Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
- Russia. Being officially out of airspeed and ideas, the deep staters in the Intel community celebrated Trump’s housecleaning of the WH NSC staff by giving a briefing to the House Intel Committee with the conclusion that the Russians were meddling in US elections once again, with the goal of re-electing President Trump. They specifically chose not to brief the WH first. This led to Trump to fire the acting DNI and replace him with US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell. Grenell is a tough customer, a no-nonsense Trump loyalist, and empowered to clean house in the intel community. He is also the highest-ranking known gay in the administration. It appears the briefing was given to Schiff’s committee, and he or one of his staff immediately leaked the story to the NYT which sat on it until the disastrous democrat debate last Wednesday. The piece was published the next day. By the weekend, the Washington Post published a counter piece that the Russians were actually helping Bernie Sanders, a claim that led to the observation that it is most interesting how the Russians end up helping whomever the DNC dislikes the most (Trump or Sanders) at any one time. Very convenient assistance, that. I expect Grenell to start systematically going after known partisans in the intel community, with a thorough housecleaning to be well underway by the end of March. This spring should be quite bloody, with the rats leaking in inordinate amount intel to Schiff’s committee all intended to destroy Grenell, all of which will be immediately leaked to the NYT. Grenell was remarkably blunt and tough with Germany. There is no reason to believe he won’t be the same way as DNI. Trump was sufficiently irritated with the intel briefing to House Intel that he moved up his rally in Nevada by six hours, telling the crowd that he had to return to DC to conduct some important business. The use of the Russia hoax by the FIB, intel community, democrats and the DNC has done far more damage to election integrity than anything the Russians and Soviets have tried to do over the last century. This is intentional, as the more that democrats can undermine public respect and trust in elections (thank you Hillary Clinton and algore), the better chance they have of successfully overturning elections they are unlucky enough not to be able to steal by the old fashioned techniques of dead people voting, stuffing ballot boxes, and vote harvesting.
- Corona. Corona continued to spread last week as international travel moved infected people from China to the rest of the world. So far, no cases have been reported in either Africa or South America. Best coverage has been from Jo Nova and Anthony Watts’ Watts Up With That. These are nominally climate skeptic sites but do a pretty good job with other scientific topics. As usual, the comments are generally decent, though like all online comments, those that are information rich are more than balanced by those that are dreck. Interesting factoids last week include the following:
- So far, no deaths of non-Orientals that we know of. This has led to speculation that the virus was engineered in a bio-weapons lab in Wuhan.
- A piece over the weekend speculated that transmission took place via feces, meaning that the better your water and waste treatment, the less this virus spreads.
- Speculation that the virus escaped a lab in Wuhan that was not necessarily a bioweapons lab.
- Virus does not seem to infect infants and children. Progression of the disease to severe runs 0 – 15%, with severe cases outside China being in the neighborhood of 5%. Oldsters seem to be hardest hit, which is the case of the flu.
- The disease is spreading fastest today in Iran, South Korea and Italy. It is likely spreading fast in North Korea, though they like China have a hard clampdown on news to the rest of the world.
- The Diamond Princess was a cruise ship on a trip to China that was put into quarantine in Japan. There were 135 cases on Feb 11. Today there are 542, with 15% being severe. People onboard hailed from over 50 countries and the quarantine was ended allowing people to return home. This in turn led to passengers on those flights being also quarantined when they got home.
- The high rate of severe cases on the Diamond Princess is likely due to the age of the passengers, as more oldsters take cruises than families with kids.
- Finally, the bad news from China is that the spread of the disease may be exponential, while it is not yet exponential outside China as yet.
- China. One of the positive outcomes from Trump’s economic warfare against China and the Cornoavirus outbreak is a forced economic disentanglement from China itself. While the trade deal just signed is a step in the right direction, it is only a matter of time before China reneges, likely 15 seconds after the next democrat is elected president. This is not a bad or even unfortunate outcome, as the ChiComs have been pretty sorry trading partners, with their serial lying and intellectual property theft. That lying has shown up as the ChiComs have hidden the actual extent of what is going on, how worried they are about the outbreak, its spread, and its source. And as such, they seem to be participating (however unintentionally) in the worldwide spread of the disease, carried by Asians who are returning from China. While this outbreak may or may not end up being China’s Chernobyl, the endemic lies of the regime and among its people will most certainly lead to a similar result eventually. While I am hoping for sooner, later will work also. All houses of cards collapse in a sufficiently powerful gust of wind. Coronavirus is a moderate sized gust. And a society built upon lies will not survive indefinitely. Economic disentanglement from them may be the best protective measure of all.
- Stone. Roger Stone was sentenced to 40 months in jail and a $20,000 fine for making public comments after being gagged by her. Normal sentence for this sort of conviction is 9.4 months. Requests for a mistrial due to the biased malfeasance of the jury foreman were rejected by the O’Bama-appointed judge out of hand. The judge made a point of going after federal prosecutors in court, working them into the position of defending the original sentencing recommendations which she seemed to enjoy. I expect an appeals court to reverse this sentence and demand a new trial. It remains to be seen if Stone can receive a fair trial or an impartial jury in Washington DC today.
- Tribes. My Alaska House Representative Chuck Kopp (R, Dist 24) offered up legislation to officially recognize 229 tribes here in Alaska. This is touted as no big deal, yet another wonderful step into another Brave New World, and seems to be making its way through the legislature without any questions being asked. But this sort of racial pandering comes with very real costs. And creating yet another 229 governmental entities within Alaska is going to be very expensive for everyone involved. Worse, it will incredibly garbage up known and stable government to government relationships like law enforcement, adoptions, education, health and medical care, hunting and fishing jurisdiction, and resource development, not to mention the ever-present possibility of native casinos on tribal lands. This action appears to be a state-level repeal of 1971 ANSCA which extinguished all tribal claims in return for nearly a billion federal dollars to fund the creation of the Native Corporation structure. There is not a lot of good that can come of this. OTOH, there is a bunch of awful possible, which is why all the Usual Suspects in the House are supporting it.
- Commfish. Alaska commercial fishermen (commfish) embarked on a protectionism path nearly 20 years ago demanding and successfully getting legislation that made it illegal for Alaskans to participate in fish farming (aquaculture for finfish). At the time, worldwide fish farming was new and only accounted for 15 – 20% of all salmon sold. Today, that number is well over 75%, and fish farming which always had a competitive advantage in freshness (they can be harvested any time of the year), now have a new and growing competitive advantage in quality (taste, lack of toxins, metals, and most importantly parasites). Green opposition to fish farming mostly dried up over the last five years as operations learned how to control parasites and started moving their operations onshore in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). Here in Alaska, commfish only catches fish in a 3 – 4-month long window (May – Aug), and that fish needs to be stored and processed. There is a rumor that not all of the 2019 salmon were sold and some of it is still in storage, but I have been unable to find anything to support that for this piece. I got a head’s up from Craig Medred, the best outdoor reporter in the state that Pure Salmon, a worldwide RAS operation is ramping up production from a network of worldwide RAS plants aimed at eventually producing around 260,000 tons/year of fresh salmon. Each plant is sized at 10 – 20,000 tons/year and located in places where they can sell fresh salmon and move it directly to the table with no to minimal freezing. Medred pointed out that Alaska commfish is screwed, totally, completely and without mercy. And he’s right. Here’s why. From the 2019 commfish stats out of ADF&G reported in the ADN, we get the following:
- 2019 statewide total catch of red (sockeye) salmon = 144,624 tons
- 2019 Bristol Bay total catch of red (sockeye) salmon = 112,600 tons
- 2019 total commfish salmon catch in Cook Inlet = 11,266 tons
- 2019 total Russian pink and chum harvest = 900,000 tons
Pure Salmon is about to bring RAS systems online capable of producing MORE salmon every year than sockeye salmon caught by Alaska commercial fishermen in 2019. And the plants will be distributed so the fish can be sold and delivered without freezing, without parasites, without impurities, without Fukushima radiation (there is a minor conspiracy theory that believes if we can detect any radiation, it will instantly kill us). In parallel, Aqua Bounty, the RAS operation that genetically enhanced chinook (king) salmon so they grow three times faster announced just raised $15 million in sale of common stock. That money will be used to renovate RAS facilities in British Columbia and Indiana. Alaska’s senior US Senator, Lisa Murkowski (R, AK) has been furiously, foolishly and unsuccessfully fighting to label (and tar) their product with the “frankenfish” moniker. She is about to lose this protectionist battle too. What have we learned here? We have learned once again that protectionism, regardless of the importance of the industry at risk, never, ever works. And the longer that protectionism is in place, the less competitive the participants in that industry become. Alaskan commercial fishermen demanded protectionism. They got it. 20 years later, they are about to reap the whirlwind as they watch their businesses drown in a worldwide flood of factory-produced salmon that are healthier, fresher, cleaner and most importantly better tasting than anything they could ever dream of catching and selling. And it serves them right. Is it too late? Probably, for their current business model. Not too late to adopt a more competitive business model, though I don’t expect it any time soon.
More later –