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JUNE 23-24,  2023

TRUCE:  In the last week or so, the world watched, with a mixture of fascination and horror, as a private army within Russia, the Wagner group, moved toward Moscow in what many believed was an attempt to overthrow the Russian military leadership and the Russian government of Vladimir Putin, which Wagner's leaders felt betrayed them.  But by yesterday, the crisis appeared to be over. 

Wagner's chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is a former chef.  Wagner is kind of the Wendy's Delicious Fighting Force and Grill.  Prigozhin, no doubt with his own neck in mind, has accepted a deal to end the rebellion.  From CBS News: 

The chief of Russia's Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said Saturday that he'd agreed to halt his forces' "movement inside Russia, and to take further steps to de-escalate tensions," in an agreement brokered by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko. 

The Wagner group boss earlier ordered his forces to march toward Moscow after unleashing a long series of videotaped remarks threatening to topple Russia's military leadership, which he blasted as having misled the country and Russian President Vladimir Putin himself about the Ukraine war. 

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Russian state media late Saturday night that as part of the deal, Prigozhin will move to Belarus, and a Russian criminal case launched on Friday into his actions will be dropped. Wagner fighters who took part in the march towards Moscow would also not be prosecuted, Peskov said.

Putin worked from the Kremlin all day Saturday, according to Peskov, who added that Russia's invasion of Ukraine would not be impacted by the infighting. 

The Wagner boss's actions drew an accusation of a "rebellion" from Putin earlier in the day, though the Russian leader did not name Prigozhin individually. Prigozhin didn't say whether the Kremlin had responded to his demand to oust Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.  

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Putin, held two meetings to negotiate a deal that includes "security guarantees for the Wagner PMC fighters," a news release published by Belarus' state-run news agency said. The Kremlin confirmed the discussions between Putin and Lukashenko had taken place.

Prigozhin said on his official Telegram channel that he had agreed to turn his mercenary forces back, "realizing all the responsibility for the fact that Russian blood will be shed." He said his forces had marched to within 120 miles of Moscow without shedding a "single drop of the blood of our fighters." 

COMMENT:  A private army?  In the 21st century?  What's next, the Sara Lee Submarine Force?  What is so chilling is that Russia has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, and it might have fallen under the control of rebels.  What's also chilling is that the Russian government now has the image of incompetence and instability.  If Wagner did not succeed in overthrowing it, someone else might.

I'm guessing that this story of Russian weakness is far from over.

June 24, 2023       Permalink

 

CLASS ALWAYS SHOWS; LACK OF CLASS DOES THE SAME:  Barack Obama is back in town.  From RedState: 

Barack Obama never came across an event that he couldn’t politicize; the recent implosion of the submersible Titan on a dive to explore the wreck of the Titanic—which left five people presumed dead—is no exception.

As my colleague Mike Miller reported, the former president appeared on a CNN special titled “Obama & Amanpour” Thursday to blame “right-wing” media for making Americans “fearful of each other.”

But he wasn’t done; he also decided to blame the media for excessive coverage of the sub accident while not devoting equal time to another tragedy, the story of a “migrant boat” that sank off the coast of Greece last week. An unknown number of people are presumed dead, but the count could reach 600.

Obama:

Our democracy is not going to be healthy with the levels of inequality that we’ve seen generated from globalization, automation, the decline in unions. Obscene inequality.

You think about news of the day. Generally, we’re not talking about news of the day, but right now we have 24 hour coverage – and I understand it – of this submarine, this submersible that tragically right now is lost at the bottom of the sea.

He goes on to shame those who reported on or were interested in the Titan but didn’t pay the same attention to the boat story:

At the same time, right here, just off the coast of Greece, we had 700 people dead [unconfirmed and likely a high estimate]. 700 migrants who were apparently being smuggled into here and it’s made news but it’s not dominating in the same way and in some ways it’s indicative of the degree to which peoples’ life chances have grown so disparate.

He’s right that the ship sinking in the Mediterranean is truly awful, but why does he have to bring the poor deceased souls of the Titan into the conversation? Their bodies haven’t even been recovered (and may never be), and he’s already politicizing their deaths.

Furthermore, it’s an unfortunate fact that boats full of people fleeing their countries and sinking into the Mediterranean are an altogether too-common occurrence. However, it’s not a problem that America is in a position to solve—we can’t even control our own borders, much less those of other countries halfway around the world.

COMMENT:  Obama is one of the better-spoken political hacks of our era.  Everything to him is political or racial.  We were captivated by the story of the Titan because it was linked to the Titanic, one of the great stories of the 20th century.  It had nothing to do with "values."  It had nothing to do with indifference toward migrants.  It nothing to do with bigotry.

Barack, go play golf.

June 24, 2023        Permalink

 

 

 

 

 

JUNE 21-22,  2023

THE DAY:   Like many of you, I spent a good part of the day following the submersible story.  The ending was not surprising.  I thought the television news organizations did a solid and restrained job of covering the tragedy.  I rarely get a chance to praise them, but praise is due. 

The accident will be followed by a major investigation, or several of them.  As I understand it, there is really no precedent for an investigation into the loss of a tourist submersible, no automatic assignment of a probe to a particular agency.  That will all have to be worked out.   The BBC ran an excellent summary of what investigators will be looking for.

After the grim discovery of debris from the Titan submersible on the ocean floor, the focus of the rescue efforts will now be turned towards understanding what caused the accident.

According to Rear Admiral John Mauger, what they found was consistent with a "catastrophic implosion".

This is because they found two patches of debris, one containing Titan's tail cone and the other its landing frame, suggesting that the vessel blew apart.

To answer the question of why this happened and what could have been done to prevent it, the authorities will be gathering every piece of the debris they can find, according to Ryan Ramsey, former submarine captain in Britain's Royal Navy.

"There is no black box, so you are not going to be able to track the last movements of the vessel itself," he says, but otherwise the process of investigation is not dissimilar to that of an airplane crash.

Once investigators bring the pieces back up to the surface, they will look for the break structure in the carbon fibre structure, which is key to helping them understand what happened in those last moments, he says.

Each piece will be closely examined under a microscope to examine the direction of the carbon fibre filaments, looking for tears which suggest the exact place where the rupture happened.

The big question investigators will be trying to answer is whether the cause was a structural failure.

If it was, then the submersible would have been subjected to incredibly high pressures, equivalent to the weight of the Eiffel Tower, says Professor Blair Thornton from the University of Southampton.

"We're talking about a very powerful implosion of the main housing," he says.
If this is what happened, the critical question is whether it was because of a lack of proper testing, as some experts have suggested.

"Carbon fibre fails from internal defects in its construction," says Professor Roderick A Smith of Imperial Imperial College London. The joints between the carbon fibre and the titanium need very careful inspection, he says.

The violence of the implosion means that it may be very difficult to determine the sequence of events, he adds. "Hence the need for retrieval and painstaking examination if possible."

It is unclear at this stage which agency will lead the investigation as there is no protocol for such incidents with a submersible.

Admiral Mauger said that it was particularly complex because the incident took place in a remote part of the ocean involving people of many different nationalities.

But since the US Coast Guard has played a leading role in the operation so far, it is likely to continue to play an important part.

COMMENT:  This will be a continuing story, with possible ramifications for other types of vehicles and transportation systems that are running around out there.  I am not a lawyer, but I wonder if any criminal liability is involved in the Titan tragedy, concerning the construction of the submersible and its operation.  We understand from news reports that Titan was never certified by any capable certification agency.

June 22, 2023       Permalink

 

HOW JUICY:  The Democrats have many worries going into 2024.  One involves a possible third-party bid by a prominent and powerful Democrat.  Ah, the delightful drama.  From Fox: 

Democrats on Capitol Hill are growing increasingly concerned that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., may launch a third party presidential campaign in 2024, potentially tanking President Biden's chances of re-election.

The danger of a potential Manchin presidential run is twofold for Democrats, in that they cannot afford to have a spoiler siphon votes away from Biden, and they also have no reliable candidate to prevent Manchin's Senate seat from falling to Republicans.

Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., said he spoke with Manchin about the issue this spring, but received a noncommittal response from the West Virginia senator.
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"I have advised him against it. I think it would be a terrible idea," Hickenlooper told Politico. "It would help Donald Trump."

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont, echoed Hickenlooper's concerns, saying "it would be bad for the country if Joe didn’t run for U.S. Senate."

Meanwhile, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., appealed to Manchin's pride in a statement to the outlet, suggesting Manchin would not back down from the fight to defend his Senate seat against the likely Republican challenger, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.

"My gut tells me that that’s not going to happen. And my gut tells me there’s still a really good likelihood that Joe’s gonna run for re-election. And we need him, too," Kaine said." If Gov. Justice thinks he’s gonna sweep Joe Manchin aside, I know that Joe Manchin is like, ‘Are you kidding me? No way.’"

Nevertheless, Manchin has refused to rule out the possibility in interviews as well as in conversations with fellow Democrats...

..."Everybody’s getting so worked up and scared to death, and we’re a year and a half away," he added. "Is there any alternative? Is there anything that we can do to bring both the Democrat and Republican Party back to centrist policy?"

COMMENT:   Aw, come on Joe, run.  Get out there and run.  We could use a little excitement, and your candidacy may get the Democratic Party to grow up, not that we want it to.

June 22, 2023       Permalink

 

 

 

 

JUNE 19-20,  2023

LATEST ON THE SUBMERSIBLE – WRITTEN 2:28 A.M. ET WEDNESDAY MORNING:  Possible signs of life have been heard by units searching for the submersible that was sent down with five passengers to explore the wreck of the Titanic.  From Daily Mail:

Noises have been detected from the search area of the missing deep-sea vessel near the wreck site of the Titanic as those on board face a dwindling supply of oxygen, the US Coast Guard has confirmed.

The submersible, named Titan, lost communication with tour operators on Sunday while about 435 miles south of St John's, Newfoundland during a voyage to the shipwreck off the coast of Canada. 

Titan has five people on board, including British billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding, and on Tuesday the US Coast Guard estimated the 22ft long OceanGate Expeditions vessel had just 40 hours of oxygen left.

The others on board are Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman, 19, OceanGate's chief executive and founder Stockton Rush and French submersible pilot Paul-Henry Nargeolet.

A Canadian aircraft heard noises at 30-minute intervals in the area the capsule vanished on Tuesday. The banging was noted in emails exchanged with the US Department of Homeland Security and seen by Rolling Stone, but it was not clear when they were heard.

Coast Guard officials confirmed underwater noises were heard by a plane and operations were 'relocated' to determine the origin. But as of early Wednesday, they have 'yielded negative results'.

Rescue crews will further analyze the data, which could be considered for future search plans in the deep Atlantic Ocean since the submersible launched Sunday and quickly lost contact with the surface.

Richard Garriot de Cayeux, President of The Explorers Club, confirmed in a Tuesday night social media post that 'there is cause for hope.'

He said in a statement: 'We have much greater confidence that there is cause for hope, based on data from the field - we understand that likely signs of life have been detected at the site.' 

Billionaire Hamish Harding, French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush and Shahzada Dawood, 48, a UK-based board member of the Prince's Trust charity, and his son Sulaiman Dawood, 19, are reported to be the people stuck in the sub. 

The DHS memo on the banging sounds said the Canadian air force and coast guard launched a Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, which has underwater detection capabilities in the air. 

'It reported a contact in a position close to the distress position,' the memo read. 'The P8 heard banging sounds in the area every 30 minutes. Four hours later additional sonar was deployed and banging was still heard.'

The timing - or cause - of the banging is not revealed by the memo but it has raised hopes that rescuers could locate the submersible. 

Garriot de Cayeux added The Explorers Club are confident the U.S. Coast Guard 'precisely understand the experienced personnel and tech we can deploy' and 'believe they are doing everything possible with all resources they have'.

One of the five men on the ship, Harding, is a founding member of the Board of Trustees for the Explorers Club. 

The group said they have a direct lines to Congress, The Coast Guard, Air Force and Navy and the White House.  

COMMENT:   We can hope, and should, but the reality of time is upon us.

June 21,  2023     Permalink

 

YOU MEAN, THERE'S SOME MATURITY OUT THERE?  Yeah, there is.  And it's actually coming from Europe.  This is an important development.  From Daily Caller: 

Two of Europe’s largest energy firms are pivoting from green energy back to their core oil and gas businesses, a move that industry experts tell the Daily Caller News Foundation signals a willingness to take political hits as oil and gas continue to be major sources of revenue.

Both Shell and fellow U.K. energy firm BP opted against further cuts to oil production recently, in a bid to restore investor confidence as their renewable ventures struggled, according to Bloomberg. While the moves were met with criticism from climate-focused investors — activist investors and protestors attempted to storm the stage at Shell’s annual shareholder meeting in late May — the companies are likely to stay the course despite criticism, thanks to the reliability of oil and gas to drive profits despite the emergence of green energy, Dan Kish, senior research fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, told the DCNF.

“Smart energy executives looking at the long term recognize that politics are fleeting,” Kish said. “Politicians may be flighty and distracted by today’s shiny objects, but real business sense combined with a knowledge of engineering and physics shows that real energy makes good business because it is what people need and want.”

Shell CEO Wael Sawan described his company’s shift as a “fundamental culture change” during a Wednesday presentation intended to draw investors, especially American ones, to support the company, The Wall Street Journal reported. Shell performed poorly in 2022 compared to U.S. titans Exxon Mobil and Chevron in 2022, and Sawan has made playing catch up a priority.

BP made a similar decision, opting to increase investments in oil and gas while slowing its advancement toward green alternatives.

“At the end of the day, we’re responding to what society wants,” BP Chief Executive Bernard Looney said.

Ryan Yonk, senior research faculty at the American Institute for Economic Research, described many green investments and climate commitments as a sort of “green-washing” that companies are more likely to view as a “cost of doing business” as opposed to a genuine driver of profits, in a statement to the DCNF. BP saw shares surge more than 15% in the days following its February announcement that it would cut just 25% of its hydrocarbon output by 2030, as opposed to its original target of 40%, according to Reuters.

“The profitability of these types of endeavors is generally much lower than market-driven innovation and growth because they are defensive in nature and driven not by consumer demand but by either actual regulatory action or the expectation that it will occur,” Yonk said. “Fossil fuels are currently, and the evidence suggests they will be for the foreseeable future a significant and important part of energy production in the US and across the world.”

COMMENT:  A breath of the proverbial fresh air.  Now that sounds like real common sense, business sense, and energy sense.  Someone, maybe even more than one person, took a look at the facts and acted accordingly.  I hope to see this kind of thinking here, although the government and the trend-driven press will try to suppress it.

Yes, fossil fuels will be with us a long time.  Electric vehicles, yet to be proved on the open road.

June 20,  2023     Permalink 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 "What you see is news.  What you know is background.  What you feel is opinion."
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