Friday, February 26, 2021

Israel's Impact on the Economy of the Gaza Strip

Israel and its relationship with the West Bank and Gaza has taken a back seat to coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 United States presidential election.  Unfortunately, Palestinians continue to suffer under the oppressive hand of Israel, particularly when it comes to their economy.  A recent report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) gives us a sense of just how economically painful Gaza's economic reality is, thanks to Israel and its occupation and military operations.


As background, when Hamas took over control of the 365 square kilometre Gaza Strip in June 2007, Israel mostly closed its five border crossings with Gaza, rendering nearly 2 million people with restricted abilities to move, to leave Gaza for work and curtailed the entry of goods to only basic humanitarian products.  At this point in time, only two crossings are open for pedestrian travel in and out of Gaza; Beit Hanoun to Israel and Rafah to Egypt.  The Erez crossing is controlled by Israel and passage is limited to humanitarian needs or those with special permits as well as traders and businessmen.  It is Gaza's only gateway to the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  As well, there were 3 major rounds of hostilities by Israel starting in June 2008 which destroyed much of the Gaza Strip's infrastructure and housing, resulting in the Gaza's Palestinians becoming highly reliant on external aid for their continued existence.  These three military operations have claimed the lives of 2,804 Palestinians (and 95 Israelis) as shown on this listing:


1.)  During the hostilities that lasted from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009, nearly 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed. In addition, 5,380 people were wounded and some 60,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, leaving some 20,000 people homeless.


2.)  During the eight-day hostilities in November 2012, 174 Palestinians, including 107 civilians, and 6 Israelis, including 3 civilians, were killed, and some 10,000 homes damaged;


3.) During the hostilities from 8 July to 26 August 2014, 2,251 Palestinians, including at least 146 civilians, and 71 Israelis, of whom 5 were civilians, were killed, and 171,000 homes were damaged, 17,800 of which were rendered completely uninhabitable, thereby displacing their 100,000 inhabitants.

Israel's military operations have resulted in a majority of Gaza's population having no access to clean water, electricity or proper sewage disposal and more than half of Gaza's Palestinians living below the global poverty line.


With that background, let's look at how these actions have impacted Gaza's economy.  In the 24 year period from 1994 to 2018, the real GDP of Gaza grew by 48 percent while its population grew by 137 percent, resulting in a 37 percent drop in real GDP per capita.  Over that timeframe, unemployment in Gaza jumped by 22 percentage points, hitting 52 percent.  Here are two graphs showing real growth in GDP and unemployment over the two and a half decades since 1995:


To put these numbers into perspective, after the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 and 1995, optimism resulted in the Gaza economy growing by 6.1 percent annually between 1994 and 1999, however, this ended in 2000 following the outbreak of the second intifada when Israel prohibited Palestinian workers from Gaza from working in Israel.  As a result, Gaza's economic growth fell to 2 percent annually between 2000 and 2006, falling even further to 0.8 percent annually between 2007 and 2018 for total growth of only 4.8 percent over the entire decade plus.  This has meant that Gaza contributes a smaller and smaller share to the entire Palestinian economy (including the West Bank) as shown on this graph:


Here is a table comparing key aspects of the economy of Gaza both prior to the 2007 closure (after Hamas took over control) and 2018:


Note, in particular, the 26.9 percent decrease in real GDP per capita and the 42.1 percent increase in poverty between 2006 and 2018 (with the real poverty line being $255 US per month in 2017).


The sectors most impacted by Israeli-imposed restrictions on the importation of technology and raw materials (i.e. fertilizers, pesticides, construction materials etcetera) include the following:


1.) Agriculture 


2.) Fishing


3.) Manufacturing


Now let's look at the estimated impact of the closure, restrictions and recurrent hostilities have had on Gaza's annual real GDP, based on the Gaza's economic growth trend between 1995 and 2006   The first scenario assumes that the Gaza's economy would have continued to grow at 3.7 percent annually from 2007 onwards and the second scenario assumes that, after 2007, Gaza's share of the total Palestinian economy would have remained the same as it was in 2006, growing at 6.6 percent annually, the same rate as the West Bank.


Here is a table showing the results:


Under the first scenario, the cumulative GDP loss for the period from 2007 to 2018 is estimated to be $7.784 billion or 50 percent of the Palestinian GDP in 2018.  Under the second scenario, the cumulative GDP loss for the period from 2007 to 2018 is estimated to be $16.69 billion or 107 percent of the Palestinian GDP in 2018.


Here is a graphic which shows the estimates under the two scenarios:



It is quite clear that Israel has been spectacularly successful at handicapping the economy of Palestine as a whole and Gaza in specific.  It is only by lifting the closure, reconstructing the Gaza infrastructure and allowing the construction of both airports and seaports that Gaza's economy will grow and, perhaps even thrive.  With the change in administrations in Washington, it will be interesting to see how Biden and his new cohort of decision makers deal with the geopolitical nightmare that is Israel's relationship with its Palestinian neighbours.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The COVID-19 Pandemic, Schools and Peak Stupid

Just when you thought that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic couldn't get any stupider, we have this as reported by the Wenatchee World, the leading daily newspaper in Wenatchee and East Wenatchee, Washington:


Notice that each tent is spaced according to the six foot social distancing mandate that has been one of the foundations of government's response to the pandemic.  According to the Post Millennial, students practice in shifts to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.  If you want to see an additional picture of a student with a sousaphone in a "tent" please click here.


Here's a quote from the story:


"You can’t see them smiling beneath the masks, but students at Wenatchee and Eastmont high schools are glad to be back in school, even if it’s only part-time.


Eastmont high students have been back since Jan. 25 and Wenatchee high students since Jan. 26, each on a different hybrid schedule."


Enough said.

Solar Geoengineering and Its Links to the World's Richest

While the vast majority of humanity living in the Western world is distracted with all things "COVID" and "vaccine", a potentially ground-breaking experiment is moving forward, thanks to funding from one of the world's foremost, untrained climatologists.


Here is the announcement from the American Association for the Advancement of Science or AAAS:


According to the author of the news item, Paul Voosen, Harvard University is proposing a June 2021 test flight of a research balloon and gondola over Sweden (the location of the Esrange Space Center located in Kiruna) that is ultimately designed to drop small amounts of calcium carbonate and observe its effects on the world's stratosphere.  This particular experiment is being used to review the gondola's horizontal and vertical control systems as well as its power, navigation and communication systems.  The SCoPEx experiment is part of a larger and controversial plan of solar geoengineering, processes that could potentially be used to reduce the impact of global climate change. 


The experiment is called the Stratospheric Controlled Perburbation Experiment or SCoPEx and has been designed by a group headed by Harvard's Frank Keutsch, the Stonington Professor of Engineering and Atmospheric Science and a Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard.  


Let's look at the SCoPEx experiment.  Here is a YouTube video that explains the process and the rationale being the experiment:



According to Keutsch's FAQ page, the SCoPEx experiment is designed to gain and understanding of stratospheric aerosols and how they could be relevant to solar engineering.  Here is an explanation of the experiment:


"At the heart of SCoPEx is a scientific balloon, fitted with repurposed off-the-shelf airboat propellers. The repurposed propellers serve two functions. First, the propeller wake forms a well mixed volume (roughly 1 km long and 100 meters in diameter) that serves as an experimental ‘beaker’ in which we can add gasses or particles. Second, the propellers allow us to reposition the gondola to different locations within the volume to measure the properties of the perturbed air. The payload can achieve speeds of a few meters per second (walking speed) relative to the surrounding air, generally for about ten minutes at a time.

The advantage of the SCoPEx propelled balloon is that it allows us to create a small controlled volume of stratospheric air and observe its evolution for (we hope) over 24 hours. Hence the acronym, Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment. If we used an aircraft instead of a balloon, we would not be able to use such a small perturbed volume nor would we be able to observe it for such long durations. 


We plan to use a high-altitude balloon to lift an instrument package approximately 20 km into the atmosphere. Once it is in place, a very small amount of material (100 g to 2 kg) will be released to create a perturbed air mass roughly one kilometer long and one hundred meters in diameter. We will then use the same balloon to measure resulting changes in the perturbed air mass including changes in aerosol density, atmospheric chemistry, and light scattering."


Here is a graphic showing the key parts of the equipment used in the experiment:


Here's what the future holds for the SCoPEx project:


"In the future, if a science flight is approved by the independent Advisory Committee, we plan to release calcium carbonate, a common mineral dust. We may also release other materials such as sulfates in response to evolving scientific interests."

 Here is the answer to the questions about the potential hazards of the experiment:

"The test will pose no significant hazard to people or the environment. Calcium carbonate is a nontoxic chemical commonly found in nature, for example as limestone, and sub-micron precipitated calcium carbonate particles like the ones we will use are a common additive to consumer products such as paper and toothpaste. In general, the amount of materials to be released (less than 2 kilograms for calcium carbonate) will be very small compared to other routine releases of material into the stratosphere by aircraft, rockets, or routine balloon flights. For example, the release of experimental materials will be small compared to the release of the iron filling ballast that are commonly released to control the altitude of stratospheric balloons. Additionally, if we test sulfate in this experiment, the amount we would use would be less than the amount released during a one minute of flight of a typical commercial aircraft. Aircraft release sulfates due to residual sulfur content of aviation fuel."


Here is a followup video showing why the world's first solar engineering test is so controversial:



With that background, let's look at who is funding this project.  Here is a screen capture from a Geoengineering Brief dated November 2017:



Here is a screen capture from Harvard's Solar Geoengineering Research Program showing its funders:


Like flies swarming on a dead carcass, once again we find Mr. Bill Gates and his seemingly unlimited pile of money funding the use of technology to solve the world's problems as he explains here:

Given that Gates lives in a 66,000 square foot home and flies around the world using a Bombardier Global Express private jet because his time is just so valuable and has just entered a bid for an investment in one of the world's largest private fixed base operator for private jets through his Cascade Investment (which already owns 19 percent of the company, Signature Aviation) as shown here:

...wouldn't you think that he would know that he has a carbon footprint that is far larger than the vast majority of human beings or at least see the irony in his climate proclamations?  But I guess when you are that man that brought us Windows Vista, you can get away with pretty much anything.

Update March 31, 2021

Here is a recent announcement from the Swedish Space Corporation:

It looks like it's back to the drawing board for Bill Gates.  Apparently, Sweden was not for sale to one of the world's richest men.  

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Preparing for Nuclear War in a Multipolar World

In a recent edition of the United States Naval Institute's Proceedings magazine, an American Admiral clearly revealed why the United States military believes that it needs nuclear weapons.  Let's look at what he said and some background on his current military posting.


In his February 2021 commentary entitled "Forging 21st Century Strategic Deterrence", Admiral Charles A. Richard opens with this statement:


"Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Department of Defense (DoD) has not had to consider the possibility of great power competition, crisis, or direct armed conflict with a nuclear-capable peer. Unfortunately, the current environment no longer affords us that luxury. The implications of today’s competition and the associated risk of great power crisis or direct armed conflict are profound; they affect nearly every fundamental assumption we make about the use of armed force in the defense of the nation and its allies. Until we, as a department, come to understand, if not accept, what we are facing and what should be done about it, we run the risk of developing plans we cannot execute and procuring capabilities that will not deliver desired outcomes."


He notes that he "bristles" when the Department of Defense accuses the U.S. military being "stuck in the Cold War" and claims that the department is "well past the Cold War".  


He then makes this comment on the Department of Defense's "nuclear dimension":

"Our recent experiences against non-nuclear-armed adversaries have allowed us to believe nuclear use is impossible and not worthy of attention. At the U.S. Strategic Command, we assess the probability of nuclear use is low, but not “impossible,” particularly in a crisis and as our nuclear-armed adversaries continue to build capability and exert themselves globally."


So, who are these "adversaries" (as though we couldn't guess)? 


"While DoD’s focus has been on counterterrorism, Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have begun to aggressively challenge international norms and global peace using instruments of power and threats of force in ways not seen since the height of the Cold War—and in some cases, in ways not seen during the Cold War, such as cyberattacks and threats in space. Not surprisingly, they are even taking advantage of the global pandemic to advance their national agendas. These behaviors are destabilizing, and if left unchecked, increase the risk of great power crisis or conflict. We must actively compete to hold their aggression in check; ceding to their initiatives risks reinforcing their perceptions that the United States is unwilling or unable to respond, which could further embolden them."


According to Admiral Richar, here the key aspects of Russian and Chinese aggression that needs to be countered:


1.) Russia - "More than a decade ago, Russia began aggressively modernizing its nuclear forces, including its non-treaty-accountable medium- and short-range systems. It is modernizing bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, warning systems, command-and-control (C2) capabilities, and the doctrine to underpin their employment—in short, its entire strategic force structure. This modernization is about 70 percent complete and on track to be fully realized in a few years. In addition, Russia is building new and novel systems, such as hypersonic glide vehicles, nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered torpedoes and cruise missiles, and other capabilities. And its leaders have not been reticent to leverage these capabilities to coerce its neighbors. During the annexation of Crimea in 2014, President Vladimir Putin reminded the world of Russia’s nuclear weapon capabilities, both through words and deeds, to warn against any attempts at reversing the outcome."


2.) China - "The PRC also continues to invest heavily in its nuclear capabilities. Its strategic dyad of ICBMs and SLBMs will soon become a triad, with the completion of a nuclear-capable long-range bomber. China is building new land-based, road-mobile ICBMs, providing its forces more flexibility and capability. The PLA Navy Jin-class ballistic-missile submarines carry up to 12 SLBMs each. China has built new warning and C2 capabilities and improved its readiness. Further, China’s nuclear weapons stockpile is expected to double (if not triple or quadruple) over the next decade...


Acting in a responsible manner is incumbent upon any great power. For China, we must pay attention to PRC’s actions more than its stated policies. While the PRC has maintained a “No First Use” policy since the 1960s—contending it will never use a nuclear weapon first—its buildup of advanced capabilities should give us pause. This policy could change in the blink of an eye. Beijing is pursuing capabilities and operating in a manner inconsistent with a minimum deterrent strategy, giving it a full range of options, including limited use and a first-strike capability. 


Throughout the commentary, Admiral Richard refers to nuclear weapons no less than 27 times.


Now, let's look at just who Admiral Charles Richard is and his current posting. Admiral Richard just happens to be the Commander of the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) as shown in this summary of his experience:



USSTRATCOM mission and priorities are as follows:


USSTRATCOM is headquartered at Offut Air Force Base located in Nebraska and is one of elelvn unified commands in the U.S. Department of Defense.  It is responsible for nuclear operations/strategic deterrence and is responsible for space operations as well as missile defense.  While the ultimate authority to laugh a nuclear attack resides with the president, the commander of USSTRATCOM is to provide advice about the options for the use of nuclear weapons to the president. 


Given that the subject of this posting was the potential use of nuclear weapons and Admiral Richard's concern about maintaining nuclear superiority over the two nations that are threatening the United States current position as the world's superpower, here is a graphic showing the estimated number of nuclear weapons according to the Arms Control Association:


With this comment from the man whose responsibility it is to advise the president on the use of America's nuclear arsenal:


"There is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons, if they perceived a conventional loss would threaten the regime or state. Consequently, the U.S. military must shift its principal assumption from “nuclear employment is not possible” to “nuclear employment is a very real possibility,” and act to meet and deter that reality. We cannot approach nuclear deterrence the same way.  It must be tailored and evolved for the dynamic environment we face."

...the leap toward a global nuclear catastrophe is more likely than it has been since the early 1990s when the Soviet Union and the United States were facing off against each other particularly since Washington is feeling increasingly threatened as the multipolar world evolves.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Tracking COVID Vaccine Deaths and Adverse Events in the United States

Updated August 15, 2021

In a posting from mid-January 2021, I started tracking the deaths and adverse effects linked to the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States.  On more-or-less a weekly basis, the National Vaccine Information Center releases the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System or VAERS data.  In this posting, I will maintain a continuous update from each of the VAERS data releases so that you can see how the COVID-19 vaccines are impacting the health of those that have received either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccines. 


1.) Date - January 29, 2021:


2.) Date - February 4, 2021:


3.) Date - February 12, 2021:


4.) Date - February 18, 2021:

5.) Date - February 26, 2021:

6.) March 5, 2021:

7.) March 11, 2021

8.) March 19, 2021:

9.) March 26, 2021:

10.) April 1, 2021:

11.) April 8, 2021:

12.) April 16, 2021:

13.) April 23, 2021:

14.) April 30, 2021:

15.) May 7, 2021:

16.) May 14, 2021:

17.) May 21, 2021:

18.) May 28, 2021:

19.) June 4, 2021:

20.) June 11, 2021:

21.) June 18, 2021:

22.) June 25, 2021:

23.) July 2, 2021:

24.) July 16, 2021:

25.) July 23, 2021:

26.) July 30, 2021:

27.) August 6, 2021:

Here is the link to the latest data release should you wish to review it for yourself. 

Let's summarize the data over time showing the following adverse events, deaths (brown), life threatening events (grey), permanent disabilities (blue) and birth defects (red):

It is important to keep in mind that all adverse events are not reported to the VAERS system and that previous research from 2010 shows that shows the following:


"Adverse events from drugs and vaccines are common, but underreported. Although 25% of ambulatory patients experience an adverse drug event, less than 0.3% of all adverse drug events and 1-13% of serious events are reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Likewise, fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported. Low reporting rates preclude or slow the identification of “problem” drugs and vaccines that endanger public health."


Additionally, we have no idea what the long-term adverse reactions to these vaccines will be since they have not been tested over a period of years.

I will update this posting on a continual bases as VAERS releases new data to the public.  Since the mainstream media has, for the most part, completely ignored the most serious of the side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines, it is important that this data be available to the public so that proper personal decisions can be made about whether to vaccinate or not during the current pandemic.