French Election Round One

An open discussion page for the French Election Round One.

Looks like about 2 PM ET or about 11 AM PT for the first exit poll results (on Sunday). After 8 PM Paris time poll closings.

The top 4 candidates include 2 who are quasi-anti-EU. This could encourage a Frexit movement. Then there are two others, including the one given the best chance of winning round 2 ( IFF he survives round one…) who is pro-EU.

The 4 of them are at 20% +/- a point or two, and only the top two proceed (per what I’ve read), so anything could happen.

Marine Le Pen impresses me as a French Female Trump in policies.

It is possible that both the Euro and the EU hang on this election. Or nothing could change much.

https://secure.marketwatch.com/story/when-are-the-french-election-results-out-on-sunday-2017-04-20

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch

All eyes are on France this week

Investors are nervously counting down to the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday, which has raised worries it may rattle the foundations of the European Union.

Polls are still nail-bitingly tight, so the election result is far from as clear-cut as it has looked in previous years.

The first exit polls from French media are published when the last polling stations close at 8 p.m. Paris time , or 2 p.m. Eastern Time, and should give a fairly accurate picture of which two candidates have won the most support. Those two will compete in a runoff vote on Sunday, May 7 and the winner will become France’s next president.

French law prohibits local media from publishing exit polls before 8 p.m., but indications may leak out earlier Sunday if foreign media carry out their own surveys. The final result usually becomes clear around midnight (6 p.m. Eastern).
[…]
The race is effectively down to four candidates, each currently polling at around 20% support. Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen are the favorites to win the first round and meet in the runoff vote in May.

However, after a late-campaign surge in support for scandal-ridden conservative candidate François Fillon and far-left euroskeptic Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the election is still seen as an open contest.

Read: How to dazzle voters on the campaign trail? Upstart French candidate turns to holograms

“Investors (and French voters) are getting worried about a ‘nightmare’ scenario in which Le Pen faces Mélenchon on 7 May, leaving them with a hard choice between two anti-globalization, anti-EU and pro-Russia candidates,”
Citigroup said.

Nightmare, or dreams of Liberté?

For me, those results are tomorrow just before noon. For others, there may be lots of interesting bits “break” while I’m sleeping. So I’m putting up this fairly lite posting as a place to discuss it “while it happens” even if I’m not awake yet or paying attention.

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LatAm, Canal 26, Argentina Protests, Venezuelan Mess

I first started watching events in Argentina about a week ago. I’d discovered a channel on the Roku named “LATAM” that has a selection of Latin American news. Along with Telemundo and Brazil, it has a Venezuelan news channel and “Canal 26” from Argentina. That night, on the Argentine news, was coverage of a wage strike to be held for one day, the next day, by teachers wanting a wage hike.

Today, the Reuters channel on the Roku covered news of more wage protests and strikes in Argentina. Well, at the point where it is reaching Reuters, I suppose it is of more general interest.

Tuning in today to Canal 26, they covered the wage protests some, but then went on to more “happy talk” programs (near as I could tell it was about the actors in a romance show, but I couldn’t tell if it was a movie or TV series). The Venezuelan channel covered it a bit too, but only obliquely. Nicaraguan TV was showing a local baseball game (no team I’d ever heard of and attendance was very low, lots of empty bleachers, but the play was good…)

Now the reason I find this experience compelling is simple: You learn things NOT reported. Things like: Nicaragua doesn’t give a tinkers damn about the goings on in Venezuela and Argentina. Even Argentine news seems to see it as more of “the usual and expected” than some great crisis. Venezuelan news has that formal not-quite-stilted manner of all Communist News shows. Things carefully manicured to The Narrative.

For those who don’t know, Maduro, the present President of Venezuela, tried to do a “Me & The People!” show of popular support. It didn’t work out well:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-idUSKBN17D2F3

Wed Apr 12, 2017 | 10:27 AM EDT
Venezuela’s Maduro jeered by crowd as unrest grows

Venezuelans jeer President Maduro as unrest grows

By Maria Ramirez and Alexandra Ulmer | SAN FELIX, Venezuela/CARACAS

Angry Venezuelans threw objects at President Nicolas Maduro during a rally on Tuesday, as protests mount against the unpopular leftist leader amid a brutal economic crisis and what critics say is his lurch into dictatorship.

State television footage showed a crowd mobbing the vehicle that Maduro was standing on as he waved goodbye at the end of a military event in San Felix, in the south-eastern state of Bolivar. Amid the commotion, people threw objects at Maduro, who was wearing a traditional Venezuelan suit and a yellow-blue-red presidential sash, while his bodyguards scrambled.

The state broadcaster then halted transmission.

In a separate video shared on social media, voices yelling “Damn you!” were heard as the vehicle apparently transporting Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, tried to make its way through the crowd.

Note the State broadcaster cutting transmission and yet “Social Media” gets out anyway and has the reality…

This wasn’t the first time:

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/04/world/americas/venezuelan-president-is-chased-by-angry-protesters.html

Venezuelan President Is Chased by Angry Protesters

By NICHOLAS CASEYSEPT. 3, 2016

So at least 1/2 a year…

Now the protests are so large, counted in the tens of thousands officially, so likely even larger, and completely taking over whole freeways / avenues, that it can’t be ignored. So what did the Venezuelan news show?

They actually showed the marchers and the completely full major roads, with a ‘crawler’ that I’m pretty sure said something like “protesters moving freely” in the city, as though it were being allowed instead of tolerated due to inability to stop it. That itself is interesting news…

Meanwhile Maduro was on (some other USA news channel) saying how he was sure that this was all just a USA / CIA driven attempt to subvert his government and stop the revolution (or some such… hey, it was mix of him speaking Spanish and the translation being ‘free’ over the top of it and my so-so hearing has trouble unscrambling the two language at the same time…) I suppose the fact that the people of Venezuela are starving has nothing at all to do with their protests asking for a job and / or food… /sarc;

Oh, and Venezuela nationalized the GM factory there. They have not assembled any cars there since 2015 due to the political environment and government making a mess of the economy, so nobody can buy one, but hey, the Government can run it now. Of course, figuring out how to make cars with no inventory of parts will be an interesting exercise. That, and no electricity to run it, and no money for wages, and no food for the workers, and… But I’m sure The Government will realize all that in “due time”…

The bit that interested me, though, was the indirect things you can pick up from the Local News. For one, the image was much lower resolution than the Nicaraguan feed that was nice high def image. Now if Nicaragua and Argentine can managed much better equipment and bandwidth being not-so-hot economies themselves, Venezuela must be way far into the toilet. Also the Venezuela feed would run for about 2 minutes, then go to “downloading, please wait” for an indefinite period. I began to just exit and relaunch it as that restart was quicker. They are having “issues” with connectivity, IMHO.

Then the announcer was clearly well fed, and NOT going to risk anything. Perfunctorily reading news with that flat “I Know NOTHING!” presentation of a guy who could read “The USA has been bombed and subjugated by The People’s Venezuelan Victory Force. Long live Maduro.” without a hint of surprise, doubt, or incredulity, and about as much emotion as reading “Coffee futures were flat today”…

All manicured and equally dead.

Meanwhile, the Nicaraguans were clearly having a great time (at least the ones calling the game… one guy tried to bunt and popped up, flied out. The excitement by the announcer even got me interested and I didn’t even know who was playing whom…).

The Argentine news was interesting. The announcer of the news clearly was not happy about the need to have protests for wages. That vague undertone to the voice that says “I know folks who have been hurting, but all I can do is report the news”. The folks doing the “happy talk” show having a great time getting excited about the diversions that were available (and celebrity is often about that.) One unexpected bit is that I could hear a slight Italian influence / accent in the Argentine Spanish. A large number of Italians emigrated to Argentina when the Irish were headed to the USA (and after; even up to W.W.II era) and it seems to have left an imprint on the local dialect. Not much, just a bit more song and less trilled R and clipped consonants. I’m thinking I’m going to watch them a lot more and try to adopt that accent as I like it more ;-) It’s a more European sound (but NOT Castilian Spanish with the lisp…)

Basically, just the manner of the presentation and the “set dressing” and how much at liberty the various “talent” is to create their “show” comes through. You get a very real feel for the people, and that gives context to The Story.

For those wishing a bit of background on Argentine wage issues, but without the Spanish immersion:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/06/argentina-strike-labor-unions-austerity-wages-inflation

This is from Reuters via The Guardian. I’d rather quote the Reuters article directly, but it loves to toss the R. Pi into the “mobile” version and I can’t get it to stop… so the link ends up not being exactly the one I’m quoting, or you get a ‘mobile’ link on a non-mobile device… Bolding mine.

Reuters in Buenos Aires

Thursday 6 April 2017 10.27 EDT

Police and protesters clash as worker strike paralyzes Argentina

Truck and bus drivers, teachers, government customs agents and others march on Buenos Aires as labor unions demand higher wages in line with inflation

Protesters in Argentina have clashed with police during marches over government austerity measures as labor unions challenged the president, Mauricio Macri, in the first general strike since he took office 16 months ago.

Security forces used high-powered water cannon and teargas to control picketers who had blocked the Pan-American Highway, the main road leading from the north to capital city Buenos Aires, where normally bustling streets were half-empty and businesses were closed.

“No customs officials are here, so there will be no exports or imports today,” said Guillermo Wade, manager of the maritime chamber at Argentina’s main grain hub of Rosario. The country is the world’s top exporter of soymeal livestock feed and the third-largest supplier of soybeans.

Macri, a proponent of free markets, took office in December 2015. He eliminated currency and trade controls and cut government spending, including gas subsidies, a move that sparked steep increases in home heating bills.

Protesters are also clamoring for wage increases in line with inflation, which was clocked at 40% last year and is expected at about 20% in 2017.

“The situation is dramatic,” Julio Piumato, a spokesman for the labor umbrella group CGT, said in a telephone interview.

“Wealth is being concentrated in the hands of a few at the same rate that poverty is growing,” he said. “Urgent measures are needed to create employment. One out of every three Argentinians is poor.”

A poll last month showed that for the first time since Macri took office, more Argentinians disapprove than approve of his performance.

He was elected after more than a decade of populist rule left Argentina with rampant inflation, dwindling central bank reserves and a wide fiscal deficit.

As they have an economy that was run into the ditch by “populist rule”, a sudden application of “austerity” and realizing that you not only must live within your means, but make up for prior high use of the National Credit Card, comes as a shock to those who want to have everything without necessarily producing enough profit to pay for it.

While I’m no fan of inflation, it is THE most common way to repudiate the past debts while still nominally paying them off and not being in official default. It’s the huge spending in excess of income that’s the root cause, but that is years in the past so largely forgotten by those feeling present pain.

Sadly, I’m pretty sure this scenario is what’s in store for the EU and the USA given current debt patterns. (Though who gets there first is still a bit up in the air). That, IMHO, is just why it matters to look at and watch Argentina.

When your economy is growing at 1% / year, and you have wage increases of 3% / year, that excess accumulates as a problem. Then, when it must be rebalanced, either you accept that you do NOT get any raise for years or by necessity the monetary officials will do the same thing via inflation. Often the excesses were more like 10% wage hikes and 20% benefits promises with a stagnant or shrinking economy. After a few years, you are 50% to 100% “in the hole” and it takes a couple of years of 40% inflation to re-balance. But economies don’t function well at inflation over about 5%, and are seriously broken in hyperinflation ranges like 40%+, so things just spiral down the sewer in real terms while the nominal economy comes to balance.

Then you get marches, changing the political guard, replacement of currencies, etc. etc. IF you are lucky, you avoid a ‘revolution’. If not, you end up with a destroyed country and economy (wether by economic ruin or by war often depending on which neighbors can be attacked or what DemiGod rises to power and how psychopathic he / she might be…)

What is very clear is that for the present, nobody with any real money is going to be investing it in either Argentina or Venezuela. One is in economic free fall and headed for hyperinflation and the other one is… well, the same only more so with revolution against the revolutionary in the air.

But hey, there’s a good ball game on in Nicaragua… Even if “not many” could afford to buy a ticket…

Oh, wait:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014%E2%80%9315_Nicaraguan_protests

The 2014–16 Nicaraguan protests are a series of protests against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and actions performed by his government. The protests initiated when construction began on the Nicaraguan Canal, with several hundred protesters blocking roads and clashing with police during the groundbreaking of the canal. Since then, tens of thousands of Nicaraguans protested against President Ortega due to the canal and what they call a corrupt electoral system.

Oh Dear…

Maybe I’ll just go start the BBQ instead…

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Earth Day – The Green Faux Religion Pagan Knockoff Day

Welcome to Earth Day!

The Green Religion “knock off” of a pagan earth and life celebration “holiday”.

Given as the original Pagan rites were more appropriate to an actual appreciation of life and the earth that nurtures it, I would suggest a celebration more along those lines.

Activities such as:

A long “drive in the country” to appreciate the beauty and wealth of nature.

A barbecue or similar fire based feasting. Preferably involving grilled meat and good grog. (Hey, it’s the Pagan thing to do! Pig ribs and other ‘game’ bones found in abundance, often charred, at Pagan ritual sites… “ritual” also know as “Party at The Chief’s Place!! BYOB – Bring Your Own Boar…”

Since bonfires to light up the night are now likely to get you arrested in most urban or suburban areas (unless, of course, you are having a nice riot at Berkeley to protest folks who think) it is preferred now to run your home lighting and exterior lighting “full on” to drive away the dismal darkness… and the dismal dark souls…

That’s the short list, I’m sure folks can think of more ways to celebrate this Earth!

Had I time and ambition enough, and more friends to help, I’d have put a pig in the ground at Midnight for a slow roast Hawaiian Luau Pig… But as the spouse and I can barely get through one ham in a month or two, that’s a bit much. I suspect either a 1/2 ham, or maybe some lamb chops. I still have a bit of manzanita wood ( h/t P.G.) to use in the BBQ!

So enjoy this real pagan traditional approach to Earth Day. Celebrate the unending bounty of resources it supplies with a good old hoe down / bbq / party on / what floats your boat!

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Unlimiting Growth

Running Out!!!!

It is shouted by the modern day Chicken Littles of the world as though it were a sin to have breakfast since no chicken will ever lay another egg. Yet it begs the question:

Running out! of what? Exactly?

The claim is extended to a variety of resources. Everything from metals to ores to minerals and even food and water. Yet we don’t really care about things like hematite, we care about the iron we can extract from it. Or even more often, the things we can make from that iron and even more than that, the services we can perform with those objects made of iron.

Do I care about the hematite, the iron, or the knife?

The truth is that for most of us, we think about the set of kitchen knives and not very much at all about the iron in them.

So it isn’t a shortage of iron, so much as a shortage of kitchen knives that would cause us some grief.

When our old knives wear out, do they “go away”? And just where is “away”?

No, they stay right here on earth. They might be resharpened (perhaps after a visit to the Goodwill Store) or they might be recycled into a new set of knives (or even a new car). Even if we throw them away, over a much longer time period that iron will rust and return to the natural soils or the oceans and eventually become ore again. Geological processes have not stopped just because we exist. They are slower than our recycling processes, but they do still work.

So first off, we need to realize that what we are really caring about is various devices and services, not any particular element or material. Even then, the elements never “go away”.

For that reason alone, the Running Out! Scare is a broken concept. Simply because what is a resource changes over time. The devices we want, the materials we make them from, they are in constant flux. 3000 years ago, knives were bronze and copper was the important resource. Then the Iron Age came along when we started making them from Iron (copper having gotten a bit expensive). Eventually stainless steel. Now my kitchen knife set is made of a Zirconia ceramic. Does that mean Zircon is now Running Out!!!? Or does it just mean we can make knives from all sorts of metals and ceramics, as we feel like it, based on price and performance? The stone age did not end for lack of stones. Nor the Iron Age for lack of iron. Nor will the Space Age end for lack of space.

The simple fact is that “what is a resource?” depends only on our creativity in making things. Since creativity is unlimited, resources are also unlimited. We find ever better ways to extract various atoms from the earth around us, and ever more interesting things to make with them, at ever lower real costs. That is technological progress and it applies to raw material resources as well as to end products.

The Limits To Growth – Meadows et. al.

This book was written back in the ’70s. When it had currency, I studied it. Literally. There was an Economics class at my university that was entirely devoted to the study of that book and the various critiques of it.

The general motif of the book is a Computer Scare Story. They take the then-known economical to produce quantities of resources and did a linear projection of their extraction. Against this they plotted an expected exponential growth of demand from an expected exponential growth of population. At the point where these crossed, they screamed DISASTER!!! DOOM IN OUR TIME!!! but via a computer program running the math, so as to make it look all scientific.

There are a great many problems with that approach. A brief list is in the top page that collects links to the various “Not Running Out” postings: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/nro/. Their basic faults being failure to notice that growth is S shaped, not exponential, and that what is a resource changes over time with technical change and price. Compounded by a complete failure to understand that resource economics defines the present resource as what is economical at the price now and not at higher prices or with new extraction methods. Raise price a little, you get a lot more “reserves” to mine or pump as more dilute sources become economical to produce.

Since what is a resource changes over time, to focus, as they did, on specific resources in isolation is fundamentally flawed. Using only then-known resources is also a broken idea. Clearly demonstrated by natural gas. As I recall it, they predicted (or “projected” if you prefer their Politically Correct distinction without a difference) that we would run out of natural gas in the 1980s. Well, 30 years later we are awash in natural gas and the prices are depressed.

But despite all that, many folks have bought the Running Out! Scare story hook line and sinker. Just expect it. People love to be scared. They love to have a Mission. They love to be part of a cause, especially one that is to “save the planet”. They really love being in the role of hero. When you inform them it is a silly waste of time since we are NOT running out, they don’t take kindly to it. Expect that, and ignore their protests. They are delusional and seduced by the need to be a messiah and important somehow.

So what’s the real state of things?

Open Your Eyes and Look Around

Really. Just do it. What do you see? Books? Book cases and furniture. Appliances, TV sets, rugs, windows, cups and dishes, pots and pans, maybe cars and trains, skyscrapers and airplanes, houses and streets. THOSE are the things we want, not lumps of iron or cubic feet of gas. We can make them in very many ways and from very many other things.

Now look a bit deeper. Of what parts are these things made?

Nails, screws, bolts and nuts, wood, fabric, surface sheets & finishes, paint, beams, panels and foundations, wires, semiconductor chips, glass moldings, buttons and knobs.

But what are THOSE made of?

A much shorter list of basic materials. Often called “raw materials” for the most primitive sources and “processed materials” for the more refined and fabricated ones. Mostly that consists of a variety of rocks (sand, gravel, rock, aggregate, muds & clays), plants (wood, fibers for paper and cloth, food), metals (iron, copper, zinc, tin, cobalt, calcium, aluminum…) and non-metallic elements (oxygen, nitrogen, sulpher, carbon, chlorine, argon, boron, …) for the base materials. Some fabricated ones are things like glass, ceramics, plastics. While some natural complex materials are things like oil, bones & hides.

We then use those things to fabricate all the other things we want in life. Sometimes with making special materials along the way, like “petro” chemicals and artificial fertilizers, cement / concrete and semiconductor materials. We also use farming to produce foods and animal products from little more than dirt and work.

From those materials we build up the rest of our economy.

When you focus on the basic raw materials, rather then the intermediate products (man made or natural) and look at how they map to the desired end products and services, it becomes much more clear why “Running Out!” is just silly.

Take the toilet as an example. We can make them from ceramics and plastics (most in our modern society today are those kinds). So mud to make the ceramics (or bones for fine ‘bone china’…) and any carbon source to make the plastics. Yet I’ve also seen them made from stone, metal, and even wood. So are toilets critically dependent on the supply of ceramic mud? Nope. It is like that for almost everything in our society. There are a few odd bits at any one time in technical history that are dependent on some particular element or raw material, but we then invent new methods and new designs that don’t need that material when (and if) it becomes an issue. Rubber is an interesting story.

Sidebar on Plastics and “Petro” Chemicals:

Many of the Chicken Littles get excited about “saving the oil for plastics”. Why can only be explained by ignorance. Originally the organic chemical industry was based on coal. Eastman Chemical still uses it last I looked. During the ’60s, oil became VERY cheap, so we used it as ‘feed stock’ to make a variety of chemicals. The term “petrochemical” was born to signify it was made from petroleum. Yet nothing prevents making those same chemicals (like plastics) from any OTHER carbon source.

In fact, the first step of the process is typically to turn your carbon source (coal, oil, natural gas, garbage, poultry byproducts have all been used commercially) into something called “Synthesis Gas”. A mix of Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen. Using that standard gas, you can make all the “petro” chemicals you want. There is zero need to “save the petroleum for petrochemicals” and in fact after the Arab Oil Embargo of the 1970s, the USA industry substantially converted to using natural gas.

Sidebar on Rubber:

Tanks and trucks and airplanes and such use a LOT of rubber. At the start of World War II it was all made from the sap of the rubber tree. This became a big problem when Japan captured the plantations that were the source of most of the rubber in the world. Can’t fight a war without it, and Japan had it. So we set about trying to fix that. Ford had set up a plantation in South America some years earlier, but it was not a rousing success.

The eventual solution was found in isoprene and neoprene artificial rubbers. Now nobody talks about a shortage of rubber anymore. We can make it anytime we want. We still use some natural rubber in the mix in most rubber items as it has some qualities that make it better in some uses, and since doing the work to make a complete replacement is just not worth it. Yet.

History is just chock full of stories like rubber. Where one material was suddenly critical, so folks set about finding ways to replace it, and did. There are now whole categories of materials where we can make as much of it as we want at any given price, so they are effectively unlimited. Plastics and rubbers are two of them. Glasses and ceramics are another. Some sands and muds work better than others, but the supply is functionally unlimited. Cement and concrete are another group (including the newest member of that group, the geopolymers) as are native rocks. Most of the periodic chart of the elements is metals, so the earth is mostly metals. Extracting any particular metal at the lowest possible price takes some care, but absolute supply of metals is functionally unlimited. Similarly, extracting oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide (and through it carbon if desired), and argon from the air are unlimited compared to demand. Pure water and salts from the sea are also made if needed. With just those things we could build an entire technological society, if needed.

What is the earth made of?

Well, it has a lot of water on the top in the oceans. We can now turn that salty water into fresh water at acceptable prices, so “water shortage” is really just a question of how much money you want to spend. The bottom of the oceans are littered with everything from calcium carbonates (useful for cement) and clays, to ‘manganese nodules’ that also contain a lot of copper and other metals. Several hundred pounds per person and far more than I could use in my share.

The next layer is a variety of rock types. These give us all manner of metals and non-metal resources. The geological process of the planet are still working (though geology is slow) and is still sorting more magma into things like gold, silver, zinc, copper, and more. The various rocks can be used to make all manner of ceramics and glasses too. Some parts of the planet are soaked in oil and some have vast fields of carbon as coal. That carbon is in addition to truly gigantic fields of various carbonate rocks.

Above all that is a layer of air. Mostly nitrogen and oxygen (both harvested for various uses as liquid air) and a smaller amount of argon and other noble gases (also harvested via air liquefaction).

Most of the middle of the planet is an iron / mixed metals core. For that reason volcanic magma is often very iron rich. We have more iron than we could ever even imagine using.

Literally, the entire planet is a big ball of resource.

In space, there is much more stuff available, if desired or needed. The entire solar system is a resource. But it would be better if we went there, since there isn’t enough room to bring Titan here. ;-)

Making Things From Stuff

All the various fields of Engineering are devoted to the job of taking those piles of stuff and using them to make the things we desire at the lowest cost and with the best things. We’ve been at this job for thousands of years and now our Engineering skills are really quite remarkable.

So what we do is to take those basic materials, and from them make the things we want. That processing from materials to products takes “know how” (that we now call technology) and energy. That know how is often embodied in various tools and machines, but sometimes is still done by hand. A rock on the ground is a useful tool as it sits. It can be a hammer stone, an anvil, a corn grinding implement, even a seat (to sit on while a smaller stone is the weight on your fishing line); depending on size, shape, kind of rock, and any shaping we have done to it.

Our earliest technologies were about ways to use rocks, plants and animal products as raw materials, or “resources”, to make things. You can build a pretty good life using just those materials. As animals and plants reproduce, we need never “run out” of them. The entire land surface of the planet is made of rocks and their erosion products, so not going to run out of those either. For generations folks made comfortable homes using rocks, plants, and animals. We can still do that today, though we now often add some more modern bits like windows and electric wiring. Yet a typical suburban home is made of sticks (wood frame), rocks (usually processed a bit to make cement / concrete), and ‘finishes’ that are substantially like the old plant and animal based ones, even if made from oil or natural gas. (Rugs, paints, curtains).

Early on in history we learned how to farm animals and plants instead of just hunting and gathering them, so as to increase supply and reduce the cost (or work) to get them. We now apply even more know how and make machines to do a lot of the farming for us.

So from the beginning of history, people have been using resources and finding ways to make the supply bigger and the costs lower.

That trend continues to today.

Today we no longer worry about where to get more hides to make shoes and coats. Each person is so well fed that the real question is what to do with all the hides from so many farmed animals. I have one sheep skin rug that I’ve used for about 35 years. During that time I’ve eaten far more than one sheep as dinner.

There is no shortage of hides, bones, leather and other animal resources and materials. In fact, each year huge quantities of those things are made into fertilizer and plant foods. We simply could not use that many leather coats, sets of bone china, or similar products.

Farming has advanced to the point where we now plough under loads of stems, leaves, and more. We only eat the flower of the broccoli plant, for example, despite the leaves being edible too, and we don’t care at all about eating the stems for fiber in the diet (Yes, I’ve tried them!)

That story can be repeated for most crops. From corn (maize) stalks to rice hulls, the problem is not a shortage of plant fibers, but how best to be rid of them. (Folks have made ‘pressed board’ out of stems and grasses and built houses from it, they have turned it into fuels, and much more).

There is no shortage of plants, plant fibers, and plant products. The advance of technology has increased the supply faster than the demand can use it all up, and land needed to produce has dropped, not risen. We now feed a huge chunk of our corn production to automobiles instead of to people and animals and we still have too much.

There is no shortage of the land on which to grow it either. We can now make arable land as desired and even grow plants without any land at all, using methods like hydroponics and aeroponics. There will be more on that in another chapter.

On Rocks

When it comes to rocks, our use of rocks as rocks has become fairly small. We no longer spend days searching for a nice big chunk of obsidian to make a good blade, scraper or arrow head. We can make various ceramics and glasses as desired, using rocks turned into feedstock to ceramic and glass factories and chemically or physically rearranged. There are mountains of clay and sand to use for various ceramics and concretes too, and nature is constantly making more via erosion processes.

The example of the stone knife vs a modern ceramic knife may seem a bit trite, but it really is a profound example of technical advance creating resources. In the stone age, we find tribes with good obsidian deposits trading chunks with other tribes, and those pieces found great distances away from their source. It was a precious and rare resource. Now glass is ubiquitous and we hardly think about it. Working obsidian into a fine blade took hours of highly skilled craft work. Now in my kitchen is a set of “ceramic knives” that are the same basic product as the old stone knives of obsidian. But we make them cheaply with little labor and the edges are finer and stronger with overall superior quality. We do this by creating the rock we want, in the shape we want it. Creating the material and the product in one operation.

Instead of one hard to make obsidian knife, I have a superior set of a half dozen knives. (Plus 2 peelers!)

Similarly, we no longer build water viaducts by stacking up natural rocks, mile after Roman mile. Instead, we cook limestone and then use that to make a kind of liquid rock, concrete, that is used to make concrete pipes. These kinds of manufacture pipes are used all over to carry water to cities and carry waste away.

We learned to mix sand, gravel, and burned limestone to make concrete. There is so much sand, gravel and limestone it literally covers the planet. We could not possibly use it all.

Yet there is another point here. Cement and concrete do not leave the planet. There is no such place as “away” and it can not go there. Old concrete can be simply ground up and reused to make new concrete, so we will never run out of the materials needed to make that liquid stone, or the products made from it. Even if some cement eventually erodes to atoms and washed out to sea, the oceans turn it back into new limestone.

We have a perpetual supply of limestone, cement, sand, gravel and other stones as the natural processes that creates them continue to act. The present quantity is so overwhelmingly large we could never use it all.

There is no shortage of stones, rocks, sands, gravels, marble, limestone, etc. etc. And thus no shortage of the products made from them. Among those products are the major roads, freeways, bridges, buildings, infrastructure of pipes and even power poles and dams for fresh water year round. The Civil Engineer is abbreviated C.E. and sometimes in jest called the Cement Engineer as so much civil engineering work is based on cement and concrete structures. We use so much of it precisely because it is so ubiquitous in supply and low in cost.

A Tiny Bit Of Chemistry

The elements of the universe consist of a few groups. One divide is into metals and non-metals. Some elements where those two meet are semi-metals and are used to make semiconductors.

Think on that for a moment. Rocks are made of a mix of metals and non-metals. How can you ever run out of metals if you can’t run out of rocks and they are made of metals and non-metals mixed? Especially when the metals you extract can not “go away”. The same reasoning applies to non-metals.

We do spend a good amount of time looking at the rocks all over the globe. Finding the rocks richest in the particular metals and non-metals that we want, available at the lowest costs to produce. Geologists do a lot of that. That does not mean those rich low cost rocks are the only source of supply, just the best and cheapest. For now… And our present technology level…

As an example, let’s look at feldspars.

Feldspars (KAlSi3O8 – NaAlSi3O8 – CaAl2Si2O8) are a group of rock-forming tectosilicate minerals that make up about 40% of the Earth’s continental crust.

So it has K Potassium used in plant fertilizers, Al Aluminum useful to build things and as a replacement for copper in electrical wires. Ca Calcium used in making cements and for nutrition too. There is also a lot of O Oxygen and Si Silicon. So much we don’t really need it. But that’s basically what you use to make glass and various abrasives. Some do have Na Sodium in them, but that’s everywhere. Still, it is useful for making lye and soaps and in a variety of chemical processes.

So just in that one most common rock, we can make everything from rock buildings to glasses and ceramics, and extract metals for everything from fertilizers to electrical wiring and much more. Even build pickup trucks, motors, and bikes out of it, along with pots and pans. We do look for other rocks as our preferred source of Aluminum and Potassium, but that is for our convenience and lower price, not because it is impossible to use this more common rock.

Production and uses

About 20 million tonnes of feldspar were produced in 2010, mostly by three countries: Italy (4.7 Mt), Turkey (4.5 Mt), and China (2 Mt).

Feldspar is a common raw material used in glassmaking, ceramics, and to some extent as a filler and extender in paint, plastics, and rubber. In glassmaking, alumina from feldspar improves product hardness, durability, and resistance to chemical corrosion. In ceramics, the alkalis in feldspar (calcium oxide, potassium oxide, and sodium oxide) act as a flux, lowering the melting temperature of a mixture. Fluxes melt at an early stage in the firing process, forming a glassy matrix that bonds the other components of the system together. In the US, about 66% of feldspar is consumed in glassmaking, including glass containers and glass fiber. Ceramics (including electrical insulators, sanitaryware, pottery, tableware, and tile) and other uses, such as fillers, accounted for the remainder.

Hmmm… From fiberglass insulation to glasses and ceramics, pottery and tiles and even a variety of chemicals. All from THE most common rock on the planet. Tell me again how we can “run out”?

Metals

Now this matters more than one might think. Aside from just how much cement and concrete is used in the modern world, the simple fact is that the supply of metals comes from rocks, as does the supply of other materials. That the supply of rocks is not limiting means those other materials are also not limiting. We use the easiest to use kinds of rocks first, but we could use the most common rocks to yield metals if we needed to do so.

So underlying all the metals, like iron, aluminum, cobalt, lithium, copper, etc. etc. – you find some particular kind of rock (or a dirt or a salt deposit) that is the easiest from which to extract the metal. We could get the metal from other kinds of rocks, but at a higher cost or a somewhat more complicated process. We may do that someday, but don’t need to do it just yet.

Now again, we have to ask: Where is ‘away’?

All those metals ever mined (aside from a trivial bit shot out of earth orbit) are still here. It does not “go away”. It may become dilute enough that we find it cheaper to extract it from native rock instead of scavenging the dump, but it IS still here should we need to go there.

If we used up all the richest easiest ores of silver laying on the surface, do we “run out” of silver?

Well, no. We’ve already used up the “native silver” where pure silver was found free on the surface. We’ve also used up the richest surface ores. Each time we found ways to extract silver from even more dilute ore, and so a lot more silver became a ‘resource’ and available to us. We’ve done this several times, so we know what happens. We recycle the exiting silver. We dig deeper and develop better ways to use more dilute deposits. We develop better ways to know where to dig. As of now, most sliver production comes as a byproduct of copper refining, so it doesn’t even take a mine and silver ore.

Why search the land, drill holes, move hillsides, haul silver ores, just to get more of something you get for “free” from refining copper?

If, for some reason, we suddenly needed a lot more silver, we could go looking and mining. But until then, we really need zero new silver mines. That is a very important point.

Resource Economics Is Important

The economics of resources says the supply depends on the price. It is just wrong to say “There is THIS much silver” to mine without saying at what price. As price rises, more expensive to work deposits pay to work, so you suddenly get more resource. It really does work that way.

Raise the price a little, you get a lot more supply of resource. This basic fact makes it stupid to talk of “running out” of known supply. As supply gets scarce, the price rises, and more supply becomes worth finding and producing. In some cases, the prior mine tailings have become the current mine ore due to price rises and technical advances.

We stop looking for more supply when we have found enough and the price is too low to justify looking for more. We look, and find more, when prices rise enough to pay for it.

Similarly, a bit higher price pays for new extraction methods. Mining and ore enrichment technology has regularly produced new supply out of rocks that were ‘useless’ before. Each more dilute source contains exponentially larger quantities of the desired metal than the prior more concentrated ore, simply because there are vastly more rocks with a little of something in it than there are rocks with a lot of that metal in them.

To claim “running out” is to claim “no new inventions, ever”.

Energy As Key Resource

Plants, animals, rocks, ores, metals, non-metals, ceramics, glasses, masonry, cement and concrete, water, salts and fertilizers. All essentially unlimited.

What is the last, ultimate, resource sort not on that list? Energy sources.

All those changes, refining, reforming, extraction, transportation processes and more all need an energy source to operate. It is fairly trite but true that with technology and enough energy you can make anything else you need. So are we running out of energy?

Much noise is made about running out of oil or having an ‘energy shortage’. It is basically non-sense. The only shortages that happen are man-made and often artificially so to raise prices. This inevitably fails in the long run as higher prices lead to more supply, but in the short run it can gain $Millions.

We already have, in hand, technologies to provide all the energy needed for the global economy for all foreseeable time and at acceptable prices. Millions of years worth of energy, at least. At prices not significantly different from today. There are several forms and sources for this energy, but I will mention just one here. Ocean uranium.

How was this done? Well, some very clever Japanese researchers found a way to make a plastic mat that adsorbs Uranium from sea water. The cost is about double the cost of that from mines on land, so we don’t use it at present, but the cost is still so low it would not change electricity prices if we were to use this method. It is well inside the range to run the economy at a profit. There is more U in the oceans than we can use and more erodes in every year from the mountains of the world.

There is no energy shortage, there can not be one, and there never will be one. We just use cheaper more convenient land sources at present. (Yes, there can be local temporary shortages due to stupidity, government mistakes, and lack of will to use the available Uranium. But that is a shortage of intelligence, not of energy.)

But what about Oil? Isn’t it limited, running out, and needed to make plastics and fertilizers and chemicals? Well, no. Some decades back we learned how to make oil if needed. Germany ran their W.W.II war machine on synthetic oil made from coal.

More importantly, what we use is not crude oil. We use fuels, lubricants, plastics, organic chemicals. All those products can be made from other carbon sources. We have made them all from other sources in the past, and many are made from natural gas today. Using nuclear process heat, we can continue using gasoline, motor oil, Diesel fuel, and plastics forever.

Even garbage can be used as the feedstock to make fuels and “petro” chemicals. At least one company has done it. There is no risk we will run out of garbage.

The source I find most interesting is the farm. We can, and do, grow plastic feed stocks. “Bio-plastics” are relatively common now. Rayon and your kitchen “viscous” sponge are two early plastics made from plants. Cellulose makes cellophane, rayon, and the “viscous” fluid used to make the sponge. George Washington Carver made plastics from soybeans used in early Ford Automobiles

The founding president of Israel used a bacteria to grow chemicals.

Chaim Azriel Weizmann (Hebrew: חיים עזריאל ויצמן‎‎ Hayyim Azri’el Vaytsman, Russian: Хаим Вейцман Khaim Veytsman; 27 November 1874 – 9 November 1952) D.Sc, Sc.D, LL.D was a Zionist leader and Israeli statesman who served as President of the Zionist Organization and later as the first President of Israel.
[…]
Weizmann lectured in chemistry at the University of Geneva between 1901 and 1903, and later taught at the University of Manchester. He became a British subject in 1910, and while a lecturer in Manchester he became known for discovering how to use bacterial fermentation to produce large quantities of desired substances. He is considered to be the father of industrial fermentation. He used the bacterium Clostridium acetobutylicum (the Weizmann organism) to produce acetone. Acetone was used in the manufacture of cordite explosive propellants critical to the Allied war effort (see Royal Navy Cordite Factory, Holton Heath). Weizmann transferred the rights to the manufacture of acetone to the Commercial Solvents Corporation in exchange for royalties.

See also: Acetone–butanol–ethanol fermentation

All that was before the age of genetically engineered bacteria. Simply put, we can ferment all the industrial organic feed stock we want and the fuels we want. There are some algae that produce up to 1/2 their weight as oil. It is just cheaper to pump and refine fossil oil instead. For now…

Simply put, organic chemicals (those with carbon in them and often called “petro” chemicals) can be made from any carbon source (gas, oil, coal, trees, garbage) by many processes. Typically those things are first turned into synthesis gas to make all the rest, but some of the desired chemicals can just be fermented or grown directly. Similarly, we have several methods to grow, ferment, refine, or synthesize fuels if desired or needed.

There is no shortage of plastics, the ubiquitous chemicals from which so much is made today. We can grow them, and make them from all manner of other things. Similar things can be done to ‘grow fuels’ if desired. We can use nuclear power to generate all the electricity we could need to power all those other chemical processes, and we can use nuclear electricity to directly drive oil pumps (long after the energy needed to lift the oil exceeds the energy in it, we can turn it into motor fuel as the form of the fuel matters) and we can use nuclear process heat to manufacture motor fuels if desired.

Given that nuclear power is unlimited, that means motor fuels are also unlimited. We need only build the factories and pay a modestly higher price for the gasoline and Diesel (or alcohols or…) based fuels.

In Conclusion

Engineering is the art and science of using what you have to make what you want. Engineers look at the prices of different materials, and their properties, then choose the best way to make the desired product at the best price. This means that what is a needed resource changes with the price and desires.

Take a look at power or telephone poles. They can be made from wood, or concrete, or aluminum or steel (and likely a few other things I’ve not seen). We could make them from plastics, garbage, geopolymer (a kind of synthetic cast rock), laminated wood, straw (suitably processed) or even lake mud. We don’t since we have cheaper choices in wood and concrete and aluminum. But it IS a choice.

We have a few thousand year history of technical change in what resource or material is used for which products. We never “run out”, we just change the preferred material. The stone age ended when we learned to make tools from copper.

The copper age ended when we learned to add tin and zink to make bronze and brasses.

The Bronze age ended when a scarcity of copper made it expensive (after what looks like a natural disaster wiped out the shipping culture mining and supplying copper to Europe) so we started making swords and tools from iron.

Today, my kitchen is slowly converting from iron and stainless steel based tools back to a special kind of stone. Customized at the molecular level to make superior ceramic knives and ceramic coated aluminum pans.

We have not run out of rocks, copper, bronze, iron, or ceramics. All those materials are still here on the planet and still used. No rocket has sent them out to space and out of the solar system. We do not run out, we change.

The next chapters will look at specific raw materials and resources in more detail. Folks who wish to poke at any particular resource are best served by going to that chapter first (once written).

Along the way, various products and services will be profiled, but with an eye to showing the variety of materials used, or that could be substituted. In some cases, input-output charts with choices may be shown. (So, for example, [corn, trees, coal, gas, oil] can all become synthesis gas used to make [oil, Diesel, plastic, alcohols…] and more.)

The point being that if any one input becomes dear, we just shift to a cheaper one or invent something new. We have at least 10,000 years of doing this under our belt, so I see no reason to think it stops with us.

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Posted in Earth Sciences, Economics - Trading - and Money, Energy | Tagged , , | 75 Comments

Korea – A Legal Context

Given that the Kim Dum Shrimp in N. Korea is being belligerent against THE most capable military in the world, one that could have had his parade stand go “POOOF!” mid parade with zero notice and undetectable methods, just what would be the legal context for such a thing.

The Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty. Technically we are still at war and under a UN Authorization.

But such things have a rats nest of “in the details”. This one is worse.

So here’s my take on it.

First off, an Armistice is just an agreement between the belligerent ARMIES (read ‘military’) to stop shooting for a while. Kind of a formal long truce or time-out. There’s some fur on this one (details below) that amounts to them coming in 2 flavors. Those with a specified time limit and those without. Those with have an end time where you can start shooting again. Those without mean you can start shooting anytime. This one has a ‘definite time limit’ of ‘forever’, so is an odd duck… sort of implying can never shoot again… but also not forbidding it.

Another bit of murk is “Who is the belligerent?”. Turns out the folks who signed the Armistice are not necessarily the ones who did the fighting, so “who knows” if it binds on anyone in particular…

Then there is the ‘violation out’. If a party violates an armistice the other party can start shooting. One of the agreed points was no new armaments in theatre. Since a whole county full of new armament has been loaded up by BOTH sides, looks to me like either side can declare a breech. In fact, N. Korea has claimed it several times, so all Trump needs to do is agree with them… them bomb the living daylights out of them… (“Hey, they said it was over… don’t blame me…”)

OK, here’s the murk and muck:

History

We’ll start with the wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Armistice_Agreement

The Korean Armistice Agreement is the armistice which serves to insure a complete cessation of hostilities of the Korean War. It was signed by U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Harrison, Jr. representing the United Nations Command (UNC), North Korean General Nam Il representing the Korean People’s Army, and the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army. The armistice was signed on July 27, 1953, and was designed to “insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved.” No “final peaceful settlement” has been achieved. The signed armistice established the Korean Demilitarized Zone (de facto a new border between the two nations), put into force a cease-fire, and finalized repatriation of prisoners of war. The Demilitarized Zone runs not far from the 38th parallel, which separated North and South Korea before the Korean War.

OK, so first off, NONE of the individual NATIONS fighting in Korea, other than North Korea, signed this puppy.

It is binding on a “Chinese Volunteer Army”, not China. It is signed by a US officer, but FOR the “United Nations Command”. OK, so the UN can’t just ignore it, but the USA isn’t bound, near as I can tell.

By mid-December 1950, the United States was discussing terms for an agreement to end the Korean War. The desired agreement would end the fighting, provide assurances against its resumption, and protect the future security of UNC forces. The United States asked there needed to be a military armistice commission of mixed membership that would supervise all agreements. Both sides would need to agree to “cease the introduction into Korea of any reinforcing air, ground or naval units or personnel … and to refrain from increasing the level of war equipment and material existing in Korea.” The U.S. also desired to make a demilitarized zone that would be roughly 20 miles wide. The agreement would address the issue of prisoners of war which the U.S. believed should be exchanged on a one-for-one basis.

Um, I think nuclear bombs and submarine launched nuclear missiles would count as a breech. As would the miles of long range canon N. Korea has put on the border. So, too, IMHO, would all the gear the USA has shipped over. Near as I can recall, sidewinder missiles from jet aircraft and drones and ship launched cruise missiles were not around in 1953.

I think that pretty much all by itself clears the deck for any attack either side wants to launch. But that’s just my opinion (as is all of this, really…)

While talks of a possible armistice agreement were circulating, in late May and early June 1951, the President of the Republic of Korea (ROK, South Korea) Syngman Rhee opposed peace talks. He believed the ROK should continue to expand its army in order to march all the way to the Yalu River and completely unify the nation. The UNC did not endorse Rhee’s position. Even without UNC support, Rhee and the South Korean government launched a massive effort to mobilize the public to resist any halt in the fighting short of the Yalu River. Other ROK officials supported Rhee’s ambitions and the National Assembly of South Korea unanimously passed a resolution endorsing a continued fight for an “independent and unified country.” At the end of June, however, the Assembly decided to support armistice talks, although President Rhee continued to oppose it.

Like Syngman Rhee, North Korean leader Kim Il-sung also sought complete unification. The North Korean side was slow to support armistice talks and only on June 27, 1951 – seventeen days after armistice talks had begun – did it change its slogan of “drive the enemy into the sea” to “drive the enemy to the 38th parallel.” North Korea was pressured to support armistice talks by allies the People’s Republic of China (PRC, China) and the Soviet Union, whose support enabled North Korea to continue fighting.

Hmmm… Looks like South Korea has a free hand, too. I don’t see anything saying the rescinded that resolution, nor that they signed any deal.

There is a bit of an open question for me about what the UNC has in the way of binding agreements on any participants under their flag. Then again, I’m not seeing how the UN has authority over nations in general…

Skipping a bunch of the history of the negotiations in the wiki:

The signed armistice established a “complete cessation of all hostilities in Korea by all armed force”[3] that was to be enforced by the commanders of both sides. Essentially a complete cease-fire was put into force. The armistice is however only a cease-fire between military forces, rather than an agreement between governments. No peace treaty was signed which means that the Korean War has not officially ended.

The armistice also established the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The DMZ was decided to be a 2.5-mile (4.0 km)-wide fortified buffer zone between the two Korean nations. The Demilitarized Zone follows the Kansas Line where the two sides actually confronted each other at the time of the signed armistice. The DMZ is currently the most heavily defended national border in the world.
[…]
In addition to the established regulations listed above, the armistice also gave recommendation to the “governments of the countries concerned on both sides that, within three (3) months after the Armistice Agreement is signed and becomes effective, a political conference of a higher level of both sides be held by representatives appointed respectively to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, etc.” Even in 2013, 60 years after the signing of the armistice agreement, these issues have not been settled as a peaceful settlement of the Korean question has not been reached and American troops still reside in South Korea.

After the armistice was signed the war is considered to have ended even though there was no official peace treaty. Despite the three-year war, the Korean peninsula greatly resembled what it did before the war with national borders at similar locations. The U.S. views the war as a tie while North Korea and China both claim that they won the Korean War.

So we still have an official hot war, and we still have a failure to make a peace. Seems to me like either side starts shooting anything, even missiles out to sea, the other side can fire back as much as they like.

United States abrogation of paragraph 13(d)

Paragraph 13(d) of the Armistice Agreement mandated that neither side introduce new weapons into Korea, other than piece-for-piece replacement of equipment. In September 1956 the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Radford indicated that the U.S. military intention was to introduce atomic weapons into Korea, which was agreed to by the U.S. National Security Council and President Eisenhower.
However paragraph 13(d) prevented the introduction of nuclear weapons and missiles. The U.S. unilaterally abrogated paragraph 13(d), breaking the Armistice Agreement, despite concerns by United Nations allies. At a meeting of the Military Armistice Commission on June 21, 1957, the U.S. informed the North Korean representatives that the United Nations Command no longer considered itself bound by paragraph 13(d) of the armistice. In January 1958 nuclear armed Honest John missiles and 280mm atomic cannons were deployed to South Korea, a year later adding nuclear armed Matador cruise missiles with the range to reach China and the Soviet Union.

The U.S. believed that North Korea had introduced new weapons contrary to 13(d),
but did not make specific allegations. North Korea also believed the U.S. had introduced new weapons earlier, citing Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission inspection team reports for August 1953 to April 1954.

North Korea denounced the abrogation of paragraph 13(d).[37] North Korea responded militarily by digging massive underground fortifications resistant to nuclear attack, and forward deployment of its conventional forces so that the use of nuclear weapons against it would endanger South Korean and U.S. forces as well. In 1963 North Korea asked the Soviet Union and China for help in developing nuclear weapons, but was refused.

Following the abrogation of paragraph 13(d), the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) largely lost its function, and became primarily office based in the DMZ with a small staff.

So both sides have already abrogated the agreement. OK, that puts us back at ‘legally a hot war’ as I read this.

Now the fun bit. The UNC no longer exists. One of THE key signatories is a no-op. So N. Korea has an ‘agreement’ with a non-entity and with a ‘volunteer’ force that has disbanded (and was a questionable legal entity anyway). So who’s left to be an active signatory other than N. Korea?

In 1975, the U.N. General Assembly adopted resolutions endorsing the desirability of replacing the Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty and dissolving the UNC.

In October 1996, the U.N. Security Council, by a statement of the President of the Council, urged that the Armistice Agreement should be fully observed until replaced by a new peace mechanism. Approving nations included the United States and the Peoples Republic of China, two of the armistice’s signatories, effectively refuting any suggestion that the armistice was no longer in force.

So if you agree to scrapping something entirely that constitutes affirmation it is working right? Come again? But then there is also the point that the wiki says the USA and PRC were “signatories” when in fact the UNC through a subordinate US officer and a “Volunteer Army” were signatories, not the USA and PRC per se. I think this is a dodgy bit in the wiki.

But I think it is a moot point anyway, as after that, North Korea announced it was withdrawing anyway.

North Korean announcements to withdraw from the agreement

North Korea has announced that it will no longer abide by the armistice at least 6 times, in the years 1994, 1996, 2003, 2006, 2009, and 2013.

On April 28, 1994, North Korea announced that it would cease participating in the Military Armistice Commission, but would continue contact at Panmunjom through liaison officers and maintain the general conditions of the armistice. North Korea stated it regarded the U.S. deployment of Patriot missiles in South Korea as terminating the armistice.

On May 27, 2009, North Korea announced it no longer felt bound by the armistice agreement. There were two isolated violent incidents in 2010, the ROKS Cheonan sinking (attributed to North Korea, despite denials) and the North Korean Bombardment of Yeonpyeong.

In 2013 North Korea argued the armistice was meant to be a transitional measure. North Korea had made a number of proposals for replacing it with a peace treaty, but the U.S. had not responded in a serious way. It further argued the Military Armistice Commission and Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission had long been effectively dismantled, paralysing the supervisory functions of the armistice. North Korea believes the annual U.S. and South Korean exercises Key Resolve and Foal Eagle are provocative and threaten North Korea with nuclear weapons. JoongAng Ilbo reported the U.S. vessels equipped with nuclear weapons were participating in the exercise, and The Pentagon publicly announced that B-52 bombers flown over South Korea were reaffirming the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” for South Korea.

In March 2013, North Korea announced that it was scrapping all non-aggression pacts with South Korea
, along with other escalations such as closing the border and closing the direct phone line between the two Koreas. North Korea stated it had the right to make a preemptive nuclear attack. A United Nations spokesman stated the armistice agreement had been adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, and could not be unilaterally dissolved by either North Korea or South Korea. On March 28, 2013, the U.S. sent two B-2 Spirit stealth bombers to South Korea to participate in ongoing military exercises in the region, including the dropping of inert munitions on a South Korean bomb range. This was the first B-2 non stop, round-trip mission to Korea from the United States. Following this mission, North Korean state media announced that it was readying rockets to be on standby to attack U.S. targets. In May 2013, North Korea offered to enter into negotiations for a peace treaty to replace the armistice agreement.

In August 2016, North Korea installed anti-personnel mines to prevent potential defectors of its front-line border guards around the “Bridge of No Return,” situated in the Joint Security Area(JSA). The UN Command has protested this move as it violates the Armistice agreement which specifically prohibits armed guards and anti-personnel mines.

The U.S. position, as expressed in 2010, is that a peace treaty can only be negotiated when North Korea “takes irreversible steps toward denuclearization”.

Well, that looks like a UN Weenie trying to claim anything they do is forever, despite everyone else saying “it’s over”. Then, at the bottom, the UN Command says it violates the agreement, that would also mean it is functionally over.

So to me it looks like the whole Armistice thing is a legal red herring. It’s functionally over. It was signed by entities that no longer exist and was not signed by South Korea, China, or the USA as the USA.

All in all, it looks to me like Trump can go ahead and bomb any munitions and sites that are in violation of the armistice (and likely anything else as well) and be on acceptable legal footing.

But what I think doesn’t matter as lawyers have a peculiar way of thinking. So let’s ask the lawyers.

Legal Stuff

Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV or the internet. I known nothing about law other than contract law and what I learned as a Police Wanna Be Scout (so about 100 hours of training in those areas all told I’d guess) so don’t depend on me to say what is actually legal or what the armistice really means (besides, it looks like the Real Lawyers ™ don’t even know…) BUT if you want me to sound intimidating and nag them about a breach of implied contract on their deliverables, well, that I can do ;-) once you sign a contract to make me Project Manager… 9-0

The actual text is here. I’ve done a quick scan of it. To me, it is lacking a lot of the stuff I expect to see in contract. Who’s legal structure is used for interpretation. How disputes are settled. Terms for exit. It’s a nice little “aspirational goal” statement, but I’m not seeing much in the way of enforcement provisions or penalties for violation. Maybe I just don’t know how “international law” works, but it seems pretty weak tea to me.

http://news.findlaw.com/cnn/docs/korea/kwarmagr072753.html

Then there is a look at ending the armistice from a legal point of view and a critique of it here:

http://oldsite.nautilus.org/fora/security/2a_armisticelegal_norton.html

CONTENTS

Abstract
Introduction
I. Legal Interpretations of the Korean War
II. The Armistice Agreement
III. Events Subsequent to the Geneva Conference
IV. Solutions
V. Conclusions
Notes
NAPSNet Invites Your Responses

ABSTRACT

This paper discusses the legal arrangements necessary to terminate the Korean War and to replace the current Armistice Agreement with a lasting peace. To that end, it discusses the numerous legal issues arising out of: (1) the tension between the war as, on the one hand, a civil war between the two Koreas and, on the other, an international war involving the armed forces of some 20 countries; (2) the unprecedented use of the United Nations’ name and flag by one side to the conflict; and (3) China’s insistence that the Chinese armed forces participating in the hostilities were only “volunteers.” The paper concludes that: (1) each of the governments contributing forces to the U.N. side was a belligerent in the war and is now technically a party to the Armistice; (2) although the Security Council and the General Assembly at various times endorsed one side to the conflict, the United Nations itself was not a belligerent and is not a party to the Armistice Agreement; and (3) the PRC, despite its disavowals, was a belligerent and is now a party to the Armistice. The paper recommends that the Armistice be supplanted by an agreement among the two Koreas, the United States, and China, accompanied by a resolution of the U.N. Security Council endorsing the agreements, pursuant to Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, as necessary to the restoration and maintenance of international peace and security in Northeast Asia.

Now there’s just now way I can quote the whole thing here, or even enough to make sense of it. So “hit the link” if you want more than a couple of sample bits.

Here’s the response:

http://oldsite.nautilus.org/fora/security/2b_armisticelegal_disc.html

On March 3, the NAPSNet Policy Forum Online featured a paper by Patrick M. Norton, “Ending The Korean Armistice Agreement: The Legal Issues.” A set of questions based on the work was appended following the conclusion. The following response, drawing on these questions, was submitted by Kim Myong Chol, an ethnic Korean born and living permanently in Japan. Mr. Kim’s studies include graduate work in US foreign policy at Tokyo University. Mr. Kim worked as a reporter and editor at “The People’s Korea” and has written extensively on DPRK perspectives on Korean and international relations. To join this discussion, contact the NAPSNet Coordinator at: […]

Kim Myong Chol responds to these questions:

Is the Korean conflict most properly characterized as an international or a civil war? Norton finds fault in both the former position (the premise of UN involvement) and the latter position (held by the DPRK and PRC). What bearing does this problem have on strategies for pursuing peace on the Korean peninsula today?

Norton argues that the four-party peace talks proposal represents an accurate grouping of the major parties to the conflict “in practice.” Given the formal UN role as a party to the war and the Armistice, ought there be a role for the UN in any negotiations toward a peace treaty? In particular, what role might the UN Command allies such as the UK or Australia play in the UN debates which may occur over a proposal to end the Armistice?

Norton notes that the UN abrogated its own charter to involve itself in Korea, that it had no actual control over combat forces during open hostilities, that the UN had no role in the Geneva conference following the Armistice, and that today the DPRK is now a UN member. Do these considerations obviate any UN role in such negotiations?

Norton notes that during hostilities ROK forces were effectively under US control, and that the ROK (unlike the DPRK) was not a formal party to the Armistice. Yet he also argues that the DPRK’s insistence that negotiations for a peace treaty include the US but not the ROK are “polemical and without legal foundation,” given the ROK’s role since the Armistice. Does the DPRK position have a credible legal basis?

Is a formal peace treaty required to bring peace to the Korean peninsula? Norton notes that a peace treaty customarily follows an armistice, and that many interested parties have expressed such a need. However, he also notes that an armistice may evolve over time into a de facto peace treaty (although this has not happened among the major belligerents in Korea). Might more of a political focus (i.e. toward a “detente” rather than a treaty) ultimately prove more constructive than continued abortive efforts to convene formal negotiations?

How do decisions regarding bringing a formal peace to the Korean peninsula bear on the objective of Korean unification?

The Soviet military fought in the undeclared war, although Moscow denied US allegations at the time. Does this provide the legal or realpolitik basis for Russian participation in negotiations to end the Armistice, given the argument that the ROK obtains such a right by virtue of its military participation in the fighting on the Peninsula?

To me, it all looks like a giant Cluster Fondle of Legal Bits. Near as I can tell, there is no real governing law, no clear agreement between parties, not even a decent definition of who the parties are, and the whole thing has been violated and abrogated all over by all sides. But you can read they too and fro and see what you think. I’m going to quote a few semi-random bits from the first paper (bold added by me):

The issues are more complex than may appear at first glance. From a legal perspective the Korean War and the Armistice Agreement are anomalous in several respects: (1) there was from the outset a fundamental tension between the character of the war as, on the one hand, a civil war between the two Koreas and, on the other, an international armed conflict between the armed forces of some twenty different countries; (2) for the first time the armed forces on one side of an international armed conflict fought under the flag of the United Nations; and (3) one of the principal belligerents, China, insisted that it was not, in fact, a belligerent and that Chinese armed forces engaged in the conflict were only “volunteers.” The passage of many years and inconsistent positions taken by all of the interested parties as it has suited their purposes have compounded the legal uncertainties resulting from these anomalies.
[…]
And on July 7, 1950, the Council adopted its Resolution 84(V), “recommending” that Members provide military forces and assistance “to a unified command under the United States,” requesting the United States to designate the commander of such forces,” and authorizing “the unified command at its discretion to use the United Nations flag in the course of operations against North Korean forces concurrently with the flags of the various nations participating.”

Unless 84(V) was rescinded, looks to me like The USA still has the lead as it feels like it.

The Korean War was the first major armed conflict after the founding of the United Nations and immediately called into question the applicability and effectiveness of the peacekeeping provisions of the U.N. Charter,13 which had superseded in large part the customary international law of war (jus ad bellum).14 The governments contributing to the United Nations Command (“UNC”) expressly invoked the new Charter Law, characterizing their participation in the armed conflict as a “collective action” resisting an “aggression” identified as such by the Security Council.15 By cloaking their operations in the mantle of the United Nations, these governments were able, among other advantages,16 to claim that theirs was a “just war” and, as a consequence, that non-belligerent states were not free to assume the traditional rights and duties of neutrals but were, rather, obligated to “tilt” in favor of the U.N. side.17

For their part, the DPRK, the PRC, and their supporters preferred to characterize the conflict as an internal Korean one. In such a “civil war,” they argued, no foreign forces could properly intervene, and the United Nations had no proper role.18 This position was one of the reasons that the PRC chose to cloak its intervention in the guise of “volunteers.”

Neither side’s legal position, however, stood up to scrutiny.
The recommendatory, rather than mandatory character of the Security Council resolutions authorizing a “unified command,” adoption of these resolutions in the fortuitous absence of a Permanent Member (the Soviet Union) that was known to oppose them, failure of the UNC structure to follow the procedures specified in Chapter VII of the Charter for United Nations “enforcement actions,” and lack of any explicit Charter basis for the General Assembly’s Uniting for Peace resolutions caused most observers to conclude that the action in Korea was not an action “of the United Nations” but, at most, an action “sanctioned by the United Nations,” or “under the auspices of the United Nations.”19 By the same token, the contention of the Communist side to the Korean hostilities that this was a “civil” conflict in which the U.N. side was impermissibly intervening was untenable, at least after the PRC’s intervention.20

So even the legal basis of the war, and if it be a war between two parties or a “Civil War” is ill defined. If a “Civil War” and South Korea invites our help… Just sayin’…

1. The United Nations Side

Security Council Resolution 84(V) of July 7, 1950, authorized a “unified command under the United States.” The United States interpreted this authorization as constituting the United States itself, in its sovereign capacity, as the “Unified Command.”24 Fifteen nations other than the United States contributed forces to serve under the Unified Command.25 The United States then created, as an entity theoretically separate from and subordinate to the Unified Command, the “United Nations Command,” which it described as an “international field force” conducting the actual hostilities.26 The military contingents from other participants were placed directly under the UNC,27 and the ROK placed its troops under the operational command of the UNC.28

Throughout the conflict, the United States and its allies emphasized the U.N. character of their actions.
Secretary of State Acheson described the Korean operations as being “under the aegis of the United Nations and … not a question of the whole series of nations acting independently to the same result.”29 The U.N. Commander generally characterized his forces as “United Nations forces,” and various of the contributing states made clear that their offers of assistance were to the United Nations.30 One leading legal commentator has concluded that: “There can be no doubt that, in practice, the overwhelming majority of states involved in the Korean action were fully prepared to regard it as a United Nations action involving United Nations Forces.”31

Many actions of the United Nations can also be cited to support the view that the United Nations itself regarded the forces under the UNC as “United Nations forces.” At least three General Assembly resolutions (Nos. 376(V), 483(V), and 498(V)) referred to them as such. And Security Council Resolution 84(V) specifically authorized the “unified command” to fly the U.N. flag.

So the UN via the UNC is a party to the Armistice, but the USA is not, other than any duty to the UN. Since the UNC no longer exists, it would be up to the USA, provided the resolutions were not rescinded, to reconstitute it if needed to restart things… I think… maybe…

Then yet more “what a mess” for S. Korea and the other side:

2. The Role of South Korea

The insistence of the U.N. participants on fighting under at least the auspices of the United Nations also called into question the position of the ROK. The obvious victim of the aggression that started the war and the bearer of the brunt of the casualties on the U.N. side,38 the ROK had been recognized by the U.N. General Assembly prior to the war as the legitimate government in the part of Korea that it controlled.39 Nevertheless, because ROK armed forces were placed directly under the UNC, effectively placing U.S. officers in command of South Korean troops, the political position of the ROK in the conflict was obscured. This was compounded when the Armistice Agreement was signed for all participants on the U. N. side by the U.N. Commander, i.e., a U.S. general, and the ROK, in contrast to the DPRK, did not itself sign the Armistice.

3. The Communist Parties to the Korean War

The status of the Communist forces was subject to other uncertainties. The DPRK was not recognized as a de jure government of an independent state. In order that it could be regarded as a responsible party for applying the laws of war and as a potential party to the Armistice, it was necessary that the DPRK be accorded some form of legal status or “personality.” The U.N. side therefore implicitly recognized the DPRK as a “belligerent” (a sort of de facto recognition for purposes of the law of war), although the articulations of even this position were somewhat ambiguous.40

More problematic was the PRC’s characterization of its millions of troops as “volunteers.” The PRC so characterized its participation in the conflict for several reasons: to preserve the Communist characterization of the war as a “civil war”; to preserve its position that the PRC did not intervene in the internal affairs of other states; and, most importantly, to ensure that its participation in armed hostilities was confined to Korea.

The General Assembly specifically rejected the PRC’s characterization of its role when it found in Resolution 498(V) that the PRC was itself an “aggressor” in Korea.41 The PRC, too, repeatedly contradicted its own position, for example when it appeared at the United Nations to defend Chinese intervention on the grounds of self-defense,42 or when it made demands by diplomatic note that third parties observe neutral duties.43 For present purposes, the important consideration is that China’s solicitude for its ostensible neutrality and the unwillingness of the other belligerents to confront China on the issue led to the Commander of the “Chinese People’s Volunteers” signing the Armistice.

Then this bit seems to say just violating it does not make it go away, but is unclear as to what “belligerents” it binds. South Korea? China? USA? Or just the signatories of UNC and N. Korea?

It further states that the “conditions and terms [of the Armistice] are intended to be purely military in character and to pertain solely to the belligerents in Korea.” Paragraph 60 of the Agreement provided that “the military commanders of both sides hereby recommend to the governments of the countries concerned on both sides that … a political conference of a higher level of both sides be held….” Paragraph 62 provided that the Armistice “shall remain in effect until expressly superseded . . . by provision in an appropriate agreement for a peaceful settlement at a political level between both sides.”44

I think you can make a case that it is binding on the UN and North Korea and nobody else. At least long enough to bomb the snot out of someone and then say “Ooops. My bad.”

It looks to me like this is the bit that lays out the thorns most directly:

C. THE PARTIES TO THE KOREAN ARMISTICE AGREEMENT

The Korean Armistice Agreement is signed by military commanders and is stated to be “purely military in character” (Preamble). Nevertheless, international law has consistently regarded general armistices as of such political significance that they can only be concluded on behalf of the sovereignty of the state.57 As a consequence, although almost invariably signed by military commanders, as in the Korean case, general armistices are universally recognized as binding states.58 Which states are bound is less clear. The Armistice is studiously ambiguous in this regard, referring to “the governments of the countries concerned” (para. 60), a “political conference of both sides” (id.), and a “peaceful settlement at a political level between both sides” (para. 62).

The relationship of the DPRK to the Korean Armistice Agreement conforms to the traditional rules of international law most clearly. Although signed by Kim Il Sung in his capacity as military commander, the Agreement clearly binds the DPRK as such.59

The statuses of the “United Nations Command” and the “Chinese People’s Volunteers” are more problematic.
By all objective criteria, the PRC itself was a belligerent in the hostilities. This belligerent status, the rule of customary international law that the parties to general armistices are states and not military authorities, and the PRC’s participation in the 1954 Geneva Conference argue persuasively for considering the PRC itself as a party to the Korean Armistice Agreement. The PRC, moreover, implicitly conceded the point in a series of diplomatic notes invoking rights under the Armistice, which were sent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the British Embassy in Beijing to “the Governments of the other countries on the United Nations Command side.”60 Nevertheless, China’s insistence during the hostilities that it was not a belligerent, and the acquiescence of most of the U.N. side, at one time or another, in that position, gives rise to some ambiguity on this issue.

Throughout the hostilities, the United States and other participants in the UNC maintained that it was the United Nations itself that was engaged in the hostilities. This and the fact that the Armistice Agreement is signed by the “Commander-in- Chief, United Nations Command” have sometimes caused observers to conclude that the United Nations is a party to the Agreement.61 Conversely, the DPRK has long argued that the U.N. Commander was a U.S. general, that it was, therefore, the United States alone that adhered to the Agreement
, and that none of the other participants in the UNC, including the ROK, can properly participate in negotiations to supersede the Armistice Agreement.62

The evidence, however, supports neither position.
Paragraph 60 of the Armistice specifically suggests that “the governments of the countries concerned on both sides” hold a “political conference of a higher level of both sides … to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, etc.” It thus clearly contemplates that the governments of individual participants, rather than the United Nations, are the real parties in interest here.

It goes on for a few more paragraphs from there. Read it and scratch your head. Copious Scotch, Gin, or Vodka advised.

IMHO, it is such a legal mess that the USA can do whatever it wants and let the thing go to the lawyers for about 40 years. None of the people in power will be alive then so none will care what is finally decided.

Which, IMHO again, puts this all squarely as a Political and P.R. issue.

But at least we know what the legal types think…

Epilogue

To Bomb, or Not To Bomb, that is the question…

Personally, were I POTUS, I’d wait for a missile test launch, then completely flatten the launch site, ALL the nuclear facilities including fab and labs, and any forces within 50 miles of the DMZ that have the capability to shoot over it. Oh, and send a MOAB or related to The Little Kim and all his palaces, bunkers and parade stands.

After that, ask if “Anyone else want to negotiate?”…

Then invoke the peace negotiations part of the Armistice and “Get ‘er done”.

The cost of the post event legal budget would be far far less than the cost of housing an army or two in Korea.

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Posted in Political Current Events | Tagged , , | 93 Comments

Grab Bag – Tax Day 2017

Well, technically Tax Day for US Income Tax is next Tuesday the 18th in most States due to the weekend and holiday, but formally it is April 15th. Today has also been adopted by some folks for various of their “movements”, so I’m just going to call it today and be done.

This is going to be a somewhat eclectic mix of miscellaneous things I’ve stumbled on, but where none of them rise to the level of a posting all on their own. Don’t expect much order, pattern, or meaning…

First up, an interesting “speculative” film about Antarctica and the history of it. From secret military operations to the potential for all sorts of nefarious stuff. What makes it interesting is the use of period print media and film. How much of it is accurate portrayal of that media? Who knows… For example, the ice free area inland can easily be due to all the moisture being wrung from the air by dramatic low temperatures, and the 70 F ground temperature just a brief moment at high noon on a windless day mid-summer. Yet there it is. 44 minutes of history mixed with God Only Knows What.

Then we get to “Educated People Behaving Strangely” next…

Spiral Dynamics

Don’t remember the context in which I ran into this. It’s a “somewhat bent” economic/social/psychological/historical theory called “Spiral Dynamics”. Another one of those folks over infatuated with their brain fart thinking they have solved the world. I mostly mention it just as something to be aware of (in a ‘know to spot and avoid’ kind of way…) There will be a lot of folks who believe this and may be pushing it without being Captain Obvious about it.

First off, a web search turns up all sorts of stuff. It has that flavor of a cult in the making with lots of seminars and folks pushing it, for a small fee… At the core is a fairly simplistic model of the world, but with lots of flash (substance and proofs not so much…) First up, the Dear Leader:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Edward_Beck

Don Edward Beck is a teacher, geopolitical advisor, and theorist focusing on applications of large scale psychology, including social psychology, evolutionary psychology, organizational psychology and their effect on human sociocultural systems. He is the co-author of the “Spiral Dynamics” theory, an evolutionary human development model. He spent many years adapting the work of his mentor and colleague, developmental psychologist Clare W. Graves, Professor Emeritus in Psychology at Union College in New York.

Yeah, Applied Psychology, but not to actual brains or people, to organizations and societies and all that touchy feely stuff with evolutionary and revolutionary and spirals and global stuff and “Hey, don’t Bogart it, man!…” context… Oh, and don’t forget “Futurist”… can’t be a “seer and shaper” without Futuristismic stuff… and death bed recording of the Great Wisdom…

Don Beck and Christopher Cowan in particular have ensured that Graves’ work will not go forgotten. They diligently documented his work, thus recording his knowledge. In 1974, Beck read “Futurist” and was impressed. He was a professor at Northern Texas University and flew to New York to meet Graves. After two days of dialogues, it was clear to Beck that he wanted to spend at least 10 years recording Graves’ knowledge, as the latter’s health was deteriorating. Beck first met Graves in 1975 and worked with him closely until his death in 1986. Graves had published his theory of human development in 1974, a “bio-psycho-social systems” framework of value systems as applied to human sociocultural evolution which posits that the psychology of the mature human being transitions from a current level of cultural existence based on current life conditions to a more complex level in response to (or to cope with) changes in existential reality. Graves’s model demonstrates the dual nature of human social emergence with state changes between communal/collective value systems (sacrifice self) and individualistic (express self) value systems.

So got that? Yeah, psychobabble mixed with progressivebabble mixed with sociobabble… They break the world up into 8 levels (with no credit to Dante for the fundamental structure…) and label them with color names you get crap talk like “moving from orange to red into {insert babble words} distant from green {more babble}”. When anyone talks in code, it needs to raise giant flags… If you can’t make it standard English (or French or German or…) then either it, or the speaker, are a crock of very limited skill. Languages are fungible. ALL languages. Length of text may change, but that’s about it.

According to the 1974 Futurist biography of Graves, he began decades of experimentation and research in 1952. In the The Futurist article, Graves classified a total of eight levels of increasingly complex human value systems consisting of a hierarchically ordered, always-open-to-change set of identifiable world views, preferences, and purposes. Through these value systems, groups and cultures structure their societies and individuals integrate within them. Each distinct set of values is developed as a response to solving the problems of the previous system. Changes between states may occur incrementally (first order change) or in a sudden breakthrough (second order change).

The original 1974 publication, “Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap” (The Futurist, pp. 72–87) defined the overall theory and the value systems within it. Each system may express a healthy or unhealthy manifestation of its values, as defined by Graves:

The First Tier systems were grouped by nature of their narrow perspective as “subsistence levels” (para. 4), each aligns with a specific world view that rejects the prior systems and seeks to preserve its own status quo. The differences between communal/collective and individualistic value systems, and the inability of First Tier systems to recognize the strengths or pathologies of other world views, helps to explain social conflict in the world today (para. 7).

According to Graves, the move to Second Tier thinking requires a “leap” in perspective. At Second Tier – the first ‘being level’, society recognizes a responsibility for facilitating the health of each value system on First Tier. The goal is not expediting emergence but the result is, when healthy, each First Tier system will naturally progress toward Second Tier.

From Graves’ work, Beck and his colleague, Cristopher Cowan, developed the theory further and presented a structured evolutionary model of adaptive intelligence called Spiral Dynamics. Beck and Cowan first published their construct in Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change (Exploring the New Science of Memetics) (1996). Spiral Dynamics theory spawned much discussion and (sometimes tangential) integration of concepts by other theorists, such as Ken Wilber.

So as to avoid a hoard of defenders rushing in, I’m leaving the next link broken, but you can reassemble it if desired:

At fee(dot)org /articles/spiral-dynamics-an-overview/ it also has a large obnoxious pop up…

Our civilizations change over time. But what about our psychologies? According to one theory of human development, despite our individual natures, we are malleable enough to become more complex people within more complex societies. And libertarians can lead the way.

F. A. Hayek understood societies to be self-organizing network processes, or “spontaneous orders.” Spontaneous orders are complex, adaptive, non-linear systems that demonstrate emergent properties. They evolve, transform, and become more complex—all without anyone purposefully organizing them.

Jean Piaget developed a similar theory of child development. That is, because human brains are also complex networks, children develop psychologically through identifiable stages that form increasingly complex psychological levels. Piaget stopped at childhood, however.

In the 1950s, Clare Graves extended Piaget’s psychology through adulthood. Don Beck and Christopher Cowan developed Graves’s model further in Spiral Dynamics. Graves argued that humans evolve new psychological stages in response to changing life conditions. When a society contains a critical number of people at a given stage, the society itself transforms, creating the social conditions for yet another stage of psychological development.

Because the brain is a constantly active, constantly changing self-organizing network, we should expect to see such a transformation process happening over time. And because society is a network of communicating brains, we can also expect to see social transformation as an emergent phenomenon—reflecting these psychological stages.

Two tiers comprise the stages of social-psychological orientation, or expression of self. Each stage is represented by a color. Let’s walk through these to see what we can find.

Tier One: Subsistence and Order

Beige – Archaic-instinctive (Origin: c. 100,000 BC)

We share our earliest expression of self with our Paleolithic ancestors. This stage is a self-centered, survivalist mode we can all experience if our survival is threatened.

Purple – Animistic-tribal (Origin: c. 50,000 BC)

At this stage, the social-psychological orientation is sacrificed to the ways of elders and customs to become subsumed under the group. This is the level traditional cultures tend to express. At this more collectivist stage, life centers on friends and family bonds. Animism—the idea of animating spirits—can crop up in this stage, too, as tribes project the presence of friends, family, and ancestors beyond the grave.

Red – Egocentric-dominionist (Origin: c. 7,000 BC)

Following the tribe, an egocentric stage emerged. Expression of self is impulsive, based on what the self desires—free of guilt and without shame. This is more or less the mentality of street gangs, Vikings, and so on. If you have read The Iliad or The Odyssey (or have a teenager), this stage may be familiar. Humans in this stage celebrate heroic acts by certain individuals. Projections of power are revered. Heroic figures tend to lead empires.

Blue – Authoritarian-mythic (Origin: c. 3,000 BC)

The authoritarian-mythic expression of the self comes from personal sacrifice and obedience to rightful authority for the sake of some purpose. Embodied by fundamentalist religions, out of empire arises a larger-scale communitarian life held together somewhat by an authoritarian superstructure. Medieval Catholicism and the modern Islamic world are exemplars of this form. What matters at this stage is to believe in the “right things”—that is, an organizing purpose often guarded by brutal authorities, but rooted in myth.

Orange – Multiplistic-scientific/strategic (Origin: c. 1,000 AD)

At this stage one sets out strategically to reach one’s objectives without rousing the ire of others. Expressed in the Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, from this expression of self emerges a more socially minded, but decidedly individualistic, psychology. The Age of Reason and modern capitalism are orange-stage phenomena. Indeed, this social-psychological stage is what most people associate with classical liberalism. (When overlapping with the more religious authorities of the previous level, we get American-style conservatism.)

Green – Relativistic-egalitarian (Origin: 1850 on, surging early 20th century)

At the green level, one is expected to sacrifice self-interest in order to gain acceptance, group inclusion, and social harmony. 1960s relativism and egalitarianism emerge at this stage. Socialism is typical of this stage, but so too are existentialism and postmodernism. The attempt to reconcile socialism with markets created the modern welfare state. (Note: While most libertarians would like to think classical liberalism is the highest or most sophisticated psychological stage, what emerges next is a kind of balancing—one beyond atomistic individualism or authoritarian collectivism.)

Tier Two – Being and Order

Spiral Dynamics involves a second tier of social-psychological expression. In this tier, the stages gradually move away from a focus on the subsistence-level concerns of tier one (how do I live and organize?), and toward being-level concerns (who am I and how do I relate?). There is no research to support two tiers, but such can serve as a guide.

Indeed, though there is not unanimous agreement on this point, most see the following stages—yellow and turquoise—as more complex versions of orange and green. The open-ended theory suggests that any new levels are currently underdeveloped and will solidify as a greater portion of society evolves toward those new stages and begins to express them.

Yellow – Systemic-integrative (Origin: 1950s)

At the yellow stage, expression of self is not so much about what the self desires, but about avoiding harm to others so that all life benefits. Something interesting happens here: A more individualistic self understands its place within a complex, dynamic, evolutionary world. People should be understood as responsible and free, but that freedom must be reconciled and integrated within wider systems of selves. (Hayek was probably an integrationist of this stage.)

Turquoise – Holistic (Origin: 1970s)

The final stage we can identify is an integrative stage that combines an organism’s necessary self-interest with the interests of the communities and subsystems in which it participates. The theory is still forming, but the turquoise tend to understand the world as fully integrated, with the individual contributing to the social as the social contributes to the individual in a kind of seamless whole.

More Libertarian, Not Less

Spiral Dynamics suggests continued social evolution can involve more and more libertarian thinking. While the more authoritarian levels seem to violate this general trend, libertarian-style thinking tends to scale—that is, it integrates more and more people.

With each stage of development, our sense of solidarity with others grows outward: from “fellow believers” to “trading partners” to “everyone on earth.” Now, with the kind of complex-systems thinking involved in tier two, we start to understand part–whole relationships, that is, how and why everyone fits together (or can fit together). Our connection and integration occur through highly individual interactions that are likely to be accelerated and deepened by commerce and connective technology.

Interestingly, while the first six levels reject other psychological stages as competitors, the yellow and turquoise are inclusive of all levels. Moreover, since tier two selves see society as a self-organizing process, they are much more likely to embrace a pro-market, anti-coercive, pluralistic worldview. In short, libertarians are more likely than ever to evoke tier two thinking and use tier two messages.

So, freedom evolves in nature—both psychologically and socially. With Spiral Dynamics, we can see why.

To say “Um, no.” doesn’t quite cover my objections. But I’m just not willing to sink hours into listing them all. Just start with the idea that history evolved linearly from 100,000 B.C. to present, then season with the All Knowing pronouncements about the nature of things prior to any actual history or records… then encoding it all into a bizarre rainbow of odd colors; shake and pour… (Tickets sold nightly…)

European Nuclear Power Issue… UK too?

Since the UK gets make-up power from France, and the rest of the EU depends on them for stability of their crazy quilt of unreliables (solar, wind, …) this ought to matter to all:

https://nuclear-news.net/2016/11/02/global-nuclear-market-affected-by-frances-safety-problems-many-french-reactors-offline/

Yes, aging in my ’round 2 it’ pile for about 4 months now…

Global nuclear market affected by France’s safety problems: many French reactors offline

France’s Nuclear Storm: Many Power Plants Down Due to Quality Concerns, Power, 11/01/2016 | Lee Buchsbaum The discovery of widespread carbon segregation problems in critical nuclear plant components has crippled the French power industry—20 of the country’s 58 reactors are currently offline and under heavy scrutiny. France’s nuclear safety chairman said more anomalies “will likely be found,” as the extent of the contagion is still being uncovered.With over half of France’s 58 reactors possibly affected by “carbon segregation,” the nation’s nuclear watchdog, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) has ordered that preventative measures be taken immediately to ensure public safety. As this story goes into production in late October, ASN has confirmed that 20 reactors are currently offline and potentially more will shut down in coming weeks.

The massive outages are draining power from all over Europe. Worse, new questions continue to swirl about both the safety and integrity of Électricité de France SA’s (EDF’s) nuclear fleet, as well as the quality of some French- and Japanese-made components that EDF is using in various high-profile nuclear projects around the world……….

Questionable Materials and Documentation

At the heart of France’s nuclear crisis are two problems. One concerns the carbon content of critical steel parts, steam heat exchangers, and other components manufactured or supplied by AREVA SA, the French state-owned nuclear engineering firm and global producer of nuclear reactors. The second problem concerns forged, falsified, or incomplete quality control reports about the critical components themselves.

Excessive levels of carbon in the steel parts could make them more brittle and subject to sudden fracture or tearing under sustained high pressure, which is obviously unacceptable. Initially discovered at the troubled 1.65-GW Flamanville 3 project (Figure 1) in 2014—one of the first in the vaunted European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) nuclear plant series that EDF also plans to use at the newly approved Hinkley Point C plant in England—more flaws have since been discovered throughout the existing nuclear fleet.
[…]
Though there have been questions raised since anomalies were discovered at Flamanville in 2014, during the past six months—and accelerating this fall—almost weekly revelations have resulted in plant shutdowns, extended outages, reduced generation, and lots of questions. Following parliamentary hearings on October 25, resulting in a wider probe and likely more plant shutdowns, on October 27, ASN confirmed with POWER that the scope of the problem appears to be expanding.

According to an ASN press relation’s officer, who requested anonymity in line with ASN rules, there are now a significant number of reactors offline, with more to be inspected in the next few weeks. “We are now finding carbon segregation problems from components coming from both Le Creusot and [the Kitakyushu-based Japan Casting & Forging Corp.] JCFC plant. As for now, there [are] 20 EDF reactors offline,” the official said, noting that the number will fluctuate as inspections take place………

On October 25, Reuters reported that EDF and ASN had delayed the restart of Civaux 2, Dampiere 3, and Gravelines 2 NPPs. In addition, it said there had been more irregularities detected at Gravelines 5.

Though the problem has worsened in recent weeks, upon receiving EDF’s early preliminary safety assessments in June, ASN immediately deemed that 12 NPPs were at risk and ordered that those plants be operated under strict precautionary conditions. Unsatisfied, in October ASN ordered EDF to shut down all of the 12 affected NPPs until tests could be completed and, potentially, components fixed or replaced. According to ASN, because these components are essential for safety, “the quality of their design, manufacture, and in-service monitoring is therefore extremely important.”

The analyses performed by EDF thus far have found that since 2015 certain channel heads of the steam generators manufactured by Le Creusot and JCFC “contain a significant carbon concentration zone which could lead to lower than expected mechanical properties,”
according to an ASN report. These steam generators equip 18 reactors in the 900-MW and 1,450-MW plant designs. Of these reactors, 12 are equipped with high-carbon channel heads. According to The Japan Times, the JCFC is now also under scrutiny by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority as each of the JCFC supplied plants have become part of the probe and may eventually prove to be the most affected.

Effects Felt Worldwide……. state-owned EDF has built and maintained reactors throughout the world. Today, it is involved in major projects in China, Finland, Belgium, and the UK. Though no evidence has yet surfaced publicly, its not illogical to think that because the common sources of these components, and thus the common sources for their problems—Le Creusot and JCFC—have supplied or are supplying parts to facilities worldwide, the carbon segregation problems could well spread beyond France.

For NPPs now under construction by EDF, either Le Creusot or JCFC forged some of the casings almost a decade ago; it would be very costly and time-consuming to replace them. Pierre-Franck Chevet (Figure 3), head of the ASN, said that a similar AREVA forging technique had been used for five other EPRs planned or being built. Two of these are in Taishan, China, and two are set for Hinkley Point C. Components have also been manufactured for one planned EPR at Calvert Cliffs, Maryland.

Going further, ASN has also indicated that in the nuclear components supply chain, three examples of Counterfeit, Fraudulent and Substandard Items (CFSIs) surfaced in 2015. No word yet if more CFSIs have been found since, or who was responsible. But with inspectors now fanning out across the French nuclear fleet, it’s likely that there will be more revelations to come…

Sure hope that whole solar and wind thing works out for y’all in Europe and Japan, ’cause the “one size fits all” nuclear design and build seems to be showing the “one problem for all” downside… But hey, the guys who approved it all reached a “consensus” so it must be OK…

Yeah, I ought to get a current status, but all things big, iron, and nuclear are slow, so I don’t expect it to have changed much in a couple of months…

VPN and Security – from The Beeb no less!

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33548728

How to set up your own Raspberry Pi powered VPN
By Kate Russell BBC Click presenter

16 July 2015
From the section Technology

Eyes are everywhere online.

The websites you visit often track where you came from and watch where you head off to next.

A VPN – or virtual private network – helps you browse the internet more anonymously by routing your traffic through a server that is not your point of origin.

It is a bit like switching cars to shake off someone who is tailing you.

There are plenty of companies offering services with varying degrees of security and varying degrees of cost, but if you are willing to roll your sleeves up and get technical with some basic coding and a £30 Raspberry Pi computer, you can build your own VPN server at home.

It won’t give you the option of appearing to be from somewhere else but you can use it to connect external devices like a smartphone to browse the internet more securely through your home network, and access shared files and media on your home computer.

Make no mistake, this is not a quick and easy process.

They then go through how to turn a Raspberry Pi into your own personal VPN server at your home. This lets you avoid the prying eyes of those around you in the Starbucks, at their ISP, and lets you avoid DNS hijacking if you use your own at home DNS (also lets you use your DNS based ad blocking…)

The downside is it ‘fingers’ all your traffic as coming from your home, so pegs it to you.

OTOH, if you put it in a portable box and use it as your connection point from your laptop (and / or your spouse on the road somewhere else) while having IT make the link out through the free WiFi at your Joe Joint, well then, now you have more security and more privacy… Just sayin’…

What’s 1/5 $Quadrillion among friends?

Has an annoying email phish popup-signup so I’m quoting more heavily than usual. There’s a lot of inline quotes and I’m just not going to do all the blockquoting to set them out. Hit the original to sort it if needed:

https://dailyreckoning.com/205-trillion-in-unfunded-liabilities/

$205 Trillion in Unfunded Liabilities

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is acting in a bipartisan way to cover up the biggest single threat to the bipartisan political alliance that is stripping America of its wealth: the United States Congress.

There is no question that the following policy is bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are completely agreed that the following information should not get out to the American people, namely, that the present value of the United States government’s off-budget liabilities is over $200 trillion.

…the government needs $205 trillion… to invest in the private sector, in order to fund its legal liabilities.

The man who has followed this for the longest time is Prof. Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University. He has created a great deal of embarrassment for the government by his relentless pursuit of the statistical implications of the statistics released by the Congressional Budget Office.

The Congressional Budget Office has a way to avoid this, namely, to cease publishing the statistics that Kotlikoff has used to expose the real condition of the United States government.

Kotlikoff referred to this suppression of information in an article that appeared in Forbes.

The CBO has two sets of books. This is what any Ponzi scheme requires. It releases one set of books to the rubes in the financial media, who are perfectly content to quote from it, when they are even aware of it. This is called the Extended Baseline Forecast or EBF.

The second set of books is called the Alternative Fiscal Scenario or AFS. Here’s how Kotlikoff describes the difference.

In past years, the CBO simultaneously released what it calls its Alternative Fiscal Scenario. This forecast is what CBO actually projects future taxes and spending to be given not just the laws in place, but also how Congress and the Administration have been bending and changing the laws through time. In short, the Alternative Fiscal Scenario (AFS) is what the CBO thinks we’re facing absent a truly dramatic and sustained shift in fiscal policy.

Because of Kotlikoff’s ability to get news coverage for the AFS, the CBO decided this year not to publish it.

Those of us who track U.S. fiscal policy eagerly await each year’s release of the AFS. But this year, the CBO’s long-term forecast included only the EBF. The AFS was nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t mentioned in the CBO’s lengthy report. Nor was it included in the downloadable data CBO provided on its website.

The national media, which generally “covers” fiscal affairs by repeating what it’s told, missed this omission entirely. Indeed, it spent an entire news cycle discussing the EBF figures as if they had real meaning.

The CBO did not get away with this, at least not to the extent that it had hoped. There were complaints. Kotlikoff says that enough people did complain to persuade the CBO to release a summary of the projections in an obscure spot in the CBO’s spreadsheet. The CBO posted this information, but it did not alert the financial media to the update.

He predicted that the link would soon be removed. This was in early October.

The EBF and AFS projections differ dramatically, yet the AFS is hidden away in one tab of one spreadsheet called Supplementary Data, the small link to which will shortly disappear from the CBO’s homepage, making it even harder for we taxpayers to find.

He was correct. It’s gone. It’s “page not found.”

[Ed. Note: We tried accessing the link, but nothing came up.]

He points out that the CBO’s projections on the deficit which it has posted in full public view, namely, the ESB, has the fiscal gap at $47 trillion. Now, just between you and me, $47 trillion is a large chunk of change. But it is such a low-ball estimate that the public has no real conception of how big the liability really is. Of course, the public doesn’t care one way or the other, because the public has never heard of the CBO, let alone the ESB. When I say “public,” I mean the financial media.

Using the AFS figures, the unfunded liability is $205 trillion. This is the figure that the CBO does not want the general public, meaning the financial media, to be aware of.

Understand, this is not the unfunded liabilities added up in all future years. This is the present value of the unfunded liabilities, discounted to today. This means that the government needs $205 trillion, cash on hand, to invest in the private sector, in order to fund its legal liabilities. This is not the deficit long after we are dead. This is the present value of the deficit long after we are dead.

The only fiscal measure that’s free of this classification problem, known as economics labeling problem, is what economists call the infinite horizon fiscal gap. This measure puts everything on the books — all future spending obligations, whether they are called official or not as well as all future tax and other receipts. The difference valued in the present (the present value) of future spending less future receipts is the infinite horizon fiscal gap.

Kotlikoff explains this in layman’s terms. He explains it in terms of the taxing and spending consequences of the present value of the unfunded liabilities. He tells us what must be done today.

The $205 trillion fiscal gap is enormous. It’s 10% of the present value of all future GDP. Equivalently, it corresponds to 10% of GDP year in and year out for as far as the eye can see. To raise 10% of GDP each year we could (a) raise all federal taxes, immediately and permanently, by 57%, (b) cut all federal spending, apart from interest on the debt, by 37%, immediately and permanently, or (c) do some combination of (a) and (b).

The odds of Congress agreeing on a bill to this effect, and then having President Obama sign this bill into law, are a good deal lower than the odds of your winning the state lottery. Three times in a row. One ticket per year.

This is the softcore version that he wrote for Forbes. He released a hard-core version in an interview on the Financial Sense website. He called this a conspiracy. But he made it clear that it is a bipartisan conspiracy.

I sent him [head of the CBO] an email and asked whether he was under some sort of political pressure to withhold this information and he said that was a big insult, and he was very upset with me for suggesting that. But then he said that the reason he hadn’t released it was because they didn’t think anyone was interested. I said, well obviously we’re interested — it’s the only thing worth looking at.

I love it when bureaucrats cover up the obvious. They do not even try to be clever. They give some obviously screwball explanation, and leave it at that. They cannot be fired. We cannot do anything about it.

This has gone on for a long time.

This is a pattern, you know. The Clinton administration — we put out the fiscal gap studies for a couple of years on the President’s budget. The Clinton administration then censored it. The guy who’s now head of the National Economic Council, the Chief Economic Advisor to President Obama, was the one who did the censorship back in 1994. President Bush’s Treasury Secretary O’Neil wanted us to do a fiscal gap accounting for the President’s budget in 2003 and he was fired in December 7, 2002, and that study was censored two days after he was fired.

So, this is not accidental. This is more or less a conspiracy to hide the truth to keep ourselves and our kids in the dark about what the politicians are really doing, which is trying to garner the votes of older people and then get reelected and leave a bigger mess for our kids to handle.

Our kids will handle this effectively. They will elect people to Congress who will vote to stop paying the oldsters and their physicians, the vast majority of whom will be dependent on Medicare payments. I call this “stiff the geezers.” I also call it the Great Default. The surviving generations that ran up the liabilities will bear the brunt of the pain, as well they should.

There is no way out, other than default. This will have profound consequences politically, economically, and socially. It will be the end of the Keynesian welfare state. The Keynesians will be left holding the empty bag.

This is how all Ponzi schemes end. But those deluded souls who buy into them refuse to face statistical reality until the scheme blows up, leaving them empty-handed.

Will they be wiser after the Great Default? It is our job to explain to them what happened. We must begin with this: “We told you so. We also told you why.”

Regards,

Gary North
for The Daily Reckoning

I’m sure the younger generation will be far less willing to “stiff the geezers” if they are of an alien culture, and different race, and owe no allegiance to the “geezers” or the government, so importing a load of Mexicans, Central American Hispanics, and Muslim Middle Easterners will no doubt fix it all just dandy… /sarc;

In Conclusion

Well, it doesn’t have my usual level of comment an observation, but at least it is out of my browser and queue on on a page for folks to ponder.

Not exactly a pretty picture. European / French and Japanese Nuclear on the skids. Crazy Talk from those who are supposed to be educated. Financial games to stratospheric heights on the USA side. Folks needing to ‘roll their own’ security appliances since Governments have run wild. Kinda makes that “crazy stuff” about Antarctica look tame in comparison…

Well, welcome to Tax Day…

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Central European University – C.E.U. Another Soros Ploy

An interesting little tiff has erupted in Hungary. Seems that when folks were not looking, Soros decided to branch out from just making NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) to push his political agenda, but also made a “University” to indoctrinate whole cadres of folks into his point of view to continue pushing his agenda.

Why do I phrase it that way? Well, look at their curriculum. It’s right out of his “Open Societies” gimmick.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_European_University

Yes, quoting the Wiki. That way you KNOW it is being colored in THE best possible light for Sorors and Friends…

The university offers degrees in the social sciences, humanities, law, public policy, business management, environmental science, and mathematics.

So any doubt what so ever that with the top 4 on the list being the oxymoronic “Social Sciences”, followed by a generic “Humanities” (that will be heavily biased…), then Law (and how to abuse it), and finally bringing all those together into Public Policy (the control for national destruction, perhaps?…One wonders if “How To Lie With Statistics” is taught in their mathematics department… shades of computer models and all…)

Notice there is NO Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, etc. etc. Science (real science) need not apply. This place is geared toward creating folks to go out and remake governments and peoples, not create real products or services.

CEU was founded by philanthropist George Soros, who has provided an endowment of US$880 million, making the university one of the wealthiest in Europe. It is considered as one of the most prestigious universities in Central Europe for social sciences and humanities.
[…]
CEU evolved from a series of lectures held at the IUC in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, (now Croatia). In the Spring of 1989, as historical change was gathering momentum in the region the need for a new, independent, international university was being considered. The minutes of the gathering held in April 1989 records a discussion among scholars such as Rudolf Andorka, Péter Hanák, Márton Tardos, István Teplán, Tibor Vámos and Miklós Vásárhelyi from Budapest, William Newton-Smith and Kathleen Wilkes from Oxford, Jan Havranek, Michal Illner and Jiří Kořalka from Prague, Krzysztof Michalski and Włodzimierz Siwiński from Warsaw.

Now one must wonder just what was wrong with Harvard, Yale, Oxford, All the State Universities of the USA, La Sorbonne, etc. etc. that they were inadequate to their needs. Perhaps being too objective? Certainly not being too “right wing”…

The University was founded in 1991 in response to the fall of the Socialist Bloc. The founding vision was to create a university dedicated to examining the contemporary challenges of “open societies” and democratization.

Ah, there’s your “money quote”. Dedicated to pushing the Soros vision of “Open Societies” and the destruction of nation states and cultures. But cloaking it all in the faint odour of academia and impartiality.

The initial aim was to create a Western-modeled yet distinctly Central European institution that would foster inter-regional cooperation and educate a new corps of regional leaders to help usher in democratic transitions across the region. It was originally located in Prague, but because of “political and financial conflict between its founder and [the] Czech government,” represented by Vaclav Klaus, it was moved to Budapest.

OK, so the stated purpose is a take down of the established Western Democracies and to have a makeover of them via installing new “leadership” molded by Soros and his ilk. Czech caught on quick and tossed his ass, but being Hungarian I’d guess Hungary was more forgiving. At least then.

In its second decade, CEU broadened its focus from regional to global, with a special emphasis on democracy promotion and human rights around the world. It has since developed a distinct academic approach, combining regional studies with an international perspective, emphasizing comparative and interdisciplinary research in order to generate new scholarship and policy initiatives, and to promote good governance and the rule of law. CEU has extended its outreach and financial aid programs to certain areas of the developing world.

OK, so what happened to “consensus”? I guess it doesn’t matter if you are a Soros sort. Consensus is only important if you are NOT “on side” with them. Also note that the intent is to manufacture a body of “scholarship” so one can then point to it as the authority… Gee, where have we seen that strategy before? Hmmm?

CEU began the region’s first master’s degree programs in gender studies and environmental sciences. The CEU Center for Media, Data and Society is the leading center of research on media, communication, and information policy in the region.

I’m sorry, but anyone who needs more than 2 minutes to focus on their “gender studies” (got a winky, or not, is pretty quick to spot – inny or outy…) is clearly a bit, er, bent. What one does with it is a private matter and not really a subject for “studies”… IMHO. But in the context of Soros, it’s likely these are just the instruments by which to disrupt stable societies. Leverage “the environment” to destroy economies. Foment “gender issues” to destroy faith based communities in particular and the social fabric in general. Then they want to have effective control of “media” long with a good handle on using Big Data to manipulate societies. Got it.

On 14 October 2007 George Soros stepped down as Chairman of CEU Board. Leon Botstein (President of Bard College, New York), who had previously served as the Vice-Chair of the Board, was elected as new Chairman for a two-year term. George Soros is a Life-CEU Trustee and serves as Honorary Chairman of the Board.

On 1 August 2009 Rector Yehuda Elkana was succeeded by human rights leader and legal scholar John Shattuck. On May 5, 2016, it was announced that Michael Ignatieff would succeed Shattuck, becoming the fifth president and rector of the university.

Well, nice list of names to put on you “Dig Here!” list and do both contract tracing and action profiling.

Now of particular interest is their peculiar legal structure. One might wonder just why a European University is not incorporated in, well, Europe?

Legal basis

CEU is organized as an American-style institution, governed by a Board of Trustees, with a charter from the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, for and on behalf of the New York State Education Department. In the United States, CEU is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. In Hungary, CEU is officially recognized as a privately maintained and operated university. The university was accredited by the Hungarian Accreditation Committee in 2004.

Well, New York. Gee, isn’t that were Billy Clinton set up shop? And Hillary likes to hang out? And Bloomberg? And…

Nice to have a legal domicile in a place run by fellow travelers, and remote from where you actually DO things that might cause ire in the government. Which it did…

The reason I started looking at this was the news (on European ROKU channels) about the CEU, Street demonstrations Theatre, and the Evil Horrible Nasty Mean Old Man running Hungary thinking maybe a European University with pretty much all its operations in Hungary ought to have a Hungarian legal structure, or at least some tie to the place and the local law. (And maybe just a little bit that overthrowing governments and ignoring the will of the nation and the national culture are not really what University ought to be about…)

Amendment to Act CCIV of 2011 on National Higher Education in the Hungarian Parliament (2017)

The announcement and CEU’s initial reactions

On 28 March 2017, Hungarian Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog, also responsible for education, submitted a bill to Parliament to amend Act CCIV of 2011 on National Higher Education. The bill aims to introduce new regulations for foreign-operating universities, several of which affect CEU. Notably, such universities could only operate if the Hungarian government has an agreement with the university’s other country of operation (concerning CEU, the agreement is between the State of New York and the city of Budapest). In addition, universities operating outside of the European Union should have a campus in their other country of operation, where comparable degree programs would be offered (currently not the case for CEU). Furthermore, both existing and new non-EU academic staff would be required to apply for working permits. This requirement is seen by critics as placing CEU at a particular disadvantage, given that it relies largely on non-EU faculty. Finally, the law would also prohibit both the American and Hungarian entities from sharing the same name.

So this Horrible Nasty Evil LAW would mean that a nearly 100% Hungarian University would need to be under the laws of Hungary, or have a real campus wherever it was legally domiciled. Hmmm… Seems pretty reasonable to me. Otherwise I could found the “University of Albania” in Florida and open a campus in Budapest and who would know I had zero connection to Albania. Frankly, having things the way they are now smells of offshore banking, shell corporations, and various other kinds of shenanigans.

Then for those Universities that ARE legitimately in existence in another country, it must be one where Hungary and that Country have a relationship and cross licensing agreement. Again, perfectly reasonable IMHO. US States are NOT allowed to enter into treaties and such, so any treaty between two nations can’t have one of them as signatory. What the “deal” is at present with New York is an interesting question…

Finally, folks not from the EU going to work in an EU country, need to have an EU work permit? You mean they don’t now? Hell, sign me up! I’m ready to fly on over and start teaching computer science. Or Art History (hey, I’ve looked at paintings…) or maybe even “Modern Art and Video – Emphasis on The Nude in Motion”… Oh, what, you say maybe it would be better if someone actually thought about that wide open barn door and required a moment thought about local labor availability and the potential to abuse the law as it stands now? Well… /sarc;

Though I do have to admit the idea of retiring to Europe (warm part…) teaching at the Royal Academy Of Art (legal domicile Delaware, USA) has a certain charm to it ;-)

Basically, while those laws might be a PITA to CEU, it is a PITA of their own making due to their slightly bizarre legal structure and their disdain for national labor laws. (Really “national anything”)

Now especially in the context of both Russia and India tossing Soros and his NGOs out on their collective asses, that Hungary “caught clue” does not surprise me. (Nor, sadly, that the EU and NY have not… that whole fellow traveler thing I suspect…)

The same day, the Hungarian news website Origo.hu, considered pro-government by The Budapest Beacon, published an article asserting that CEU, to which it referred as “Soros University” (George Soros being its founder and main benefactor, and also known an opponent of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party), operated unlawfully in Hungary, citing regulatory infractions. The article also referred to a report prepared by Hungary’s Educational Authority, which revealed that 28 universities, including CEU, where being investigated for operating unlawfully in Hungary. CEU issued a statement in response to the article, claiming the allegations of cheating and regulatory infractions constitued defamations and libel, and threatened to sue the website if the article was not corrected.

I suppose given their sue happy behaviour this is a good time to state:

“This article is a political opinion speech by the author with humor and satire included. It is protected under the First Amendment and is not to be construed at a comment on any individual, but on the politics of the land today.”

One wonders what the other 27 “universities” might be… and if they need an art & video teacher… ;-)

On 31 March 2017, Viktor Orbán stated in an interview to public radio that the future of “Soros University” (referring to George Soros, founder and main benefactor of CEU) depended on US-Hungarian talks. He said that CEU was “cheating” by awarding both Hungarian and American degrees, despite not operating abroad. This was a breach of Hungarian regulations, which gave an unfair advantage to CEU. In response to those claims, CEU issued a statement rejecting the suggestion that it was cheating and in breach of Hungarian regulations. Indeed, according to CEU, no laws in effect required universities such as CEU to also operate in their countries of origin.

Golly, now that’s a neat trick! Issue American degrees while never actually operating in America, and offer Hungarian degrees while not being legally domiciled in Hungary? Neither fish nor fowl, yet able to both fly and swim…

To say “something smells fishy” is almost as obvious as saying “it smells a bit fowl”… ;-0

And they wonder why the Hungarian Government might look a bit sideways at them…

So what’s the big problem with marching your lawyer down to the Hungarian Corporations Office and filing the paperwork?

I’ve made corporations before, and done the “Foreign Corporation Registration” paperwork. It really isn’t that hard. Did it in 3 different States too!

That they are afraid of doing that, and fighting it tooth and nail really shouts: “DIG HERE!!!”

Commentators have interpreted the proposed bill as the continuation of Orbán’s government campaign against liberalism and foreign-funded NGOs. […] This has resulted in the declaration by vice chairman of Fidesz Szilard Nemeth that civil society groups with funding from Soros should be “swept out” of Hungary. […] Orbán has repeatedly criticized Soros in strong terms for trying to influence Hungarian politics, accusing him, for instance, of stoking a refugee wave to weaken Europe.

Oh, Soros using the same strategy he is applying to the EU and around the globe. Demographic swamping with “refugees” and destruction of the national culture and peoples.

Well, what to say about it all… How about:

“Hey, POTUS Donald! Time to dump Soros and his NGOs and “University”. Just honor the Russian Arrest Warrant and follow the lead of the Eastern Europeans in dumping the NGOs. You’re welcome.”

Slowly, oh so slowly, awareness of the Soros Machine and his abuse of non-profit “corporations” is spreading around the globe. That it had to start in Asia is a sad comment on the EU and USA. But start it has. Time for “The West” to get on the band wagon. We can recognize this threat, and act to squash it; or we can lose our country and our culture.

It really is that simple, in my opinion.

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Posted in Political Current Events | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments