Monday, July 28, 2014

Russia Will Only Get Worse. Maybe.

Putin is on the horns of a dilemna. For the first time since the dismantling of the Soviet Union, Russia faces a severe economic crisis – after enjoying years of relative prosperity – and she has a warmongering chief executive. This is a nexus of events that will shape and define Russia for at least the next decade.

Today, it just got worse:

LONDON — An international tribunal in The Hague has awarded the shareholders of the now-defunct Yukos oil company about $50 billion, in ruling on claims that the Russian government illegally seized the company from one of the country’s most powerful oligarchs.

“We are thrilled with this decision, although we know it is not the end of the road,” said Tim Osborne, director of GML, the holding company created by the Yukos founder Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky.

[…] The verdict could increase pressure on Russia at a time when its economy is already under threat after the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on a selection of Russian individuals and companies over its support for separatists in Ukraine.

There could also be implications for Rosneft, the state-controlled Russian oil company that acquired the most important Yukos oil assets in 2007, and for the British oil giant BP, which owns close to 20 percent of Rosneft.

Now, of course, Putin is free to ignore The Hague ruling and it’s business as usual. Except Russia’s credit rating will be at risk. And it gives the West leverage over Putin and Russia at a time when he can afford neither.

You’ll notice that, while Putin pardoned Khodorovsky, there was no attempt made to restore the company to private control.

And Rosneft itself, while reporting higher earnings, has seen its oil production start to slip. There’s not $50 billion in cash reserves, I’m sure.

Politically, what does this mean? It could mean that Putin will turn his gimlet eye towards former Soviet states that produce oil and gas, and invasion and insurrections the kind that we’ve seen in Ukraine.

This would include, presumably, Uzbekistan (which has the 11th largest natural gas reserves in the world), Turkmenistan (the world’s second largest gas fields), and even Estonia, which while it doesn’t have significant energy reserves per se, does have large shale deposits, which could mean fracking, in which case, Estonia is fracked.

Conversely, if Putin is approached by cooler heads – you know, like the guy in the Oval Office – and delicately offered a way out of the problem, then the Ukraine situation itself might be resolved quietly and more important, quickly.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) How desperate is Vladimir Putin to draw attention away from his failed economy? This desperate.

2) Who would think Norway would be a terror target?

3) Conservatives suck. And are real fucking idiots.

4) Apparently, the mohel took a little too much off the top.

5) Huh huh. He said “assphage”. Huh huh.

6) We ducked a bullet, gang.

7) Oh, this is not going to play well with Climate Denialists…

8) Y’know, I almost feel for the NY state Republican party. Almost.

9) Attention to my readers who have Time Warner Cable: I highly recommend DISH Networks. But stay away from DirecTV. They’re owned by Murdoch too.

10) Finally, Jello? Maybe?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Compassion In Action

Read this story and tell me where the logical fallacies comes in.

Done? OK, let’s get to work:

Saying that Eric Garner was overweight at 350-400 pounds and battling asthma, many posters on the sites TheeRant and PoliceOne.com said the Staten Island father and husband brought his death last Thursday upon himself. They said his health contributed to his cardiac arrest, and that their interpretation of an eyewitness video of Garner's altercation with police last Thursday was that he resisted arrest.

Police said they suspected Garner of selling untaxed cigarettes when they approached him on a sidewalk. He told them he'd done nothing wrong. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

[…] On PoliceOne.com, one person wrote, "Mayor you killed our effectiveness on the street, when you killed Stop and Frisk. Because of a few bleeding heart liberals and a few ethnic groups who believe they are the only ones being stopped. You shut down the whole system. Because now all those baggy … pants you see walking around are probably locked and loaded."

Another referred to a video tape of Garner's altercation with police that went viral. On the tape, Garner is heard saying eight times "I can't breathe" as police press his head into the sidewalk.

"If you can talk you can breathe! A strong and deadly choke hold would not allow a person to talk," the poster wrote.

Here are the things I want to look at:

a) If he’s 350-400 pounds, then you have to assume a chokehold is a life-threatening event. Period. It’s a fairly safe assumption that the suspect has cardiovascular problems and cutting off his air, even partially could kill him. As a professional police officer, paid and trained to protect the public and to call for medical assistance when necessary, this should be ingrained into your thought process.

b) You can talk if you’re choking. If you are not getting enough air into your lungs, that’s not unlike, in fact, it’s almost exactly like, COPD: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Only not chronic. And the only disease is in the mind of the frikkin’ idiot who put the victim into a chokehold that is specifically outlawed by the NYPD code of conduct. But there are plenty of emphysema and asthma patients who can talk in short bursts as they inhale enough air to support speech. Basically, this victim was dying and in dying, you find a way to exert extraordinary effort to do things that normally are not likely to occur.

What the police officer did in this instance goes beyond shameful all the way to criminal.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) As conservative asswipes start beating the drum to retaliate against Russia for the downing of flight 17 over Ukraine – as seems to be the case – arming rebels and whatnot, I want to merely point out that no one ever declared war on the US for our own part in any number of insurgencies. Except some of the insurgents. The only nation who has much right to declare vendetta here seems to be the Netherlands, and today, we are all Dutch. (p.s. note how the Moscow Times covers a military action committed by their own factions.)

2) The whole world is a ball of confusion.

3) Madiba would have been 95 today.

4) Yea, there’s no global warming: Tropical diseases are hitting the US. Blowholes are popping up in Russia.

5) It’s been so easy to make fun of Florida, so we owe them a kudo for this.

6) Dude, you probably could have bought one at the gift shop

7) I could have answered this question in one sentence: It’s illegal, so who wouldn’t get paranoid, man?

8) Given the recent and tragic lionfish invasion of the Caribbean, this is a pretty important article.

9) Alzheimer’s? I see.

10) Finally, introducing “Cake in a Can”