Saturday, July 06, 2019

King of Coal devoid of foresight to prolong Mother Earth

Never heard of billionaire coal baron Chris Cline till his helicopter crash death reported today. Dubbed the 'King of Coal', Cline did pretty well for someone growing up dirt poor working West Virginia's foreboding mines. He started coal giant Foresight Energy in 2006, which peaked at $2.6 billion, giving Cline an island chain in the Bahamas to go along with his US mansion. But with coal's inexorable collapse, Cline's fortune dropped by a billion, prompting his embrace of Trumpism and every politician willing to trade Mother Earth's future to keep the coal cash register ringing. Cline dropped a cool million on Trump's Inauguration Committee and many thousands to fellow climate change denier pols to keep the world's fever rising. West Virginian Governor Jim Justice lamented "West Virginia lost a super star, a giving, good man and benefactor to Southern West Virginia. West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney described Cline as “a very farsighted entrepreneur” with a “Midas touch.” Tho still worth $1.7 billion at his death, Cline's estate fortune will continue to head south, as will the future of Mother Earth unless we change our outlook. Cline's company name Foresight Energy was anything but.

Friday, July 05, 2019

North Korea and Iran: Divergent paths for regime change

The U.S. has been trying to change North Korea's regime for 69 years since the 1950 Korean War. No success so far.
Iran, however has been a partial success story. When Iran's Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh tried to nationalize US and British oil interests in 1953, the CIA tasked Teddy Roosevelt's grandson Kermit Jr. to instigate a coup. It worked, bringing our chosen puppet the Shah to power for 26 years till the Iranian revolution kicked him out in 1979. starting a forty year project for Iranian regime change, round two.
But a curious development has sidelined North Korean regime change while adios to Iran's rulers is on the front burner. After initially blasting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as 'Rocket Man' and threatening to flatten North Korea, President Trump initiated a bromance with Kim that included an arm in arm walk across the DMZ. Half a world away the U.S. came within minutes of bombing Iran on the flimsiest of pretexts and seems determined to provoke a war with crippling sanctions virtually destroying Iran's economy.
Two factors help explain this divergence. First, North Korea has nukes they'll never give up as an insurance policy against a U.S. attack. Iran has no nukes, and no plan to get them since 2003, making them quite susceptible to U.S. aggression. Kim is not stupid. He's seen the grisly demise of Saddam in Iraq and Muammar in Libya who gave up their nukes only to give up their lives to US regime change. That fate will never befall Kim. Iran's failure to become nuclear may have sealed its fate for a second time
Second, none of our best weapons customers for weapons of civilian destruction (WCD) are demanding we overthrow the North Korean regime. But Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Israel, who fuel America's economic miracle with hundreds of billions in WCD purchases, are demanding Iran regime change as part of the relationship.
Neither North Korea nor Iran threaten America's national self interests. But unlike North Korea, Iran is both vulnerable to attack and connected to our economic self interest fueled by world leading weapons sales. Consider regime change in Iran as a cog in 'The Art of The Deal'.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

"Be safe" just doesn't cut it in Chicago's shooting gallery

"Be safe". Is that the best the Trib can do to help reduce the daily gun violence on Chicago's mean streets (July 3 editorial). Though slightly down in 2019, gun murders still average 9 a week, with another 29 wounded. That is every single week, resulting in nearly 2,000 shot for the year. This is a local catastrophe that can only be alleviated by a massive and coordinated city, state and and federal effort It must also be the first priority of influential media outlets like the Trib. But it isn't. In another editorial on Mayor Lightfoot's solemn responsibility to reduce the slaughter, the Trib offers these bromides that sound nice but add little value to solving the problem:

1. Re-establishing trust between violence prone
communities and police 2. Intervention to help boys and young men to avoid violence
3. Let everyone who can contribute do so

But the Trib always opposes two of the most meaningful solutions: substantive gun legislation and enforcement reducing availability of guns, and massive rebuilding of Chicago's ghettos which breed joblessness, poverty, despair and....violence. Until the Trib gets behind these efforts, its weekly hand wringing about society destroying violence is a waste of ink and pixels.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Zorn's atrocious Three Little Words

We get it that Trib columnist Eric Zorn is OK with the death penalty for heinous killers whose guilt is indisputable. His support for killing the death penalty in Illinois 8 years ago stems strictly on practical grounds it sometimes murders innocents, is influenced by racism, doesn't deter murderers and is more expensive than life in prison. Many folks of good will hold that opinion. But Zorn goes further in his column on killer Brendt Christensen by stating "Yes, he deserved it (death penalty). He deserves worse". The only thing one can surmise from those last three little words is that Christensen deserves being tortured before being executed. Zorn has every right to hold that belief. As an influential pundit he should be ashamed of admitting that belief and wish to his thousands of readers.