Thursday, April 06, 2023

6: Russia

Macron’s China Trip Is a Fool’s Errand Feeling the heat at home, the French president heads to China to ink some lucrative deals and pay lip service to Xi’s pledges of peace. .

Xi and Macron Call for Ukraine Peace Talks, but the Path Is Murky It is not clear that the Chinese and French leaders — much less Russia and Ukraine — have compatible terms for talks or peace, and Mr. Xi has not publicly agreed to pressure Moscow to negotiate. ....... Mr. Macron told Mr. Xi that he was counting on him “to bring Russia back to reason and everyone back to the negotiating table” on Ukraine. ........ He said that “together with France, we appeal for reason and restraint” in the conflict. China was seeking “a resumption of peace talks as soon as possible,” he said, and, in an apparent nod to Russian concerns over NATO’s expansion eastward, “a European security architecture that is balanced, effective and lasting.” ........... “a joint call with France for the international community,” he said that China “appeals for the protection of civilians. Nuclear weapons must not be used, and nuclear war must not be fought.” ......... There have been no known peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv since last April, and each side insists it has no interest in a cease-fire, setting preconditions that are anathema to the other. ......... Any halt in fighting, Mr. Zelensky has said, would simply solidify the Kremlin’s control of the area it has seized and reward its aggression. ............. If Ukrainian forces recapture enough occupied land in the south to reach the border of Crimea, Kyiv would be willing to discuss the status of the peninsula with Moscow ......... the only open question on Crimea was whether Russia left voluntarily or by force. ....... Western nations are wary that the war could drag on for years, or that losses on the ground could prompt Mr. Putin to escalate. ........ “President Xi reiterated his willingness to speak when conditions and the time are right” with Mr. Zelensky. ....... China and Russia declared they had a “no-limits” friendship last year, though a Chinese ambassador recently downplayed that statement. Mr. Xi said last month that Russia and China were together ushering in a “new era” that puts an end to what the two countries see as American dominance. ........... Mr. Macron is determined, in his words, to build “a strategic and global partnership with China.” ......... China, for its part, has embarked on a charm offensive toward France, and to some degree the 27-nation European Union, and offered Mr. Macron an elaborate and flattering reception — marching bands, a 21-gun salute, a review of troops and a long walk side by side with Mr. Xi on a red carpet leading into the vast building at the western edge of Tiananmen Square. Mr. Xi will spend at least six hours with Mr. Macron in Beijing and Guangzhou on Friday, treatment described by Western diplomats as exceptional and a clear statement of conciliatory intent. ........ The United States increasingly sees China as not only an economic and political rival but an adversary and a security threat, and has tried with mixed success to win its European allies over to that view. ...... Beijing would like to drive a wedge between the United States and Europe, a consistent theme during Mr. Macron’s visit. Mr. Xi, for example, said China supports Mr. Macron’s quest for European “strategic autonomy,” shorthand for some European distancing from the United States. .........

“China considers Europe to be an independent pole in a multipolar world,” Mr. Xi said.

......... he does not view America’s alliance with Europe as a defining feature of the continent in a 21st century that China seeks to shape. .......... “Playing up the ‘democracy vs. authoritarianism’ narrative and stoking a new Cold War will only bring division and confrontation to the world,” it said. ......... Europe’s hard-hit economy needs the Chinese market, and Europe provides major economic opportunities to China that are not readily available in Russia. ........ Mr. Xi borrowed some of the French president’s favorite phrases, speaking of changed “strategic architecture,” freed from “bloc confrontation,” and offering European “strategic autonomy.” ....... The hard part is knowing what all this means, how it might be applied, and what place the United States, France’s oldest ally, would have in such a world.

Ivanka Trump Is Pained

See the rebirth of California’s ‘phantom’ Tulare Lake in striking before-and-after images A once-mighty body of water is rising again in Central California. ......... Tulare Lake was once the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River and was last full in 1878. It was mostly drained in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as its tributaries were dammed and diverted for agriculture.

This phantom lake in California is back with a vengeance Tulare Lake has filled and dried up at many points in history. But this time, towns and farms stand in the way. ...... Tulare Lake, a so-called phantom lake, once the largest freshwater body west of the Mississippi, is quickly reviving due to California’s extreme levels of precipitation. While an influx of water is a relief to many, easing the drought and refilling reservoirs, it spells disaster for other parts of the state. ...... Tulare Lake was once a permanent feature of San Joaquin Valley. It covered an estimated 790 square miles, creating a biodiverse wetlands ecosystem encompassing approximately 10 percent of California. In the late 1800s, settlers began diverting Tulare’s tributaries for agricultural purposes, incrementally drying the lake and exposing nutrient-rich soil. ....... Now, the lake-turned-farmland is one of the most important agricultural regions in the state and is home to hundreds of thousands of Californians. But as of March 31, current precipitation levels in Tulare Lake Basin exceed the wettest years on record, 1968 and 1969. Residents are already seeing vast amounts of water overwhelm their houses, barns, and fields–and it’s only just beginning. If current conditions keep up, says UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain, this may be the worst flood for the Lake Tulare Basin yet. ....... Prior to water diversion, Tulare Lake was estimated to be about 37 feet deep. Shallow lakes evaporate much faster than deep lakes, owing to their larger surface area to volume ratio, allowing the sun to heat up and evaporate the water quickly. California’s hot, dry climate makes its phantom lakes especially ephemeral. ....... Tulare Lake was once a permanent feature of the San Joaquin valley. It’s a natural watershed for the Sierra Nevada and multiple rivers. Today, levees and dams limit the amount of water that can enter the Tulare Lake Basin. Although in the face of such an extreme influx of water, these systems can only do so much. .........

Despite the already significant flood issues, most of the water that will enter the Lake Tulare Basin hasn’t done so yet

............ Rain and snow create the flood, but rising temperatures intensify it. ....... This year, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is three times larger than normal and still growing. As of April 3, 2023, the estimated snowpack for the southern Sierras is 303 percent above average......... In the coming weeks, the Tulare Lake Basin and larger San Joaquin Valley will, unfortunately, experience deeper and more widespread flooding, potentially seeping into urban areas. ........ “There’s just that much water up in the mountains, it can’t go anywhere else, right?” he says, “…In the end, the water always wins.” ......... whatever water enters the basin sits there until it evaporates. An impermeable layer of clay underneath the former lake prevents most water from exiting through the ground. ........ In the last big flood event in 1982 and 1983, the second wettest years in recorded history, the lake did not fully disappear until 1985 ........ The San Joaquin valley has a long history of water wars, and there is no single entity with the authority to make these changes. Private landowners are responsible for many of these decisions.

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