One thing that is very interesting about this talk, given by Kevin Shipp, retired CIA agent, is his discussion of how investigations managed by Congressional committees can so easily be shut down. (This talk was given in late 2016, before the recent Congressional oversight of the Mueller probe.)
I find so much of value in this talk and wanted to share it here:
I used to be a believer in Free Trade. No matter what, I thought the trade policy of America should be that there are no limits whatsoever to trade. If the other side had all sorts of restrictions, it did not matter, because it was always better for Americans on the whole to have total free trade. Why did I believe this? Because learned people said it was so, and that was good enough for me.
However, as I have aged, I have grown more an more uncomfortable with the idea that one side trading free and the other side putting up restrictions is always best for the most Americans. It is counterintuitive, to say the least. For instance, how can it be better for me as an American, that American farmers cannot sell their goods in the EU so that EU farmers are protected? How does that help Americans as a whole, exactly, when American farmers have to compete on an uneven playing field? Less competitive EU farmers get the benefits of higher prices, while American farmers have to run even leaner. How does that help the average American?
From a security standpoint, the US armed forces are buying electronics from one of our two rivals. I cannot imagine that the Chinese government is using this to spy on us somehow, but setting that aside, if we went to war with China, where will get the parts? It makes no sense to outsource a strategic industry to another nation. At least to me. I am sure it makes 100 percent sense to the Free Traders. All Free Trade, no matter what, all the time. Nothing is zero-sum, everything is win-win, even when the other partner is a geopolitical rival. Germany should not worry if it is dependent on Russia for its power, because that is the best way to get power, and if the whole Germany power industry goes down, well, that is just free trade to Russia. No worries.
So, I no longer believe in Free Trade at all times. If you are a free trader, I’d love to have my mind changed.
NEWS Now The Associated Press — By SIMONE SOMEKH – Associated Press
ROME (AP) — Italian officials deflected responsibility Tuesday after 108 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean were returned to Libya, a move that humanitarian groups said could violate international law.
The U.N. refugee agency and Amnesty International denounced the decision to take the migrants to Libya. But both Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli insisted that the rescue, carried out by the Italian-flagged Asso Ventotto supply ship, was coordinated by the Libyan coast guard without the involvement of its Italian counterpart.
A press release from the ship’s operator, Augusta Offshore, confirmed their account, saying the ship got a call from the Libyan coast guard to respond to a rubber dinghy carrying migrants. A Libyan ship escorted them to shore after the rescue, about 1 ½ miles southwest of the Sabratah oil platform, it said.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Italy tweeted that Libya is not a secure port, making such a transfer a violation of international law.
“Not only is it a violation of the right of asylum, but it is an inhumane act toward those 108 people,” Amnesty Italia said.
Aid groups say migrants who are returned to Libya risk facing beatings, rape, slavery and other mistreatment.
Nicola Fratoianni, an Italian lawmaker aboard a Spanish-run aid rescue ship, wrote on Facebook that it would be “a very serious precedent” if the Asso Ventotto took the migrants to Libya on the orders of the Italian coast guard.
In its statement, Augusta Offshore said the migrants did not protest when they were transferred onto a Libyan coast guard ship in the port of Tripoli, the closest port.
The new hard-line, anti-migrant Italian government has kept rescue ships run by humanitarian groups from bringing rescued migrants to the country’s ports since taking power in May. In addition, it’s also planning to furnish the Libyan coast guard with 12 more patrol boats in an effort to prevent smugglers’ boats from reaching international waters.
Italy insists the step is necessary to stop human trafficking. Opposition lawmaker Laura Boldrini said, however, that the “collaboration with Tripoli doesn’t provide a single guarantee on human rights.”
In Brussels, European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud deferred questions about the rescue to Italian authorities, but confirmed the commission’s view that Libya does not meet the necessary conditions to be considered a safe port.
I got Max worked up at the other place, and it’s INSIDE the HW group, so much for admin not monitoring everything written or said over there. If he keeps it up I might just get myself kicked out and be done with it. Very happy to have Ratburger as a new haven for venting.
The darn stuff is so easy to grow. Find a catalog that offers it, prepare the ground, bung the seeds in, and have patience. Growth is slow compared to that of some of the lettuces, for example, but then you see it is slow to bolt, as well.
A delightful sour taste is the outstanding characteristic of this pot-herb. I’d long used it as a minority leaf in a salad bowl, just for the lemony sour accent. This year, the crop was abundant and I had the time, so I whacked off half a row and brought it in.
The chosen starting point was an online Martha Stewart recipe. At Launch, I hauled out a cauldron, melted butter in it, and added a nice little pile of minced white onion. Those pungent little bits softened up in 5 or 10 minutes while giving up their tear-inducing sulfur compounds.
While that was happening, I cut up sorrel leaves into thin strips. Addition of those strips to the onion was Stage 2. The ratio of leaves to broth was to be 1:2. I had quite a pile of leaves; adding 3 cups at a time, the result was 12 cups of raw, sliced leaf material requiring 24 cups of broth. That used up my leaves, which was a prime object.
It seemed like an outrageous volume of leaf material, but it cooked down to a smaller volume, like spinach and other greens.
At this point, leaf color changed from bright, clean green to dead-turtle-in-a-puddle tint. Can you guess why I was not distressed in the least by this?
The reason was the fragrance. Simultaneous with the color change was the release of many volatile fragrance molecules. It was lemon perfume time, all through the kitchen.
All was ready for Stage 3, addition of the broth. This time I had some turkey broth and some beef broth, qs to 24 cups with an aqueous solution of vegetable bouillon paste from a jar.
I added no salt or additional herbs, the object being to see what these things would do.
Generally, soup is very much better a day later, what with flavors melding and all that, but today immediate progress to Stage 4 was a gratifying move. Into each flat soup plate I ladled the sorrel soup and schlagober-ed a goodly blob of crème fraîche.
The soup was a bit salty, probably from the jarred veg base, which I will mix up at 80% of label-directed concentration next time. Stirring the crème fraîche around in it mitigated that defect without masking the delightful lemony sour taste. In fact, the creaminess and the sourness complement each other nicely.
How the stars do align on occasion. Recently I studied a Polish language lesson on the theme of food and dining. The hilarious dialogue was between two people, out for dinner, ordering zupy szczawiowej. And now here it was, the sorrel soup.
When I was a little kid, simpering around with my hair in a pony tail, the relatives took me along on their summer trip to a vacation lodge in Middle-of-Nowhere, Outer Farmworld, run by recent Polish immigrants. Hot cream soup on a 95-degree day thrilled them all but revolted me! Now the stuff is delicious, and we enjoy it on our farm. Perhaps it is the operation of something atavistic.
Here we are , doing one of our classic vacations while working over the net deals. We just arrived at our first destination after driving the F150 over 1200 kilometers (they use different measures up here and pretend it’s meaningful).
Jasper Alberta is smack dab in the middle of a National Park with crystal waters, slate gray mountains and thin rooted pines struggling with pre-permafrost.
It is a cathedral everywhere you look, an imposing yet gentle persona in every view.
Wifi is working which means I can sneak a few hours to keep the wheels of industry turning.
“This is how the news should sound.” That is the introduction to a new radio news talk show that I have been hearing on NPR. The name of the show is “The Daily.” It is a real howler. It both gives me great laughs and raises my blood pressure. It is anti-Trump, anti-conservative, anti-Republican Leftism brought to you with all the outragey feels you want when you are nostalgic for the pepper-spray whiff of street demonstrations.
“The Daily, with Michael Barbaro” is a production of the New York Times. The broadcasts are available as podcasts. They are a parody of themselves. They are short (22-minutes) and focus on a single issue each episode. Sometimes they do a series of two or three episodes. I have listened to all the usual Leftist bilge. What gives the laughs is the hushed tones and atmospheric music (violins swells in a minor key to let you know that you are about to hear the latest real outragey dirt on Trump). They whisper the introductions to experts who pontificate about how awful the Trump Administration is. They whip up sympathies with sob stories from the most appealing of illegal immigrants. They really like to interview minor officials from the Obama Administration who now have impressive-sounding titles at Leftist think tanks.
In addition to yelling at my car radio about how selective and dishonest this material is, I get a kick out of how seriously they take themselves. Last week I laughed and laughed while listening to an activist lawyer describe peeking through the windows at an office building in Phoenix that previously had been used by ICE as a temporary holding facility for minor children who were awaiting transportation one way or the other. Bear in mind that ICE had moved out several days before our intrepid activist found the site. She described her tears as she looked in through a window and saw an empty carton of baby formula sitting on the otherwise empty floor. Her emotional distress over the plight of those beautiful babies was the focus of several minutes in the short broadcast. Then they noted that ICE had not used it as an overnight facility, but was simply a processing/transfer point where the kids were only there for a couple of hours. Her tears of distress prompted my tears of laughter. They were really playing their audience, pushing hard on emotional buttons. It was an overreach that was such a grasping at staws that I found it laughable.
You really ought to sample this some time. The hushed tones and mood music accents are over the top.
It is time to brush off last year’s letter to my congressman and write again to request that he work to repeal the Public Broadcasting Act.
One of the few benefits of the (so far) gentle intellectual decline I am experiencing at age 74 is that I can re-read books seemingly de novo. I read “Hawaii” many years ago; I don’t remember in what period of my life that was and recalled virtually nothing of the story as it unfolded this time.
I just came to the end a few minutes ago and am awash with ambivalent feelings consisting of nostalgia, longing, sadness, wonder and more. Michener had an almost “God’s-eye” view of humanity and the ability to set it forth in clear, eminently-readable and inviting prose. I am grieving the end of the story.
Since I was a kid studying history, I have wanted to understand any historical moment through the eyes of those living at the time. This abiding innocent impulse, I believe, has stood me in good stead to withstand today’s reflex historical revisionism, which insists on judging all peoples from all times by todays “elevated” standards. While “Hawaii” is a novel, Michener is known for his thorough research. I have the strongest sense that his fictional characters are accurate exemplars of people who actually lived, thought, felt and acted in the times portrayed.
In “Hawaii,” those times really do begin at the beginning: Michener describes the birth and death of volcanic islands in the Pacific. He describes the geography of this small chain of islands which become Hawaii and especially the absence of flora and fauna which are absolutely necessary for human existence. Then told is how some Polynesians living on Bora Bora decide to leave as a result of religious strife (to attain power, one group demands fealty by all to a new god – a god which is a 5 inch diameter red rock). Although not emphasized in the story, it does seem that some human traits as to power over others by any means at hand are enduring.
Although these Polynesian adventurers do not know whether their hoped-for destination even exists, they wisely anticipate its barrenness and bring with them the requisite animals and plants. They brought only women capable of bearing children; leader’s wife is left behind because she is thought to be barren. In this fictional tale of a long journey north, the navigator sees a new fixed star come into view on the horizon. By it, he can now judge latitude; such important discoveries – driven by necessity – punctuate much of Michener’s work. This imagined 8th century voyage of a few dozen individuals in a double-hulled sailing canoe with animals and carefully-stored plants succeeds (barely). These, then are the native Hawaiians, whose numbers achieve about 400,000 by the time New England missionaries arrive in the mid 1800’s. By the early 20th century, as a result of disease and hardship, the number of Hawaiians of Polynesian ancestry fell to only about 40,000.
The remainder of this long, complex, yet very readable book describes the lives of the descendants of the Bora Borans, the missionaries and various subsequent immigrants. Described as well is the intentional importation of first Chinese and later Japanese workers needed to work the sugar and later pineapple industries. The history of each of these groups is laid out in depth, also going back many generations, so as to provide profound insight into each culture. Tales of intermarriage, alliances, conflicts, politics and war pervade the complex story. In other words, it describes life on the Hawaiian Islands over a period of about 1200 years. An appendix sets forth – over multiple pages – the genealogy of every family described in the book. Its extent is remarkable.
While the setting is particular to Hawaii, its peoples and history, in my estimation, the lessons of this novel and its well-sculpted characters can be construed more generally. The psychological, interpersonal, cultural, social and political interactions which occur in this fictional parallax view of actual history paint an accurate landscape of human ontology, applicable to most any thread of history, anywhere. Universal human nature, from its basest, through mundane, to its most noble attributes, is on vivid display in this truly epic work.
Having also read Michener’s “The Source,” I find the power of Michener’s writing unparalleled. In examining my own life, I long to both live it rightly in the moment and at the same time to understand the context, meaning and moral import of my thoughts words and actions. Both of these books allowed me to do that for the characters, whose inner and outer lives were made artfully visible. Because the author gave me knowledge of the ethnic, cultural and family histories of the characters, I was able to briefly and intimately “live” their lives through their consciousness and soon afterward (in the course of the book) observe the consequences, meaning and moral calculus of their choices. Would I might be able to do that with my own life!
To see the entire import of having lived from roots to descendants. That is what I mean by a “God’s-eye” view of life – something I deeply long for yet know I can never achieve. Vicariously, then, Michener offers this awesome simulacrum: upon his characters I can conform elements of my own life, my own humanity and try-fit them to the playing out of entire lives portrayed over historic time in this marvelous book.
Setting “Hawaii” down at the end imparts mainly a sense of loss, sadness, at leaving “beloved (though not always admirable) friends” whose lives I feel as though I intimately observed (In real life, I find it a privilege to merely know someone who is willing to honestly reveal his/her true self; this is rare, I find). The sadness also derives from returning to the less clear realm of knowledge of my own life and letting go of any hope that I can know its import over time – as I could so clearly do for many of the characters in “Hawaii.” Only the greatest authors – like Michener – allow us to briefly imagine we can escape the limited, Earthbound, time bound, knowledge of our own human existence.
I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.
‘Shale Boom’ an even-handed look at fracking
By MARK LARDAS
July 24, 2018
“Shale Boom: The Barnett Shale Play and Fort Worth,” by Diana Davids Hinton, Texas Christian University Press, 2018, 192 pages, $30
Twenty years ago, the United States was running out of oil and gas. Fracking changed everything. Today, the United States is the world’s largest producer of petroleum products.
“Shale Boom: The Barnett Shale Play and Fort Worth,” by Diana Davids Hinton tells the history of a key part of that transformation. It examines how the Barnett Shale helped trigger the fracking revolution, and explores its consequences.
Hinton puts fracking in its historical context. It was not new. Some form of fracturing was done as early as the 1920s. This included injecting liquids into wells under high pressure — hydraulic fracturing. Hinton reveals what was new. The Barnett Shale is a large but narrow layer of oil bearing rock beneath Fort Worth and the area west of it. Fracking techniques of the 1980s and 1990s meant wells failed to yield economic levels of gas and oil.
George Mitchell owned lease rights in the area. Hinton shows how the Galveston-born Mitchell financed new fracking techniques. The new technology unlocked the Barnett Shale, producing unprecedented levels of natural gas. Directional drilling techniques developed during this century’s first decade multiplied yields.
It kick-started a shale gas boom around Fort Worth. Much of the best yield area was under Fort Worth, complicating things. What followed included some craziness of the type accompanying every oil boom. Hinton traces the action.
Hinton looks at the impact urban drilling had on both drillers and residents. She also examines the bust inevitably following a boom, the backlash against drilling, and the impact of environmental concerns fueled by fear of fracking.
Hinton is refreshingly even-handed. She looks at both the benefits and costs (societal and environmental as well as financial) of drilling and the hydrocarbon industry. She also explores both the benefits and excesses of environmental opposition to fracking. Hinton is unafraid to expose the follies and dodgy activities of individuals in both drilling and the environmental movement.
Hinton closes with an examination of the impacts of fracking — long and short term — around Fort Worth, and its global implications. “Shale Boom” a fascinating and balanced look at what technology revolutions yield.
Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.
The below can be disseminated for purposes of education and information
On July 13th, 2018, an indictment was filed by Special Counsel Robert Swan Mueller III.
This author is responding to the indictment because it features claims about Guccifer 2.0 that are inconsistent with what has been discovered about the persona, including the following:
Evidence was found over 500 days ago relating to the Guccifer 2.0 persona that showed they had deliberately manipulated files to have Russian metadata. We know the process used to construct the documents was not due to accidental mistakes during the creation process.
The original template document that Guccifer 2.0 used has been identified. It is also the source of the presence of Warren Flood’s name, and can be found attached to one of Podesta’s emails (it has RSIDs matching with Guccifer 2.0’s first couple of documents).
The Trump opposition research, which CrowdStrike claimed was targeted at the DNC, apparently in late April 2016, isn’t what Guccifer 2.0 actually presented to reporters. It also didn’t come from the DNC, but was an attached file on one of John Podesta’s emails – not the DNC’s. This specific copy appears to have been edited by Tony Carrk shortly before it was sent to Podesta. The fact that Guccifer 2.0’s initial releases were Podesta email attachments was even conceded by a former DNC official.
It appears that Guccifer 2.0 fabricated evidence on June 15, 2016, that coincidentally dovetailed with multiple claims made by CrowdStrike executives that had been published the previous day.
Guccifer 2.0 went to considerable effort to make sure Russian error messages appeared in copies of files given to the press.
Evidence – which Guccifer 2.0 couldn’t manipulate due to being logged by third parties – suggests he was operating in the US.
Additional evidence, which Guccifer 2.0 would have been unlikely to realize “he” was leaving, indicated that the persona was archiving files in US timezones before release, with email headers giving him away early on.
Virtually everything that has been claimed to indicate Guccifer 2.0 was Russian was based on something he chose to do.
Considering that Guccifer 2.0 had access to Podesta’s emails, yet never leaked anything truly damaging to the Clinton campaign even though he would have had access to it, is highly suspicious. In fact, Guccifer 2.0 never referenced any of the scandals that would later explode when the DNC emails and Podesta email collections were published by WikiLeaks.