Si è oramai abituati che quando i media parlano della Cina ci si domanda di chi stiano parlando: sembrerebbero essere del tutto scollati dalla realtà dei fatti, imprigionati in un idealistico universo onirico pregno di bucoliche rimembranze.
Eppure la realtà dovrebbe essere estremamente semplice: la si può capire ricordandosi le operazioni che si sarebbero dovute imparare in prima elementare.
È un fatto stupefacente, che forse potrebbe essere meglio spiegabile ammettendo che i media scrivano in perfetta malafede.
Cerchiamo di ragionare.
Se è vero che nel 1960 il pil procapite cinese era 90 Usd, è altrettanto vero che negli ultimi trenta anni l’economia cinese si è espansa ad incredibile velocità, e ad oggi il pil ppa cinese ammonta a 23,122.027 miliardi Usd contro i 19,362.129 americani.
La Repubblica Popolare Cinese ha circa cinque volte gli abitanti degli Stati Uniti: nulla da stupirsi quindi se la Cina abbia bisogno di risorse energetiche cinque volte maggiori quelle statunitensi.
Reperire una simile quantità di prodotti energetici nel breve volgere di trenta anni è stata impresa degna di menzione: non era assolutamente detto che la Cina ce la avrebbe fatta.
The World Bank riporta come nel 2007 l’80.95% dell’energia fosse prodotta da centrali alimentate a carbone.
Ovvio quindi il tentativo di diversificazione rafforzando il nucleare
In questo ultimo novembre, il gas importato via pipelines è incrementato del 27.4%, mentre quello liquefatto del 53%.
Dovrebbe essere cosa evidente come la Cina non sia al momento nella condizione di ristrutturare il proprio comparto energetico. Con un pil in crescita al ritmo del 7% annuo la Cina ha non solo un disperato bisogno di energetici, ma soprattutto di poterli ottenere a prezzi più bassi il possibile. In pochissime parole: deve utilizzare ciò che ha e che può acquisire.
Sotto questa ottica di lettura, l’ultimo articolo di Bloomberg in materia è surreale al limite del patetico. Sembrerebbero essersi dimenticati quanto poco sia ecologica l’estrazione del gas naturale.
«The world’s largest energy user is facing a winter supply crunch after demand surged this year amid President Xi Jinping’s fight against smog, which has focused on cutting the use of coal in favor of cleaner-burning gas»
«Parts of the country started facing shortages just two weeks into winter, with Hebei and Shandong provinces in the north and central Hubei reporting supply shortfalls last month and curtailing supplies to businesses and factories in order to keep homes warm.»
«China’s surging winter heating needs will create larger summer-winter splits in the global LNG market and exacerbate price swings»
* * *
Il furor ‘ecologico‘, il tarlo liberal di energie ‘pulite‘ spinge alla demonizzazione delle centrali a carbone che peraltro restano al momento essenziali per vivere. Gli inverni cinesi non sono per nulla miti, e le persone assiderate ben poco se ne fanno dell’aria pulita. I morti non necessitano del riscaldamento.
Viene alla mente il dialogo tra Babieca e Ronzinante:
– LNG imports rise 53% y/y to record 4.06 million tons: GAC
– November Pipeline supplies up 27.4% y/y to 2.5 million tons
China’s imports of liquefied natural gas in November surged 53 percent to a record as the nation scrambles to meet fuel shortages amid peak winter demand and government’s drive to cut coal use.
– LNG imports rose 53 percent from the same month last year to 4.06 million metric tons, according to data posted Saturday on the website of the General Administration of Customs. Shipments in the first 11 months of the year are up 48.4 percent.
– Pipeline gas imports advanced 27.4 percent to 2.5 million tons
“Terminal operators have been maximizing their capacities to import as much as they can,” Liu Guangbin, an analyst with SCI International, said before the data release.
The world’s largest energy user is facing a winter supply crunch after demand surged this year amid President Xi Jinping’s fight against smog, which has focused on cutting the use of coal in favor of cleaner-burning gas. Parts of the country started facing shortages just two weeks into winter, with Hebei and Shandong provinces in the north and central Hubei reporting supply shortfalls last month and curtailing supplies to businesses and factories in order to keep homes warm.
Spot LNG prices in Northeast Asia rose this week to $10.90 per million British thermal units, the highest in three years, according to industry publication World Gas Intelligence.
The National Development & Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, last week reiterated its call for gas suppliers including China National Petroleum Corp. and China National Offshore Oil Corp. should speed up LNG imports to meet winter demand.
– Market to swing from tight winters to loose summers: WoodMac
– China’s LNG imports are up 48% this year through October
China’s self-inflicted heating crisis this winter signals deeper seasonal price swings that may be a boon for liquefied natural gas traders.
The arrival of a price-depressing glut of the fuel is no longer seen as inevitable. Instead, China’s surging winter heating needs will create larger summer-winter splits in the global LNG market and exacerbate price swings. That’s what has happened this year, as the cost of spot cargoes has nearly doubled since June.
It’s yet another ripple effect of China’s quest for cleaner skies, as policies forcing homes and factories to switch from burning coal to natural gas have reduced smog in Beijing while also creating shortages of the heating fuel in frigid northern cities. Traders and energy companies with access to tankers and uncommitted supply are positioned to benefit, Kerry-Anne Shanks, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie Ltd., said in an interview in Singapore.
“We see a market developing that’s quite strong in the winter, and in the summer is loose,” Shanks said. “It plays to the strengths of portfolio players who have the flexibility to deliver supplies to the premium markets.”
Spot LNG in Singapore was priced at $10.26 per million British thermal units on Monday, according to a Singapore Exchange Ltd. assessment, almost double the $5.141 it cost in early June.
Until this year, market consensus was that a flood of new gas export projects coming online in Australia, Russia and the U.S. would engulf a market marked by tepid demand growth.
Then China’s President Xi Jinping decided to make clearing smoggy skies a key part of his agenda. Government agencies converted millions of homes and tens of thousands of factories from coal to gas this year. LNG imports jumped by 48 percent over the first 10 months of the year, putting China on the verge of passing South Korea to become the world’s second-largest importer after Japan.
At the same time, construction problems have delayed some new production projects, such as Inpex Corp.’s Ichthys and Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Prelude in Australia, said Graeme Bethune, chief executive officer of consultant EnergyQuest. Several LNG developments in the U.S. have also been pushed back to 2019 from next year, he said.
“Conventional wisdom said there would be a tsunami of new LNG coming that will force down LNG prices,” Bethune said. “Instead, moves by China are boosting prices. The question going forward is how much of these elevated prices are due to secular reasons and how much is due to seasonal demand.”
China’s rising need for gas, as well as new demand from emerging markets spurred by lower prices, mean that a forecast glut of the fuel next year may be smaller and end sooner than earlier forecast. That’s an incentive for exporters from Australia to Qatar to reconsider projects that have been delayed or canceled.
“The strength of global LNG demand growth has surprised in 2017, and that could happen again in 2018,” Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd. said in a statement. “That indicates that both LNG suppliers and LNG buyers are going to have to get to work to underpin new LNG supply projects, perhaps sooner than some expected.”
Most LNG demand is either from power and industrial use that is relatively flat through the year, or residential use that peaks in the winter when homes need to be heated. Many of the world’s largest LNG importers are in the northern hemisphere, so the peaks tend to arrive at the same time. Less storage space in China compared to countries like the U.S. limits its winter supply buffer and has contributed to the need for more imports.
Natural gas demand in China will be driven by coal-to-gas switching by industrial users, analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a report earlier this month, forecasting that the country’s heating challenges will keep markets tight for the next two to three winters.
All that adds up to a market that will be over-supplied in summer months and tight in winter, said Kittithat Promthaveepong, a gas analyst with industry consultant FGE in Singapore. In the summer, spot prices could drop low enough that some plants have to curtail production.
“The moment you reach the winter periods, there will be a lot of demand pull again,” he said. “We definitely think we’re going to see tight winters again in 2018 and 2019. The prices will spike up again in the winter months, but the extent should be lower due to the new U.S. and Australian supplies.”
La Cina sta sviluppando appieno il progetto di Deng Xiaoping per l’egemonia mondiale.
In sintesi estrema: stringere rapporti economici paritetici con tutti i paesi non occidentali, favorendone e stimolandone la crescita economica nel pieno rispetto delle politiche e delle costumanze locali.
Alla fine gli occidentali resteranno semplicemente isolati, ghettizzatisi con le loro stese mani.
Inutile, perfettamente inutile e financo controproducente il confronto diretto: l’Occidente è destinato a morire di inedia.
«China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a framework of regional connectivity. CPEC will not only benefit China and Pakistan but will have positive impact on Iran, Afghanistan, India, Central Asian Republic, and the region. The enhancement of geographical linkages having improved road, rail and air transportation system with frequent and free exchanges of growth and people to people contact, enhancing understanding through academic, cultural and regional knowledge and culture, activity of higher volume of flow of trade and businesses, producing and moving energy to have more optimal businesses and enhancement of co-operation by win-win model will result in well connected, integrated region of shared destiny, harmony and development.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor is journey towards economic regionalization in the globalized world. It founded peace, development, and win-win model for all of them.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor is hope of better region of the future with peace, development and growth of economy.»
«China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (Chinese: 中国-巴基斯坦经济走廊; Urdu: پاكستان-چین اقتصادی راہداری; also known by the acronym CPEC) is a collection of infrastructure projects that are currently under construction throughout Pakistan. Originally valued at $46 billion, the value of CPEC projects is now worth $62 billion. CPEC is intended to rapidly modernize Pakistani infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and special economic zones. On 13 November 2016, CPEC became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia.
A vast network of highways and railways are to be built under the aegis of CPEC that will span the length and breadth of Pakistan. Inefficiencies stemming from Pakistan’s mostly dilapidated transportation network are estimated by the government to cause a loss of 3.5% of the country’s annual GDP. Modern transportation networks built under CPEC will link seaports in Gwadar and Karachi with northern Pakistan, as well as points further north in western China and Central Asia. A 1,100 kilometre long motorway will be built between the cities of Karachi and Lahore as part of CPEC, while the Karakoram Highway between Rawalpindi and the Chinese border will be completely reconstructed and overhauled. The Karachi–Peshawar main railway line will also be upgraded to allow for train travel at up to 160 km per hour by December 2019. Pakistan’s railway network will also be extended to eventually connect to China’s Southern Xinjiang Railway in Kashgar. The estimated $11 billion required to modernise transportation networks will be financed by subsidized concessionary loans.
Over $33 billion worth of energy infrastructure are to be constructed by private consortia to help alleviate Pakistan’s chronic energy shortages, which regularly amount to over 4,500MW, and have shed an estimated 2–2.5% off Pakistan’s annual gross domestic product.» [Fonte]
Come si constata, con una ferrovia che regge i 160 km/h, la tratta tra il porto di Gwadar o da quello di Karachi sull’Oceano Indiano e la cittadina di Skardu all’estremo nord potrebbe essere coperta in circa dieci ore di viaggio effettivo, diciamo un giorno tenendo conto delle soste.
Se è vero che la Cina si sia conquistata un altro sbocco sull’Oceano Indiano, è altrettanto vero, e di ben maggiore importanza, che si sia conquistata altri amici riconoscenti e legati sempre di più al suo sistema politico ed economico.
Ma ogni persona ha gli amici che si merita: questo è il profondo segreto dell’agire cinese, che funziona benissimo anche con i paesi mussulmani, arabi in particolare.
Cerchiamo di spiegarci meglio, citando tre esempi di pessimo comportamento occidentale.
In breve. Mr Obama aveva condizionato gli aiuti americani al fatto che il Kenya instaurasse una legislazione pro – lbgt. La risposta del Presidente Uhuru Kenyatta fu tranchant: «Gay rights is really a non-issue»
In breve. Frau Merkel condiziona le forniture militari al fatto che il Re dell’Arabia si faccia gay, dia le dimissioni e metta a regnare una femmina. Immediata la risposta del Re: «We will not cause any more problems for the German government with new requests for weapons»
Mr Macron durante la conferenza stampa insulta e dileggia, gli da dell’assassino: Christian Kaboré, Presidente del Burkina Faso, abbandona la sala. Macron insiste: «Ecco se ne va… Ma no resta qui… Niente, è andato a riparare l’aria condizionata»
* * * * * * *
« On a recent visit to Pakistan I was surprised to find a great deal of infrastructure development going on: new bridges, roads, airports, ports, the works»
«But the mystery is soon elucidated. All the projects have the same brand to them. They are all part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).»
«Because of the lack of security, the endemic corruption and the frailty of the rule of law, no one in international capital markets would lend to the country on this scale»
«China has committed $62 billion to the Pakistan section of their New Silk Road, and are likely to invest much more in the future»
«we look forward with trepidation to the rise of China and the relative decline of the West»
«China has shown in the past, for example in Africa, that it is a good partner to local populations, building not only infrastructure and productive facilities where they employ locals, but also schools and other public utility facilities»
«All this points towards China’s inexorable rise as the world’s pre-eminent superpower»
«China is having much more success eliminating poverty in the New Silk Road areas than Western-imposed Washington Consensus economics and Western sweatshop investments have done»
* * * * * * *
La Cina si muove su diversi piani strategici.
– Non si intromette negli altrui affari privati od interni, non intende fare la morale ad alcuno. Accetta i partner per cosa e come sono: nessun tentativo di modificarne mentalità o costumi.
– Gli accordi sono sempre bilaterali e paritetici: se la Cina cerca un guadagno, strategico oppure economico, pone nel contempo grande cura che anche il partner guadagni, e guadagno bene.
– La Cina costruisce tutta una serie di infrastrutture, utili sicuramente ai propri progetti, ma altrettanto benefiche per le economie locali. Poi, lungo le nuove vie di comunicazione, impianta industrie manifatturiere: se è vero che queste sono a conduzione cinese, è altrettanto vero che assorbono mano d’opera locale, che inizia così a guadagnare ed acquisire know – how.
– Se a prima vista investire in paesi miseri o poveri sembrerebbe dare un ben misero ritorno, non ci si dimentichi che trenta anni fa anche la Cina era misera. Quando i paesi asiatici ed africani saranno economi emerse, essi saranno saldamente legati alla Cina politicamente ed economicamente: l’Occidente resterà chiuso nel ghetto.
On a recent visit to Pakistan I was surprised to find a great deal of infrastructure development going on: new bridges, roads, airports, ports, the works. The amount of economic development was staggering – to say nothing of quite inconsistent with our image of Pakistan as rather backwards and impoverished and chronically corrupt. Inconsistent even with my knowledge of the place which I owe to my family ties to the country.
But the mystery is soon elucidated. All the projects have the same brand to them. They are all part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Because of the lack of security, the endemic corruption and the frailty of the rule of law, no one in international capital markets would lend to the country on this scale. Frankly, I would not trust the government in power to have the imagination to try to borrow to invest in their country’s development.
Luckily, Pakistan happens to be just where China needs to build its trade infrastructure towards the West. The price China is willing to pay to avoid having to trade through the treacherous waters of the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca far outweighs even all the problems and costs associated with investing in Pakistan. So far, China has committed $62 billion to the Pakistan section of their New Silk Road, and are likely to invest much more in the future.
Even as we look forward with trepidation to the rise of China and the relative decline of the West, if China achieves their rise entirely by peaceful means, that will still be something we have to respect.
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim
The benefits that this investment brings to the people of Pakistan cannot be overstated. They will reap much of the rewards of that investment. And China has shown in the past, for example in Africa, that it is a good partner to local populations, building not only infrastructure and productive facilities where they employ locals, but also schools and other public utility facilities. To underline their ambitions in Pakistan, Chinese academic Prof Yiwei Wang proposed at the Warsaw Security Summit that China’s investment in the country will make Pakistan fully energy independent by 2020 – this will be a first in the country’s history.
The salutary effects of Chinese involvement in the country are such that they are also recognised across the board by almost all the political parties in this fractured, divided country – even the militant religious ones. They, along with the powerful Army and intelligence services are all in agreement that Pakistan’s relationship with China is the most important strategic relationship the country has, and must be preserved and advanced.
New Silk Road
And Pakistan is not the only country where this is true. Myanmar is also edging ever closer to China due to Chinese investment in another branch of the New Silk Road across the country. The central Asian former Soviet republics are also on board. And before long, Russia too will be firmly within China’s sphere of influence, especially when the natural gas pipelines between the two countries open and the Russian state’s revenues will be increasingly dependent on Chinese largesse.
All this points towards China’s inexorable rise as the world’s pre-eminent superpower. And if things continue along the current trajectory, it seems like China will be able to achieve this entirely through peaceful means: something no other dominant power has ever achieved in history.
Even as we look forward with trepidation to the rise of China and the relative decline of the West, if China achieves their rise entirely by peaceful means, that will still be something we have to respect. Just as we have to respect the fact that, in the words of Prof Wang again, China is having much more success eliminating poverty in the New Silk Road areas than Western-imposed Washington Consensus economics and Western sweatshop investments have done. China’s power grows by winning over hearts and minds: and it is winning them for good reasons.
Mentre l’Occidente è tutto preso dai suoi deliri schizofrenici sessuali e progetta e costruisce sexy bambole dotate di intelligenza artificiale, programmabili e con la fatidica funzione “mute“, quel gran bravo uomo di Mr Putin continua a sfornare un nuovo sistema d’arma dopo l’altro.
Versione ufficiale: il tiro a segno sportivo. Allontanare i piccioni dalle città.
«Kalashnikov is building ‘a range of products based on neural networks,’»
«These include a ‘fully automated combat module’ that can identify and shoot»
«The maker of the world’s most deadly firearm has unveiled plans for a radical AI controlled gun for the Russian military»
«In 2015, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said fully automated killing machines were un-American»
«Dale Ormond, who directs research at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering said at Thursday’s Defense One Tech Summit that he did ‘not foresee that Department of Defense would give AI the ability to make decisions on executing lethal force.’»
* * * * * * *
Riproponiamo una domanda già fatta.
Come fa Mr Putin con quattro scudi a progettare e costruire così tanti sistemi d’arma?
La risposta la ha data un simpaticissimo generale russo: imbecilli e corrotti li spediamo in Occidente a fare i dissidenti.
– Kalashnikov is building ‘a range of products based on neural networks,’
– These include a ‘fully automated combat module’ that can identify and shoot
The maker of the world’s most deadly firearm has unveiled plans for a radical AI controlled gun for the Russian military.
Kalashnikov, best known for its AK-47 rifle, is building ‘a range of products based on neural networks,’ including a ‘fully automated combat module’ that can identify and shoot at its targets.
The new products were revealed in an interview with Kalashnikov spokeswoman Sofiya Ivanova by TASS, a Russian government information agency.
The Kalashnikov ‘combat module’ will consist of a gun connected to a console that constantly crunches image data ‘to identify targets and make decisions,’ Ivanova told TASS.
‘In the imminent future, the Group will unveil a range of products based on neural networks,’ she said.
‘A fully automated combat module featuring this technology is planned to be demonstrated at the Army-2017 forum.’
The exhibition of Russian military hardware is due to take place from 22-27 August in Moscow.
According to the expo’s web site, it will feature a range of ‘cloud connected’ military devices alongside the latest hardware.
A Kalashnikov photo that ran with the TASS piece showed a turret-mounted weapon that appeared to fire rounds of 25mm or so, according to Defense One.
Russian weapons makers see robotics and AI as key to future sales, according to Sergey Denisentsev, a visiting fellow at the Center For Strategic International Studies.
‘There is a need to look for new market niches such as electronic warfare systems, small submarines and robots, but that will require strong promotional effort because a new technology sometimes finds it hard to find a buyer and to convince the buyer that he really needs it,’ Denisentsev said in April.
In 2015, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said fully automated killing machines were un-American.
Dale Ormond, who directs research at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering said at Thursday’s Defense One Tech Summit that he did ‘not foresee that Department of Defense would give AI the ability to make decisions on executing lethal force.’
Instead, the U.S. military wants its AI to focus first on helping intelligence analysts sift through data and make faster decisions.
Earlier this year Kalashnikov revealed its first ever spy-in-the-sky drone and is planning on rolling it out for public sale.
The Kalashnikov Group famous for the AK-47 will officially reveal what it is describing as a noiseless unmanned reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft at next month’s MAKS international air show near Moscow.
It has a four hour flying time and can be launched by hand as Vladimir Putin’s biggest weapons maker takes a step back from its AK-47 – a rifle that has killed more people than any other firearm on the planet.
The drone weighs 7.5 kilograms and also boasts vertical takeoff capability.
Reportedly, three types of noiseless drone to be released onto the market by the weapon manufacturing giant.
A zoom camera and thermal imaging module can be mounted on the unmanned aircraft.
Nikita Zakharov, deputy chief executive of ZALA AERO, part of the Kalashnikov empire, claimed: ‘There are no rivals to the ZALA 421-16E2 either in Russia or in the world for their functionality, simplicity and reliability of operation.
‘The unmanned aerial vehicle has a noiseless flight mode which is so important for defence and security agencies.
‘The first drones have already been handed over to customers.’
The drone is expected to complete Russian government trials this year.
The AK-47 assault was invented by Mikhail Kalashnikov in the former Soviet Union in 1947.
More than 100 million Kalashnikov rifles have been sold worldwide, accounting for a fifth of the entire global stock of firearms.
A study by the World Bank revealed between 20,000 and 100,000 people are killed every year by handheld guns in conflicts around the world.
It is predicted most of these were attributable to the AK-47.
The study said: ‘The AK-47 was initially designed for ease of operation and repair by glove-wearing Soviet soldiers in arctic conditions.
‘Its breathtaking simplicity means that it can also be operated by child soldiers in the African desert.
‘Kalashnikovs are a weapon of choice for armed forces and non-state actors alike.’
It has since been adopted as the weapon of choice by the world’s barbaric terror groups including Islamic State, who used AK-47s to spray bullets into the crowd at the Bataclan in Paris in the November 2015 atrocities.
In the same year, Tunisian Seifeddine Rezgui waged a campaign of terror in the popular resort of Sousse as he fired Kalashnikovs killing 38 holiday makers.
Among other Kalshnikov lines are speedboats, clothes and missiles.
The maker of the celebrated AK-47 rifle has unveiled a new robotic gun system for the Russian military that will use artificial intelligence to size up targets — then shoot.
Reports from TASS and others show a turret system that can be installed on vehicles and operated by remote control.
Sofiya Ivanova, the director of communications for Kalashnikov told TASS, “In the imminent future, the group will unveil a range of products based on neural networks. A fully automated combat module featuring this technology is planned to be demonstrated at the Army-2017 forum.”
The reported added that it will be a “fully automated combat module based on neural network technologies that enable it to identify targets and make decisions.”
Another report in Defense One said it appears to be capable of firing 25mm rounds like those used in anti-aircraft guns.
Defense One’s editor Patrick Tucker wrote that the Russians are eager to use battlefield robots while the U.S. is not.
Kalashnikov’s AK-47 is the most widely used weapon in the world, considered simple to use and very hard to break or jam. The Examiner recently reported that the Pentagon would like the rifles to be made in the U.S.
«Translated into English, Vozrozhdeniya means “rebirth”.»
«L’isola di Vozroždenie, altresì conosciuta come isola della Rinascita (in uzbeco Tiklanish orollari; in russo Остров Возрождения; in inglese Vozrozhdeniya Island), era un’isola del lago d’Aral che, a causa del progressivo ritiro delle acque, è divenuta una penisola nel 2002 e, successivamente, un istmo. Attualmente è divisa tra il Kazakistan e l’Uzbekistan.
Fino alla Rivoluzione di ottobre portava il nome datole dal suo primo esploratore Butakov Alexei ovvero ‘Isola di Nicola I’. Data l’inaccessibilità del luogo, l’isola di Vozroždenie venne trasformata in uno dei principali laboratori sovietici per effettuare test di guerra batteriologica. Nel 1948, un ulteriore laboratorio top-secret per la produzione di armi biologiche venne stabilito qui. Dichiarazioni sulla pericolosità dell’isola vennero fatte da disertori sovietici, incluso Ken Alibek, l’ex capo del programma sulle armi biologiche dell’Unione Sovietica. Fu qui, come si riscontra in documenti successivamente desecretati, che le spore di antrace e i bacilli di peste bubbonica furono trasformati in armi e le stesse immagazzinate. Il principale insediamento nell’isola era Kantubek, oggi abbandonato, che una volta aveva una popolazione di circa 1.500 abitanti.
I membri dello staff del laboratorio abbandonarono l’isola nel tardo 1991. Molti dei contenitori che conservavano le spore ed i bacilli non furono immagazzinati o distrutti correttamente. Nel corso dei dieci anni successivi, molti degli involucri si erano deteriorati al punto da non contenere il pericolosissimo materiale in essi conservato. Dato l’incessante recedere del lago e l’inevitabile ricongiungimento dell’isola con la terraferma, c’era il timore che gli animali presenti nei dintorni potessero addentrarsi nell’impianto ed entrare in contatto con gli agenti contaminanti e disperderli nell’ambiente con gravissimo rischio di epidemie mortali.» [Fonte]
Tutti gli stati hanno una loro Vozrozhdeniya, di cui non amano certo parlarne.
«Chillingly, there is a similar site much closer for comfort than the steppes of Central Asia: Gruinard, a small island just off the coast of the Scottish Highlands. From 1942 to 1943, just one year, it was the epicentre of the UK’s bioweapons programme. The tests involved tethering sheep in an open field or securing them in wooden frames, then exposing them to large doses of anthrax. Once it was exploded over the island, another time it was dropped from a plane.
The sheep would start dying three days later – “you can tell when an animal has died of anthrax. Just look for a bloated carcass with haemorrhaging,” says Baillie – after which their carcasses were carefully disposed of. The scientists burned the bodies and even dynamited a cliff over some to contain the contamination»
* * * * * * *
Ufficialmente le armi biologiche sarebbero bandite, le ricerche interrotte ed i depositi avrebbero dovuto essere distrutti, a mente la Biological Weapons Convenction.
Al momento attuale sembrerebbe che gli stati classificabili come superpotenze abbiano distrutto i propri arsenali biologici, ma non esistono certezze assolute.
Il grande problema invece consiste nel fatto che con i progressi della genetica qualsiasi laboratorio, anche supportato da personale non altamente qualificato, sarebbe in grado di produrre armi biologiche efficienti per costi infimi.
Una simile concreta possibilità potrebbe rivelarsi in drammatiche conseguenze se fosse sfruttata da gruppi terroristici.
Nessuno intende fare allarmismo, ma questa ipotesi sembrerebbe di tale portata da indurre la messa in essere di adeguate contromisure.
On the Kazakh-Uzbek border, surrounded by miles of toxic desert, lies an island. Or at least, something that used to be an island.
Vozrozhdeniya was once home to a vibrant fishing village fringed by turquoise lagoons, back when the Aral Sea was the fourth-largest in the world and abundant with fish.
But after years of abuse by the Soviets, the waters have receded and the sea has turned to dust; the rivers that fed it were diverted to irrigate cotton fields. Today, a layer of salty sand, riddled with carcinogenic pesticides, is all that remains of the ancient oasis.
This is a place where the mercury regularly hits 60C (140F), where the only signs of life are the skeletons of desiccated trees and camels shading under giant, stranded boats.
Now Vozrozhdeniya has swallowed up so much of the sea that it’s swelled to 10 times its original size, and is connected to the mainland by a peninsula. But it is thanks to another Soviet project that it is one of the deadliest places on the planet.
From the 1970s, the island has been implicated in a number of sinister incidents. In 1971, a young scientist fell ill after a research vessel, the Lev Berg, strayed into a brownish haze. Days later, she was diagnosed with smallpox. Mysteriously, she had already been vaccinated against the disease. Though she recovered, the outbreak went on to infect a further nine people back in her hometown, three of whom died. One of these was her younger brother.
A year later, the corpses of two missing fishermen were found nearby, drifting in their boat. It’s thought that they had caught the plague. Not long afterwards, locals started landing whole nets of dead fish. No one knows why. Then in May 1988, 50,000 saiga antelope which had been grazing on a nearby steppe dropped dead – in the space of an hour.
The island’s secrets have endured, partly because it isn’t the kind of place where you can just turn up. Since Vozrozhdeniya was abandoned in the 1990s, there have only been a handful of expeditions. Nick Middleton, a journalist and geographer from Oxford University, filmed a documentary there back in 2005. “I was aware of what went on, so we got hold of a guy who used to work for the British military and he came to give the crew a briefing about the sorts of things we might find,” he says.
“He scared the pants off me, to be honest.”
That expert was Dave Butler, who ended up going with them. “There was a lot that could have gone wrong,” he says. As a precaution, Butler put the entire team on antibiotics, starting the week before. As a matter of necessity, they wore gas masks with hi-tech air filters, thick rubber boots and full white forensic-style suits, from the moment they arrived.
They weren’t being paranoid. Aerial photographs taken by the CIA in 1962 revealed that while other islands had piers and fish-packing huts, this one had a rifle range, barracks and parade ground. But that wasn’t even the half of it. There were also research buildings, animal pens and an open-air testing site. The island had been turned into a military base of the most dangerous kind: it was a bioweapons testing facility.
The project was a total secret, not even marked on Soviet maps, but those in the know called it Aralsk-7. Over the years the site flourished into a living nightmare, where anthrax, smallpox and the plague hung in great clouds over the land, and exotic diseases such as tularemia, brucellosis, and typhus rained down and seeped into the sandy soil.
The island was isolated enough that it wasn’t discovered until the 19th Century, making it the perfect place to hide from the prying eyes of Western intelligence. Failing that, the surrounding sea made a convenient natural moat.
These are the factors that led to it being chosen as the final resting place for the largest anthrax stockpile in human history. Its origins remain obscure, but it’s possible that the deadly cache was manufactured at Compound 19, a facility near the Russian city of Sverdlovsk, now Yekatarinburg.
Aralsk-7 was part of a bioweapons program on an industrial scale, one that employed over 50,000 people at 52 production facilities across the Soviet empire. Anthrax was produced in huge fermenting vats, tenderly nurtured as though they were growing beer.
In 1988, nine years after an anthrax leak at Compound 19 led to the deaths of at least 105 people, the Soviets finally decided to get rid of their cache. Huge vats of anthrax spores were mixed with bleach and transported the port town of Aralsk, on the shores of the Aral Sea (now 16 miles (25km) inland), where they were loaded onto barges and transported to Vozrozhdeniya. Some 100 to 200 tonnes of anthrax slurry was hastily dumped in pits and forgotten.
Most of the time, anthrax bacteria live as spores, an inactive form with extreme survival skills. They’ll shrug off pretty much anything you care to throw at them – from baths of noxious disinfectants to being roasted for up to two minutes at 180C (356F).
When they’re buried in the ground, the spores can survive for hundreds of years. In one case, they were recovered from an archaeological dig at the ruins of a medieval hospital in Scotland – along with the several-hundred-years-old remains of the lime they tried to kill them with.
More recently, a 12-year-old-boy died after being overcome by anthrax that had been lurking in the far north of Russia. The outbreak hospitalised 72 people from the nomadic Nenets tribe, including 41 children, and thousands of reindeer perished. It’s thought to have started when a heatwave thawed the carcass of a reindeer that was at least 75 years old.
As you might expect, the Soviets’ efforts at Vozrozhdeniya weren’t nearly enough. Years after the USSR’s collapse, in the wake of attacks in Tokyo and revelations about an extensive bioweapons programme in Iraq, fears were mounting about the prospect of terrorists or rogue governments getting their hands on any weaponised pathogens. So the US government sent teams of specialists to do some tests.
The precise location of the anthrax cache was never disclosed, but as it turns out this wasn’t a problem. The pits were so enormous, they were clearly visible in photos taken from space. Viable spores were found in several soil samples, and the US pledged $6m (£4.6m) for a project to clean the place up.
This involved a deep trench, dug next to the pits, some plastic lining and thousands of kilograms of powerful powdered bleach. All the team had to do was move several tonnes of contaminated soil into the trench – in 50C (122F) heat, while wearing full protective suits. In all, 100 local workers were hired and the project took four months to complete.
It worked. After stewing for six days with the powdered bleach, the spores were gone.
But that’s not quite the end of the story. Half a century of open-air testing has left the entire island contaminated – not just at the test site, but all over. “Oh, there will still be anthrax there, no problem,” says Les Baillie, an international expert on anthrax from Cardiff University. He spent a decade working at the UK’s former bioweapons research facility, Porton Down.
That’s not to mention the burial pits of infected animals, with up to a hundred corpses in each, or the unmarked grave of a woman who died while handling an infectious agent some decades ago. “Even when you bury an animal, you have to bury it a good couple of metres down. If the area floods the spores can float back up and earthworms in the soil can move it around,” he says.
Chillingly, there is a similar site much closer for comfort than the steppes of Central Asia: Gruinard, a small island just off the coast of the Scottish Highlands. From 1942 to 1943, just one year, it was the epicentre of the UK’s bioweapons programme. The tests involved tethering sheep in an open field or securing them in wooden frames, then exposing them to large doses of anthrax. Once it was exploded over the island, another time it was dropped from a plane.
The sheep would start dying three days later – “you can tell when an animal has died of anthrax. Just look for a bloated carcass with haemorrhaging,” says Baillie – after which their carcasses were carefully disposed of. The scientists burned the bodies and even dynamited a cliff over some to contain the contamination.
Just this single set of experiments rendered the island so contaminated, initial efforts to clean it up failed and the site was abandoned.
The only people to set foot there in half a century were scientists from Porton Down and two brothers, the Fletts, from the mainland. They rowed the 10-minute trip across the sea once a year to repaint the warning signs – and wore protective suits while doing so.
Soil samples taken in 1979 revealed that, nearly four decades later, there were still between 3,000 and 45,000 spores per gram of soil. Proposals for dealing with the “contaminated monster”, as it became known, ranged from concreting it all over, to removing the top layer of soil and dumping it in the North Atlantic.
In the end, every inch of the 1.96 sq km island was sprayed with 280 metric tonnes of formaldehyde solution mixed with seawater. It was finally declared safe in 1990. Today the island can be accessed easily by boat – though you’ll have to convince someone to take you first.
Thankfully, Vozrozhdeniya is not quite so accessible. To get there, Middleton, Butler and their team travelled across Kazakhstan to Quilandy, a nearby village on the mainland. The plan was to hire a boat to take them across the Aral Sea, and some guides. Naturally, the locals weren’t exactly falling over themselves to visit the notorious island – “They knew to stay away,” says Middleton – and in the end, they made an unlikely alliance with a gang of salvage-seekers.
The trip was delayed, as crew members were struck down by food poisoning. Hours after they were set to leave, a massive dust storm broke out, engulfing the village and the Aral Sea. “It was like the end of the world. We would have been in the middle of the storm in these rickety boats,” says Butler. “I don’t think we would have survived.”
The next day, they finally made it. The base is divided into two parts: the town of Kantubek, which was built to house scientists and their families, and the lab complex, which lies about two miles (3.2km) further south.
“Even once we got there, there was quite a way to go,” says Butler. The team had arrived from Kazakhstan, due to the difficulty of getting a visa from Uzbekistan – though this is where the base is actually located.
They traversed the island’s desert interior by moped, navigating without maps – “I think they used the Sun,” says Butler – while dressed in full biocontainment suits.
Though they knew it was dangerous, the gang had made several visits to the town before, ripping out copper pipes, removing light fixtures, gradually dismantling the town and scavenging what they could sell. “When you first see it, it looks like they’re still building it,” says Middleton.
Today Kantubek is a dilapidated ghost town, in which the signs of a once-comfortable life contrast with hints of something altogether more menacing. On the one hand, there are houses, a canteen and a couple of schools; on the other, the cracked portraits of military personnel, books by Marx and Lenin, and rusting tanks. “It’s weird because there’s this eerie sense of decay, but then there are incongruous elements, like a big war mural of a cartoon duck by a child’s playground,” he says. “There isn’t a single bird or insect – it’s totally quiet.”
The local gang was keen to get off the island as quickly as possible, so the crew didn’t have long. Soon they set off again, this time in search of the lab complex. “They took us to the front door of the place and said ‘we’ll wait outside’. They didn’t want to go in,” says Butler.
What they found at the site – officially called the Field Scientific Research Laboratory, or PNIL in Russian – was extremely disturbing. “The research buildings aren’t cleaned up at all,” says Middleton. “It just looks like they trashed the place and left.”
Vast glass tanks of hazardous substances line the walls, while the floor is covered in hundreds of thousands of smashed glass vials, pipettes and petri dishes. Discarded full-body suits, complete with alien-like masks and air hoses, are everywhere. The whole place has the feel of a dystopian video game – partly because it is (it’s featured in a version of the first-person shooter Call of Duty).
Here Butler stepped the safety up a notch and the team donned more complete breathing apparatus that filters the air. “Buildings tend to concentrate whatever’s there,” says Butler. In addition to stray anthrax, the team ran the gauntlet of formaldehyde, which is carcinogenic if you breathe it in.
But the sense of control didn’t last long. “We’d been in there for about 15 minutes and the canisters started to become defeated,” says Butler. When an air filter is overloaded, the first sign is usually a whiff of some noxious aroma which has snuck through. “It can happen if you get a real corrosive, industrial chemical in concentrated quantities.”
Whatever it was, they decided to get out, fast. Butler was happy to camp overnight and visit the testing range the following day, but the others had seen enough. “For me it was quite exciting – a chance to put all the knowledge I have into practice,” says Butler. “But I suppose I’m weird like that.”
As an extra precaution, Butler took nasal swabs from every member of the team and checked them for anthrax spores.
He had good reason to be worried. There are several ways to die from anthrax, and the gruesome details of each depend on how you were infected. There’s the gastrointestinal route, which is common in grass-eating animals such as cattle, horses, sheep and goats and still leads to human deaths in developing countries to this day. The symptoms vary, but tend to include vomiting, diarrhoea, and lesions all the way from the mouth to the intestines.
Failing that, skin contact alone is often enough; back in 19th Century Yorkshire, so-called “woolsorters disease” was an occupational hazard for people who worked in the textile industry.
But by far the most unpleasant fate is to inhale some. Once a spore makes its way into the body, first it hitches a lift to the lymph nodes. There the spores begin to hatch and multiply – eventually spilling out into the bloodstream and leading to widespread tissue damage and internal bleeding. It’s thought that the whole process can take months to complete, but in the end, at least eight out of 10 people die in the process.
“It’s probably an ideal biological weapon as is,” says Talima Pearson, a biologist from Northern Arizona University who helped to sequence the strain that caused the outbreak at Sverdlovsk. “They were probably getting it from out in the wild.”
And not all of it was ordinary anthrax. Aralsk-7 was built amidst a bioweapons arms race with the US and the UK – a perilous mission to take already-lethal pathogens and make them even more hardy, infectious and deadly. Pains were taken to ensure bacteria were resistant to antibiotics and viruses could infect even those who had been vaccinated.
To achieve this, the scientists grew up industrial quantities of pathogens collected from the wild and honed in on those with the right characteristics. “The more material, the more chances there are to find what you’re looking for,” says Baillie.
But on 10 April, 1972, the three signed a treaty agreeing to give it up. This is precisely the moment that the Soviets launched the most terrifying programme yet. This time, they would use the emerging science of molecular genetics. These bioweapons would be designed, not just cultivated.
This included a particularly nasty strain of anthrax, known to researchers as STI. For starters, it was resistant to an impressive array of antibiotics, including penicillin, rifampin, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, macrolides and lincomycin. But that’s not the only reason you really, really don’t want to be infected by STI.
As if regular anthrax wasn’t bad enough, the scientists decided this natural killer needed a final flourish: toxins which can rupture red blood cells and rot human tissue. Scientists took the genes from a close relative, Bacillus cereus, and added them using the latest scientific techniques.
Anthrax naturally grows in clumps, but these can get caught up in the nostrils and don’t always lead to an infection. So the Soviets liked to grind them down using industrial machinery. The final result is just five micrometres long – at least 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair. “That’s the perfect size to be inhaled,” says Butler.
Before the team left for the island, Butler constructed a decontamination zone on the beach – basically just an outdoor tap – and stockpiled antibacterial soap. When they returned, every member stripped down naked and scrubbed themselves clean. “We had to make sure we didn’t have any spores in the, erm, hairy parts of our bodies,” he says.
Thankfully the team’s swabs came back negative and even the salvage-seekers, who refused their offer of protective gear, escaped unscathed. For the moment, the anthrax at Vozrozhdeniya remains in the ground.
But what of the mysterious outbreaks in the 1970s and 80s? It’s now known that the Lev Berg strayed into an aerosol cloud of weaponised smallpox that had recently been exploded on the island. The incident was suppressed by the Soviet powers of the time, including KGB boss Yuri Andropov who later became Soviet premier. It’s not known exactly which strain they were infected with, but according to David Evans, a virologist at the University of Alberta, Canada, it’s likely to have been India-1967.
“We know this because this is the strain the Soviets sequenced,” says Evans. “They used a very old fashioned method which required astonishing quantities of DNA to do it, so it makes sense that they’d sequence the same one that they were weaponising.”
This was a highly virulent strain, first isolated from an Indian man who brought it to Moscow in 1967. There are two possible reasons it was able to infect those who had already been vaccinated: the vaccination didn’t work, or they were exposed to a particularly high dose.
“The Soviet vaccine was criticised, so it’s possible it just wasn’t working very well,” says Evans. “And a very high dose of anything can overcome an immunisation.” If the vaccine wasn’t working, India-1967 would have been a particularly dangerous virus to be exposed to.
So could the island still be infectious today? “Oh it would be long gone,” says Evans. The Russians recently rediscovered the victims of a smallpox epidemic in Siberia, after melting permafrost exposed their graves. Though their corpses had been frozen solid for 120 years, the scientists didn’t find any virus – just its DNA.
Evans works on the vaccine strain of the virus, which is related but only causes a localised skin infection. “Even in my lab where we store it in a -80C (-112F) freezer under ideal conditions, the virus slowly loses infectivity over time,” he says.
As for the plague, though the Soviets were working on weaponising it, the bacteria remains widespread in Central Asia to this day – in fact, the number of cases increased sharply after the USSR collapsed. Which just leaves us with the fish and the antelope. Both remain a mystery, but the widespread pollution in the Aral Sea at the time and more recent mass antelope die-offs suggest that both had alternative causes.
Translated into English, Vozrozhdeniya means “rebirth”. Let’s hope the island’s pathogens don’t experience one any time soon.
«The national forensic medicine agency (Rättsmedicinalverket) began carrying out the checks earlier this year after doubts were raised over whether all those who were being processed as minors were in fact underage.
The Migration Agency has so far made 5,700 decisions on the basis of assessments carried out by Rättsmedicinalverket. In 79 percent of those cases the agency decided to formally consider the applicant as older than they had initially claimed in their asylum application.
Between mid-March and late October, Rättsmedicinalverket carried out a total of 7,858 age assessments. Of those, it found that their examination suggested 6,628 were 18 or older, and 112 “possibly” 18 or older»
* * * * * * *
Il 79% dei richiedenti asilo che si erano dichiarati minorenni avevano in realtà più di diciotto anni. Elemento questo che muta radicalmente la loro posizione da un punto di vista giuridico.
Tenendo conto che ogni accertamento costa grosso modo 1,200 euro, tenendo conto dei materiali, delle prestazioni professionale e dell’ammortamento della strumentazione, l’erario ha sborsato un totale di 9.4 milioni di euro. Che si aggiungono a tutto il resto: denaro pubblico che scorre a fiumi, ai quali i liberal si abbeverano con beluina ingordigia.
Se da una parte possiamo comprendere, anche se non giustificare, che i migranti abbiano mentito sulla loro reale età anagrafica, dall’altra resta molto meno giustificabile il comportamento dei pubblici funzionari che si sono creduti la storiella di essere di fronte a dei minori.
È difficile pensare che questi siano sempre stati in buona fede, molto difficile.
Quanto accaduto ripropone un problema già noto, ma pur sempre attuale.
La vera questione non sono tanto i migranti in sé, bensì i partiti politici ed i loro militanti liberal e socialisti che per motivazioni ideologiche fomentano e patrocinano la migrazione, e che poi lucrano sulla gestione locale dei migranti.
In altri termini, quello della migrazione non è tanto un problema africano o mediorientale, è un problema politico europeo.
Problema politico che arriverà a soluzione solo con la definitiva sconfitta elettorale dei liberal e dei socialisti ideologici europei. È un processo devolutivo già iniziato ed adesso in fase avanzata, ma non ancora arrivato al suo termine naturale.
The Migration Agency has so far made 5,700 decisions on the basis of those assessments. In 79% of those cases, the agency decided to formally consider the applicant as older than they had initially claimed in their asylum application, reports Svenska Dagbladet.
Age assessment is carried out by taking X-rays of wisdom teeth and MRI scans of knee joints, which are then analysed to determine age.
In Germania è in corso una Notte dei Lunghi Coltelli che potrebbe a breve diventare la Notte di San Bartolomeo. Se non di peggio.
Lo sberleffo fatto dal ministro dell’Agricoltura Christian Schmidt, che ha impegnato nell’Unione Europea la Germania sulla questione dei pesticidi senza consultare né la Bundeskanzlerin né l’Spd, ancora formalmente al governo, ha gettato fiumi di kerosene sul fuoco.
Ma questo non è tutto.
La Csu conta le perdite: -10 punti percentuali, e l’anno prossimo va alle elezioni.
Le prospezioni indicherebbero una débâcle.
Adesso è in rivolta e lunedì voterà la sfiducia ad Herr Seehofer.
«Angela Merkel faces fresh trouble in bid to form German coalition, after split in Bavarian sister party»
«Mrs Merkel is already facing a frosty start to the negotiations, with the SPD furious after a senior minister in her caretaker government gave German approval for a controversial EU decision without consulting cabinet colleagues»
«Mr Seehofer has gone from being an outspoken critic of Mrs Merkel’s refugee policy to one of her firmest allies in recent weeks»
«Markus Söder, the man most likely to supplant him, is considerably more lukewarm in his support for the chancellor»
«A group of prominent MPs in the Bavarian regional parliament are seeking to topple Mr Seehofer as Bavarian prime minister, and replace him with Mr Söder.»
«The rebel MPs want to force a vote on the issue on Monday. While it would not be binding, defeat for Mr Seehofer could force him to resign»
«The chancellor’s loss of authority is clear and harms trust and cooperation within the government»
* * * * * * * *
Riassumendo, oltre alla testa di Frau Merkel, inizia ad avere il torcicollo anche quella di Herr Seehofer, che lunedì andrà incontro ad una mozione di sfiducia.
Potrebbe succedergli Herr Söder.
«Throughout the European migrant crisis, Söder has sharply criticized the migrant policies of Angela Merkel several times. He warned of a “huge security gap” that remained, because the whereabouts of hundred thousands of migrants was still unclear and he strongly doubted that the integration of so many people could succeed.
In Söder’s view, the Germans didn’t want a multicultural society.
Refugees should return to their home countries whenever possible. The dictum “Wir schaffen das” (“We make it”) of Chancellor Merkel was “not the right signal”, instead he suggested “Wir haben verstanden” (“We have understood”).» [Die Welt]
«Wir haben verstanden»
Sinceramente, ne dubitiamo.
L’unica cosa che vediamo attoniti è una situazione chaotica, apparentemente senza via di soluzione, né per la Germania né per l’Unione Europea.
Angela Merkel was presented with a fresh complication in her efforts to put together a coalition government in Germany on Wednesday as a power struggle broke out for control of her Bavarian sister party.
Horst Seehofer, who has been one of Mrs Merkel’s strongest allies in coalition talks, is facing an attempted coup by rivals within the Christian Social Union (CSU).
Mr Seehofer will also be at the talks, hosted by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, but his authority to negotiate on behalf of his party will be damaged by events in Munich.
Mrs Merkel is already facing a frosty start to the negotiations, with the SPD furious after a senior minister in her caretaker government gave German approval for a controversial EU decision without consulting cabinet colleagues.
Some form of deal with the SPD is Mrs Merkel’s last chance to avoid new elections after talks with smaller parties collapsed earlier this month.
But she will also need the continued support of her Bavarian allies if she is to command a majority in parliament.
Mr Seehofer has gone from being an outspoken critic of Mrs Merkel’s refugee policy to one of her firmest allies in recent weeks.
Markus Söder, the man most likely to supplant him, is considerably more lukewarm in his support for the chancellor.
A group of prominent MPs in the Bavarian regional parliament are seeking to topple Mr Seehofer as Bavarian prime minister, and replace him with Mr Söder.
While Mr Seehofer might be able to retain overall leadership of the party, it would be only as a weak figurehead.
The rebel MPs want to force a vote on the issue on Monday. While it would not be binding, defeat for Mr Seehofer could force him to resign.
Mr Söder was playing his cards close to his chest yesterday/WED. “We have a vote next week. Let’s see how it turns out,” he said.
Meanwhile Mrs Merkel faces a difficult start to talks with the SPD after Christian Schmidt, her agriculture minister, okayed an EU decision to approve a controversial pesticide without submitting it to the cabinet.
Mrs Merkel’s former coalition with the SPD is currently still in office as a caretaker government, and many in the party are incensed their ministers were not consulted. Ralf Stegner, an SPD deputy leader, described it as a “clear breach of trust”.
Mrs Merkel has said she knew nothing of Mr Schmidt’s decision in advance. She has censured him but stopped short of firing him.
“The chancellor’s loss of authority is clear and harms trust and cooperation within the government,” Carsten Schneider, a senior SPD MP said. “This sort of chaos is totally unacceptable in the EU’s biggest country.”
Many in the SPD are now demanding the party extracts a heavy price for any deal to keep Mrs Merkel in power.
The party remains undecided whether it is ready to consider a new coalition, or will only offer to prop up a minority government from outside.
«Se non ci arrivi da solo, è inutile che te lo spieghi»
Nel suo discorso di Breslavia il buon Joseph Ratzinger aveva ammonito di guardarsi da “stregoni ed economisti”.
Difficilmente messaggio fu più chiaro e meno compreso.
* * *
Il grande errore degli economisti e dei loro studi economici negli ultimi cinquanta anni consiste nel fatto di ritenere che il sistema economico occidentale sia l’unico di rilevanza sulla terra, per cui ciò che esso decide di fare diventa legge universale, cui tutti debbano sottostare.
La superbia è una gran brutta bestia: ottunde la mente dapprima deprivando della corretta percezione del reale, indi inficiando tutte le successive argomentazioni avendo assunto assiomi e presupposti fallaci.
Né è facile che il superbo rinsavisca: quando don Giovanni con il servo Sganarello incontro la morte la irride. Ma l’irrisione nulla toglie al potere della morte.
* * * * * * *
Un tempo l’economia era una scienza fondata su argomentazioni non contraddittorie condotte su incontrovertibili dati di fatto.
Poi venne l’economia politica. Il dato di fatto, la prove empirica, divenne un fastidioso orpello, e le argomentazioni logiche un peso retrogrado, da oscurantismo. L’economia transitò gradatamente in economia politica, quindi in politica economica ed infine si arenò nella mera politica.
Ma pretendere che la politica sia una scienza e che sia logica sarebbe davvero troppo.
Da un punto di vista meramente economico, se si considera il pil per potere di acquisto, il mondo ha generato nel 2016 108,036,500 milioni Usd, la Cina 17,617,300 (16.31%) e gli Stati Uniti 17,418,00 (16.12%). L’Eurozona rende conto di 11,249,482 (10.41%) ed il Gruppo dei G7 di 31.825,293 (29.46%). Però i Brics conteggiano un pil ppa di 32,379,625 Usd, ossia il 29.97% del pil ppa mondiale. I Brics valgono come i paesi del G7.
Di conseguenza, la voce dell’Occidente vale nel mondo al massimo per il 29.46%, ma quella degli Stati Uniti vale solo il 16.12% e quella dell’Eurozona uno scarno 10.41%.
La realtà è che i paesi afferenti il G7 rendono conto del 29.46% dell’economia mondiale: la loro voce vale quindi per un terzo del tutto.
Sono sicuramente una grande forza, ma non più di entità tale da condizionare tutto il globo.
Appare invece molto verosimile che sia il restante 70% dell’economia mondiale a condizionare la vita economica e sociale dell’Occidente.
«Nel mondo ci sono oltre 11mila miliardi di dollari in obbligazioni che esprimono tassi negativi»
«Ovvero, titoli per cui il creditore anziché ricevere denaro per aver finanziato chi ha emesso il bond addirittura gli riconosce un tot, come se fosse una “commissione da parcheggio liquidità” o una tassa»
«Sebbene nessuno abbia la sfera di cristallo …. Se questo trend continuerà nei prossimi 1.000 anni i tassi passeranno dall’attuale fase vicina allo 0 a -16%. »
Ma l’Occidente non è l’unico attore mondiale.
Vale al momento poco meno del 30% del’economia globale.
Il problema non è quindi “cosa farà l’Occidente“,
bensì “cosa faranno gli altri“.
* * * * * * *
Noi non ci azzardiamo a fare previsione di qui a mille anni.
Constatiamo soltanto che, una volta rimosso l’obbligo politico a dover investire a tassi negativi, il risparmio fugge veloce e pimpante verso impegni produttivi. A nessuna persona sana di mente fa piacere pagare gli altri perché facciano il piacere di custodire il proprio denaro.
Quando poi la cifra raggiunge gli undicimila miliardi di dollari l’idea che i tassi negativi possano ancora durare a lungo sembrerebbe essere destituita di sano buon senso. Ed il restante 70% del’economia mondiale li accoglierebbe a braccia aperte.
Non a caso i vincoli politici sembrerebbero destinati a scomparire, ed anche a breve termine.
Leggiamoci il memento che segue, e traiamone lo logiche conseguenze.
– Il 20 gennaio 2017 si è insediato il Presidente Trump, che a novembre aveva conquistato 304 grandi elettori contro i 227 di Mrs Hillary Clinton.
– Il 7 maggio 2017 alle elezioni presidenziali francesi il partito socialista francese crolla dal 62% all’8%.
– Il 21 settembre 2017 Mr Macron conquista 22 su 171 seggi senatoriali.
– Il 24 settembre 2017 le elezioni federali politiche sanzionano la perdita di 153 deputati della Große Koalition: la Cdu crolla al 32.9% e l’Spd al 20.5%.
– Il 15 ottobre Herr Kurz trionfa alle elezioni austriache con il 31.6%, e l’Fpö raggiunge il 26.0%.
– Il 22 ottobre 2017 nella Repubblica Ceka il partito Ano consegue il 29.6% dei voti, mentre il Civil Democracy party crolla all’11.3% dei voti.
– Il 5 novembre 2017 alle elezioni regionali in Slovakia lo Smer, partito socialista del presidente Fico, ha perso il controllo di quattro delle sei regioni. Nelle elezioni politiche del 2012 aveva conseguito il 44.4% dei voti, il 28.3% in quelle del 2016, il 26.2% nelle regionali.
Liberal e socialisti ideologici, santi patroni delle teorie economiche che hanno improntato l’Occidente negli ultimi decenni, non occupano più posti di governo di una certa quale rilevanza. Hanno ancora gran parte della burocrazia e dei media, ma senza appoggio politico non si va molto lontano.
È probabile che nei prossimi anni la fetta globale dei “bond sottozero” diminuisca. Questo perché alcune grandi banche centrali hanno avviato un percorso di rialzo dei tassi (la Fed ha attuato tre strette dal 2015, la Bank of Canada una lo scorso settembre) e altre (esclusa la Bank of Japan, l’unica che difatti, monetizzando il deficit, sta con il Tesoro nipponico praticando una forma di “helicopter money” ) sono orientate lentamente verso questa direzione (la Bce ha annunciato recentemente che il piano di stimoli dovrebbe terminare a settembre 2018 e che nel 2019 si inizierà a parlare di rialzo dei tassi).
In ogni caso, se è vero quanto spesso ci ricorda il governatore della Bce Mario Draghi («i tassi resteranno bassi molto a lungo») c’è anche da mettere in cantiere l’ipotesi che l’attuale fase di tassi ultrabassi diventi strutturale. Una regola e non più l’eccezione, come siamo stati abituati a percepirla fino ad ora.
L’assenza di una scossa importante sul fronte tassi consoliderebbe un dato a dir poco incredibile: oggi i tassi di interesse (nella media tra breve e lungo periodo) sono i più bassi che la storia annoveri negli ultimi 5.000 anni di civilizzazioni.
Questo dato – elaborato da Bofa Merrill Lynch su dati di Bank of England, Global financial data e degli autori del libro «A history of interest rates» di Sidney Homer e Richard Sylla – ci racconta che il mondo in cui le banche centrali hanno affrontato l’ultima grande crisi globale (la bolla dei derivati subprime del 2007), ovvero pompando oltre 15mila miliardi di dollari di liquidità sui mercati finanziari, ha creato un effetto collaterale mai visto prima d’ora.
I tassi erano mediamente un po’ più alti di quelli attuali perfino a fine anni ’30, dopo il Grande crollo di Wall Street nel 1929 a cui seguì una profonda recessione. Non c’è confronto con nessuna era. I tassi riscontrati durante la prima dinastia dei Faraoni d’Egitto (3.000 a.c.) viaggiavano intorno al 20%. Su simili valori si attestavano anche durante il regno del re babilonese Hammurabi (dal 1792 a.C. al 1750 a.C). Nella Roma del primo annus domini il costo del denaro era al 4% mentre durante l’impero bizantino di Costantino si attestava al 12,5%.
I tassi di oggi sono persino più bassi di quelli registrati durante la seconda guerra mondiale (1,85%).
E il futuro che cosa riserva? Sebbene nessuno abbia la sfera di cristallo, ci si può (forse) affidare a uno studio di Paul Schmelzing della Bank of England – rilanciato da Pimco – che ha analizzato l’andamento storico dei tassi reali (al netto dell’inflazione). Negli ultimi 700 anni i tassi sono diminuiti di 1,6 punti base ad anno, ovvero dell’1,6% ogni 100 anni. Se questo trend continuerà nei prossimi 1.000 anni i tassi passeranno dall’attuale fase vicina allo 0 a -16%. Si tratta di numeri da Trivial Pursuit, più che da finanza.
Era il gigante dei baritoni. Cittadino del mondo, tenacemente russo, ma sempre siberiano, con la Siberia nel cuore.
Fu la prova vivente di quanto l’arte possa commuovere anche gli spiriti più rozzi.
«Mr. Hvorostovsky was essentially a lyric baritone with a lighter voice. But his distinctive sound — with its russet colorings and slightly hooded quality, combining Russian-style melancholy with velvety Italianate lyricism — was so penetrating, he could send big top notes soaring. He could command the stage, and at his best he was a nuanced actor»
Dmitri Hvorostovsky, the charismatic Siberian baritone who won critical acclaim and devoted fans around the world for his burnished voice, uncanny breath control and rueful expressivity, died on Wednesday in London. He was 55.
Mark Hildrew of Askonas Holt, the talent management agency that represented Mr. Hvorostovsky, said the cause was brain cancer. Mr. Hvorostovsky announced the diagnosis in June 2015 and died in a hospice facility near his London home.
A favorite of audiences thanks to his alluring voice and heartthrob presence, Mr. Hvorostovsky cut a striking figure, his trim 6-foot-1 frame topped by a mane of prematurely white hair.
He also had a compelling personal story: He escaped the street-gang life as a teenager in a grim Siberian city, found his talent there despite the region’s cultural isolation, and overcame a tempestuous drinking problem that could have ruined his career.
Mr. Hvorostovsky was essentially a lyric baritone with a lighter voice. But his distinctive sound — with its russet colorings and slightly hooded quality, combining Russian-style melancholy with velvety Italianate lyricism — was so penetrating, he could send big top notes soaring. He could command the stage, and at his best he was a nuanced actor.
There “have been many beautiful voices,’’ the soprano Renée Fleming said, “but in my opinion none more beautiful than Dmitri’s.”
Early on, Mr. Hvorostovsky (pronounced voh-roh-STOV-ski) excelled as Valentin in Gounod’s “Faust,” Belcore in Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore” and the title role of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” which he played with captivating suavity. He brought musical and linguistic authority to Russian opera, especially the title part of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin,” in which he was peerless.
As his career developed, he was increasingly sought after for his dramatically layered interpretations of Verdi baritone roles, among them Germont in “La Traviata.” He had a close association with the Metropolitan Opera, where he sang some 180 performances of 13 roles there over a career that began in 1995.
He had been scheduled to appear at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in the fall of 2015, but that summer he revealed on his website that he had a brain tumor. An announcement said, “Although his voice and vocal condition are normal, his sense of balance has been severely affected.”
He canceled his summer appearances to undergo treatment in London, his main home since the 1990s, and it seemed doubtful that he would be able to fulfill his commitment to the Met, which had scheduled him to sing six performances in October in a revival of its 2009 production of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore,” with Mr. Hvorostovsky in the lead role of Count di Luna.
On the opening night of the run, the audience erupted in an ovation when he first appeared onstage as the count (in this production, the brash leader of Royalist troops during a time of civil war in Spain). Briefly breaking character, he smiled and placed his hand over his heart in gratitude.
Mr. Hvorostovsky gave a magnificent performance, and during final curtain calls he was showered with white roses thrown by orchestra members. Behind him, his close Russian colleague Anna Netrebko (singing Leonora) wiped away tears.
Looking thinner but determined to continue, Mr. Hvorostovsky returned to New York in February 2016 for a sold-out recital at Carnegie Hall with the pianist Ivari Ilja, his longtime accompanist. He sang a program of Russian songs as well as some German ones by Richard Strauss, including several that seemed to be parting messages to his devoted fans, like Tchaikovsky’s “The Nightingale,” with lyrics by Pushkin, which include these lines:
Dig me a grave In the broad open field At my head plant Flowers of scarlet.
The final ovations were ecstatic.
In an unannounced appearance, Mr. Hvorostovsky returned to the Met in May to take part in the gala concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the company’s Lincoln Center house. Though unsteady on his feet, he sang a valiant account of the vehement aria “Cortigiani, vil razza dannata” from Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” winning applause and cheers from the audience for this last-minute performance.
Mr. Hvorostovsky’s rise to the pinnacle of opera was improbable.
Dmitri Aleksandrovich Hvorostovsky was born on Oct. 16, 1962, in Krasnoyarsk, a large city in central Siberia. As a center of the Soviet defense industry, the city was mostly closed to foreigners until well into the Gorbachev era.
An only child, Mr. Hvorostovsky lived mostly with his maternal grandmother, whom he adored, and his volatile step-grandfather, a broken-down war hero, whom Mr. Hvorostovsky described in 2003 in a profile in The New Yorker as “vain, arrogant and deeply alcoholic.”
He remained devoted to his father, an engineer, and his mother, a gynecologist. But they both had time-consuming work schedules, and he saw them only on weekends.
That he showed musical talent, at first on the piano, delighted his father, who had wanted to be a musician but had been forced into engineering school by his own father, a Communist die-hard. He arranged for his son to attend music school in the afternoons and evenings.
When that program ended, however, Dmitri, at 14, fell in with street gangs, started drinking vodka, got into brawls and broke his nose several times. Still, he finished high school, and at 16 he was given a new direction when his father enrolled him in a vocational school for choral conductors.
That led to his entering the conservatory in Krasnoyarsk, where he studied with Ekaterina Yoffel, whom Mr. Hvorostovsky remembered as “powerful, possessive, tough, cynical and very honest.” She taught him breath control, and his excellence at sustaining long phrases on a single breath would later be envied by colleagues.
His potential was recognized early on. “I was the most cherished and loved and admired boy,” Mr. Hvorostovsky said in an interview with The New York Times in 2008. He was given a government apartment while still a student.
Soviet music schools at the time paid scant attention to the Italian tradition of bel canto singing, which cultivated evenness through the range, smooth phrasing and the ability to embellish vocal lines with ornamentation. Mr. Hvorostovsky learned this heritage on his own by listening to classic recordings.
He graduated from the conservatory in 1986, just after Mikhail S. Gorbachev came to power and sanctioned greater freedom for artists to travel.
In 1988, at 26, Mr. Hvorostovsky made his first trip outside the Soviet Union, to France, where he won the Concours International de Chant competition. (Freedom still had its limits, however: Two female K.G.B. agents accompanied him.)
The next year, he won the prestigious Cardiff Singer of the World competition in Wales, narrowly beating out the young bass-baritone Bryn Terfel. Debuts followed in Nice, France; Amsterdam; Barcelona, Spain; Venice; and London, where he introduced to Europe roles that would define his later career, including Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Yeletsky in “The Queen of Spades,” the role in which he made his Met debut in 1995.
Mr. Hvorostovsky was only in his early 30s when his hair turned almost white. But no matter whether he was portraying a younger man, like the diffident Onegin, or an older one, like Verdi’s troubled Simon Boccanegra, stage directors usually preferred his silvery mane to any wig.
By the later 1990s, however, his performances could be erratic — sometimes dramatically unfocused, sometimes vocally patchy. By his own admission, he was often arrogant with directors and colleagues. The main problem, it became clear, was his drinking.
“I could easily put away two bottles of vodka after a performance,” he told The New Yorker. “I was a noisy, troublesome drunk.”
Alcohol, he acknowledged, contributed to the breakup in 2001 of his first marriage, to Svetlana Hvorostovsky, whom he had married in 1989.
Mr. Hvorostovsky said he stopped drinking on New Year’s Day 2001. He started unwinding after performances, he told The New Yorker, by taking long, hot baths and watching “stupid television.”
That same year he married Florence Illi, a Swiss-born soprano. She survives him, as do their two children, Nina and Maxim; twins from his first marriage, Daniel and Alexandra; and his parents, Alexander and Lyudmila.
His career revived in the 2000s, vaulting from one high to another. He won splendid reviews in 2002 for his performance at the Met as Prince Andrei in Prokofiev’s “War and Peace,” a role to which he brought uncommon vulnerability.
In 2007, Ms. Fleming boldly took on the role of Tatiana in “Eugene Onegin,” her first full production in a Russian-language opera, with Mr. Hvorostovsky in the title role. Their chemistry was almost palpable. A DVD of the performance, conducted by Valery Gergiev, became a top seller.
For years, Mr. Hvorostovsky devoted almost half of his professional time to solo recitals. He became a champion of the melancholic songs by the Russian composer Georgy Sviridov (1915-98), whose music was suppressed until the 1970s because he had refused to join the Communist Party.
He toured Russia with Ms. Netrebko and with other Russian opera singers in programs billed as “Hvorostovsky and Friends,” including a tremendously successful “Live From Red Square” concert. In his crossover ventures, he revealed an unlikely fondness for Europop.
In recent years, Mr. Hvorostovsky felt an increasing attachment to his homeland. In his interview with The New Yorker, he recalled a concert he gave at 22 with fellow singers and instrumentalists in a bread factory in central Siberia in below-freezing weather. The audience, wearing fur hats and warm boots, was overcome.
Those tears, Mr. Hvorostovsky said, “were more precious to me than all the applause I could ever get again.”