Quick Roundup 127

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tyranny Returning to Russia

Charles Krauthammer says of the recent poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London,

In science, there is a principle called Occam's razor. When presented with competing theories for explaining a natural phenomenon, one adopts the least elaborate. Nature prefers simplicity. Scientists do not indulge in grassy-knoll theories. You don't need a convoluted device to explain Litvinenko's demise.

Do you think Anna Politkovskaya, the journalist who was investigating the war in Chechnya, was shot dead in her elevator by rogue elements? What about Viktor Yushchenko, the presidential candidate in Ukraine and eventual winner, poisoned with dioxin during the campaign, leaving him alive but disfigured? Ultranationalist Russians?

Opponents of Putin have been falling like flies. Some jailed, some exiled, some killed. True, Litvinenko's murder will never be traced directly to Putin, no matter how dogged the British police investigation. State-sponsored assassinations are almost never traceable to the source. Too many cutouts. Too many layers of protection between the don and the hit man. [bold added]
Krauthammer makes two further excellent points about the obviousness of this assassination: (1) It sends a clear message to anyone who might act against Putin; and (2) plenty of "too clever by half Westerners" will be quite happy to employ the "nobody would be that stupid" premise to concoct alternative theories exonerating Putin.

In the meantime, while everyone is agog at this assassination, Russia has quietly strong-armed Royal Dutch Shell out of its stake in a $20 billion dollar natural gas project.
Shell is being forced by the Russian government to hand over its controlling stake in the world's biggest liquefied gas project, provoking fresh fears about the Kremlin's willingness to use the country's growing strength in natural resources as a political weapon.

After months of relentless pressure from Moscow, the Anglo-Dutch company has to cut its stake in the $20bn Sakhalin-2 scheme in the far east of Russia in favour of the state-owned energy group Gazprom.
As an interesting aside, guess what sword Russia is dangling over Shell's head? Environmentalism!
The Russian authorities are also threatening BP over alleged environmental violations on a Siberian field in what is seen as a wider attempt to seize back assets handed over to foreign companies when energy prices were low.


Dmitry Peskov, the official spokesman of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, hit out yesterday at critics in the western media who implicated the Russian government in manipulating oil projects and the poisoning of dissidents. He said there was too much "anti-Russian hysteria".With reference to BP's oil spills in Alaska, he added: "If it's an environmental problem in Alaska it's environmental. If it's in Russia you call it politics."
I love that dash of multiculturalism -- which reminds me quite a bit of how Soviet officials used to address the Western media -- tossed in in that last line. The environmentalist and multiculturalist movements are both pretty much where all the lefties went after the fall of communism. Funny that Russia has finally ended up there as well.

So much for the end of the Cold War....

Build it and they will come ...

... after you anyway. For anyone who thinks that it is possible to appease environmentalists:
The number of turbines planned for a massive wind farm on Lewis has been cut significantly in fresh plans submitted by developers, seeking to allay environmental concerns.

Lewis Wind Power (LWP) have put forward a new application to the Scottish Executive reducing the number of turbines from 234 to 181.

The wind farm would still be the biggest in the UK, but LWP claims the move will reduce possible effects on birds and should remove concerns from environmental groups.

However, last night the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which is one of the major opponents of the plan, said it is still "enormously concerned".
Anything that might allow man to live better than animals troubles the Greens, even if -- like generating electricity with a wind farm -- it is done while bending over backwards to please them. And since anything we might do towards that end will affect the world around us, they will never run out of objections. It is up to us to stop listening to them. To do so, many more of us must first realize why we shouldn't.

AMLO Digging Own Grave?

Some time back, I speculated that the grandstanding of the loser of Mexico's recent presidential race could backfire.
I maintain that AMLO [Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador] is playing with fire and that he should not be underestimated, but it is nice to know that he may do Mexico a favor in the end, by causing the voters who would hurt his country the most to be less likely to show up for future elections.
A report I encountered of recent polling on how AMLO's decision to set up a "parallel government" is playing with Mexicans sounds encouraging on that score:
... 67 percent said they disapproved of Lopez Obrador's decision to swear himself in as the leader of a parallel government, while only 26 percent said they approved. Asked if they agreed with the formation of an alternate Cabinet, 67 percent of the respondents said no, while 25 percent said they were in favor.
And how did AMLO poll in the election? He won a little over 35% of the vote. If we assume that these poll results would accurately reflect the sentiments of those who voted and that those who favor AMLO's antics all voted for him, then if only half of the 10% who voted for him, yet disapprove of what he is doing now, do so enough not to vote for him again, he has already lost 1 in 7 of his 2006 voters. Whether these voters cast ballots for other candidates or stay home is immaterial.

I remain concerned, however, that the precedent he is setting -- of not accepting rule of law -- could more than make up for any damage he might do to himself in the polls. I suspect that this is what AMLO is banking on.

-- CAV


Today: Added clarification on wind turbine section and corrected a typo.


David said...

Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know how much i enjoy your blog.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you, sir!

Anonymous said...

Its OT and I know its not Houston, but check this out:


One of these days I have to make it down to the Lone Star State.

Bill Visconti

Gus Van Horn said...

Reliant Stadium (Football) and Minute Maid Park (Baseball) are both pretty nice, too. Both have retractable roofs.

I can't speak for Toyota Center, but with the way the Rockets are playing this year, I might decide to find out.