Tuesday, September 17, 2019

"No War for Oil" Needed - Thanks to Fracking

For years here, I have been praising the concept of energy independence for the United States (see, e.g. Energy Wars: Fracking Our Way Ahead):
It's interesting that people who have previously argued that we should not fight "wars for oil" in our own national interest are willing (1) to commit our national forces and dollars to possibly fighting "wars for oil" for the interests of other countries and (2) that people who who are opposed to U.S. fracking on environmental grounds seem to be totally okay with the status quo of pushing environmental damage off to those second and third world countries who are resource rich but not in the protesters back yards - and condemning others in the world to be dependent on the whims of leaders in Russia and other undemocratic countries.
It also behooves Europe and Japan that the U.S., Canada and Mexico develop LNG export facilities to allow the export of natural gas to offset the Russian and Iranian power in using the "oil and gas weapon" against Europe.

The U.S. government should be encouraging U.S. companies to help Poland to explore its shale gas reserves as an offset to the Russians. While the estimated levels of Polish shale gas are fluctuating, there is gas there and it is both Polish and European interests to develop it.

It's not just the U.S. that has the potential to be "sitting pretty" as a result of the the shale boom.
You don't want to fight Iran for attacking Saudi Arabia?

Fine, continue to use the our oil and gas production to continue to inflict economic damage on the Iranians - our crude and NG is perfectly fungible for what Iran produces. The world will little note nor long remember what Iran and its surrogates are trying to do by disrupting the energy flow from the Arabian Gulf. Iran has gone to this well before, but this time the world has moved on from total reliance on Middle East oil and gas. The U.S. can be entirely energy independent of the Middle East.

In fact, it occurs to me that without the infusion of cash from the Obama Administration's Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal with Iran, Iran would be soon be running on empty.

It is also worth noting that due to the wonders of its socialist dictatorship, Venezuela's oil production is not really a factor in the world market right now. If that situation could be reversed, the importance of Middle East energy supplies diminishes even further.

We just need to ride this out.

Oh, and build more nuclear power plants.

In the meantime, it seems demand for product is on a downward trend:

Friday, August 30, 2019

Gulf of Guinea Piracy: Nigeria Reaches Out to Japan for Help

Report that Nigeria's leader has asked Japan for assistance in fighting piracy and illegal fishing in the Gulf of Guinea here:
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Yokohama, Japan, sought the support of the Japanese government in combating piracy in the Gulf of Guinea as well as illegal fishing in that region.

The President made the request during a bilateral meeting between the Nigerian delegation and Japanese officials led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Might get interesting if Japan helps out fighting the far seas Chinese fishing criminals.

An oil rich country of over 200 million should be willing to spend money on an adequate Coast Guard or Navy to patrol its own waters, vital sea lanes, and to join in regional operations with its neighbors to cut down on local thuggery and the foreign fishing fleets that are troubling western Africa. To be fair, Nigeria has recently added to its fleet Nigerian Navy commissions new vessels
The Nigerian Navy has commissioned into service 16 new vessels, including ten small boats and six patrol vessels, which will be used to enhance maritime security and protect the country’s oil and gas assets. It has also revealed that more vessels are on the way.
The vessels included the NNS Ekulu and NNS Nguru, two FPB 110
patrol boats delivered earlier this year by France’s Ocea. These 35 metre vessels were ordered in February 2017 and are to be equipped with two 12.7 mm and one 20 mm cannon each. Nigeria has also ordered five FPB 72s from Ocea, with the NNS Gongola and NNS Calabar delivered in January this year, after the NNS Shiroro and NNS Ose arrived in 2017. These four vessels were also commissioned on 3 September.

It is not clear what type of small boats were commissioned but it is likely they are 9.5 metre Guardian fast patrol boats built by Paramount Maritime. In November 2017 the Nigerian Navy accepted four of the type out of an order for 14 – the other ten, which are 8.5 metre long variants, were to be delivered progressively.

The Nigerian Navy has also taken delivery of a number of 8.2 metre long boats built by Nigerian company Epenal, with around 60 been delivered over the last year.
Whatever these additions, it needs more to allow it to be more assertive in protecting it home waters and its EEZ.

According to this, Nigeria's economy is about the same as the U.S. state of Ohio, which has only about 12 million residents. One problem is, of course, a certain level of corruption which diverts public monies into private hands. According to Transparency International, though, Nigeria is only the 144th most corrupt country out of 180 countries, which means it could be worse, I suppose.
It's not like the corruption in resource rich Russia or Venezuela, is it? If you are wondering, Somalia is #1 in corruption (180 out of 180).

Friday Films - Labor Day Selection

First a pre-US involvement in WWII cartoon of Army life:

How about a reminder that the Soviet Union (Russia) not only invaded Poland along with the Nazis, but took on the Finns in 1939:

A bit of Wyoming from 1947:

And a little look at the U.S. Coast Guard in Vietnam:

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Nero Wolfe "The Girl Who Cried Wolfe (1950)

Nero Wolfe and his aide, Archie Godwin

On Midrats 25 August 2019 Episode 503: Missile Defense at Sea and Ashore with Tom Karako

Please join us on 25 August 2019 at 5pm EST for Midrats Episode 503: Missile Defense at Sea and Ashore with Tom Karako
Not since the last decade of the Cold War have ballistic missile defense, land based cruise missiles, as well as short, intermediate, and medium range ballistic missiles received this much attention outside the compartmentalized and esoteric warfare specialities they belong in.

With the realities of our century bidding farewell to the previous century's INF limitations, you shouldn't expect the topic to fade away anytime soon.

Shipboard and land based missile defense are rising to meet the threat - using both established capabilities and new ones emerging from the lab.

For the full hour this Sunday to discuss these and related topics, our guest will be Dr. Thomas Karako.

Tom is a senior fellow with the International Security Program and the director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where he arrived in 2014. His research focuses on national security, missile defense, nuclear deterrence, and public law. For 2010–2011, he was an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow, working with the professional staff of the House Armed Services Committee and the Strategic Forces Subcommittee on U.S. strategic forces policy, nonproliferation, and NATO.

He is also currently an adjunct professor in the Strategic Studies Program in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and a fellow with the Institute for Politics and Strategy of Carnegie Mellon University. He received his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University and his B.A. from the University of Dallas.
If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Have Gun, Will Travel "French Leave" (1960)

Back in the day, Have Gun Will, Will Travel started out on television and the radio show followed thereafter. This was unusual, as in most cases successful radio shows transitioned to television. History here:
And so it was that Have Gun, Will Travel premiered over Radio a year and a half after its Television rendition on November 23, 1958. Veteran Film, Radio and Television actor John Dehner was tapped to portray the mono-named Paladin. The great character actor Ben Wright was selected to portray 'Hey Boy' ('real name' Kim Chan) and as the series progressed Radio legend Virginia Gregg was tapped to portray Miss Wong, Hey Boy's ostensible lady friend.

John Dehner, the radio Paladin 
For the uninitiated, 'Paladin' (last name only) was a Renaissance Man: an adventurer, bon-vivant, gourmet, enologist, raconteur, gambler, and investment speculator--who also happened to be a very adept and deadly gun for hire. Based in San Francisco, Paladin occupied a suite of rooms at The Carlton Hotel. Most comfortable dressed as a dandy, Paladin's San Francisco 'valet' is Kim Chan, a Chinese immigrant who works primarily for The Carlton Hotel when not in the service of Paladin. Dubbed 'Hey Boy' since he began working in San Francisco, he appears to have at least two generations of roots in the San Francisco area.

While Paladin seemed to attract--and enjoy--an apparently limitless supply of female companions while staying at The Carlton, Hey Boy, by contrast, appears to have had only one steady female interest: Miss Wong, a well-educated, well-read friend of Hey Boy's family.

Paladin's daily routine, immediately after checking his financial investments, appears to have been poring over several newspaper subscriptions--for which he had a standing order--to check for possible new adventures. He has also apparently placed personal ads in numerous other newspapers of the day, advertising "Have Gun - Will Travel, Wire Paladin, San Francisco."

His adventures arrived by either wiring or posting his business card to potential interested parties or by answering responses to his personal services ads. Paladin's services don't come cheap: he customarily asked at least one thousand dollars for his services--plus expenses. But being the 'knight' he is at heart, he often took on causes at nominal or paltry charges on principle alone. Indeed, Paladin accepted $1.61 for one of his commissions.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Friday Film: Nautical Rules of the Road "The Halifax Incident" (1942)

Walt Disney Studios animated one of the worst maritime disasters of all time:

More here:
At 9:04:35 am the out-of-control fire on board Mont-Blanc set off her highly explosive cargo.[57] The ship was completely blown apart and a powerful blast wave radiated away from the explosion at more than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) per second. Temperatures of 5,000 °C (9,000 °F) and pressures of thousands of atmospheres accompanied the moment of detonation at the centre of the explosion.[58][25] White-hot shards of iron fell down upon Halifax and Dartmouth.[59] Mont-Blanc's forward 90-mm gun, its barrel melted away, landed approximately 5.6 kilometres (3.5 mi) north of the explosion site near Albro Lake in Dartmouth, and the shank of her anchor, weighing half a ton, landed 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) south at Armdale.[60]

A cloud of white smoke rose to over 3,600 metres (11,800 ft).[61] The shock wave from the blast travelled through the earth at nearly 23 times the speed of sound and was felt as far away as Cape Breton (207 kilometres or 129 miles) and Prince Edward Island (180 kilometres or 110 miles).[25][62] An area of over 160 hectares (400 acres) was completely destroyed by the explosion,[60] and the harbour floor was momentarily exposed by the volume of water that was displaced. A tsunami was formed by water surging in to fill the void;[63] it rose as high as 18 metres (60 ft) above the high-water mark on the Halifax side of the harbour.[64] Imo was carried onto the shore at Dartmouth by the tsunami.[65] The blast killed all but one on the whaler, everyone on the pinnace and 21 of the 26 men on Stella Maris; she ended up on the Dartmouth shore, severely damaged. The captain's son, First Mate Walter Brannen, who had been thrown into the hold by the blast, survived, as did four others.[66] All but one of the Mont-Blanc crew members survived.[67]

Over 1,600 people were killed instantly and 9,000 were injured, more than 300 of whom later died.[25] Every building within a 2.6-kilometre (1.6 mi) radius, over 12,000 in total, was destroyed or badly damaged.[63] Hundreds of people who had been watching the fire from their homes were blinded when the blast wave shattered the windows in front of them.[68] Stoves and lamps overturned by the force of the blast sparked fires throughout Halifax,[69] particularly in the North End, where entire city blocks were caught up in the inferno, trapping residents inside their houses. Firefighter Billy Wells, who was thrown away from the explosion and had his clothes torn from his body, described the devastation survivors faced: "The sight was awful, with people hanging out of windows dead. Some with their heads missing, and some thrown onto the overhead telegraph wires." He was the only member of the eight-man crew of the fire engine Patricia to survive.[70]

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Not So Subtle -- "Let's Send a Message in the Strait of Hormuz"

Prepared to counter potential small boat swarms when transiting near a minor annoyance:

STRAIT OF HORMUZ (Aug. 12, 2019) An AH-1Z Viper helicopter attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) takes off during a strait transit aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and the 11th MEU are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the Western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck/Released)STRAIT OF HORMUZ (Aug. 12, 2019) 

You might note that "manned mobile gun platform" on the elevator behind the helicopters.

Monday, August 12, 2019

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 3 July - 7 August 2019 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/SOUTHEAST ASIA Weekly Piracy Update for 1 -7 August 2019

Also this from the U.S. Maritime Administration:
2019-012-Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea-Threats to Commercial Vessels by Iran
This revised advisory cancels U.S. Maritime Advisories 2019-004 and 2019-008.

1. References: U.S. Maritime Alerts 2019-004A, 2019-003A, 2019-002A, and 2019-001A.

2. Issue: Heightened military activity and increased political tensions in this region continue to pose serious threats to commercial vessels. Associated with these threats is a potential for miscalculation or misidentification that could lead to aggressive actions. Vessels operating in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman may also encounter GPS interference, bridge-to-bridge communications spoofing, and/or other communications jamming with little to no warning.

Since May 2019, the following maritime incidents have occurred in this region:

- Six attacks against commercial vessels (see U.S. Maritime Alerts 2019-002A and 2019-003A);

- Shoot-down of U.S. Navy remotely piloted aircraft over international waters;

- Attempted at-sea interdiction of Isle of Man-flagged M/V BRITISH HERITAGE;

- Seizure of ex-Panama-flagged M/V RIAH;

- Seizure of U.K.-flagged M/V STENA IMPERO (see U.S. Maritime Alert 2019-004A); and

- Detention and subsequent release of Liberian-flagged M/V MESDAR (see U.S. Maritime Alert 2019-004A).

In at least two of these incidents, vessels reported GPS interference. One vessel reportedly shut off its Automatic Identification System (AIS) before it was seized, complicating response efforts. Vessels have also reported spoofed bridge-to-bridge communications from unknown entities falsely claiming to be U.S. or coalition warships.

The United States is committed to safeguarding freedom of navigation, the free flow of commerce, and the protection of U.S. vessels and personnel in this region.

3. Guidance: The international community, including the United States, continues maritime security operations within this region. Vessels operating in this area are advised to review security measures, ensure AIS is transmitting at all times, and monitor VHF Channel 16.

a) To afford best protection in the region, U.S. flagged commercial vessels are encouraged to:

- Simultaneously register with both the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Office (UKMTO) and U.S. Fifth Fleet Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) Watch when entering the Indian Ocean Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA) by e-mailing them the Initial Report from Annex D of Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy and Enhance Maritime Safety in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea (BMP5).

- Provide transit plans for the Strait of Hormuz (SoH) and Persian Gulf (PG) to UKMTO and U.S. Fifth Fleet NCAGS via a single e-mail, including the time of entering/exiting the SoH Traffic Separation Scheme, an outline of the navigation plan for operating in the SoH and PG, and speed restrictions or other constraints.

- In the event of any incident or suspicious activity, call UKMTO or the U.S. Fifth Fleet Battle Watch and activate the Ship Security Alert System immediately.

- Answer all VHF calls from coalition navies.

- Utilize other reports included in Annex D of BMP5 as necessary, including both UKMTO and Fifth Fleet NCAGS on each of these reports.

b) All vessels should be aware that U.S. and other coalition naval forces may conduct maritime awareness calls, queries, and approaches to ensure the safety of vessels transiting the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, and Arabian Sea. If a U.S. flag commercial vessel suspects it is being hailed from a source falsely claiming to be a U.S. or coalition naval vessel, the U.S. Fifth Fleet Battle Watch should be immediately informed.

c) If hailed by Iranian forces, U.S. flag commercial vessels should provide vessel name, flag state, and affirm that they are proceeding in accordance with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention. The master should immediately inform the U.S. Fifth Fleet Battle Watch.

d) If Iranian forces seek to board a U.S. flag commercial vessel navigating these waters, the ship’s Master should, if the safety of the ship and crew would not be compromised, decline permission to board, noting that the vessel is proceeding in accordance with international law, and immediately inform the U.S. Fifth Fleet Battle Watch.

e) If Iranian forces board a U.S. flagged commercial vessel, the vessel should immediately contact the U.S. Fifth Fleet Battle Watch. The crew should not forcibly resist the boarding party. Refraining from forcible resistance does not imply consent or agreement to that boarding.

f) The Maritime Global Security website at offers industry issued best practices, including BMP5, and guidance to mariners by geographic region and provides contact and subscription information for regional maritime security reporting centers.

g) Vessels operating in this area are advised to establish contact with both UKMTO and the U.S. Fifth Fleet NCAGS Watch, and to include both on all update or incident report emails, as detailed above. By including both as addressees on each email, awareness will be enhanced without creating an additional reporting burden.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Fibber McGee and Molly - Fish Tale (1944)

Does every fisherman have an "Old Muley?"

Many is the hour I have wasted spent joyously practicing my fly fishing technique.  Your results may vary.

And, yes, I know that's not a fly rod in the young fellow's hands.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Hey! Who keeps saying that pot is harmless? Well, pushers and others seeking to get rich off of it mostly. What if it isn't?

NY Post opinion piece by Miranda Devine The link between pot, shootings may be closer than we think
Even as evidence mounts of the health problems associated with marijuana, New York has insisted on joining other greedy states scrambling to legalize this deceptively dangerous drug.

It makes no sense at a time when American youth is suffering from an unprecedented mental health crisis.

And, in all honesty, we cannot rule out a connection between increasing marijuana use, mental illness and the recent spate of mass shootings by disturbed young males.

We don’t yet know much about the mental state or drug use of the El Paso or Dayton killers. But a former girlfriend of Dayton killer Connor Betts, 24, has indicated he was mentally ill, and two of his friends interviewed by reporters this week mentioned his previous drug use.
You can’t address the youth mental health crisis without considering the effect of rising teen marijuana use.

Among American teenagers, the drug’s “daily use has become as, or more, popular than daily cigarette smoking” according to the National Institute of Health’s 2017 Monitoring the Future study.

We’ve successfully demonized cigarettes while new laws send kids the message that marijuana is harmless.

Yet we’ve known for more than a decade of the link between marijuana and psychosis, depression and schizophrenia.

In 2007 the prestigious medical journal Lancet recanted its previous benign view of marijuana, citing studies showing “an increase in risk of psychosis of about 40 percent.”

A seminal long-term study of 50,465 Swedish army conscripts found those who had tried marijuana by age 18 had 2.4 times the risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia in the following 15 years than those who had never used the drug. Heavy users were 6.7 times more likely to be admitted to a hospital for schizophrenia.

Another study, of 1,037 people in New Zealand, found those who used cannabis at ages 15 and 18 had higher rates of psychotic symptoms at age 26 than non-users.

A 2011 study in the British Medical Journal of 2,000 teenagers found those who smoked marijuana were twice as likely to develop psychosis as those who didn’t.
See also Another Threat to Society - "Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence":
A really interesting article from the Hillsdale College publication Imprimis Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence
Over the last 30 years, psychiatrists and epidemiologists have turned speculation about marijuana’s dangers into science. Yet over the same period, a shrewd and expensive lobbying campaign has pushed public attitudes about marijuana the other way. And the effects are now becoming apparent.

Almost everything you think you know about the health effects of cannabis, almost everything advocates and the media have told you for a generation, is wrong.
If you are concerned about the effects on our society of the promiscuous use of legal and illegal drugs, then this article about the relationship of marijuana to mental diseases, you should read this article.

The issues raised need far more exposure.

Not only should we be concerned about what the research reported on by Mr. Berenson indicates, we should also be concerned about the long-term effects on the bodies of habitual users of marijuana - if inhaling tobacco smoke or chewing tobacco are known cancer risks, it seems pretty obvious that doing the same sort of ingestion with another substance must pose some risk - one that the users of today will tomorrow being suing the legal purveyors of their supply for "misrepresentation" of the health benefits of their product.
Things are seldom as they seem, and, as with "feel good alcohol" use, there is a price to be paid down the road for the harm the purveyors of marijuana are doing with their "harmless buzz" pushing of their product.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Anomie - "Disconnection from the moral norms and rules of a society"

Mass killings? Fraternity brothers encouraging suicide?

I recall something from the days when I studied sociology:

...Durkheim argued that societies characterized by organic solidarity generated social solidarity not through sameness, but through interdependence. However, Durkheim also stated that this solidarity is precarious and can be abnormal, producing anomie as a consequence. Although Durkheim does not give a clear definition of anomie, it can loosely be defined as a feeling of disconnection from the moral norms and rules of a society. Under a state of anomie, there is not enough moral regulation in a society to counteract the individualism associated with a complex division of labor. In other words, a society that celebrates individualism runs the risk of forgetting to tell individuals what they can and cannot do. We can also think of it as a state of normlessness.
I would argue that in some of these cases the perpetrators of the criminal acts have found their way in "groups" - often solely on-line - that provide them with a different set of norms than those of the mainstream society.

Just as members of criminal gangs have their own ethos, so do these otherwise isolated (estranged?) individuals come to seek acceptance for their eccentricities in chat rooms full of other people suffering from the same exclusion from the main society as they do, who seemingly provide a new set of norms and acceptance that encourage such that some individuals decide that to act out against the society that has caused them to feel so adrift is perfectly okay. In terms of Transactional Analysis, these individuals feel they have no worth and that society also has no worth and they may seek revenge:
I'm not OK - You're not OK
This is a relatively rare position, but perhaps occurs where people unsuccessfully try to project their bad objects onto others. As a result, they remain feeling bad whilst also perceive others as bad.

This position could also be a result of relationships with dominant others where the other people are viewed with a sense of betrayal and retribution. This may later get generalized from the bullies to all others people.
I think that a person in such a state may seek to go out in a literal blaze of glory - by becoming, for instance, a major mass murderer as a way of saying, "I lived." I argue the issuance of "manifestos" by such people is a means of trying to reach into the future. The fact that such writings are often confused garbage simply reflects to confusion of the minds of their authors as they try to claim that their lives had some meaning.

This disconnection from the mainstream society, especially in this time of internet isolation, needs to be identified and addressed as a mental health issue.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 26 June - 31 July 2019 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/SOUTHEAST ASIA Weekly Piracy Update for 25 - 31 July 2019

Saturday, August 03, 2019

On Midrats 4 August 2019 - Episode 500: The War in Yemen, with Katherine Zimmerman

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 4 August 2019 for "Midrats Episode 500: The War in Yemen, with Katherine Zimmerman
It is a civil war, tribal war, religious war, and proxy war with local, regional, and global implications.

The specific and larger implications of the war in Yemen will be our
topic for the full hour with our guest Katherine Zimmerman.

Katherine Zimmerman is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the research manager for AEI’s Critical Threats Project. As AEI’s senior analyst studying terrorist groups, she focuses on the global al Qaeda network and covers the Salafi-jihadi movement and related trends in the Middle East and Africa. She also specializes in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Yemen, al Shabaab in Somalia, and al Qaeda in the Sahel.

Ms. Zimmerman has testified before Congress about the threats to US national security interests emanating from al Qaeda and its network. She has also briefed members of Congress, their staff, and US military, diplomatic, and intelligence community personnel. Her analyses have been widely published, including in, Foreign Affairs,, The Hill, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. She is a term member with the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the RESOLVE Network Research Advisory Council.
If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Friday Film: "The River"

The Mississippi and its importance to this country - it is our core.

Digitized by AV Geeks.

Update: Yes, film seems to be from the late 1930's when the TVA was brand spanking new.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Saturday Is Old Radio Say - "People Are Funny" (1954): "Could you buy a hamburger?"

Art Linkletter poses the question, but there's a catch - there's always a catch - in the show "People Are Funny"

On Midrats 28 July 2019 - Episode 499: No Summer Break for NATO with Jorge Benitez

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 28 July 2019 for Midrats Episode 499: No Summer Break for NATO with Jorge Benitez
From Baltic air policing, through the Russian border areas, to Afghanistan and curling back to the Strait of Hormuz, NATO alliance
members are being tested not just by external powers, but by domestic politics and the slow churn of history.

Since the end of the Cold War, NATO members continue to grapple with their larger mission - and what alliance members mean and owe to each other.

From purpose to public support, returning to Midrats for a thorough review of NATO near the end of the 2nd decade of the 21st Century will be our guest Dr. Jorge Benitez.

Jorge is Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Marine Command and Staff College in Quantico, Virginia. He is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. He specializes in NATO and transatlantic relations, European politics, and US national security. He previousy served as assistant for Alliance issues to the Director of NATO Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He has also served as a specialist in international security for the Department of State and the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis.

Dr. Benitez received his BA from the University of Florida, his MPP from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and his PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

On Midrats 21 July 2019 - Episode 498: Mid July Free For All

Please join us at 5pm EDT, 21 July 2019 for Midrats Episode 498: Mid July Free For All
Beat the heat by joining us today from 5-6pm Eastern for a mid-July maritime free for all.

We're going to cover the chart from Iran seizing Brit owned tankers, to the future impact of growing naval powers like India & Japan, to the new-new CNO to be, and anything else that seems to be breaking above the natsec ambient noise.

Jump in the chat room with your own question, or you can even call in.
If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Thursday, July 18, 2019

How Outlaw Countries Start Wars: "Iran seizes Emirati oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz"

Alternate headline, "Iran Grabs Foreign Ship, Lies About It As It Seeks to Stir Up Trouble"

Telegraph reports Iran seizes Emirati oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz:
Iran has seized a foreign tanker it says was smuggling fuel in the Gulf. The vessel, which state TV claimed was smuggling fuel to foreign customers, was intercepted south of Iran's Larak Island in the strategic Strait of Hormuz on Sunday and its 12 crew members arrested.

The seized vessel - an oil tanker based in the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait - drifted off into Iranian waters and stopped transmitting its location over two days ago.

US officials have expressed suspicion that the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Riah had been seized in Iranian territorial waters.

Iran said it responded to a distress call from the Riah, based in the UAE, and came to its rescue. But no other nation has reported receiving a distress call from the Riah, which was seen being escorted by Iranian naval vessels after the transponder that automatically reports its location was switched off on Saturday.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Mystery Playhouse - Mr. and Mrs. North in "An Invitation to a Murder" (1946)

What? Your home life doesn't look like that?

Enjoy the show anyway.

On Midrats 14 July 2019 - Episode 497: The Once, Past, and Future Strait of Hormuz & Gulf of Oman with John T. Kuehn

Please join us at 5pm EDT, 14 July 2019 for Midrats Episode 497: The Once, Past, and Future Strait of Hormuz & Gulf of Oman
From limpet mines on tankers, drone shootdowns, and the HMS
Montrose just short of loading grape - the decades long story of Iranian posturing in their near seas continues.

A lot sounds familiar, but the economic and security environment has changed a lot in the four decades.

What is a constant, what has changed, and what should we expect to evolved in one of the most globally important areas of water? To discuss these topics with us our guest will be Dr. John T. Kuehn.

Dr. Kuehn is the General William Stofft Chair for Historical Research at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He retired from the U.S. Navy 2004 at the rank of commander after 23 years of service as a naval flight officer in EP-3s and ES-3s. He authored Agents of Innovation (2008) and co-authored Eyewitness Pacific Theater (2008) with D.M. Giangreco, as well as numerous articles and editorials and was awarded a Moncado Prize from the Society for Military History in 2011.
If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Iran's mullahs get even more desperate and are trying to provoke a war to save their regime

Iran apparently has abandoned any concerns about plausible deniability in their efforts to provoke a war that the mullahs seem to believe will unite the Iranian people against the Western powers and save their regime which the western sanctions are threatening.So desperate they pull this sort of bush league stunt, Iranian IRGC boats tried, failed to seize British oil tanker in Persian Gulf, senior US defense official says
Five Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gunboats tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday but backed off after a British warship approached, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News.

The British warship was said to have been less than 5 miles behind the tanker but soon intercepted the Iranian boats and threatened to open fire. A manned U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was above as well, the official said, adding that Iranian forces left without opening fire.

Navy Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said the military was aware of the reported actions. He added, “Threats to international freedom of navigation require an international solution. The world economy depends on the free flow of commerce, and it is incumbent on all nations to protect and preserve this lynchpin of global prosperity.”
Keep the sanctions, avoid the war, but respond to any deadly attacks with precision fire.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Friday Film: "Containerization Today" (1960s)

First use of containers in ocean shipping was in 1956 - 63 years ago.

It's hard to believe what a difference their use has made in transportation. Some background here.

Container ships keep growing in size, adding to the economies of scale of this manner of transporting goods - see World’s largest boxship featuring 24 rows across is delivered. See also here.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Messages from China - One Clear and One Odd

First the clear signal We Don't Like Your FONOPS and Exercises in the South China Sea so we'll show off our anti-ship ballistic missile and demonstrate we lied when we said we wouldn't militarize those islands we made in the SCS.
China's military conducted a flight test of an anti-ship ballistic missile in the contentious South China Sea last weekend in violation of a pledge four years ago by President Xi Jinping not to militarize the waterway.
China also may have conducted the provocative missile test in reaction to the recent U.S.-Japan naval exercises in the South China Sea.
Well, of course. It's a warning shot across the bow.

The odd message? China Raises Security Warning on Ships Plying Malacca Strait
China raised the security level for its vessels heading through the
Strait of Malacca, a key Asian trade route and major oil choke point.

The transport ministry advised Chinese-flagged ships to take heightened security steps and increased its security warning to level three, according to a copy of a July 2 notice posted on a website affiliated with the ministry.

Three is the highest security level in Chinese shipping regulations, and one above a warning issued after recent attacks on tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, according to people familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified discussing government notifications. The ministry wasn’t immediately able to comment.
Things have been pretty calm piracy-wise in the Strait of Malacca in recent years, so this is a head shaker.

Lloyds List Maritime Intel headline says China raises attack threat in Malacca Straits to highest level:
Shipping companies are asked by authorities in Beijing to increase the security level on ships transiting the Straits of Malacca, one of the world’s busiest waterways. Cosco Shipping’s tanker unit has warned its staff about possible attacks from some Indonesian gangs.
But suppose you are China and you decide that the chokepoints through which your vital oil supplies flow are potentially threatened by forces that may attempt to enforce an embargo on - say - Iranian crude oil. After all, 78% of your oil passes through chokepoints.

Given that possibility, and looking to the U.S. Carter Doctrine for a historic parallel, might you decide to gin up a "threat" which would -um - require you to provide armed escort vessels for your tankers heading to and through such chokepoints? What better threat than "Indonesian gangs?"

In short, is this a Chinese setup to intrude in the state waters of Indonesia and Malaysia with warships as a preemptive move against such an embargo and to set the precedent that China can and will do what it wants to protect its "vital national interests" in such chokepoints?

By sending escort ships to protect its tankers China would take another one of those minor steps that seems innocuous but which has major ramifications. They don't even have to be PLAN ships, but could be Chinese Coast Guard ships to begin with.


Monday, July 01, 2019

Happy Birthday, Thomas Sowell!

As AEI put yesterday, Happy 89th birthday (June 30) to Thomas Sowell, one of the greatest living economists providing some great examples of his clear thinking:
Diversity. “If there is any place in the Guinness Book of World Records for words repeated the most often, over the most years, without one speck of evidence, “diversity” should be a prime candidate. Is diversity our strength? Or anybody’s strength, anywhere in the world? Does Japan’s homogeneous population cause the Japanese to suffer? Have the Balkans been blessed by their heterogeneity — or does the very word “Balkanization” remind us of centuries of strife, bloodshed and unspeakable atrocities, extending into our own times? Has Europe become a safer place after importing vast numbers of people from the Middle East, with cultures hostile to the fundamental values of Western civilization?

“When in Rome do as the Romans do” was once a common saying. Today, after generations in the West have been indoctrinated with the rhetoric of multiculturalism, the borders of Western nations on both sides of the Atlantic have been thrown open to people who think it is their prerogative to come as refugees and tell the Romans what to do — and to assault those who don’t knuckle under to foreign religious standards.

It has not been our diversity, but our ability to overcome the problems inherent in diversity, and to act together as Americans, that has been our strength.” (emphasis added)
More from other sources:
"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong."

“The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics."

“Unfortunately, the real minimum wage is always zero, regardless of the laws, and that is the wage that many workers receive in the wake of the creation or escalation of a government-mandated minimum wage, because they lose their jobs or fail to find jobs when they enter the labor force. Making it illegal to pay less than a given amount does not make a worker’s productivity worth that amount—and, if it is not, that worker is unlikely to be employed.”

“Socialism is a wonderful idea. It is only as a reality that it has been disastrous. Among people of every race, color, and creed, all around the world, socialism has led to hunger in countries that used to have surplus food to export.... Nevertheless, for many of those who deal primarily in ideas, socialism remains an attractive idea -- in fact, seductive. Its every failure is explained away as due to the inadequacies of particular leaders. ”
And my favorite:
“Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 22 May - 26 June 2019 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/SOUTHEAST ASIA Weekly Piracy Update for 20 - 26 June 2019

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: "Strange As It Seems" Double Feature "The Mysterious River" and "The Man Who Had Green Hair"

Strange and unusual tales from John Hix:
Strange as It Seems was distinguished for its adherence to Hix's standard that every published fact be verified by a minimum of three sources. In Hix's words, Strange as It Seems is a library of
“the curious, in nature and humankind, set adrift on the vast sea of public opinion with the hope that it will fulfill its mission to entertain and acquaint its viewers with some of the marvels of the world in which we live."

Mysterious River:

The Man Who Had Green Hair: