Welcome to Saturday's Potluck - June 3, 2023
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
Lack of accountability for an individual's actions seems to be a growing problem. Seeing push back expands my hope for the future.
Judge finds Australian war hero to be a war criminal Russia Times June 2, 2023
Canberra’s most-decorated living soldier loses the “defamation case of the century” over alleged murder of Afghan civilians
The newspapers and journalists raised a defense of truth, and Roberts-Smith and witnesses called by the defendants, including three Afghan villagers and some of Roberts-Smith’s fellow soldiers, gave conflicting evidence about what happened on various combat missions involving Roberts-Smith in Afghanistan. The trial judge disbelieved Roberts-Smith and accepted the evidence of the witnesses called by the newspapers, which will make it very difficult for any appeal that may be brought by Roberts-Smith to succeed.
Defamation actions are strange and unpredictable things, but they sometimes provide instructive insights into the dysfunctional operations of powerful organizations that are in need of root and branch reform. Ben Roberts-Smith inadvertently did Australia a service by bringing defamation proceedings against those newspapers and journalists who dared to tell the truth about what was really happening in Afghanistan.
No reason to add this except I found it interesting.
Are the rich more intelligent? Here’s what science says Asia Time June 2, 2023
Intelligence, education and socioeconomic status all affect one’s income and wealth but studies show Lady Luck is also important
In fact, intelligence is the best predictor of both educational achievement and work performance. And academic and professional success is, in turn, a fairly good forecaster of income. But that’s not the whole story.
Not all highly intelligent people are primarily driven by a desire for wealth – they often have a thirst for knowledge. Some may instead opt for comparatively less well-paying jobs that are more intellectually rewarding, such as architecture, engineering or research.
A recent Swedish study showed that cognitive test scores of the top 1% of earners were not significantly different to the scores obtained by those who earned slightly less.
Intelligence is not a monolithic trait, though. In fact, it consists of at least two broad constructs: fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. Fluid intelligence taps into core cognitive mechanisms, such as the speed of processing stimuli, memory capacity and abstract reasoning. Conversely, crystallized intelligence refers to those skills developed in a social environment, such as literacy, numeracy and knowledge about specific topics.
This distinction matters because these two types of intelligence develop in different ways. Fluid intelligence can be inherited, cannot be boosted and decreases fairly quickly with age. By contrast, crystallized intelligence increases throughout most adulthood and starts declining only after about 65 years.
That said, innate capabilities are not the only thing that matters. Another significant factor is education.
Unsurprisingly, education in turn is affected by family socioeconomic status.
...Of course, the influence of family socioeconomic status on wealth does not operate solely through education. Inheritance and networks are among the most obvious mechanisms. This is particularly true for entrepreneurs, whose investing potential and connections are fundamental for business success.
The Sultan 2.0 will heavily tilt east The Cradle by Pepe Escobar May 31, 2023
The first immediate priority, from Erdogan’s point of view, is to get rid of the “terrorist corridor” in Syria. This means, in practice, reigning in the US-backed Kurdish YPG/PYD, who are effectively Syrian affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – which is also the issue at the heart of a possible normalization of relations with Damascus.
The Sultan is at his prime when it comes to hedging his bets between east and west. He knows well how to profit from Turkiye’s status as a key NATO member – complete with one of its largest armies, veto power, and control of the entry to the uber-strategic Black Sea.
And all that while exercising real foreign policy independence, from West Asia to the Eastern Mediterranean.
Whatever happens next, Erdogan will not hop on board the sanctions-against-Russia sinking ship. The Kremlin bought Turkish bonds tied to the development of the Russian-built Akkuyu nuclear power plant, Turkiye’s first nuclear reactor. Moscow allowed Ankara to postpone nearly $4 billion in energy payments until 2024. Best of all, Ankara pays for Russian gas in rubles.
It’s no wonder that nearly 10 years ago, when he first unveiled his ambitious, multi-trillion dollar BRI in Astana, Kazakhstan, Chinese President Xi Jinping placed the China Railway Express as a core BRI component.
Direct freight trains from Xian to Istanbul are plying the route since December 2020, using the Baku-Tblisi-Kars (BTK) railway with less than two weeks travel time – and plans afoot to increase their frequency. Beijing is well aware of Turkiye’s asset as a transportation hub and crossroads for markets in the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, West Asia, and North Africa, not to mention a customs union with the EU that allows direct access to European markets.
Meanwhile, hard business prevails. To fully profit from the status of the energy transit hub, Turkiye needs not only Russian gas but also gas from Turkmenistan feeding the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) as well as Kazakh oil coming via the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline.
The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) is heavy on economic cooperation, active in a series of projects in transportation, construction, mining, and oil and gas. Ankara has already invested a whopping $85 billion across Central Asia, with nearly 4,000 companies scattered across all the “stans.”
Of course, when compared to Russia and China, Turkiye is not a major player in Central Asia. Moreover, the bridge to Central Asia goes via Iran. So far, rivalry between Ankara and Tehran seems to be the norm, but everything may change, lightning fast, with the simultaneous development of the Russia-Iran-India-led International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), which will profit both – and the fact that the Iranians and Turks may soon become full BRICS+ members.
Another geographical spot to watch for potential conflict with the Chinese.
Strategic value of Luzon Strait must not be overlooked Asia Times May 28, 2023
s regional geopolitical attention shifts to Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait, it is easy to overlook the Luzon Strait. Yet it is perhaps the most important strategic strait providing exit and entrance to the South China Sea. Moreover, it is the increasing focus of competing US and China intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
What makes it so important? The answer must be found in the context of strategic plans of both China and the US in the event of war.
The Luzon Strait is situated between Taiwan and Luzon, the northern portion of the Philippine archipelago. It connects the South China Sea to the Western Pacific. It is important for commercial shipping and cable communications that provide important links among Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia. Such cables are quickly becoming a security issue in the region.
For China, the South China Sea has historically been its vulnerable underbelly. It also harbors its vital trade routes, especially for the flow of oil and gas imports.
Most important, the South China Sea provides relative “sanctuary” for its retaliatory-strike nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed submarines based in Yulin on Hainan. These submarines are its deterrent against a first strike on it – something the US, unlike China, has not disavowed.
The US wants to deny China this sanctuary.
Monitoring and control of the Luzon Strait may be one purpose of the new US access to two military bases in Cagayan province (in the Philippines) adjacent to the strait. This may well mark the beginning or intensification of a contested military focus on it. Indeed, it may soon rank with the Malacca and Taiwan Straits as tinderboxes for conflict.
If this analysis is correct, it would mean that strategic thinkers in both the US and China are already preparing for conflict – even nuclear conflict. If so, the US-China South China Sea conflicts are just sparring in preparation for a possible existential nuclear contest.
Discusses his observations from his resent trip to Russia.
Scott Ritter - Is the Biden Team Delusional about Ukraine War? (29:24 min)
Scott Ritter: Sanctions Against Russia Failed. I Saw It Firsthand. Sputnik Globe June 1, 2023
Upon my arrival to Russia, I expected to see a nation heavily impacted by the consequences of American-led sanctions. Instead, I saw a nation undergoing an economic revival, in large part thanks to the policies Russia was compelled to undertake because of Western sanctions.
In January and February 2023, Russia spent 2 trillion rubles ($26 billion) on defense, a 282% jump on the same period a year ago. Far from being unable to replenish its military strength and sustain the conflict in Ukraine, Russia is far outpacing NATO in terms of rushing military material to the frontlines by 4 to 1 in terms of tanks and armored fighting vehicles and 5 to 1 in artillery ammunition. ,,, Moreover, Russia’s increase in military production has not only softened the economic impact of the US-sponsored sanctions, but also helped reverse their impact across Russia’s industrial base.
Everything I saw while touring Russia underscored the incontrovertible fact that, because of Western sanctions, the Russian economy has been compelled to undertake changes which have not only made it more resilient, but also more productive and efficient. Foreign investments are surging in, proving that there is a world that exists beyond that controlled by the American economic hegemon. Moreover, because sanctions have curtailed the previous practice of Russian business tycoons sending their wealth abroad, there is a huge amount of domestic economic capital available for reinvestment into the Russian economy.
I thought about this upon my return to the US, contrasting my journey from JFK airport through New York City with a similar journey I made from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport into Moscow. My New York journey took me from a decaying airport, through decaying highways and bridges, into a decaying city. The Moscow equivalent was, by comparison, one of pristine facilities, roads, and a city that was not only composed of recently constructed buildings, but alive with new construction as well.
Scott is a prolific author. His site. Scott Ritter Extra maintains a list of recently published articles. Including ones exclusive to the site, such as June2, 2023 Waging Peace: In Search of the Russian Soul
Disclaimer, I hosted Russian software developers in the mid 1990's when serving as a board member of a local software test bed center. Since then have never doubted the quality of Russian educational system.
How Europe sees the Ukraine War Now - Alastair Crooke fmr Brit Ambassador June 2, 2023 (24:36 min)
Is the Ukraine War Spreading into Russia? Ray McGovern, fmr CIA May 39, 2023 (22:01)
The the other livestream videos this week by Judge Napolitano channel ongoing discussions regarding current Ukraine/Russia conflict. the interviews are generally posted on Monday through Thursday if would like to view them in a more timely manner.
What is on your mind today?