• Теги
    • избранные теги
    • Компании385
      • Показать ещё
      Разное536
      • Показать ещё
      Страны / Регионы653
      • Показать ещё
      Международные организации134
      • Показать ещё
      Издания111
      • Показать ещё
      Формат25
      Люди292
      • Показать ещё
      Показатели19
      • Показать ещё
      Сферы2
RAND Corporation
RAND (англ. РЭНД — аббревиатура от Research & Development — «Исследования и разработка») — американский стратегический исследовательский центр. Является некоммерческой организацией. стратегический центр в городе Санта-Моника (Калифорния) Корпорация RAND (сокращение от Research & Development — науч ...
RAND (англ. РЭНД — аббревиатура от Research & Development — «Исследования и разработка») — американский стратегический исследовательский центр. Является некоммерческой организацией. стратегический центр в городе Санта-Моника (Калифорния) Корпорация RAND (сокращение от Research & Development — научно-исследовательские разработки) стала первой в мире «фабрикой мысли» (по-английски — think-tank). http://www.r&.org Этот центр был основан в калифорнийском городке Санта-Моника в 1948 году под эгидой военно-воздушных сил США. В течение первых десятилетий RAND занимался в основном решением технических задач — конструированием самолетов, ракетной техники и спутников. В начале 60-х специалисты RAND активно занимались вычислительной техникой и программированием. Но уже с начала 50-х RAND начал работать по заказам других американских правительственных организаций, проводя исследования по проблемам национальной безопасности. Сначала исключительно по военно-техническим, а затем и по стратегическим аспектам. При этом RAND оставался некоммерческой организацией, весь его бюджет уходил и уходит на текущие проекты. С течением времени в исследовательском центре появились специалисты по социальным наукам — политологии, экономике, социологии, психологии и т. д., и RAND стал выполнять заказы правительства США по все большему кругу проблем. Сегодня RAND публикует отчеты по самой широкой тематике — от проблем здравоохранения и борьбы с наркотиками до исследований рынка труда, региональной интеграции, экологии, международных отношений и вопросов безопасности как США, так и других стран. Так, среди его заказчиков присутствуют автомобильный гигант Ford Motor и фармацевтическая компания Pfizer, Гарвардский и Стэнфордский университеты, ООН, Еврокомиссия и Всемирный банк, фонды Сороса и Рокфеллера и даже Министерство здравоохранения Китая и многие другие. Организационная структура Штаб-квартира корпорации до сих пор расположена в Санта-Монике (Santa Monica, California (corporate headquarters)), однако со временем RAND открыл свои отделения в Нью-Йорке (New York (Council for Aid to Education)), Вашингтоне (Arlington, Virginia (just outside Washington, D.C.)), Питсбурге (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ), а с начала 90-х за пределами Соединенных Штатов — в Нидерландах (Leiden, The Netherl&s (RAND Europe headquarters)), Великобритании (Cambridge, United Kingdom ), Германии (Berlin, Germany) и Катаре (Doha, Qatar). Кроме филиалов у RAND имеется также три «полевых бюро» (field sites) — в Лэнгли (где расположена штаб-квартира ЦРУ), в Баулдере (штат Колорадо) и с недавних пор в Москве. В ранний период развития коропорация РЭНД имела очень гибкую и подвижную структуру, ее руководство избегало чрезмерного администрирования. Однако по мере роста общего числа сотрудников администрации пришлось выработать более строгие организационные принципы и постоянную структуру. В корпорации РЭНД 11 исследовательских отделов — Вашингтонский отдел оборонных проблем, отделы проблем управления, анализа ресурсов, инженерных наук, наук об окружающей среде, социальных наук, физики, изучения систем, математики, электронно-вычислительной техники и экономики (т.е. отделы скорее соответствуют академическим дисциплинам, а не номенклатуре исследований, деление носит профессиональный, а не функциональный характер). Основной организационный принцип RAND — высокая степень децентрализации. Отдел обладает значительной свободой действий не только при подборе сотрудников, но и при определении программы исследований. Он является независимой единицей и в финансовом отношении — у каждого отдела самостоятельный бюджет, ежегодно утверждаемый руководством корпорации; из этих средств оплачивается работа любого сотрудника отдела независимо от того, выполняет ли он работу внутри отдела или участвует в междисциплинарном проекте. Работа корпорации РЭНД ведется либо в рамках отдела, либо в междисциплинарной группе, специально создаваемой для выполнения того или иного проекта. Работа над проектом начинается с назначения руководителя группы. Некоторое время руководитель работает один, стремясь сформулировать четкую постановку проблемы, цель исследования и средства ее достижения. Завершив подготовительную работу, он приступает к подбору группы, причем в основном этот подбор идет на добровольной основе. Численный состав группы может быть разным — от одного-двух человек до нескольких десятков. Достаточно типичен случай, когда в группу входят три-четыре специалиста в разных областях знания. Итог работы над любым заданием — доклад. Первоначально группа разрабатывает проект доклада исключительно для внутреннего пользования (иногда на этой стадии может быть принято решение о нецелеобразности дальнейшей работы над темой и о роспуске группы). Затем материал дорабатывается и поступает заказчику в форме окончательного доклада, причем каждый доклад по традиции считается выражением личного мнения его авторов, а не всей корпорации в целом (корпорация отвечает лишь за общий профессиональный уровень и сроки выполнения работы). Только в особо важных случаях — когда речь идет либо о жизненно важной для страны проблеме, либо о чрезвычайно противоречивом вопросе — руководство РЭНД может выступить с официальной рекомендацией заказчику от имени всей корпорации. Цели и задачи Официально RAND Corporation — «бесприбыльное учреждение, специализирующееся на улучшении политики [американского] общества путем исследования и анализа». Цели организации определены лаконично, но широко — продвинуть и содействовать научной, образовательной, и благотворительной деятельности в интересах общественного благополучия и национальной безопасности США. РЭНД ставит также задачу разработки и выявления новых методов анализа стратегических проблем и новых стратегических концепций. Для достижения своих целей корпорация организует конференции (международные и национальные), симпозиумы и семинары, брифинги; выпускает пресс-релизы; участвует в создании радио- и телепрограмм; организует брифинги и презентации для членов правительства, оппозиционных политических сил, политических и промышленных организаций, а также ведет образовательные и тренинговые программы. R& также имеет «полностью аккредитованную» школу дипломированного специалиста, которая имеет право присваивать докторскую степень (Ph. D.) по общественно-политическим наукам. Руководство корпорации РЭНД Джеймс А. Томсон является Президентом РЭНДа и первым лицом (Chief Executive Officer), начиная с августа 1989. Под руководством доктора Томсона, РЭНД сдвинул центр своей исследовательской повестки дня к проблемам эры «после холодной войны», расширил клиентскую базу и охватил больший массив клиентуры в общественном и частном секторе, а также резко увеличил филантропическую поддержку своих программ. Майкл Д. Рич — исполнительный вице-президент РЭНДа, второе лицо по рангу в учреждении. Он возглавлял многочисленные засекреченные и незасекреченные работы РЭНДа, включая исследования по стратегии создания бомбардировщика B-2, исследования о тенденциях в развитии оружия, многонациональном совместном производстве аэрокосмических систем, различных вопросов готовности и других тем, связанных с национальной обороной. История развития Во время войны в Соединенных Штатах значительная группа гражданских лиц — преимущественно ученых и инженеров — была мобилизована для ведения войны на «технологическом фронте». В относительно короткий срок эта группа создала такие новшества, как атомная бомба, радар и неконтактный взрыватель. Был также разработан и усовершенствован новый аналитический метод — исследование операций,— который с успехом был применен для повышения эффективности ПВО, бомбометания и военно-морских операций. В конце войны, когда этот коллектив стал распадаться, военное ведомство решило сохранить некоторых наиболее талантливых сотрудников, с тем чтобы они и в последующие годы разрабатывали военную технологию, и в частности продолжили также работы в области исследования операций. Именно с этой целью генерал X. X. Арнольд, командующий авиацией сухопутных войск, представил в вышестоящие инстанции предложение о заключении соглашения между ВВС и авиастроительной фирмой «Дуглас». Предложение было одобрено, и в соответствии с ним было создано уникальное экспериментальное учреждение, получившее наименование «Проект РЭНД». Сокращение РЭНД (RAND) было составлено по первым буквам английских слов Research & Development. «Проект РЭНД» был создан в качестве подразделения фирмы «Дуглас» по контракту стоимостью 10 млн. долл. Организация начала свою деятельность в 1946 г. с официальной целью осуществить «научно-исследовательскую программу по широкой тематике, посвященной межконтинентальной войне во всех аспектах, за исключением наземных военных действий». В поставленную задачу входило также представление военно-воздушным силам рекомендаций относительно «предпочтительных методов и средств». Персонал «Проекта РЭНД» немедленно получил задание рассмотреть новые и неизученные возможности, которые могли бы заинтересовать военных. Его первой крупной работой было исследование, озаглавленное «Предварительный проект экспериментального космического корабля, вращающегося вокруг Земли». Несмотря на то что искусственные спутники в то время считались преимущественно достоянием научной фантастики, в этом документе 1946 г. давалась детальная оценка перспектив использования научных спутников и изучения космоса, подготовленная 50 учеными. Поскольку данное исследование оказалось удивительно пророческим, оно впоследствии в очень большой мере способствовало укреплению престижа «РЭНД». (Космические исследования «РЭНД» оказались пророческими не только в этом случае. Так, когда в середине 1957 г. была названа предполагаемая дата запуска первого спутника, то, как выяснилось впоследствии, ошибка составила всего две недели.). Другие ранние исследования «РЭНД» охватывали такие совершенно новые области, как использование ракетных двигателей для стратегического оружия (ракеты), ядерные силовые установки, теория игр в применении к военному делу, новые концепции ПВО, проектирование новых типов самолетов, усталость металлов и излучение высоких энергий. Уже в первый год своего существования «РЭНД» стала пополнять свой штат специалистами по вопросам политики, экономистами и психологами, с тем чтобы теоретические изыскания не ограничивались только точными науками. По мере роста корпорации «РЭНД» ее создателям стало ясно, что эксперимент оказался удачным. Дело было не только в том, что частично удалось сохранить талантливый научный коллектив, созданный во время войны, но, кроме того, военное ведомство получило в свое распоряжение творческий аппарат такого масштаба и возможностей, который было бы невозможно создать иным путем ни за какие деньги. Корпорация «РЭНД» предоставляла рассчитанные на длительную перспективу теоретические изыскания в самых разнообразных областях, причем эти рекомендации нельзя разработать в кабинетах официальных правительственных учреждений, сотрудники которых приспособили свое мышление к повседневным потребностям и решению узких задач. Стало также очевидным, что организация, подобная корпорации «РЭНД», является более маневренной и более управляемой по сравнению с любым университетским центром, где возникает слишком много проблем в связи с необходимостью обеспечения безопасности и преодоления ведомственных границ между факультетами при комплектовании крупных научных коллективов для изучения проблем, затрагивающих различные научные дисциплины. К 60-м гг. РЭНД обратилась к вопросам внутренней политики и привнесла свою модель эмпирического, бескорыстного, независимого анализа в исследование актуальных социальных и экономических проблем внутри страны. Сегодня корпорация продолжает работать над долгосрочными общественно-политическими программами, охватывающими все сферы общественной жизни; в рамках этих программ она выявляет новые стратегические аспекты национальных проблем. На условиях поштучного спонсорского финансирования ведутся также отдельные проекты, оценки и исследования политики и технологии, разработка программ, операционный анализ. Достижения корпорации РЭНД Корпорацией «РЭНД» была проведена значительная работа по изучению проблем распространения ядерного оружия, в ходе которой осуществлялся анализ экономических, политических и технических аспектов создания ядерного потенциала в различных странах. Корпорация осуществила также ряд секретных программ по разработке технических средств для военных нужд, в том числе вращающейся сканирующей фотокамеры для воздушной разведки, загоризонтной радарной установки, «бесшумного» самолета для ночной воздушной разведки, а также новых методов бомбометания Корпорация провела большую работу для Комиссии по атомной энергии в области проектирования ядерного оружия и изучения его действия. По крайней мере одна из новых ядерных бомб, обладающая повышенной мощностью, которая теперь входит в арсенал США, была создана благодаря идеям, возникшим в результате исследований, проведенных корпорацией «РЭНД». Корпорацией «РЭНД» разработан и еще один метод, основанный на использовании ЭВМ. Это — электронное моделирование или же создание при помощи ЭВМ системы, имитирующей работу другой системы, которая может быть всем, чем угодно,— от модели человеческого сердца до проектируемой системы оружия. Корпорация «РЭНД» разработала целый ряд весьма сложных и тонких математических методов, в частности линейное программирование, динамическое программирование, определение очередности проблем, нелинейное программирование, метод Монте-Карло, теория игр и т.д. Также корпорация «РЭНД» является разработчиком концепции «гибкого реагирования», «контрсилы» и т.п. «РЭНД» разрабатывает также новые подходы в области методов футурологии и технического прогнозирования. Самый знаменитый метод известен под названием «Дельфи». (Источник)
Развернуть описание Свернуть описание
15 января, 16:45

Interactive Missile Map Reveals How Messy a NATO-Russia War Would Be

Robert Beckhusen Security, Europe Russia, Poland and the Baltic States get the worst of it.  The first of 3,500 American troops began rolling into Poland for a nine-month-long mission starting on Jan. 8, 2017. It’s an unprecedented length of time for a U.S. armored unit to stay in Eastern Europe. The U.S. Army’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division were heading to Zagan and Pomorskie, with the unit’s 87 M-1 Abrams tanks following on trains. It’s the beginning of a bulked-up and continuous NATO troop rotation to counter a resurgent Russia. In addition to the tanks, the unit is bringing with it 18 self-propelled Paladin howitzers, hundreds of Humvees and 144 Bradley fighting vehicles which will spread out across Eastern Europe. There hasn’t been a U.S. military deployment in Europe this big since the Cold War. But as the troops move beyond Zagan, they will fall under the shadow of Russia’s land-based strike missiles in Kaliningrad, the Connecticut-sized enclave squeezed between Poland, Lithuania and the Baltic Sea. Russia has invested heavily in building up its military presence there in recent years. In the event of a military conflict over the Baltic States, Russian missiles in Kaliningrad could target NATO troops heading from Poland. That could slow reinforcements were Russia to invade Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The Baltics would need those NATO reinforcements to have a chance, slim as it would be, to stop a vastly more numerous Russian army. Indeed, Russia’s army is smaller than it once was, but it is “more than adequate … to overwhelm whatever defense the Baltic armies might be able to present,” a RAND Corporation study noted in 2016. Kaliningrad’s missiles pose a serious complication to NATO. The enclave is practically loaded with them. Russia/NATO A2AD Read full article

13 января, 13:09

Pravda on the Checkout Line

First Donald Trump got an endorsement from the tabloids. Now he’s getting a mouthpiece.

11 января, 22:29

Сила принуждения

Здравствуйте, мои дорогие друзья!P2C – так сокращается выражение «Power To Coerce» («сила принуждения»), и эти слова стали заголовком доклада RAND Corporation, который полностью переводится как «Сила принуждения: противодействие оппонентам без вступления в войну»(Power to Coerce: Countering Adversaries Without Going To War). Доклад, появившийся в 2016 году, говорит о том, что нападение и военные действия против определенных стран могут оказаться слишком дорогостоящими и привести к нежелательным долгосрочным последствиям. С другой стороны, процесс постепенных внутренних перемен, которые позволили бы Западу побудить страну изменить свое поведение и получить над ней контроль, занимает чересчур много времени.А потому, используя возможности западных стран и международных организаций, следует добиться того, чтобы навязать таким государствам волю Америки – тогда этим странам не останется ничего иного, как вести себя на международной арене в соответствии с целями и желаниями Запада. В докладе приведены следующие три метода:1) экономическое эмбарго;2) демонстрации, выражение «народного возмущение»;3) кибератаки.Три страны, которые, согласно докладу, должны стать объектами применения этих трех методов: Россия, Иран и Китай.Когда читаешь подобный материал, очень хорошо понимаешь, каким на деле является подход Америки к этим трем странам и какую роль «западники» и западные НКО (работающие под лозунгом демократии и общественных свобод) играют в реальности. Надеюсь, прочитав данный доклад, мы лучше поймем ситуацию касательно наших стран, и сможем лучше защищать свои страны от такого рода заговоров.

11 января, 09:04

Британия не сможет заменить США для стран Балтии

Интервью с автором многочисленных работ об армиях стран Балтии и НАТО Юрием Зверевым.

09 января, 23:06

President Obama Honors Federally-Funded Early-Career Scientists

Today, President Obama named 102 scientists and researchers as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.   “I congratulate these outstanding scientists and engineers on their impactful work,” President Obama said. “These innovators are working to help keep the United States on the cutting edge, showing that Federal investments in science lead to advancements that expand our knowledge of the world around us and contribute to our economy.”   The Presidential Early Career Awards highlight the key role that the Administration places in encouraging and accelerating American innovation to grow our economy and tackle our greatest challenges. This year’s recipients are employed or funded by the following departments and agencies: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Interior, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, and the Intelligence Community. These departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies' missions.   The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.   The newest recipients are:   Department of Agriculture Michelle Cilia, USDA Agricultural Research Service Pankaj Lal, Montclair State University Michael Ulyshen, USDA Forest Service   Department of Commerce Nicholas Butch, NIST Center for Neutron Research Mandy Karnauskas, NOAA Fisheries Anne Perring, University of Colorado, Boulder Corey Potvin, University of Oklahoma John Teufel, NIST Physical Measurement Laboratory Justin Zook, NIST Material Measurement Laboratory   Department of Defense Michael Bell, Colorado State University Nurcin Celik, University of Miami Kaushik Chowdhury, Northeastern University Shawn Douglas, University of California, San Francisco Christopher Dyer, DeepMind and Carnegie Mellon University Aaron Esser-Kahn, University of California, Irvine Sinan Keten, Northwestern University Jonathan Fan, Stanford University Danna Freedman, Northwestern University Thomas Harris, Northwestern University David Hsieh, California Institute of Technology Osama Nayfeh, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center-Pacific Olukayode Okusaga, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory  Joseph Parker, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory  Adam Pilchak, Air Force Research Laboratory  Harris Wang, Columbia University   Department of Education Daphna Bassok, University of Virginia Shayne Piasta, The Ohio State University   Department of Energy Jonathan Belof, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Carl Dahl, Northwestern University Eric Duoss, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Anna Grassellino, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Jacqueline Hakala, National Energy Technology Laboratory Stephanie Hansen, Sandia National Laboratories Kory Hedman, Arizona State University Alan Kruizenga, Sandia National Laboratories Wei Li, Rice University Guglielmo Scovazzi, Duke University Michael Tonks, Penn State University Jenny Yang, University of California, Irvine John Yeager, Los Alamos National Laboratory   Department of Health and Human Services Gregory Alushin, Rockefeller University Manish Arora, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Dawn Cornelison, University of Missouri Kashmira Date, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Craig Duvall, Vanderbilt University Nicholas Gilpin, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center  Anna Greka, Brigham and Women's Hospital Pamela Guerrerio, National Institutes of Health Gery Guy, Jr., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Christine Hendon, Columbia University Catherine Karr, University of Washington Maria Lehtinen, Boston Children's Hospital Adriana Lleras-Muney, University of California, Los Angeles Mary Kay Lobo, University of Maryland School of Medicine Michael McAlpine, University of Minnesota Eric Morrow, Brown University  Daniel O'Connor, Johns Hopkins University Aimee Shen, Tufts University Cui Tao, University of Texas Jacquelyn Taylor, Yale School of Nursing Benjamin Voight, University of Pennsylvania Matthew Wheeler, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Blake Wiedenheft, Montana State University     Department of Interior Nathaniel Hitt, U.S. Geological Survey Sarah Minson, U.S. Geological Survey Diann Prosser, U.S. Geological Survey   Department of Veterans Affairs Adam Rose, RAND Corporation and Boston Medical Center Nasia Safdar, Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital Joshua Yarrow, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs   Environmental Protection Agency Havala Pye, Environmental Protection Agency Sala Senkayi, Environmental Protection Agency   Intelligence Community Matthew Dicken, U.S. Army Josiah Dykstra, National Security Agency James Kang, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Jason Matheny, Office of the Director of National Intelligence David Moehring, IonQ, Inc. R. Jacob Vogelstein, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity   National Aeronautics and Space Administration Jeremy Bassis, University of Michigan Othmane Benafan, NASA Glenn Research Center Dalia Kirschbaum, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Marco Pavone, Stanford University Miguel Roman, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center   National Science Foundation Alicia Alonzo, Michigan State University Randy Ewoldt, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Emily Fox, University of Washington Jacob Fox, Stanford University Eric Hudson, University of California, Los Angeles Shawn Jordan, Arizona State University Ahmad Khalil, Boston University Oleg Komogortsev, Texas State University, San Marcos John Kovac, Harvard University Bérénice Mettler, University of Minnesota and icuemotion, LLC Jelani Nelson, Harvard University Elizabeth Nolan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Michael Rotkowitz, University of Maryland, College Park Andrea Sweigart, University of Georgia Chuanbing Tang, University of South Carolina Aradhna Tripati, University of California, Los Angeles Franck Vernerey, University of Colorado, Boulder Juan Pablo Vielma Centeno, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Makeba Wilbourn, Duke University      Smithsonian Institution Nicholas Pyenson, Smithsonian Institution  

09 января, 21:31

Trump Struggles To Find A Veterans Hatchet Person

As I'm writing this, Donald Trump has still not named a nominee to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. Maybe he will have, shortly after this is published. But, even if he does, the struggle he has had to find anyone qualified willing to take the job, thus far, is demonstrative of a bigger issue: He can't find someone well-qualified who wants to execute his plan to turn VA Care into voucher-care. The Cleveland Clinic's Toby Cosgrove (Trump's rumored favorite for the job) told Trump "thanks, but no thanks." Another top pick, Luis Quinonez turned down the job, after meeting with Trump. Thus far, Donald Trump doesn't seem to have found anyone qualified for the job. Maybe it's because of what Trump has told his potential nominees what he wants to do to the VA. Donald Trump and his advisors could not have been more clear during the campaign. He was going to move veterans' health care to voucher-care. The Wall Street Journal detailed Trump's thinking way back during the summer: Donald Trump Adviser Signals Plan to Change Veterans' Health Care GOP front-runner would likely push VA toward privatization, shift to an insurance model Simply put, this is a horrible idea that's opposed by the major Veterans Service Organizations, from the VFW to American Legion. While the scandal that rocked the agency, regarding wait times, brought new attention to the agency's fixable shortcomings, the VA still enjoys tremendous favorability among veterans who use its services, according to independent surveys. Not only that, but the VA consistently delivers a higher level of care than private hospitals, according to the RAND Corporation. A bi-partisan poll found that a majority of veterans strongly opposes the privatization of the VA. In short, the VA provides high-level care that veterans, overall, very much like. And there's a relatively simple way to address the issues that the VA does have. We should provide it with the funds it needs to hire more doctors and staff, retain good doctors by offering competitive pay, and building more VA centers to deal with the influx of veterans who have entered the system as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And while that is happening, programs like Veterans Choice should remain in place, which temporarily allow veterans who have waited the longest to get full reimbursement for private care. But Trump has another idea. He's aligned himself with the Koch Brothers, and Concerned Veterans of America, which they fund, in seeking to slowly strangle guaranteed care for veterans, by privatizing the system. That plan would do a few things. First, much like school vouchers, VA insurance or care vouchers would be useful for those who could supplement them to get the kind of care they need. For those who couldn't, they'd be left behind in a dreadfully underfunded VA. Second, it would put veterans in a system with a profit motive, not a care motive. For all the issues facing the VA, the one thing that cannot be said about it is that it looks to cut costs by denying care - something that can be said about the private care system. Third, it would bleed the system dry, forcing mass closures of VA hospitals and care centers. Those centers are specially qualified to handle the needs of veterans that many hospitals and doctors are not qualified to handle - from prosthetics to traumatic brain injuries to exposure to Agent Orange and burning oil fields. Not every neighborhood hospital is able to handle those unique needs. And so, veterans would be left with a voucher and a message of "good luck finding someone who can care for your brain injury," from Donald Trump. It's fairly likely that people like Mr. Cosgrove and Mr. Quinones realize that, and Trump's privatization plan was a factor in them turning down the job. And, it's likely the reason that, thus far, the only people who seem eager to be the veterans hatchet person are Koch-affiliated CVA Founder Pete Hegseth, failed former Senator Scott Brown, and half-term Governor Sarah Palin. Maybe by the time this is published, Donald Trump will have reversed course, and given up VA privatization, so he can bring on someone qualified to lead the agency. One can only hope. With just days until the new administration takes over, no transition to a new team at the VA has even started. Even before he takes the oath of office, veterans are already losing, under Donald Trump. Sad! -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

05 января, 22:46

The Sleep Crisis is Causing a Multi-Billion Dollar Loss of Productivity

A recent report by the Rand Corporation estimated that sleep deprivation is costing the US economy $411 billion dollars, by way of employee disengagement and rising healthcare costs. As a response to this sleep epidemic, Arianna Huffington launched recently launched her new platform Thrive Global, a site dedicated to health and wellness with a particular focus on sleep. Through this platform, Huffington and other celebrities like Jeff Bezos, Tina Fey, and Selena Gomez talk about the importance of rest and how it leads to increased success. In a country with thousands upon thousands of entrepreneurs -- who are specifically prone to burnout by working long hours and getting little sleep -- Huffington's push for Z-catching is certainly good news. However, roughly 60 million Americans aren't electively awake at all hours of the night: they suffer from insomnia. To that end, biotech startups are raising capital for better solutions. For instance, Blake Insomnia Therapeutics is conducting a single-digit million dollar raise to help them innovate products that induce sleep in a more efficient way, addressing the fact that popular sleep aids like Lunesta and Ambien can still cause drowsiness during the day, which is not conducive to mental clarity or productivity. Insomnia itself costs the US government between $15 and $92 billion alone in healthcare costs and loses about $63.2 billion per year in employee productivity; even more devastating, statistics show that 100,000 vehicle accidents occur each year due to drowsy driving. As such, Blake Insomnia is working with a compound (branded as Zleepax), which uses a beta blocker as its primary ingredient, thereby reducing the side effects of drowsiness or restless sleep. But for those who are looking to get a better sleep and improve their productivity the natural way, the number one remedy may be to disconnect from technology a few hours before bed, according to Huffington. With the invention of the smartphone, we have a portal to everything we have to think about each day - our to do list, constant texts, work emails, mindless internet surfing , so it's no wonder that we can't turn off our brains. In fact, research study by the University of Zurich found that those who constantly use their smartphones have an elevated level of brain activity every time they touch their fingers to their phone's screen, which leads to severe stress on the mind. In the same vein, according to Addiction Tips, keeping one's phone next to the pillow is the worst thing you can do for your sleep; when you look at your phone, it confuses your melatonin levels and can lead to insomnia. For a better night's sleep, experts suggest leaving your phone in another room and disconnecting from all technology a couple hours before bed, allowing your brain to wind down. Since many of us are addicted to our phones and are afraid to miss work messages, this will be difficult. But ultimately, better rest leads to increased productivity, which may just increase our career success -- and lead to a better quality of life. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

05 января, 20:59

U.S. Special Operations Forces Deploy To 70% Of The World's Countries

The Year of the Commando Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com They could be found on the outskirts of Sirte, Libya, supporting local militia fighters, and in Mukalla, Yemen, backing troops from the United Arab Emirates.  At Saakow, a remote outpost in southern Somalia, they assisted local commandos in killing several members of the terror group al-Shabab.  Around the cities of Jarabulus and Al-Rai in northern Syria, they partnered with both Turkish soldiers and Syrian militias, while also embedding with Kurdish YPG fighters and the Syrian Democratic Forces.  Across the border in Iraq, still others joined the fight to liberate the city of Mosul.  And in Afghanistan, they assisted indigenous forces in various missions, just as they have every year since 2001. For America, 2016 may have been the year of the commando.  In one conflict zone after another across the northern tier of Africa and the Greater Middle East, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) waged their particular brand of low-profile warfare.  “Winning the current fight, including against the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and other areas where SOF is engaged in conflict and instability, is an immediate challenge,” the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), General Raymond Thomas, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last year. SOCOM’s shadow wars against terror groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (also known as ISIL) may, ironically, be its most visible operations.  Shrouded in even more secrecy are its activities -- from counterinsurgency and counterdrug efforts to seemingly endless training and advising missions -- outside acknowledged conflict zones across the globe.  These are conducted with little fanfare, press coverage, or oversight in scores of nations every single day.  From Albania to Uruguay, Algeria to Uzbekistan, America’s most elite forces -- Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets among them -- were deployed to 138 countries in 2016, according to figures supplied to TomDispatch by U.S. Special Operations Command.  This total, one of the highest of Barack Obama’s presidency, typifies what has become the golden age of, in SOF-speak, the “gray zone” -- a phrase used to describe the murky twilight between war and peace.  The coming year is likely to signal whether this era ends with Obama or continues under President-elect Donald Trump’s administration. America’s most elite troops deployed to 138 nations in 2016, according to U.S. Special Operations Command.  The map above displays the locations of 132 of those countries; 129 locations (blue) were supplied by U.S. Special Operations Command; 3 locations (red) -- Syria, Yemen and Somalia -- were derived from open-source information. (Nick Turse)CLICK TO ENLARGE “In just the past few years, we have witnessed a varied and evolving threat environment consisting of: the emergence of a militarily expansionist China; an increasingly unpredictable North Korea; a revanchist Russia threatening our interests in both Europe and Asia; and an Iran which continues to expand its influence across the Middle East, fueling the Sunni-Shia conflict,” General Thomas wrote last month in PRISM, the official journal of the Pentagon’s Center for Complex Operations.  “Nonstate actors further confuse this landscape by employing terrorist, criminal, and insurgent networks that erode governance in all but the strongest states... Special operations forces provide asymmetric capability and responses to these challenges.” In 2016, according to data provided to TomDispatch by SOCOM, the U.S. deployed special operators to China (specifically Hong Kong), in addition to eleven countries surrounding it -- Taiwan (which China considers a breakaway province), Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Laos, the Philippines, South Korea, and Japan.  Special Operations Command does not acknowledge sending commandos into Iran, North Korea, or Russia, but it does deploy troops to many nations that ring them.  SOCOM is willing to name only 129 of the 138 countries its forces deployed to in 2016. “Almost all Special Operations forces deployments are classified,” spokesman Ken McGraw told TomDispatch.  “If a deployment to a specific country has not been declassified, we do not release information about the deployment.”     SOCOM does not, for instance, acknowledge sending troops to the war zones of Somalia, Syria, or Yemen, despite overwhelming evidence of a U.S. special ops presence in all three countries, as well as a White House report, issued last month, that notes “the United States is currently using military force in” Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, and specifically states that “U.S. special operations forces have deployed to Syria.” According to Special Operations Command, 55.29% of special operators deployed overseas in 2016 were sent to the Greater Middle East, a drop of 35% since 2006.  Over the same span, deployments to Africa skyrocketed by more than 1600% -- from just 1% of special operators dispatched outside the U.S. in 2006 to 17.26% last year.  Those two regions were followed by areas served by European Command (12.67%), Pacific Command (9.19%), Southern Command (4.89%), and Northern Command (0.69%), which is in charge of “homeland defense.”  On any given day, around 8,000 of Thomas’s commandos can be found in more than 90 countries worldwide. U.S. Special Operations forces deployed to 138 nations in 2016.  Locations in blue were supplied by U.S. Special Operations Command.  Those in red were derived from open-source information.  Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, and Russia are not among those nations named or identified, but all are at least partially surrounded by nations visited by America’s most elite troops last year. (Nick Turse)CLICK TO ENLARGE The Manhunters “Special Operations forces are playing a critical role in gathering intelligence -- intelligence that’s supporting operations against ISIL and helping to combat the flow of foreign fighters to and from Syria and Iraq,” said Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, in remarks at the International Special Operations Forces Convention last year.  Such intelligence operations are “conducted in direct support of special operations missions,” SOCOM’s Thomas explained in 2016.  “The preponderance of special operations intelligence assets are dedicated to locating individuals, illuminating enemy networks, understanding environments, and supporting partners.”  Signals intelligence from computers and cellphones supplied by foreign allies or intercepted by surveillance drones and manned aircraft, as well as human intelligence provided by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has been integral to targeting individuals for kill/capture missions by SOCOM’s most elite forces.  The highly secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), for example, carries out such counterterrorism operations, including drone strikes, raids, and assassinations in places like Iraq and Libya.  Last year, before he exchanged command of JSOC for that of its parent, SOCOM, General Thomas noted that members of Joint Special Operations Command were operating in “all the countries where ISIL currently resides.”  (This may indicate a special ops deployment to Pakistan, another country absent from SOCOM’s 2016 list.)    “[W]e have put our Joint Special Operations Command in the lead of countering ISIL's external operations.  And we have already achieved very significant results both in reducing the flow of foreign fighters and removing ISIL leaders from the battlefield,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter noted in a relatively rare official mention of JSOC’s operations at an October press conference.  A month earlier, he offered even more detail in a statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee: ”We’re systematically eliminating ISIL’s leadership: the coalition has taken out seven members of the ISIL Senior Shura... We also removed key ISIL leaders in both Libya and Afghanistan... And we’ve removed from the battlefield more than 20 of ISIL’s external operators and plotters... We have entrusted this aspect of our campaign to one of [the Department of Defense’s] most lethal, capable, and experienced commands, our Joint Special Operations Command, which helped deliver justice not only to Osama Bin Laden, but also to the man who founded the organization that became ISIL, Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi.” Asked for details on exactly how many ISIL “external operators” were targeted and how many were “removed” from the battlefield by JSOC in 2016, SOCOM’s Ken McGraw replied: “We do not and will not have anything for you.”  When he was commander of JSOC in 2015, General Thomas spoke of his and his unit’s “frustrations” with limitations placed on them.  “I’m told ‘no’ more than ‘go’ on a magnitude of about ten to one on almost a daily basis,” he said.  Last November, however, the Washington Post reported that the Obama administration was granting a JSOC task force “expanded power to track, plan and potentially launch attacks on terrorist cells around the globe.”  That Counter-External Operations Task Force (also known as “Ex-Ops”) has been “designed to take JSOC’s targeting model... and export it globally to go after terrorist networks plotting attacks against the West.”  SOCOM disputes portions of the Post story.  “Neither SOCOM nor any of its subordinate elements have... been given any expanded powers (authorities),” SOCOM’s Ken McGraw told TomDispatch by email.  “Any potential operation must still be approved by the GCC [Geographic Combatant Command] commander [and], if required, approved by the Secretary of Defense or [the president].” “U.S. officials” (who spoke only on the condition that they be identified in that vague way) explained that SOCOM’s response was a matter of perspective.  Its powers weren’t recently expanded as much as institutionalized and put “in writing,” TomDispatch was told.  “Frankly, the decision made months ago was to codify current practice, not create something new.”  Special Operations Command refused to confirm this but Colonel Thomas Davis, another SOCOM spokesman, noted: “Nowhere did we say that there was no codification.” With Ex-Ops, General Thomas is a “decision-maker when it comes to going after threats under the task force’s purview,” according to the Washington Post’s Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Dan Lamothe.  “The task force would essentially turn Thomas into the leading authority when it comes to sending Special Operations units after threats.”  Others claim Thomas has only expanded influence, allowing him to directly recommend a plan of action, such as striking a target, to the Secretary of Defense, allowing for shortened approval time.  (SOCOM’s McGraw says that Thomas “will not be commanding forces or be the decision maker for SOF operating in any GCC's [area of operations].”) Last November, Defense Secretary Carter offered an indication of the frequency of offensive operations following a visit to Florida’s Hurlburt Field, the headquarters of Air Force Special Operations Command.  He noted that “today we were looking at a number of the Special Operations forces’ assault capabilities.  This is a kind of capability that we use nearly every day somewhere in the world... And it's particularly relevant to the counter-ISIL campaign that we're conducting today.”  In Afghanistan, alone, Special Operations forces conducted 350 raids targeting al-Qaeda and Islamic State operatives last year, averaging about one per day, and capturing or killing nearly 50 “leaders” as well as 200 “members” of the terror groups, according to General John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in that country.  Some sources also suggest that while JSOC and CIA drones flew roughly the same number of missions in 2016, the military launched more than 20,000 strikes in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria, compared to less than a dozen by the Agency. This may reflect an Obama administration decision to implement a long-considered plan to put JSOC in charge of lethal operations and shift the CIA back to its traditional intelligence duties.  World of Warcraft “[I]t is important to understand why SOF has risen from footnote and supporting player to main effort, because its use also highlights why the U.S. continues to have difficulty in its most recent campaigns -- Afghanistan, Iraq, against ISIS and AQ and its affiliates, Libya, Yemen, etc. and in the undeclared campaigns in the Baltics, Poland, and Ukraine -- none of which fits the U.S. model for traditional war,” said retired Lieutenant General Charles Cleveland, chief of U.S. Army Special Operations Command from 2012 to 2015 and now a senior mentor to the chief of staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group.  Asserting that, amid the larger problems of these conflicts, the ability of America's elite forces to conduct kill/capture missions and train local allies has proven especially useful, he added, “SOF is at its best when its indigenous and direct-action capabilities work in support of each other. Beyond Afghanistan and Iraq and ongoing CT [counterterrrorism] efforts elsewhere, SOF continues to work with partner nations in counterinsurgency and counterdrug efforts in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.”  SOCOM acknowledges deployments to approximately 70% of the world’s nations, including all but three Central and South American countries (Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela being the exceptions). Its operatives also blanket Asia, while conducting missions in about 60% of the countries in Africa.    A SOF overseas deployment can be as small as one special operator participating in a language immersion program or a three-person team conducting a “survey” for the U.S. embassy.  It may also have nothing to do with a host nation’s government or military.  Most Special Operations forces, however, work with local partners, conducting training exercises and engaging in what the military calls “building partner capacity” (BPC) and “security cooperation” (SC).  Often, this means America’s most elite troops are sent to countries with security forces that are regularly cited for human rights abuses by the U.S. State Department.  Last year in Africa, where Special Operations forces utilize nearly 20 different programs and activities -- from training exercises to security cooperation engagements -- these included Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda, among others. In 2014, for example, more than 4,800 elite troops took part in just one type of such activities -- Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) missions -- around the world.  At a cost of more than $56 million, Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, and other special operators carried out 176 individual JCETs in 87 countries.  A 2013 RAND Corporation study of the areas covered by Africa Command, Pacific Command, and Southern Command found “moderately low” effectiveness for JCETs in all three regions.  A 2014 RAND analysis of U.S. security cooperation, which also examined the implications of “low-footprint Special Operations forces efforts,” found that there “was no statistically significant correlation between SC and change in countries’ fragility in Africa or the Middle East.”  And in a 2015 report for Joint Special Operations University, Harry Yarger, a senior fellow at the school, noted that “BPC has in the past consumed vast resources for little return.” Despite these results and larger strategic failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, the Obama years have been the golden age of the gray zone.  The 138 nations visited by U.S. special operators in 2016, for example, represent a jump of 130% since the waning days of the Bush administration.  Although they also represent a 6% drop compared to last year’s total, 2016 remains in the upper range of the Obama years, which saw deployments to 75 nations in 2010, 120 in 2011, 134 in 2013, and 133 in 2014, before peaking at 147 countries in 2015.  Asked about the reason for the modest decline, SOCOM spokesman Ken McGraw replied, “We provide SOF to meet the geographic combatant commands’ requirements for support to their theater security cooperation plans.  Apparently, there were nine fewer countries [where] the GCCs had a requirement for SOF to deploy to in [Fiscal Year 20]16.” The increase in deployments between 2009 and 2016 -- from about 60 countries to more than double that -- mirrors a similar rise in SOCOM’s total personnel (from approximately 56,000 to about 70,000) and in its baseline budget (from $9 billion to $11 billion).  It’s no secret that the tempo of operations has also increased dramatically, although the command refused to address questions from TomDispatch on the subject.  “SOF have shouldered a heavy burden in carrying out these missions, suffering a high number of casualties over the last eight years and maintaining a high operational tempo (OPTEMPO) that has increasingly strained special operators and their families,” reads an October 2016 report released by the Virginia-based think tank CNA.  (That report emerged from a conference attended by six former special operations commanders, a former assistant secretary of defense, and dozens of active-duty special operators.) A closer look at the areas of the “undeclared campaigns in the Baltics, Poland, and Ukraine” mentioned by retired Lieutenant General Charles Cleveland. Locations in blue were supplied by U.S. Special Operations Command.  The one in red was derived from open-source information. (Nick Turse)CLICK TO ENLARGE The American Age of the Commando Last month, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Shawn Brimley, former director for strategic planning on the National Security Council staff and now an executive vice president at the Center for a New American Security, echoed the worried conclusions of the CNA report.   At a hearing on “emerging U.S. defense challenges and worldwide threats,” Brimley said “SOF have been deployed at unprecedented rates, placing immense strain on the force” and called on the Trump administration to “craft a more sustainable long-term counterterrorism strategy.”  In a paper published in December, Kristen Hajduk, a former adviser for Special Operations and Irregular Warfare in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict and now a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, called for a decrease in the deployment rates for Special Operations forces. While Donald Trump has claimed that the U.S. military as a whole is “depleted” and has called for increasing the size of the Army and Marines, he has offered no indication about whether he plans to support a further increase in the size of special ops forces.  And while he did recently nominate a former Navy SEAL to serve as his secretary of the interior, Trump has offered few indications of how he might employ special operators who are currently serving.  “Drone strikes,” he announced in one of his rare detailed references to special ops missions, “will remain part of our strategy, but we will also seek to capture high-value targets to gain needed information to dismantle their organizations.”  More recently, at a North Carolina victory rally, Trump made specific references to the elite troops soon to be under his command.  “Our Special Forces at Fort Bragg have been the tip of the spear in fighting terrorism. The motto of our Army Special Forces is ‘to free the oppressed,’ and that is exactly what they have been doing and will continue to do. At this very moment, soldiers from Fort Bragg are deployed in 90 countries around the world,” he told the crowd.  After seeming to signal his support for continued wide-ranging, free-the-oppressed special ops missions, Trump appeared to change course, adding, “We don't want to have a depleted military because we're all over the place fighting in areas that just we shouldn't be fighting in... This destructive cycle of intervention and chaos must finally, folks, come to an end.”  At the same time, however, he pledged that the U.S. would soon “defeat the forces of terrorism.”  To that end, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, a former director of intelligence for JSOC whom the president-elect tapped to serve as his national security adviser, has promised that the new administration would reassess the military’s powers to battle the Islamic State -- potentially providing more latitude in battlefield decision-making.  To this end, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Pentagon is crafting proposals to reduce “White House oversight of operational decisions” while “moving some tactical authority back to the Pentagon.”    Last month, President Obama traveled to Florida’s MacDill Air Force Base, the home of Special Operations Command, to deliver his capstone counterterrorism speech.  “For eight years that I've been in office, there has not been a day when a terrorist organization or some radicalized individual was not plotting to kill Americans,” he told a crowd packed with troops.  At the same time, there likely wasn’t a day when the most elite forces under his command were not deployed in 60 or more countries around the world.  “I will become the first president of the United States to serve two full terms during a time of war,” Obama added.  “Democracies should not operate in a state of permanently authorized war.  That’s not good for our military, it’s not good for our democracy.”  The results of his permanent-war presidency have, in fact, been dismal, according to Special Operations Command.  Of eight conflicts waged during the Obama years, according to a 2015 briefing slide from the command’s intelligence directorate, America’s record stands at zero wins, two losses, and six ties. The Obama era has indeed proven to be the “age of the commando.”  However, as Special Operations forces have kept up a frenetic operational tempo, waging war in and out of acknowledged conflict zones, training local allies, advising indigenous proxies, kicking down doors, and carrying out assassinations, terror movements have spread across the Greater Middle East and Africa.  President-elect Donald Trump appears poised to obliterate much of the Obama legacy, from the president’s signature healthcare law to his environmental regulations, not to mention changing course when it comes to foreign policy, including in relations with China, Iran, Israel, and Russia.  Whether he will heed advice to decrease Obama-level SOF deployment rates remains to be seen.  The year ahead will, however, offer clues as to whether Obama’s long war in the shadows, the golden age of the gray zone, survives. Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch, a fellow at the Nation Institute, and a contributing writer for the Intercept. His book Tomorrow's Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa received an American Book Award in 2016.  His latest book is Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. His website is NickTurse.com. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Feffer's dystopian novel Splinterlands, as well as Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

05 января, 20:23

How to Stop a Nuclear Missile

Lasers-armed drones and interceptor missiles are among America’s possible tech options for impeding a North Korean nuclear strike.

30 декабря 2016, 21:56

10 American Foreign-Policy Luminaries Who Died in 2016

From chroniclers of war to a revered spy to a conscientious objector, a look back

24 декабря 2016, 11:47

Gazeta Polska: у России - потемкинская армия Путина

В Варшаве считают наши войска бумажным тигром

Выбор редакции
22 декабря 2016, 00:00

Ayn Rand & Corporate Tax Cuts Won't Mend the Economy

John Cassidy, New YorkerThe Randian theories being trumpeted by Trump and his allies have been put to the test, and they have failed.

21 декабря 2016, 01:00

RussiaGate And The Fall Of American Integrity

When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he would not recuse himself from the confirmation hearing of wife, Elaine Chao, for transportation secretary, that news got buried among Trump's latest tweet storm and his more controversial cabinet picks. But it shouldn't. Now that pressure has grown for a bipartisan investigation into Russian influence into our election, McConnell's actions offer a window into our democratic process that should concern every American. Recusing oneself from one's spouse's confirmation hearing is Ethics 101. How can McConnell, a lawyer who should know better, possibly be objective? Does she really need his vote to get confirmed? If so, that is concerning, and if not, that is equally concerning. Now, with the CIA and FBI agreeing that Russia meddled in our election, with the goal of having Trump elected president, based on evidence from 17 intelligence agencies, McConnell finally says there should be an investigation. With Trump's surprise victory, McConnell will get to carry out his Republican agenda, and his wife will get a prestigious and influential job. Just how deep is McConnell going to dig into any investigation that a hostile foreign power may have helped him get everything he's ever dreamed of? Just deep enough to say, "we had an investigation, we didn't find much wrongdoing, and Trump would have won anyway" One of the first things any investigation will uncover is why McConnell himself sat on this information when Obama asked him to go forward and publicly condemn Russia in bipartisan fashion after a secret intelligence briefing prior to the election, and McConnell refused, putting party ahead of our country's national security. Without bipartisan support, Obama had to sit on his hands so as not to appear to influence the election himself. Now, Trump's number two National Security pick, John Bolton, has gone on to accuse the Obama administration of sabotage to undermine Trump's election and then of framing Russia for it. This is a person who is supposed to be in charge of US national security. In the meantime, here's the evidence we have so far. That Russia hacked Democratic National Committee and into the emails of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta. They were leaked to the press via another foreign organization, WikiLeaks, at strategic times. These leaks revealed embarrassing if true information. The US intelligence community found that Russia hacked the Republican National Committee, too, but chose not to leak that information. The Rand Corporation notes the Russians now use a "firehose of falsehood" propaganda model against the US and others. The Washington Post summarized some of these stories as portraying Clinton "as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers." And it worked: According to a Pew Research Poll conducted at the end of October, even among Republicans, 51% supported Trump only because they were "against Clinton" while only 45% were actually "for" Trump, whereas 57% of Democrats were "for" Clinton. We also know that Republican public opinion about Russian President Vladimir Putin skyrocketed since last July, yet went down among Democrats. We know that the FBI sent agents to Denver to aggressively investigate Hillary's email server in August 2015, yet from September 2015 until June 2016 the FBI did not set up a single formal meeting with DNC officials just 10 minutes away to discuss hacking by a hostile foreign power, content to spend months just talking to people at the DNC help desk by phone, getting nowhere. Is this kind of preferential treatment of Russia over Hillary Clinton and the Democrats going to get a thorough investigation under McConnell's leadership? What is the price of colluding with Putin? He has already invaded the sovereign country of Ukraine, has aligned himself with brutal Bashar al Assad in the ruthless killing of Syrian civilians, helping cement Assad's power, has been implicated in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in London, and leads a regime where the free speech of a punk band is punished with years of imprisonment. At this moment, more than ever, we rely on our journalists to expose what is happening in our government, and we rely on free speech of Americans, and our right to protest. Mitch McConnell has shown us, sadly, that we cannot rely on Republican leadership to put our country's interests and security first. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

19 декабря 2016, 19:45

America's Elite Troops Partner With African Forces But Pursue U.S. Aims

Commandos Without Borders Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com Al-Qaeda doesn’t care about borders. Neither does the Islamic State or Boko Haram. Brigadier General Donald Bolduc thinks the same way.  “[T]errorists, criminals, and non-state actors aren’t bound by arbitrary borders,” the commander of Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) told an interviewer early this fall.  “That said, everything we do is not organized around recognizing traditional borders. In fact, our whole command philosophy is about enabling cross-border solutions, implementing multi-national, collective actions and empowering African partner nations to work across borders to solve problems using a regional approach.” A SOCAFRICA planning document obtained by TomDispatch offers a window onto the scope of these “multi-national, collective actions” carried out by America’s most elite troops in Africa. The declassified but heavily redacted secret report, covering the years 2012-2017 and acquired via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), details nearly 20 programs and activities -- from training exercises to security cooperation engagements -- utilized by SOCAFRICA across the continent. This wide array of low-profile missions, in addition to named operations and quasi-wars, attests to the growing influence and sprawling nature of U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) in Africa. How U.S. military engagement will proceed under the Trump administration remains to be seen.  The president-elect has said or tweeted little about Africa in recent years (aside from long trading in baseless claims that the current president was born there).  Given his choice for national security adviser, Michael Flynn -- a former director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command who believes that the United States is in a “world war” with Islamic militants -- there is good reason to believe that Special Operations Command Africa will continue its border-busting missions across that continent.  That, in turn, means that Africa is likely to remain crucial to America’s nameless global war on terror. Publicly, the command claims that it conducts its operations to “promote regional stability and prosperity,” while Bolduc emphasizes that its missions are geared toward serving the needs of African allies.  The FOIA files make clear, however, that U.S. interests are the command’s principal and primary concern -- a policy in keeping with the America First mindset and mandate of incoming commander-in-chief Donald J. Trump -- and that support to “partner nations” is prioritized to suit American, not African, needs and policy goals. Shades of Gray Bolduc is fond of saying that his troops -- Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets, among others -- operate in the “gray zone,” or what he calls “the spectrum of conflict between war and peace.”  Another of his favored stock phrases is: “In Africa, we are not the kinetic solution” -- that is, not pulling triggers and dropping bombs.  He also regularly takes pains to say that “we are not at war in Africa -- but our African partners certainly are.” That is not entirely true.  Earlier this month, in fact, a White House report made it clear, for instance, that “the United States is currently using military force” in Somalia.  At about the same moment, the New York Times revealed an imminent Obama administration plan to deem al-Shabab “to be part of the armed conflict that Congress authorized against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to senior American officials,” strengthening President-elect Donald Trump’s authority to carry out missions there in 2017 and beyond. As part of its long-fought shadow war against al-Shabab militants, the U.S. has carried out commando raids and drone assassinations there (with the latter markedly increasing in 2015-2016). On December 5th, President Obama issued his latest biannual “war powers” letter to Congress which noted that the military had not only “conducted strikes in defense of U.S. forces” there, but also in defense of local allied troops.  The president also acknowledged that U.S. personnel “occasionally accompany regional forces, including Somali and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, during counterterrorism operations.” Obama’s war powers letter also mentioned American deployments in Cameroon, Djibouti, and Niger, efforts aimed at countering Joseph Kony’s murderous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Central Africa, a long-running mission by military observers in Egypt, and a continuing deployment of forces supporting “the security of U.S. citizens and property” in rapidly deteriorating South Sudan.  The president offered only two sentences on U.S. military activities in Libya, although a long-running special ops and drone campaign there has been joined by a full-scale American air war, dubbed Operation Odyssey Lightning, against Islamic State militants, especially those in the city of Sirte.  Since August 1st, in fact, the United States has carried out nearly 500 air strikes in Libya, according to figures supplied by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Odyssey Lightning is, in fact, no outlier.  While the “primary named operations” involving America’s elite forces in Africa have been redacted from the declassified secret files in TomDispatch’s possession, a November 2015 briefing by Bolduc, obtained via a separate FOIA request, reveals that his command was then involved in seven such operations on the continent.  These likely included at least some of the following: Enduring Freedom-Horn of Africa, Octave Shield, and/or Juniper Garret, all aimed at East Africa; New Normal, an effort to secure U.S. embassies and assets around the continent; Juniper Micron, a U.S.-backed French and African mission to stabilize Mali (following a 2012 coup there by a U.S.-trained officer and the chaos that followed); Observant Compass, the long-running effort to decimate the Lord’s Resistance Army (which recently retired AFRICOM chief General David Rodriguez derided as expensive and strategically unimportant); and Juniper Shield, a wide-ranging effort (formerly known as Operation Enduring Freedom-Trans Sahara) aimed at Algeria, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Tunisia, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.  A 2015 briefing document by SOCAFRICA’s parent unit, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), also lists an ongoing “gray zone” conflict in Uganda. On any given day, between 1,500 and 1,700 American special operators and support personnel are deployed somewhere on the continent.  Over the course of a year they conduct missions in more than 20 countries.  According to Bolduc’s November 2015 briefing, Special Operations Command Africa carries out 78 separate “mission sets.”  These include activities that range from enhancing “partner capability and capacity” to the sharing of intelligence. Mission Creep Most of what Bolduc’s troops do involves working alongside and mentoring local allies.  SOCAFRICA’s showcase effort, for instance, is Flintlock, an annual training exercise in Northwest Africa involving elite American, European, and African forces, which provides the command with a plethora of publicity.  More than 1,700 military personnel from 30-plus nations took part in Flintlock 2016.  Next year, according to Bolduc, the exercise is expected “to grow to include SOF from more countries, [as well as] more interagency partners.”  While the information has been redacted, the SOCAFRICA strategic planning document -- produced in 2012 and scheduled to be fully declassified in 2037 -- indicates the existence of one or more other training exercises.  Bolduc recently mentioned two: Silent Warrior and Epic Guardian.  In the past, the command has also taken part in exercises like Silver Eagle 10 and Eastern Piper 12.  (U.S. Africa Command did not respond to requests for comment on these exercises or other questions related to this article.) Such exercises are, however, just a small part of the SOCAFRICA story.  Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) missions are a larger one.  Officially authorized to enable U.S. special operators to “practice skills needed to conduct a variety of missions, including foreign internal defense, unconventional warfare, and counterterrorism,” JCETs actually serve as a backdoor method of expanding U.S. military influence and contacts in Africa, since they allow for "incidental-training benefits" to "accrue to the foreign friendly forces at no cost."  As a result, JCETs play an important role in forging and sustaining military relationships across the continent.  Just how many of these missions the U.S. conducts in Africa is apparently unknown -- even to the military commands involved.  As TomDispatch reported earlier this year, according to SOCOM, the U.S. conducted 19 JCETs in 2012, 20 in 2013, and 20, again, in 2014.  AFRICOM, however, claims that there were nine JCETs in 2012, 18 in 2013, and 26 in 2014. Whatever the true number, JCETs are a crucial cog in the SOCAFRICA machine.  “During a JCET, exercise or training event, a special forces unit might train a partner force in a particular tactical skill and can quickly ascertain if the training audience has adopted the capability,” explained Brigadier General Bolduc. “Trainers can objectively measure competency, then exercise... that particular skill until it becomes a routine.”    In addition, SOCAFRICA also utilizes a confusing tangle of State Department and Pentagon programs and activities, aimed at local allies that operate under a crazy quilt of funding schemes, monikers, and acronyms.  These include deployments of Mobile Training Teams, Joint Planning Advisory Teams, Joint Military Education Teams, Civil Military Support Elements, as well as Military Information Support Teams that engage in what once was called psychological operations, or psyops -- that is, programs designed to “inform and influence foreign target audiences as appropriately authorized.” Special Operations Command Africa also utilizes an almost mind-numbing  panoply of “security cooperation programs” and other training activities including Section 1207(n) (also known as the Transitional Authorities for East Africa and Yemen, which provides equipment, training, and other aid to the militaries of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Yemen “to conduct counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda affiliates, and al-Shabab” and “enhance the capacity of national military forces participating in the African Union Mission in Somalia”); the Global Security Contingency Fund (designed to enhance the “capabilities of a country’s national military forces, and other national security forces that conduct border and maritime security, internal defense, and counterterrorism operations”); the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (or PREACT, designed to build counterterror capacities and foster military and law enforcement efforts in East African countries, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda); and, among others, the Trans-Sahel Counterterrorism Partnership, the Global Peace Operations Initiative, the Special Operations to Combat Terrorism, the Combatting Terrorism Fellowship, and another known as Counter-Narcotic Terrorism.   Like Africa’s terror groups and Bolduc’s special ops troops, the almost 20 initiatives utilized by SOCAFRICA -- a sprawling mass of programs that overlie and intersect with each other -- have a border-busting quality to them.  What they don’t have is clear records of success.  A 2013 RAND Corporation analysis called such capacity-building programs “a tangled web, with holes, overlaps, and confusions.” A 2014 RAND study analyzing U.S. security cooperation (SC) found that there “was no statistically significant correlation between SC and change in countries’ fragility in Africa or the Middle East.”  A 2016 RAND report on “defense institution building” in Africa noted a “poor understanding of partner interests” by the U.S. military. “We’re supporting African military professionalization and capability-building efforts, we’re supporting development and governance via civil affairs and military information support operations teams,” Bolduc insisted publicly. “[A]ll programs must be useful to the partner nation (not the foreign agenda) and necessary to advance the partner nations' capabilities. If they don’t pass this simple test... we need to focus on programs that do meet the African partner nation’s needs.” The 2012 SOCAFRICA strategic planning document obtained by TomDispatch reveals, however, that Special Operations Command Africa’s primary aim is not fostering African development, governance, or military professionalization.  “SOCAFRICA’s foremost objective is the prevention of an attack against America or American interests,” according to the declassified secret report.  In other words, a “foreign agenda,” not the needs of African partner nations, is what’s driving the elite force’s border-busting missions. American Aims vs. African Needs Special Operations Command spokesman Ken McGraw cautioned that because SOCAFRICA and AFRICOM have both changed commanders since the 2012 document was issued, it was likely out of date.  “I recommend you contact SOCAFRICA,” he advised.  That command failed to respond to multiple requests for information or comment.  There are, however, no indications that it has actually altered its “foremost objective,” while Bolduc’s public comments suggest that the U.S. military’s engagement in the region is going strong.  “Our partners and [forward deployed U.S. personnel] recognize the arbitrary nature of borders and understand the only way to combat modern-day threats like ISIS, AQIM [al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb], Boko Haram, and myriad others is to leverage the capabilities of SOF professionals working in concert,” said Bolduc.  “Borders may be notional and don’t protect a country from the spread of violent extremism... but neither do oceans, mountains... or distance.” In reality, however, oceans and distance have kept most Americans safe from terrorist organizations like AQIM and Boko Haram.  The same cannot be said for those who live in the nations menaced by these groups.  In Africa, terrorist organizations and attacks have spiked alongside the increase in U.S. Special Operations missions there.  In 2006, the percentage of forward-stationed special operators on the continent hovered at 1% of total globally deployed SOF forces.  By 2014, that number had hit 10% -- a jump of 900% in less than a decade.  During that same span, according to information from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland, terror incidents in Africa increased precipitously -- from just over 100 per year to nearly 2,400 annually.  During the same period, the number of transnational terrorist organizations and illicit groups operating on the continent jumped from one to, according to Bolduc’s reckoning, nearly 50. Correlation may not equal causation, but SOCAFRICA’s efforts have coincided with significantly worsening terrorist violence and the growth and spread of terror groups.  And it shouldn’t be a surprise.  While Bolduc publicly talks up the needs of African nations, his border-busting commandos operate under a distinctive America-first mandate and a mindset firmly in keeping with that of the incoming commander-in-chief.  “My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all else. It has to be first,” Donald Trump said earlier this year in a major foreign policy speech.  Kicking off his victory tour earlier this month, the president-elect echoed this theme.  “From now on, it's going to be America first. Okay? America first. We're going to put ourselves first,” he told a crowd in Cincinnati, Ohio. In Africa, the most elite troops soon to be under his command have, in fact, been operating this way for years.  “[W]e will prioritize and focus our operational efforts in those areas where the threat[s] to United States interests are most grave,” says the formerly secret SOCAFRICA document.  “Protecting America, Americans, and American interests is our overarching objective and must be reflected in everything we do.” Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch, a fellow at the Nation Institute, and a contributing writer for the Intercept. His book Tomorrow's Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa recently received an American Book Award. His latest book is Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. His website is NickTurse.com. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

13 декабря 2016, 17:16

Oil Refinery Workers Face Dangerous Conditions, Deadly Explosions

ANACORTES, Wash. — From 500 yards away, John Moore felt the concussion before he heard it. Moore was midway through a 6 p.m.-to-6 a.m. shift as an operator at the Tesoro Corporation’s oil refinery in Anacortes, an island town 80 miles north of Seattle. It was 35 minutes after midnight on April 2, 2010. Up the hill from Moore, in the Naphtha Hydrotreater unit, seven workers were restoring service to a bank of heat exchangers — radiator-like devices containing flammable hydrocarbons, that had been gummed up by residue and cleaned. Most of the workers didn’t need to be there; it was, for them, a training exercise. Moore was monitoring the job by radio. “They were maybe two-thirds of the way to putting the bank online when I heard a noise from outside,” he said. “I felt a tremendous vibration in my feet,” followed by the whooshing sound of “a match hitting a barbecue.” Exchanger E-6600E, part of a bank that had kept running while the other one was down, had come apart and disgorged hydrogen and a component of crude oil called naphtha, which ignited. Moore called each of the seven workers on the radio and got no response. Thirty or 40 seconds later he heard the strained voice of the crew’s foreman, Lew Janz. “Lew said, ‘Get someone up here. We’re all dying.’” Members of the refinery’s first-responder team raced to the unit. They sprayed water on flaming, mangled equipment and burning bodies, which reignited from the heat. Debris flew. The conflagration lasted until 4 a.m. Three of the workers died at the scene. Two more succumbed to their injuries within hours. A sixth — Janz — lived for 11 days, a seventh for 22. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries investigated and proposed a record fine against Tesoro, having found that it “disregarded a host of workplace safety regulations, continued to operate failing equipment for years, postponed maintenance [and] inadequately tested for potentially catastrophic damage.” The company has since settled lawsuits filed by the families of the seven workers but is still appealing the state citation. In a written statement, Tesoro said that while it disagrees with the Department of Labor & Industries’ conclusions, this “does not alter our focus on continually learning from incidents and improving the safety of our operations.” Moore, now retired and in fragile health, takes a darker view. “They’ve fought everything tooth and nail,” he said, “and refused to take the blame for anything.” There are 141 oil refineries in the United States. Where they are clustered — east and south of Houston, south of Los Angeles, northeast of San Francisco — they are prodigious sources of air pollution and inflict a sort of low-grade misery — rank odors, bright flares, loud noises — on their neighbors. They also pose an existential threat, as evidenced by the more than 500 refinery accidents reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 1994. The Anacortes disaster occurred five years after the BP refinery in Texas City, Texas, blew up, killing 15 workers and injuring 180. It came two years before a fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, sent a plume of pungent, black smoke over the Bay Area, and five years before an explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California, nearly unleashed a ground-hugging cloud of deadly acid into a city of almost 150,000 people. These episodes and others call into question the adequacy of EPA and U.S. Department of Labor rules that have been in place since the 1990s. The former is finishing an update, due out in early 2017, that critics say doesn’t do enough to safeguard the public; the latter is years away from floating a proposal to protect workers. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, an investigative body modeled on the National Transportation Safety Board, lists among its highest priorities upgrades to process safety — procedures that can help prevent industrial fires, explosions and chemical leaks. The board, which makes recommendations but has no regulatory authority, has investigated 15 refinery accidents in its 19-year history and just committed to an inquiry into a Nov. 22 fire at the ExxonMobil refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that injured six workers, four critically. It has issued 112 refinery-related recommendations, nearly half of which have not been adopted. “Underlying so many problems in this industry is production pressure,” board member Rick Engler said. “Shutting down part or all of a major refining unit costs an enormous amount of money, so there are pressures not to do so from management.” The board’s final report on Anacortes is an indictment of Tesoro’s safety ethos: The bank of heat exchangers on which Lew Janz, Daniel Aldridge, Matthew Bowen, Kathryn Powell, Darrin Hoines, Donna Van Dreumel and Matthew Gumbel were working had a “long history of frequent leaks and occasional fires” during startup, investigators found. Tesoro “did not monitor actual operating conditions” of two of the exchangers, including the badly degraded one that ruptured, “even though it would have been technically feasible to do so.” Tesoro could have redesigned the exchangers and automated startup procedures — things it did after the fact — so the seven workers would not have been in peril, the board said. Instead, Tesoro chose to tempt fate. It was a mindset former workers like Maria Redin had complained about for years. “Very few people exercised their right to stop work because of peer pressure,” said Redin, who lives in Belcourt, North Dakota, and went by her married name, Maria Howling Wolf, in Anacortes. When she, an operator, would raise a concern, managers would “pat me on the head like a good little dog” and tell her not to worry. Redin and her colleagues used to say they worked at “God’s favorite refinery,” a wry reference to the many close calls that somehow hadn’t ended badly. This run of luck expired at 12:35 a.m. on April 2, 2010, when Redin, who had just gone to bed, heard the explosion. “I automatically assumed it was the refinery,” she said. “You could see the fire from my house. I knew they were going to need help.” Redin got dressed and drove her pickup truck to the main gate. Sent first to a break room where the seven workers’ belongings lay untouched, she next was dispatched to the bottom of the hill on which the Naphtha Hydrotreater unit was perched. Redin arrived by bicycle and went upstairs to an old control room. There she saw Matt Gumbel, a 34-year-old operator with whom she had worked. His eyelids had been burned off. His body smoldered. “I didn’t even recognize him,” Redin said. “He was all swollen up and laying on the floor with a blanket over him. He was naked. He was cooked, literally cooked.” Gumbel began talking. “He was telling me to tell his dad [Paul, who also worked at the refinery] he was fine. I said, ‘Matt, you’re not OK. You look like shit.’ He kind of laughed and said, ‘I know.’” The banter continued as paramedics tended to Gumbel and Redin held his hand. Eventually, it subsided. “I could tell he was going down,” Redin said. ‘High-Risk, High-Reward’ At the time of the accident in Anacortes, Dr. Michael Silverstein headed the Department of Labor & Industries’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “I went out there not too long after the explosion,” said Silverstein, who retired in 2012. He was struck by the sheer size of the 120,000-barrel-per-day refinery, built in 1955. “Even single units are monstrous,” he said. “I remember being stunned at the scope of the unit that had blown up.” The Naphtha Hydrotreater unit’s purpose was to remove sulfur and other impurities from raw naphtha so it could be turned into high-octane gasoline stock. The cylindrical, tube-filled heat exchangers inside the unit were used to conserve energy: They preheated the feed as it made its way to the reactor and also cooled the reactor effluent. The more Silverstein learned about what had happened at the refinery, the angrier he became. He was told about the troublesome heat-exchanger leaks during startup; workers routinely used steam lances to suppress flammable vapors. “It was unfathomable to me why Tesoro had decided to place workers in positions of known danger rather than making more expensive but definitive fixes to these leaking units,” Silverstein said. He learned about a corrosion mechanism called high temperature hydrogen attack, or HTHA, which can cause tiny cracks in equipment, like the exchangers, subject to intense heat and pressure. He learned that the company hadn’t done the sorts of inspections required to find these micro-cracks, which can turn into bigger ones. Silverstein was bothered in particular by a 1999 Tesoro document stating that it was “economically attractive” to push reactors and exchangers to their limits in older units. The document urged “very close control and monitoring of operating conditions, coupled with frequent inspection” under such circumstances. The state’s investigation took six months, the maximum allowed by law. On Oct. 1, 2010, the Department of Labor & Industries cited Tesoro for 44 violations — 39 classified as “willful,” five as “serious” — and proposed a fine of just under $2.4 million. Tesoro gave notice of appeal three weeks later and subsequently filed a series of legal motions that sent the case into limbo for more than four and a half years. Finally, in July 2015, what would turn out to be a year-long proceeding began before the state Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals. Over the course of that year, 102 witnesses gave testimony. In his opening statement in Mount Vernon, a small city southeast of Anacortes, on July 21 of last year, Assistant Attorney General Brian Dew, representing the Department of Labor & Industries, outlined the state’s case. “Tesoro is in a high-risk, high-reward business, but with a twist,” he said. “They take the higher reward, but it’s the employees that are put at risk.” The exchanger that blew, E-6600E, and its twin, E-6600B, were made of carbon steel, a material known for its susceptibility to HTHA. Tesoro, Dew said, never inspected either for this condition. “As you see the evidence that’s offered in this case,” he told Industrial Appeals Judge Mark Jaffe, “you will see that this tragedy did not have to happen.” Tesoro’s outside counsel, Peter Modlin of San Francisco, spoke next. The company “could not have foreseen the event giving rise to the April 2010 incident,” he said, and there was no evidence that it violated any regulations. Modlin explained that Tesoro had acquired the refinery in 1998 from Shell Oil Company, which had installed the E-6600 heat exchangers 26 years earlier. Tesoro retained corrosion specialists who determined that the E and B exchangers weren’t vulnerable to HTHA, Modlin said; therefore, they weren’t inspected for it. The A and D exchangers, which ran hotter, were. Modlin rebutted the allegations in the Labor & Industries citation and promised, “There will not be a shred of evidence presented by the department that Tesoro was indifferent to workers’ safety.” The following 12 months brought a parade of witnesses, including the CEO of Tesoro, Gregory Goff, and his predecessor, Bruce Smith. In a deposition, Smith, who retired on April 30, 2010, described how he helped turn a $250 million company that was near bankruptcy into a $7 billion powerhouse, a company that went from owning one refinery to seven. Smith recalled being awakened by a phone call the morning of the blast and driving to a crisis center that had been established at Tesoro headquarters in San Antonio. He and his wife arrived in Anacortes that evening and “immediately went to the hospital to meet with families,” he said. Dew: “As far as you know, was anyone at Tesoro responsible for the April 2, 2010, explosion and fire?” Smith: “No.” Goff was in China, finishing his tenure at ConocoPhillips, at the time of the accident. Just as Smith professed no knowledge of what happened after his departure from Tesoro — “When I left, I left” — Goff said he couldn’t speculate on events prior to his arrival in May 2010. Testifying by telephone during one of the Mount Vernon hearings, Goff said he thought “the company responded extremely well” to the catastrophe and assured Dew that “a core value of everything we do is our commitment to environmental health and safety.” In a deposition, the company’s former chief operating officer, Everett Lewis, said it was unfair to blame him or anyone else at Tesoro for the loss of life in Anacortes. “It was a set of circumstances that were set up earlier in the life of the refinery that really led to the incident,” Lewis testified. The heat exchangers, he said, were arranged by Shell in a way that increased the likelihood of “fouling” — clogging, which could cause the temperature to spike — and other problems. “That was easier to see after the fact,” Lewis said. “It was very difficult for anybody to recognize that in the course of regular operations.” A Shell spokesman declined to comment. Until exchanger E split open, Tesoro had assumed that it and its duplicate, exchanger B, weren’t subject to HTHA as long as they operated below the so-called Nelson curve for carbon steel — a set of temperature and pressure parameters developed by engineer George Nelson in 1949 and adopted by the oil industry’s primary trade group, the American Petroleum Institute — API — in 1970. Tesoro built in an additional safety factor, lawyer Modlin said. It wasn’t enough. As the Chemical Safety Board noted in its final report on the accident, one part of exchanger E found to have been damaged by HTHA was running 120 degrees below the curve. A metallurgical analysis by a consultant found a crack in exchanger B, undetected by Tesoro, that was 48 inches long and one-third of an inch deep. “Had somebody crawled inside that shell,” one worker remarked at a public meeting held by the board, “they would’ve seen it with a flashlight.” API itself warned in 2008 of a trend among refiners to “push equipment to the limits … for economic reasons …” and said “the concept of a simple boundary between safe and unsafe operating conditions” was flawed. The same year, Tesoro began its own investigation of fires, leaks and temperature excursions within the Naphtha Hydrotreater Unit and the adjoining Catalytic Reformer Unit in Anacortes. A confidential report introduced as evidence in the appeal hearing documented 14 incidents in the two units from 2003 through 2007 and bemoaned “complacency in the workforce.” For a time, the report said, one of Tesoro’s mechanical engineers was fully engaged in stopping the exchanger leaks, successfully pushing for repairs and changes in startup and shutdown procedures. After the engineer left the company, “it appears that the level of concern … did not get communicated to his replacement and no further progress was made.” And so it happened that seven workers were stationed around the leak-prone bank of exchangers on the blustery night of April 1, 2010. Patrick Neely was working as an operator in the blender unit, several hundred yards away. Just after midnight, “I was outside in the parking lot,” he testified in Mount Vernon. “Saw a fireball. Stepped around the building and thought an airplane had crashed into one of our cooling-water towers.” Neely assembled with the other first responders. “We rolled out hoses and started cooling the vessel, right next to where the fire was originating from, just to keep it cool, so there was no other explosions,” he said. “At the same time there was a body in front of us, burning. We were trying to put the body out, with no luck.” Shaken residents of Anacortes, a city of 16,000 whose business district lies about five miles northwest of the refinery, called 911. At least one thought there had been an earthquake. In his closing argument on July 21 of this year, Dew, the assistant attorney general, said that from the time it acquired the Anacortes refinery until the night of the accident, Tesoro showed “systemic apathy” toward safety. Violating its own policy, it never performed internal inspections of the E and B heat exchangers to see if they were being weakened by HTHA, Dew said. It seemed uninterested in learning about the refinery’s idiosyncrasies before closing the purchase with Shell in 1998. “If you are buying a car, are you not going to look under the hood?” Dew asked. “Well, apparently that’s how Tesoro operates.” Tesoro “was anything but indifferent to safety,” said Modlin, its lawyer. Every operator “had authority to stop work or even shut down a unit if he or she felt there was a hazard.” Incidents and near-misses were closely tracked. Modlin said the state had not proved “plain indifference” on the company’s part, the foundation of the willful violations. “Mistakes,” he said, “are not enough to establish willfulness.” Judge Jaffe has weighed the evidence against Tesoro for nearly five months. It’s unclear when he will rule. Either side can appeal his decision. ‘A Quiet But Deadly Crisis’ In its written statement, Tesoro said that safety is “integral part of everything we do … and we strive for continuous improvement in our performance.” Steve Garey, who retired from the Anacortes refinery in 2015 after almost 25 years and served as president of the United Steelworkers local, said that while some positive changes were made after the 2010 accident, upper management at Tesoro remains “contemptuous” of its work force and is “hiding behind incredibly permissive process safety regulations.” Those regulations grew out of a string of catastrophic events in the 1980s, among them a chemical leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, that killed thousands in December 1984, and a near-miss at a sister plant in Institute, West Virginia, eight months later. Mishaps occurred with alarming frequency in the United States throughout the decade. In May 1988, the Shell refinery in Norco, Louisiana, exploded, killing seven workers and injuring 42. In October 1989, the Phillips Petroleum chemical plant near Houston blew up, killing 23 and injuring 132. By 1990 Congress had seen enough. In amendments to the Clean Air Act, it ordered the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration — OSHA — and the EPA to address what then-Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, years earlier had called “a quiet but deadly crisis.” In 1992, OSHA came out with its Process Safety Management standard, which requires industries using “highly hazardous chemicals which may be toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive” to identify and address vulnerabilities, train workers in emergency-response procedures and take other actions. Four years later the EPA published its Risk Management Program rule, which sets out similar requirements along with a directive that the companies most likely to hurt or kill large numbers of people prepare worst-case accident scenarios and update them every five years. These scenarios — which must be viewed in person and can’t be photocopied or photographed because of what the EPA describes as security concerns — are decidedly grim. The one for the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes is less daunting than most: The refinery’s remote location on March’s Point, in Fidalgo Bay, means that only 33 members of the public would be in harm’s way in the event of a vapor-cloud explosion, the company estimates. Contrast this with, say, an all-out release of hydrofluoric acid from the PBF Energy refinery in Paulsboro, New Jersey, just south of Philadelphia, which, PBF calculates, would put 3.2 million people at risk of injury or death. Or a discharge of the same chemical, known as HF, from the Marathon Petroleum Corporation refinery in Texas City, near Houston, which would threaten 670,000. A modified form of HF nearly escaped from the ExxonMobil (now PBF) refinery in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance last year. At a public meeting there in January, Chemical Safety Board Chairwoman Vanessa Sutherland explained how an explosion in the refinery’s hydrocarbon-choked electrostatic precipitator, a pollution-control device, had sent airborne an 80,000-pound piece of debris, which narrowly missed a tank of modified HF 80 feet away. Had the tank been pierced, Sutherland said, there could have been a “catastrophic release of extremely toxic [acid] into the neighboring community.” The Torrance scare came not quite two years after an explosion at a fertilizer storage and distribution business in the town of West, Texas, killed 15 — a dozen volunteer firefighters and three members of the public — and injured 260. The blast moved President Obama in August 2013 to issue Executive Order 13650, which called on the EPA, the Labor Department and other federal agencies to come up with preventive steps beyond those already mandated by law. The EPA, which declined to make any of its officials available for interviews, has since proposed an updated version of its risk-management rule that could become final as early as January. It dictates additional hazard analyses and emergency-preparedness measures but in the view of the Chemical Safety Board and others — notably the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters, with more than 100 member groups — doesn’t go far enough. For example, it requires only a fraction of the facilities that pose dangers to “consider” inherently safer technologies while pondering risks. This “permissive language,” the board said in a written comment to the EPA in May, means a company could “poorly perform the analysis and still satisfy the requirement.” Who would be against safer technologies and other advances? Any number of corporations, trade associations and politicians. Among the 61,716 comments the EPA received were missives from the American Chemistry Council, which complained about the paperwork burden process analyses would impose on its members; the attorneys general of Texas and Louisiana, who said they feared new transparency provisions would encourage “those with nefarious motives”; and Sens. James Inhofe, David Vitter, John Barrasso and Shelley Moore Capito, all Republicans, who didn’t like the idea of third-party safety auditors prying into operations at their constituents’ plants. The Labor Department is moving more slowly than the EPA. “We’re probably a couple of years away from a proposal” to revamp OSHA’s process-safety standard, said Jordan Barab, the department’s deputy assistant secretary for occupational safety and health. An overhaul is badly needed, said Kim Nibarger, who chairs the United Steelworkers national oil bargaining sector. “There’s no teeth to it,” he said. “If you develop a written plan, you’re basically in compliance with the standard. There’s no need to prove the plan is going to result in any improvements.” After the BP-Texas City disaster in 2005, OSHA officials looked at inspection data and found that oil refineries accounted for more worker deaths than any other industry category covered by the standard. In 2007, the federal agency — along with many states that have their own versions of OSHA, such as Washington and California — launched a nationwide refinery inspection blitz that lasted four years. All told, 1,588 federal citations were issued, 70 percent of which involved process safety. A year before the Anacortes accident, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries cited Tesoro for 17 serious violations as part of the program. At this early stage, the Labor Department is considering a number of enhancements to its process-safety rule. It might, for example, extend coverage to oil and gas drilling, which are exempt at the moment. It might deal with reactive chemicals — substances that generate heat or toxic fumes when combined. It might broaden stop-work authority to include contract employees and force managers to sign off on safety recommendations they approve — or reject. It might make companies log near-misses. An oil refiners trade group already has registered objections. In written comments, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers argued that the ideas under consideration “will not only fail to significantly reduce operational risks at covered facilities in our industry, but may actually undercut the safety benefits of the current [standard] … and will add significant, unnecessary and unjustified compliance costs to an already costly program.” Given what appears to be a more regulation-averse White House on the horizon and a Republican-controlled Congress, it’s hard to know how the EPA and OSHA efforts will play out. This much is clear: The industries that would be affected by any new rules have extraordinary influence. The American Petroleum Institute, for example, spent $69 million on lobbying from 2006 through 2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the American Chemistry Council $77.4 million. During the 2016 election cycle, API’s political action committee gave $281,250 to federal candidates, 85 percent of which went to Republicans. The chemistry council’s PAC handed out $450,000, 73 percent to Republicans, while American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers’ PAC gave $172,000, 95 percent to Republicans. California is moving ahead on its own. In August 2013, a year after a corrosion-related fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, northeast of San Francisco, filled the skies with smoke and sent 15,000 people to hospitals and clinics, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown convened an interagency refinery task force and asked it to find ways to amplify safety and emergency response. That exercise spawned a 2016 proposal by the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Industrial Relations that would, among other things, make refiners adopt “inherently safer designs and systems”; give workers authority to shut down units for safety reasons; and require annual public reporting of safety metrics. Stricter rules could have economic benefits as well as save lives. A state-commissioned study by the RAND Corporation found that while compliance costs for owners of California’s 19 refineries could be as high as $183 million a year, the average cost of the three major accidents that have taken place since 1999 was at least $220 million. An outage triggered by the explosion in Torrance last year cost California drivers nearly $2.4 billion, “which took the form of a prolonged $0.40 [per gallon] increase in gasoline prices,” researchers found. This shaved $6.9 billion off the state’s economy, according to the study. Nonetheless, at the most recent public hearing on the proposal, in September, Big Oil pushed back, this time through the Western States Petroleum Association. The group produced its own consultant’s report, which claimed the RAND study was methodologically unsound and greatly underestimated industry costs. It asked, in written comments, why “less costly and less burdensome alternatives” to the proposed rules weren’t considered. The two California agencies are still tinkering with a final regulation, which must be out by July 15 of next year; otherwise, the entire process will start over. Washington has formed an advisory committee and is mulling a similar initiative. Meanwhile, problems keep turning up. In August, the Chemical Safety Board issued an industrywide alert on high temperature hydrogen attack, the metal-weakening phenomenon that had lethal consequences in Anacortes. The board said the American Petroleum Institute’s updated operating limits for carbon-steel equipment did not take into account all the conditions that had led to the rupture of heat exchanger E. “The use of a [Nelson] curve not incorporating significant failure data could result in future catastrophic equipment ruptures,” the alert warned. In short, the horror in Anacortes could be repeated. An API spokesman did not respond to requests for comment. Painted Toenails April 2010 was a ghastly month for American workers. The Tesoro accident on the 2nd was followed on the 5th by the Upper Big Branch coal mine cave-in, which killed 29 miners in West Virginia, and on the 20th by the immolation of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 workers and put 5 million barrels of crude into the sea. The families of the seven who died in Anacortes settled civil lawsuits against Tesoro and Shell for a collective $39 million in 2014. But Tesoro’s appeal of the state fine — which amounts to less than two-tenths of one percent of the $1.54 billion in profits the company reported for 2015, or slightly more than 10 percent of the $23 million CEO Goff received in total compensation that year — has left an open wound. “It’s disgusting,” said Estus “Ken” Powell, a retired farm-equipment salesman who lives in Mount Vernon. His daughter, Kathryn Denise, known as K.D., was 28 the day she died. Mechanically inclined and unintimidated by the dangerous, male-dominated environment, K.D. had gone to work at Tesoro in 2008. She’d volunteered to help restart the bank of heat exchangers on the night of the accident. A 1:15 a.m. phone call from K.D.’s boyfriend, whose father worked at the refinery, sent her parents on a panicked excursion. They drove first to Island Hospital in Anacortes — where K.D., swelling rapidly from her burns, was wrapped in bandages from head to foot and induced into a coma — then to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, a Level I trauma and burn center to which she was to be airlifted. Her parents got there before the helicopter. K.D. died at 8:05 a.m. Her father was able to recognize her only by her painted toenails. “It still hurts,” Powell said, sitting at his dining room table. “It hurts deeply.” His wife, Connie, stayed in a bedroom and would not join the conversation — still too upset, Powell explained. The explosion and its aftermath afflict Matt Gumbel’s family as well. His father, Paul, was working at the refinery that night and helped fight the fire. A victim of post-traumatic stress disorder, he recoils at loud noises and is easily enraged. “I react badly to a lot of different things,” he said. “On occasion I just treat people like crap.” Paul twice went back to work after his son’s death — “a mistake,” he said — and finally retired on disability in 2014. He seethes over the Tesoro appeal and assumes it has to do more with the company’s bottom line than any out-of-pocket costs. “Any time a corporation gets some kind of black mark against it, the stocks drop,” he said. Matt’s mother, Shauna, explained how the grieving process had unfolded for her. “The first year it’s more robotic,” she said. “It’s like you’re looking through a window, watching life pass you by. The second year you’re no longer looking through that window. You’re actually living that.” Matt’s sister, Amy, now 38, had lost 105 pounds prior to his death; she regained all of the weight, having found no time to go to the gym or watch her diet. “Life just kind of stopped,” she said. In its statement, Tesoro said it “learned much” from the accident. “Focusing on personal and process safety is an integral part of everything we do at Tesoro and we strive for continuous improvement in our performance,” the company said. In 2014, however, four workers were burned by sulfuric acid in two consecutive months at Tesoro’s refinery in Martinez, California, east of San Francisco. The Chemical Safety Board later documented 13 cases in which others at the refinery had been sprayed with, and sometimes burned by, the acid from 2010 through 2013. “The fact that these incidents continued for an extended period demonstrates a culture that does not effectively prioritize worker safety,” the board said. (Tesoro says it conducted “an extensive review of procedures, controls and training” in Martinez and made improvements after the 2014 accidents.) In September, Tesoro agreed to pay $325,000 to settle an EPA complaint alleging it had violated provisions of the risk-management rule in Anacortes, where flammable chemicals such as isobutene, pentane and hydrogen are handled. Some operating and emergency procedures were unclear or incomplete, the EPA said. A Tesoro spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment; the company neither admitted nor denied fault in the settlement agreement. Not quite three years ago, the Chemical Safety Board held the first of two public meetings in Anacortes. Emotions were raw. Ken Powell, Maria Redin and Steve Garey spoke. Technical experts discussed deficiencies in the Nelson curve and the metallurgical quirks of carbon steel. It was Brian Hughes, however, who tied it all together. Hughes, a root-cause analysis consultant out of Seattle, said he investigated failures in the oil, chemical and aerospace industries. These failures, he said, could often be traced to “a big financial motive to get things up and moving as fast as possible.” Hughes talked about an acceptance of risk that is engendered on Wall Street and filters down through a company’s management ranks. Losses on one side of the ledger can be overcome by gains on the other. Hazards feel remote. Workers like the seven who died in Anacortes are “at the sharp end” of this calculus, Hughes said, “and they aren’t able to diversify that away.” The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit investigative news organization in Washington, D.C. Jim Morris is managing editor for environment and labor. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

13 декабря 2016, 17:16

Oil Refinery Workers Face Dangerous Conditions, Deadly Explosions

ANACORTES, Wash. — From 500 yards away, John Moore felt the concussion before he heard it. Moore was midway through a 6 p.m.-to-6 a.m. shift as an operator at the Tesoro Corporation’s oil refinery in Anacortes, an island town 80 miles north of Seattle. It was 35 minutes after midnight on April 2, 2010. Up the hill from Moore, in the Naphtha Hydrotreater unit, seven workers were restoring service to a bank of heat exchangers — radiator-like devices containing flammable hydrocarbons, that had been gummed up by residue and cleaned. Most of the workers didn’t need to be there; it was, for them, a training exercise. Moore was monitoring the job by radio. “They were maybe two-thirds of the way to putting the bank online when I heard a noise from outside,” he said. “I felt a tremendous vibration in my feet,” followed by the whooshing sound of “a match hitting a barbecue.” Exchanger E-6600E, part of a bank that had kept running while the other one was down, had come apart and disgorged hydrogen and a component of crude oil called naphtha, which ignited. Moore called each of the seven workers on the radio and got no response. Thirty or 40 seconds later he heard the strained voice of the crew’s foreman, Lew Janz. “Lew said, ‘Get someone up here. We’re all dying.’” Members of the refinery’s first-responder team raced to the unit. They sprayed water on flaming, mangled equipment and burning bodies, which reignited from the heat. Debris flew. The conflagration lasted until 4 a.m. Three of the workers died at the scene. Two more succumbed to their injuries within hours. A sixth — Janz — lived for 11 days, a seventh for 22. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries investigated and proposed a record fine against Tesoro, having found that it “disregarded a host of workplace safety regulations, continued to operate failing equipment for years, postponed maintenance [and] inadequately tested for potentially catastrophic damage.” The company has since settled lawsuits filed by the families of the seven workers but is still appealing the state citation. In a written statement, Tesoro said that while it disagrees with the Department of Labor & Industries’ conclusions, this “does not alter our focus on continually learning from incidents and improving the safety of our operations.” Moore, now retired and in fragile health, takes a darker view. “They’ve fought everything tooth and nail,” he said, “and refused to take the blame for anything.” There are 141 oil refineries in the United States. Where they are clustered — east and south of Houston, south of Los Angeles, northeast of San Francisco — they are prodigious sources of air pollution and inflict a sort of low-grade misery — rank odors, bright flares, loud noises — on their neighbors. They also pose an existential threat, as evidenced by the more than 500 refinery accidents reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 1994. The Anacortes disaster occurred five years after the BP refinery in Texas City, Texas, blew up, killing 15 workers and injuring 180. It came two years before a fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, sent a plume of pungent, black smoke over the Bay Area, and five years before an explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California, nearly unleashed a ground-hugging cloud of deadly acid into a city of almost 150,000 people. These episodes and others call into question the adequacy of EPA and U.S. Department of Labor rules that have been in place since the 1990s. The former is finishing an update, due out in early 2017, that critics say doesn’t do enough to safeguard the public; the latter is years away from floating a proposal to protect workers. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, an investigative body modeled on the National Transportation Safety Board, lists among its highest priorities upgrades to process safety — procedures that can help prevent industrial fires, explosions and chemical leaks. The board, which makes recommendations but has no regulatory authority, has investigated 15 refinery accidents in its 19-year history and just committed to an inquiry into a Nov. 22 fire at the ExxonMobil refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that injured six workers, four critically. It has issued 112 refinery-related recommendations, nearly half of which have not been adopted. “Underlying so many problems in this industry is production pressure,” board member Rick Engler said. “Shutting down part or all of a major refining unit costs an enormous amount of money, so there are pressures not to do so from management.” The board’s final report on Anacortes is an indictment of Tesoro’s safety ethos: The bank of heat exchangers on which Lew Janz, Daniel Aldridge, Matthew Bowen, Kathryn Powell, Darrin Hoines, Donna Van Dreumel and Matthew Gumbel were working had a “long history of frequent leaks and occasional fires” during startup, investigators found. Tesoro “did not monitor actual operating conditions” of two of the exchangers, including the badly degraded one that ruptured, “even though it would have been technically feasible to do so.” Tesoro could have redesigned the exchangers and automated startup procedures — things it did after the fact — so the seven workers would not have been in peril, the board said. Instead, Tesoro chose to tempt fate. It was a mindset former workers like Maria Redin had complained about for years. “Very few people exercised their right to stop work because of peer pressure,” said Redin, who lives in Belcourt, North Dakota, and went by her married name, Maria Howling Wolf, in Anacortes. When she, an operator, would raise a concern, managers would “pat me on the head like a good little dog” and tell her not to worry. Redin and her colleagues used to say they worked at “God’s favorite refinery,” a wry reference to the many close calls that somehow hadn’t ended badly. This run of luck expired at 12:35 a.m. on April 2, 2010, when Redin, who had just gone to bed, heard the explosion. “I automatically assumed it was the refinery,” she said. “You could see the fire from my house. I knew they were going to need help.” Redin got dressed and drove her pickup truck to the main gate. Sent first to a break room where the seven workers’ belongings lay untouched, she next was dispatched to the bottom of the hill on which the Naphtha Hydrotreater unit was perched. Redin arrived by bicycle and went upstairs to an old control room. There she saw Matt Gumbel, a 34-year-old operator with whom she had worked. His eyelids had been burned off. His body smoldered. “I didn’t even recognize him,” Redin said. “He was all swollen up and laying on the floor with a blanket over him. He was naked. He was cooked, literally cooked.” Gumbel began talking. “He was telling me to tell his dad [Paul, who also worked at the refinery] he was fine. I said, ‘Matt, you’re not OK. You look like shit.’ He kind of laughed and said, ‘I know.’” The banter continued as paramedics tended to Gumbel and Redin held his hand. Eventually, it subsided. “I could tell he was going down,” Redin said. ‘High-Risk, High-Reward’ At the time of the accident in Anacortes, Dr. Michael Silverstein headed the Department of Labor & Industries’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “I went out there not too long after the explosion,” said Silverstein, who retired in 2012. He was struck by the sheer size of the 120,000-barrel-per-day refinery, built in 1955. “Even single units are monstrous,” he said. “I remember being stunned at the scope of the unit that had blown up.” The Naphtha Hydrotreater unit’s purpose was to remove sulfur and other impurities from raw naphtha so it could be turned into high-octane gasoline stock. The cylindrical, tube-filled heat exchangers inside the unit were used to conserve energy: They preheated the feed as it made its way to the reactor and also cooled the reactor effluent. The more Silverstein learned about what had happened at the refinery, the angrier he became. He was told about the troublesome heat-exchanger leaks during startup; workers routinely used steam lances to suppress flammable vapors. “It was unfathomable to me why Tesoro had decided to place workers in positions of known danger rather than making more expensive but definitive fixes to these leaking units,” Silverstein said. He learned about a corrosion mechanism called high temperature hydrogen attack, or HTHA, which can cause tiny cracks in equipment, like the exchangers, subject to intense heat and pressure. He learned that the company hadn’t done the sorts of inspections required to find these micro-cracks, which can turn into bigger ones. Silverstein was bothered in particular by a 1999 Tesoro document stating that it was “economically attractive” to push reactors and exchangers to their limits in older units. The document urged “very close control and monitoring of operating conditions, coupled with frequent inspection” under such circumstances. The state’s investigation took six months, the maximum allowed by law. On Oct. 1, 2010, the Department of Labor & Industries cited Tesoro for 44 violations — 39 classified as “willful,” five as “serious” — and proposed a fine of just under $2.4 million. Tesoro gave notice of appeal three weeks later and subsequently filed a series of legal motions that sent the case into limbo for more than four and a half years. Finally, in July 2015, what would turn out to be a year-long proceeding began before the state Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals. Over the course of that year, 102 witnesses gave testimony. In his opening statement in Mount Vernon, a small city southeast of Anacortes, on July 21 of last year, Assistant Attorney General Brian Dew, representing the Department of Labor & Industries, outlined the state’s case. “Tesoro is in a high-risk, high-reward business, but with a twist,” he said. “They take the higher reward, but it’s the employees that are put at risk.” The exchanger that blew, E-6600E, and its twin, E-6600B, were made of carbon steel, a material known for its susceptibility to HTHA. Tesoro, Dew said, never inspected either for this condition. “As you see the evidence that’s offered in this case,” he told Industrial Appeals Judge Mark Jaffe, “you will see that this tragedy did not have to happen.” Tesoro’s outside counsel, Peter Modlin of San Francisco, spoke next. The company “could not have foreseen the event giving rise to the April 2010 incident,” he said, and there was no evidence that it violated any regulations. Modlin explained that Tesoro had acquired the refinery in 1998 from Shell Oil Company, which had installed the E-6600 heat exchangers 26 years earlier. Tesoro retained corrosion specialists who determined that the E and B exchangers weren’t vulnerable to HTHA, Modlin said; therefore, they weren’t inspected for it. The A and D exchangers, which ran hotter, were. Modlin rebutted the allegations in the Labor & Industries citation and promised, “There will not be a shred of evidence presented by the department that Tesoro was indifferent to workers’ safety.” The following 12 months brought a parade of witnesses, including the CEO of Tesoro, Gregory Goff, and his predecessor, Bruce Smith. In a deposition, Smith, who retired on April 30, 2010, described how he helped turn a $250 million company that was near bankruptcy into a $7 billion powerhouse, a company that went from owning one refinery to seven. Smith recalled being awakened by a phone call the morning of the blast and driving to a crisis center that had been established at Tesoro headquarters in San Antonio. He and his wife arrived in Anacortes that evening and “immediately went to the hospital to meet with families,” he said. Dew: “As far as you know, was anyone at Tesoro responsible for the April 2, 2010, explosion and fire?” Smith: “No.” Goff was in China, finishing his tenure at ConocoPhillips, at the time of the accident. Just as Smith professed no knowledge of what happened after his departure from Tesoro — “When I left, I left” — Goff said he couldn’t speculate on events prior to his arrival in May 2010. Testifying by telephone during one of the Mount Vernon hearings, Goff said he thought “the company responded extremely well” to the catastrophe and assured Dew that “a core value of everything we do is our commitment to environmental health and safety.” In a deposition, the company’s former chief operating officer, Everett Lewis, said it was unfair to blame him or anyone else at Tesoro for the loss of life in Anacortes. “It was a set of circumstances that were set up earlier in the life of the refinery that really led to the incident,” Lewis testified. The heat exchangers, he said, were arranged by Shell in a way that increased the likelihood of “fouling” — clogging, which could cause the temperature to spike — and other problems. “That was easier to see after the fact,” Lewis said. “It was very difficult for anybody to recognize that in the course of regular operations.” A Shell spokesman declined to comment. Until exchanger E split open, Tesoro had assumed that it and its duplicate, exchanger B, weren’t subject to HTHA as long as they operated below the so-called Nelson curve for carbon steel — a set of temperature and pressure parameters developed by engineer George Nelson in 1949 and adopted by the oil industry’s primary trade group, the American Petroleum Institute — API — in 1970. Tesoro built in an additional safety factor, lawyer Modlin said. It wasn’t enough. As the Chemical Safety Board noted in its final report on the accident, one part of exchanger E found to have been damaged by HTHA was running 120 degrees below the curve. A metallurgical analysis by a consultant found a crack in exchanger B, undetected by Tesoro, that was 48 inches long and one-third of an inch deep. “Had somebody crawled inside that shell,” one worker remarked at a public meeting held by the board, “they would’ve seen it with a flashlight.” API itself warned in 2008 of a trend among refiners to “push equipment to the limits … for economic reasons …” and said “the concept of a simple boundary between safe and unsafe operating conditions” was flawed. The same year, Tesoro began its own investigation of fires, leaks and temperature excursions within the Naphtha Hydrotreater Unit and the adjoining Catalytic Reformer Unit in Anacortes. A confidential report introduced as evidence in the appeal hearing documented 14 incidents in the two units from 2003 through 2007 and bemoaned “complacency in the workforce.” For a time, the report said, one of Tesoro’s mechanical engineers was fully engaged in stopping the exchanger leaks, successfully pushing for repairs and changes in startup and shutdown procedures. After the engineer left the company, “it appears that the level of concern … did not get communicated to his replacement and no further progress was made.” And so it happened that seven workers were stationed around the leak-prone bank of exchangers on the blustery night of April 1, 2010. Patrick Neely was working as an operator in the blender unit, several hundred yards away. Just after midnight, “I was outside in the parking lot,” he testified in Mount Vernon. “Saw a fireball. Stepped around the building and thought an airplane had crashed into one of our cooling-water towers.” Neely assembled with the other first responders. “We rolled out hoses and started cooling the vessel, right next to where the fire was originating from, just to keep it cool, so there was no other explosions,” he said. “At the same time there was a body in front of us, burning. We were trying to put the body out, with no luck.” Shaken residents of Anacortes, a city of 16,000 whose business district lies about five miles northwest of the refinery, called 911. At least one thought there had been an earthquake. In his closing argument on July 21 of this year, Dew, the assistant attorney general, said that from the time it acquired the Anacortes refinery until the night of the accident, Tesoro showed “systemic apathy” toward safety. Violating its own policy, it never performed internal inspections of the E and B heat exchangers to see if they were being weakened by HTHA, Dew said. It seemed uninterested in learning about the refinery’s idiosyncrasies before closing the purchase with Shell in 1998. “If you are buying a car, are you not going to look under the hood?” Dew asked. “Well, apparently that’s how Tesoro operates.” Tesoro “was anything but indifferent to safety,” said Modlin, its lawyer. Every operator “had authority to stop work or even shut down a unit if he or she felt there was a hazard.” Incidents and near-misses were closely tracked. Modlin said the state had not proved “plain indifference” on the company’s part, the foundation of the willful violations. “Mistakes,” he said, “are not enough to establish willfulness.” Judge Jaffe has weighed the evidence against Tesoro for nearly five months. It’s unclear when he will rule. Either side can appeal his decision. ‘A Quiet But Deadly Crisis’ In its written statement, Tesoro said that safety is “integral part of everything we do … and we strive for continuous improvement in our performance.” Steve Garey, who retired from the Anacortes refinery in 2015 after almost 25 years and served as president of the United Steelworkers local, said that while some positive changes were made after the 2010 accident, upper management at Tesoro remains “contemptuous” of its work force and is “hiding behind incredibly permissive process safety regulations.” Those regulations grew out of a string of catastrophic events in the 1980s, among them a chemical leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, that killed thousands in December 1984, and a near-miss at a sister plant in Institute, West Virginia, eight months later. Mishaps occurred with alarming frequency in the United States throughout the decade. In May 1988, the Shell refinery in Norco, Louisiana, exploded, killing seven workers and injuring 42. In October 1989, the Phillips Petroleum chemical plant near Houston blew up, killing 23 and injuring 132. By 1990 Congress had seen enough. In amendments to the Clean Air Act, it ordered the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration — OSHA — and the EPA to address what then-Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, years earlier had called “a quiet but deadly crisis.” In 1992, OSHA came out with its Process Safety Management standard, which requires industries using “highly hazardous chemicals which may be toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive” to identify and address vulnerabilities, train workers in emergency-response procedures and take other actions. Four years later the EPA published its Risk Management Program rule, which sets out similar requirements along with a directive that the companies most likely to hurt or kill large numbers of people prepare worst-case accident scenarios and update them every five years. These scenarios — which must be viewed in person and can’t be photocopied or photographed because of what the EPA describes as security concerns — are decidedly grim. The one for the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes is less daunting than most: The refinery’s remote location on March’s Point, in Fidalgo Bay, means that only 33 members of the public would be in harm’s way in the event of a vapor-cloud explosion, the company estimates. Contrast this with, say, an all-out release of hydrofluoric acid from the PBF Energy refinery in Paulsboro, New Jersey, just south of Philadelphia, which, PBF calculates, would put 3.2 million people at risk of injury or death. Or a discharge of the same chemical, known as HF, from the Marathon Petroleum Corporation refinery in Texas City, near Houston, which would threaten 670,000. A modified form of HF nearly escaped from the ExxonMobil (now PBF) refinery in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance last year. At a public meeting there in January, Chemical Safety Board Chairwoman Vanessa Sutherland explained how an explosion in the refinery’s hydrocarbon-choked electrostatic precipitator, a pollution-control device, had sent airborne an 80,000-pound piece of debris, which narrowly missed a tank of modified HF 80 feet away. Had the tank been pierced, Sutherland said, there could have been a “catastrophic release of extremely toxic [acid] into the neighboring community.” The Torrance scare came not quite two years after an explosion at a fertilizer storage and distribution business in the town of West, Texas, killed 15 — a dozen volunteer firefighters and three members of the public — and injured 260. The blast moved President Obama in August 2013 to issue Executive Order 13650, which called on the EPA, the Labor Department and other federal agencies to come up with preventive steps beyond those already mandated by law. The EPA, which declined to make any of its officials available for interviews, has since proposed an updated version of its risk-management rule that could become final as early as January. It dictates additional hazard analyses and emergency-preparedness measures but in the view of the Chemical Safety Board and others — notably the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters, with more than 100 member groups — doesn’t go far enough. For example, it requires only a fraction of the facilities that pose dangers to “consider” inherently safer technologies while pondering risks. This “permissive language,” the board said in a written comment to the EPA in May, means a company could “poorly perform the analysis and still satisfy the requirement.” Who would be against safer technologies and other advances? Any number of corporations, trade associations and politicians. Among the 61,716 comments the EPA received were missives from the American Chemistry Council, which complained about the paperwork burden process analyses would impose on its members; the attorneys general of Texas and Louisiana, who said they feared new transparency provisions would encourage “those with nefarious motives”; and Sens. James Inhofe, David Vitter, John Barrasso and Shelley Moore Capito, all Republicans, who didn’t like the idea of third-party safety auditors prying into operations at their constituents’ plants. The Labor Department is moving more slowly than the EPA. “We’re probably a couple of years away from a proposal” to revamp OSHA’s process-safety standard, said Jordan Barab, the department’s deputy assistant secretary for occupational safety and health. An overhaul is badly needed, said Kim Nibarger, who chairs the United Steelworkers national oil bargaining sector. “There’s no teeth to it,” he said. “If you develop a written plan, you’re basically in compliance with the standard. There’s no need to prove the plan is going to result in any improvements.” After the BP-Texas City disaster in 2005, OSHA officials looked at inspection data and found that oil refineries accounted for more worker deaths than any other industry category covered by the standard. In 2007, the federal agency — along with many states that have their own versions of OSHA, such as Washington and California — launched a nationwide refinery inspection blitz that lasted four years. All told, 1,588 federal citations were issued, 70 percent of which involved process safety. A year before the Anacortes accident, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries cited Tesoro for 17 serious violations as part of the program. At this early stage, the Labor Department is considering a number of enhancements to its process-safety rule. It might, for example, extend coverage to oil and gas drilling, which are exempt at the moment. It might deal with reactive chemicals — substances that generate heat or toxic fumes when combined. It might broaden stop-work authority to include contract employees and force managers to sign off on safety recommendations they approve — or reject. It might make companies log near-misses. An oil refiners trade group already has registered objections. In written comments, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers argued that the ideas under consideration “will not only fail to significantly reduce operational risks at covered facilities in our industry, but may actually undercut the safety benefits of the current [standard] … and will add significant, unnecessary and unjustified compliance costs to an already costly program.” Given what appears to be a more regulation-averse White House on the horizon and a Republican-controlled Congress, it’s hard to know how the EPA and OSHA efforts will play out. This much is clear: The industries that would be affected by any new rules have extraordinary influence. The American Petroleum Institute, for example, spent $69 million on lobbying from 2006 through 2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the American Chemistry Council $77.4 million. During the 2016 election cycle, API’s political action committee gave $281,250 to federal candidates, 85 percent of which went to Republicans. The chemistry council’s PAC handed out $450,000, 73 percent to Republicans, while American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers’ PAC gave $172,000, 95 percent to Republicans. California is moving ahead on its own. In August 2013, a year after a corrosion-related fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, northeast of San Francisco, filled the skies with smoke and sent 15,000 people to hospitals and clinics, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown convened an interagency refinery task force and asked it to find ways to amplify safety and emergency response. That exercise spawned a 2016 proposal by the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Industrial Relations that would, among other things, make refiners adopt “inherently safer designs and systems”; give workers authority to shut down units for safety reasons; and require annual public reporting of safety metrics. Stricter rules could have economic benefits as well as save lives. A state-commissioned study by the RAND Corporation found that while compliance costs for owners of California’s 19 refineries could be as high as $183 million a year, the average cost of the three major accidents that have taken place since 1999 was at least $220 million. An outage triggered by the explosion in Torrance last year cost California drivers nearly $2.4 billion, “which took the form of a prolonged $0.40 [per gallon] increase in gasoline prices,” researchers found. This shaved $6.9 billion off the state’s economy, according to the study. Nonetheless, at the most recent public hearing on the proposal, in September, Big Oil pushed back, this time through the Western States Petroleum Association. The group produced its own consultant’s report, which claimed the RAND study was methodologically unsound and greatly underestimated industry costs. It asked, in written comments, why “less costly and less burdensome alternatives” to the proposed rules weren’t considered. The two California agencies are still tinkering with a final regulation, which must be out by July 15 of next year; otherwise, the entire process will start over. Washington has formed an advisory committee and is mulling a similar initiative. Meanwhile, problems keep turning up. In August, the Chemical Safety Board issued an industrywide alert on high temperature hydrogen attack, the metal-weakening phenomenon that had lethal consequences in Anacortes. The board said the American Petroleum Institute’s updated operating limits for carbon-steel equipment did not take into account all the conditions that had led to the rupture of heat exchanger E. “The use of a [Nelson] curve not incorporating significant failure data could result in future catastrophic equipment ruptures,” the alert warned. In short, the horror in Anacortes could be repeated. An API spokesman did not respond to requests for comment. Painted Toenails April 2010 was a ghastly month for American workers. The Tesoro accident on the 2nd was followed on the 5th by the Upper Big Branch coal mine cave-in, which killed 29 miners in West Virginia, and on the 20th by the immolation of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 workers and put 5 million barrels of crude into the sea. The families of the seven who died in Anacortes settled civil lawsuits against Tesoro and Shell for a collective $39 million in 2014. But Tesoro’s appeal of the state fine — which amounts to less than two-tenths of one percent of the $1.54 billion in profits the company reported for 2015, or slightly more than 10 percent of the $23 million CEO Goff received in total compensation that year — has left an open wound. “It’s disgusting,” said Estus “Ken” Powell, a retired farm-equipment salesman who lives in Mount Vernon. His daughter, Kathryn Denise, known as K.D., was 28 the day she died. Mechanically inclined and unintimidated by the dangerous, male-dominated environment, K.D. had gone to work at Tesoro in 2008. She’d volunteered to help restart the bank of heat exchangers on the night of the accident. A 1:15 a.m. phone call from K.D.’s boyfriend, whose father worked at the refinery, sent her parents on a panicked excursion. They drove first to Island Hospital in Anacortes — where K.D., swelling rapidly from her burns, was wrapped in bandages from head to foot and induced into a coma — then to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, a Level I trauma and burn center to which she was to be airlifted. Her parents got there before the helicopter. K.D. died at 8:05 a.m. Her father was able to recognize her only by her painted toenails. “It still hurts,” Powell said, sitting at his dining room table. “It hurts deeply.” His wife, Connie, stayed in a bedroom and would not join the conversation — still too upset, Powell explained. The explosion and its aftermath afflict Matt Gumbel’s family as well. His father, Paul, was working at the refinery that night and helped fight the fire. A victim of post-traumatic stress disorder, he recoils at loud noises and is easily enraged. “I react badly to a lot of different things,” he said. “On occasion I just treat people like crap.” Paul twice went back to work after his son’s death — “a mistake,” he said — and finally retired on disability in 2014. He seethes over the Tesoro appeal and assumes it has to do more with the company’s bottom line than any out-of-pocket costs. “Any time a corporation gets some kind of black mark against it, the stocks drop,” he said. Matt’s mother, Shauna, explained how the grieving process had unfolded for her. “The first year it’s more robotic,” she said. “It’s like you’re looking through a window, watching life pass you by. The second year you’re no longer looking through that window. You’re actually living that.” Matt’s sister, Amy, now 38, had lost 105 pounds prior to his death; she regained all of the weight, having found no time to go to the gym or watch her diet. “Life just kind of stopped,” she said. In its statement, Tesoro said it “learned much” from the accident. “Focusing on personal and process safety is an integral part of everything we do at Tesoro and we strive for continuous improvement in our performance,” the company said. In 2014, however, four workers were burned by sulfuric acid in two consecutive months at Tesoro’s refinery in Martinez, California, east of San Francisco. The Chemical Safety Board later documented 13 cases in which others at the refinery had been sprayed with, and sometimes burned by, the acid from 2010 through 2013. “The fact that these incidents continued for an extended period demonstrates a culture that does not effectively prioritize worker safety,” the board said. (Tesoro says it conducted “an extensive review of procedures, controls and training” in Martinez and made improvements after the 2014 accidents.) In September, Tesoro agreed to pay $325,000 to settle an EPA complaint alleging it had violated provisions of the risk-management rule in Anacortes, where flammable chemicals such as isobutene, pentane and hydrogen are handled. Some operating and emergency procedures were unclear or incomplete, the EPA said. A Tesoro spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment; the company neither admitted nor denied fault in the settlement agreement. Not quite three years ago, the Chemical Safety Board held the first of two public meetings in Anacortes. Emotions were raw. Ken Powell, Maria Redin and Steve Garey spoke. Technical experts discussed deficiencies in the Nelson curve and the metallurgical quirks of carbon steel. It was Brian Hughes, however, who tied it all together. Hughes, a root-cause analysis consultant out of Seattle, said he investigated failures in the oil, chemical and aerospace industries. These failures, he said, could often be traced to “a big financial motive to get things up and moving as fast as possible.” Hughes talked about an acceptance of risk that is engendered on Wall Street and filters down through a company’s management ranks. Losses on one side of the ledger can be overcome by gains on the other. Hazards feel remote. Workers like the seven who died in Anacortes are “at the sharp end” of this calculus, Hughes said, “and they aren’t able to diversify that away.” The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit investigative news organization in Washington, D.C. Jim Morris is managing editor for environment and labor. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

13 декабря 2016, 01:43

When Daily Intelligence Briefings Prevented a Nuclear War

Before he does away with the ritual, Trump should consider what happened in 1962, when JFK made sure he knew as much as his generals did.

07 декабря 2016, 15:55

Политики Австралии будут воевать с киберпреступностью с помощью игр

Похоже, австралийское правительство не совсем понимает значение слова "киберпреступление". Иначе как объяснить их решение бороться с кибератаками при помощи игры? То есть, о проблеме и её серьёзности они прекрасно осведомлены, но вот что по этому поводу предпринимать, похоже, понятия не имеют. Австралия ежегодно теряет около 17 миллиардов долларов из-за кибератак Мишель Прайс, координатор проекта Завтра австралийские политики будут играть в так называемую The 360° Cyber Game, чтобы быть готовыми к "сетевым проблемам в будущем". За организацию и проведение игры отвечают колледж Australian National University и стратегический центр RAND Corporation. Эта игра будет учитывать взаимосвязь между политикой, операциями и регулированием. Мы очень рады, что такие влиятельные люди смогут принять в ней участие Профессор Медкаф, руководитель Национального колледжа безопасности Помощник премьер-министра по вопросам кибербезопасности и министр теневого кабинета по вопросам кибербезопасности примут участие в двух сценариях, основанных на том, что может произойти в мрачном будущем 2022 года.

07 декабря 2016, 14:20

Будет ли Америка защищать недвижимость Трампа?

После того как Дональд Трамп занял пост президента США, роскошные башни от Стамбула до Манилы, носящие его имя, стали де-факто символами правительства США – и потенциальной мишенью для террористов.

Выбор редакции
01 декабря 2016, 22:06

The Good Are Getting Better And the Bad Are Getting Worse: Global Bribery Risk Grows More Uncertain

A new study into the risks faced by businesses across the world has found that the threat of bribery is polarizing. More states are categorized as ‘extremely low risk’, but the number of ‘extremely high risk’ countries has also grown according to TRACE International and the RAND Corporation.

29 декабря 2014, 14:03

Исраэль Шамир. Арт-война против Кореи: убийство Ким Чен Ына руками Голливуда

Исраэль Шамир о мечтах Запада овладеть Кореей, гуманитарной интервенции как новом стиле войны и убийстве Соединенными Штатами непослушных мировых лидеров.

28 ноября 2014, 09:00

Фабрики мысли в США

Система аналитических центров представляет собой совокупность конкурирующих организаций, преследующих цель создания максимально объективной, достоверной, качественной информации, востребованной заказчиком, роль которого исполняют государственные, общественные и бизнес структуры. Указанные структуры в процессе подготовки и принятия политических решений выступают в качестве властных субъектов (субъектов влияния), и именно благодаря их запросам «фабрики мысли» актуализируются и становятся востребованными. Любая из перечисленных политических сил заинтересована в доминировании на информационном рынке, следовательно, структура «фабрик мысли» и их позиции на рынке информационных услуг обусловлены потребностями политических сил, с которыми они ассоциированы, и актуальной конъюнктурой этого рынка. Структура расходов США на НИОКР, % Источник: The FY 2012 Science and Technology R&D Budget. Office of Science and Technology Policy. Ex­ecutive Office of the President. Так, утрачивая декларируемую непредвзятость, «фабрики мысли» практически с начала своего существования подстраиваются под ту или иную авторитетную доктрину и в дальнейшем не имеют возможности ее изменить. Субординация по отношению к властному центру постепенно окостеневает, и организация становится фабрикой по производству программ и моделей их построения для конкретной политической группы. Этот довольно стандартный набор воззрений на природу «фабрик мысли» не носит ни полного, ни исчерпывающего характера, однако может быть принят в качестве отправной точки настоящего исследования. Такое исследование целесообразно осуществлять в кросс-национальном контексте. В противовес традиционной и широко распространенной концепции, рассматривающей «фабрики мысли» как результат прямой экстраполяции американского опыта развития аналитических организаций на самые разные страны независимо от их исторического, культурного и политического своеобразия, в данном исследовании предлагается концепция, основанная на мультимодельном подходе, который фокусирует внимание на различиях в институциональном оформлении «фабрик мысли» на национальном уровне. Более подробно особенности мультимодельного подхода будут показаны ниже при сравнении американской модели «фабрики мысли» с европейской и азиатской моделями. Ведущая и, можно сказать, пионерная роль в использовании «фабрик мысли» как инструмента разработки и принятия политического решения, бесспорно, принадлежит США, поэтому отталкиваться целесообразно именно от опыта данной страны. Анализ организационной модели «фабрик мысли», существующей в ней, может позволить выявить ключевые характеристики института, вариации которых в дальнейшем могут быть рассмотрены на примере иных стран, где «фабрики мысли» так или иначе существуют. Это важно, в частности, для России, где весьма актуальна потребность в выстраивании механизма адекватной аналитической поддержки принятия политических решений. ТРИ МОДЕЛИ ОРГАНИЗАЦИИ "ФАБРИК МЫСЛИ" В ГЛОБАЛЬНОМ КОНТЕКСТЕ Понятию «фабрики мысли» («think tanks») в современной политической науке даются разнообразные дефиниции и трактовки (в частности, распространены организационные, функциональные, структурные определения «фабрик мысли»). Автор исходит из того, что «фабрики мысли» — это разнообразные институты, занимающиеся изучением и анализом политических процессов и проблем, а также предоставляющие заинтересованным акторам (как собственно политическим, так и общественным и бизнес структурам) разработки и рекомендации по вопросам внутренней и внешней политики в целях принятия ими обоснованных политических решений. Финансирование федеральных исследований и разработок (запрос на 2014 фин. г.), млн. долл. Источник: Federal Research and Development Funding:FY2014. Congressional Research Service. July 30, 2013. P. 4. Тогда подлежит изучению не только та или иная наличествующая сегодня модель «фабрики мысли», но и ее генезис. Сложность анализа обусловлена невозможностью создания типичной схемы включения «фабрик мысли» в разработку политических решений, так как на нее воздействует множество политических, социальных, экономических и иных факторов, имеющих национальные или региональные особенности. Эти же факторы оказывают влияние и на часто принимаемую за «стандартную» институциональную структуру «фабрик мысли», которая в действительности всегда мимикрирует под окружающую ее социальную среду. Можно (сугубо схематически) выделить три основные модели функционирования «фабрик мысли»: американскую, европейскую и азиатскую. Разделение на модели само по себе является принципиальным, так как ранее дифференциация «фабрик мысли» проводилась преимущественно по критерию их большего или меньшего соответствия американскому образцу. Это обусловлено доминированием в литературе американских работ по «фабрикам мысли» и экспансией американских политико управленческих форм, хорошо заметной на примере Японии, Гонконга, Макао, Индии, Мексики и большинства стран Восточной Европы, в том числе России и Украины. Такой взгляд, среди прочего, приводит к безусловному доверию к американской исследовательской практике, как, например, в отчете «Non governmental Think Tanks in Ukraine: Capabilities, Challenges, Prospects», опубликованном Украинским центром экономических и политических исследований, ключевым источником для которого выступают, в свою очередь, отчеты Научно-исследовательского института внешней политики (Филадельфия, США). Такая ситуация характерна не только для Украины, но и для многих других развивающихся стран, осуществляющих некритическое заимствование иностранных институциональных и интеллектуальных конструктов. ОПЫТ США: ФОРМИРОВАНИЕ И ЭТАПЫ РАЗВИТИЯ "ФАБРИК МЫСЛИ" Опыт США показывает один из возможных вариантов истории становления «фабрик мысли», а также масштаба и результативности их деятельности. Американские «фабрики мысли» в указанном выше смысле исторически создавались прежде всего военными ведомствами, заинтересованными в разработке комплексной технологии аккумулирования информации — с привлечением гражданских специалистов, обладающих широкими познаниями в различных (в том числе политических) аспектах стратегического анализа. Схема расчета налоговых льгот в США Источник: Налоговое стимулирование инновационных процессов/ Отв. Ред. — Н.И. Иванова. — М.:ИМЭМО РАН, 2009. С.142 В 1956 г. по инициативе министра обороны США пять крупнейших университетов создали некоммерческую исследовательскую организацию под названием «Институт оборонного анализа». Менее чем за 10 лет институт вырос в крупное научное учреждение со штатом 600 человек. В 1960 е годы в США насчитывалось уже около 200 «фабрик мысли» самого разного профиля. Наиболее известными и влиятельными среди них были так называемые «финансируемые правительством центры НИОКР» (среди них RAND, Институт оборонного анализа, Институт военно морского анализа, корпорация «Aerospace»). Они напрямую поддерживались конгрессом США, который в конце 1960 х годов выделял им до 300 млн. долларов ежегодно. Необходимо подчеркнуть важный аспект в истории американских исследовательских центров. Руководство Пентагона изначально отказалось от создания аналитических центров внутри военного ведомства, хотя содержание независимых или частично независимых бесприбыльных (non profit) центров обходилось намного дороже. Заработная плата в «фабриках мысли» значительно превышала оклады государственных служащих. Руководство Пентагона исходило из того, что в результате опоры на «внутренние» центры пострадало бы качество научного консультирования, утратив широту и глубину охвата, присущие независимым научно исследовательским организациям. В конце 1970-х и начале 1980-х годов в США стал появляться новый тип «фабрик мысли». Это были идеологизированные, ориентированные на политическую активность организации, основанные, как правило, с целью продвижения определенных идейных ценностей или, точнее, образцов мышления. Среди них стоит выделить Институт Катона и Фонд Наследия — идеологически окрашенные организации, занимающиеся не отвлеченными политическими теориями, а пропагандой неоконсервативных идей в политической и особенно экономической сферах. В 1980-х годах такие центры были на подъеме своего влияния. С начала 1990-х годов в развитии американской политической мысли наметился поворотный момент, связанный с общесистемным сдвигом в международных отношениях.  Он привел к более четкому идеологическому оформлению различных «фабрик мысли»: обозначились как продемократические, так и прореспубликанские (более консервативные) институты, каждый из которых стремился продвигать собственную, по возможности уникальную концепцию, способную обеспечить аналитическую и консультативную поддержку принятия политических решений в новых условиях окончания «холодной войны» и превращения США в единственную сверхдержаву. Результатом стали бурные дебаты как в академической среде, так и в публичной сфере, однако практическая деятельность большинства подобных интеллектуальных центров в 1990-е годы сосредоточилась в основном на решении «прикладных» задач, то есть в большей степени на политической технологии, чем на выработке действительно инновационных концептуальных подходов. Прямое финансирование государством НИОКР, осуществляемых бизнесом и налоговое стимулирование инновационной деятельности Источник: OECD, Main Science and Technology Indicators (MSTI) Database, June 2012; OECD R&D tax in­centives questionnaires, January 2010 and July 2011, and national sources, based on OECD (2011), OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2011, OECD, Paris В плане же идеологических ориентиров в 2000-е годы американское экспертное сообщество все же преимущественно оставалось под влиянием консервативных идей, что в первую очередь связано с приходом к власти команды Дж.Буша. Следует констатировать, что вне зависимости от этапа своего развития «фабрики мысли» США всегда преследовали, строго говоря, одну цель: привлечение людей, способных генерировать идеи, к решению политически значимых проблем. При этом виды решаемых проблем, форма организации «фабрик мысли», заказчик, виды отчетности и т.д., естественно, различались. ОСНОВНЫЕ ХАРАКТЕРИСТИКИ АМЕРИКАНСКОЙ МОДЕЛИ Американский опыт создания «фабрик мысли» как специализированных организаций, занимающихся производством особого интеллектуального продукта — предлагаемого к реализации заказчиком политического решения, характеризуется несколькими основополагающими чертами: — правительство США неизменно демонстрирует заинтересованность в развитии «фабрик мысли» и расширении их научно исследовательского потенциала; — сами «фабрики мысли» создаются и функционируют преимущественно как неправительственные структуры, роль правительственных аналитических центров в сравнении с крупнейшими негосударственными «фабриками мысли» относительно второстепенна; — стремясь к диверсификации круга клиентов и партнеров, «фабрики мысли» тем не менее уделяют особое внимание поддержанию постоянных связей с государственными учреждениями. Рассмотрим выделенные характеристики подробнее. Правительственное внимание к развитию «фабрик мысли» подтверждается как заявлениями, так и практическими действиями представителей государственных структур. «Наиболее распространенная до настоящего времени среди членов федерального правительства точка зрения хорошо сформулирована в докладе, представленном в 1945 г. президенту Рузвельту Ванневаром Бушем, ученым, который возглавлял во время войны Управление научных исследований и разработок. Буш писал: „Основная политика Соединенных Штатов заключалась в том, что правительство должно способствовать достижению новых рубежей. Оно открыло морские просторы клиперам и обеспечило землей первых поселенцев. Налоговое стимулирование частных затрат на инновационную деятельность для крупных, малых и средних компаний в странах ОЭСР (налоговые субсидии на 1 долл. затрат на НИОКР) Источник: OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2012. P. 167. Несмотря на то что эти рубежи уже в значительной степени не существуют, рубеж науки остался. Более того, поскольку здравоохранение, благосостояние и безопасность входят в компетенцию правительства, научный прогресс представляет и должен представлять первостепенный интерес для правительства“». Реализация этого курса находит свое выражение в следующих обстоятельствах. Во-первых, в четкой дифференциации аналитических работ, установленной Национальным научным фондом, однако, что показательно, используемой не только правительственными, но и практически всеми иными структурами. Она включает три вида аналитической деятельности, а именно: — фундаментальные исследования — «изучение неизвестного». Такие исследования иногда называют ненаправленными, и они оказывают мотивирующее воздействие, выраженное в стремлении к знанию ради самого знания. Чарльз Э.Уилсон, первый министр обороны президента Эйзенхауэра, говорил о них как о деятельности, когда «...вы не знаете, что вы делаете». Примером мог бы служить химик, работающий с каким либо соединением просто для того, чтобы получить неизвестные до сих пор сведения об этом соединении. Он что то ищет, но что — не знает сам; — прикладные исследования — исследования, направленные на удовлетворение какой либо существующей потребности, например на создание лекарства от известной болезни или на нахождение новых способов повышения скорости самолета. Они опираются на фундаментальные исследования и, как правило, порождают дополнительные знания. Если продолжить наш пример с химиком, то нужно сказать, что он вступит в область прикладных исследований, как только предпримет попытки обнаружить, не позволяет ли изучаемое им соединение предупредить какое либо заболевание; — разработки — систематическое использование фундаментальных и прикладных исследований для создания и производства конкретных объектов (от сывороток до космических кораблей), систем, методов и материалов. Они обычно включают проектирование и эксперименты с неким изделием или процессом, но никогда — его непосредственное производство. Если, например, наш химик обнаружил бы, что изучаемое им соединение потенциально может использоваться в качестве противомалярийного препарата, то тогда разработки включали бы в себя очистку соединения, его проверку и подготовку к массовому производству. Во-вторых, в объеме финансирования «фабрик мысли». За период с 1957 по 1964 г., на который пришлось рождение самого феномена «фабрик мысли», общие расходы на них увеличились с 3 до 15 млрд. долларов. На пике популярности «фабрик мысли» в США — с 1960 по 1970 г. — на них было израсходовано более 150 млрд. долларов. Сегодня бюджет только одной RAND Corporation составляет 10-12 млрд. долларов в год. Показатель налоговых льгот на 1 долл. затрат на НИОКР Источник: Global R&D Report 2008 Magazine. P. 11; 2009 Global R&D Funding Forecast. P. 27. В-третьих, в структуре финансирования научной деятельности. Средства на поддержание научной деятельности предоставляются, конечно, не только федеральным правительством, но и колледжами, университетами, некоммерческими организациями и фондами, промышленностью (осуществляющей исследования и разработки как по собственной инициативе, так и в соответствии с заказами, полученными оттого же правительства), наконец, частными лицами. Однако, по данным П.Диксона сорокалетней давности, около 60% средств, направленных на эти цели, в то время предоставлялось федеральным правительством. По прошествии сорока лет такое распределение практически не изменилось и фактически стало модельным. Создаются же и функционируют претенденты на дележ этого «пирога» по инициативе не столько государства, сколько независимых от него структур. Так, бизнес среда порождает специфические «фабрики мысли» на базе исследовательских групп, действующих практически при любой крупной фирме (характерная их черта — высокая степень региональной привязанности, или анклавности). Впрочем, удельный вес социально и особенно политически референтных разработок в этой подгруппе американских «фабрик мысли» довольно низок. В массовом порядке «фабрики мысли» создаются при университетах. В 1969 г. количество таких центров составляло 5329; сегодня их число возросло примерно в полтора-два раза и иногда просто отождествляется с количеством кафедр в ведущих университетах. Впрочем, эту динамику следует скорее связывать с внутренним ростом самих университетов и их инфраструктуры, не смешивая со спонтанным образованием полноценных «фабрик мысли», число которых определяется прежде всего спросом и «естественным отбором». Как уже говорилось, в рамках американской модели правительственные аналитические центры играют — в сравнении с крупнейшими негосударственными «фабриками мысли» — второстепенную роль. Например, почти каждое федеральное агентство в правительстве США имеет свои собственные исследовательские учреждения, однако они заняты в большей степени техническим анализом, то есть сбором статистики и архивированием поступающих данных. Независимые «фабрики мысли» поддерживают тесные связи с государственными учреждениями. Правительственные акторы (как федеральные, так и местные) являются постоянными потребителями аналитических услуг: они нуждаются в широком спектре интеллектуальных продуктов, включая разработку долгосрочных планов развития той или иной отрасли и предложений по разрешению проблем текущей политики. Вместе с тем «фабрики мысли» сотрудничают с негосударственными фондами (такими, как Фонд Форда) и с бизнес структурами, заинтересованными в некоторых специфических видах аналитической деятельности (анализ рисков и возможностей в развитии компании, детализация рынка и т.п.). Вероятно, наиболее ярким примером этой «всеядности» американских «фабрик мысли» является история всемирно известной корпорации RAND. Предпринимательские расходы на НИОКР по отраслям в 2009 г., млрд. долл. по ППС Источник. OECD Statistics (http://www.oecd.org/statistics/). Будучи основанной в 1946 г. министерством военно воздушных сил США в сотрудничестве с авиакомпанией Douglas Aircraft, в мае 1948 г. организация приобрела статус независимого аналитического центра, перейдя тем самым из государственной в неправительственную сферу. Стартовый капитал для ее развития в этом качестве был предоставлен в том числе Фондом Форда. При этом, несмотря на смену статуса, корпорация сохранила налаженные организационные связи с государственными учреждениями, что позволило ей активно привлекать для собственных разработок экспертов как из правительственных агентств, так и из университетов и из частного сектора. «Фабрики мысли», особенно плотно взаимодействующие с правительством при сохранении формальной независимости от него, образуют, если можно так выразиться, «прогосударственный» сектор аналитических центров, отличающийся повышенным уровнем авторитетности. В нем больше всего отставных политиков, и он финансируется преимущественно за счет бюджетных средств. Одним из самых характерных примеров такой «прогосударственной» организации является Институт Брукингса. Эта организация была основана еще в 1916 г. бизнесменом и филантропом Робертом Брукингсом в качестве Института правительственных исследований (Institute for Government Research), причем одновременно Брукингс профинансировал также учреждение еще двух центров: Экономического института (Institute of Economics) и Школы Роберта Брукингса (Robert Brookings Graduate School). В 1927 г. эти три организации были объединены в единый Институт Брукингса. «В течение ряда лет влияние Института на правительство было значительным. Хотя он лишь в особых случаях работает непосредственно на правительство (и то только при условии, что работа будет не секретной и может быть опубликована), его исследованиям часто уделяют более серьезное внимание, чем исследованиям групп, пользующихся поддержкой федеральных властей. В прошлом он содействовал организации и разработке процесса составления федерального бюджета, сформулировал политику в отношении военных долгов и принципа тарифной реформы в 20-х годах». Одним из наиболее известных глобальных проектов Института была помощь правительству в разработке плана восстановления послевоенной Европы (European Recovery Program), подготовленного в 1948 г. и ставшего основой «Плана Маршалла» по реконструкции западноевропейской экономики. В начале 1950 х годов Институт был реорганизован и стал профилироваться по трем основным направлениям: экономические исследования, политические исследования (государственное управление) и внешнеполитические программы. В 1967 г. в партнерстве с федеральным правительством Институт начал реализацию долгосрочной программы под названием «Определяя национальные приоритеты» и в течение всех 1970-х годов получал заказы от правительственных департаментов, несмотря на напряженные отношения с Р.Никсоном. Количество исследователей на тысячу занятых, в эквиваленте полной занятости Источник: Factbook 2012. С началом в 1980 х годах эры рейганизма Институт вновь реорганизовался, в его составе появился Центр образования в области публичной политики (Center For Public Policy Education), который занимался в том числе и привлечением заказчиков для разрабатываемых Институтом проектов. Следующее расширение произошло в середине 1990-х годов, когда было учреждено несколько междисциплинарных центров, например Центр городской политики (Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy). С 2002 г. и по настоящее время президентом Института является Строуб Тэлботт, в прошлом один из наиболее значимых членов команды президента У.Клинтона. Об уровне эффективности Института Брукингса говорит тот факт, что в 2009 г. он занял первое место в глобальном рейтинге экспертно-аналитических центров мира, составленном Университетом Пенсильвании на основе опроса нескольких тысяч ученых и экспертов. Всего на звание лучшего исследовательского центра мира претендовали 407 организаций. Таким образом, можно заключить, что «фабрики мысли» в США представляют собой преимущественно самостоятельные организации, тесно взаимодействующие как с политической, так и с бизнес элитой. В большинстве случаев они приближены к власти, но не включены в нее, что позволяет сохранять объективность и в то же время дает возможность компетентного критического анализа правительственной деятельности. Миссия государства в большинстве американских «фабрик мысли» сводится к роли заказчика интеллектуального продукта и соучредителя (в некоторых случаях) той или иной организации, а также, что особенно важно, аналитика особого рода — сравнивающего тысячи исследований сотен фирм, извлекающего самую ценную информацию, делающего ставку на наиболее эффективные центры, но не отрекающегося от остальных. Впрочем, кроме «прогосударственных» организаций, в США можно обнаружить «фабрики мысли», не входящие в сферу влияния власти и находящиеся на «службе по крайней мере у части общественности». По идеологической окраске они сильно различаются, объединяющими же признаками для организаций данного типа являются следующие: — отвергается сама возможность принятия федерального финансирования; — результатам работы никогда не придается характер промышленной собственности; — результаты работы не привязаны к заказчику; — главной целью является оказание на общественность и правительство внешнего критического влияния; — обычная форма финансирования — субсидии благотворительных фондов, завещания, дары, иные общественные пожертвования и доходы от продажи публикаций. Расходы системы высшего образования на НИОКР Источник. OECD Statistics (http://www.oecd.org/statistics/). «Будучи независимыми от поддержки тех, кого они консультируют, эти „фабрики мысли“ находятся в уникальном положении. Они не присутствуют на закрытых заседаниях, где формируется политика, и в этом смысле их влияние ограничено. Поскольку их нельзя взять на службу и они ни от кого не зависят, их позиция очень выгодна для развертывания острой общественной критики и привлечения большей аудитории к участию в дискуссиях по основным политическим проблемам. Именно эта способность делать обсуждение вопросов политики живым, конкретным и открытым должна лежать в основе оценки „общественных фабрик мысли“». Одной из наиболее известных «прообщественных» «фабрик мысли» является Центр по изучению демократических институтов. Работа Центра состоит в ежегодно организуемых исследованиях, семинарах, учебных курсах и экспериментах. Среди наиболее заметных результатов его деятельности — подготовка масштабного проекта реформы американской Конституции, призванного «обеспечить соответствие Конституции современным условиям, политике и проблемам». По этому факту можно судить и о масштабах амбиций Центра, и о масштабах его реального влияния. В схематическом виде основные особенности американской модели взаимодействия «фабрик мысли» с их основными контрагентами отражены на рис. 1. Рисунок 1. Распределение интеллектуального продукта "фабрик мысли" США АМЕРИКАНСКАЯ МОДЕЛЬ В СРАВНИТЕЛЬНОМ АСПЕКТЕ: ПРЕИМУЩЕСТВА И НЕДОСТАТКИ Американская модель организации «фабрик мысли» обладает неоспоримыми достоинствами. Успешно пользующиеся заинтересованностью правительства США в развитии и расширении научно исследовательского потенциала, однако привлекающие, наряду с государственными, значительные ресурсы общественных и бизнес структур и умело маневрирующие ими, «фабрики мысли» в США представляют собой в высокой степени самостоятельные организации, приближенные к власти, но не включенные в нее непосредственно (в отличие от того, что часто имеет место, например, в российской ситуации). Такая «трехмерная» система способствует выработке адекватных управленческих рекомендаций, отвечающих критериям достоверности и функциональности. Система информационно аналитической поддержки, предоставляемой «фабриками мысли» США, является исключительно прагматичной. Прагматична даже сама структура типичной американской «фабрики мысли», сочетающая характерную для коммерческих организаций гибкость, присущее общественным организациям диверсифицированное финансирование и высокую степень «кадровой интегрированности» в научную, политическую и бизнес среду. Американская модель «фабрики мысли», по сути, является проекцией американской идеи демократии. Аналитические центры представляют различные группы интересов, действуют в системе рыночных отношений и доступны общественному контролю. Единственным, но значимым минусом американской модели является ее ограниченная применимость в иных социальных средах, особенно когда речь идет о «фабриках мысли» стран, относимых к европейской и азиатской культурным зонам. По мнению Д.Стоун, «в США влияние на формирование „фабрик мысли“ оказывают не только политические факторы, но и сильная филантропическая культура и благоприятный налоговый режим». Влияние филантропической культуры на функционирование «фабрик мысли» в США подчеркивается также в работах Д.Абельсона и К.Вейс. Внутренние затраты на гражданские исследования и разработки в России и зарубежных странах в расчете на одного исследователя Источник. Программа кандидата в президенты Российской академии наук академика В.Е. Фортова. Ос­новные направления развития Российской академии наук. Москва, 10 мая 2013 г. С. 27. Между тем ни в Европе, ни в Азии социальная среда не способна предоставить эффективную поддержку независимым «фабрикам мысли». В китайской практике в ряде случаев вообще наблюдается «финансовое подавление» независимости гражданских «фабрик мысли» через механизмы Национального научного фонда и прямого государственного заказа. Крайне мало (по сравнению с США) существует и специализированных налоговых послаблений, равно как и частных фондов, способных финансировать аналитические центры. Поэтому с конца 1990-х годов в ведущих странах Евросоюза и Китае наметилась тенденция к созданию собственных оригинальных моделей интеллектуального обеспечения политико управленческого процесса, в гораздо большей степени ориентированных на государство, нежели американская. Образцом европейских «фабрик мысли» могут служить так называемые «старт фабрики» («start up tanks»). Подобно своим американским аналогам, «старт фабрики» представляют собой независимые научно-исследовательские центры, деятельность которых направлена на поддержку принятия политических решений. Однако, в отличие от США, они создаются не гибким взаимодействием власти, науки и бизнеса, а их изначально жестко формализованной кооперацией, причем власть, как правило, представлена только молодым поколением, лишь начинающим свою карьеру и потому заинтересованным в интеллектуальном стимуле. Примерами «старт фабрик» могут служить Лиссабонский совет в Брюсселе или BerlinPolis. Еще больше отличается от американской азиатская модель «фабрик мысли». Наиболее показателен в этом плане опыт Китая, где три типа «фабрик мысли» образуют сеть информационного анализа и консалтинга, охватывающую практически все общество. В схематическом виде китайская модель формирования «фабрик мысли» отображена на рис. 2. Рис. 2. Три типа "фабрик мысли" в КНР В систему входят официальные институты, полуофициальные институты и гражданские исследовательские центры. Внешне возникает иллюзия некоего подобия американской модели, однако при формальном совпадении ряда ключевых акторов отсутствует развитая система фондового спонсорства и получения негосударственных заказов. «Фабрики мысли» в КНР используются официальными структурами прежде всего как поставщики проверенной и обобщенной информации о тех социальных группах, с которыми они связаны. Даже в Японии, стране, которая на протяжении нескольких десятилетий после второй мировой войны находилась в фарватере американской политики, была в итоге сформирована модель «фабрик мысли», отличающаяся от образца, существующего в США, хотя надо признать, что долгосрочное американское влияние наложило свой отпечаток на функционирование японских аналитических центров (как, впрочем, и на иные стороны японской жизни). «Фабрики мысли» в Японии, как и в США, занимаются в первую очередь специализированным анализом, причем преимущественно экономическим, поскольку глобальных политических амбиций Япония, по крайней мере официально, не имеет. Вместе с тем, в отличие от США, в Японии «фабрики мысли» стремятся не столько к независимости, сколько к максимально тесной кооперации с государственными институтами и бизнес организациями, обеспечивающей гарантии постоянного сотрудничества и востребованности. Таким образом, организационная модель «фабрик мысли», изначально родственная американской, все же подстраивается под специфику национальной политической культуры и социально экономической сферы. В КАКОЙ МЕРЕ ВОЗМОЖНО ЗАИМСТВОВАНИЕ АМЕРИКАНСКОЙ МОДЕЛИ В ИНЫХ НАЦИОНАЛЬНЫХ И КУЛЬТУРНЫХ УСЛОВИЯХ? Мультимодельный подход, в отличие от традиционалистского, в соответствии с которым американская модель трактуется как «чистая», то есть вообще не отягощенная национальной спецификой и потому применимая к любой социальной системе, предполагает рассмотрение «фабрик мысли» как организаций, обладающих не только институциональной, но и региональной и национальной спецификой. В свою очередь, соотнесение инновационных и автохтонных элементов, интегрирующихся в ту или иную устойчивую модель «фабрики мысли», позволяет скорректировать господствующий в литературе «панамериканский» подход к вопросу. Сопоставление расходов на НИР и НИОКР и количества статей в Web of Science в 2011 году по странам Источник. Москалева О.В. Можно ли оценивать труд ученых по библиометрическим показателям? // Управление большими системами. 2013. Специальный выпуск 44: «Наукометрия и экспертиза в управле­нии наукой». С. 327—328. В результате становится возможным констатировать взаимосвязь таких параметров, как структура аналитических центров, их информационный потенциал и достоверность рекомендаций, с одной стороны, и качество политических решений, принимаемых правительственными и общественными структурами, — с другой. Качество информационных услуг, представляемых «фабриками мысли», напрямую коррелирует с их независимостью, конкурентностью среды, вариативностью аналитических подходов, а также с национальной спецификой, делающей (или не делающей) институциональную структуру «фабрик мысли» органично встроенной в систему разработки и принятия политических решений. Отличительной чертой американских «фабрик мысли» является их включенность в механизмы принятия решений при сохранении высокой институциональной автономности от акторов, принимающих решения, а также от параллельно действующих экспертных центров. Несмотря на активные попытки заимствования американской модели, при организации аналитических центров в странах Европы и тем более Азии такой автономности удается достичь далеко не всегда. Сравнительный анализ позволяет определить пределы возможного заимствования — это преимущественно внешняя имитация, поскольку сохранение сути организации требует адаптации к местным условиям всех структурообразующих элементов. Более масштабная имитация, как ни парадоксально, ведет либо к утрате содержания деятельности, либо к падению степени независимости аналитических центров. Поэтому целесообразна комбинация заимствований, обеспечивающих адаптацию «фабрики мысли» к региональным условиям при сохранении ее «институциональной идентичности», подразумевающей, помимо прочего, и определенную степень независимости в сборе и проверке достоверности данных. Очевидно, что именно поиском такой комбинации и заняты все участники продолжающегося уже не первое десятилетие процесса конструирования центров политической аналитики в современной России. Вопрос о том, насколько она возможна и имеет шансы быть востребованной в рамках национальной политической культуры, остается, однако, открытым. http://rusrand.ru/analytics/analiticheskie-tsentry-v-politicheskom-protsesse-amerikanskaja-model-fabrik-mysli

04 июля 2014, 23:26

THE FINHTING UKRUK HAI

 В распоряжении журналистов оказался документ, предположительно подготовленный специалистами американского стратегического исследовательского центра RAND Corporation. Он включает в себя три стадии действия карательных сил на востоке Украины. План подразумевает расстрел взятых в плен ополченцев и сочувствующих им мирных жителей, создание фильтрационных лагерей, изъятие имущества жителей региона для поощрения наиболее отличившихся при проведении карательной операции солдат. Если умертвия, собранные Черным Властелином отовсюду, победят, все, видимо, так и будет. Если победят. Если.