geographical disbursement of the economic and jobs losses, WIFO’s report shows that “geographical closeness highly correlates with the relative size of the effects at the national level, with the Baltic countries, Finland and the Eastern European countries being hit above the EU average of 0.3 percent of GDP in the short and 0.8 percent in the long run.” The report also notes that Germany, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of all EU 27 exports to Russia, has been hit the hardest in absolute terms, and is projected to lose €23.38 billion in losses in the long term. Italy is second, with €10.93 billion in projected losses. France rounds out the top three with €7.92 billion in losses.
The study’s figures also show that Estonia is the single most heavily affected country in both the short and the long term, with the country suffering a €800 million (4.91 percent) and €2.1 billion (13.24 percent) decline, respectively. Estonia is followed by Lithuania (-6.37 percent long term), Cyprus (-3.25 percent), Latvia (-1.87 percent), and the Czech Republic (-1.53 percent).
In employment terms, Estonia, Lithuania and Cyprus are also the hardest hit in percentage terms, and are projected to suffer 16.3 percent, 10.84 percent and 4.21 percent losses, respectively. In absolute terms, Germany (losing 395,000 jobs) Poland (300,000), and Italy (200,000) have been the hardest hit; Spain, Lithuania and Estonia are projected to lose between 100,000 and 190,000 jobs.
As for the economic sectors most heavily impacted, the WIFO study found that agriculture and food products, metal products, machine-building, vehicles, and manufacturing-related services are hardest hit in the short term, with construction, business services, and wholesale and retail trade services also projected to suffer disproportionately in the long-term.
Speaking to Radio Sputnik about the report, WIFO economist Oliver Fritz noted that while EU politicians still hope that the sanctions will have some effect on Russian policy, pressure is building on them to change their policy, since the economic consequences are rapidly beginning to add up.
While the economist noted that he does not see the sanctions being lifted in the short term, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel successfully keeping other EU nations in line, Fritz noted that as losses mount, EU politicians may eventually decide to consider rethinking their decisions.
Last month, WIFO conducted research for Europe’s ‘Leading European Newspaper Alliance’, estimating up to €100 billion in losses if anti-Russian sanctions remain in place.
Since March 2014, the United States, European Union, and other Western countries have placed sanctions on Russia’s banking, defense and energy sectors over Moscow’s alleged role in the Ukrainian crisis. In August, Moscow imposed a year-long food embargo on the countries that had sanctioned it. Last month, the EU’s foreign ministers agreed to extend sanctions against Russia until January 31, 2016.
Fifty countries on Monday signed the articles of agreement for the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the first major global financial instrument independent from the Bretton Woods system.
Seven remaining countries out of the 57 that have applied to be founding members, Denmark, Kuwait, Malaysia, Philippines, Holland, South Africa and Thailand, are awaiting domestic approval.
“This will be a significant event. The constitution will lay a solid foundation for the establishment and operation of the AIIB,” said Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei.
The AIIB will have an authorized capital of $100 billion, divided into shares that have a value of $100,000.
BRICS members China, India and Russia are the three largest shareholders, with a voting share of 26.06 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 5.92 per cent, respectively.
Following the signing of the bank’s charter, the agreement on the $100 billion AIIB will now have to be ratified by the parliaments of the founding members.
Asian countries will contribute up to 75 per cent of the total capital and be allocated a share of the quota based on their economic size.
Chinese Vice Finance Minister Shi Yaobin said China’s initial stake and voting share are “natural results” of current rules, and may be diluted as more members join.
Australia was first to sign the agreement in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday, state media reports said.
The Bank will base its headquarters in Beijing.
The Chinese Finance Ministry said the new lender will start operations by the end of 2015 under two preconditions: At least 10 prospective members ratify the agreement, and the initial subscribed capital is no less than 50 per cent of the authorized capital.
The AIIB will extend China’s financial reach and compete not only with the World Bank, but also with the Asian Development Bank, which is heavily dominated by Japan.
China and other emerging economies, including BRICS, have long protested against their limited voice at other multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank (ADB).
China is grouped in the ‘Category II’ voting bloc at the World Bank while at the Asian Development Bank, China with a 5.5 per cent share is far outdone by America’s 15.7 per cent and Japan’s 15.6 per cent share.
The ADB has estimated that in the next decade Asian countries will need $8 trillion in infrastructure investments to maintain the current economic growth rate.
China scholar Asit Biswas at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore, says Washington’s criticism of the China-led Bank is “childish”.
“Some critics argue that the AIIB will reduce the environmental, social and procurement standards in a race to the bottom. This is a childish criticism, especially because China has invited other governments to help with funding and governance,” he writes.
The US and Japan have not applied for the membership in the AIIB.
However, despite US pressures on its allies not to join the bank, Britain, France, Germany, Italy among others have signed on as founding members of the China-led Bank.
Meanwhile, New Zealand and Australia have already announced that they will invest $87.27 million and $718 million respectively as paid-in capital to the AIIB.
The new lender will finance infrastructure projects like the construction of roads, railways, and airports in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Iran, 49 states sign Asia bank charter
Iran on Monday joined 49 countries in signing up to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), bringing Asia’s largest financial lender a step closer to existence.
Finance and Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia put Iran’s signature to the bank’s articles of association at a ceremony in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, which capped six months of intense negotiations.
In April, China accepted Iran as a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank being seen as a rival to the US-led World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Asian Development Bank.
With the signing which amounted to the creation of AIIB’s legal framework, China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said he was confident the bank could start functioning before the end of the year.
Seven more founding members would ink the articles after approval by their respective governments.
The bank will have a capital of $100 billion in the form of shares, each worth $100,000, distributed among the members. Beijing will be by far the largest shareholder at about 30%, followed by India at 8.4% and Russia at 6.5%.
China will also have 26% of the votes which are not enough to give it a veto on decision-making, while smaller members will have larger voice.
Singapore’s Senior Minister for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo said the bank will provide new opportunities for its members’ businesses and promote sustainable growth in Asia.
Seventy-five percent of AIIB’s shares are distributed within the Asian region while the rest is assigned among countries beyond it.
Germany, France and Brazil are among the non-Asian members of the bank despite US efforts to dissuade allies from joining it. Another US ally joining AIIB is Australia but Japan has stayed away from it.
Countries beyond the region can expand their share but the portion cannot be bigger than 30%. Public procurement of the AIIB will be open to all countries around the world.
But the president of the bank will have to be chosen from the Asian region for a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.
The bank will be headquartered in Beijing and its lean structure will be overseen by an unpaid, non-resident board of directors which, architects say, would save it money and friction in decision-making.
Earlier this month, former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke rebuked US lawmakers for allowing China to found the new bank, which threatens to upend Washington’s domination over the world economic order.
He said lawmakers were to blame because they refused to agree 2010 reforms that would have given greater clout to China and other emerging powers in the International Monetary Fund.
Russia has censured the United States and its NATO allies for “violating” the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by conducting nuclear planning and missions.
“The so-called joint nuclear missions practiced by the United States and their NATO allies are a serious violation of the said treaty,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Thursday.
The statement also called for the return of all US nuclear weapons to the country, a ban on nuclear warheads abroad and the dismantling of the technology that facilitates the use of nuclear weapons as well as abstaining from nuclear exercises.
Back in April, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Washington is breaching the NPT by deploying its nuclear weapons in Belgium, Italy, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.
Also in March, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich urged the US, as a NATO member, to withdraw its nuclear weapons from Europe, highlighting that their deployment on the continent violates the NPT.
“We have repeatedly drawn NATO’s attention to the fact that such practices directly run counter to the spirit and the letter of NPT,” he said on March 24.
The remarks came days after the US State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, claimed that “the deployment of US nuclear weapons on the territories of our NATO allies is consistent with the NPT.”
Under the article 1 of NPT, no country is allowed to transfer its nuclear weapons to other parties while article 2 of the treaty prohibits those countries lacking nuclear know-how from having access to nuclear weapons, Lukashevich stated, adding that the US deployment of nuclear arms in Europe infringes upon the terms of the agreement.
Washington-Moscow relations have become markedly tense in recent months. The US and NATO accuse the Kremlin of supporting pro-Russia forces in east Ukraine. Russia categorically denies the allegation, saying NATO’s presence near the Russian borders is responsible for the flare-up in the restive region.
German political prisoner Horst Mahler was sentenced to over a decade in jail for doubting the Holocaust
Today, Thursday, June 11, 2015, at 11.30 AM, the council of the Federal Department for Media Harmful for Young Persons in Germany will be deciding whether Horst Mahler’s book Das Ende der Wanderschaft – Gedanken über Gilad Atzmon und die Judenheit (2013) (The End of the Wanderings – Reflections on Gilad Atzmon and Jewry) will be put on the harmful media index. Mahler wrote his book in his prison cell after reading Gilad Atzmon’s book The Wandering Who?A Study of Jewish Identity Politics (2011), sent to him by a friend.
Friedrich Bode, a retired Protestant minister and founding member of the Green Party, as well as Gerard Menuhin, son of the world famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin, will be there to defend the book.
Horst Mahler is Germany’s number one political prisoner. As a professional lawyer he encountered revisionist material when he was asked to defend a client over charges of “Holocaust Denial”. Although previously Mahler had identified himself on the radical left and had been a founding member of the Red Army Faction (RAF), he was shocked by the treatment of revisionist research in German courts with regard to Holocaust laws. Having been indoctrinated with guilt over the Holocaust, he found it deeply liberating to discover that Jews had been expelled from countries all over the world throughout the centuries, and that the expulsion of Jews from Germany was by no means a singular event.
Mahler maintains that Germany today is in effect a nation that is ruled by a foreign will. That foreign will is the will of the Jewish people, which manifests itself in Germany’s Holocaust laws and the numerous Holocaust memorials which literally pave the country. These, he believes, serve to reinforce German guilt. In Mahler’s analysis, such elements, along with the “re-education” programme implemented by the Allies (mainly through the mass media, educational institutions, politicians willing to execute this foreign will, and Jewish institutions), prevent the healthy self-expression of the German people. Such mechanisms need to be understood as part of a strategy of psychological warfare with the goal of effecting the “soul murder” of the German people. A people without a soul cannot survive physically. According to Mahler, this is a genocidal project that has its basis in the Jewish understanding of the German people as part of the nation of Amalek, the Biblical arch enemy whose “seed” must be destroyed.
Mahler frequently quotes Jewish philosopher and Rabbi Martin Buber to prove that the annihilation impulse exists in the Jewish people not only against the German people but also against every other nation, since Judaism embodies a stark “No to the lives of the peoples” (“ein Nein zum Leben der Völker” – meaning “no to the traditional ways of non-Jewish peoples”). According to Mahler, the German spirit and the Jewish spirit are antagonistic to each other, which is the root of the conflict. Whilst German philosophy is a deeply organic way of thinking that seeks to maintain sanctimonious harmony with nature, Jewish thinking and behaviour is the polar opposite, aiming at the destruction of naturally grown structures.
Mahler was sentenced to 12 years in prison for “incitement to the detriment of the Jews” and “Holocaust denial” in 2009. In his open letter to the Central Committee of Jews in Germany and the Jewish organisation “Sons of the Covenant” (B’nai B’rith), dated on August 2009, Mahler declares himself a personal prisoner of organised World Jewry (All-Juda).
Regarding incitement, it must be noted that Mahler nowhere calls for hostility against Jews, and explicitly says that hatred and physical harm against Jews must be prevented under any circumstances. His analysis of the current state of affairs is based on Hegelian philosophy, readings of Christian and Jewish Scripture, and a thorough understanding of the legal situation of present day Germany.
He has now served five years of his twelve-year term. At 79 years of age, German law should now permit him to leave prison early. However, authorities do not seem to be willing to act in accordance with the law in this case, and have asked Mahler to withdraw his proposal.
This is a very rough summary of Mahler’s positions. When writing in German, Mahler articulates his views in a well-informed, sophisticated and precise language.
Please feel free to send him an uplifting note:
JVA Brandenburg a.d. Havel
Anton-Saefkow Allee 22
14772 Brandenburg a. d. Havel
US President Barack Obama will urge G7 leaders to keep sanctions in place against Russia at the G7 summit in Germany, US officials said. The US says it needs to “maintain the pressure” on Moscow.
The G7 nations will meet in Bavaria, Germany for a two-day summit beginning Sunday. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the sanctions imposed on Russia will be on the agenda.
“In my understanding, the president plans to talk with the European leaders about the necessity to continue the sanctions, which are already in place. This will be part of the discussion,” Earnest told a press briefing. He added, though, that he “would acknowledge that we have not yet seen the kind of change in behavior that we have long fought for.”
Charles Kupchan, the White House Senior Director for European Affairs, confirmed that meetings at the summit will be centered on the US and Europe putting pressure on Moscow.
“The president will be making the case to his European colleagues that the European Union should move ahead and extend sanctions when they end,” Kupchan said.
The US has criticized Russia recently for an increase in fighting in Eastern Ukraine. However, on Thursday, the Kremlin released a statement saying that the tensions, which had been stoked by Kiev, were increased to coincide with the upcoming EU summit, which is to take place in Brussels on June 25-26.
“Yes, indeed, in the past Kiev had already heated up tensions amid some large international events. This is the case, and now we are seriously concerned about the next repetition of such activity,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
However, rather than further looking to sideline Moscow, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that it is essential to continue cooperation with Russia in a number of key international questions.
“Of course we want and should cooperate with the Russian Federation,” Merkel told the DPA news agency. “In order to settle some conflicts, such as the one in Syria, we cannot go forward without Russia’s help. Therefore I support maintaining contact with President Vladimir Putin.”
The Obama administration says that the longer the sanctions are in place, “the more of an economic bite they take out of the Russian economy.” However, the sanctions are also having a negative effect on a number of EU members who have been hurt by Russian counter-sanctions.
“I think these sanctions are affecting Europe much more as a whole than was expected, and the others on the other side of the Atlantic are not affected at all,” said former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, who spoke to RT in November.
Some EU nations are becoming wary of introducing further sanctions against Moscow. During a visit to Moscow in March by the Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, he stated: “[Russia and Cyprus] will cooperate without paying attention to who is reacting or who may have concerns,” according to CNA.
The current EU sanctions expire in June, after which time the bloc will hold a vote on prolonging them. However, a Russian politician, Leonid Kalashnikov, says he is confident that the bloc will not look to impose further measures against Moscow as it will not be in their interests.
“As far as new sanctions are concerned, now I am sure that Europe is very unlikely to impose them, because there are nations that would not agree to this – Greece, Cyprus, Hungary and Italy. And if even a single nation does not agree there would be no decision, such is the voting procedure,” Kalashnikov, the deputy head of the State Duma’s committee for international relations, told the Izvestia daily.
Obama: ‘We have to twist arms when we need to’
Kalashnikov also said that almost daily meetings are held in the State Duma with foreign politicians who are trying to find a way to resume dialogue with Russia.
In February, Spain evaluated the losses suffered by the EU in the “sanctions war” with Russia at €21 billion ($23.78 billion).
In December 2014, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said the US was “twisting arms” of their own allies so that they could continue an “anti-Russian front” and follow US policies on sanctions against Russia.
“But the US is not ashamed of insisting on cooperation with us [Russia] on matters affecting its own interests,” he said. He used the example of the Iranian nuclear talks, in which both Russia and the US take part.
Even President Obama admitted that: “We occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do,” in an interview with Vox in February.
Even Washington has found the sanctions they have implemented against Russia have not always served their own interests. The US discreetly managed to create a loophole in its sanctions against Russia to allow communications software to be exported to Crimea to try and limit Moscow’s ability “to control the narrative of local events,” according to the Commerce Department, which was cited by Bloomberg.
The move comes after the State Department’s former senior adviser for innovation, Alec Ross, mentioned that the Russians have done “an excellent job of flooding the zone in Crimea with their propaganda,” and that the US needed to introduce media platforms in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, which Moscow would be unable to control.
Reprieve | June 2, 2015
The German Federal Prosecutor is reported to have begun investigating a US base in Germany that is used as a ‘hub’ for drone strikes, days after a Yemeni man testified in a Cologne court about the 2012 strike that killed his relatives.
According to a report in Der Spiegel, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office – Germany’s highest prosecuting authority – has launched a ‘monitoring process’ to ascertain whether activities at Ramstein, a US base in Germany, violate international law. The officials have reportedly requested documents from German authorities, including the Ministry of Defence, relating to the base – which was recently revealed to be a ‘hub’ for the facilitation of drone strikes in Yemen and elsewhere. US drone strikes in countries such as Yemen, where the US has not declared war, have killed hundreds of civilians, and are widely regarded as a violation of international law.
The news comes days after a court in Cologne heard testimony from a Yemeni man who lost his relatives in a strike – the first time any court has heard from drone victims. Faisal bin Ali Jaber lost his brother-in-law Salim, an anti-Al Qaeda preacher, and his nephew Waleed, a police officer, to a 2012 US strike on his village of Khashamir. The German case sees Mr bin Ali Jaber – represented by international human rights organization Reprieve and the European Center for Human Rights (ECCHR) – seeking to challenge Germany’s failure to stop the use of Ramstein for US drone strikes. Although the court last week ruled against Mr bin Ali Jaber, judges agreed with his assertion that it is ‘plausible’ the base is central to the launching of the strikes, and gave him immediate permission to appeal their decision.
Commenting, Kat Craig, Mr bin Ali Jaber’s Reprieve lawyer, said: “The civilian impact of the US’ drone wars in Yemen and elsewhere is well-documented – as is the crucial role played by Ramstein in facilitating these illegal strikes. The prosecutor’s move to investigate the use of German soil in violating international law is a crucial first step in lifting the veil of secrecy over the drone programme. For Faisal – and the scores of other people whose relatives were unlawfully killed in drone strikes – this decision is long overdue. Nothing will bring back their loved ones, but a full and proper investigation into the role of Ramstein will finally shed some light on the role of the German government in the drone programme. Our clients hope that, in doing so, Germany will do the right thing and withdraw support for the US’ drone war, once and for all.”
The United States is perhaps the principle nuclear weapons proliferator in the world today, openly flouting binding provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Article I of the treaty forbids signers from transferring nuclear weapons to other states, and Article II prohibits signers from receiving nuclear weapons from other states.
As the UN Review Conference of the NPT was finishing its month-long deliberations in New York last week, the US delegation distracted attention from its own violations using its standard Red Herring warnings about Iran and North Korea — the former without a single nuclear weapon, and the latter with 8-to-10 (according to those reliable weapons spotters at the CIA) but with no means of delivering them.
The NPT’s prohibitions and obligations were re-affirmed and clarified by the world’s highest judicial body in its July 1996 Advisory Opinion on the legal status of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. The International Court of Justice said in this famous decision that the NPT’s binding promises not to transfer or receive nuclear weapons are unqualified, unequivocal, unambiguous and absolute. For these reasons, US violations are easy to illustrate.
Nuclear Missiles “Leased” to British Navy
The US “leases” submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles (SLBMs) to Britain for use on its four giant Trident submarines. We’ve done this for two decades. The British subs travel across the Atlantic to pick up the US-made missiles at Kings Bay Naval base in Georgia.
Helping to ensure that US proliferation involves only of the most verifiably terrible nuclear weapons, a senior staff engineer at Lockheed Martin in California is currently responsible for planning, coordinating and carrying out development and production of the “UK Trident Mk4A [warhead] Reentry Systems as part of the UK Trident Weapons System ‘Life Extension program.’” This, according to John Ainslie of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which closely watchdogs the British Tridents — all of which are based in Scotland, much to the chagrin of the Scots.
Even the W76 warheads that arm the US-owned missiles leased to England have parts made in United States. The warheads use a Gas Transfer System (GTS) which stores tritium — the radioactive form of hydrogen that puts the “H” in H-bomb — and the GTS injects tritium into the plutonium warhead or “pit.” All the GTS devices used in Britain’s Trident warheads are manufactured in the United States. They are then either sold to the Royals or given away in exchange for an undisclosed quid pro quo.
David Webb, the current Chair of the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament reported during the NPT Review Conference, and later confirmed in an email to Nukewatch, that the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico announced, in March 2011, that it had conducted “the first W76 United Kingdom trials test” at its Weapons Evaluation and Test Laboratory (WETL) in New Mexico, and that this had “provided qualification data critical to the UK [United Kingdom] implementation of the W76-1.” The W76 is a 100 kiloton H-bomb designed for the so-called D-4 and D-5 Trident missiles. One of the centrifuges at Sandia’s WETL simulates the ballistic trajectory of the W76 “reentry-vehicle” or warhead. This deep and complex collusion between the US and the UK could be called Proliferation Plus.
The majority of the Royal Navy’s Trident warheads are manufactured at England’s Aldermaston nuclear weapons complex, allowing both the Washington and London to claim they are in compliance with the NPT.
US H-bombs Deployed in Five NATO Countries
An even clearer violation of the NPT is the US deployment of between 184 and 200 thermonuclear gravity bombs, called B61, in five European countries — Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Turkey and Germany. “Nuclear sharing agreements” with these equal partners in the NPT — all of whom declare that they are “non-nuclear states” — openly defy both Article I and Article II of the treaty.
The US is the only country in the world that deploys nuclear weapons to other countries, and in the case of the five nuclear sharing partners, the US Air Force even trains Italian, German, Belgian, Turkish and Dutch pilots in the use of the B61s in their own warplanes — should the President ever order such a thing. Still, the US government regularly lectures other states about their international law violations, boundary pushing and destabilizing actions.
With so much a stake, it is intriguing that diplomats at the UN are too polite to confront US defiance of the NPT, even when the extension and enforcement of it is on the table. As Henry Thoreau said, “The broadest and most prevalent error requires the most disinterested virtue to sustain it.”
Reprieve | May 27, 2015
A German court has granted ‘immediate permission to appeal’ to a Yemeni man in his case seeking to expose and put an end to the German government’s role in the U.S. covert drone programme in Yemen.
Faisal bin Ali Jaber, an environmental engineer from Sana’a who had two relatives killed in a 2012 drone strike, had his evidence heard in a Cologne court today. Mr bin Ali Jaber – represented by international human rights charity Reprieve and its local partner the European Center for Human Rights (ECCHR) brought the case against Germany, following revelations that Ramstein air base is crucial to facilitating American covert drone strikes in Yemen.
Although the court ruled against Mr bin Ali Jaber in today’s hearing, it gave him immediate permission to appeal the decision, while the judges agreed with his assertion that it is ‘plausible’ Ramstein air base plays a key role in facilitating drone strikes in Yemen.
Mr Jaber lost his brother-in-law Salim, a preacher, and his nephew Waleed, a local police officer, to a US drone strike which hit the village of Khashamir on 29 August 2012. Salim often spoke out against extremism, and had used a sermon just days before he was killed to urge those present to reject Al Qaeda.
Faisal bin Ali Jaber said: “I had hoped that today the Court would restore Yemen’s faith in the West’s commitment to the rule of law, and that the German government would put a stop to its role in these illegal and immoral operations. It is shameful that they won’t even admit to the part they play in killing innocent civilians and terrorising entire communities. But we will not give up: it is – quite simply – a matter of life or death for us. I am of course disappointed by the outcome today, but remain grateful to the court for hearing my case and am pleased that they have encouraged me to appeal. This is just the beginning of our efforts and I will continue to place my faith in the justice system and the rule of law, to find a peaceful and sustainable way to keep myself and my family safe, and end the devastation brought to my country by drones.”
Kat Craig, Reprieve legal director which represents Mr bin Ali Jaber said: “Without Germany – and other Western allies – the U.S. could not fly the drones that kill innocent civilians like my client Faisal’s family in Yemen. For too long, the drone programme has been allowed to operate in the shadows – away from judicial and public scrutiny. Whilst we may have lost today, this hearing was an important step in the direction of greater transparency and accountability for the US and its allies in its illegal and immoral drone programme. We may not yet have achieved the end to Germany’s role in the illegal U.S. drone war in Yemen, but this simply means that we must redouble our efforts to support our clients in their attempts to end the death and suffering that drones bring in Yemen.”
The editor-in-chief of the Iserlohner Kreisanzeiger und Zeitung (IKZ) daily Thomas Reunert dedicated an entire page on the topic of wind energy last Sunday, bearing the headline: “The Norwegians Are Giving Us The Finger!”
It is an interview with a former professor from the University of Bielefeld, Dr. Kurt Gehlert, 75, an expert in mining. It focuses on the state of Germany’s Energiewende (transition to green energies), particularly wind power and the illusions of energy storage technology.
The sub-heading reads
Dr. Kurt Gehlert is certain that the Energiewende has already failed. Or we will drown and cover ourselves in wind turbines.”
Germans pushing the Energiewende are aiming to see 80% of Germany’s energy needs being met by green energies by 2050. Some are even calling for doing away with natural gas, in addition to coal and oil.
But the monster-sized insurmountable obstacles loom as German policymakers begin to scramble in a confused state of denial.
Germany’s alternative baseload-capable sources, such as hydro and biogas, are severely limited and account for only 11.5% of Germany’s total energy supply today. Moreover there still does not exist a viable technology for storing the irregular supply of wind and solar power. Gehlert says these technologies are nowhere near being capable of taking on the role of providing a reliable baseload.
The 75-year old professor points out that although there is a huge capacity of wind and solar energy already in place, often both are not available because they are weather-dependent. Gehlert tells the IKZ that the media like to give the public the impression that the technology is not far away, but the reality is that it is nowhere near in sight.
Energy storage concepts such as accumulators, power-to-gas, compressed air storage are plagued by low efficiencies and sky-high costs. He reminds readers that using electric car batteries as a storage media is also a pie-in-the-sky-vision. Gehlert tells IKZ :
It sounds like a good idea and so let us illustrate it using a rough calculation. In 2020 it is planned to have 1 million electric cars on the roads in Germany. If we tap into them and remove 50% of the average 25 kwh charge capacity, then we will extract enough power from them (12.5 x 1000000 =12.5 gigawatt-hours) to cover Germany’s needs each day for 25 minutes and 17 seconds; Germany’s total daily consumption is 712 gigawatt-hours. And then all the electric car owners will have only 50% of the range available for their next trip.”
In Germany about 125 times more storage lakes than what exists today would need to be constructed by 2050. This area and topography simply does not exist at all.”
On the idea of using Norway’s, Switzerland’s or Austria’s mountainous regions to build the necessary pump-storage capacity, Gehlert tells the IKZ :
The Swiss are reacting allergically, and the Norwegians are giving us the finger.”
Go ruin your own landscape, and leave ours alone.
And even if it was possible to use pump-storage in foreign countries, Gehlert tells the IKZ that in order to bring the power from the above-mentioned mountainous countries to the big consumption centers in Germany’s industrial heartland, it would require the construction of about 70 high voltage power lines ranging from 300 to 1200 km in length!
Gehlert also scoffs at the idea of using wind-power-to-gas as a method for storing energy, which would be used to fire gas turbines to produce electricity in times of low-winds. And expanding the calculation to 50% constant electrical power from wind energy would require about 470,000 German wind turbines (Currently there are about 25,000). Gehlert elaborates:
The figure is difficult to fathom. Germany has an area of approximately 360,000 square kilometers. That means each of the 470,000 wind turbines would have 0.76 sq km.. The city of Iserlohn alone has an area of 125.5 square kilometers and so would have 165 wind turbines.”
The IKZ asks Gehlert to summarize:
The Energiewende under the given conditions in Germany is a failure […]. The policymakers state in a worried manner: Our predecessors have left behind a disillusioned population.”
The German ambassador to Washington warns that his country and other nations are ready to move beyond sanctions imposed on Iran over its peaceful nuclear program, regardless of any decision that the US Congress may be willing to make.
Peter Wittig made the comments on Thursday in reaction to the US Senate’s recent approval of a bill that potentially makes removal of sanctions conditional on congressional consent.
The US Senate passed legislation on Thursday, which would make it possible for Congress to review and potentially reject a nuclear deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
The legislation will allow for a 30-day review of any final agreement with Iran. During the review period, President Barack Obama would be able to waive those Iran sanctions, which were imposed by the executive branch. However, the president would have to leave in place sanctions that Congress had previously drafted.
Addressing the Columbus Metropolitan Club in central Ohio, the German ambassador said, “The alternatives to a negotiated deal are not very attractive.”
Wittig said while Congress would probably be willing to impose new sanctions on Iran, other countries would not follow, adding that such state of affairs would cause “this universal sanctions regime” against Iran to “crumble.”
He also dismissed as not viable Washington’s talks of a military option against Iran saying it will not lead to a lasting solution.
The German ambassador stated that his government pleads to give diplomacy a chance, adding that any agreement that may be signed between Iran and the P5+1 group – the US, the UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia – will be reviewed and judged on its merits.
At the beginning of 2012, the US and EU imposed sanctions on Iran’s economic sectors with the goal of preventing other countries from cooperating with the Islamic Republic in those sectors.
The sanctions were imposed over allegations about possible diversion in Iran’s nuclear program toward military objectives. Iran categorically rejected the allegation.
Iran and the P5+1 reached a mutual understanding on April 2 in the Swiss city of Lausanne as a prelude to a comprehensive deal before a self-designated deadline at the end of June. A key point of Lausanne statement was a promise to lift a series of sanctions on Iranian economy.
The intelligence sharing relationship between German and American spy agencies is one of dominance and blackmail rather than cooperation, with Germany’s BND acting as a “colony” used to help gather information for US authorities, German activist and publicist Christoph Horstel said.
There has been much speculation regarding the seemingly close relationship between German and US intelligence agencies in recent times, following German media reports alleging that Berlin’s foreign intelligence agency — the BND — spied on various European targets on behalf of America’s National Security Agency (NSA).
According to the reports, the NSA had been given access to the e-mails of various European politicians, EU institutions and European member state ministries.
This led many to suggest Germany was complicit with the US in operating an illegal global spy network. Chancellor Angela Merkel denied Germany was involved in illegal activity, telling journalists that it was essential for the BND to keep working with the NSA in order to ensure the safety of citizens.
‘A Big Show, A Big Farce’
However, Christoph Horstel believes that while Berlin does act on behalf of Washington’s intelligence agencies, he told Sputnik that the relationship is very one-sided.
“Well this is a big show, a big farce. All of the political insiders know what the real question is. The real question is that this is not cooperation; Germany is [a] colony.”
Horstel points out that the former US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) — which later become the CIA — established the German BND, and he believes it has been set up to look after Washington’s European interests.
“What we do have here, in fact, is a written understanding that the BND has to give — free of charge — any of the fruits of its work to the CIA. That is quite normal,” he said.
“The Americans are the masters of the game in Europe, so we [Germany] have to deliver to them. It’s a kind of service; a service of Germany to the US and we have to do that — that’s fact.”
German Officials ‘Blackmailed’ by US
Despite German Chancellor Angela Merkel fronting the media to deny accusations that she was in any way complicit in allowing American authorities to illegally spy on European firms, Horstel believes the chancellor would be well aware of what practices are going on.
“If she [Merkel] was not very deeply cooperating with the Americans, she would not be chancellor. We have a double system to ensure that we do exactly as Washington wants.
“What we have here is a very clear-cut system of blackmail against anyone in a high position — that’s number one,” he said, suggesting that US access to German security files allows American authorities to hold German politicians to ransom.
Meanwhile, Horstel also believes an inherent American influence on German politics and media means that governments in favor of US policy are also elected, and the media consistently follows American rhetoric on international issues, such as the crisis in Ukraine.
“Number two is that when it comes to elections, you will get into a powerful enough position to win unless the Americans are nodding their head. This also applies to the army ranks and the media ranks.
“This is why it’s important to note why the German media is so hostile to Russia. The Americans say it, and we [Germans] do it.”
A German lawmaker has condemned the European Union and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s anti-Russia policy, saying the EU bans are destroying the country’s businesses, with dozens of reported bankruptcies.
Franz Wiese, a Brandenburg lawmaker and member of the eurosceptic Alternative for Germany party, made the remarks on Monday.
“Approved by the European Union and conducted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the anti-Russian sanctions policy is destroying small and medium businesses in Brandenburg as well as in the rest of the country,” said Wiese.
According to Wiese, Merkel’s anti-Russia policy has so far resulted in the bankruptcy of 90 German companies.
Wiese’s remarks came a day after neighboring Czech Republic’s President Miloš Zeman criticized the Western sanctions on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, describing the policy as counterproductive and provocative. Zeman also called for the immediate abandonment of such bans.
Western powers have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia over accusations that Moscow is involved in the deadly crisis in neighboring Ukraine, which broke out when Kiev launched military operations against pro-Russians in eastern Ukraine last year. Russia has denied the allegation.
In a tit-for-tat measure, Moscow imposed yearlong food bans on the United States, the EU, Australia, Canada and Norway in August last year.
The move is estimated to cost European agricultural industries millions of dollars in damage. Prior to the food ban, Russia received a quarter of its produce from the EU nations.
On April 27, Russia said it will tighten an existing ban on the import of fruits and vegetables from Bulgaria over concerns that Sofia may be attempting to send European products into Russia, using false documents.