Interesting Items 05/02

Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information.  Enjoy –

In this issue –

1.  Ukraine
2.  Fertilizer
3.  Leak
4.  SpaceX
5.  RI
6.  No Fly
7.  NPR-A
8.  Menthol

1.  Ukraine.  Several interesting pieces on the ongoing war in Ukraine this week provided for your consideration.

  • Russian troops took control of the Chernobyl power station on Feb 24, the first day of the invasion.  They stayed in place for several weeks.  International radiation monitors are reporting an abnormal increase in radiation in and around Chernobyl 36 years after the accident.  The reactor explosion, fire and subsequent meltdown dusted the surrounding area with significant radiation.  For the most part, the radiation is now located in soil and plants and animals that live there.  When you move an armed force complete with heavy equipment across that area, you stir that stuff up.  As the force spent months in place before moving on, they must have been exposed to significant radiation.  It appears that neither the military commanders nor whomever is giving their orders did not anticipate nor comprehend the problem.  The incompetence that gave the Chernobyl accident to the world continues.
  • One of the things the Soviets used to be pretty good at was electronic warfare (EW), particularly jamming signals.  The ability to dump a boatload of noise and energy on a frequency or a band is relatively easy and (the) brute force (another Soviet technique) works pretty well.  One of the external assets provided to the Ukrainian government and people was a large number of Starlink ground stations so they could have internet connection to the rest of the world.  Russian response to deployment of the Starlink ground stations was to jam them, which they did for hours on end.  Starlink responded with a software update and brought their systems back online, astounding EW planners at the Pentagon.  The ability to change what you do dynamically is important to anyone in a potential combat situation, and it looks like Starlink built that capability into their basic kit. 
  • Russia rolled out their oil weapon against Europe last week cutting off oil and natural gas shipments to Poland and Bulgaria.  Rationale for the stop shipment was refusal to pay their bills in rubles.  The EU immediately referred to the act as blackmail.  Greece offered to ship liquid natural gas to Bulgaria, with a connection to Bulgaria being ready by June.  Wouldn’t it be nice if Harris – Xiden had supported the Israeli pipeline across the eastern Med from their Leviathan field into southern Europe?  But this action will help ensure it gets built.  Russia’s shutdown of sales into Bulgaria and Poland may be more difficult than they are letting on.  They can’t sell product to China, as the pipelines that go east and those that go west are not physically connected.  And the only connection is via rail, which already has its capacity maxxed out internally.  Additionally, a pipeline shutdown requires something to happen to production, the input end of the system.  Typically, this means bringing mass storage online to the tune of whatever is shipped on a daily basis, or a shutdown of the field(s) supplying the oil and natural gas.  Sometimes these fields don’t tolerate restarts all that well, especially when the equipment is as old and poorly maintained like most Russian industrial equipment. 

2.  Fertilizer.  The Next Big Thing is a possible food shortage, driven by a fertilizer shortage.  Fertilizer production is a way to get rid of excess natural gas, at least making a little bit of money.  And a looming fertilizer shortage is a direct result of the Harris – Xiden shutdown of oil and natural gas exploration on federal lands.  Think of it as a feature rather than a bug in their central planning.  What I don’t understand is how and why the railroads got themselves involved.  April 14, CF Industries, one of the largest global manufacturers of hydrogen and nitrogen-based products announced shipping delays, Union Pacific railroad mandated shipping restrictions, during the spring application season.  As a result, it would be unable to accept new rail sales involving Union Pacific for the foreseeable future.  CF Industries ships from LA and IA to agricultural regions of IA, IL, KS, NE, TX and CA.  There is no explanation as yet from Union Pacific on their April 8 announcement.  Legal Insurrection reported a week later that Union Pacific was removing 2-3% of their rolling stock from the network across multiple commodity groups in order to maintain flexibility and reduce inventories in the system.  They were going to add more employees and locomotives.  They were going to ask Mayor Pete’s Surface Transportation Board for help resolving the situation.  Good luck with that. 

3.  Leak.  Yet another leak from some unknown source to the NYT.  This one was a recording of a call involving multiple Republican congress critters on Jan 6.  It ended up in the hands of a pair of NYT reporters writing an anti-Trump book on Jan 6 who took it on Rachel Maddow claiming that McCarthy, then House Minority Leader was going to call on Trump to resign.  Everyone roundly denied everything, but the fake news was in full dudgeon, claiming Republicans were going to call on Trump to resign, another in a long list of media hoaxes.  This was immediately followed by the standard round of conservative circular firing squad, with writers going after McCarthy.  Rajan Laad in American Thinker on April 24 posted a typical pieceThe ever-gleeful Forbes jumped into the fray.  Now, I don’t know how much of a fighter that Rep McCarthy may or may not end up being.  There is significant trepidation on Our Side about his willingness to fight.  I hope he is smart enough to realize that this is a time to fight, destroy the Other Side like the vermin they are doing their level best to emulate.  If he isn’t he will be quickly replaced.  The thing that bothers me the most about this little story is once again, a telephone call between Republicans was recorded, likely by the NSA, transcript prepared, and the whole mess leaked to a pair of friendly NYT reporters in a way to cause the most possible political damage to Republicans.  This is once again the intel agencies, the swamp, and their enablers in the media, diddling an upcoming election in favor of democrats.  It is a reminder how politicized and fundamentally broken the intel apparatus is today.  I could think of no better reminder that it is time to repeal the Civil Service Act and bring back the age of patronage, where at least you know who the corruptocrats are beholden to and can shuttle them out the door when their bosses are removed from office. 

4.  SpaceX.  Space X had a pretty good week, recovering the Ax-1 commercial manned mission after 8 days onboard ISS, on MondayTwo days later, it launched another 4 astronauts to the ISS onboard the Crew-4 Dragon.  This flight will spend the next 6 months on ISS and is the fourth operational manned flight to ISS for NASA.  Interesting thing about Crew-4 is that is used a first stage booster that had previously flown 21 days earlier.  This marks the quickest turn of a first stage booster between flights by SpaceX.  The booster was successfully recovered with good video of the night landing from both the drone ship and the booster as it landed.  Landing takes place about 4+03 into the video.

5.  RI.  In a story that initially sounded like an internet hoax, democrats in Rhode Island introduced legislation that would require everyone in the state over the age of 16 to be vaxxed against COVID.  Citizens 11 – 16 are also required to be vaxxed with the responsibility falling on parents and guardians.  Any person in violation will pay a $50 monthly civil penalty and be assessed twice the amount of personal income taxes normally paid.  Any business found to be knowingly in violation of this will be fined $5,000 monthly per violation.  Calls to state legislators asked if this was an internet hoax.  It isn’t.  Looks like it was introduced in the state senate, co-sponsored by seven democrats claiming to be undeclared

6.  No Fly.  Interesting and unexpected story out of MarketWatch has Delta and United Airlines starting to remove passengers added to their no-fly lists for refusal to wear masks inflight.  This move started immediately following the District Court opinion from Florida finding the CDC overstepped its authority demanding masking on transportation.  Delta, United and Alaska were among the nastiest airlines enforcing the mandate, giving their flight crews free rein to their inner Karens, to be just as ugly to passengers as humanly possible.  Up here, Alaska went so far as to “yellow card” people sitting in terminal bars and restaurants for not being properly masked.  An Alaska airlines yellow card punts you off your flight and may or may not add you to their no-fly list.  For Delta and United to start this quickly reinstating their former passengers, I expect their internal business data must be really ugly, especially passenger satisfaction with their service.  As the federal COVID lifesaving money supporting airline operations disappears, perhaps they have decided to return to the customer service world.  We will see how long they stay there.  No word from Alaska about similar action.  We will see how smart they choose to be. 

7.  NPR-A.  Deb Haaland is the gift that keeps on giving to opponents of resource development here in Alaska.  Last week, she announced she was locking up millions of acres in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPR-A or NPRA).  Note the name of the area:  National Petroleum Reserve.  It was set aside as the Naval Petroleum Reserve Number 4 during the Harding administration in 1923, so we have known about oil there for over a century.  It is pretty large at 95,000 km2.  It was relatively noncontroversial until the last 3 democrat presidents who did everything in their power to obstruct exploration and production.  There are a couple current fields that target the eastern part of the region.  The O’Bama regime diddled estimates of recoverable oil and natural gas starting in 2010, dropping the estimates precipitously.  North Slope producers have fought greens and green-funded local natives for the ability to drill for decades.  One of the Haaland tricks has been to refuse to appeal federal court opinions shutting down exploration and production.  Haaland reversed a Trump land use plan intended to open NPR-A.  This will further damage Alaskan US Senator Lisa Murkowski, who supported and celebrated Haaland’s nomination.  Murkowski is in big trouble in her reelection bid.  And it couldn’t happen to a nicer lady.

8.  Menthol.  Appears the Tobacco Nazis infesting the FDA are poised to take another chunk out of the democrat voting base, this time via a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.  Menthol cigarettes are popular in the black community, not unlike Pepsi (which was the reason the O’Bama campaign logo looked like it did) or cough syrup.  Flavored cigars (Swisher Sweets, for instance) look like they were thrown into the mix just because.  The ban has been in process for at least a year, first announced April 2021.  Polling in GA, NV, NC breaks 50 – 30% in opposition to the proposed ban.  Even the FDA knows that the black community enjoys menthol flavored cigarettes by a whopping 85% majority.  Their rationale for a ban is cloaked in all the standard trappings of Tobacco Nazi concerns, claiming to address “health disparities experienced by communities of color”, otherwise known as We Here in Washington Know What is Best For You Idiots.  I predict a growth in smuggling, tax evasion, and mob activities associated with getting the product to the community demanding it.  I also predict an increasing failure of feds ability to get conviction for smuggling and trafficking.  Expect Republican candidates to use this during this and future election cycles while campaigning in black communities. 

More later –

– AG

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