May 5, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 7:16 PM


Westinghouse announces a new small nuclear reactor -- a notable step in the industry's efforts to remake itself (Catherine Clifford, 5/04/23, CNBC)

Westinghouse is offering a smaller-scale nuclear reactor in an effort to expand access to nuclear power as demand for clean energy soars.

The company announced the launch of a small version of its flagship AP1000 nuclear reactor on Thursday. The new reactor, called the AP300, aims to be available in 2027, and will generate about a third of the power of the flagship AP1000 reactor.

Westinghouse's move is a notable inflection point in the nuclear industry's effort to remake itself as a way to address climate change. Electricity generated from a nuclear fission reactor produces no greenhouse gas emissions.

Posted by orrinj at 6:47 AM


Wagner Chief Says Pulling Out of Bakhmut After Blasting Russian Military Top Brass (Moscow Times, 5/05/23)

Russia's Wagner mercenary group will exit eastern Ukraine's Bakhmut next week after suffering losses due to critical ammunition shortages, the private military contractor's founder Yevgeny Prigozhin announced Friday.

Wagner fighters, many of whom are convicts recruited from Russian prisons, have been at the forefront of Russia's efforts to capture Bakhmut, taking heavy losses in a brutal, monthslong battle. Tensions between Wagner and Russia's Defense Ministry have simmered during this time, with Prigozhin accusing the Russian army of taking credit for victories won by Wagner fighters and of slowing down Wagner units' advances in Ukraine.

"My soldiers will not suffer senseless and unjustified losses in Bakhmut without ammunition," Prigozhin said in a video address published by his press service in which he is flanked by masked Wagner soldiers.

Detente is evil. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:40 AM


DOJ finds 'insider witness' in Trump Mar-a-Lago documents probe: report (JULIA MUELLER, 05/04/23, The Hill)

The investigation, led by Special Counsel Jack Smith, has shown signs of intensifying. The new insider witness, the Times reports, appears as part of a broader effort to figure out whether Trump personally ordered boxes of the sensitive material to be moved out of the storage room. 

Investigators are looking into whether Trump failed or refused to comply with government requests for certain records to be returned after the end of his presidency, as is required under the Presidential Records Act. 

After the DOJ subpoenaed Trump for the documents believed to still be in his possession, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago and recovered classified documents last summer.

The Times also reported that "nearly everyone" who works at Mar-a-Lago has been subpoenaed in the probe.

Posted by orrinj at 6:37 AM


4 far-right Proud Boys convicted of seditious conspiracy in 2021 US Capitol attack (Times of Israel, 5/05/23)

Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and three other members of the far-right extremist group were convicted Thursday of a plot to attack the US Capitol in a desperate bid to keep Donald Trump in power after the Republican lost the 2020 presidential election.

A jury in Washington, DC, found Tarrio, 39, the former "national chairman" of the neofascist organization, and three of his lieutenants -- Joseph Biggs, 39, Ethan Nordean, 32, and Zachary Rehl, 37 -- guilty of seditious conspiracy after hearing from dozens of witnesses over more than three months in one of the most serious cases brought in the stunning attack that unfolded on January 6, 2021, as the world watched on live TV.

Jurors cleared a fifth defendant -- Dominic Pezzola -- of the sedition charge, though he was convicted of other serious felonies. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Belt and Road Turns Into a 'Debt Trap' for Beijing: Xi Jinping's plan to provide infrastructure to the world backfires (Salman Rafi Sheikh, 5/29/23, Asia Sentinel)

With dozens of the member countries of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) club pushing to renegotiate their loans from China, the BRI is rightly said to have become a project of debt collection rather than one characterized by Beijing's 'win-win' formula of mutual development. With China's money virtually stuck - and even deeply buried - and its banks facing global pressure to renegotiate and/or provide additional financial help, it seems the trillion-dollar program is entering a self-defeating phase.

As the year-on data compiled by the US-based Rhodium Group shows, the pace of renegotiating, or even writing off, debt has increased sharply. Between 2017 and 2019, China renegotiated and/or wrote off loans worth US$17 billion. Between 2020 and March 2023, China renegotiated and/or wrote off loans worth US$78.5 billion - money otherwise invested in signature projects such as roads, railways, ports, airports, etc. China has also sharply cut the pace of funding BRI projects, especially as the Covid-19 Coronavirus crisis has bit into global economic growth.

This policy of renegotiation and/or writing off loans is in addition to the newish policy of doling out so-called 'rescue loans' to help the BRI recipients avoid sovereign default. In the past two months or so, China has extended this 'help' to Pakistan twice, providing over US$4 billion. Pakistan is where the flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was initiated in 2013 but so far has failed to yield any positive results for the host cash-strapped country now facing a potential default.