September 6, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 8:01 PM


Posted by orrinj at 7:47 PM


Trump Says Geoff Diehl Will Rule Massachusetts With 'Iron Fist' If Elected (EWAN PALMER, 9/6/22, Newsweek)

Donald Trump called on Republican voters to back Geoff Diehl, his choice for governor in Massachusetts, in Tuesday's GOP primary, while promising the former state representative will "rule with an iron fist."

Posted by orrinj at 7:37 PM


Destroying ISIS: a review of Degrade and Destroy by Michael R. Gordon (Ralph L. Defalco iii, 9/06/22, Law & Liberty)

In the second part of Degrade and Destroy, Gordon recounts the 2014-2019 campaign that eventually destroyed ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Operation Inherent Resolve did not emerge from a dedicated planning process, nor was its ultimate objective clearly defined at the outset. The author recounts how the White House considered two distinctly different courses of action: direct US military action, including airstrikes--or a limited advisory role of planning, intelligence, and logistics for US forces.

The author explains how Obama's National Security Council planning team was then simply overcome by events. The ISIS offensive in eastern Iraq took Pentagon and White House planners by surprise. The administration was faced with a stark choice: commit US forces to a combat role with close air support of pro-American Iraqi-Kurdish forces, or risk losing a modern airport, the US consulate, and a hub of new US commercial interests to the militants.

Faced with the dilemma, and reportedly upset by the turn of events, Obama ordered the air attacks that eventually became a doctrinal approach during Inherent Resolve: massive and unopposed air power would be wielded in support of proxy boots on the ground. During the last three years of the battle against ISIS, operational fires from manned and unmanned airstrikes and from American artillery were engrained in the battle plans. 

Then, a few weeks later, the objective of Operation Inherent Resolve was stated with remarkable clarity for an administration that had long relied on subtly nuanced statements and carefully parsed language about the war. In a national address, Obama told the country, "Our objective is clear. We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy." Gordon here shares his keen insight that "destruction" raised the bar for US planners, advisors, and operators. The objective now was not merely to regain lost territory, but to destroy ISIS as an effective fighting force, as an insurgency intent on toppling the Iraqi government, and as a jihadist movement exporting terrorism abroad.

The important thing is that it is universally replicable: there can never be a caliphate absent our permission

Posted by orrinj at 3:53 PM


A New Mexico judge cites insurrection in barring a county commissioner from office (Ashley Lopez, 9/06/22, NPR)

A county official in New Mexico who was convicted of entering a restricted area during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol must be immediately removed from office for his involvement in an insurrection, a judge decided Tuesday.

District Court Judge Francis Mathew ruled that Couy Griffin, an Otero County commissioner, is now disqualified from holding public office because he violated Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment by participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection, as well as mobilizing others to also engage in the siege.

Posted by orrinj at 3:49 PM


Donald Trump Goes on Bizarre Rant Against Electric Cars: Nothing he said made any sense at all. (Victor Tangerrman, 9/06/22, Futurism)

Over the weekend, former US president and noted reality TV star Donald Trump went on an unhinged rant about electric cars, presumably to pander to a group of die hard followers in Pennsylvania.

His peculiar conclusion? We should get "rid of this stuff," because charging infrastructure is still lacking in the country. If you're scratching your head, us too.

Come for the racism; stay for the Luddism. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Chile's rejection of populism is an example for the world (Michael Stott, 9/05/22, Financial Times)

Populism has cast a particularly long shadow in Latin America. Crowd-pleasing orators proclaiming a new utopia pepper its recent history.

General Juan Domingo Perón spawned an eponymous movement in the 1940s so powerful it has dominated Argentine politics ever since. More recently, Hugo Chávez's "Bolivarian revolution" in Venezuela and Andrés Manuel López Obrador's "Fourth Transformation" in Mexico have seduced voters with magical promises that belied the authoritarianism of their respective leaders.

In this unpromising political landscape, Chile's decision in a referendum on Sunday to reject decisively an impossibly utopian constitution stands out as a remarkable example of civic maturity. This is a setback for leftwing president Gabriel Boric, the former student protest leader who had staked much political capital on the now-rejected radical draft.

Voters were, almost literally, promised the earth (the draft would have granted constitutional rights to nature). Attractive-looking carrots abounded among the 388 articles drawn up by a specially elected assembly after a year of sometimes raucous debate.

The draft constitution obliged the state not only to provide health, education and housing, but also to ensure the production of healthy food and the promotion of Chilean national cuisine. Bizarrely, in a country where millions still lack broadband internet services, it would have guaranteed a right to "digital disconnection".

Yet Chileans saw through the utopian vision amid an altogether more prosaic reality of rising inflation, a slowing economy and myriad economic challenges. Nearly 86 per cent turned out to vote, and almost 62 per cent of them voted against the new constitution.

Such electoral maturity is highly unusual anywhere, let alone in a middle-income country. According to a global study by two American academics, Zachary Elkins and Alexander Hudson, voters have approved 94 per cent of the 179 new constitutions put to them since the French Revolution of 1789.

But Chileans did not abandon a desire to shed the sin of origin of the current constitution, drawn up under Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship from 1973-90. Colombia's leftwing president, Gustavo Petro, tweeted after Sunday night's result that "Pinochet has come back to life". 

He never went anywhere.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


'Tale of two borders': Mexicans not seen at busy crossings (ELLIOT SPAGAT, 9/05/22,  The Associated Press)

As hundreds of migrants line up along an Arizona border wall around 4 a.m., agents try to separate them into groups by nationality.

"Anyone from Russia or Bangladesh? I need somebody else from Russia here," an agent shouts and then says quietly, almost to himself, "These are Romanian."

It's a routine task for the Border Patrol in the wee hours in this flat expanse of desert where the wall ends. Migrants from at least 115 countries have been stopped here in the last year, but that may be less striking than what's missing: Mexicans are virtually absent.

Instead, families from Venezuela, Colombia, Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, India, and dozens of other countries arrive in Yuma after wading through the knee-deep Colorado River. Their presence reflects how a pandemic-era rule still shapes the journeys of many migrants, even though much of the United States has moved on from COVID-19.

The Right often claims not to object to immigration per se, just to mass immigration from one society.  Problem solved.  Open the border.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Will Greg Abbott Pay a Political Price for Texas's Faulty Power Grid?The governor, running against Beto O'Rourke for a third term, is cozy with the oil and gas industry that has slow-walked upgrades. (PAUL ALEXANDER  SEPTEMBER 6, 2022, The Bulwark)

After such a devastating storm, it would seem logical for Texas to impose sweeping reforms to ensure a similar tragedy was avoided in the future. Instead, in March 2021, the Texas legislature passed two bills: Senate Bill 2, which gave the governor added control over ERCOT, and Senate Bill 3, which, as Nitish Pahwa notes in Slate, included "a proposed overhaul of emergency alert systems, a requirement for state regulators to review the availability of energy reserves, and orders for power generators as well as transmission lines to bolster their weather resiliency." Abbott, who faced fierce criticism for his handling of the storm, declared victory. The bills "fixed all of the flaws" of the grid, he said; "everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas."

One thing the bills did not do was to require the natural gas pipelines be winterized, the main reason the grid failed. Oil and gas industry leaders did not want to incur the debt of winterizing the pipelines, so the legislature, with Abbott's blessing, did not require it. According to Disaster by Design, a soon-to-be-released short film about Uri, Kelcy Warren, chairman of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, contributed $1 million to Abbott at the end of the legislative session, four times more than any previous donation he made. Even though Energy Transfer enjoyed a $2.6 billion windfall from Uri, the company opposed moves to winterize Texas's natural gas pipelines.

As the anniversary of Uri approached this past February, Abbott said the Texas electric grid "is the most reliable and resilient it's ever been." Critics disagree. "He is stating that the ERCOT grid has never been stronger," says Ed Hirs, University of Houston Energy Fellow, "but given that it has been the worst and weakest in the nation, that is not saying much. Abbott complains that Biden policies in favor of renewables have weakened the grid. But the voters are smarter than that. Other grids have dealt with new generation resources without problems. The legislature and Governor Abbott know they did not address the critical failures identified following the 2021 winter grid failure."

Abbott's coziness with the oil and gas industry has opened him to criticism. "Governor Abbott has resisted all significant improvements on the grid," says George Shipley, a longtime Democratic strategist in Texas. "What he has done is take millions of dollars from oil and gas. He is bought and paid for by the oil and gas industry."

With some success, O'Rourke has turned the grid into a wedge issue in the campaign, which is not surprising since a University of Texas at Tyler survey from last month found that only 15 percent of Texans have confidence in the current grid.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


CalWave Successfully Concludes Wave Energy Project in California (Off Grid Energy Independence, 9/06/22)

CalWave has successfully concluded its open-ocean wave energy pilot after 10 months of continuous operation off the coast of San Diego. The project, which deployed in September 2021, was supported by a US Department of Energy (DOE) award with the goal to demonstrate CalWave's scalable and patented xWave™ technology as a cost-effective, sustainable solution for energy generation. Not only does the demonstration represent California's first at-sea, long-duration wave energy project, but it also serves as a critical step toward proving wave power as a commercially viable renewable resource.
The pilot device, named x1™, has now been recovered and decommissioned. Findings will be used to inform CalWave's next grid-connected deployment, scheduled to occur at the federally-approved, 20-MW PacWave wave energy test site off the coast of Newport, Oregon.
Wave energy has been assessed by experts as capable of supplying upwards of a third of global energy demand, yet the development of a viable technology capable of reliably withstanding harsh ocean conditions has been slow to evolve, until now. CalWave's pilot verified its xWave™ system as effective for overcoming the key challenges of performance, reliability, survivability, and cost.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Taliban statement on women's rights calls for caution (CHRIS FITZGERALD, SEPTEMBER 6, 2022, Asia Times)

The Afghan Taliban's apparent decision to allow women and girls a right to go to school and work is a positive development. But it should be welcomed cautiously by the international community until there is evidence of meaningful change. After all, the Taliban have made such promises before. 

Taliban officials announced this week that under Islamic law, women and girls have the right to education, work and entrepreneurship. However, there was a caveat, with officials adding that the movement is working to create a "safe environment" for women and girls in schools and the workplace. What this means is unclear. 

In a full statement, the spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Vice and Virtue, Sadeq Akif Muhajir, said that "Islam has given women the right to education, Islam has given women the right to work, Islam has given women the right to entrepreneurship."

Major social change should be cautious.