Archive | January, 2014

Why Does China Persist in Allowing a Black Market in Illegal Wildlife Products?

29 Jan

Please do take a moment to look at this photograph.

Tiger farm in southern Binh Duong province, Vietnam// http://www.jukani.co.za

The tigers in this cage are being kept more or less as livestock. And that is because they are livestock, bred for the value of their bones, eyeballs, testicles, and all manner of other body parts, eaten by gullible people all over Asia in order to cure themselves of diseases, improve their sexual performance, and live longer, happier lives. Some of these tigers will also have been caught in the wild. Each one is worth in the region of $20,000 to $30,000 or more. The value of the wildlife smuggling trade is difficult to assess but it is believed to run into billions of dollars. And this is the main reason why tigers are disappearing from the wild, also rhino and elephant in Africa. Other reasons such as habitat loss are also highly significant. But the customer in Asia – probably in China – that buys half a tiger vertebrae for his arthritis or an eyeball for her diabetes or a bottle of tiger wine for his impotence, is at the very root of the perennial problem of our disappearing wildlife. How sad, how unnecessary. And how very awful that some of the most beautiful living things in the world will be eaten by the most ignorant.

The “tiger farmer” in Binh Duong province, Vietnam (some 40 kms. south of Ho Chi Minh City), claims that he keeps the tigers because he “has a soft spot for them”. I’m sure he has, when they make him so much money. He also claims that his farm is funded by a beer company. Possibly he is not a very good liar, and what he really means by “a beer company” is a wine company: a tiger wine company. Here is an image filched from a mainstream UK newspaper, showing a tiger being starved to death while macho blokes walk around it looking devious – possibly they are planning their next erection? Once this poor animal has died it will be used to make wine – also supposedly banned in China.

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The Horrific Cruelty of China’s Tiger Farms // Daily Express, Feb. 2013

So, we learn that the tigers are first starved to death, before wine is made from their bones. What a charming practice! Who but lunatics could have come up with this? And did they have a chat with Charles Manson before they got started?

Other aspects of the photograph to be commented on: I particularly loathe the man in the red shirt in the foreground, I would in fact love to put him exactly where the tiger is. Something about his casual cruelty, just standing there putting a cigarette in his mouth. I defy anyone with a heart to stand by that cage without having a fit of rage at the swine who did this.

Below you will see a short film about the investigation headed by Debbie Banks of the EIA (the Environmental Investigation Agency) to look into the illegal trade in tiger products. For years the EIA has passed relevant information to the national agencies of countries such as China, Nepal and India. This year, they opted to go direct to Interpol. Why? Well, according to Debbie Banks, they have concluded that there seems to be no desire to stop this trade. She adds: “If China wanted to stop it, they would.” One tends to agree, given China’s excellent record of governmental hectoring of its citizens. In this short EIA film, we learn, surprisingly, that tiger skins are often bought by Chinese high-ranking army officers, possibly to make it quite clear to their subordinates that they certainly have no erectile dysfunction. And so the sad truth seems to be that in China, the authorities are more than willing to hound intellectuals, artists and freethinkers, while selected criminals are given free rein.

EIA film on the illegal trade in tiger bone

One should also add that China has a large number of its own tiger farms, which is odd, considering that it’s a signatory of all the relevant international treaties banning the sale of such wildlife “products”. What is the sub-text here? I would love to know why there is such intransigence, such unwillingness to cooperate with what seems so reasonable? Is it just money? Greed?

China Puts the “con” in Tiger Conservation // EIA article

My own disturbing theory is that there must be a serious problem with male erectile dysfunction in China. How strange that the world’s most populous country is somehow managing to totter on, given the lamentable sexual health of its males.

Another thought strikes me: why not just take some Viagra?

Many UK Tories Still Sceptical of Climate Change Theory. Ha-ha!

25 Jan

Scepticism can be a very good thing. For instance, I am sceptical about the merits of late middle-aged executives who play golf and wear Lacoste shirts and like to talk about their cars. I find them boring. I prefer dirty bastards who get drunk in pubs at lunchtime. I am also sceptical about people like Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary of the British Government, who comes from an honourable Lib Dem tradition of changing one’s mind as soon as any point of principle comes under a little bit of pressure. Davey spent this week pressing for dilution of EU fixed targets on renewable energy. Why? Well, because right now fossil fuels and nuclear power are cheaper. Ah, right. No doubt Davey was given further incentive by the frowning figure of Cameron in the background, modulating his schoolmaster voice and giving him, and us all, a good lesson in what’s “sensible” (Favourite word no.1) and/or “decent” (Favourite word no.2). In this case there was no mention of decent people, only about the sensible things they want. And of course sensible people know that nothing is more dangerous than meddling with the markets. It could lead to left-wing policies, red tape, immigration, higher taxes, improved public services, and other bad things. Markets must choose their own way, more or less as flies will unerringly find the nearest lumps of shit.

For instance, Cameron and his gang of laissez-faire activists have wailed and sobbed against proposals for scientifically based EU legislation on fracking. The mere mention of “Brussels” seems to be enough to annoy the Government. England, this tiny principality, will have trouble finding bits of land not earmarked for housing or shopping centres, where they can frack away without unpleasant side effects to the environment and human health. But never mind, there shall be shale gas and oil, there shall be a market mechanism deciding these things, for while there is money to be made from it, it’s quite legitimate. That is the rule, and that must be so. Davey and Cameron have also been egged on by their backbenchers, alert to the scepter of the UK Independence Party haunting their steps. It creates a very unpleasant spiral of stupidity.

I was not so very surprised to hear that the Tory party still has a fair number of refuseniks who are sceptical of climate change theory. Scepticism, one concludes, is only a good thing when it is entertained by a good mind. A decent mind, even. A decent and sensible mind would defer to the overwhelming, crushing weight of scientific opinion. But oh no, not this brilliant gang of analysts, including Christopher Chope, the hon. member for Christchurch, nor Peter Lilley, an intellectual sniveller and heavyweight by anyone’s reckoning, nor the insightful member for Chichester, Andrew Tyrie, who interestingly compared the Climate Change Bill to the Dangerous Dogs Act. And then, of course, John Redwood, one would always expect to see his name on any compendium of villainy. He even resisted Thatcher, after all, which takes a very mutinous personality. I could go on, but I won’t. The names I have mentioned here are the flat earth and creationist thinkers of the political sphere – the decent people on whom David Cameron relies for his political survival. And he is very beholden to them. And willing to meet them halfway, cutting back on a bit of renewable energy here, holding a referendum on EU membership there, all in the interest of beating off the UKIP and keeping himself in power. Because, like his sacred role model Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron has a sexual fantasy that he will be the new saviour of Britain, calmly and strategically and very sensibly lifting his country from this vale of temporary gloom. Then, retiring to a rectory in Wiltshire and writing learned speeches on his struggle. We can be fairly certain that Mr. Cameron will not be retiring anywhere near a fracking site. He will be in a beautiful place, surrounded by other retired politicians. And who knows, maybe also a couple of sacked News International executives. They’ll have tea together. Ha-ha!

If it wasn’t so irritating it would be bloody hilarious.

Economists Approve New European CO2 Targets – Phew!

24 Jan

Economists! Aren’t they hilarious. With their iPhones and suits, always commenting on everything as if economics were a science, or even a Law of the Universe. And so, after days of prevarication, here we go, the EU has reached a decision on CO2 targets for the next 15 years. All the scientists, that is, the poorer relations of those slick economists, have been calling for a 50% reduction. But, no, oh no you don’t! The decision stops at 40%, to the great relief of the economists, who issue statements after the battle is over: “40% is pretty good, we’re running a low-carb economy here, the EU can say we’re doing our bit, we’re a low-carb region…” Well, there we are. The EU is doing its bit, oh good, should be good enough for the Cosmic Laws to relax and give us a break. Come on, we’re only human, we’ve gotta eat, we’ve gotta buy Damien Hirst paintings!

The EU Outlines 2030 Climate Goals

The economists have trumped scientific opinion, as they should. I mean, scientists, who gives a crap, they’re just nerds with beards, not the owners of slick clothing or warehouse apartments or Damien Hirst paintings, unlike economists, who see the importance of having very good taste in all matters that matter on the market mechanism score. Nuff said, the scientists called for 50% but 40% is good enough. Okay, Nature? Will you just relax, for God’s sake, it’s only a 10% difference and we have to live as well, Christ!

George Osbourne is probably furious, he’d like to have shaved that one down to single digits, this will cost the Exchequer a lot of money, money better spent on… on… well, money better left in the bank earning compound interest. George takes a dim view of all this: I mean, what’s CO2, you can’t see CO2 can you, does it even exist? George W. Bush says, no it doesn’t, it’s all a lot of nonsense. George W. Bush has built a library in Austin, he’s busy pretending the American right-wing still has an agenda with some kind of merit apart from guns, low taxes, and living in the 1950’s. George Osbourne is too smart to talk to him, but nonetheless he retains a set of strong views on CO2. I mean if you’re down the Carlton having a few sagacious words with a couple of businessmen can you also exchange a few sensible opinions with CO2? No, you can’t. Ergo = CO2 is just green crap. Right? Yes, exactly so. CO2 is a fiction invented by a lot of posturing folk with post-doctoral qualifications who ought to be ashamed of themselves for interfering with our recovery. Amen. Good night, Milton Friedman, good night great inventor of the money supply, god of economics, powerful mind imbued with the Nobel Prize. Yes, economics really does cut the mustard when it comes to making decisions about the planet. It does. No, it does. It does. It does. Really! Keep listening to the economists. They have had hundreds of years to get it right. They will get there. They will. They will.

Let’s just hope we get there before they do.

Good night.

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