American Elephants


Let’s Have Some Really Good News for a Change! by The Elephant's Child

Here at home, the plumbing disaster has evolved into a replace a bathroom adventure. Sorry about the light blogging, but some days that just the way it goes. This is merely the beginning.

So I will turn to good news for a change. How’s this for a headline? “The Era of Great Famines is Over” Here’s Paul Ehrlich writing in The Population Bomb in 1968,

The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.

—India has been suffering from widespread drought in 11 states across the country, yet the country’s foodgrain production is actually set to grow marginally, the third advance estimates released by the agriculture ministry on Monday showed. The grain production for human consumption for 2015-2016 is estimated at 252.23 million tons, marginally higher than the 252.92 million tones produced in 2014-2015 according to the data. If the estimates hold up, it implies that the damage to the farm economy is less than was feared, but also demonstrates a bit of resilience of Indian agriculture to a deficit monsoon.

—Ethiopia is moving from being “the world’s symbol of mass famines to fending off starvation.” Ethiopia could choose to avoid another disaster because “Famine isn’t caused by overpopulation, and as Ethiopia’s experience shows, it’s not a necessary consequence of drought. Politics creates famine, and politics can stop it.” The New York Times, May 8 , 2016

—South Africa aims to be malaria free by 2018. The National Health Department in confident that they can reduce locally transmitted cases to zero, because they have already managed to reduce cases dramatically.

Malaria accounts for 40 percent of all public health spending on the continent, killing up to 438,000 people each year mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.

But, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s world malaria report for 2015 states that there’s been a major decline in global malaria cases and deaths since the year 2000, with the mortality rate decreasing by 60 percent.

—In the middle of the political season, everyone seems to be angry, unhappy with Congress because they didn’t stop Obama from using his phone and his pen to accomplish all the things that he could not get through Congress, and decided to accomplish by executive order.. The media is fascinated with following unpredictable candidates around, so we aren’t hearing all that much from the rest of the world.  From Guy Sorman at City Journal:

Worry over America’s recent economic stagnation, however justified, shouldn’t obscure the fact that the American economy remains Number One in the world. The United States holds 4.5 percent of the world’s population but produces a staggering 22 percent of the world’s output—a fraction that has remained fairly stable for two decades, despite growing competition from emerging countries. Not only is the American economy the biggest in absolute terms, with a GDP twice the size of China’s; it’s also near the top in per-capita income, currently a bit over $48,000 per year. Only a few small countries blessed with abundant natural resources or a concentration of financial services, such as Norway and Luxembourg, can claim higher averages.

“America’s predominance isn’t new; indeed, it has existed since the early nineteenth century.” By the 1830s American per-capita income was already the highest in the world. It wasn’t just our size and natural resources, for other countries had those attributes.

They couldn’t compete with Americas strong intellectual property rights. The U.S, Constitution was the first in history to protect intellectual property rights, and “secured for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Two hundred years later, the U.S. has more patents in force —1.8 million—than any other nation. American wages were significantly higher than those in Europe, which meant that landowners needed high levels of productivity, which meant that the mechanization of agriculture got under way in America before it did overseas.

America’s enormous territory and “the freedom people had to move and work across it” encouraged an advanced division of labor, which is essential to high productivity.

Globalization is having the same effect today, making prices drop by assigning the production of goods to countries that are relatively efficient at making them.

Immigration has been another component of American economic dynamism, for evident quantitative reasons: national GDP grows when total population and productivity increase simultaneously. But this effect has worked particularly well in the United States because its immigrants have tended to be young, energetic, and open to American values. Immigration is a self-selecting process: those who find the courage to leave behind their roots, traditions, and family often have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Guy Sorman adds:

In the current sluggish economic environment, the remarkable history of American dynamism is thus more instructive than ever. America’s economic might is rooted in an entrepreneurial culture and a passion for innovation and risk-taking, traits nourished by the nation’s commitment to the rule of law, property rights, and a predictable set of tax and regulatory policies. Policymakers have lost sight of these fundamental principles in recent years. The next era of American prosperity will be hastened when they return to them.

Do read the whole thing. It’s not long.



Parenting Isn’t Always a Picnic! Happy Mother’s Day! by The Elephant's Child

 

Baby fox
Bear urinal
Lions3
Horses
Hippos 2

Keep going, there’s more after the fold
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A Bit More on the Alternative Reality by The Elephant's Child

Five days ago I wrote a post on TransCanada Corp.’s two new lawsuits against the Obama Administration’s denial of the Keystone XL Pipeline for the long drawn-out, multi-year rejection of the pipeline. One lawsuit filed in a Houston Federal Court, states that President Obama exceeded his authority in November when he blocked the pipeline’s construction, the other, separately filed, is an international petition under NAFTA seeking to recover $15 billion in costs and damages incurred in its attempt to build the cross-border pipeline.

Today, it seems that the same Obama Administration that rejected the Keystone XL pipeline has no problem at all in supporting a new oil pipeline project in Kenya. U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec told Kenya’s energy minister that the Obama Administration would help Nairobi raise $18 billion to finance its PowerAfrica project. The pipeline, the Wall Street Journal reports, would stretch from Kenya’s Rift Valley to Lamu on the coast. Mr. Godec said that “Kenya needs $18 billion worth of financing, so one of the questions we are discussing is how we can work together with the private sector and governments to raise that sum, to find ways to make certain that this financing becomes available.”

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S. is obliged to treat a Canadian company in the same way it would treat an American company. The case may well succeed because of the extraordinary regulatory barriers the U.S. imposed on the investment. It’s clear that President Obama blocked the project on arbitrary political grounds. The resolution of these two cases will be interesting to watch. A oil pipeline would undoubtedly help Kenya, but I’m not sure it should be financed with taxpayer dollars.



Greens to Africa: You Can Only Have Power If You Do It Our Way by The Elephant's Child

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Why are environmentalists so impervious to facts? It is a religion, faith-based, and even high-school biology goes by the wayside as one faces the problems of the modern world. Sierra Club president Aaron Mair had to rely on his aides and the much debunked 97% canard to respond to Ted Cruz’s questions.

Friends of the Earth; Oxfam America; Sierra Club; United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society have sent a letter to the U.S. Senate demanding changes to the Electrify Africa Act of 2015. S 1933 in order to help accomplish the goals of the Act and to promote clean and sustainable development. (Lofty, ludicrous and laughable)

Unsurprisingly, they want Africa powered with (extraordinarily expensive) sources like wind and solar (presumably without the needed backup power). They note that more than two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s population lacks electricity, with that number growing to more than 85 percent in rural areas. They demand:

  • Ensuring that growth in access is inclusive and is reliable, affordable and sustainable energy with a particular emphasis on increasing off-grid coverage in rural areas.
  • Developing an energy access strategy for sub-Saharan Africa that promotes safe, affordable community-controlled renewable energy solutions, rather than encouraging an “all-of-the-above” strategy that promotes oil, natural gas, and coal that is harmful to human health and local environments and that is often associated with corruption. (emphasis added) …
  • Requiring meaningful consent on energy development plans from local communities, and

To be inclusive means improving opportunities for and involvement of women and girls by:

  • Ensuring that women and girls benefit from access to energy, conduct a gender assessment at each project level to analyze gender differences and inequalities, that will inform best practices for energy project design and implementation. …
  • Disaggregating by age, gender and economic quintile the number of people and communities that have benefitted from the law.

I left out several lines of gobbledygook, but you can find the whole thing here, with additional comments from Steven Hayward. He adds that the environmentalists have successfully lobbied the World Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corp. not to fund any hydroelectric dams in Africa (or anywhere else.) Africa has lots of hydro potential, and oddly enough, hydro is the original “renewable” resource. Environmentalists don’t like dams! Only wind and solar that require 24/7 backup from conventional power plants that they hope to forbid.

What a bunch of shallow-minded lightweights. You want energy to enter the modern world — only if you do it our way.

The African wind farm in the photo will produce some very expensive, intermittent energy when the wind blows at the right speed. The entire objection to conventional energy is that it adds CO2 to the atmosphere and thus causes global warming. Such warming as there is — roughly a degree over the last century — is less than the normal warming from winter to summer, and is probably caused by the sun. CO2 is a natural fertilizer, and helps plants (like African food crops) to grow.



The More Things Change, The More they Stay the Same by The Elephant's Child
September 19, 2015, 6:54 am
Filed under: Africa, Europe, History, Islam, Middle East | Tags: , ,

Europe_around_650

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

In the early years of the seventh century, when the Prophet Muhammad began his mission in Arabia, the whole of the Mediterranean world was still part of Christendom. On the European, Asian and African shores alike, almost all the inhabitants were Christians of various denomination. Of the other religions of the Greco-Roman world, only two, Judaism and Manichaeism, had survived and were professed by minorities in these lands. In the eastern Mediterranean, the East Roman Empire, known to scholarship as the Byzantine Empire, continued to flourish and with Constantinople as its capital ruled over Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and part of North Africa as well as Asia Minor and southeastern Europe. In the western Mediterranean, the Roman state had fallen, but the barbarian peoples, and the kingdoms they raised on the ruins of Rome, had adopted the Christian religion and tried with intermittent success to maintain at least the forms of the Roman state and the Christian church. Nor was the realm of Christendom limited to the Mediterranean lands. Beyond the eastern border of Byzantium, Mesopotamia, the metropolitan and western-most province of the Persian Empire, was by the early seventh century predominately Christian and thus part of the Christian though not the Roman world. Even in Arabia, beyond the imperial frontiers of both Rome and Persia. Christian and Jewish minorities lived among the pagan majority.

Within a few decades of the death of Muhammad in 632, his Arab followers had burst out of the Arabia Peninsula, attacked Byzantium and Persia, the two great empires that had divided the Middle East between them, and wrested vast territories from both. The Empire of Persia was conquered and absorbed in its entirety. From the Roman world the Arabs took Syria  Palestine, Egypt, and the rest of North Africa which, in turn, became their springboard for the invasion of Africa which, in turn, became their springboard for the invasion of Spain and the Mediterranean islands, notably Sicily. Defeating both the Byzantine and the barbarian armies, they were able to incorporate these countries in the new Islamic Empire and to threaten Christendom from both ends. In the east, Arab armies from Syria and Iraq pressing against Anatolia, then a Greek and Christian land and the heartland of the Byzantine Empire, while other Arab and  Berber armies in the west swept from conquered Spain across the Pyrenees and threatened to engulf all of Western Europe. For a while, Muslim armies occupied Sicily, parts of southern Italy, and seemed to menace even Rome itself.

The opening paragraphs from The Muslim Discovery of Europe by Bernard Lewis, New York, 1982  Highly recommended.



A Coffee Shop in Addis Ababa Was the Site Of Comments On Mr. Obama’s Speeches by The Elephant's Child

_84535912_kaldi'scoffeeI had to laugh at Abe Greenwald’s line: “The United States has been too eager to throw its weight around and impose it’s norms on other countries without giving sufficient thought to the resentment it might sow.” Which he attributes to Barack Obama’s worldview.

Obama went to Africa to make a speech.  He spoke in the Mandela Hall in the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and he spoke at the Young African Leaders Initiative Town Hall on the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus. He told Africans to stamp out corruption, get more young people in school. Africa’s population will double, he said, but it is urgent to get more young people trained. Africa’s growth will depend on unleashing economic growth, and ending the cancer of corruption. He tried to push  education for girls, gay rights in Africa, fighting corruption and “clean energy” and — solar panels, not ‘dirty’ fossil fuels.

The young Africans, according to the BBC, said their feeling about America is ‘clean your own house first.’ They are shocked and horrified at what is going on in the black community in America — police brutality, all these killings, everything being swept under the rug, investigations don’t happen. They were horrified by the lack of freedom of speech and expression in the U.S. Many said they found Obama’s views about gay rights unpalatable. “When Obama declares gay rights is about human rights, most of us feel he’s not Christian.”

Mr. Obama may be laboring mightily to keep anyone from thinking that America is an “exceptional” country. He wants it to be just one of the “community of nations,” and not any more important than any other. Strange ambition. But the nations of the world haven’t lost interest, and everything American makes it onto the front pages of the world’s newspapers, and with the increasing spread of technology, they have only to log on. After all, we are the source of movies, celebrity gossip and strange behavior, fashion, what’s new, and just what’s happening in America.  So they know quite a bit about what’s going on here. In spite of the compliments, Obama seemed to be there to throw his weight around as the American president, and impose some American norms without giving sufficient thought to the resentment it might sow.

Here are “Remarks by President Obama to the People of Africa

Here are “Remarks by President Obama at Young African Leaders Initiative Town Hall

Here are remarks from young Africans of East Africa in Addis Ababa



A Little Reminder of the Astonishing Changes In the World by The Elephant's Child

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President Obama spoke on Sunday in Kenya about Africa’s bleak history, referencing the racism his grandfather faced as a cook for the British during the colonial era, and the ethnic violence that erupted after a disputed election in 2007. He urged Africans to build stronger and more tolerant democracies. Graft, he said, is “not something that is just fixed by laws, or that any one person can fix. It requires a commitment by the entire nation—leaders and citizens—to change habits and change culture.

What does this have to do with rather primitive cell phones? It’s that modern cell phones are now common in Africa. You may see a Masai tribesman in the remotest part of Africa, herding goats in his red blanket, talking on a cell phone. Poverty is being eliminated, life expectancy is longer, and trade and investment are changing Africa. Leon Louw urges more “exploitation.” More people buying things from Africa, investing in Africa and employing people in Africa. Yet the assumption is that poverty is increasing, while the opposite is the case, and should be celebrated.

If you have not watched the 9 minute video below, you can see the important part about eliminating poverty and the proliferation of cell phones at about 9: 30, and the potential difference that BitCoin may make. Mr. Obama’s advisors did not prepare him for recognizing the advances that Africa has made.

Last time he made a speech in Africa, Obama told the people that they couldn’t all have cars and air-conditioners or the oceans would boil over.

Time and technology move on, and change the world.




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