I see Eric Wingerter (aka. www.borev.net) felt my post was of interest. I expect royalties for the reproduction of my diagram!
ps. It wasn't made in PowerPoint and tell your friends at Global Exchange they did a nice job with your website
BTW, I like Ann Arbor and the U of M
For those of you who have found the Venezuelan government propaganda connection confusing, I have decided to post this rather simple diagram. The diagram is some what limited to the connections of Mark Weisbrot but does encompass some of the most notorious propagandists.
If I am missing any please let me know, I will be happy to update it.
The most recent PSF connection
In 2006 Mark Weisbrot published two related papers titled: "The scorecard on development: 25 years of diminished progress" and "Poverty rates in Venezuela: getting the numbers right"
Both papers were published in International Journal of Health Services
It's Aim and Scope is:
"The Journal contains articles on health and social policy, political economy and sociology, history and philosophy, ethics and law in the areas of health and health care...."
The journals editor is: Vicente Navarro
Curiously, the editor of said publication is also on the board of "Just Foreign Policy" "an independent and non-partisan mass membership organization dedicated to reforming U.S. foreign policy..."
This organization is headed by non other than Mark Weisbrot and Dean Baker the co-directors and founders of Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington D.C.
For a more comprehensive list of individuals who have shown significant favor for the Venezuelan government I encourage you to visit this link (click here). For those interested in reading the papers you can email me (see side bar for email).
On a related topic the same journal has a third paper titled:
"Venezuela's Barrio Adentro: An Alternative to Neoliberalism in Health Care"
This is what I found about it's authors:
The two main authors work for the Venezuelan government
Francisco Armada works in the Ministerio de la Salud y Bienestar Social in Venezuela. Carlos Mutaner teaches at the University of Maryland at Baltimore. They can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carles Muntaner MD, PhD is a social epidemiologist at the University of Maryland, US. He is currently a health policy advisor to the Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Both individuals have written articles for Venezuelanalysis (Venezuelan government news site) and Znet.com among others.
To read more on Mark Weisbrot his Academic history,
connections to the Venezuela Information Office, and peddling of the web site borev.net please click here and here.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
I see Eric Wingerter (aka. www.borev.net) felt my post was of interest. I expect royalties for the reproduction of my diagram!
Monday, March 19, 2007
This post is a continuation of a public debate that took place last week.
Throughout history science has been politicized to suit the needs of politicial and special interest groups. Galileo Galilei brought controversy when he claimed that the planets revolved around the sun. Centuries later it became the big bang theory and evolution. During the past twenty or so years science has become even more politicized especially the areas of cloning, stem cell research, evolution, and most recently global warming.
The global warming issue has been in the press since the late 1980's but in the past few years it has been the center of much political debate. Sadly, scientists often are pulled into this futile debate in which the individuals (from both camps of thought) misunderstand the science, draw incorrect conclusions, and overall fail to understand the basic scientific process. Consequently, we scientists often role our eyes in frustration and return to our work and ignore the public debate leaving the two camps to duel it out in public.
This post is meant to exclude the public debate and rely solely on the peer reviewed scientific research on global warming. By no means is this an exhaustive review of the literature.
What can science prove?
Scientists can not prove that global warming is 100% due to human activity, nor can we prove 100% it is a natural cycle of warming and cooling. Science can only take the available data and plot the trend and hypothesize as to what the change is due to. With this said the data shows an increase in global temperatures that correlate with increased CO2 levels and other green house gases, and increased human activity. Hence one comes to the conclusion that human activity is likely causing global warming.
Things getting hot in here?
The view that global climate change (global warming) is occurring is a rather indisputable fact. The central issue on the topic is if humans cause it or not. Scientific evidence has shown that the earth has been much warmer with much higher atmospheric levels of CO2 in the past than present day Pearson et al. have estimated CO2 levels of ~3,500 ppm (part per million) some 52 to 62,000,000 years ago (late Palaeocene to early Eocene period) this is approximately 10x the current CO2 levels (figure 1). However, since 24,000,000 years ago (Miocene period) CO2 levels appear to have remained below 500 ppm .
Ice core samples collected at the Vostok station in Antarctica show that during the past 420,000 years CO2 levels were relatively stable between 180 to 280-320 ppm (Fig 2 top most tend line) .
From a much shorter time scale, in 1850 the level of CO2 was measured to be ~280 ppm increasing to ~370 ppm in 2000 (figure 3), to 382 ppm in 2006 (Figure 4) [3, 4].
Figure 4 shows the compiling of data showing changes in CO2 from 420,000 years ago to 2005 what I would like to point out is that there is a sharp spike to about 300 ppm then a slight leveling off (red arrow). Based on the 420,000 year trend the first CO2 spike and a slight stabilization stabilize (red arrow) is consistent with the past trend. However, based on the trend the CO2 levels should decline instead we see a sharp increase to 378 ppm in 2005 (2006 levels were measured at 382 ppm) .
To burn or not to burn?
While increasing CO2 levels likely derived for the burning of fossil fuels have significantly contributed global warming these are not only chemicals that play a role in climate change. Instead man made chemicals such as CFC’s and more recently PFC’s have are much better at trapping heat; in addition, their lifetime is on the order of 10,000 to 50,000 year time scale vs. CO2 which has a lifetime of 250 years. While PFC’s are still at very low levels and likely contribute to only a trace amount, if any, to climate change we must still take them into account in the scientific projections .
What if the earth stops warming?
What if in the next 20 years we see the global warming trend slow or even decline? Well obviously the nay sayers of human induced global warming would hold this as proof that humans were not causing global warming. Again this conclusion would be false, instead it would suggest a few potential hypotheses:
1.Humans were causing very little global warming instead it is a natural cycle.
2.Humans were significantly contributing to global warming but the earth’s ecosystem was able to absorb the excess green house gasses. [see below]
3.This could be a temporary leveling off or cooling that may reverse its self and the warming trend will continue.
Coincidently, point #2 appears to be happing, where the ocean is acting as a carbon sink absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere resulting in surface-ocean acidification (lowering the pH) .
The fact that the earth is getting warmer is widely accepted as fact, based on the scientific evidence the earth has been much warmer and with higher CO2 levels. However, for ~420,000 years the earth exhibited a relatively stable environment except for now. The scientific data has shown a fairly steady increase in CO2 levels and global temperatures that correlates with human activity, bringing many in the scientific community to the conclusion it is caused by humans.
1. Paul N. Pearson & Martin R. Palmer (2000), Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 60 million years, Nature, 406:495-499.
2. Petit, J. R., et al. (1999) Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antartica, Nature, 399:429-436.
3. Hansen, J., et al., Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.
4. C. D. Keeling, S. C. Piper, R. B. Bacastow, M. Wahlen, T. P. Whorf, M. Heimann, and
H. A. Meijer, Atmospheric CO2 and 13CO2 exchange with the terrestrial biosphere and oceans from 1978 to 2000: observations and carbon cycle implications, pages 83-113, in "A History of Atmospheric CO2 and its effects on Plants, Animals, and Ecosystems", editors, Ehleringer, J.R., T. E. Cerling, M. D. Dearing, Springer Verlag, New York, 2005.
5. Khalil, M. A. K., (1999), Non-CO2 Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, Annu. Rev. Energy Environ, 24:645-661.
6. Cao, L., K. Caldeira, and A. K. Jain (2007), Effects of carbon dioxide and climate change on ocean acidification and carbonate mineral saturation, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Below is an interesting article on Chavez's more personal side. Everything here has been rumored for many years but this is the first time someone seems to have actually confirmed the rumors.
Beyond the Bush Bashing -- Chavez's Poetry and Prozac
Journalist Reveals Venezuelan Leader's Personal Demons in Tell-All Book
By DAVID PUENTE
March 15, 2007 — - President Bush's Latin American nemesis, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, makes headlines lambasting Bush, criticizing his policies, even calling him Beelzebub at the United Nations. Now, in an exclusive interview on ABC News Now, investigative journalist Olga Wornat reveals surprising details about the private life of the Venezuelan leader -- from his mental heath and his childhood traumas to his spending habits and his love life.
Wornat, one of Latin America's best known investigative journalists, talks about the private side of this very outspoken leader in her latest book, "Accursed Chronicles."
Chavez's Turbulent Childhood
As a child, Wornat said, Chavez often took refuge with his grandmother, fleeing a stormy relationship with his parents. Wornat describes his parents as overbearing and abusive and said he often fled to his grandmother's house for refuge. "They would punish him with beatings, taking a belt and beating him. He'd escape to his grandmother's, who'd protect him," Wornat said.
The claims in the book are indeed controversial, but Wornat is no stranger to controversy. Her book "Our Holy Mother" brought down Argentinean Archbishop Edgardo Gabriel Storni over sex abuse allegations. Her 2003 book "The Woman Boss," about Mexico's former first lady Marta Sahagun de Fox, became a best-seller and is still making headlines.
Wornat said she was impressed by Chavez, showing off the reporter's notebook that he autographed and in which he called her a comrade. Wornat said she also met with Chavez's inner circle -- Cabinet members, his ex-wives, lovers and even his psychiatrist. Wornat describes Chavez as "a very charismatic person … very seductive … like Fidel [Castro] but much younger."
"I know Hugo Chavez very well," she said on "Exclusiva." "I have investigated Hugo Chavez. Hugo Chavez is a pragmatist, very sensitive. … He looks you in the eyes and recites poetry. He's very simpatico. But at the same time he's a man that you can talk to about theology, you can talk to him about politics. He's very well read."
"I spoke to his psychiatrist, Dr. Chirino," she said. "He's the president's psychiatrist in Venezuela. Venezuela is a very colorful country with lots of surrealism. … What could be absurd in another country -- to speak to the psychiatrist of the president, in Venezuela you actually speak to the psychiatrist of the president. He said Hugo Chavez is bipolar and takes Prozac … He sleeps very little. … three or four hours … There are times he gets very depressed and when he does, he disappears and no one knows where he has gone," she said.
But where does the president go when he disappears? No one really knows, according to Wornat. But, she said, he could take refuge at the home of a lover. Wornat said she spoke to one of his former lovers -- and perhaps the love of Chavez's life -- Herma Marsksman, whose relationship with Chavez lasted more than 20 years. "I saw the letters he wrote her, in his handwriting, and they were very corny but very much in love," said Wornat.
Lover, Psychiatrist Describe Chavez as Abusive, Bipolar
"Herma Marksman also confirmed that he is bipolar and takes medication," said Wornat. "She said he was bipolar since he was a teen."
When Chavez has a period of depression, Wornat said, he sometimes will just stay in bed. "He could have a high of euphoria and the following week feel like he was in a deep depression. So he'd go from feeling like a king to feeling like he was in the dark," she said.
But Marksman may not have been the most important woman in Chavez's life. That place, said Wornat, is likely reserved for his grandmother. He loved his grandmother, she said. "I think she was the person he loved the most. The one person that most influenced him," she said. "I read the letters he wrote Herma, his lover, in which he spoke about how he had to forget the abuse of his mother and father."
Despite his difficult childhood, Chavez maintains a relationship with his parents, Wornat said. He was born in the state of Barinas, and his parents are the "royal family" of the state, she added.
He may enjoy poetry and writing love letters, but Chavez is a dangerous man in Wornat's eyes.
"Chavez is a dangerous man. He is a head of state who can make a decision in a state of euphoria or in a deep depression. So suddenly he can invite the ayatollahs of Iran or the president of Iran to challenge Bush. I think those attitudes that he has can be even more dangerous than whether he has his brother or family in government," Wornat said. There is only one person on the world stage who holds sway over Chavez, according to Wornat. "Fidel is the only one. Fidel is like his dad. Fidel is the only one who can make him change his opinion," she said.
In "Accursed Chronicles," Wornat also describes Chavez as having a love for the high life -- and a violent streak.
Wornat said Chavez loves fine Italian suits, has a collection of fine jewelry and watches, and has spent $65 million on a private airbus jet. Wornat also spoke with Chavez's ex-wife for the book. "Her relationship with Chavez was a very bad one, very turbulent … he would hit her," she said.
A Desire for Martyrdom?
Chavez has said he believes the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has been plotting to kill him. Wornat said she thinks he may have a desire to be assassinated. "I think deep inside he wants to be killed and become a martyr like the Che [Guevara]. And to be loved by the millions and to have a marvelous funeral with millions of Venezuelans running beside his funeral carriage. And he'd become a myth which is what he'd love. But what does Chavez do if oil revenues fall? How does he maintain power while giving all the neighboring countries money? And giving away fistfuls of money the way that he is to the poor Venezuelans? What happens when that ends? The poor Venezuelans will go after him."
Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures
added later - Video
Video of the interview
story accessed through Venezuela Today
Monday, March 12, 2007
During the past few days Bush has been visiting various Latin American countries as sort of goodwill gesture. Mean while Chavez has been busy holding anti-Bush demonstrations (paying for them too) in other Latin American countries. To be honest the media has made this to much into a Bush vs. Chavez issue, ironically this is exactly what Chavez wants. Oh well.
Getting back to more interesting and significant issues Brazil and the US seem to have come to an a mutual understanding that biofuels (ie. ethanol) hold significant promise in energy and economic cooperation between the two countries, while Colombia made ethanol an issue when Bush was visiting. Like the Economist pointed out (see below) this will bring benefits to all countries involved. For Brazil and Colombia it will provide a source of export and income while for the US it will diversify its energy source to more stable and friendly countries. Another source of concern from Venezuela is that oil production is slowly declining and accidents are becoming more prevalent. The most recent case was a fire at the Puerto la Cruz refinery while Bush was in Brazil. Coincidentally, Chavez while in Argentina said that he was going to reduce exports to the US to diversify his market, personally it seems more like Venezuela is trying to provide an excuse for lower production and exports.
One of the unfortunate announcements during the Bush visit to Latin America is that he seems unwilling to push for the removal of tariffs for Brazilian ethanol. This move is not promoting the free market system the Bush administration seems so willing to push nor does it send a good message to Brazilians about the US willingness to work more closely on economic matters. Sadly I don't expect the Democrats to push for the removal of tariffs either.
An interesting article on the oil industry (hat tip to Venezuela Today)
My next post I plan to show some trends in R&D in Latin America
Thursday, March 01, 2007
During the past 60 years Venezuela has been a reliable and stable producer and exporter of oil to the United States. However, during the past 8 years this mutually beneficial and friendly relationship has taken a road for the worse. Venezuela has purged almost half of the oil companies employees the government has deemed enemies, unfortunately almost all were middle to upper management. Consequently, PDVSA has become an unreliable source of oil marred in corruption, mismanagement, with no public oversight in relation to its finances or decision making process. With this oil production and efficiency have declined and insufficient investments have been made to increase or maintain oil production.
Chavez's spending spree and social missions are taking a toll on governments finances. As suggested in Caracas Chronicles (CC) the government bases its spending on an oil price of around $45 (I have read $50). and as Katy at CC pointed out government officials have been almost begging OPEC to reduce oil production to boost prices. Over the years those same officials have been squeezing foreign oil companies to pay more in taxes, collecting back taxes, take a minority stack, and now threats of expropriation. In the end Chavez may be left "sin el chivo ni el mecate" as pointed out in this editorial:
"He's [Chavez] been expropriating from 22 energy foreign investment projects for years, and at some point, these companies may get fed up and pull out. If they do, Chavez will lose the oil income that's his source of power."
So this brings me to Bush's announcement of boosting ethanol production during his State of the Union address, his planned trip to Latin America, and research and development in Latin America.
Ethanol and Latin America
Bush announced 20% cut in gasoline use by 2020 by urging ethanol production. One might suspect that the Bush administration has had a change of heart and is concerned with global warming. In reality I think he realizes that the Middle East is not going to be as reliable as in the past, China and India are increasing going to compete for oil, and Venezuela will not be able to increase production or be a reliable source of oil.
With this said Bush's planned trip to Latin America presents an excellent opportunity to build closer ties and one that could be mutually beneficial economically. I am referring to bio-ethanol. Here is an article by the Economist (click here for full article) on this topic:
"Indeed, since sugarcane is grown throughout the region, most Latin American countries could benefit. A recent study from the Inter-American Development Bank argued that replacing 10% of Mexico's petrol consumption with locally refined ethanol would save $2 billion a year and create 400,000 jobs. Several Caribbean governments hope that the ethanol boom could help revive their ailing sugarcane farms."
"The greatest lure would be access to the American market. Various Central American, Caribbean and Andean countries can already send ethanol to America tariff-free, thanks to concessionary trade agreements."
"Although Mr Bush's ultimate goal is energy independence, he would presumably prefer to be dependent on ethanol from friendly countries such as Brazil and Colombia than on oil from hostile places like Iran and Venezuela."
"By sharing technology and promoting investment in ethanol, America would also be reducing Latin America's fuel bill. If it bought lots of ethanol from its neighbours, it would be providing them with a lucrative export of their own."
In short, rather than rely on Venezuela and a few countries of the Middle East for its fuel, the United States would rather rely on multiple counties in Latin America for its ethanol. As I said in a previous post, US engagement in Latin America should be to work as partners and help stimulate development and trade with those countries that want US engagement and "ignore" those that don't. The question now is, will US politicians create tariffs on imported ethanol as they do with Brazil? and will Latin American countries help foster investments in developing bio-fules especially by funding their own research and development? These are the topics I hope to discuss in coming posts.
Miguel has a post on potential involvement of Venezuela in exporting a nuclear reactor from Argentina to Iran. If this is true it is more important than ever for the United States to raise this issue in private to other Latin American governments to take issue with this. In addition to engage the United Nations in this problem.