The UK is having a hard time breaking away from trade deficit

Exports have reached new record levels as it arose, but imports have exceeded as well as its prior highs and thread of shockingly high deficits is almost unchanged.  Due to this some scientists say that the recovery will only make the gap grow.  The UK continues to import more than they export and are carrying a perpetual trade deficit.

 

The UK has balanced its trade deficit with income from abroad for a period of time.  Many companies and investors who own assets in foreign lands and send back the gains to UK are still enjoying the legacy of the empire

 

The positive result on UK’s present account has decreased harshly since the financial crash, but, and the future looks less hopeful.

 

HSBC’s chief economist, Stephen King, is also affected by 5% deficit.  He argues that that should be down to zero or positive in the aftermath of a severe recession.

 

King’s concern is that deficits grow in times when many shoppers consume more imported goods than ever.   Much better to start from a situation of balance or even a positive balance sooner than the situation worsens.

 

An appropriate recession, one in which declining wages or mass unemployment that eradicate people’s incomes in total, lessen the import bill noticeably.  It is a land that can be seen in Greece, Spain and Portugal, where the horrendous economic and financial conditions they find themselves in have at least improved the trade balance.

 

The Keynesian answer to the crisis in the UK implemented by Labour and partly sustained by the coalition supports employment and public services, however, as well has the unlucky consequence of preserving high levels of imports.  That is the reason the enormous deficits run up by successive governments during and after the recession required to be offset by a major jump in exports.

 

Regardless of a 25% drop in the significance of sterling, the increase was just small.  There are many rival explanations for the reason.  The dependence on the EU, which separate from Germany has resisted development since 2008. The inclination for exporters to jack up their prices instead of the increase production as an answer to higher demand is one more long-term problem.

 

Both give slight motive to expect that an economy that month on month runs a historic elevated deficit previous to the upturn has achieved actual momentum, and with imports increasing further, can evade a mini sterling crisis.

 

Doomsayers disagree Britain has 18 months to two years to discover its export mojo ahead of it is becoming crystal clear a lower pound is needed.  A minor pound would give exporters another increase and perhaps close up the deficit, however, would as well elevate import prices and inflation.  Higher inflation, joined with a consumer boom that is mostly based on additional borrowing, may perhaps oblige the Bank of England to jack up interest rates.  Whatever supporters of higher rate dispute, a speedy and vicious response from the central bank is unwanted and would convey the recovery to a shaky halt.

Little options of Saudis as they push tougher foreign policy

Saudi Arabia, regardless of its deep discomfort about the West’s hesitant rapprochement with Iran, seems to have some viable selection for practicing a more independent and straightforward foreign policy.

Disappointed with the United States from constructing tactical relations with other world powers to thrusting a tougher line in opposition to Iranian allies in the Arab world and, in an instance that the world powers be unsuccessful to foil Tehran’s nuclear objectives, even looking for its own atomic bomb so senior Saudis have expected at a range of possibilities.

However substitute powers are tough even to think for a nation that has been holding back to U.S. ally for decades.  Russia is on the conflicting side against Riyadh concerning the Syrian war and China’s military clout is still modest as compared with the United States’.

Robert Jordan, U.S. ambassador to Riyadh from 2001-03, said there would be limits to any Saudi alliances with other powers.

“There is no country in the world more capable of providing the protection of their oil fields, and their economy, than the U.S., and the Saudis are aware of that. We’re not going to see them jump out of that orbit,” he said.

A few Saudi analysts also say that the kingdom is well aware of what major foreign policy shifts would involve – mainly any pursuit of nuclear weapons while Jordan was a senior diplomat in the administration of President George W. Bush.

As a result, at the end, casting Saudi Arabia as the international villain, instead of its regional arch-rival Iran, and Riyadh has no desire for such of isolation that has required Tehran to the negotiating table.

“Saudi Arabia doesn’t need to become a second Iran,” said a Saudi analyst close to official thinking. “It would be a total reversal of our traditional behavior, of being a reliable member of the international community that promotes strategic stability and stabilizes oil markets.”

Diplomatic sources and analysts in the Gulf say the kingdom, while unsettled, will not risk a breach in relations with its main non-Arab ally and will explore, however warily, a purely diplomatic response to the Iranian opening.

Top Saudis are yet angry with Washington.  Senior U.S. officials apprehended secret two-sided talks with Iranian counterparts for months to get ready for previous month’s interim nuclear agreement among six world powers and Tehran, raising Gulf Arab rulers’ worries that Washington is eager to go betray them and to do a deal with Iran.

Diplomatic sources in the Gulf said, Saudi leaders were taken unawares by the content of the deal that was struck in the early hours of November 24, despite an earlier promise by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to keep them informed of developments.

In Washington, a senior State Department official said Kerry had been in close contact with his counterparts throughout the two rounds of negotiations in Geneva, and had talked to Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on November 25.

“The agreement was reached in the middle of the night and Secretary Kerry spoke with the Saudi Foreign Minister soon afterward,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Under the agreement is Tehran relief from sanctions that are strangling its economy, in return for more oversight of its nuclear program.  Riyadh, along with its Western allies, fears this is aimed at producing weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif suggested on Sunday the deal should not be seen as a threat. “This agreement cannot be at the expense of any country in the region,” he told reporters in Kuwait. “We look at Saudi Arabia as an important and influential regional country and we are working to strengthen cooperation with it for the benefit of the region.”

Diplomatic sources in the Gulf say Riyadh is nervous that the deal will ease pressure on Tehran, allowing it more room to damage Saudi interests elsewhere in the Middle East.

Including in Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen, the conservative Sunni Muslim kingdom is at odds with Iran’s revolutionary Shi’ite leaders in struggles across the Arab world.

Above everything, Riyadh thinks about Iran’s open support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in fighting a rebellion backed by Gulf States as a foreign occupation of Arab lands.

BOLD DECLARATIONS

Riyadh showed tepid support for the nuclear deal, implied alongside warnings that it was a “first step” and that a more comprehensive solution necessary “good will”.

Nevertheless a few well-known Saudis cited bold declarations that Riyadh will develop a tough new foreign policy, protecting its interests in keeping with its status as the richest Arab state and birthplace of Islam.

Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, the Saudi ambassador to London, told The Times newspaper that “all options are available” to Riyadh, including seeking its own atomic weapon, if Iran managed to build the bomb.

However diplomatic sources in the Gulf and analysts close to Saudi thinking say the main problem in turning such rhetoric into action is the lack on an obvious replacement for the U.S. security umbrella in the Gulf, or for the American military’s role in advising, arming and assisting the Saudi armed forces.

“There’ll be more contact with the Russians and Chinese than in the past. They’ve gone elsewhere for weapons before and we’ll see some more of that, but the overall environment will be America-centric,” said Jordan.

A Western adviser to Gulf countries on geopolitical issues said senior Saudis have looked at ways of reducing the kingdom’s long-term reliance on the United States.

France is one alternative, albeit one that stays firmly in the Western camp in spite of precedent differences with NATO allies.

Riyadh has worked closely with Paris in recent months on both Syrian and Iranian issues, and has awarded it big naval contracts.  That said, the Saudi armed forces and economy are so closely tied to the United States that any serious attempt to disengage over the longer term would be prohibitively costly and difficult, diplomatic sources in the Gulf say.

Washington stays closer to Riyadh on each Middle Eastern concern any other world power currently except France, which has taken a hard line on Iran.

The issue in Syria over which there is the greatest disagreement between Riyadh and Washington, the kingdom is now arming and training some rebel groups which the United States, cautious about arming jihadists, views with caution.

Diplomatic sources in the Gulf say these efforts will continue and may expand, but logistical challenges will hinder any rapid attempt to increase training much beyond the thousand or so rebels now working in Jordan with Saudi special forces.

Riyadh’s own suspicions of an Islamist backlash stop it from arming more militant groups with ties to al Qaeda.  This is reinforced by a bombing campaign inside the country in the last decade,

The sources say Saudi Arabia still relies on a lot of support from Western allies for command and control expertise, and would find it very difficult to build its own coalition of Arab allies to join forces in a military campaign.

They note that the kingdom and its five closest regional friends, the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, have been unable to agree on a shared missile defense shield after years of discussions.

Good judgment in forecasting international affairs

The Economist’s The World in 2014 issue focuses international attention on the geopolitical outcomes we can expect to see over the next 12-14 months hits the newsstand.  It features an article by University of Pennsylvania psychologist Phil Tetlock and journalist Dan Gardner on the Good Judgment Project.  That said article isa research study funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA, the U.S. government’s analog to DARPA), as a result, makes such geopolitical predictions each day.

IARPA has posed approximately 100-150 questions every year to research teams partaking in its ACE forecasting tournament on topics like the Syrian civil war, the constancy of the Eurozone and Sino-Japanese relations since 2011.  Every research team was obliged to collect individual forecasts coming from many forecasters online and to produce daily collective forecasts that allocate sensible probabilities to potential outcomes.

The Good Judgment Project came out as the evident winner and the Good Judgment Project forecasters have established the capability to produce more right forecasts that have surpassed even a few of the most positive approximation at the start of the tournament.  The supplementary graphic shows the calculation from three GJP forecasting techniques on a up to date question about whether the first round of chemical weapons inspections in Syria would be completed before Dec. 1.

From the said condition, the question resolved as a “yes” since from the one who was conducting the inspections which is the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that they had completed the first round of inspection before Dec. 1.  Because the question resolved as a “yes”, the closer each forecasting method’s predictions were to 1, the better they did.  According to the results of the graph, after some first hesitations about if inspections would occur or not, our forecasters in general met on the correct answer well previous to the outcome.

The Project utilizes new social-science methods ranging from controlling the understanding of mass to prediction markets to situating the teams of forecasters together.  The GJP research team feature its success to a mixture of getting the accurate people on the bus, tendering basic tutorials on inferential traps to keep away from and best practices to put in the practice everyday, engaging the most brilliant forecasters into great teams, and continually fine-tuning the aggregation algorithms it uses to unite individual forecasts into a collective prediction on every forecasting question.  The Project’s best forecasters are normally talented and very motivated amateurs, instead of the subject matter experts.

Industry, labor, foes sound off during hearing on nuclear waste

Not often carry out nuclear industry executives and hardline activists who be against them agree on anything.

Mutually the two hates the thought of continuing to stockpile highly radioactive waste the reactor cores of nuclear power plants on the site of each power-generating station.

An hour-long hearing held December 2, 2013 drew almost 200 people from Ohio and Michigan to the Hilton Garden Inn in Perrysburg’s Levis Commons was a reminder that both sides are still far apart on what the government’s next step should be.

Although it would mean putting up with the waste decades longer than expected, industry and trade unions eventually want a single, national repository. Failure to develop a solution is reason enough to shut down the industry; this is the antinuclear activists claim to the government.

Nuclear power provides 20 percent of America’s electricity.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the government agency that oversees the nuclear industry, learned a lot of information, the 11th stop on the agency’s 12-city tour in which it ought to do just that: Get a cross section of opinions.  As an answer to the government’s decision to unfinished plans for a national repository in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, the NRC has been asking Americans about their thoughts regarding the agency’s proposed “waste confidence” rule and its affiliated environmental impact statement,.

As a consequence, the NRC is inquiring what the public’s thoughts concerning leaving the waste where it is, at least for the time being.

As of today, America has 100 nuclear plants in operation.  The U.S. government was contractually constrained to begin picking up the high-level radioactive waste from them by Jan. 31, 1998.

These plants were not for holding all of the waste indoors but most of it is stored in spent fuel pools.  Usually on the same site and once those fill up, the oldest waste is moved to dry storage casks outdoors.

FirstEnergy Corp. spent more than $5 million to build that outdoor storage system for its Davis-Besse nuclear plant in the 1990s.

For many years, it doesn’t have to expand.

But FirstEnergy spokesman Jennifer Young, who attended the hearing but was not scheduled to speak, told The Blade the Akron-based utility will start making plans in 2014 for building more exterior containers and filling them with spent reactor fuel in 2017.

That utility and others are unwilling to do so, but mentioning they have no other options until the government develops a repository.

Almost a decade ago, the Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute sued the U.S. government for breach of contract and they succeeded as a decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Ever since then, utilities have been permitted to gather rent from the government for waste stored on corporate land.

“At this point, this form of [on-site] storing the waste is probably the best way possible,” Jim Sass, Ottawa County Commission president, told the NRC.

“This is a con game,” said activist Michael Keegan of Monroe, who has been watching DTE Energy’s Fermi nuclear complex and at other sites for 33 years. “This is a fraud perpetuated on taxpayers and ratepayers. It is a sham.”

Mike Knisley of Lima, Ohio, who sits on the executive board of the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council, said organized labor supports a resolution of the problem that allows the nuclear industry to expand and create more jobs.

“These [temporary] storage methods have been proven safe,” Mr. Knisley said.

British-Muslims contribute 31 billion pounds to economy

Britain has more than 10,000 millionaires from among 2.72 million Muslims contributing 31 billion pounds or Rs 3.0 trillion to its economy, says a report.

‘The Muslim Pound – How Muslims Add Value to Britain’s Prosperity’ was released by the Muslim Council of Britain ahead of the just-concluded 9th World Islamic Economic Forum Meet 2013 in London, one report says.

Five decades on, there are more than 10,000 millionaires and thousands of others are engaged in higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations.

Nearly 2.8 million Muslims in the UK contribute over 31 billion pounds to its economy and wield a spending power of 20.5 billion pounds, a report said this November.

A paper from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said from coffee houses in Elizabethan London, to curry houses in modern day Britain, thousands of Muslim-owned businesses have made a significant contribution to the UK economy and by extension, the cultural life of Britain.

The report said there are some 2.78 million Muslims in Britain, contributing over 31 billion pounds to the economy.  There is an anticipated 10,000 Muslim millionaires in the UK with liquid assets of more than 3.6 billion pounds, with more than a dozen British Muslims listed in the 2013 Sunday Times Rich List of the most affluent in the UK.

In London alone, there are over 13,400 Muslim-owned businesses in London creating more than 70,000 jobs, the paper said.

The report was published to highlight Muslims’ growing contribution to the UK and to mark the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) went to London this month, the online portal Huffington Post UK reported.

The MCB report comes as Prime Minister David Cameron is set to unveil a new Islamic index on the London Stock Exchange.  The move, as expected to be worth 1.3 trillion pounds next year, marks the capital’s significance as a global centre for Islamic finance.

The city will be the first non-Muslim city to host the World Islamic Economic Forum.

“I welcome the effort of the British Muslim community in bringing the World Islamic Economic Forum to London. My have worked with the Muslim Council of Britain to bring this Forum to London, who has been a key delegation at World Islamic Economic Forum since its inception,” said London’s Mayor Boris Johnson.

The MCB is a national representative Muslim umbrella body with over 300 affiliated national, regional and local organizations, mosques, charities and schools.

The World’s Top Ten Most Dynamic Economies

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2013/09/21/the-worlds-top-ten-most-dynamic-economies/

Of the top 10 world economies with the highest prospects for commerce growth in 2013, the U.S. is noticeable for its absence.

Based on Grant Thornton’s 2013 Global Dynamism Index (GDI) involving 50 countries, the U.S. slid down from No. 10 last year, to No. 11 in 2013. And to make it worse, its stats for indicators such as financing and labor markets, sank from a collective 64.1 in 2012 to 60.5 in 2013.

Yet, it is not that bad. U.S. left behind the Japanese (15) and the South Koreans (13). It also crushed the U.K., which ranked 34 overall, scoring only 51.5 out of a perfect 100. So, things in the U.S. are far from being that bad.

“I believe the U.S. is playing out almost exactly the way we expected,” said Marc Tommasi, a managing director at investment company Manning & Napier. “It is neither bright nor that terribly bad.”

Grant Thornton’s index provides insights into which of the 50 nations evaluated presents the best ecosystem for investment growth. The U.S. has dropped from the charts. But it has some company. Only a few nations have scaled the charts, and among the most stellar performers is China. It joined the top 10 this year after having placed No. 17 in 2012.

Rankings are according to performance in five main areas – business working environment, economics & growth, science & technology, labor & human capital and the lending conditions.

The obvious news from this year’s index: Asia is a powerhouse for investment growth. And even with the Nordic nations sliding, government policies there make it one of the most ideal areas in the globe to nurture a business. Even more so than the center of capitalism, Uncle Sam.

For China, the business working environment and financing were both graded badly, close to the base of the stack. However, nothing defeats the Chinese labor market. Not merely is it cheap, but on the East Coast especially, they are exceedingly skilled as well. In addition, in terms of holistic outlook there, China is No. 2 for general business growth.

This makes China the second highest jumper, right behind the upcoming tiger-economy Philippines (which climbed 25 places from No. 46 last year). The progress in China is principally powered by its science & technology ranking, where it jumped 8 places to rank 14 on the back of stable information-technology firms and spending on research and development.

“As China advances to a more sustainable economic development path, the GDI 2013 results provide a major sign that our business growth environment remains on the road to improvement,” Grant Thornton managing partner Xu Hua was cited as saying in the report published last week.

 

The top 10 most dynamic economies in 2012 were, namely from 1 to 10: Singapore, Finland, Sweden, Israel, Austria, Australia, Switzerland, Korea, Germany and the United States.

Here are the top 10 most dynamic economies of 2013.

 

No. 10: Norway

Norway got 60.9 points on the index this year, down from 62.6 last year. Multinationals have worked in Norway for so many years, most of them engaged in the oil and gas industry. The most popular Norwegian companies are Statoil and Norsk Hydro.

No. 9: Sweden

Sweden stands No. 9 and gained 61.6 out of a perfect 100. Last year, Sweden’s business vitality scored a 69.6 on the Grant Thornton Global Dynamism Index, so this year’s economic deceleration in southern Europe made a dent. Swedish technology exists in many American homes and enterprises. Ericsson is location in Stockholm. Husqvarna lawn-mowers mow many American lawns.

No. 8: Israel

Israel scores lower this year with 61.8 on the index compared with 69.3 last year, losing its former No. 4 spot. Israel’s growth economy is founded on biotechnology and software. Teva Pharmaceuticals is Israeli-owned and is the largest manufacturer of generic medicines in the world.

 

No. 7: Singapore

Singapore slid down this year but remains up there. On the index in 2013, it scored 61.9 out of a perfect 100, down from the No. 1 spot last year at 72.1. The country is generally noted as the biggest trade center in the world.

 

Tied with Canada: Finland

Finland ties with Canada with 62.3 this year, dropping from the No. 2 spot last year with a score of 70.5. Naturally, everyone remembers Finland as the people who gave us Angry Birds. Rovio Mobile is housed in Espoo. Microsoft adores Finnish tech so much it acquired Nokia this year.

No. 5: Canada

Canada and Finland both scored 62.3 out of a perfect 100 and is improving. Last year on the index, it gained 61.7. Canada is popular as the country that gave us the smartphone. BlackBerry is located in Waterloo. And while BlackBerry has seen brighter days, Canada likewise hosts TD Bank and airplane manufacturer Bombardier.

No. 4: New Zealand

That Fly Emirates symbol printed on the jib sail of an America’s Cup catamaran belongs to Team New Zealand. The country ranked No. 4 with an index score of 62.6, sliding from 63.9 last year on the Grant Thornton Global Dynamism Index. In spite of this lower index number, New Zealand climbed from No. 13 in 2012.

No. 3: China

China is doing something right, climbing from Rank 20 last year to No. 3. It scored a 62.7 out of 100, up from last year’s score of 61.4. China is the world’s No. 2 economy, and here in the U.S., it is referred to as the economy every politician “loves to hate”. Accused of causing massive losses of manufacturing jobs in America and a crushing trade deficit, China is no longer merely a Happy Meal toy-manufacturing economy. It is now noted for being a melting-pot for luxury retailers. However, it is also popular for Internet pet-companies such as Tencent, Baidu and Sina.

 

No. 2: Chile

Chile has always been favoured by the global executive. The only thing that has changed is that it continues to get better. Last year, it garnered No. 11 with an index score of 63.8. This year, it is No. 2 with an index score of 64.5. Noted for its copper mining, red wine and salmon, it is also home to LAN Airlines, the biggest airline owned by Latin Americans. Chile is good; but not as good as these guys…

The Most Dynamic Business Climate On Earth…

…is Downunder. Australia climbed from No. 7 last year with an index score of 65.6 to No.1 with an index score of 66.5. Australia has so much to offer prospective investors: twenty two years of continuous economic growth; stable institutions; a trained, industrious labor force and a vigorous culture of investment in research and development. The country’s most noted firms include mining giant BHP Billiton, surf apparel and culture brand Billabong and Rip Curl, and brewery Fosters Group. Addicted to playing fruit ninja on X Box Kinect? It is a product of Halfbrick Studios of Australia.

GCHQ: inside the top secret world of Britain’s biggest spy agency

A couple years back, GCHQ held its yearly sports fest on Wednesday, 15 June at London’s Civil Service Sports Club. A gender-friendly, six-a-side football match was the main event of the activity, with games kicking off at exactly 11 A.M..

The day was a cheerful experience for those normally ensconced in the agency’s unique doughnut-shaped command centre in Cheltenham. Participants were given a six-page list of rules and regulations to ascertain that people played fair.

“Each team MUST field at least ONE lady player at all times,” the note said. “Proper footwear shall be worn. Crocs, sandals or flip-flops are not allowed. The wearing of shin-pads is REQUIRED.”

Among all the extremely confidential papers about GCHQ exposed by the whistleblower, Edward Snowden, this has to be one of the least delicate. But it provides a peek into the world of the 6,100 people packed into the open-plan and underground GCHQ offices; that there is a sports activity at all shows something about the agency which many people outside their world could not appreciate.

Last year, GCHQ also made trips to the Paris Disneyland, and its sailing club participated in an offshore regatta at Cowes. The agency also has a chess club, regular pub quiz nights, cake bazaars and an in-house puzzle newsletter named Kryptos. A member of Stonewall beginning last year, GCHQ has its own Pride group for employees who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

There is also a paranormal group that describes itself as “GCHQ’s ghost-hunting group”. It is open to staff and their partners either “sceptics or believers” who want to explore “supposedly haunted properties”.

Employees reckon their age on the internal directory, “GCWiki”, by their “internet age”, a gage of how long they have been experts on the web.

They meet friends during yearly family open-days, or through messages on the agency’s own version of MySpace, aptly titles SpySpace.

Colleagues are bound to meet others cut from the same fabric. The agency’s 2010/11 recruitment guide states that GCHQ hires top-calibre technologists and mathematicians familiar with the intricate algorithms that fuel the Internet. But it has space for a few accountants and librarians. No vacancies available for classicists, however.

No one at Cheltenham is significantly well compensated, at least, in comparison with the private sector – a junior analyst might earn £25,000. “We can provide a fantastic mission; but we cannot shell out private-sector-level salaries,” one briefing note warned.

Being a world apart from the rest, GCHQ is an intricate, clandestine community, snugly bound by its location outside London, the characteristics of its people, and the mystery in which their job must be done.

When the “doughnut” was constructed in 2002, it was the largest building project in Europe. It now contains a parallel world – one that imitates the society around it while being separated by the tall fences of confidentiality and the enormously advanced technology hidden within.

Today, this powerfully secret agency is under a spotlight it has never had to encounter earlier on, as its ways and means come under unprecedented investigation, thanks to the exposure of documents that would otherwise have been hidden away for 30 more years.

Snowden had planned on divulging the extent of the spying activities being done by GCHQ and its US equivalent, the National Security Agency (NSA), and the stories posted by the Guardian have certainly accomplished that.

Before the 30-year-old analyst-turned-whistleblower came out with his exposé, only a few individuals outside GCHQ had heard of “Tempora”, the software that allows the agency access to the fibre-optic cables that transmit the world’s phone calls and web traffic; only they knew it had invented a clever way of storing this information for up to 30 days.

Only those in the intelligence world had known of “Prism”, another project that has given the NSA – and also GCHQ – access to millions of emails and live chats provided by the world’s major Internet companies, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple.

Groups of analysts at GCHQ now have the power and the technological capability to sneak directly into the central consciousness of the 21st century and spy on the lives of others. Go deeper into the stale-worded, acronym-studded documents, and one can derive more insights into the challenges faced by GCHQ, and its own worries about facing them.

And while politicians, including the prime minister and William Hague, the foreign secretary, have stood up to defend the agency from the public enquiry produced by the current revelations, the documents show GCHQ is not always comfortable with itself. There is reasonable apprehension about being left behind by technology, and a desire to push itself on in order to continue providing top-quality intelligence to the “customers” that include the government, the domestic security service, MI5, and MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service.

But the “customer” the agency worries about most is the NSA. In various enumerable files, GCHQ claims that keeping the Americans happy is a priority objective.

It is not difficult to understand why: the Guardian has found that GCHQ gets tens of millions of pounds from the NSA yearly, money it needs to upgrade and sustain its ability to collect and decode information. In exchange, the US wants service, and, most probably, access to an array of programmes, including Tempora.

Those protesters and academicians who are alarmed that the agencies are too intimate, and suspect they perform “dirty work” for one another, will probably be shocked by the overt character of the quid-pro-quo agreements.

Although there is clear enthusiasm inside GCHQ that fresh duties in recent years have made it Britain’s finest intelligence agency, it has experienced occasional moments of self-examination, and anxiety that the agency cannot perform those duties.

In an internal paper put out in August last year, one of GCHQ’s top senior officers expressed his fears. The officer, one of the group members managing the Tempora project, utilized a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate to colleagues the extensive manner that GCHQ’s “mission role” had evolved.

He told his group that fresh strategies had given it access to extensive quantities of new data or “light” – phone calls, emails, and Skype conversations collected from the Internet cable highways. But the officer was certainly flustered. “More than five years already, GCHQ’s access to ‘light’ has arisen by 7,000%,” he explained. The quantity of the information being scrutinized and processed had gone up by 3,000%, he claimed – another surprising admission.

“GCHQ is making fresh inroads and as a result, proving our systems and processes to the hilt. Our objective today is to attain success against the future’s requirements using the capability of the past.”

He thus put the caveat that the organization was unprepared to do this: “The complexity of our objective has changed to the extent where current mission control capacity no longer matches the purpose.”

Conceivably, it comes as no surprise that such issues have been brought up privately in the halls of GCHQ. In the past ten years, the agency’s portfolio has developed into a form hardly understandable to its most distinguished forerunners – the Nazi decoders of Bletchley Park.

GCHQ’s central goal has always been “garnering intelligence from intercepted communications”. It continues to do so, but the times of attaching clips on copper cables to eavesdrop on phone chats have long disappeared. The world has warmly welcomed computers, mobile phones and tablets, and the demand to seek precious and great amounts of information in the digital highway produced by them has become more intricate.

GCHQ has been called upon to seek the solutions, heedful that the prospective rewards are great; the agency has never had the chance before to produce such a full dossier of a person’s life based on texts, emails, conversations and search history.

 

Silent warfare

The use by criminal networks and other nations of cyberspace to attack the British government and commerce has uncovered a new phase of clandestine warfare. With its technological and computing history, GCHQ has been tasked to protect the country – and to design a way to wage a counter-attack.

Once a specialized field, this is considered by Downing Street as a “Tier One” national security main concern because of the harm perpetrated the UK economy, and the risk of British defence secrets being secretly sequestered through intricate hacking means.

The challenge put on the agency to succeed on all these areas was clearly laid out in GCHQ’s corporate program for 2009, the first year in which Sir Iain Lobban became director. In his introduction, he warned colleagues that the agency had to perform more efficiently.

“This has to be the year when we attain real traction with our Internet era revolution so we can continue to provide in the future what HMG [Her Majesty's Government] and our friends have expected of us.

“For the last five years, GCHQ has evolved from being simply an intelligence maker into a true operational partner for civilian and the military customers.”

The report added: “In short, HMG requires value from GCHQ which, at least, matches the £1bn annually that is entrusted to us.”

With the great expectations on the agency, its influence has stretched across Whitehall. GCHQ now has liaison employees serving inside MI5, MI6 and the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). It takes the biggest share in the £1.9bn outlay for Britain’s intelligence services, and has a workforce compliment that is over twice the size of MI5 and MI6 combined.

GCHQ also has a huge presence in the Cabinet Office, which is tasked with the goal of setting the UK’s cyber-security program. Protecting the nation is the Cabinet Office’s main objective – but from whom?

In an internal report in 2010, GCHQ described with notable openness the dangers posed to the UK from the Internet, shunning the timid pronouncements made by ministers – and Lobban – in public.

The government has time and again claimed it is too hard to point at any particular country as the source of threats in terms of cyber-attacks.

The 33-page report authored by GCHQ’s Cyber Security Operations Centre belies that statement. China is to blame, it says.

“China has a competent and exceptionally sweeping cyber programme targeting the complete range of governmental, military, and business targets. The Chinese wage so many comparatively unrefined attacks, usually utilizing commonly known weaknesses and have effectively destabilized networks worldwide.

“This evaluation is based only on the attacks that have been identified, and does not exclude more advanced and targeted attacks from China.”

The document adds: “Accusations of Chinese participation in cyber-attacks are unlikely to discourage China from executing such attacks in future, or from restricting its people’s access to the Internet.

“China is a big player in the worldwide telecommunications market. In addition to the risk of industrial espionage to maintain this position, there is an obvious danger of Chinese equipment being utilized for intelligence purposes.

“Chinese commercial espionage comprises the single greatest risk to US technology … Various UK companies have also been targeted and great quantities of information have been stolen.”

Emphasizing that British concerns are “under sustained attack”, the document is also highly suspicious of Russia. It says Moscow “runs an intricate, mature and efficient cyber programme, using a far-reaching global cyberspace infrastructure”.

“The programme uses a wide range of insidious software, and forms a formidable risk to UK cyber systems.

“Marking of UK government departments as targets is considered to be a prime goal for Russia, and is possibly occurring today. Governments, business and educational institutions over a range of sectors have been attacked. Russia is considered a risk to UK communications in various countries, and UK data may be endangered based on compromises of networks beyond UK control.”

 

Smartphones

But the document says the UK has started a fightback of sorts.

“The UK is creating and trying out offensive cyber initiatives, although policy to support all potential opportunities is still non-existent.”

A new Cyber Development Centre opened in June 2010 at GCHQ’s counter-part base in Bude, north Cornwall, which is a center for the processing of intercepted satellite and internet flow. After that, GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence have been conducting a clandestine project to serve the need of the military for innovative cyber-weapons “to attain targeted effects in the development or the occurrence of a conflict”, another paper explained. In a highly confidential memo, the director of cyber operations at GCHQ explained to colleagues the agency needed to transform cyber into “another potential service alongside land, sea and air forces”.

The alliance devoted £650m to cyber-protection during the 2010 strategic defence and security evaluation; defence officials have informed the Guardian half of this money went to GCHQ to give the UK offensive abilities against other nations.

While cyber-warfare is considered as one of the agency’s high missions, it has two other priority technological tasks that are attended to with parallel importance.

The increased use of smartphones and the extensive use of encryption by Internet service providers to safeguard the confidentiality of web users have also brought them much worry.

GCHQ has focused significantly over the past two decades in spying on people’s desktop and laptops. But now people are utilizing mobiles and tablets as mini-computers and are able to do Internet searches wherever they find a 3G signal, and make use of a bunch of apps for connecting with friends and colleagues.

The agencies have had to adjust accordingly because it is much harder to intercept information from hand-held gadgets, especially when so much email traffic is now commonly encrypted to stop hackers figuring out what you are writing, performing and paying for.

GCHQ recognized the seriousness of the quandary: it could use millions of pounds designing systems to garner and store great amounts of information from these tools, but the worth of this database would “weaken over time” if the material was encrypted, a briefing explained. The agency’s multifarious filtering and deciphering tools – which search for key words, names and patterns – would become progressively more unnecessary.

A GCHQ internal assessment for 2011/12 said: “The two principal technology threats that GCHQ has to encounter next year are the increase of encryption all over the internet and the explosion in the use of smartphones as mobile Internet tools. In time, both of these technologies could have great effect on our present tradecraft.”

In July 2012, GCHQ disseminated a document that placed the issue in context. The agency calculated that by 2015, 90% of all Internet flow would originate from mobile devices, and that there existed already 100 million smartphones being used all over the world. The mobile phone, said GCHQ, was the “most abundant consumer product ever produced”.

“Mobiles are becoming more than mere phones and will continue to develop in the coming years. GCHQ is keeping up with the times. Our exploitation of mobiles is disjointed, disharmonized.”

The paper revealed GCHQ had initiated a new “mobile” program which was intended to “exploit mobile devices”.

“Not merely intercepting voice and SMS and geo-tracing phones,” the document said, “but acquiring intelligence from all the additional applicability that iPhones and BlackBerrys provide. Mobile has all to do with keeping one move ahead of how our targets are passing on data info in real-time.”

That appears to include not just the calls people make, but the emails they send, the Internet searches they make, and the posted messages on social media forums. The agency said it required an extensive strategy that would “provide more than a palliative step. We need an answer that will adjust and evolve as mobile phones develop.”

Another paper advised analysts to look at the explosive rise of mobile technology as a chance for GCHQ, given the wealth of the intelligence available. “The globe is going mobile. Mobile telephony has already replaced land phones … Google Apps already has more than 30 million users. This is good news. It lets us utilize the mobile potential.”

The final objective was ambitious. GCHQ said it aimed to have the capability to “tap any phone, anywhere, anytime”.

Was this lawful? By 8 February 2011, GCHQ was informing internally that “legal guarantees were now believed to be good”, though it is uncertain what this means.

The mobile mission has now been incorporated into the encompassing Mastering the Internet programme (MTI), which was initiated by GCHQ to enable it to corner as much data as possible from cyberspace.

The Guardian has seen papers which make it clear that a “ballooning” of mobile activity by the agency over the past three years has aided the agency to catch up. Documents revealed GCHQ was now able to “attack” hundreds of apps, and a “mobile capability map” from June last year stated the agency had discovered a means of analyzing search patterns, emails and conversations on many ordinary phone services.

Last year in July, the head of the MTI programme lauded the analysts handling the top secret project.

“This is a big step towards us transforming capabilities to exploit mobile opportunities,” he said. “Please extend our gratitude to all the team …”

 

Sharing intelligence

There is one persistent concern that seems to affect all of GCHQ’s work, and is mentioned in many papers: the need to deliver the requirements of the NSA. This is an anxiety that has been budding since the initial years of the World War 2. In 1940 and with Britain’s situation becoming desperate, Winston Churchill sent Lord Lothian, his ambassador to the US, to consult with President Roosevelt regarding means of sharing intelligence between their countries.

Churchill presented covert facts of Britain’s newest discoveries in radar and other scientific areas; in exchange, he asked from the Americans for “particular technical information”. These preliminary exchanges evolved into an intricate intelligence-exchange partnership. In 1947, the UK and USA penned an agreement, together with Canada, Australia and New Zealand which was originally referred to only as the “secret treaty”.

The arrangement produced an acronym – UKUSA – and an unexpected deal among these English-speaking countries. Each would dedicate its cryptological capabilities to various areas of the globe. The coalition is likewise called as Five Eyes. The connection is not totally one-sided; thanks to its colonial experience, the UK has been able to provide the NSA a way in to a web of listening posts all over the globe, in such places as Hong Kong.

One of its most key outposts is RAF Menwith Hill in Harrogate, north Yorkshire, a British military base in title alone. Since the 1950s, “MHS” has been the NSA’s satellite surveillance and interception hub in Europe and it continues to be much desired by Washington. But the UK’s control has to be implemented with caution.

No one in Whitehall wants to risk a replay of the disaster of 1973 – when President Richard Nixon put an end to intelligence exchange with UK, having taken a dim view of Edward Heath’s closeness to Europe and his arrogant position toward the US.

Britain’s intelligence agencies were shocked when the lines were shut down, and it took a change of government in the two nations for former bonds to be repaired and re-established.

In the 20 years since then, the NSA has become the world’s largest intelligence-gathering organisation, a position that has left its allies awkwardly dependent on its financial and technical capabilities.

The Snowden files show just how much the UK is in partnership with the US.

There are data of disbursements made by NSA to GCHQ, and anecdotes which prove UK’s need to satisfy America’s demands or risk hurting the feelings of “big brother”.

The UK’s rather weak oversight command and the flexibility of British laws are considered as “selling points” to Washington – an apparent sign, perhaps, that the US hopes Britain will assist in concerns it finds very difficult due to America’s own rules and regulations. At the very least, it hints that the UK trades on the weak oversight command that British ministers have been struggling rather earnestly to defend.

In December 2009, GCHQ, published a strategy paper that emphasized the agency’s most important issues for the future. Most crucial among them was this: “US perceptions of the UK/USA agreement lessen, producing loss of access, and/or decrease in investment in channels of importance to the UK.”

 

Afghanistan

The money spent by the NSA would appear to strengthen some critics’ suspicions that GCHQ has become, to some degree, a subordinate of the American intelligence giant. The documents show the NSA has been making frequent disbursements to GCHQ for many years. In 2009, the NSA provided the agency £22.9m.

In 2010, the GCHQ mid-term evaluation admitted it was getting £118m of outside funding, “mostly from the Home Office, Ministry of Defence and the NSA”. The NSA contribution totalled £39.9m, which included £4m to shore up GCHQ’s work for NATO forces in Afghanistan, and £17.2m for the Mastering the Internet programme.

America also spent £15.5m to “thoroughly improve the infrastructure at Bude” in north Cornwall – one of GCHQ’s five integrated bases. “Acquiring NSA outside-financing for Bude has preserved the core budget,” the GCHQ document stated.

This paper acknowledged GCHQ is dependent on the “NSA’s continued investment in key technologies of interest to the UK”. The “2011/12 investment portfolio” was also specific; it said external funding would reach £150.7m, and £34.7m would come from the NSA. The cash augments seem to give the US considerable leverage over what projects GCHQ plans to pursue.

“The portfolio will disburse money provided by the NSA and UK government departments against agreed requirements,” the paper states.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the NSA makes constant demands, which the British agency strives to meet. In 2010, GCHQ claimed the Americans had “brought up a number of concerns about meeting NSA’s minimum expectations … we still fall short of the complete NSA needs”.

It added: “The NSA demand is not static and maintaining ‘equability’ will pose a continuing challenge for the near future.”

On one decryption demand, GCHQ worried that if it botched the job it would “reduce NSA’s trust in GCHQ’s ability to deliver on minimum NSA expectations”.

In 2011, GCHQ was clearly eager to keep away from finding itself in the same situation. Superior officers assure the agency’s investment board – which decides where cash will be allocated – that “the portfolio contains a corresponding level of payment as seen from the NSA viewpoint”.

The NSA also requires services of GCHQ’s foreign capabilities, especially in the Middle East. A proposal for the future of Cyprus – a centre for military intelligence-gathering over the region – said this had to “stay equipped and supplied … to sustain wholesome relations with USA clients”.

The documents show the NSA covers half the costs of one of Britain’s Cyprus-stationed surveillance networks, and that GCHQ has feared that new reductions in spending have been compromising its capacity to deliver the proper size of valuable intelligence to the US.

“This is not sustainable if figures go down even more, and affects adversely our commitments to the NSA,” said a high-ranking manager writing in April last year.

The American contribution arrived at a critical time for GCHQ. In 2010, it sustained what it called a £60m “giant slash” in its budget as part of the alliance government’s plans to lessen Whitehall expenditures. The agency had made moves to attenuate the loss, by minimizing costs on a several projects.

“We worried that because of the present situation there would be danger that the money source may be cut down on short-notice,” a report said. “This was proven to be so with government cuts to GCHQ’s budgets.”

“Merely performing all that we all do in the present more effectively will not help in any way to bridge the funding gap,” another report stated.

“To accomplish more of the new, it is now essential to stop performing some of the old, making stable decisions on projects which no longer deliver enough value.”

If GCHQ can satisfy the Americans’ need for valuable intelligence, or access to material they did not possess, the British feel triumphant. This was obviously apparent when GCHQ began tapping traffic from sub-oceanic Internet cables, which is known as Special Source Events in the papers, or by the codename Tempora.

 

Contribution

In 2011, the agency bragged that sharing this information cache with the Americans emphasized “the special input we are now providing to the NSA in furnishing insights into some of their top priority targets”.

GCHQ also bragged that it had provided the NSA 36% of all the basic data the British had intercepted from computers the agency was tapping. The material had been “turned over to NSA”, the document stated. Moreover, it claimed: “We can now swap 100% of GCHQ End-Point Projects with NSA.”

This means, essentially, that the NSA has access to all the filtered and processed intelligence garnered by GCHQ.

The agency was likewise eager to grab credit for its part providing intelligence to the NSA over two terrorist attempts in the US.

The first case involved the person who attempted to blow up an airplane bound for Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009. The suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, hid the bomb in his underpants, and has been sentenced to jail for life.

Five months later, on 1 May 2010, an attempted car-bombing in New York’s Times Square by Faizal Shahzad, a 30-year-old man born in Pakistan, was foiled. He became a US citizen only in 2009. He has also been jailed since his attempt.

In the mid-year evaluation for 2010/11, GCHQ declared: “Our allies have also felt the force of our capability, especially the NSA, which is satisfied by our rare contributions against the Times Square and Detroit terrorists.”

Exactly what those contributions were is not expounded. We are aware that the NSA is prohibited from spying on American people; in the case of Shahzad, this puzzle remains – was GCHQ performing work for the US?

A couple of years ago, GCHQ illustrated in a colour-coded diagram its main goals for the future, and described its alliance with America in terms of what it could provide, and hope to get in exchange.

It stated that the UK/USA arrangement “continues to be our central partnership” and that Britain’s assistance to the Americans has been “compensated”.

“Through our job with the NSA, other US government agencies recognize our participation in their cyber objectives. We are acknowledged and remunerated for having constantly hit the mark beyond expectations in those areas that greatly mattered to the US.”

In addition: “Swapping of information between GCHQ and NSA has increased considerably. Technology and programme plans synch well. We both understand and respect NSA’s unique way of operating.”

That could be referring to the stricter legal and regulatory administration in which the NSA has to perform. This includes submitting to the policies set in the Foreign Intelligence Service Act (Fisa) and enquiries by Fisa courts. Which is not the case in the UK; nevertheless, the document stated that this is one area where GCHQ can assist the US.

“We are less inhibited by NSA’s worries regarding legal compliance,” it said. “We tackle mutual operational compliance concerns promptly.”

 

Selling point

Although ministers insist Britain’s intelligence networks are closely monitored and managed, the relative laxity of this state is considered a vital “come-on” for Washington.

In the UK, GCHQ requires only to secure the approval of a minister to gain authority to conduct mass surveillance under an obscure section of the Regulatory Investigatory Powers Act 2000. In July 2010, this benefit was explicitly pointed out in a GCHQ strategy paper which described “a desired end state” for what it could provide the NSA within three years.

“In 2013, we can gain access to and furnish readily, information of the highest possible value to accomplish cyber objectives. We will have completely utilized our special selling points of geographical location, alliances, the UK’s legal system and our expert staff.”

UK, GCHQ claimed, relies on this compliant legal structure “for sustained access” to the undersea Internet cables that support “UK transit traffic at scale”.

Majority of the GCHQ staff is so engaged in their own tasks that they may not always have had time to ponder upon all the consequences of what they are asked to do.

One paper drafted by analysts participating in an encryption project said: “We’re good at addressing the technical challenges and figuring out hard problems over a given time. We are less capable at expressing the magnitude of the problem to others. We are perceived to exist in our own tiny world …”

It seems they are. It is a world of deciphering and cake sales, programming and pub quizzes.

There is no inkling of politics in the papers, though there seems to be a palpable sense of attachment to matters across the British shores.

In 2009, some employees conducted a “ride and stride” to raise funds to feed the Palestinian population in Gaza, where they described the humanitarian condition as “exceedingly grim”.

Workers biked, walked or ran a sum of 2,230 miles – the distance from Cheltenham to Gaza – to aid Palestinians “endure severe dispossession”.

But those who enter this select group carry no illusions about the secrets they are bound to keep.

There are protocols on desk clearing at workday’s end, with especially delicate papers being stored in special cupboards, the keys to which are then kept in other reinforced lockers which can only be opened by doing certain intricate instructions.

The strictures go with GCHQ staff specially chosen to work on projects overseas. Analysts assigned to an international congress on mobile technology in Spain three years ago travelled undercover as “trainers”.

Engaging in the most fascinating conversations, however, required some creativity. “As a holder of an ‘exhibitor pass’ I had to invade the personal space of one of the entrance ladies to divert her from scanning my badge,” one of the analysts reported later.

The British participants claimed that they were not the only spooks incognito that weekend. “Quite amusingly, we observed several NSA’ers who knew us but were also under some light cover, so we maintain our distance.”

And, definitely, any employee of GCHQ can never divulge anything about his or her job to anyone else beyond the circle of trust.

The author of a guide book published two years ago, noted in a prescient manner: “GCHQ has been in the media limelight quite a bit recently and you may find some persons enquiring about things, such as, getting you to share your opinion on stories about GCHQ being tasked to scrutinize all emails. Under no condition should you enter into any conversation about these matters.”

26 Million People Struggling Financially

Approximately 26 million Britons are presently having money problems because the economic

slump has induced a “live for the moment” mentality, based on a major report on the wellbeing of the country’s finances.

Over fifty percent of UK adults stated that they were struggling with their finances, the

government-sponsored body, Money Advice Service (MAS), bared. This is a sudden increase

from 35 percent of people who were undergoing a hard time paying their bills compared to the

previous time a similar study was conducted in 2006.

Hourly salary has plummeted by 6 percent in real value since the previous research was carried

out, making it more difficult for people to eke out a living.

A “live for the moment” culture and lack of financial smarts were also discovered to be possible

reasons.

Twenty percent of those polled stated that they would prefer to have £200 at present than

£400 after four months, with twenty-five percent of people replying they choose to live for the

present rather than plan for the future.

The report also showed that a disturbing number of Britons are deficient in financial awareness.

About 12 percent of those asked believed the Bank of England’s base rate, which has been at a

remarkable 0.5 percent low for over four years, was over 10 percent.

Over one third of the people asked did not comprehend the great effect that inflation has on

their savings and 16 percent could not tell the right balance on a bank statement.

Nevertheless, more encouraging result from the survey revealed that the number of people

checking their bank account statements had grown since 2006 and almost 84 percent of people

said they constantly monitored their finances.

40 percent of those questioned said they stay clear of doubtful dealings and 85 percent said

they were laying aside some money in savings.

Caroline Rookes, chief executive of the MAS, said: “In principle, financial management is easy –

spend less than you make and think about your future – but the challenge comes from how we

apply it in actual life.”

The MAS, an autonomous body established by the Government, has a legal duty of enhancing

public awareness and knowledge about financial issues. It plans to publish a method to assist

citizens improve their financial condition next year.

Over 5,000 people participated in the survey, with more than 70 families monitored over the

period of one year for the Financial Capability of The UK Report, which uncovered “a common

sentiment that people worry about their capability to endure until the next payday”.

Constitutionality of Renewable Energy Mandates in Question

In a potentially crushing strike against advocates for renewable energy mandates, a federal court ruling recently raised the issue of constitutionality of major provisions of many states’ renewable energy mandates.

 

On June 7, 2013, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) position against the state of Michigan (and other petitioners) in a disagreement over FERC’s proposal to distribute costs for new power lines to supply millions of megawatts of wind power in the Great Lakes area.  Michigan believes that this plan would, in essence, require them to pay for expensive new power lines intended for transmitting renewable energy out of the state. Based on the law establishing Michigan’s 2008 Renewable Energy Standard, only renewable energy generated inside its state borders is qualified to fulfill Michigan’s obligation to utilize 10% of eligible renewable energy sources by 2015.

 

Speaking for the Court, Judge Richard Posner ruled:

 

“Michigan’s first argument—that its law prohibits it from crediting wind power from out of state in favor of the state’s obligated use of renewable energy by its utilities—trips over an unbreakable constitutional precedence. Michigan cannot, without violating Article I of the commerce clause of the Constitution, discriminate against out-of-state renewable energy (emphasis added).”

 

Thirty states, including the District of Columbia, have mandates on renewable energy that require electric companies to purchase a certain quota or percentage of renewable energy by a projected year. Just like Michigan which has a clear ban on wind produced in other states from being allowed into their mandate, other states also “discriminate” against out-of-state renewable power. When counting mandate compliance, several states count in-state power at a higher rate than out-of-state power, a practice popularly labelled as “multipliers”:

  • Delaware has a 300% credit multiplier for customer-sited, in-state photovoltaic (PV), a 350% multiplier for a specific offshore wind project, and a 150% multiplier for all other in-state wind projects;
  • Colorado applies a 1.25 multiplier for its in-state generation;
  • Michigan provides an extra 0.1 credit for projects that use state-available components and its local workforce;
  • Missouri grants a 1.25 multiplier for all in-state generation.
  • Kansas uses a 1.1 multiplier for all in-state resources;

Moreover, some state renewable policies have a list of renewable energy grades, where certain power sources can only be utilized to fulfill a part of the mandate.  Others have grade levels dedicated particularly to in-state power generation that may now be doubtful in view of the recent decision by the federal court:

  • New Mexico’s Tier V applies to customer-sited resources;
  • Massachusetts’ Tier IV exclusively applies to in-state PV projects;
  • New York’s Tier II covers customer-sited resources.

The new ruling is significant since one of the main points raised by mandate proponents is the creation of jobs in the concerned state.  Certainly, these claims merely consider the overall “green” jobs provided, while totally neglecting the loss of net jobs resulting from increased electricity rates arising from these mandates. The federal court ruling might just end up nullifying the argument for in-state green-job employment since renewable power can be imported out-of-state to comply with the mandate.

Lawmakers in these states with power mandates may now question the value of raising electricity rates on their state power consumers for the purpose of subsidizing “green” job creation in another state nearby. In the end, what this ruling has done is to unravel the problems and complexities with a market for renewables that has been created through government policies.

Diplomacy Issues

Trade and Economy

Diplomacy in economy is usually thought of as something only related to policy-making and representation of the home- government’s trade interests, which leads to crucial qualifications of exceptional business skills, flexibility and sensible judgment on the side of the diplomats. But on a more in-depth look, it should primarily deal with reporting and monitoring of trade policies, economic resources and regulations of the destination countries so the sending-state would have a better picture of the economic atmosphere there.

This page will contain discussions on common misconceptions and flaws of the present system in global economy and trading while setting it against the backdrop of its effect on everyone across the globe.

 

Human Rights

Basically, the cause of most of the conflicts, both in the international and local communities, is when certain parties ignore or abuse basic rights like housing, employment, inadequate food and deny participation in the decision-making system in place. Worse, when unrest grows, human rights violations become more pronounced as the two sides clash. Protecting human rights is a major concern of international organizations and community, especially in countries notorious for their twisted version of what ‘human rights’ are limited to.

When a certain country or group of countries get involved in war crimes like genocide and aggression, the international community cries foul and attempts to patch things up by applying humanitarian law recognized by international players.

Most notable here is the UN committees, but even as such organizations gather evidence of human rights violations and call for action to effectively enforce the law, abuses are still existent especially in certain areas where diplomatic efforts are getting stalled.

The fundamental aspect for a diplomacy to work and for diplomacy to solve such problems involving human rights is to acknowledge the unique cultural dynamics of other parties and then try to work things out through finding a common ground. It is also essential that to raise awareness and call for preventive actions are a must in order to gain the attention of policymakers and foreign observers.

(However, not everyone has reconciled their own perception of what human rights exactly are.)

 

Politics

Politics usually refers to how a government wants to run its own affairs and how it interacts with other states. And it is deeply related with diplomacy that one can say diplomacy is just a sub-category of international politics supposed to deal with peacekeeping; the two go hand-in-hand whenever it comes to international relations and just about any communication (most of them delicate) among other nations.

However, the term ‘diplomats’ could be a misnomer as not all their activities could be said as originating from peaceful means. In fact, a diplomat’s job is to represent the political interests of his home country and could not care less if those will eventually lead to war or peace.

 

Environment

Conventions, conferences and summits attempting to address the various environmental concerns of the world, most notably the controversial ‘global warming’, are at the forefront of current events in this category. This has also become one of the fields where it seems like politics and trade interests are waging proxy wars.

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