Courtesy of Ian Traynor @ The Guardian:
Nato is to deploy its forces at new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, in response to the Ukraine crisis and in an attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from causing trouble in the former Soviet Baltic republics, according to its secretary general.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the organisations’s summit in Cardiff next week would overcome divisions within the alliance and agree to new deployments on Russia’s borders – a move certain to trigger a strong reaction from Moscow.
He also outlined moves to boost Ukraine’s security, “modernise” its armed forces and help the country counter the threat from Russia.
Rasmussen said: “We will adopt what we call a readiness action plan with the aim to be able to act swiftly in this completely new security environment in Europe. We have something already called the Nato response force, whose purpose is to be able to be deployed rapidly if needed. Now it’s our intention to develop what I would call a spearhead within that response force at very, very high readiness.
“In order to be able to provide such rapid reinforcements you also need some reception facilities in host nations. So it will involve the pre-positioning of supplies, of equipment, preparation of infrastructure, bases, headquarters. The bottom line is you will in the future see a more visible Nato presence in the east.”
Poland and the three Baltic states have been alarmed at the perceived threat from Russia and have been clamouring for a stronger Nato presence in the region. They have criticised what they see as tokenism in the alliance’s response so far.
But the issue of permanent Nato bases in east Europe is divisive. The French, Italians and Spanish are opposed while the Americans and British are supportive of the eastern European demands. The Germans, said a Nato official, were sitting on the fence, wary of provoking Russia. Continue reading
George Orwell ranks among the most profound social critics of the modern era. Some of his quotations, more than a half a century old, show the depth of understanding an enlightened mind can have about the future.
1) “In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”
Though many in the modern age have the will to bury their head in the sand when it comes to political matters, nobody can only concern themselves with the proverbial pebble in their shoe. If one is successful in avoiding politics, at some point the effects of the political decisions they abstained from participating in will reach their front door. More often than not, by that time the person has already whatever whisper of a voice the government has allowed them.
2) “All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.”
Examining the nightly news in the run up to almost any military intervention will find scores of talking heads crying for blood to flow in the streets of some city the name of which they just learned to pronounce. Once the bullets start flying, those that clamored for war will still be safely on set bringing you up-to-the-minute coverage of the carnage while their stock in Raytheon climbs.
3) “War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.”
It’s pretty self-explanatory and while it may be hard to swallow, it’s certainly true. All it takes is a quick look at who benefited from the recent wars waged by the United States to see Orwell’s quip take life.
4) “The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.”
My most prized books are a collection of history books from around the world. I have an Iraqi book that recounts the glory of Saddam Hussein’s victory over the United States in 1991. I have books from three different nations claiming that one of their citizens was the first to fly. As some of the most powerful nations in the world agree to let certain facts be “forgotten,” the trend will only get worse. History is written by the victor, and the victor will never be asked if he told the truth. Continue reading
The reaction mechanism of carbon monoxide oxidation is shown over intact and partially ligand-removed gold nanoclusters supported on cerium oxide rods. Image credit: Wu, Z.; Jiang, D.; Mann, A.; Mullins, D.; Qiao, Z.-A.; Allard, L.; Zeng, C.; Jin, R.; Overbury, S. Thiolate Ligands as a Double-Edged Sword for CO Oxidation on CeO2-Supported Au25(SCH2CH2Ph)18 Nanoclusters. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136(16), 6111. (hi-res image)
Courtesy of Oak ridge National Labratory:
Old thinking was that gold, while good for jewelry, was not of much use for chemists because it is relatively nonreactive. That changed a decade ago when scientists hit a rich vein of discoveries revealing that this noble metal, when structured into nanometer-sized particles, can speed up chemical reactions important in mitigating environmental pollutants and producing hard-to-make specialty chemicals. Catalytic gold nanoparticles have since spurred hundreds of scientific journal articles. With the world catalyst market poised to hit $19.5 billion by 2016, gold nanoparticles may find commercial as well as intellectual importance, as they could ultimately lead to novel catalysts for energy, pharmacology and diverse consumer products.
But before gold nanoparticles can be useful to consumers, researchers have to make them both stable and active. Recently, scientists learned to make tiny, highly ordered clusters with very specific numbers of gold atoms that are stabilized by compounds called ligands. These stabilized gold clusters plus ligands may be thought of as large molecules. In collaboration with scientists from Carnegie Mellon University, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have found one new gold molecule, a catalyst containing exactly 25 gold atoms, that is powerful as well as sophisticated. It catalyzes the conversion of a variety of molecules, including the transformation of poisonous carbon monoxide into harmless carbon dioxide, a reaction that may find application in devices near gas flues or wood-burning stoves. Unfortunately, the ligands that create and stabilize the engineered clusters also block the very sites needed to catalyze the conversion of carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. Continue reading
Boris Johnson has called for the supposed British jihadi to be killed. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA
Courtesy of The Guardian:
Boris Johnson has called for the presumption of innocence to be reversed in cases where Britons travel to Iraq or Syria and said he wants the jihadist who beheaded an American journalist to be killed in a bomb attack.
The Mayor of London, who has overall responsibility for the Metropolitan Police, said legislation should be introduced so that anyone visiting those countries would be automatically presumed to be terrorists unless they had notified the authorities in advance, and joined growing calls for Britons fighting abroad to be stripped of their citizenship.
Johnson said Britain must take on the Islamic State (Isis) and “try to close it down now”, warning that doing nothing would mean a “tide of terror will eventually lap at our own front door”.
British intelligence agencies are close to identifying the killer of US journalist James Foley who has been dubbed “jihadi John”, according to the UK’s ambassador to the US, Sir Peter Westmacott.
Writing in his Daily Telegraph column, Johnson said most Britons wanted “someone to come along with a bunker buster” and kill the man, reported to be British, “as fast as possible”.
Johnson said those who “continue to give allegiance to a terrorist state” should lose their British citizenship and called for a “swift and minor change” to the law so there was a “rebuttable presumption” that those visiting war areas without notifying the authorities had done so for a terrorist purpose. Continue reading
Courtesy of Sandeep Jaitly @ Fekete Research:
Gold coins were offered in series by the various mints. Standard gold brought to the mint could be returned not only in the unit gold coin (for example, the Sovereign) but also any the fraction (Half-Sovereign) or multiples. Should there be a preference for one’s gold to be returned in half-unit gold coins, would it be as simple as opting for twice the number of half-unit gold coins, instead of the original number of unit
On a slightly closer inspection, it cannot be. The work expended in making two half-unit gold coins is greater than the work expended in making one gold unit coin. This much is obvious. On further inspection, two half- unit gold coins could obtain more goods than a unit gold coin could. What one is willing to do with two half- unit gold coins and not willing to do with one unit gold coin leads to the idea of change.
For example, imagine you need a pair of shoes. An acceptable pair is on offer for one unit gold coin and one half-unit gold coin. If you only had a double-unit gold coin about your person and the shopkeeper didn’t have the means to offer change for it, you wouldn’t walk out with a pair of shoes (unless you’re an exceptionally charitable tipper.) However, were you to walk into the shop with four half-unit gold coins, you would walk out with a pair of shoes (and one half-unit gold coin.) Continue reading
Workers exploring a potential shale field in Pennsylvania. Photo: AFP
Courtesy of Tim Morgan @ The Telegraph:
Public opinion has been divided very starkly indeed by the government’s invitation to energy companies to apply for licences to develop shale gas across a broad swathe of the United Kingdom.
On the one hand, many environmental and conservation groups are bitterly opposed to shale development. Ranged against them are those within and beyond the energy industry who believe that the exploitation of shale gas can prove not only vital but hugely positive for the British economy.
Rather oddly, hardly anyone seems to have asked the one question which is surely fundamental: does shale development make economic sense?
My conclusion is that it does not.
That Britain needs new energy sources is surely beyond dispute. Between 2003 and 2013, domestic production of oil and gas slumped by 62pc and 65pc respectively, while coal output decreased by 55pc. Despite sharp increases in the output of renewables, overall energy production has fallen by more than half. A net exporter of energy as recently as 2003, Britain now buys almost half of its energy from abroad, and this gap seems certain to widen.
The policies of successive governments have worsened this situation. The “dash for gas” in the Nineties accelerated depletion of our gas reserves. Labour’s dithering over nuclear power put replacement of our ageing reactors at least a decade behind schedule, and a premature abandonment of coal has taken place alongside an inconsistent, scattergun approach to renewables.
Those who claim that Britain faces an energy squeeze are right, then. But those who claim that the answer is using fracking to extract gas from shale formations are guilty of putting hope ahead of reality. Continue reading
Supermarket wars and Russia’s ban on EU produce have seen tumbling milk prices and stockpiled cheese supplies.
Courtesy of Rachel Pells @ The Independent:
British dairy farmers are threatening to take matters into their own hands as fears grow that volatile markets for their milk, butter and cheese products could jeopardise their livelihoods. Some larger dairy farmers are said to have incurred debts of more than £1m since milk prices first began to plummet in May.
Caught between a UK supermarket price war and a ban by Russia on EU produce, including dairy, which many fear could lead to a glut in Europe, dairy farmers are being asked to take action to help save their industry.
In an attempt to wrest control of the falling market, Farmers for Action, who staged the 2012 SOS Dairy demonstrations, has asked its members to support direct action to be taken by the end of this week. Within 24 hours of consulting its membership, the group received more than 500 “yes” votes, with farmers from around the country expressing grave concerns over the future of UK farming.
Welsh dairy farmer David Handley, chairman of Farmers for Action, said: “We’re producing more and more milk on a daily basis and we’ve no market for it. We’ve now reached a point where we’re about to fall off the edge of a cliff and the situation is dire.
“By the end of the year, we expect milk prices to fall by as much as 3p per litre, which will have a devastating effect on the whole industry, not only for dairy farmers but for the 25 to 30 areas of business that are directly associated.” Continue reading
Courtesy of Dan Popescu @ Goldbroker.com:
Roy W. Jastram, in his book, The Golden Constant, says, “When we go so far back into price history as I do here we are like the archeologist. We nurse together the evidence that has survived with as much test of its validity as is available to us. Statistics, like archeology, is an inexact science when practiced on numbers that are remote and fragmentary.”(1) This should always be kept in mind when analyzing economic data of any kind.
Just when they announced the end of gold and silver in 2000, both started shining again. It seems that it is not the death of gold and silver as money that will happen, but rather the death of fiat money. For more than 2,000 years, gold and silver have been used as money under different forms and have outlived any other form of currency (graph #1). We should not ignore also Dr. Copper. Gold and silver are called the eternal monetary couple, but I would also add copper and call it the eternal monetary trio.
Chart #1: International Reserve Currencies since 1400
In his book, The Power of Gold, Peter L. Bernstein says, “Gold may again serve as the ultimate hedge in chaotic conditions. Its return to its traditional role as universal money is unlikely, however, unless the time should come when the dollar, the euro, and the yen have all failed to function as acceptable means of payment across international borders.”(2) He wrote the book in the late ‘90s and published it in 2000, when the US dollar was at its apogee. It seems that what he did not expect but cautioned against is happening now. The whole international monetary system is barely kept alive and is on the verge of a total collapse, followed by a reset. Now, that is not the end of the world no more than the collapse of the pound Sterling was in the ‘40s. The collapse of the US dollar standard is only the beginning of a reset, whatever the form the new system will take. Until then gold and silver will outperform.
I cannot stop looking at the next two charts and ask myself how this parabolic move of inflation can go on for much longer. This is not natural. Maybe it can go to infinity in the imaginary world of economics that economists call “nominal”, but in the real world that we actually live in, it just cannot. Infinity in mathematics is not a real number, but rather an undefined large quantity. You cannot go to infinity in the real world. What is also striking in Jastram’s gold and silver charts since 1500 is the volatility in the real price of gold and silver that was introduced when paper money replaced hard money. Parabolic moves always end badly. It would actually be more correct to plot the pound Sterling in gold and silver. This would show a parabolic collapse of the paper British pound rather than an increase in the value of gold and silver. Continue reading