French Nuclear Power Crisis Frustrates Europe’s Push to Quit Russian Energy – The New York Times

“PARIS — Plumes of steam towered above two reactors recently at the Chinon nuclear power plant in the heart of France’s verdant Loire Valley. But the skies above a third reactor there were unusually clear — its operations frozen after the worrisome discovery of cracks in the cooling system.

The partial shutdown isn’t unique: Around half of France’s atomic fleet, the largest in Europe, has been taken offline as a storm of unexpected problems swirls around the nation’s state-backed nuclear power operator, Électricité de France, or EDF.

As the European Union moves to cut ties to Russian oil and gas in the wake of Moscow’s war on Ukraine, France has been betting on its nuclear plants to weather a looming energy crunch. Nuclear power provides about 70 percent of France’s electricity, a bigger share than any other country in the world.”

Thomas Friedman | Why Do We Swallow What Big Oil and the Green Movement Tell Us? – The New York Times

“. . . . Because our continued addiction to fossil fuels is bolstering Vladimir Putin’s petrodictatorship and creating a situation where we in the West are — yes, say it with me now — funding both sides of the war. We fund our military aid to Ukraine with our tax dollars and some of America’s allies fund Putin’s military with purchases of his oil and gas exports.

And if that’s not the definition of insanity, then I don’t know what is.

Have no illusion — these sins of the green movement and the oil industry are not equal. The greens are trying to fix a real, planet-threatening problem, even if their ambition exceeds their grasp. The oil and coal companies know that what they are doing is incompatible with a stable, healthy environment. Yes, they are right that without them there would be no global economy today. But unless they use their immense engineering talents to become energy companies, not just fossil fuel companies, there will be no livable economy tomorrow.

Let’s look at both. For too long, too many in the green movement have treated the necessary and urgent shift we need to make from fossil fuels to renewable energy as though it were like flipping a switch — just get off oil, get off gasoline, get off coal and get off nuclear — and do it NOW, without having put in place the kind of transition mechanisms, clean energy sources and market incentives required to make such a massive shift in our energy system.

It’s Germany in 2011, suddenly deciding after the Fukushima accident to phase out its 17 relatively clean and reliable nuclear reactors, which provided some 25 percent of the country’s electricity. This, even though Germany had nowhere near enough solar, wind, geothermal or hydro to replace that nuclear power. So now it’s burning more coal and gas.

A 2019 working paper for the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research found that in Germany “the lost nuclear electricity production due to the phaseout was replaced primarily by coal-fired production and net electricity imports. The social cost of this shift from nuclear to coal is approximately $12 billion per year. Over 70 percent of this cost comes from the increased mortality risk associated with exposure to the local air pollution emitted when burning fossil fuels.” “

Opinion | They Are the Heirs of Nazi Fortunes, and They Aren’t Apologizing – The New York Times

Mr. de Jong is a former reporter for Bloomberg News and the author of “Nazi Billionaires: The Dark History of Germany’s Wealthiest Dynasties,” from which this essay is adapted.

“The backbone of Germany’s economy today is the car industry. It’s not just that it accounts for about 10 percent of G.D.P.; brands like Porsche, Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen are recognized around the world as symbols of German industrial ingenuity and excellence. These companies spend millions on branding and advertising to ensure they are thought of this way. They spend less money and energy on discussing their roots. These corporations can trace their success directly back to Nazis: Ferdinand Porsche persuaded Hitler to put Volkswagen into production. His son, Ferry Porsche, who built up the company, was a voluntary SS officer. Herbert Quandt, who built BMW into what it is today, committed war crimes. So did Friedrich Flick, who came to control Daimler-Benz. Unlike Mr. Quandt, Mr. Flick was convicted at Nuremberg.”

Good article, and I felt great sympathy for these poor almond growers, until I read these top comments at the NYT:

M. Green
Fort Bragg, CA 2h ago

Have you noticed that almonds are everywhere in milk, mixed nuts, cereals? With water shortages throughout California, almond farmers are monopolizing Central Valley water only to ship huge surpluses overseas, Drive through orchard lands and read signs that cry over not getting enough of our water. It’s hard to sympathize.

2 Replies121 Recommended

 
Yo commented 2 hours ago

Yo
Halfway2h ago

These rich cowboys are growing water intensive crop in a drought stricken desert and now crying foul when market economics takes a course they don’t benefit from. Almonds are luxury food crop, stop growing.

1 Reply107 Recommended

Harrison Stetler | Vincent Bolloré, the Mogul Behind Marine Le Pen and the French Right – The New York Times

Mr. Stetler is a journalist who writes about French politics.

“PARIS — Like the rest of Europe, France is gripped by the war in Ukraine. Days from the first round of the presidential election here, the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron, hopes to prevail with what was, for much of the last two months, a muted campaign in which he posed as a steady hand in a time of global instability.

But for all the talk of a united West, the truth is that a noxious blend of oligarchy, nostalgia and bellicose nationalism is ever more ubiquitous on this side of the new Iron Curtain. In France, it is led by a buoyant and confident new right, represented in this election by Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally; Valérie Pécresse of the ostensibly moderate Republicans; and Éric Zemmour, the pugilistic proto-fascist commentator turned candidate.

Yet their electoral showing this month may be but a sideshow in a broader attempt to remake French politics. Behind them all, to one degree or another, is someone not even on the ballot: the media mogul Vincent Bolloré. The scion of an old industrial family, Mr. Bolloré wields a fearsome agenda-setting power; his outlets, known for adopting the flair, tics and style of Fox News, play an outsize role in directing the national debate. The three candidates from the right — and much of the political class, in fact — recycle, in varying shades, messages that run on a loop on his networks.”

‘Like Living in a Horror Movie’: A Ukraine Town Dying a Slow Death – The New York Times

Thomas Gibbons-Neff and 

“HULIAIPOLE, Ukraine — The shelling begins in earnest a little before midnight, well after the sky has turned oily black, the cell towers have powered down and the stray dogs have begun barking into the night.

There is no electricity or running water in Huliaipole. There is just darkness and long minutes of silence when the ticking of battery-powered wall clocks or the grating of open gates in the cold wind are anxiously scrutinized until the next explosion thuds somewhere nearby, rattling windows. And bones.

And then it happens again. And again. A high-pitched screech and then a boom. Sometimes the shells get closer. Or farther away. Maybe, for a few hours, they stop altogether. But it’s been the same routine for almost a month in this town along the front lines in eastern Ukraine, with each night bringing the same question: Where will the next one land?”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Europe gratefully accepted help when they were invade and occupied. It is time for them to pay back. The US and parts of Europe guaranteed Ukraine’s independence when it agreed to give up over 500 nuclear warheads after the fall of the Soviet Union.
NATO should push the Russians out of the Ukraine. Some things are morally correct, and some things are worth taking risks for, even dying for.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net
x

Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances

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Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances
Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with the Republic of Belarus’/Republic of Kazakhstan’s/Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Presidents after signing the Trilateral Statement, Moscow, 1994.png

U.S. President Clinton, Russian President Yeltsin, and Ukrainian President Kravchuk after signing the Trilateral Statement in Moscow on 14 January 1994
Full text
 Ukraine. Memorandum on Security Assurances at Wikisource

The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances comprises three identical political agreements signed at the OSCE conference in BudapestHungary, on 5 December 1994, to provide security assurances by its signatories relating to the accession of BelarusKazakhstan and Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The memorandum was originally signed by three nuclear powers: the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United StatesChina and France gave somewhat weaker individual assurances in separate documents.[1]

The memorandum prohibited the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States from threatening or using military force or economic coercion against Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, “except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.” As a result of other agreements and the memorandum, between 1993 and 1996, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons.[2][3]

David Lindsay: This explains why Putin claimed self-defense. But is suggests we have an obligation to the Ukraine.

How Ukraine’s Outgunned Air Force Is Fighting Back Against Russian Jets – The New York Times

“LVIV, Ukraine — Each night, Ukrainian pilots like Andriy loiter in an undisclosed aircraft hangar, waiting, waiting, until the tension is broken with a shouted, one-word command: “Air!”

Andriy hustles into his Su-27 supersonic jet and hastily taxis toward the runway, getting airborne as quickly as possible. He takes off so fast that he doesn’t yet know his mission for the night, though the big picture is always the same — to bring the fight to a Russian Air Force that is vastly superior in numbers but has so far failed to win control of the skies above Ukraine.

“I don’t do any checks,” said Andriy, a Ukrainian Air Force pilot who as a condition of granting an interview was not permitted to give his surname or rank. “I just take off.”

Nearly a month into the fighting, one of the biggest surprises of the war in Ukraine is Russia’s failure to defeat the Ukrainian Air Force. Military analysts had expected Russian forces to quickly destroy or paralyze Ukraine’s air defenses and military aircraft, yet neither have happened. Instead, Top Gun-style aerial dogfights, rare in modern warfare, are now raging above the country.”

David Lindsay: NATO should make the Polish migs available immediately.

NATO should also provide training and more modern jets if Ukraine has pilots available to learn how to operate them.

Yaroslav Hrytsak | Putin Got Ukraine Completely Wrong – The New York Times

“LVIV, Ukraine — Ukraine is once again at the center of a potentially global conflict. World War I, as the historian Dominic Lieven put it, “turned on the fate of Ukraine.” World War II, according to the legendary journalist Edgar Snow, was “first of all a Ukrainian war.” Now the threat of a third world war hinges on what could happen in Ukraine.

It’s a striking repetition. Why has Ukraine, a midsize country of more than 40 million people on the eastern edge of Europe, been at the epicenter of warfare not once, not twice, but three times?

Part of the answer, at least, is geographical. Set between Russia and Germany, Ukraine has long been viewed as the site of struggle for the domination of the continent. But the deeper reasons are historical in nature. Ukraine, which has a common origin point with Russia, has developed differently over the course of centuries, diverging in crucial ways from its neighbor to the east.

President Vladimir Putin likes to invoke history as part of the reason for his bloody invasion. Ukraine and Russia, he asserts, are in fact one country: Ukraine, in effect, doesn’t exist. This, of course, is entirely wrong. But he is right to think history holds a key to understanding the present. He just doesn’t realize that far from enabling his success, it’s what will thwart him.

In 1904 an English geographer named Halford John Mackinder made a bold prediction. In an article titled “The Geographical Pivot of History,” he suggested that whoever controlled Eastern Europe would control the world. On either side of this vast region were Russia and Germany, poised to do battle. And in between was Ukraine, with its rich resources of grain, coal and oil.

There’s no need to go into the finer details of Mackinder’s theory; it had its flaws. Yet it proved extremely influential after World War I and became something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thanks to the Nazi geopolitician Karl Haushofer, the concept migrated into Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” Lenin and Stalin had not read Mackinder but acted as if they had. For them, Ukraine was the bridge that would carry the Russian Revolution westward into Germany, making it a world revolution. The path to conflict again ran through Ukraine.”

David Lindsay:  Yes sir. And here is a good comment:

Socrates
Downtown Verona, NJMarch 19

In 2017, the author J K Rowling trenchantly tweeted a full description of the former guy after the former shoved aside other foreign leaders so he could have a ‘good spot’ in the group photo at a NATO summit in Brussels: “You tiny, tiny, tiny little man.” Never a finer description has been offered for America’s greatest Presidential abomination. And who were this tiny man’s biggest heroes ? Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and China’s Xi Jinping, of which the former said “we love each other.” Authoritarians love authoritarians and authoritarianism. The rest of us need to rise up and defend ourselves from these individuals who are allergic to freedom, democracy, modernity and evolution. Twelve cheers for Ukraine, Ukrainians, Zelensky and the cause of freedom. We need to support them in every way.

22 Replies2092 Recommended

NATO Countries Pour Weapons Into Ukraine, Risking Conflict With Russia – The New York Times

“BRUSSELS — The Dutch are sending rocket launchers for air defense. The Estonians are sending Javelin antitank missiles. The Poles and the Latvians are sending Stinger surface-to-air missiles. The Czechs are sending machine guns, sniper rifles, pistols and ammunition.

Even formerly neutral countries like Sweden and Finland are sending weapons. And Germany, long allergic to sending weapons into conflict zones, is sending Stingers as well as other shoulder-launched rockets.

In all, about 20 countries — most members of NATO and the European Union, but not all — are funneling arms into Ukraine to fight off Russian invaders and arm an insurgency, if the war comes to that.”

Yulia Latynina | In Ukraine, Putin’s Gamble Has Failed – The New York Times

Ms. Latynina is a journalist who has reported extensively on Russia’s politics and foreign policy.

MOSCOW — The question is on everyone’s lips. Will President Vladimir Putin go to war against Ukraine? To judge by Russia’s propaganda machine, where media moguls are predicting a victory “in 48 hours,” the answer is an emphatic yes.

Yet the truth is more complex. While Mr. Putin undoubtedly regards Ukraine as little more than a Russian province, as he argued in a lengthy pseudo-historical treatise in July, it’s far from clear his aim was war. Outright conflict — as opposed to sudden swoops, covert operations or hybrid warfare — isn’t really Mr. Putin’s style. It’s probable that the troop buildup in November was an attempt to force the West to relinquish any claims over Ukraine. That would be a great P.R. victory at minimal cost.

But the West called his bluff. In the past week especially, the United States and NATO have taken a markedly sharper tone when discussing Russia — and have, more important, sent military hardware across Eastern Europe and put troops on standby. The message is clear: If Russia won’t de-escalate, then neither will the West.

Instead of trapping the United States, Mr. Putin has trapped himself. Caught between armed conflict and a humiliating retreat, he is now seeing his room for maneuver dwindling to nothing. He could invade and risk defeat, or he could pull back and have nothing to show for his brinkmanship. What happens next is unknown. But one thing is clear: Mr. Putin’s gamble has failed.

Ms. Latynina is a journalist who has reported extensively on Russia’s politics and foreign policy.

“MOSCOW — The question is on everyone’s lips. Will President Vladimir Putin go to war against Ukraine? To judge by Russia’s propaganda machine, where media moguls are predicting a victory “in 48 hours,” the answer is an emphatic yes.

Yet the truth is more complex. While Mr. Putin undoubtedly regards Ukraine as little more than a Russian province, as he argued in a lengthy pseudo-historical treatise in July, it’s far from clear his aim was war. Outright conflict — as opposed to sudden swoops, covert operations or hybrid warfare — isn’t really Mr. Putin’s style. It’s probable that the troop buildup in November was an attempt to force the West to relinquish any claims over Ukraine. That would be a great P.R. victory at minimal cost.

But the West called his bluff. In the past week especially, the United States and NATO have taken a markedly sharper tone when discussing Russia — and have, more important, sent military hardware across Eastern Europe and put troops on standby. The message is clear: If Russia won’t de-escalate, then neither will the West.

Instead of trapping the United States, Mr. Putin has trapped himself. Caught between armed conflict and a humiliating retreat, he is now seeing his room for maneuver dwindling to nothing. He could invade and risk defeat, or he could pull back and have nothing to show for his brinkmanship. What happens next is unknown. But one thing is clear: Mr. Putin’s gamble has failed.”

What Happens if Russia Cuts Off Europe’s Natural Gas? – The New York Times

“While Russia masses troops and military equipment near its border with Ukraine, parallel tensions have been building in world energy markets.

It is not hard to see why. Natural gas flowing through a web of pipelines from Russia heats homes and power factories across much of Europe. Russia is also one of the continent’s key sources of oil.

Now Western officials are considering what happens if Moscow issues a doomsday response to the tensions — a cutoff of those gas and oil supplies, in the depths of Europe’s winter.

The standoff over Ukraine comes at an inopportune time. World energy prices are already elevated as supplies of oil and natural gas have lagged the recovery of demand from the pandemic.”