David Brooks: The urban backlash against the populist backlash – The Salt Lake Tribune


The populist backlash came in different forms in different parts of the world. In Central and Eastern Europe it came in the form of nationalist strongmen — Victor Orban, Vladimir Putin, the Law and Justice party in Poland. In Latin America it came in the form of the Pink Tide — a group of left-wing economic populists like Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro. In the Anglosphere it was white ethnic nationalism of Donald Trump and Brexit. In the Middle East it was Muslim fundamentalism. In China it was the increasing authoritarianism of Xi Jinping. In India it was the Hindu nationalism of Narendra Modi.

David Brooks

Russian tanker loaded with diesel fuel collides with Arctic ice floe | Alaska Dispatch

Diesel fuel spill in the Arctic. Arctic Council needs a stronger agreement address prevention of spills along with already agreed upon remedial measures. Alaska dispatch reporting on this spill – an excerpt:

“The 453-foot Russian-flagged tanker Nordvik is rated to travel in non-Arctic seas in thin ice, but collided with an ice floe in Matisen Straight, causing a hole that resulted in water ingress. The Northern Sea Route Administration had given the vessel permission to sail in the Kara Sea and the Laptev Sea, two of the most northern seas. There are as yet no reports of diesel fuel spills in the area, and the vessel was reportedly traveling toward Murmansk. 

A graphic of sea ice concentrations shows ice in that region, though the majority of the passage is shown to be ice-free. 

A Russian union spokesperson said the accident is an example of the need for more emergency response capacity in the region prior to allowing vessels to travel in the Arctic seas. 

“Yesterday’s accident was a direct threat to the lives of sailors and the ecology of the Arctic,” Aleksander Bodnya says to the union’s web site. “Vessels like that should not be sailing on NSR, simply because they are not capable of withstanding the ice conditions.” 

Alaska’s state officials responded with similar concern, saying the incident illustrates why Alaska and the United States need to continue to push an Arctic marine safety and life safety agenda. 

“We have an Arctic Council agreement signed this year to help each other in cleanup, but need more work in prevention,” said Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, one of the state officials who has been leading Arctic policy efforts, in an email.

Treadwell said one of the proposals from the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment includes a mandatory code defining what kind of ships can make these voyages. 

“Russia and other nation’s crude oil and product tankers now come through the Bering Strait, through waters that are a major food source for Alaskans and the world,” Treadwell said. “They should have contingency plans and the support of an oil spill response organization in case of a problem. That is not cheap, but we have to find a way to make it happen.” 

In 2012, 46 ships sailed the entire length from Europe to East Asia. In 2013, administrators of the Northern Sea Route had granted permission for more than 400 ships to sail.”

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Norway searching for alternative energy supplies & suppliers

Yazev: Norwegian gas to Murmansk | Barentsnova Valery Yazev [duma rep] says the region should not rely upon a single source of energy, while there should be a ‘basketful of energy carriers’. Apart from gas, there are two other possible solutions for Murmansk: electricity and peat could become its energy resources. Deposits of peat are found in proximity to Kandalaksha. The Murmansk region laid its hopes on gas supplies from the Shtokman field. Alas, the final investment decision (FID) has never been taken. However, the Barents Sea resources of gas are still on the agenda, says Yazev. Statoil recently presented its cost reduction ideas for the Shtokman project development. The company suggests either to install the platform in shallow waters or to arrange underwater transportation of gas (then no platform will be needed at all). These solutions could gain 2-3% of profits, calculated Statoil.  “They use this downtime in the absence of FID to find a cost-efficient solution. Though it has not been found yet, as far as I know”, said Yazev. A few Russian media sources claim Frances’s Total and Russia’s Gazprom are meeting Thursday to discuss the destiny of Shtokman. http://www.barentsnova.com/node/2283

Background Briefing on Secretary of State Kerry’s Trip to Great Britain, Germany, and France

Segment from State Dept interview: “I’ll leave it to the Secretary to talk about his ideas on Syria and just simply say again, on all these burning and pressing issues, this one is at or very near the top of the list, and I’m sure he’ll discuss it with each of the leaders. And as you know, he also took the initiative to try to get together with a group of leaders, not just the Europeans but from the regions – from the region a little bit later on the trip. But I’ll leave it to him to talk about the approach that he wants to take on Syria. The Russia piece we’ve been focused on for some time, because we’ve been absolutely clear that there needs to be a political transition, and we felt that Russia could play a key role in convincing the regime and everyone that there needs to be that political transition. That’s what we met about, and a lot of you were there in Geneva last year. We’re following up on that, and I’m sure at the top of his agenda with Minister Lavrov we’ll be urging Russia to support what we all believe to be true, which is that we need to move on from the regime and have a political transition in Syria. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2013/02/205129.htm

Raising Sunk Subs in Kara Sea in Arctic

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21119774 Can Russia raise a K27 Submarine to extract intact uranium? 21.5bn tonnes of oil and gas reserves expected to be here and Russia doesn’t want any radioactive hazards to get in the way of contracting. Our greedy grab for oil again wins out over pristine Arctic water. By raising sunk submarines, radioactive hazardous materials containment may be breached and seep into our oceans contaminating sea life and surrounding coastlines and fisheries.