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Archive for December, 2014

Crimea-electricity--638x539

For the moment, at least, the lamps are going out all over Crimea, rather than all over Europe.

The Daily Beast reports that Ukraine temporarily cut off power supplies to Crimea today (Wed., 12/24).  According to Kiev, the Russian-controlled peninsula has not curbed its power consumption during a power crisis. While Crimea is controlled by Russia, it receives its power from Ukraine.

via Ukraine Cuts Off Crimea’s Power – The Daily Beast.

As shown in the map above, and as pointed out in an earlier post, Crimea is an energy island, something that Putin evidently failed to take into account before trying to realize his revanchist fantasy.

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The Huff Po reports that New York will ban fracking until further notice.

The officials said the potential health and environmental impacts are too great to allow fracking to proceed in the state at this time, and pointed to a dearth of studies regarding the long-term safety of hydraulic fracturing. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will issue a legally binding, supplemental environmental impact statement next year outlining its findings on the issue.

Read the story here:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo To Ban Fracking In New York State.

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Ahhh, for the happy days that were, back when Hillary offered a reset button to Russia:

Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, uses middle finger on then-Secretary Clinton's Reset Button, ca. 2009

Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, uses middle finger on then-Secretary Clinton’s Reset Button, ca. 2009

Putin and Lavrov must be wishing they could revisit that day (and that Lavrov had used his index finger instead).

Putin is hoping that an interest rate hike from 10.5% to 17% in a single day — a sledgehammer blow to the Russian economy — will stop the freefall of the ruble. It did, but only a little bit: from 67/1USD to 61/1USD.

But like most dictators, Vlad doesn’t see the big picture, and since only sycophants can survive in the inner circle, no one second-guessed his decision to have the Russian Central Bank finance a USD10.8 billion loan to Rosneft, Russia’s oil giant. Rosneft is also the most heavily indebted big company in Russia and a Putin fiefdom. Now Vlad will get to study first-hand what Keynes meant by “animal spirits” as Russia endures en masse runs on banks and the population stocks up on hard assets to hedge against a currency on its way to worthlessness.

The psychology of Russian leadership has always spun on a single axis, namely, what they see as Russia’s unique place in history. First, Christian Rome fell to the barbarians and Europe entered the dark ages. Orthodox Christianity then made its stand in Constantinople for about a thousand years, but Mehmet II put the kibosh (a term of military art in that region) on Constantinople in 1453. After that, it fell to Holy Moscow to serve as Defender of the Faith against both the barbarians and the corrupted faith of the Latin West.

Of course, there was a gap of roughly seventy years during which the secular religion of Marxism displaced Orthodox Christianity, but the mission remained the same: spread the word around the world. Things have now come full-circle as Putin’s Russia has re-aligned itself with the Orthodox Church.

 

Former KGB Colonel embraces Alexeii II, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch of Moscow, ca. 2008.

Former KGB Colonel embraces Alexeii II, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch of Moscow, ca. 2008.

Small wonder why Putin believes the fall of the Soviet Union was the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century,  or that Putin’s regime adopts anti-gay legislation. American strategists should change their perspectives and look at Russia not just as an aggressor in the Caucasus for economic reasons, but as a country on a mission ordained of God. Putin draws some lessons from this man:

 

Emperor Nicholas I, Czar of All Russias, ca. 1850

Emperor Nicholas I, Czar of All Russias, ca. 1850

During the Crimean War (Wait! Did you say Crimea?), Nicholas I, who first called Turkey “the sick man of Europe” and was perhaps the most reactionary of all Russian czars, relied heavily on religious sentiments to motivate not only his own population but all Slavic nationalities in Asia Minor and the Caucasus in the fight against France and Great Britain. Moreover, his Russian soldiers fought even though they were serfs who wouldn’t be liberated until 1861.

So, expect Putin to blame Russia’s ills on the decadent West and its sanctions, and to draw closer to the Patriarch of Moscow in order to portray Russia’s present struggle as just another phase of its divinely ordained purpose on Earth.

But with the reset button off the table, this is the only button Putin has left:

The only button now available to Putin and

The only button now available to Putin

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Yes Vlad, oil prices are all the way down there.

Yes Vlad, oil prices are all the way down there.

The NYMEX light crude composite index hit $56.38 today and may go lower still. Vlad needs it above $100 to balance the Russian budget. Just as Prussia was said to be an army with a country, Russia is an oilfield with a country, and as oil sinks so goes the ruble:

 

The famous inverted hockey stick phenomenon.

The famous inverted hockey stick phenomenon.

Maybe that Crimea business wasn’t such a good idea after all.

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John Kass, Chicago Tribune Columnist

John Kass, Chicago Tribune Columnist

December 5, 2014

BY E-MAIL
Mr. John Kass
Chicago Tribune
jskass@tribpub.com

Dear Mr. Kass:

I read with interest your column this morning (“Seller of loosies died for siphoning from government,” Chicago Tribune, Friday, December 5, 2014) regarding the New York grand jury’s decision not to indict the NYPD officer who choked Eric Garner to death during an arrest. Garner was selling “loosies,” single cigarettes, for less than a dollar, and was, as you say, “cutting in on the government’s action” (i.e., high cigarette sales taxes). However, I take issue with your position that this is not a racial issue and that the slogan “Black Lives Matter” is “intellectually dishonest” because it “conveniently sidesteps the epidemic slaughter of black-on-black crime.” I draw your attention to another recent incident in which a white citizen who was cutting in on the government’s action resisted law enforcement with a quite different result.

In the spring of this year, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, together with dozens of supporters wearing pseudo-military fatigues and carrying enough NRA-endorsed assault rifles to re-invade Granada, faced down agents of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) when BLM attempted to round up and remove “trespass cattle” belonging to Bundy.

Bundy’s standoff with BLM began in 1993 when the agency changed its grazing rules in a way that Bundy didn’t like. Five years later, a federal district court entered an order prohibiting “Bundy’s unauthorized and unlawful grazing of his livestock on property owned by the United States and administered by the Department of the Interior… through [BLM].” (See Order 02:98-CV-00531-LRH-VCF (D. Nev. 2013)). Bundy ignored the federal court’s first order of November 3, 1998 enjoining him from grazing his livestock on the subject land and ordering him to pay damages of $200 per day per head (i.e., per cow) for any livestock still on the land after November 30, 1998. On September 17, 1999, the Nevada federal district court issued another order because Bundy failed to comply with the first one. The internet is replete with evidence of Bundy’s lawlessness in failing to comply with both federal law and regulations and several court orders directed specifically to him, so  I’ll cut the Bundy dossier short on the assumption that you do not dispute these matters.

When BLM and law enforcement officials attempted to enforce lawful court orders by impounding and removing Bundy’s trespassing cattle from federal lands, he and his armed supporters forced the BLM to back off. Law enforcement then returned the cattle to Bundy to de-escalate the situation. Bundy, his supporters and certain news outlets viewed this as a major blow struck for freedom from tyranny. (“BLM Releases Bundy Cattle After Protesters Block Southbound I-15,” Las Vegas Review Journal, April 12, 2014 ).

Garner’s defiance of the law on selling cigarettes without collecting and remitting required taxes began and ended, literally, in a matter of moments when police choked him to death.  Bundy’s  defiance of the law had been brewing for more than twenty years before BLM finally took physical action to impound and remove his cattle from federal lands. Bundy’s fines totaled more than $1 million dollars to U.S. taxpayers.  Even if Garner had started his loosie cigarette business in 1993, the same year that Bundy began illegally grazing his livestock on federal lands, I suspect he would have owed substantially less than $1 million dollars in total unpaid cigarette taxes.

Garner offered unarmed resistance to lawful arrest that ended with his pleas that he was being choked. Law enforcement escalated the situation with Garner. Bundy, on the other hand, offered the armed resistance of a ragtag militia to federal law enforcement officials enforcing a court order. With Bundy, law enforcement’s first thoughts were of de-escalation. Garner paid with his life. Bundy got his cattle back. Garner was black. Bundy is white.

While you disdain the protests over the Garner incident, I think you’ll agree that there is nothing worse for our society than the belief that white people can break laws that are strictly binding on black people. Sadly, that’s precisely the lesson that the Garner and Bundy cases teach. You claim that the failure to compare the Garner case to black-on-black crime is intellectually dishonest and conveniently sidesteps the real issue. However, the proper comparison for Garner is not the generalized phenomenon of black-on-black crime; rather, the proper comparison is a white rancher in Nevada named Cliven Bundy. Thus, if anyone has been intellectually dishonest or “conveniently sidestepped” the real issue, it’s not the protesters, Mr. Kass. It’s you.

Very truly yours,

Paul G. Neilan

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