Wednesday Night #1380

Wednesday Night’s West Wing holds its fifth session August 13th. Alexandra and James have set up a beautiful new website  for our Wednesday Night sibling and even better news, Alex will be with us next week!

Russia & Georgia
Media Scout had the best headline Opening Ceremonies, Open War for its daily roundup of Canadian media takes on hot topics.
So there we were, sitting back to watch whatever we could, and there was Vladimir Putin sitting in the stands of the Bird’s Nest Stadium amidst all the talk of peace, harmony and good sportsmanship, announcing that Russia had gone to war over South Ossetia. Bummer! Not that either side is lily-white in this dispute. And now it’s over — sort of.

Beijing Olympics III
After the impressive, but interminable (due largely to the huge number of athletes participating in the parade) Opening Ceremonies, much of the sniping has died down. It is obvious that the PRC has done a remarkable job of organizing; the facilities appear to be beautifully designed and reports from within the COC and from others in China indicate that generally the atmosphere is welcoming and the athletes are pretty happy.
We would remind everyone that all the talk about China insisting on the opening date of 08-08-08 is more a question of saving face, given that China had asked to hold the Games in October. The August date was selected by the greedy IOC which couldn’t resist the pressure and $$$ brought to bear by NBC which did not want anything to interfere with the fall sports roster or the final weeks of the presidential campaign.

Zimbabwe on again/off again power-sharing talksleave us anxious, but (very) cautiously optimistic.

Rainfall alert on global warming
In what many of us think of as the wettest summer in memory, it’s nice to know that the gurus of climate change are on our side – even if not much consolation to us or the poor farmers who are trying to get the soggy hay in, or facing high prices for feed over the winter.

As usual, oil is on our agenda; here are two FT stories to brighten your day.
Opec income hits record as oil prices soar and Opec pushes output to record level Increase in production led by Saudi Arabia 
Much closer to home, Wednesday Night congratulates Michael Judson on the news that Forest Gate and Partners Begin Drilling Operations In Celtic Sea

In contrast, Denmark: Energy consumption and clean power  is a wonderful story about energy independence and smart public policy – but wind energy still won’t help our crops – for that we need the sun – and rain in moderate amounts.

And then, there’s the economy —
Bloomberg reports that … JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it may post more credit losses, pushing the worldwide costs for the collapse of the subprime mortgage market to more than $500 billion. The news confirms the dismal regard in which  central banks are held as  the Economist reminds us that the gloom and doom is already a year old.

Report


It is axiomatic that each person (and presumably, every country) acts in a manner that makes sense to him (or it).  However, evil thoughts and actions, no matter how selfish or bizarre are explainable and in our world, it is more frequently the more articulate than the more rational that garner support and the most innocent who suffer the consequence of any conflict.  It is only when honest, respectful negotiation replaces justification that problems are solved in a lasting manner.
Russian troops have entered Southern Ossetia in response to a badly thought out rocket attack ordered by the Georgian President.  The Russian response was excessive and continues despite Russia having agreed to a cease fire.  A highly militarized neighbour naturally invites a heavy handed reaction.  Russia’s motivation may very likely be the overthrow of the Georgian government, the demonstration of Russia’s rebirth as a world power, a signal to former Soviet republics to return to Russia’s orbit and an attempt to regain Georgia’s Red Seaports, or a gauntlet deposited at the feet of the United States.  Georgia, independent for the past seventy-five years, should have anticipated Russia’s reaction, apparently did not, but has demonstrated its will to rectify that tactical error.      The Georgian conflict should not in any way be considered analogous to the Balkan conflict, but is, in fact, political as opposed to racial.  There has been no ethnic cleansing and no ethnic discrimination although Ossetians are ethnically closer to Russia than to Georgians.

Denmark and energy
Denmark, a relatively small, level country has turned to wind-generated electricity to replace that generated by petroleum.  Wind farms have been established on both land and in the ocean and are being promoted as the future source of clean, renewable energy.  Although admittedly clean, it is not inexpensive.  In the U.S., government subsidies at several levels mask the actual cost of wind-generated electricity, but the main problem is that with the exception of small installations with battery backup, a running backup system must be constantly available for periods of calm wind.  In Canada, the backup is hydroelectric power but elsewhere, it is normally fossil fuel generated power.
Although we have a lot to learn from the Danes, Denmark is flat and the water based wind installations are efficient, only about twenty percent of Denmark’s electricity comes from wind power, the remainder as well as backup is supplied by Sweden’s hydroelectric system.  As with the consideration of all alternate energy sources, nuclear power appears to be the most rational.

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