Iven Krastev | We Are All Living in Vladimir Putin’s World Now – The New York Times


“. . . . How did we get here? First, we must understand that this is not Russia’s war. It is Mr. Putin’s. He comes from a particular generation of Russian security officials who never managed to reconcile themselves with Moscow’s Cold War defeat. In front of their eyes, the Soviet Union vanished from the map without military loss or foreign invasion. For them, the current assault on Ukraine is a logical and necessary inflection point. The imperial table can once again be reset. These people are not interested in writing the future; they want to rewrite the past.

While watching Russian missiles attacking Kyiv, in a mood of powerless outrage, I suddenly realized that many Russians must have felt the same way when NATO was bombing Belgrade two decades ago. Mr. Putin’s invasion may be more about revenge than grand strategy.  . . . “

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
My hope is that by March 15th, the leaders of the free people’s of the world wake up and NATO goes to war to take out Putin and his oligarch mafia. Some things are worth dying for. My father fought in WW II, and his class of Yale 1944 lost 25% of their classmates in the war. It should not be only in fantasies like Tolkien books, that the good guys come to the rescue of other good guys of other countries, against the bad guys. NATO should step up. David Lindsay Jr blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Dennis Blair and Joseph Dunford Jr. | Ukraine’s Russia Crisis Reveals the West’s False Sense of Energy Security – The New York Times

“. . . . Are the United States and its allies adequately focused on the risks of today’s energy reality? Have they positioned themselves for a future in which they have ready access to the raw materials essential to emerging technologies?

The answer is no — they are at risk of being usurped by adversaries. And perhaps the biggest threat ahead is China. The United States and its allies are making strides to harness diverse and clean energy sources like wind, solar and hydrogen. They are smartly deploying electric vehicles to end our dependence on oil and its market-controlling cartel. Increases in battery efficiency are helping to encourage both trends.

But the danger of the electric vehicle transition especially is that it will convert America’s current vulnerability to oil and gas markets to dependence on a supply chain for critical minerals for advanced batteries that is now controlled by and flows through China.

Over a decade ago, China made a strategic decision to corner the world of electrification. It made substantial investments in the manufacture of batteries and the assembly of electric vehicles, as well as in the mining and processing of minerals vital for E.V.s.

Electric vehicle batteries at a workshop in Nanjing, in the Jiangsu Province of China.

Credit…Xu Congjun/VCG, via Getty Images

As of 2020, Chinese firms controlled more than 60 percent of the world’s lithium and nickel refining and over 70 percent of cobalt refining, according to a report prepared by the consulting firm Roland Berger for SAFE, the energy security group that one of us chairs. These are essential for lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles. The same report found that U.S. companies account for only 4 percent of lithium, 1 percent of nickel and zero percent of cobalt refining. Further along this supply chain, Chinese companies produce 41 percent of the cathodes and 71 percent of the anodes used in E.V. batteries. The United States produces essentially none of these key components.

The bottom line is that the United States now depends heavily on supply chains from nations that do not share our interests and values. Policymakers must heed this risk or risk being held hostage by these nations.”   . . .

David Lindsay: Excellent opinion piece. Here are the two top comments, I also recommended.

The Poet McTeagle
CaliforniaFeb. 22
Times Pick

It’s not just EV assembly and battery cell manufacturing. It’s everything else, like robot manufacturing, because robots make the EVs. Also all the bolts, washers, other parts and computer chips and paint and everything else that makes robots and EVs. Offshoring all manufacturing to China was a really bad idea in the first place. It happened because Big Money saw big profits to be made. Those in government went along with Big Money, because it’s Big Money that controls our government.

11 Replies524 Recommended

Chris commented February 22

Times Pick

It’s not that we can’t. It’s that we don’t. We don’t build stuff anymore. The real problem seems related to how corporate america likes to manage businesses. Building products, innovating is difficult business. It’s tricky, doesn’t always pan out, and can often result in lower profit margins. Senior managers in this country want 20% growth with 60% profit margins. They want low capital investment. That’s why we have silicon valley and social media companies. That’s why we’re so good at advertising. It’s isn’t the natural competitive advantage of nations. But rather the culture of executive leadership and risk tolerance in capital markets that drives this. Executives and investors in Chinese companies do not have these constraints. At some point wall street has to get back to investing in boring companies that build stuff.

15 Replies400 Recommended

Paul Krugman | Laundered Money Could Be Putin’s Achilles’ Heel – The New York Times

“. . . Yet the world’s advanced democracies have another powerful financial weapon against the Putin regime, if they’re willing to use it: They can go after the vast overseas wealth of the oligarchs who surround Putin and help him stay in power.

Everyone has heard about giant oligarch-owned yachts, sports franchises and incredibly expensive homes in multiple countries; there’s so much highly visible Russian money in Britain that some people talk about “Londongrad.” Well, these aren’t just isolated stories.

Filip Novokmet, Thomas Piketty and Gabriel Zucman have pointed out that Russia has run huge trade surpluses every year since the early 1990s, which should have led to a large accumulation of overseas assets. Yet official statistics show Russia with only moderately more assets than liabilities abroad. How is that possible? The obvious explanation is that wealthy Russians have been skimming off large sums and parking them abroad.

The sums involved are mind-boggling. Novokmet et al. estimate that in 2015 the hidden foreign wealth of rich Russians amounted to around 85 percent of Russia’s G.D.P. To give you some perspective, this is as if a U.S. president’s cronies had managed to hide $20 trillion in overseas accounts. Another paper co-written by Zucman found that in Russia, “the vast majority of wealth at the top is held offshore.” As far as I can tell, the overseas exposure of Russia’s elite has no precedent in history — and it creates a huge vulnerability that the West can exploit.

But can democratic governments go after these assets? Yes. As I read it, the legal basis is already there, for example in the Countering America’s Enemies Through Sanctions Act, and so is the technical ability. Indeed, Britain froze the assets of three prominent Putin cronies earlier this week, and it could give many others the same treatment.

So we have the means to put enormous financial pressure on the Putin regime (as opposed to the Russian economy). But do we have the will? That’s the trillion-ruble question.

There are two uncomfortable facts here. First, a number of influential people, both in business and in politics, are deeply financially enmeshed with Russian kleptocrats. This is especially true in Britain. Second, it will be hard to go after laundered Russian money without making life harder for all money launderers, wherever they come from — and while Russian plutocrats may be the world champions in that sport, they’re hardly unique: Ultrawealthy people all over the world have money hidden in offshore accounts.”   . . .

David Brooks | Defeat Trump, Now More Than Ever – The New York Times

“The democratic nations of the world are in a global struggle against authoritarianism. That struggle has international fronts — starting with the need to confront, repel and weaken Vladimir Putin.

But that struggle also has domestic fronts — the need to defeat the mini-Putins now found across the Western democracies. These are the demagogues who lie with Putinesque brazenness, who shred democratic institutions with Putinesque bravado, who strut the world’s stage with Putin’s amoral schoolboy machismo while pretending to represent all that is traditional and holy.

In the United States that, of course, is Donald Trump. This moment of heightened danger and crisis makes it even clearer that the No. 1 domestic priority for all Americans who care about democracy is to make sure Trump never sees the inside of the Oval Office ever again. As democracy is threatened from abroad, it can’t also be cannibalized from within.

Thinking has to be crystal clear. What are the crucial battlegrounds in the struggle against Trump? He won the White House by winning Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin with strong support from white voters without a college degree. Joe Biden ousted Trump by winning back those states and carrying the new swing states, Arizona and Georgia.

So for the next three years Democrats need to wake up with one overriding political thought: What are we doing to appeal to all working-class voters in those five states? Are we doing anything today that might alienate these voters?

Are the Democrats winning the contest for these voters right now? No.”

“. . . What do Democrats need to do now? Well, one thing they are really good at. Over the past few years a wide range of thinkers — across the political spectrum — have congregated around a neo-Hamiltonian agenda that stands for the idea that we need to build more things — roads, houses, colleges, green technologies and ports. Democrats need to hammer home this Builders agenda, which would provide good-paying jobs and renew American dynamism.

But Democrats also have to do something they’re really bad at: Craft a cultural narrative around the theme of social order. The Democrats have been blamed for fringe ideas like “defund the police” and a zeal for “critical race theory” because the party doesn’t have its own mainstream social and cultural narrative.”

Bravo David Brooks.

Here are the three top comments.

Palo AltoFeb. 24

And maybe the Republicans should also do what they can to keep Trump out of office. Oh, wait, they had their chance (twice) and didn’t.

16 Replies2140 Recommended

Phocion commented February 24

United StatesFeb. 24

Thanks for this, but I would remind David that the Republican Party has a role to play in this too—by forbidding Donald Trump to be their nominee.

12 Replies1894 Recommended

Paul Wortman commented February 25

Paul Wortman
ProvidenceFeb. 25
Times Pick

Vladimir Putin has always counted on Donald Trump to be a force to divide the nation and weaken our resolve to defend democracy against authoritarian rule. You are absolutely right in the need to “defeat Trump” and his Republican Party that are now an insurrectionist, fifth column seeking to undermine the renewed Western alliance that President Biden has worked so hard and so effectively to restore. The old Biblical saying echoed by Lincoln that “a house divided cannot stand” remains true in the current crisis in confronting Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, and Putin is counting on Trump to weaken us and the West. The Democrats must unite around a simple, but effective narrative that embraces the principles of democracy and human dignity which includes strong support for blue collar workers to have a living wage and an easy right to unionize. Moreover, they must finally go on offense against the sedition of Trump and his allies in Congress and the media who support a Putin-style racist, authoritarian kleptocracy in America, and mobilize voter registration on a massive scale.

11 Replies1804 Recommended

Climate Change’s Effects Outpacing Ability to Adapt, I.P.C.C. Warns – The New York Times


“The dangers of climate change are mounting so rapidly that they could soon overwhelm the ability of both nature and humanity to adapt unless greenhouse gas emissions are quickly reduced, according to a major new scientific report released on Monday.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the United Nations, is the most detailed look yet at the threats posed by global warming. It concludes that nations aren’t doing nearly enough to protect cities, farms and coastlines from the hazards that climate change has unleashed so far, such as record droughts and rising seas, let alone from the even greater disasters in store as the planet continues to warm.

Written by 270 researchers from 67 countries, the report is “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership,” said António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general. “With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change.”

The perils are already visible across the globe, the report said. In 2019, storms, floods and other extreme weather events displaced more than 13 million people across Asia and Africa. Rising heat and drought are killing crops and trees, putting millions worldwide at increased risk of hunger and malnutrition, while mosquitoes carrying diseases like malaria and dengue are spreading into new areas. Roughly half the world’s population currently faces severe water scarcity at least part of the year.”

Thank you Plummer and Zhong. Here is my favorite comment.

Boston, MA3h ago

“climate change has begun slowing the rate of growth (in the food supply), the report said, an ominous trend that puts future food supplies at risk as the world’s population soars past 8 billion people.” In addition to reduction of the use of fossil fuels, the world desperately needs to get its population growth under control. Birth control should be free, readily available, and encouraged. It would be a lot easier to mitigate climate change if the world population was half its current size, matching that in the 1970’s. We simply can’t continue doubling the population every 50 years.

8 Replies165 Recommended

Marriott Edgar – English poet, scriptwriter and comedian – Wikipedia

Marriott Edgar

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Marriott Edgar in pantomime dame costume

Marriott Edgar (5 October 1880 – 5 May 1951), born George Marriott Edgar in Kirkcudbright, Scotland, was an English poet, scriptwriter and comedian,[1] best known for writing many of the monologues performed by Stanley Holloway, particularly the ‘Albert’ series. In total he wrote sixteen monologues for Stanley Holloway, whilst Holloway himself wrote only five.

Source: Marriott Edgar – Wikipedia

Using Science and Celtic Wisdom to Save Trees (and Souls) – The New York Times


“MERRICKVILLE, Ontario — There aren’t many scientists raised in the ways of druids by Celtic medicine women, but there is at least one. She lives in the woods of Canada, in a forest she helped grow. From there, wielding just a pencil, she has been working to save some of the oldest life-forms on Earth by bewitching its humans.

At a hale 77, Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a medical biochemist, botanist, organic chemist, poet, author and developer of artificial blood. But her main focus for decades now has been to telegraph to the world, in prose that is scientifically exacting yet startlingly affecting, the wondrous capabilities of trees.

Dr. Beresford-Kroeger’s goal is to combat the climate crisis by fighting for what’s left of the great forests (she says the vast boreal wilderness that stretches across the Northern Hemisphere is as vital as the Amazon) and rebuilding what’s already come down. Trees store carbon dioxide and oxygenate the air, making them “the best and only thing we have right now to fight climate change and do it fast,” she said.

Her admirers, who included the late biodiversity pioneer E.O. Wilson, say what sets Dr. Beresford-Kreoger apart is the breadth of her knowledge. She can talk about the medicinal value of trees in one breath and their connection to human souls in the next. She moved Jane Fonda to tears. She inspired Richard Powers to base a central character of his Pulitzer-prize winning novel, “The Overstory,” in part on her: He has called her a “maverick” and her work “the best kind of animism.” “

Madeleine Albright | Putin Is Making a Historic Mistake – The New York Times

Mr. Putin’s actions have triggered massive sanctions, with more to come if he launches a full-scale assault and attempts to seize the entire country. These would devastate not just his country’s economy but also his tight circle of corrupt cronies — who in turn could challenge his leadership. What is sure to be a bloody and catastrophic war will drain Russian resources and cost Russian lives — while creating an urgent incentive for Europe to slash its dangerous reliance on Russian energy. (That has already begun with Germany’s move to halt certification of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.)

Such an act of aggression would almost certainly drive NATO to significantly reinforce its eastern flank and to consider permanently stationing forces in the Baltic States, Poland and Romania. (President Biden said Tuesday he was moving more troops to the Baltics.) And it would generate fierce Ukrainian armed resistance, with strong support from the West. A bipartisan effort is already underway to craft a legislative response that would include intensifying lethal aid to Ukraine. It would be far from a repeat of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014; it would be a scenario reminiscent of the Soviet Union’s ill-fated occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Mr. Biden and other Western leaders have made this much clear in round after round of furious diplomacy. But even if the West is somehow able to deter Mr. Putin from all-out war — which is far from assured right now — it’s important to remember that his competition of choice is not chess, as some assume, but rather judo. We can expect him to persist in looking for a chance to increase his leverage and strike in the future. It will be up to the United States and its friends to deny him that opportunity by sustaining forceful diplomatic pushback and increasing economic and military support for Ukraine.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
I hope Madeleine Albright is right. However, just the other day I was criticizing her, when I wrote a comment in support of Thomas Friedman’s critique of Clinton and Albright and NATO in in 1998: These are great comments in opposition, but I still agree with Tom Friedman and George Kennan. We could have and should have held off the expansion of NATO, and not given the Putins in Russia such low hanging fruit, when its new and naked democracy was just trying to get off the ground and fly. Democracy is a tricky way to live, and sometimes, it feels as fragile as a butterfly. As one writer pointed out recently, we have had thousands of years of strong men and women, kingdoms and dictatorships. Democracy hasn’t yet really proven it can survive for very long. This heavy handedness in 1998 is on NATO, and President Bill Clinton, and his secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, who, was raised in Czechoslovakia. She got her native land protected into NATO, without seeing as deeply as the old man Kennan and his allies, who warned of creating a backlash. Maybe Putin would have seized power anyway, but that is beside the point. NATO expansion before it was needed, logically, helped people like Putin come to and consolidate power, and undo the new Russian democracy. It is my sense now that NATO should go to war with Putin if necessary to protect the Ukraine. Since we helped create this Putin dictatorship monster, we should help kill it. . . .
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Climate Change Could Increase Risk of Wildfires 50% by Century’s End – The New York Times


“A landmark United Nations report has concluded that the risk of devastating wildfires around the world will surge in coming decades as climate change further intensifies what the report described as a “global wildfire crisis.”

The scientific assessment is the first by the organization’s environmental authority to evaluate wildfire risks worldwide. It was inspired by a string of deadly blazes around the globe in recent years, burning the American West, vast stretches of Australia and even the Arctic.

The images from those fires — cities glowing under orange skies, smoke billowing around tourist havens and heritage sites, woodland animals badly injured and killed — have become grim icons of this era of unsettled relations between humankind and nature.

“The heating of the planet is turning landscapes into tinderboxes,” said the report, which was published on Wednesday by the United Nations Environment Program.”

Admiral Blair and General Dunford | Ukraine’s Russia Crisis Reveals the West’s False Sense of Energy Security – The New York Times

Dennis C. Blair and 

Admiral Blair, who retired from the Navy in 2002, was a director of national intelligence in the Obama administration and served as commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command. General Dunford was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Obama and Trump administrations. Before that, he served as commandant of the Marines.

“Russia’s belligerence against Ukraine is underscoring once again the inextricable link between national security and energy security. Today, Russia is flexing its energy dominance over a dependent Europe. But tomorrow, the danger may come from China and its control over the raw materials that are key to a clean energy future.

The United States and its allies must ensure that doesn’t happen.

In recent years America has been lulled into a false sense of energy independence. The shale revolution of the past decade has generated incredible supplies of vital natural gas and oil. European countries, blessed with diverse economies, have also felt relatively secure in recent years. But that is changing.

Germany now depends on Russian suppliers for as much as two-thirds of its natural gas and the European Union for about 40 percent. And as it phases out its nuclear power plants by year’s end, Germany, Europe’s largest economic force, has appeared more hesitant than its peers to forcefully confront the Kremlin. Moscow sees Europe’s energy dependence for what it is: a supply chain dynamic it can control and exploit at will.”