Crowley Maritime Corp. on Saturday christened its Commitment Class combination container and roll-on/roll-off ship El Coquí, which is among the first of its kind to be powered by liquefied natural gas.
Crowley said the ship is a key component in its supply chain transformation in the U.S. mainland-Puerto Rico trade.
A crowd of more than 350 people, including White House officials, U.S. congressional members, local dignitaries, representatives from shipbuilder VT Halter Marine and Eagle LNG joined Crowley employees, vessel crew members and other industry and union representatives to celebrate christening. Continue reading
The history of the 20th and 21st centuries’ Syria has provided the most convincing proof that the intellectual maturity of a state’s alternating leaderships as well as its people depends to an overwhelming degree on their understanding of the inherent incompatibility of excepted societal morality based on customs and traditions, and of political immorality maintained by gross despotism.
The roots of the current civil war that started in the beginning of 2011, go way back to the mid-9th century when a man by the name Ibn Nusayr declared himself the “BAB” – the “gateway to truth.” Proclaiming his teachings to be the only true religion, Ibn Nusayr preached a Muslim Holy Trinity of the Prophet Muhammad, his cousin and son in law Husayn Ibn Ali, and Salman al-Farisi, a freed Persian slave of Muhammad’s. In addition, he elevated Ali to a Jesus-like incarnation of divinity. Moreover, borrowing further from Christianity, he made the symbolic presentation of bread and wine an integral part of religious services, in which the wine represents Allah himself. To add more heretic insult to multiple Muslim religious injuries, the Nusayris, also called Alawis or Ansaris, celebrate almost all Christian festivals and holidays by worshiping most of the Christian saints. Finally and most egregiously for all faithful Muslims, Ibn Nusayr denied the five pillars of Islam listed in the famous Hadith of the angel Gabriel, and rejected the Shari’a in its entirety.
In that strange ancient land called Hungary, the past has never died. It just has retreated from time to time into hibernation. The reason for this state of affairs has always been that Hungarians of successive generations have failed to learn from the past. More recently, the Trianon Peace Treaty of June 4, 1920, reduced to territory of the Hungarian Kingdom by 67% and its population by 57%. In addition to being bad students of history, Hungarians have become paranoid and their society schizophrenic. Then, the seventy years history of maladministration by the Horthy administration as well as the Communists, combined to lay the foundation for a politically idiotic and geopolitically dangerous revanchism.
When national independence finally came in the spring of 1990, Hungarians again failed to realize that freedom can be a very dangerous commodity. As so often in history, national liberation in Hungary has been followed by long periods of political and economic instability.
The first free government of Jozsef Antall, a highschool teacher, was a collection of hapless amateurs. After four years of nostalgia and attempts to restore the pre-World War II Hungary, they were booted out of power. The former Communists who were voted in with absolute majority, were afraid of decisive governance. Four years later, Hungarians voted for a coalition of the untested Alliance of Young Democrats and the Smallholders’ Party, both led by incompetent megalomaniacs. What followed was a rapid centralization of power in the hands of the Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, and the rise of limitless as well as arrogant corruption.
“There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin!”
That was June 1963 in West Berlin where President John F. Kennedy gave one of his most memorable addresses. The speech was a stirring defense of liberty and a pointed critique of communism.
Whether you agree with Kennedy broadly or narrowly, I’ve rediscovered that speech and find it to relate now more than ever to the unfolding drama in the country of my birth, Venezuela. My family and I left Venezuela when I was 10. We had every intention of returning. Then Hugo Chavez took power, promising to usher in shared prosperity for all with his “21st century socialism.” We never went back. Continue reading
A week and half after President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met to smooth over trade disputes, China announced it will buy more foreign goods , including U.S. soybeans. At the same time, it vowed to completely retool its “Made In China 2025” program, intended to make China the world’s most powerful economy. Nice gestures, but whether China follows through is a big question.
Reuters reports that Chinese state-owned firms snapped up more than half a million tons of U.S. soybeans on Wednesday to show they mean business. But the Made In China 2025 reversal, if sincere, is even more significant. It would mark a major shift in China’s guiding economic philosophy, a strange melding of top-down communist political control with free-market tenets.
“The revised plan would play down China’s bid to dominate manufacturing and be more open to participation by foreign companies,” The Wall Street Journal reported, citing “people briefed on the matter” as the source. Continue reading
The situation is extremely critical. The Ukrainian people are freezing. In the cities of Cherkasky, Hmelnickiy, Herson, and Kharkov the authorities have been forced to declare emergencies. People all over Ukraine have gone to the streets to protest the inhuman conditions. The civil movement called the Organization of Ukrainian Mothers has called for nationwide protests. Its leader, Natalia Korolevskaya has announced that they will protest in front of the Parliament building and other government installations. Most of the protesting mothers have carried signs claiming that not starvation, in Ukrainian golodomor, but the threat of freezing to death, in Ukrainian holodomor will kill their children.
In fact, Ukraine is frozen both literally as well as figuratively speaking. Because of serial non-payments for Russian gas, Gazprom has stopped deliveries. Simultaneously, Ukraine cancelled the bilateral agreement on gas deliveries. More importantly, since its independence on August 24, 1991, Ukraine has failed spectacularly to build a politically stable and economically prosperous state. Its politicians have used their anti-Russian rhetoric to build up their individual fiefdoms and in many cases their criminal organizations. Simultaneously, they have abused Ukrainian nationalism to suppress the sizable ethnic Russian community, allegedly as a payback for the Russian oppression prior to the country’s independence.
Historically, attempts to create new states in Europe in the 20th century by the dominant European and the non-European powers ended, without exception, in failures, and subsequently in the necessary restoration of the status quo ante. Judged by the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in the late 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century neither the United States of America nor the dominant member states of the European Union learned the lessons from the forced and artificial unifications of the Czechs and the Slovaks, and the multitude of ethnic groups in the former Yugoslavia after the end of World War I.
Between the two World Wars Yugoslavia was held together by the joint vision of the Serbs and the Croats to establish a strong state of the southern Slavs. After 1945, Josip Broz Tito’s ethos as the anti-German and anti-Soviet hero provided the political glue that held Yugoslavia together, albeit barely. The dictatorship that Tito invented was based on allowing the Croats and the Slovens to get rich, while financing and thus taming the Serbs militaristic ambitions. The rest of the republics and the two autonomous regions were kept relatively placid by showering them with the money left from arming the Serbs.
By The Hill•
Virtually every argument against the Jones Act is falsely premised on the notion that it increases consumer prices and that it impeded emergency supplies from getting to Puerto Rico after last year’s hurricanes. Some have even argued that Puerto Rico’s decade long recession is the fault of the Jones Act — despite the fact that it was enacted almost 100 years ago. Simply stated, there is no factual evidence to support these claims.
The Jones Act, or more precisely, the “Merchant Marine Act of 1920,” simply requires goods shipped between two or more U.S. ports to be shipped on vessels that are American built, owned and crewed. But it does not prohibit foreign vessels from bringing goods to a U.S. port.
Because of the Jones Act, foreign flagged ships with unknown and unvetted foreign crews cannot deliver goods to New Orleans and then sail up the Mississippi River deep into the American heartland. Continue reading
by David Rutz • Washington Free Beacon
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of having a “secret atomic warehouse” in Tehran for its illicit nuclear weapons program during a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.
Netanyahu castigated what he called “inaction” by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s atomic watchdog, in the face of Israeli intelligence about Iranian clandestine nuclear work, adding that he would reveal a new finding to the world by Israel in its battle to keep Iran’s nuclear ambitions at bay. Continue reading
If the 1986 Challenger disaster taught us anything it was – “Don’t put all your Space Launch eggs in one basket.” After that accident and the other ones that grounded all of America’s older space launch vehicles for about two years, NASA and the Air Force decided to build two sets of rockets under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.
The EELV program has been a success. Both Atlas V and the various Delta rockets, especially Delta Heavy, have been putting America’s important science and military payloads into space for roughly a quarter of a century. Continue reading
Yogi Berra famously observed that events sometimes seem to repeat themselves — “It’s deja vu all over again!” So, this history of the criticism of the Bush administration’s nuclear and proliferation policies has major echoes of the criticisms today of the current administration. The negative narrative of what I term the “nuclear termites” as they undermine America’s deterrent capability never changes despite a major reduction in nuclear warheads from the 6,000 level of deployed weapons in 2001 to 1550 today — a 75% cut. This short history of the 2009-2016 period of the Bush administration illustrates this phenomenon — identical criticism from that period then disappeared between 2001-16 but then re-emerged in 2017, despite extraordinary reductions in our strategic nuclear arsenals and those of Russia as well.
The quest for nuclear disarmament has been with humankind since the dawn of the atomic age. Early proposals to place nuclear materials and technology under international controls were turned aside by Soviet commissars but still there remained an urge to eliminate these weapons. The Eisenhower administration deployed a relatively small number of nuclear weapons to defend against a Soviet invasion of Western Europe under the rubric of a policy known as massive retaliation. Continue reading
Since he stepped into the turbulent waters of Hungarian politics by delivering a highly emotional funeral oratory at the reburial of Imre Nagy the murdered hero of the 1956 anti-Soviet Revolution on June 16, 1989, Viktor Orban has traversed the entire spectrum of his country’s political life. Completely unnoticed in the 1990s, he as the head of a marginal political party by the acronyms FIDESZ (The Alliance of Young Democrats) underwent a troubling political epiphany. After losing two consecutive elections in 1990 and 1994, he converted his miniscule party from a left-leaning liberal to a self-described conservative party. Becoming Prime Minister in 1998, Viktor Orban’s conservatism manifested itself in a peculiar form of ethnic arrogance and even superiority, which romanticized and thoroughly falsified Hungarian history. Moreover, it dangerously politicized morality that led to divisiveness and intolerance fueled by visceral hatred.
By Peter Roff • RealClearPolitics
The relationship with Kuwait should be one of the United States’ strongest, but it is starting to fray. There’s still time to set it right, and the Kuwaiti Emir’s visit to Washington last week was a good start. Meanwhile, however, investors remain on edge, as they have been ever since officials in this Gulf state froze millions of dollars in American and international assets without any clear explanation.
Candidly, there’s a lot going on in Kuwait that’s suspect. The regime seems to be cozying up to Iran and China, officials have made remarks about Israel that are just short of incendiary, and corruption surrounding the delivery of supplies to U.S. troops stationed there has been highly disruptive. Americans, it seems to me, have the right to expect better from those whom they saved by leading an international intervention after their country was invaded by Saddam Hussein.
It seems instead that much has changed since President Donald Trump hosted Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah last year and hailed the countries’ bilateral relationship, calling it as strong as it had ever been. Indeed, the country continues to be a key regional security partner with 20,000 U.S. troops stationed there.
Recently though, officials in the Kuwaiti government seem to have gone to great lengths to offend America’s allies and get close to our adversaries. Their outspoken defense of the Palestinians inside the U.N. Security Council has undermined the White House’s effort to make peace and has caused problems for Israel. The United States was even forced to veto a Kuwaiti-drafted resolution calling for the protection of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Continue reading
Speaking generally on the occasion of the Eid al-Adha on August 20, 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that the attack on his country’s economy is like an attack on “our call to prayer and our flag.” Proving that he is more beholden to empty slogans than to realities, he continued: “The goal is the same. The goal is to bring to heel Turkey and the Turkish nation. To hold it captive. We are a nation that prefers to be shot in the neck rather than to be chained by the neck.” Although the addressee was not identified, but everybody in Turkey and beyond knew that he spoke directly to President Trump.
To the Turkish people’s misfortune President Erdogan does not possess the leadership qualities of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Misguidedly, President Erdogan believes that political Islam is a global strategy, encompassing politics, economics, culture, and humanity. For this reason, he lacks clarity of thought, balanced intellect, self control, tolerance fortified by universal humanity, and respect for other cultures and religions. Since 2011, both his domestic and foreign policies have been unmitigated disasters. His sickening sectarianism at home concerning the sizable Kurdish minority most likely will perpetuate a situation resembling more a civil war than peace and stability. His handling of the economy in the last four years has been an utter failure. His country’s financial policies have only resulted in more corruption, blatant nepotism, and the staggering devaluation of the Turkish Lira. Abroad, his megalomaniac desire to assume the role of the Ottoman Sultans of the past has led to spectacular humiliations in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Qatar, and even in Lebanon. His flirting with the Russian bear and the Iranian lion will surely end the same way as such past ad hoc actions ended, namely, in diplomatic enmity and even open hostility.
Yet, President Erdogan’s most erroneous policy initiative is his irrational feud with the United States of America. Using the attempted military coup d’etat of July 15, 2016, he has accused his former mentor and political ally Fethullah Gulen with masterminding his unsuccessful overthrow. After demanding in vain his extradition from the United States government, he has proceeded to undermine Turkey’s relationship with Washington specifically, and NATO generally. His insistence on buying the Russian S-400 missile defense system is a direct challenge to the integrity of NATO and the stability as well as the peace of the European continent. The affair of Andrew Brunson, an American Christian pastor living in Izmir, a city on Turkey’s Aegean coast near some of the sites of Christianity’s earliest communities, only added to the artificial crisis atmosphere that President Erdogan has intentionally created. Following several unsuccessful attempts at Andrew Brunson’s release, President Trump has slapped sanctions and tariffs on Turkey that has pushed the Turkish currency to record lows.
Although foreign aid is considered by many Americans to be largely a waste of money and primarily a benefit to American NGO’s and recipient government officials, not so U.S. conservation assistance used to fight both environmental crime and promote environmental conservation.
When I worked at the newly formed United Nations Environment Program 45 years ago, and subsequently as an assistant to the Secretary of the Interior, key issues were to preserve fisheries, forests and grasslands, while also working to sustain the expanded production of fish, lumber and animal products.
Little did people think that decades later the biggest environmental crooks would be terrorists and international criminal cartels running a quarter of a trillion-dollar illicit enterprise in scope just behind drugs, weapons and human trafficking. As a recent UNEP report concludes, exploiting natural resources has become big business. Continue reading