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An article I read in Spiegel online deserves comment. My German is too paltry to be of use so I read Spiegel because it is in English and seems credible.
The article in question is titled “Russian Foreign Policy: ‘We Are Smarter, Stronger and More Determined’ ” and is the transcript of an interview by Christian Neef of Spiegel. Neef interviewed Sergey Karaganov, known as the honorary head of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy and Dean of Faculty at National Research University Higher School of Economics in Russia according to Wikipedia.
Karagonov is quite blunt in his distrust of NATO and confident in Russia’s determination to take it’s place as the dominant Eurasian power. Just a few bits of the interview-
Karaganov: The Russian media is more reserved than Western media. Though you have to understand that Russia is very sensitive about defense. We have to be prepared for everything. That is the source of this occasionally massive amount of propaganda. But what is the West doing? It is doing nothing but vilifying Russia; it believes that we are threatening to attack. The situation is comparable to the crisis at the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s.
SPIEGEL: You are referring to the stationing of Soviet intermediate-range ballistic missiles and the American reaction?
Karaganov: Europe felt weak at the time and was afraid that the Americans might leave the continent. But the Soviet Union, though it had already become rotten internally, felt militarily strong and undertook the foolishness of deploying the SS-20 missiles. The result was a completely pointless crisis. Today, it is the other way around. Now, fears in countries like Poland, Lithuania and Latvia are to be allayed by NATO stationing weapons there. But that doesn’t help them; we interpret that as a provocation. In a crisis, we will destroy exactly these weapons. Russia will never again fight on its own territory …
July 13, 2016. Spiegel Online International.
It should not be a surprise that Russia has been steadily acquiring a gleaming confidence and a recharging of energetic nationalism under Putin. Too much ink has been spilled on Putin the man rather than Russia the state. I would question whether sufficient resources are being applied to diplomacy with this confident Russian state. I sincerely hope that our elected officials have the intellectual bandwidth to understand what is happening.
I shall now veer in a somewhat different direction.
It is my impression that the Fourth Estate in America is consistently failing in it’s responsibility to participate in the very democracy that facilitates its existence by not keeping the spotlight on the powerful. Worse yet, a distracted, flaccid American populace consistently fails to hold this pillar of our society accountable.
Elected officials and the agencies they fund are only too willing to keep our country on a perpetual war footing because the production of war materiel keeps people employed and stockholders fat and happy. Defense dollars pour into military installations in the US and the world round to maintain staff, pay contractors for supplies, and drive money into the local economy.
The influential petrochemical industry is only too happy to warn of the dire consequences of lost American influence in the far flung oily spots of the world. That the US is willing to send and keep forces abroad to protect petroleum interests- in the name of liberty- only adds credence to the meme that oil is worth almost any sacrifice in blood and treasure. Against such a longstanding and compelling circumstance, how can elected officials support alternative energy technologies that might undermine the profits of big oil who we’ve fought so hard to support?
Politicians find strident support from the electorate by the evangelical rhetoric of flexing our military might for God and country. And liberty, if you were lucky enough to be born in the US. They well know that a large segment of the electorate is susceptible to all of highly produced emotional imagery of flag waving, weeping veterans kneeling before a tombstone, and country singers belting out patriotic lyrics. Yet with all of the concern for American veterans, nobody has demanded satisfaction on the following question: Are we being careful enough in choosing where we send our troops? Is it based on rock solid information and against qualified threats? The youth who become our troops are national treasure. Yet we send them into battle spaces where combatants look like non-combatants and are fighting over conflicting religious doctrines. When they come home injured we turn them loose in a shamefully inadequate Veterans Administration hospital system. Perhaps a bit of time on the 4th of July and Veterans Day should be devoted to a meditation on this rather than beer and burgers? Is this our best effort?
Electronic media have a clear conflict of interest in their focus on the costly horse race aspects of politics. “Money has corrupted our electoral politics!!” is the shrill cry. But what fraction of that filthy lucre is channeled to the very media in the form of political advertising? More than a little, perhaps?
Once again we will have conflicting superpowers vying for global influence and resources. With Russia on the rise, do we have the unity and compelling interest to avoid armed conflict with them? What caliber of elected officials do we need to grapple with a future that seems sure to bring the threat of nuclear conflict back? Are we ready? We have never needed a quorum of mature adult voices demanding civilized behavior as much as we do today. Heaven help us all.
An article by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters writing for News Week reports that the North Carolina Senate will introduce a bill called “Energy Modernization Act. SENATE DRS25123-RIxz (01/22)”. A part of this bill will enact the extraordinary authority to make disclosure of fracking fluid information without permission a felony- i.e., a criminal act. Normally, cases of disclosure of commercial confidential information is a civil matter leading to injunction and/or monetary awards.
A quick look at bill shows the following language:
SECTION 7.(a) Article 27 of Chapter 113 of the General Statutes is amended by 26 adding a new section to read: 27
Sponsors: Senators Rucho, Newton, and Brock (Primary Sponsors).
“§ 113-391A. Trade secret and confidential information determination; protection; 28 retention; disclosure to emergency personnel.
… [refer to page 11, line 39]
(d) Penalties for Unlawful Disclosure. – Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section or as otherwise provided by law, any person who has access to confidential information pursuant to this section and who discloses it knowing it to be confidential information to any person not authorized to receive it shall be guilty of a Class I felony, and if knowingly or negligently disclosed to any person not authorized, shall be subject to civil action for damages and injunction by the owner of the confidential information, including, without limitation, actions under Article 24 of Chapter 66 of the General Statutes. [italics by Gaussling]
There are numerous exceptions for government officials who have a need to know this information in the course of their responsibilities as well as emergency medical personnel who demonstrate a need to know.
One has to ask why the Senators wrote law to render disclosure of commercial information relating to fracking fluids a Class I felony as well as an act being subject to civil litigation. Do they believe this is in the public interest? This act will make it difficult for people to monitor ground water for tell-tale components of drilling or fracking fluids because the composition of the injected fluid is confidential. If you are not allowed to identify the input fluids, how can you claim that contaminants found are related to fracking?
Does this law also mean that being in possession of a material safety data sheet (MSDS), a shipping document required by law, could constitute a violation? Oh, even better, will the MSDS contain enough information to be useful to workers, emergency responders, or fire inspectors on the scene and without delay? Or will the material be listed as a mixture of Stuff A, Stuff B, and Stuff C? And by the way, don’t get this shit in your eyes.
So, Senators Rucho, Newton, and Brock. What about the Class I felony G.S. 95-197? Doesn’t that contradict some language in your law?
I G.S. 95-197 Withholding hazardous substance trade secret information.
It seems like the sponsors are helping someone render future litigation and recovery of damages much more expensive and complex. Does this help your constituents? I mean, you know, the ones who are not corporate entities.
I just have to say that in regard to the deteriorating situation with the
Soviet Union Russian Federation, it does not appear that either the EU or the US have their best thinkers working on it. I think US leaders have misunderstood Putin from the beginning and I see very little to convince me that Obama’s people, the Congress, or any other high level functionaries known to me have a clue how to get their arms around Russian behavior or a workable diplomacy.
Certainly recent (post-Ford) US incursions into foreign lands with troops or drones have taken us off the moral high ground in this regard. How can the US lecture Russia on the invasion of Crimea when we invaded Iraq based on lies, subterfuge, and outright errors?
Bush 43 and Clinton had historical opportunities to gain better alliance with Russia. But we supported Yeltsin in the Clinton years and ignored Putin’s offers of assistance after 9/11. The Russian people were mystified when the US supported Yeltsin, widely regarded as a drunken buffoon. Gorbachev’s memoirs paint a lackluster and untrustworthy picture of Yeltsin. And the US has done nothing but confirm Putin’s paranoia about US intentions by adding membership to NATO, ABM’s in Poland, petroleum wars in the middle east, and the general appearance of weakness by in-house political fratricide.
We have no use for milquetoast administrations like Obama’s, nor do we need rabid swingin’ dicks like John McCain or his hawkish brethren. We do need Russian and Slavic scholars who speak the language and understand the history of Russia at least back to Peter the Great. They can be immigrants from former Soviet territories of the ilk of Zbigniew Brzezinski, Madeleine Albright, or even a world savvy guy like Henry Kissinger. Who are the current brain trust for eastern European politics and is the CIA giving them good intelligence? Did the CIA predict the takeover of Crimea?
I have been an advocate of thorium based nuclear power for a long time. There are certain advantages that thorium based nuclear technology has over uranium and plutonium systems that make it appealing, as long as the nuclear genie is out of the bottle anyway. Others have written about this and there is no point in my wasting bandwidth on it here. Fort St. Vrain Generating Station, one of the very few HTGR Thorium plants ever operated in the US sat a half hour from here from 1979 to 1989. As prototypical operations go, the plant had a history of upsets and unforeseen complications and was decommissioned after a decade of sub-commercial output. Eventually the plant was converted to a natural gas turbine plant and runs to this day in that capacity.
So it was of interest to learn that the venerable European company Solvay has teamed up with AREVA to develop thorium technology. Uranium and rare earth processing, as well as other minerals produce side streams enriched in thorium. According to the link, both players have been accumulating inventories of thorium. Hmmm. What could they be up to…?
Here is an idea for debate. Why not pitch our flawed constitution overboard? Replace it with one that supports a parliamentary form of government rather than the fractious, unworkable presidential system we have now. Who else in the world uses this system of government? Why is it that most other forms of government in the world are parliamentary in structure?
Make the US government more responsive to the citizenry by rendering the election cycle time dependent on confidence in the leadership.
The US constitution needs a rewrite. Among the distortions in the constitution-
- The metaphysical equation of money with speech.
- The foggy language of the 2nd amendment that engenders armed fanaticism
- The indistinct barrier between the secular and theocratic civic influences. Keep religion and other magical thinking out of governance. Preserve freedom from religion.
- The near impossibility of getting a bad president or governor out of office.
- Clearer language is needed on what is actually meant by the right to petition congress. Currently this has lead to an intractable cancer of corruption between government and the movers of wealth. (Consider the F-35 strike fighter or the lack of tight control over Wall Street investment banks)
- Apparently the rules for the waging of foreign wars are indistinct because current constitution or presidential structure seems to allow the US much flexibility and low accountability with invasions and sending ordinance across borders.
There are more problems with the constitution. Maybe the reader has thoughts on this? The problems of presidential systems have been studied and this Slate article summarizing the issues is worth reading.
In the news there are reports of pending action by the US in Syria. Maybe I have a blind spot. Maybe there is some fundamental principle I am missing here. But how is it that a mass killing by gas elicits a response from the US when a larger mass killing by bullets and high explosives does not? Where are sympathetic Arabs in the region? How are they exempt from delivering bombardment as justice for the dead?
Obviously, gas attacks lie across a firebreak of some kind. What is the Syrian death toll now- 90,000 + by bullets and bombs? And that does not trigger international action? Apparently, grisliness is not a deciding factor.
This isn’t about justice at all. It is a smack down on setting a precedent with NBC warfare- nuclear, biological, and chemical. It is a genie we cannot allow out of the bottle … in the land of the genie.
So, here is the scenario- the US will begin a strike at 3 am with cruise missiles to soften up the target area and air defenses. Stealth fighters will fly in to attack everything that flies. Penetrator missiles will demolish air, missile, and command and control bases. But what to do about the nerve gas armaments? Are they bombed or isolated? Who recovers them right after the attack? Al Qaeda? Let’s hope not.
This whole thing is a troubling moral discontinuity. By policy we watch many tens of thousands murdered by bullets and high explosives, but act on policy that triggers when gas is used. There may not be an answer, but there certainly is a smell. The smell of death.
The current movie “The Lone Ranger” is a real stinker. The buffoons who produce pictures like this should not be encouraged with good attendance figures. You can’t build a movie solely on a sight gag consisting of Johnny Depp with a dead crow on his head. In fact, I’d rather not invest anymore heartbeats on the topic. <end>