Monthly Archives: December 2010

Kathleen Parker gets it together. Finally.

Can we become an America WikiLeaks can’t assail?

By Kathleen Parker, Washington Post
Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thanks to WikiLeaks, even Vlad the Putin can raise an eyebrow and presume to know more about founding American principles, democracy and free speech.

It is convenient to blame poor little Julian Assange, the cyberkind who published the leaks that someone stole.

He is now a martyr to the brat brigades who occupy basements and attics, keeping the company of others similarly occupied with virtual life.

Assange is the king brat, but only du jour. He will be displaced soon enough by more ambitious hacks whose delinquent and, worse, sinister inclinations are enabled by technology. Alas, we are at the mercy of giddy, power-hungry nerds operating beyond the burden of responsibility or accountability.

Do I want to hunt down Assange as we do al-Qaeda, as one famous caribou hunter suggested? Uh, no. Assange, who is in custody awaiting extradition on (dubious) rape charges, may be a naughty boy. But he is an irresponsible publisher, a conduit, not the perpetrator of the originating offense. Whatever culpability we may assign to him ultimately will have to be determined in the way that we (but not so much the Russians and those who can see Russia on a clear day) prefer: due process.

In the meantime, a few observations are worth considering as we ponder the larger picture.

It is human nature to turn on the weak, and we apparently are today’s feast. The world delights in our recoil from the release of classified documents because the big dog has a limp, a weak spine and a soft belly.

Our president, though likable, is perceived as weak no matter how many raids we perform in Afghanistan. South Korea, who at least owes us an in-kind favor, at first declined our kind trade offer. China, Russia and others have criticized our monetary policy.

Meanwhile, the world sees our cacophonous Congress unable to move forward with measures to save our economy. The world watches our overfed populace stampeding to buy more junk made with cheap labor in unfriendly countries.

China holds our debt while we can’t agree on how to stop the hemorrhaging. At the same time, China’s students are kicking our kids’ tushies around the schoolyard. From reading to math, they’re so far ahead we inhale their dust.

That is to say, the world sees weakness.

This is a stunning recognition for most Americans who have grown up amid relative plenty, a sunny national disposition and mantra of good intentions. We’ve always known that we’re the good guys, as even some of our defenders have noted in the wake of WikiLeaks revelations.

Writing for the center-right Le Figaro, French journalist Renaud Girard said: “What is most fascinating is that we see no cynicism in U.S. diplomacy. They really believe in human rights in Africa and China and Russia and Asia. They really believe in democracy and human rights.”

Yes, we really do.

If Americans are guilty of anything, he said, it is being a little naive. Let’s plead guilty as charged and get on with it.

With gratitude, we even find a friend on the left. Another French journalist, Laurent Joffrin, editor of the leftist Liberation, conceded that we should not necessarily accept a “demand for transparency at any price.”

It would seem that we face several imperatives at this juncture: First, remain calm. Hysteria is not helpful. Second, accept that our world has changed in terms of what can be expected as “private” and behave accordingly. Third, all hands on deck as we work to reconcile our better angels with our fallen selves.

With the exception of our military, we are a flabby lot, and I’m not just talking about girth. We are merely disgusting in that department. I’m talking about our self-discipline, our individual will, our self-respect, our voluntary order.

Note the operative words: self, individual and voluntary.

We don’t need bureaucrats and politicians to dictate how to behave; how to spend (or save); what and how to eat. We need to be the people we were meant to be: strong, resilient, disciplined, entrepreneurial, focused, wise, playful, humorous, humble, thoughtful and, please, self-deprecating. We have all the tools and opportunities a planet can confer.

It’s still a jungle out there, however, and the weak lose every time. The lack of respect from other countries, the ridicule from thugs and the WikiLeaks celebration are part of the same cloth. We can do what’s necessary – tighten our belts, get tough, grab our shovels. To do less is to surrender to victimhood and the fates that befall those who decline to govern themselves.

kathleenparker@washpost.com

The Spirit of the Season

Monckton: The abdication of the West

Monckton’s Mexican Missive #3 H/T: WUWT Crossposted on December 9, 2010

The abdication of the West

From The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, Cancun, Mexico, Dec 9th, 2010

I usually add some gentle humor to these reports. Not today. Read this and weep. Notwithstanding the carefully-orchestrated propaganda to the effect that nothing much will be decided at the UN climate conference here in Cancun, the decisions to be made here this week signal nothing less than the abdication of the West. The governing class in what was once proudly known as the Free World is silently, casually letting go of liberty, prosperity, and even democracy itself. No one in the mainstream media will tell you this, not so much because they do not see as because they do not bl**dy care.

The 33-page Note (FCCC/AWGLCA/2010/CRP.2) by the Chairman of the “Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Co-operative Action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”, entitled Possible elements of the outcome, reveals all. Or, rather, it reveals nothing, unless one understands what the complex, obscure jargon means. All UNFCCC documents at the Cancun conference, specifically including Possible elements of the outcome, are drafted with what is called “transparent impenetrability”. The intention is that the documents should not be understood, but that later we shall be told they were in the public domain all the time, so what are we complaining about?

Since the Chairman’s note is very long, I shall summarize the main points:

Finance: Western countries will jointly provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to an unnamed new UN Fund. To keep this sum up with GDP growth, the West may commit itself to pay 1.5% of GDP to the UN each year. That is more than twice the 0.7% of GDP that the UN has recommended the West to pay in foreign aid for the past half century. Several hundred of the provisions in the Chairman’s note will impose huge financial costs on the nations of the West.

The world-government Secretariat: In all but name, the UN Convention’s Secretariat will become a world government directly controlling hundreds of global, supranational, regional, national and sub-national bureaucracies. It will receive the vast sum of taxpayers’ money ostensibly paid by the West to the Third World for adaptation to the supposed adverse consequences of imagined (and imaginary) “global warming”.

Bureaucracy: Hundreds of new interlocking bureaucracies answerable to the world-government Secretariat will vastly extend its power and reach. In an explicit mirroring of the European Union’s method of enforcing the will of its unelected Kommissars on the groaning peoples of that benighted continent, the civil servants of nation states will come to see themselves as servants of the greater empire of the Secretariat, carrying out its ukases and diktats whatever the will of the nation states’ governments.

Many of the new bureaucracies are disguised as “capacity-building in developing countries”. This has nothing to do with growing the economies or industries of poorer nations. It turns out to mean the installation of hundreds of bureaucratic offices answerable to the Secretariat in numerous countries around the world. Who pays? You do, gentle taxpayer.

Babylon, Byzantium, the later Ottoman Empire, the formidable bureaucracy of Nazi Germany, the vast empire of 27,000 paper-shufflers at the European Union: add all of these together and multiply by 100 and you still do not reach the sheer size, cost, power and reach of these new subsidiaries of the Secretariat.

In addition to multiple new bureaucracies in every one of the 193 states parties to the Convention, there will be:
an Adaptation Framework Body,
a Least Developed Countries’ Adaptation Planning Body,
an Adaptation Committee, Regional Network Centers,
an International Center to Enhance Adaptation Research,
National Adaptation Institutions,
a Body to Clarify Assumptions and Conditions in National Greenhouse-Gas Emission Reductions Pledges,
a Negotiating Body for an Overall Level of Ambition for Aggregate Emission Reductions and Individual Targets,
an Office to Revise Guidelines for National Communications,
a Multilateral Communications Process Office,
a Body for the Process to Develop Modalities and Guidelines for the Compliance Process,
a Registry of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions by Developed Countries,
a Body to Supervise the Process for Understanding Diversity of Mitigation Actions Submitted and Support Needed,
a Body to Develop Modalities for the Registry of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions,
an Office of International Consultation and Analysis,
an Office to Conduct a Work Program for Development of Various Modalities and Guidelines,
a network of Developing Countries’ National Forest Strategy Action Plan Offices,
a network of National Forest Reference Emission Level And/Or Forest Reference Level Bodies,
a network of National Forest Monitoring Systems,
an Office of the Work Program on Agriculture to Enhance the Implementation of Article 4, Paragraph 1(c) of the Convention Taking Into Account Paragraph 31,
one or more Mechanisms to Establish a Market-Based Approach to Enhance the Cost-Effectiveness Of And To Promote Mitigation Actions,
a Forum on the Impact of the Implementation of Response Measures,
a Work Program Office to Address the Impact of the Implementation of Response Measures,
a Body to Review the Needs of Developing Countries for Financial Resources to Address Climate Change and Identify Options for Mobilization of Those Resources,
a Fund in Addition to the Copenhagen Green Fund,
an Interim Secretariat for the Design Phase of the New Fund,
a New Body to Assist the Conference of the Parties in Exercising its Functions with respect to the Financial Mechanism,
a Body to Launch a Process to Further Define the Roles and Functions of the New Body to Assist the Conference of the Parties in Exercising its Functions with respect to the Financial Mechanism,
a Technology Executive Committee,
a Climate Technology Center and Network,
a Network of National, Regional, Sectoral and International Technology Centers, Networks, Organization and Initiatives,
Twinning Centers for Promotion of North-South, South-South and Triangular Partnerships with a View to Encouraging Co-operative Research and Development,
an Expert Workshop on the Operational Modalities of the Technology Mechanism,
an International Insurance Facility,
a Work Program Body for Policy Approaches and Positive Incentives on Issues Relating to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries,
a Body to Implement a Work Program on the Impact of the Implementation of Response Measures,
and a Body to Develop Modalities for the Operationalization of the Work Program on the Impact of the Implementation of Response Measures.

The world government’s powers: The Secretariat will have the power not merely to invite nation states to perform their obligations under the climate-change Convention, but to compel them to do so. Nation states are to be ordered to collect, compile and submit vast quantities of information, in a manner and form to be specified by the secretariat and its growing army of subsidiary bodies. Between them, they will be given new powers to verify the information, to review it and, on the basis of that review, to tell nation states what they can and cannot do.

Continuous expansion: The verb “enhance”, in its various forms, occurs at least 28 times in the Chairman’s note, Similar verbs, such as “strengthen” and “extend”, and adjectives such as “scaled-up”, “new” and “additional”, are also frequently deployed, particularly in relation to funding at the expense of Western taxpayers. If all of the “enhancements” proposed in the note were carried out, the cost would comfortably exceed the annual $100 billion (or, for that matter, the 1.5% of GDP) that the note mentions as the cost to the West over the coming decade.

Intellectual property in inventions
: Holders of patents, particularly in fields related to “global warming” and its mitigation, will be obliged to transfer the benefits of their inventiveness to developing countries without payment of royalties. This is nowhere explicitly stated in the Chairman’s note, but the transfer of technology is mentioned about 20 times in the draft, suggesting that the intention is still to carry out the explicit provision in the defunct Copenhagen Treaty draft of 15 September 2009 to this effect.

Insurance:
The Secretariat proposes, in effect, to interfere so greatly in the operation of the worldwide insurance market that it will cease to be a free market, with the usual severely adverse consequences to everyone in that market.

The free market
: The failed Copenhagen Treaty draft stipulated that the “government” that would be established would have the power to set the rules of all formerly free markets. There would be no such thing as free markets any more. In Cancun, the Chairman’s note merely says that various “market mechanisms” may be exploited by the Secretariat and by the parties to the Convention: but references to these “market mechanisms” are frequent enough to suggest that the intention remains to stamp out free markets worldwide.

Knowledge is power: The Chairman’s note contains numerous references to a multitude of new as well as existing obligations on nation states to provide information to the Secretariat, in a form and manner which it will dictate. The hand of the EU is very visible here.

It grabbed power from the member-states in four stages: first, acting merely as a secretariat to ensure stable supplies of coal and steel to rebuild Europe after the Second World War; then as a registry requiring member states to supply it with ever more information; then as a review body determining on the basis of the information supplied by the member states whether they were complying with their obligations on the ever-lengthier and more complex body of European treaties; and finally as the ultimate law-making authority, to which all elected parliaments, explicitly including the European “Parliament”, were and are subject. Under the Cancun propsoals, the Secretariat is following the path that the plague of EU officials here have no doubt eagerly advised it to follow. It is now taking numerous powers not merely to require information from nation states but to hold them to account for their supposed international obligations under the climate-change Convention on the basis of the information the nations are now to be compelled to supply.

Propaganda: The Chairman’s note contains several mentions of the notion that the peoples of the world need to be told more about climate change. Here, too, there is a parallel with the EU, which administers a propaganda fund of some $250 million a year purely to advertise its own wonderfulness to an increasingly sceptical population. The IPCC already spends millions every year with PR agencies, asking them to find new ways of making its blood-curdling message more widely understood and feared among ordinary people. The Secretariat already has the advantage of an uncritical, acquiescent, scientifically illiterate, economically innumerate and just plain dumb news media: now it will have a propaganda fund to play with as well.

Damage caused by The Process
: At the insistence of sensible nation states such as the United States, the Czech Republic, Japan, Canada, and Italy, the Cancun outcome acknowledges that The Process is causing, and will cause, considerable economic damage, delicately described in the Chairman’s note as “unintended side-effects of implementing climate-change response measures”. The solution? Consideration of the catastrophic economic consequences of the Secretariat’s heroically lunatic decisions will fall under the control of – yup – the Secretariat. Admire its sheer gall.

Damage to world trade: As the power, wealth and reach of the Secretariat grow, it finds itself rubbing uncomfortably up against other supranational organizations. In particular, the World Trade Organization has been getting antsy about the numerous aspects of the Secretariat’s proposals that constitute restrictions on international trade. At several points, the Chairman’s note expresses the “decision” – in fact, no more than an opinion and a questionable one at that – that the Secretariat’s policies are not restrictive of trade.

The Canute provision: The conference will reaffirm the decision of its predecessor in Copenhagen this time last year “to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”, just like that. In fact, temperature in central England, and by implication globally, rose 2.2 Celsius in the 40 years 1695-1735, as the Sun began to recover from its 11,400-year activity minimum, and rose again by 0.74 C in the 20th century. There has been no warming in the 21st century, but we are already well over 2 Celsius degrees above pre-industrial levels. The Canute provision, as some delegates have dubbed it (after the Danish king of early England who famously taught his courtiers the limitations of his power and, a fortiori, theirs when he set up his throne on the beach and commanded sea level not to rise, whereupon the tide came in as usual and wet the royal feet), shows the disconnect between The Process and reality.

Omissions: There are several highly-significant omissions, which jointly and severally establish that the central intent of The Process no longer has anything to do with the climate, if it ever had. The objective is greatly to empower and still more greatly to enrich the international classe politique at the expense of the peoples of the West, using the climate as a pretext, so as to copy the European Union by installing in perpetuity what some delegates here are calling “transnational perma-Socialism” beyond the reach or recall of any electorate. Here are the key omissions:

* The science: The question whether any of this vast expansion of supranational power is scientifically necessary is not addressed. Instead, there is merely a pietistic affirmation of superstitious faith in the IPCC, where the conference will “recognize that deep cuts in global [greenhouse-gas] emissions are required according to science, and as documented in the [IPCC’s] Fourth Assessment Report.”
* The economics: There is no assessment of the extent to which any of the proposed actions to mitigate “global warming” by cutting emissions of carbon dioxide or to adapt the world to its consequences will be cost-effective. Nor, tellingly, is there any direct comparison between mitigation and adaptation in their cost-effectiveness: indeed, the IPCC was carefully structured so that mitigation and adaptation are considered by entirely separate bureaucracies producing separate reports, making any meaningful comparison difficult. Though every economic analysis of this central economic question, other than that of the now-discredited Lord Stern, shows that mitigation is a pointless fatuity and that focused adaptation to the consequences of any “global warming” that may occur would be orders of magnitude cheaper and more cost-effective, the Cancun conference outcome will continue to treat mitigation as being of equal economic utility with adaptation.
* Termination: Contracts have termination clauses to say what happens when the agreement ends. Nothing better illustrates the intent to create a permanent world-government structure than the absence of any termination provisions whatsoever in the Cancun outcome. The Process, like diamonds, is forever.
* Democracy: Forget government of the people, by the people, for the people. Forget the principle of “no taxation without representation” that led to the very foundation of the United States. The provisions for the democratic election of the new, all-powerful, legislating, tax-raising world-government Secretariat by the peoples of the world may be summarized in a single word: None.

How did this monstrous transfer of power from once-proud, once-sovereign, once-democratic nations to the corrupt, unelected Secretariat come about? The story begins with Sir Maurice Strong, an immensely wealthy UN bureaucrat from Canada who, a quarter of a century ago, established the IPCC as an intergovernmental, political body rather than as a scientific body precisely so that it could be maneuvered into assisting in the UN’s long-term aim, reiterated at a summit of senior UN officials this May by Ban Ki-Moon himself, of extinguishing national sovereignty and establishing a world government.

The Process began in earnest in 1988, when the IPCC was established. Shortly thereafter, on a June day in Washington DC deliberately chosen by Al Gore because it was unusually hot, his political ally and financial benefactor James Hansen appeared before a Congressional committee and put before it a wildly-exaggerated graph predicting global warming over the coming 20 or 30 years. Yet June 2008, the 20th anniversary of his testimony, was cooler globally than June 1988, and worldwide warming has happened at less than half the rate he predicted.

The Rio Earth Summit in 1992 allowed environmental groups and world “leaders” to grandstand together. From that summit emerged the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which began holding annual conferences on “global warming”.

The Kyoto Protocol in 1997 committed its signatories to cut back their national CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2012. Most are not going to make it. The US Senate, with Al Gore as its president, voted 95-0 to reject any treaty such as Kyoto, which bound only the West while leaving developing nations such as China to emit carbon dioxide without constraint.

Very little progress had been made by the time of the Bali conference in 2007: but at that conference a “road-map” was constructed that was to lead to a binding international treaty in Copenhagen in 2009.

Just one problem with that. The US Constitution provides that, even if the President has signed a treaty, his signature is meaningless unless the treaty has been debated in the Senate, which must ratify it by the votes of at least 67 of the 100 Senators. It became clear to everyone, after the Obama administration failed to cajole or bully even 60 Senators into passing the Waxman/Markey cap-and-tax Bill, that no climate treaty would pass the Senate.

Worse, the Secretariat grossly overreached itself. Believing its own propaganda to the effect that none but a few vexatious, fossil-funded sceptics believed that “global warming” would be small enough to be harmless, it drafted and posted up on its website a 186-page draft Treaty of Copenhagen, proposing to turn itself into an unelected world government with unlimited powers to impose direct taxation on member nations without representation, recourse or recall, to interfere directly in the environmental policies of individual nations, and to sweep away all free markets worldwide, replacing them with itself as the sole rulemaker in every marketplace (treaty draft, annex 1, articles 36-38). Some quotations from the draft reveal the sheer ambition of the UN:

“The scheme for the new institutional arrangement under the Convention will be based on three basic pillars: government; facilitative mechanism; and financial mechanism. … The government will be ruled by the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change with the support of a new subsidiary body on adaptation, and of an Executive Board responsible for the management of the new funds and the related facilitative processes and bodies.” (Copenhagen Treaty draft of September 15, 2009, para. 38).

The three central powers that the UN had hoped to grant itself under the guise of Saving The Planet from alleged climate catastrophe were as follows:

Government”: This use of the word “government” is the first use of the term to describe a world government in any international treaty draft.

“Financial mechanism”: The “financial mechanism” was a delicate phrase to describe a new power of the UN to levy unlimited taxation directly on the peoples of its member states: taxation without representation, and on a global scale.

“Facilitative mechanism”: This mechanism would, for the first time, have given the UN he power directly to coerce and compel compliance on the part of its member states, by force if necessary. The Treaty draft describes it as –

“… a facilitative mechanism drawn up to facilitate the design, adoption and carrying out of public policies, as the prevailing instrument, to which the market rules and related dynamics should be subordinate.”

In short, there was to be a New World Order, with a “government” having at its command a “financial mechanism” in the form of unlimited rights to tax the world’s citizen’s directly, and a “facilitative mechanism” that would bring the rules of all formerly free markets under the direct control of the new UN “government”, aided by an already-expanding series of bureaucracies.

At no point anywhere in the 186 pages of the Treaty draft do the words “democracy”, “election”, “ballot”, or “vote” appear. As the EU has already demonstrated, the transfer of powers from sovereign democracies to supranational entities brings those democracies to an end. At the supranational level, in the UN, in the EU and in the proposed world government, decisions are not made by anyone whom we, the voters, have elected to make such decisions.

The exposure of the draft treaty in major international news media panicked the UN into abandoning the draft before the Copenhagen conference even began. Instead, the UN is now legislating crabwise, as the European Union does, with a series of successive annual agreements, the last of which was the Copenhagen Accord, each transferring more power and wealth from individual nations to its supranational bureaucracy. The latest of these agreements is being finalized here in Cancun.

The European Union, which has stealthily stamped out democracy over the past half-century by a series of treaties each transferring a little more power and wealth from elected hands in the member states to unelected hands in Brussels, has been advising the Secretariat on how to do the same on a global scale.

After the spectacular bloody nose the Secretariat got in Copenhagen, it was most anxious not to endure a second failure in Cancun. To this end, it obtained the agreement of the German government to host a monthly series of conferences in Bonn in the early part of 2010, some of which were open to outside observers and some were behind closed doors in a comfortable suburban palace, where the new way of legislating for the world – in secret – first came into use.

The Chinese regime, anxious to get a piece of the action, agreed to host an additional session in Tientsin a few weeks ago. The purpose of this near-perpetual international junketing – which the national delegates have greatly enjoyed at our expense – was to make sure that nearly all of the elements in the Cancun agreement were firmly in draft and agreed well before Cancun, so as to avoid what too many journalists have tediously and obviously described as a “Mexican stand-off”.

It is precisely because of all this massive and expensive preparation that the note by the Chairman, whose main points are summarized above, may well reflect what is finally decided and announced here in a couple of days’ time. The Chairman is not simply guessing: this Note reflects what the Secretariat now confidently expects to get away with.

However, following the Copenhagen disaster, our grim future New Masters are taking no chances. They persuaded their friends in the mainstream news media, who cannot now easily back out of their original declarations of blind faith in the Church of “Global Warming” and are as anxious not to lose face as the Secretariat is, to put it about that at Cancun this year and even at Durban next year very little of substance will occur.

The intention is that, after not one but two international climate conferences, the second of them in Rio in 2012 on the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit that began it all, the Secretariat will have become so wealthy and will have accreted so much power to itself that no one – not even the US Senate – will dare to resist ratifying the Treaty of Rio that brings democracy to an end worldwide and fulfils Lord Mandelson’s recent statement that “we are now living in a post-democratic age.

Over my dead body. The people know best what is best for the people. The governing class no doubt knows what is best for the governing class, but does not necessarily know what is best for the people, and must always be kept in check by the ballot-box.

If we are to have a world government at all (and, as the science of “global warming” alarm continues to collapse, the current pretext for world domination by a privileged few is wearing more than a little thin), then it is essential that the world government should be an elected government, and that, as Article 1, Section 1 of the US Constitution makes plain when it grants “All legislative power” to the elected Congress and to the now-elected Senate, none shall make laws for the world or impose taxes upon the world except those whom the people of the world have elected by universal secret ballot.

How can we, the people, defeat the Secretariat and keep the democracy we love? Simply by informing our elected representatives of the scope, ambition, and detail of what is in the Cancun agreement. The agreement will not be called a “Treaty”, because the Senate, particularly after the mid-term elections, will not pass it. But it can still be imposed upon us by the heavily Left-leaning Supreme Court, which no longer makes any pretense at judicial impartiality and may well decide, even if Congress does not, that the Cancun agreement shall stand part of US law on the ground that it is “customary international law”.

What to do? Send this blog posting to your legislators. It is their power, as well as yours, that is being taken away; their democracy, as well as yours, that will perish from the Earth unless this burgeoning nonsense is stopped.

Dumb. As. Rocks.

Two “petitions” conducted at COP16, Cancun, Mexico, the sequel to Copenhagen, all in support of “Kyoto”:

Question to heads of state, directors of NGOs… Do you know who your representatives are?
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. For the scientifically illiterate, “dihdrogen oxide” that most noxious and potent of all greenhouse gases is commonly known as “water”. The petitioner can’t keep from smiling on the first guy he springs the petition on.
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. But then, under the Obama administration, the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) wants to declare carbon dioxide (CO2), the essential gas upon which all life depends, a pollutant.
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Dumb. As. Rocks.

Fox News/Sunday Times: Assange: global extortion R us

WikiLeaks Ready to Release Giant ‘Insurance’ File if Shut Down

Published December 05, 2010, Sunday Times, reported by Fox News

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, has circulated across the internet an encrypted “poison pill” cache of uncensored documents suspected to include files on BP and Guantanamo Bay.

One of the files identified this weekend by The Sunday Times — called the “insurance” file — has been downloaded from the WikiLeaks website by tens of thousands of supporters, from America to Australia.

Assange warns that any government that tries to curtail his activities risks triggering a new deluge of state and commercial secrets.

The military papers on Guantanamo Bay, yet to be published, have been supplied by Bradley Manning, Assange’s primary source until his arrest in May. Other documents that Assange is confirmed to possess include an aerial video of a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan that killed civilians, BP files and Bank of America documents.

One of the key files available for download — named insurance.aes256 — appears to be encrypted with a 256-digit key. Experts said last week it was virtually unbreakable.

The U.S. Department of Defense says it is aware of the WikiLeaks insurance file, but has been unable to establish its contents. It has been available for download since July.

Assange has warned he can divulge the classified documents in the insurance file and similar backups if he is detained or the WikiLeaks website is permanently removed from the internet. He has suggested the contents are unredacted, posing a possible security risk for coalition partners around the world.

Assange warned: “We have over a long period of time distributed encrypted backups of material we have yet to release. All we have to do is release the password to that material, and it is instantly available.”

The “doomsday files” are part of a contingency plan drawn up by Assange and his supporters as they face a legal threat. He is wanted in Sweden over sexual assault allegations, and the US administration is reviewing the possibility of legal action after the release of 250,000 diplomatic cables.

Ben Laurie, a London-based computer security expert who has advised WikiLeaks, said: “Julian’s a smart guy and this is an interesting tactic. He will hope it deters anyone from acting against him.”

Nigel Smart, professor of cryptology at the U.K.’s Bristol University, said even powerful military computers would be unable to crack the encryption. He said: “This isn’t something that can be broken with a modern computer. You need the key to open it.”

The file is 1.4 gigabytes in size, which would be big enough for a compressed version of all the files released this year and additional data.

Assange said last year that he had been leaked a computer hard drive from an executive at Bank of America and warned this month he was planning a major release on a large American bank. He also claims to have confidential files on BP and other energy companies. Tens of millions of personal computers were hijacked last week in an act of sabotage that crippled the WikiLeaks website. WikiLeaks revealed that a “denial of service” attack that temporarily shut down the website used a network of “zombie” computers, which were infiltrated by the hackers.

WikiLeaks is now battling for its survival. Amazon, which hosted the website, refused further access to its servers last week. A site that provided WikiLeaks with its domain name, EveryDNS.net, also cut off its service because it said it was being inundated with sabotage attacks.

Some of the contingency plans were revealed when the site re-emerged on Friday with a Swiss address, WikiLeaks.ch. The new name was provided by the Swiss Pirate party, which champions internet freedom. Assange has also set up contingency servers in Sweden.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/12/05/wikileaks-ready-release-massive-insurance-file-shut/#ixzz17MadtvYm

Crovitz:”WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hopes to hobble the U.S. government”

Julian Assange, Information Anarchist

by Gordon Crovitz, December 6, 2010, Wall Street Journal|Opinion Journal

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hopes to hobble the U.S. government.

Whatever else WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has accomplished, he’s ended the era of innocent optimism about the Web. As wiki innovator Larry Sanger put it in a message to WikiLeaks, “Speaking as Wikipedia’s co-founder, I consider you enemies of the U.S.—not just the government, but the people.”

The irony is that WikiLeaks’ use of technology to post confidential U.S. government documents will certainly result in a less free flow of information. The outrage is that this is Mr. Assange’s express intention.

This batch includes 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, the kind of confidential assessments diplomats have written since the era of wax seals. These include Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah urging the U.S. to end Iran’s nuclear ambitions—to “cut the head off the snake.” This alignment with the Israeli-U.S. position is not for public consumption in the Arab world, which is why leaks will curtail honest discussions.

Leaks will also restrict information flows within the U.S. A major cause of the 9/11 intelligence failures was that agencies were barred from sharing information. Since then, intelligence data have been shared more widely. The Obama administration now plans to tighten information flows, which could limit leaks but would be a step back to the pre-9/11 period.

Mr. Assange is misunderstood in the media and among digirati as an advocate of transparency. Instead, this battening down of the information hatches by the U.S. is precisely his goal. The reason he launched WikiLeaks is not that he’s a whistleblower—there’s no wrongdoing inherent in diplomatic cables—but because he hopes to hobble the U.S., which according to his underreported philosophy can best be done if officials lose access to a free flow of information.

In 2006, Mr. Assange wrote a pair of essays, “State and Terrorist Conspiracies” and “Conspiracy as Governance.” He sees the U.S. as an authoritarian conspiracy. “To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed,” he writes. “Conspiracies take information about the world in which they operate,” he writes, and “pass it around the conspirators and then act on the result.”

His central plan is that leaks will restrict the flow of information among officials—”conspirators” in his view—making government less effective. Or, as Mr. Assange puts it, “We can marginalize a conspiracy’s ability to act by decreasing total conspiratorial power until it is no longer able to understand, and hence respond effectively to its environment. . . . An authoritarian conspiracy that cannot think efficiently cannot act to preserve itself.”

Berkeley blogger Aaron Bady last week posted a useful translation of these essays. He explains Mr. Assange’s view this way: “While an organization structured by direct and open lines of communication will be much more vulnerable to outside penetration, the more opaque it becomes to itself (as a defense against the outside gaze), the less able it will be to ‘think’ as a system, to communicate with itself.” Mr. Assange’s idea is that with enough leaks, “the security state will then try to shrink its computational network in response, thereby making itself dumber and slower and smaller.”

Or as Mr. Assange told Time magazine last week, “It is not our goal to achieve a more transparent society; it’s our goal to achieve a more just society.” If leaks cause U.S. officials to “lock down internally and to balkanize,” they will “cease to be as efficient as they were.”

This worldview has precedent. Ted Kaczynski, another math-obsessed anarchist, sent bombs through the mail for almost 20 years, killing three people and injuring 23. He offered to stop in 1995 if media outlets published his Unabomber Manifesto. The 35,000-word essay, “Industrial Society and Its Future,” objected to the “industrial-technological system” that causes people “to behave in ways that are increasingly remote from the natural pattern of human behavior.” He’s serving a life sentence for murder.

Mr. Assange doesn’t mail bombs, but his actions have life-threatening consequences. Consider the case of a 75-year-old dentist in Los Angeles, Hossein Vahedi. According to one of the confidential cables released by WikiLeaks, Dr. Vahedi, a U.S. citizen, returned to Iran in 2008 to visit his parents’ graves. Authorities confiscated his passport because his sons worked as concert promoters for Persian pop singers in the U.S. who had criticized the theocracy.

The cable reported that Dr. Vahedi decided to escape by horseback over the mountains of western Iran and into Turkey. He trained by hiking the hills above Tehran. He took extra heart medication. But when he fell off his horse, he was injured and nearly froze. When he made it to Turkey, the U.S. Embassy intervened to stop him being sent back to Iran.

“This is very bad for my family,” Dr. Vahedi told the New York Daily News on being told about the leak of the cable naming him and describing his exploits. Tehran has a new excuse to target his relatives in Iran. “How could this be printed?”

Excellent question. It’s hard being collateral damage in the world of WikiLeaks.

Gordon Crovitz is a media and information industry advisor and executive, including former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, executive vice president of Dow Jones and president of its Consumer Media Group. He has been active in digital media since the early 1990s, overseeing the growth of The Wall Street Journal Online to more than one million paying subscribers, making WSJ.com the largest paid news site on the Web. He launched the Factiva business-search service and led the acquisition for Dow Jones of the MarketWatch Web site, VentureOne database, Private Equity Analyst newsletter and online news services VentureWire (Silicon Valley), e-Financial News (London) and VWD (Frankfurt).

He is co-founder of Journalism Online, a member of the board of directors of ProQuest and Blurb and is on the board of advisors of several early-stage companies, including SocialMedian (sold to XING), UpCompany, Halogen Guides, YouNoodle, Peer39, SkyGrid, ExpertCEO and Clickability. He is an investor in Betaworks, a New York incubator for startups, and in Business Insider.

Earlier in his career, Gordon wrote the “Rule of Law” column for the Journal and won several awards including the Gerald Loeb Award for business commentary. He was editor and publisher of the Far Eastern Economic Review in Hong Kong and editorial-page editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe in Brussels.

He graduated from the University of Chicago and has law degrees from Wadham College, Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes scholar, and Yale Law School.