Osama on climate change

It's hard to know what to make of an audiotape released today by Al Jazeera, purportedly recorded by Osama bin Laden. Rather than slamming the West for all the usual reasons, the al Qaeda leader branches into new territory: critiquing the global financial system and its reliance on the U.S. dollar, and blaming western industrialized nations for acting too slowly to curb climate change:

"Talk about climate change is not an ideological luxury but a reality ... All of the industrialized countries, especially the big ones, bear responsibility for the global warming crisis."

If authentic, the tape was likely recorded from a hideaway in Pakistan near the Afghan border. In FP's July/August issue, Stephan Faris argued that the melting of Himalayan glaciers and the resulting water-use disputes in Kashmir are a major source of Pakistan's instability. So one could actually argue that bin Laden has been a rare beneficiary of climate change. 

There's an easy punchline here about climate change having become the ultimate political football -- with everyone from David Cameron to Evo Moralas to now Osama pointing fingers to serve varied ends -- but I'll refrain. It's too true to be funny.



Bill Gates owns Silvio Berlusconi

Not every day does Bill Gates lay the smack down on a sitting premier, but that was the case when the Microsoft founder slammed Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's foreign aid policy. Berlusconi's stolen Italian headlines in the last week (but when is that not the case?) for a post-hair-transplant bald head -- and Gates couldn't resist making a not-so-subtle reference:

And in a clear reference to the notoriously image-conscious Berlusconi, Gates told Süddeutsche Zeitung: "Rich people spend a lot more money on their own problems, like baldness, than they do to fight malaria."

Italy's foreign aid budget was approximately 0.11% of its GDP in 2009, one of the lowest figures among developed countries, and half of what it was even in the prior year. Gates didn't mince words on his views:

"Dear Silvio, I am sorry to make things difficult for you, but you are ignoring the poor people of the world," he told the Frankfurter Rundschau.