Tag Archives: Editors Note

Ambassador Taylor: Russia is ‘the single greatest threat to peace in Europe’


Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William G. Taylor believes America should arm Ukraine with weapons to defend itself from the Russian-backed invasion. © CourtesyFormer U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William G. Taylor believes America should arm Ukraine with weapons to defend itself from the Russian-backed invasion. © Courtesy

Note: The following is testimony by former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor speaking at a joint subcommittee hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives on July 29.

Testimony before a Joint Subcommittee Hearing

Committee on Foreign Affairs

Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats

Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade

U.S. House of Representatives

William B. Taylor

United States Institute of Peace

July 29, 2014

Chairman Rohrabacher, Chairman Poe, members of the subcommittees, thank you for the opportunity to present my views on the shooting down of Malaysian Flight 17 and the escalating crisis in Ukraine.  I commend you for this timely and important hearing.

The views I express today are solely my own and do not represent those of the United States Institute of Peace, which does not take policy positions.

The Situation Today

In my view, Russia is today the single greatest threat to peace in Europe.  If the West does not confront this threat—that is, if we appease the Russians now—we will have to confront an even larger threat tomorrow, closer to home.

Members of this committee and your colleagues are fully aware of the situation in Ukraine.  Russian support for the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk– weapons, leadership, financing, organization, personnel, fighters — is the only thing keeping the Ukrainian government from establishing security in southeastern Ukraine.  Security is needed to find the remaining victims of the missile strike on the Malaysian airliner and to complete the investigation.  Russian support allows the separatists to continue to impede those efforts.

In my view we must confront the Russian war against Ukraine.  This aggression started with the quiet invasion of Crimea last spring.  A sham, at-the-end-of-a-rifle referendum was followed by an illegal annexation.  The international community should not allow that annexation to stand.  Until that situation is resolved to the satisfaction of Ukraine, the Russian government should pay serious penalties to Ukraine for the temporary loss of income and illegally confiscated assets that would have come to Ukraine from Crimea.

The international community did not confront the Kremlin over Crimea.  As a consequence, the Russians continued their aggression in Donetsk and Luhansk.  The leaders of the separatist movement have become almost exclusively Russian, and Russian equipment flows across the border unimpeded.  This equipment—including sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons—shot down the Malaysian airliner killing 298 people.  No matter what individual separatist pushed the button to fire the weapon—let’s be clear, Mr. Chairman– the tragedy is Russian responsibility.

Recommendations

What should be done.

First, human decency requires the return of the victims to their families.  Further, experts need access to the crash site to complete the investigation.  If the separatists continue to impede these efforts, the international community– led by the Dutch, Australians and Malaysians; supported by other nations with victims on MH17, including the United States; and with the approval of the Ukrainians—should provide an armed, international security force to protect the investigators and allow them to find the victims and complete their investigation.  That investigation should lead to criminal prosecutions of those found responsible.

Second, the international community, led by the United States, should provide Ukraine with the means to eliminate the separatist forces in their country.  This means weapons, military advice, intelligence, and financial support to pay and equip their soldiers.

Third, the international community should follow the individual travel bans and asset freezes with harsh economic sanctions on entire sectors of the Russian economy to deter the Kremlin from continued support to the separatists, to force them to close their border to weapons, fighters and military support, and to pressure them to return Crimea to Ukraine.

Fourth, the international community, led by the United States, should provide financial support to Ukraine as it simultaneously confronts Russian aggression and undertakes serious economic and political reform.  The International Monetary Fund loans may have to be increased.  Bilateral support will have to be expanded.  Advice on economic reform—energy pricing and anti-corruption in particular—will be needed.

Fifth, the international community should respect Ukraine’s right to decide with whom to associate politically and economically.  Western political and security institutions—specifically, the European Union and NATO—should be open to membership applications from Ukraine.

Mr. Chairman, it is a tragedy that it took the shooting down of a civilian airliner over Ukraine to force the international community to confront Russian aggression.  If we don’t confront it now, it’s appeasement, and Russia will not stop at Donetsk.

Thank you.  I am happy to answer your questions.


Kyiv Post.


Editors Note: Am I the only one who thinks that this is a really bad idea? I know that the Russians are supplying the rebels but for the United States to do the same for the Ukrainians could only escalate things further and who knows what would happen next!!!

U.S. Senators push for military aid to Ukraine


Russian President Vladimir Putin heads the Cabinet meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. The meeting focused on measures to encourage Russian companies to pull their assets back from offshores. The United States and the European Union on Tuesday announced a raft of new sanctions against Russian companies and banks over Moscow’s support for separatists in Ukraine. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)Russian President Vladimir Putin heads the Cabinet meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. The meeting focused on measures to encourage Russian companies to pull their assets back from offshores. The United States and the European Union on Tuesday announced a raft of new sanctions against Russian companies and banks over Moscow’s support for separatists in Ukraine. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators are renewing calls for U.S. military aid to Ukraine after receiving a closed-doors briefing from senior Obama administration officials.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham reports the administration seeing Russia prepared to fight in Ukraine to prevent separatists from being overrun.

In contrast, he says, the U.S. doesn’t have a strategy.

Graham says sanctions against Russia thus far haven’t changed President Vladimir Putin’s calculus.

Graham wants measures targeting Putin personally. And he says lethal aid should be provided to help Ukraine’s military.

Republican Kelly Ayotte and Democrat Bill Nelson agree on military assistance.

Ayotte calls the Obama administration’s failure to provide weapons “shameful.”

President Barack Obama doesn’t believe U.S. military involvement is necessary.


Associated Press.


Editors Note: I wholeheartedly agree with President Obama on this issue, if the U.S. military were to get involved it would open a whole new can of worms and Russia could take it as a declaration of war, which is something that nobody wants!!!

In Kyiv, mourning continues a week after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight #MH17


Kyiv Post Editor’s Note: Kyiv photographer and video journalist Zoya Shu shot this video, with English subtitles, outside the Netherlands Embassy in Kyiv, where hundreds have come to pay their respects daily to the 298 people killed aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17. Most of the victims were Dutch residents flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

People in Kyiv mourn the victims of the MH17 flight

Shu writes: 

“At once after the #MH17 tragedy people in Kyiv, Ukraine, started bringing flowers, toys and candles to the embassies of the Netherlands, Malaysia, United Kingdom and others, to express their condolences as they mourned the victims of the flight.

They keep coming evan now. People stand there in silence, pray, cry. And only kids violate the silence by asking about it, with the childlike directness. It was rather hard to make this video, it’s just plain sadness…Ukraine, always such a peaceful and calm place, has been in turmoil for months, there have already been so many victims of this artificially fomented conflict.

I can not comprehend why people do all that evil to other people. It does not look like it will stop any time soon, but that’s one of my biggest wishes right now.”

Kyiv Post.

Environmental: Water, super-sewers and the filth threatening the River Thames


The Great Stink of the 1800s alerted politicians to the filth in the Thames. The Victorian sewers fixed it, but trouble is brewing again. Is a clean river just a pipe dream?

After 150 years, London's sewage system needs a rejig to keep up with its growing population. Photograph: Mark LovattAfter 150 years, London’s sewage system needs a rejig to keep up with its growing population. Photograph: Mark Lovatt

“Water is the giver of life,” says the great-great-grandson of the engineer who revolutionised London’s sewerage system. “That’s why people always ask if there’s water on Mars to support life. But it is also bringer of death, as we saw in the 19th century.”

Quite so. Before Sir Peter Bazalgette’s great-great-grandfather Joseph built 1,300 miles of sewers and river embankments in London in the 1860s, raw sewage flowed into the tidal section of the Thames and got stalled in a hellishly insanitary circulation system. The stench of what politician Benjamin Disraeli in the mid-19th century called the “Stygian pool” was bad enough – referencing the River Styx of Greek mythology, which formed the boundary between Earth and the underworld – but, worse, Londoners bathed in and drank this water. “Before the great embankments were built, the Thames flowed more gently so the shit went up and down and people were drawing their own effluent,” says Bazalgette. If you’re eating your breakfast, apologies for that last sentence.

The filthy Thames of the Victorian era was a relatively new phenomenon. As late as 1800 it had been clean enough for salmon to be caught and for Lord Byron to swim by Westminster Bridge. By the early 1830s it was a very different river. In 1834, the English wit and cleric Sydney Smith told Lady Grey: “He who drinks a tumbler of London water has literally in his stomach more animated beings than there are Men, Women and Children on the face of the Globe.”

The results were deaths from water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Liverpudlians were less prone to suffer than Londoners – argues David Green, professor of geography at King’s College London – because of their fondness for tea imported through Liverpool’s docks; they were more likely to boil their water. After cholera arrived from India, there were epidemics in London in 1832, 1848, 1849, 1854 and 1866, in which thousands died.

Sir Joseph William Bazalgette, top right, overlooks the Northern Outfall sewer being built below the Abbey Mills pumping station. Photograph: Getty ImagesSir Joseph William Bazalgette, top right, overlooks the Northern Outfall sewer being built below the Abbey Mills pumping station. Photograph: Getty Images Continue reading

Genetically-engineered moths make spider silk for flameproof pants


Monster Silk moths are genetically engineered to produce spider silk. They have been engineered with red eyes so scientists can tell them apart from conventional moths.Monster Silk moths are genetically engineered to produce spider silk. They have been engineered with red eyes so scientists can tell them apart from conventional moths.Kraig Labs

Spider silk is widely considered a superfibre, a near magical material with potential medical and military applications. The problem is that cost-effective mass production has eluded scientists for years. Until now, it seems. A Michigan firm has brought us one step closer thanks to a genetically engineered silkworm, modified to produce spider silk.

Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, based in Michigan, announced today that it has found a way to double the production rate of its commercial product, called Monster Silk. The ramp-up takes the company another step closer to market, and away from the R&D stage.

Spider silk is stronger and lighter than most other fabrics, so it could be used in things like body armour, medical sutures and, oddly, underwear. The US military is experimenting with silk underwear to protect soldiers’… privates … from explosions, since silk doesn’t melt onto skin when exposed to heat. It also resists penetration by finer particles like sand and dirt, which can keep wounds clean.

“Our production system is the only commercially viable technology for producing spider silk,” says Kim Thompson, Kraig’s founder and CEO. Genetically engineered silkworms are “the only way to go.”

Kraig Labs’ spider silk is produced by inserting specific spider genes into silkworm chromosomes. Then the worms (actually moths) produce threads nearly identical to spider silk. The company can vary the silk’s flexibility, strength, and toughness by moving around the DNA sequence. It’s been talking about the technology since at least 2010, and is now finally moving closer to commercialisation.

Kraig’s current production run is largely headed to Warwick Mills, a specialty textile manufacturer that focuses on protective applications like body armour and fireproof wearables. They are making the first Monster Silk textiles, and their research will lay the groundwork for the first commercial sales as soon as next year.

Medical and military applications are where the money is, along with the opportunity to save lives. But those markets will take years to reach fruition thanks to lengthy FDA and military approval processes. In the shorter term, Thompson is interested in making dress shirts and neck ties. The traditional silk clothing market is worth as much as $5 billion per year. “No one material can ever satisfy all textile needs,” he says, and he believes spider silk will see increased usage in textile blends in the near future.

“We’re hoping to add one more arrow to the quiver, and we think it’s a multi-billion dollar arrow.”

This article originally appeared on Wired.com

Wired UK


Editors Note: One has to wonder what would happen if the genetically-engineered moths mated with the conventional moth!