But…the polar bears!

Five hungry polar bears have surrounded a team of unarmed researchers at a remote outpost in northern Russia.

The bears have settled in the fields outside a weather station on the island of Vaygach in the Arctic Sea, preventing researchers from leaving the building to conduct their work, the World Wide Fund for Nature in Russia said in a statement.

The team, which consists of two meteorologists and an engineer, tried to scare them off with flares, but the bears were undeterred — and the Russian WWF says the team has no other weapons at its disposal.

Polar bears regard anything that moves as prey.

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Where do we get real news these days?

Sure, you can watch the cable news programs or check out their web sites on the internet, if you want to hear about Confederate flags, Bill Cosby, or same sex marriage. But if you want real news, that will affect your life and your wallet, you really have to dig.

Greece has been circling the drain for months (years, really), and recent events have finally made the news, but there is very little discussion about why the Greek economy is in such a mess. Spending more money than you have, spending other people’s money, or being unable to pay your debts, are not popular subjects.

One really has to dig to find out that Russia’s inflation rate is now at or over 10%, and the ruble is at historic lows. Or that the Chinese stock market has lost 30% in the last 2 weeks, and one fourth of stock issues are not being traded.

Of course, this may not be the fault of the news services; if silly stuff gets all the viewers and clicks, then silly stuff is what they will give us.

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Walruses coming ashore–due to global warming?

According to the World Wildlife Federation, mass walrus “haul outs” are due to Arctic sea ice receding, due to global warming.

As Arctic sea ice nears its minimum this year, walruses—mostly females and their young—have been forced ashore into crowded haul-outs in Russia and Alaska. The sea ice has again disappeared over shallow feeding areas in the Chukchi Sea. Walruses must instead swim long distances to reach shores where conditions are far more hazardous than on ice.

“Over 35,000 WALRUS frantically come ashore on Alaska beach because global warming has melted the ice they normally rest on” trumpets the Daily Mail.

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“This One Photo Perfectly Sums Up Why Climate Change Is Real” declares Buzzfeed.

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There are a few problems with this doom and gloom.

First of all, there has been no global warming for almost 18 years.

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Next is the inconvenient truth that Arctic ice is expanding, not contracting. This graphic is from the above-mentioned Daily Mail, showing the increase from 2012 to 2013; there is another increase in the summer arctic minimum this year.

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The third problem with this doom-saying is that these walrus conventions have happened before. There were haul outs documented as long ago as 1972 and 1978, long before anyone claimed that there was man-made global warming. The haul outs are noted every few years, and do not correlate with the extent of Arctic sea ice.

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It seems that global warming activists will use anything unusual in nature to justify ruining our economy by getting rid of fossil fuel use for energy. Meanwhile, the growth in the oil and gas industry is all that is keeping our economy afloat.

We won’t do anything this time, either

I remember seeing images like this in the newspapers (yes, we had two) and on television news (all three channels). In 1968, a wave of reform and liberalization swept through Czechoslovakia. The Soviets felt threatened by the changes, and put a stop to any more movement away from the Communist sphere.

In a few days, we could be seeing images like this from Kiev. The current Administration in Washington will decide that the Budapest Memorandum is a scrap of paper, and Moscow will say that the Ukrainians requested the Russians in to “restore order.”

President Obama can say, “There will be costs if Russia interferes in the Ukraine”, but Vladimir Putin and the rest of the world know that this is mere bluster.

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Tweets of the day

Simultaneous tweets this evening…unbelievable!

The Ukraine situation has just gotten really interesting

Jacob and I have broad-ranging geopolitical conversations occasionally, and I have always blithely assured him that we would never have a war with Russia or China. I think I said, “The US does not need all of those tanks we have in Germany; Russia is no longer a threat to invade our allies.” If our current leadership does not grow a spine (or even if it does), I may have to eat my words with a side order of crow.

The Ukraine is a former Soviet republic, positioned between Russia and the rest of Europe. The name literally means “Borderland”. After the Soviet empire breakup, Ukraine retained close ties with Moscow. The eastern and southern parts of the country is largely (but not entirely) Russian by ethnicity and language. Russia maintains a large naval base on the Black Sea in Crimea, the southern section of Ukraine.

Problems arose when Ukraine negotiated ties with the European Union. Vladimir Putin objected, and the Ukrainian president unilaterally cancelled the agreement with the EU. Western Ukrainians rose up in protest, leading to the bloody fighting in the streets of Kiev (or Kyiv, however you want to spell it), and the ouster of the Ukrainian president.

Now there are “armed, uniformed men” forcefully occupying airports in Crimea. Is Russia invading the Ukraine? Why should it matter to us here in the United States? Sounds like a local problem to be solved by the principals in the area, right? Not so fast…

Enter the “Budapest Memorandum”. In 1994, the US and Great Britain felt it would be unwise to leave those old Soviet nuclear weapons lying around in the Ukraine, so Bill Clinton and John Major agreed to defend Ukraine if it were ever invaded. So the Ukraine gave up its nukes.

Putin has now installed 150,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders after the overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych by pro-European protesters.

What’s next? Do we go to war with Russia? Nope, says the Obama administration, this is not an invasion, “this is an uncontested arrival of troops”. How Orwellian, rather like “kinetic military action” in Libya.

Here is the irony. Remember that vice presidential candidate who was “clueless about foreign policy”? A Sarah Palin quote from Oct. 22, 2008:

“After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.”

In 2012, Mitt Romney called Russia “our number one geopolitical threat”. He was widely ridiculed, and President Obama responded, “The 1980’s called…they want their foreign policy back.”

We find ourselves in this situation due to the disastrous foreign policy adventures of the current administration over the past five years. Obama’s feckless handling of various world events emboldened Vladimir Putin, culminating in the Syrian chemical weapons debacle. Does Putin think the US will follow through with its warnings against interference in the Ukraine? We shall see.

What is needed now is some very strong diplomatic activity. But we are not exactly negotiating from a position of strength, as did President Reagan with Mikhail Gorbachev. My prediction is that the US will do nothing, Putin will gain strength, and America will lose valuable influence in world affairs.

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Another bear post

Octogenarian Russian fights off a bear

This attack was not witnessed by anyone, but the old shepherd tells of fighting off the bear with kicks and headbutts, then is thrown off a cliff by the irritated bear.

I can just hear this old Russian telling the story. Either vodka made the codger tough, or improved his storytelling abilities!

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