Friday, January 20, 2017

North Korea Preparing Provocations

U. S. News & World Report's Curt Mills reports:

U.S. officials suspect North Korea is preparing a new missile launch, one that could come on Inauguration Day, and likely designed to see how a President Donald J. Trump will react.
"If they do something, it would more likely be a test of Trump than a test of a delivery system," a U.S. intelligence official who monitors North Korean activities told Reuters. "They probably want to see how he reacts to a provocation, even a minor one, and if they really want to poke him, they'll do it right away."
CNN reports the North may be readying two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) for tests. South Korea's Yonhap news agency Thursday quoted unnamed South Korean officials as saying North Korean missiles have been placed on mobile launchers.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

EARLY WARNING: North Korea's Imminent ICBM Test

Again--the North Korean threat looms large.

On May 8, 2009, Foreign Confidential (formerly known as China Confidential) reported:

As many of our readers know, China Confidential was first to report that North Korea plans to detonate another nuclear device. We have since repeatedly said that the Stalinist/Kimist state could conduct its second nuclear test as early as July 4 in order to overshadow U.S. Independence Day.

In fact, North Korea could be aiming for a different U. S. holiday. Pyongyang could be moving to test a nuclear weapon this month. An underground explosion on or around Monday, May 25 is possible. The last Monday in May is Memorial Day and the unofficial start of the summer vacation season in the United States.

China Confidential analysts also expect the Stalinist/Kimist state to test-fire more missiles, especially medium-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons and striking both Japan and South Korea.

China Confidential accurately predicted on October 5, 2006 that North Korea would conduct its first-ever nuclear weapon test on Oct. 9, 2006.

We were right again in 2009. The North conducted nuclear and missile tests to mar the May 25 Memorial Day holiday; and Foreign Confidential thus became the only media outlet in the world to have accurately predicted the precise dates of Pyongyang's first two nuclear detonations.

Foreign Confidential also reported that Iranian nuclear experts assisted the second North Korean nuclear test.

North Korea, which has since tested three more nuclear devices--including two in 2016, along with more than 20 ballistic missiles in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions--now threatens to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile  (ICBM) ahead of President Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday, January 20.

If history is a guide, the North will launch its ICBM on inauguration day, or one or two days ahead of it, in order to overshadow the U. S. transfer of political power and create an unprecedented national security crisis for the outgoing and incoming administrations.

And, if history is a guide, too, a delegation from Iran--North Korea's nuclear/missile proliferation partner--will attend the illicit launch.

The North believes it can hide behind China--which is committed to maintaining the Kimist regime as a buffer against the U. S.--and, if push comes to shove, strike the U. S. asymmetrically. The North sees the nearly 30,000 U. S. troops stationed in South Korea--and U. S. coastal cities--as exceptionally vulnerable targets. The troops can quickly be overrun by the North's more than one million-strong military, in Pyongyang's view,  and there is no known U. S. coastal city defense against missiles fired from ships.

Foreign Confidential analysts suspect the North has a fleet of seemingly civilian cargo vessels flying flags of convenience carrying containerized launch systems armed with conventional--and, possibly, also nuclear--ballistic missiles.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

In Praise of the Global Economy's Enlightened Attributes

Sustainable Rural Development in an Interconnected World

By Jonathan Braun

Globalization was understandably a dirty word in the hard-fought U.S. elections as voters expressed righteous anger over Corporate America’s morally indefensible hollowing out of the U.S. economy under the banner of free trade. While much of the anti-Globalization sentiment is justified—there is nothing progressive about race-to-the-bottom offshoring—we should not allow anger to blind us to the wondrous, unprecedented flow of goods and services and ideas and capital that characterizes the Global Era.

Simply put, Enlightened Globalization is a positive force that develops, rather than destroys, communities.

I write from experience, as a member of the Baby Boomer generation who was fortunate to have been born and reared in an unusually internationally influenced neighborhood, Manhattan’s Upper West Side, in America’s greatest and most cosmopolitan city, New York—U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump’s hometown. Growing up in the shadow of Columbia University, where I would earn a master's degree from the nation’s most prestigious journalism school, I was early on exposed to people and cultures from other nations. The experience was truly transformative.

As an undergraduate student of international relations at the City College of New York, for example, I was introduced to Japanese Buddhism; and my enduring interest in Japan eventually led to my developing a long and productive relationship with a veteran Japanese entrepreneur and his network of business associates and institutional investors. Together, we started and successfully managed pioneering, privately owned and publicly traded companies in the fields of natural medicine, Internet broadcasting, and energy and natural resources.

Our involvement in renewable energy is a virtual advertisement for the global economy’s best—that is to say, its most humanistic—attributes. On a rail-served, biofuels-approved property in northeastern New York State’s rural Washington County, where responsible forestry operations play a vital role in the local economy, we’re developing a job-creating, job-preserving project that will produce sustainable, woody biomass-derived pyrolysis oil (bio-oil) for co-processing in an East Coast petroleum refinery in order for it to be able to send renewable products downstream, and for a Canadian company’s co-located specialty chemical plant. The pyrolysis oil is a fossil oil substitute. It's also a more sustainable substitute than vegetable oils because inedible woody biomass that results from responsible forestry operations does not compete with food crops for precious land and water resources.

The pyrolysis oil technology that we have selected, following a global search, was developed and commercially proven in the Netherlands; a large U.S. subsidiary of a multinational company that is based in France will provide a turnkey engineering and construction solution. Japanese investors will provide a portion of the project’s equity; one of these could be a strategic investor interested in co-processing pyrolysis oil in Japan.

In addition to producing pyrolysis oil, our Renewable Fuels and Chemicals Manufacturing Center will produce bio-coal (torrefied biomass) using a roasting-like technology, called torrefaction, that is similar to pyrolysis. The torrefaction technology provider is American; the equipment, made in America.

Just as bio-oil can be co-processed in oil refineries, bio-coal can be co-fired in coal power plants to reduce carbon emissions. There is pent-up demand in the United States and abroad for qualifying test batches of bio-coal; and our plant will be set up to export these samples by rail to customers across North America and by ship via the NY State ports of Albany, on the Hudson River, or Ogdensburg, on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

So much for logistics. The project’s public relations potential is enhanced by the fact that Washington County is the birthplace of the first U.S. Consul General to Japan, Townsend Harris, who also founded my alma mater, CCNY, as an institution of higher learning for the children of New York City's ever-growing immigrant population. A wealthy merchant, Harris is credited with opening Japan to foreign trade and culture and is remembered with reverence to this day by the Japanese people.

Harris was born in 1804 in a village in what is now the town of Hudson Falls, NY, not far from the site of our project. He died in 1878. The merchant-diplomat, whose family moved with him to New York City when he was a boy, could never have imagined that Japanese investment in the corner of New York State from which he hailed--which was part of the Dutch colony of New Netherland before it was part of the British colony of New York--would one day fuel the production of renewable energy for a future industry such as petroleum refining.

Is such a development merely a case of historical coincidence, or, is it, as my Buddhist friends might say, proof of the incomprehensible Mystic Law of simultaneous cause and effect that underlies all life and the workings of the universe?

I’m inclined to think it’s the latter; but of this, at least, I'm certain: my project is made possible by the global economy, and I'm grateful to be part of it.

The promise of the incoming Trump administration's trade policy is that after experiencing globalization's distinctly negative and unenlightened--downright destructive--side for so many years, millions of American workers, including legions of left-behind rural residents, will at last be able to make a similarly positive statement: My company ... my job ...  is made possible by the global economy, and I'm glad to be part of it. 

Jonathan Braun is Chairman of NextCoal International, Inc. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The involvement of a French engineering firm adds to the renewable fuels and chemical project's inherent historical interest, given its geographic location and focus on energy independence. French aid to the American Revolution, much of which passed through a neutral Dutch West Indies port, contributed to General George Washington's survival against the British military offensive in 1776 and 1777 and was a key factor in the defeat of General Burgoyne's expedition down the Champlain Corridor that ended in a British disaster at Saratoga, about 50 miles southwest of the project site in Hampton, NY, near the present-day NY-Vermont border. Burgoyne's defeat was a major turning point in the Revolutionary War.