Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Climate Change and its Impact on the World's Cities

While I realize that there are many sceptics out there when it comes to the anthropogenic causes of global climate change, I have one question:

"What if climate change is real and is due to the activities of man since the beginning of the Industrial Age?"

A recent study by Jean-Francois Bastin et al entitled "Understanding Climate Change from a Global Analysis of City Analogues" takes a very interesting view of how climate change (if it is real and will proceed as projected) will impact iconic cities around the world.  The study looks at whether 520 cities around the world will have a climate that is similar to their current climate or whether it will more closely resemble the climate of other major cities in 2050, three short decades from now.  

One of the biggest problems facing climate scientists is the fact that potential future climate data does not have any impact on human beliefs, particularly when those scientific projections are measured in terms of very lengthy periods of time (i.e. the year 2100) or relatively abstract concepts like sea level increases measured in centimetres.  The authors of the study note that "geographic shifts" are the most effective way of communicating the impact of climate change, that is, comparing the climate of cities today to what the climate will be like in the future by using current climatic conditions in other cities.  This type of climate change measurement is referred to as "city analogues". 

Here is a quote from the paper explaining the concept of city analogues and what the authors hope to achieve with this study:

"In this study, we evaluate the global shifts in the climate conditions of cities by taking current climate data for the world’s 520 major cities (Current Cities with populations in excess of one million people), and project what they will most closely resemble in 2050 (Future Cities). Rather than describing the quantitative changes in climate variables, we propose to quantify city climate analogs at a global scale, i.e. assessing which Current Cities will most closely resemble the climate conditions of Future Cities. To tackle previous limitations, we explore these patterns at a global scale using 19 bioclimatic variables, to include climate variability and seasonality in addition to climate averages.

Specifically, we aim to test three questions:

(i) What proportion of the world’s major cities of the future most closely resemble their own current climate conditions vs. the climate conditions of other cities in different geographic regions? 

(ii) What proportion of cities will experience novel climate conditions that are outside the range experiences by cities today? 

(iii) If cities do shift their climate conditions, is this spatial shift uniform in direction across the planet?

The following principal components were examined:

1.) minimum temperature of the coldest month.

2.) maximum temperature of the warmest month.

3.) precipitation seasonality.

4.) precipitation of the driest and wettest months.

5.) temperature diurnal range.

Here is a plot showing the distribution of current and future cities along the four principal component axes:

The top figure shows the distribution of current and future cities with the first axis being driven mainly by the differences in temperature seasonality and minimum temperature of the coldest month which is responsible for 40.2 percent of climate variation.  The second axis shows precipitation seasonality which is responsible for 26.9 percent of climate variations.  The bottom figure shows the distribution of current and future cities with the first axis showing changes in precipitation of the wet season which is responsible for 10.5 percent of climate variation.  The second axis is driven mainly by changes in the mean diurnal temperature range which is responsible for 7.6 percent of climate variation.

The authors then calculated the latitudinal (i.e. north/south) shift between the current and future cities.  They noted that there is less temperature seasonality with higher maximum and minimum temperatures and well as higher precipitation seasonality with higher amounts of precipitation in the wettest months and lower precipitation in the driest months.  To summarize:

"...cities of the world will become hotter, particularly during the winter and summer.  Wet seasons become wetter and dry seasons drier."

Let's look at additional details on what the authors of the study found.  Their analysis shows that, in 2050, 23 percent of the world's major cities will have a climate that is similar to their current climate and 77 percent of cities will experience a significant change in climate, resulting in climate conditions that are similar to today's climate in other cities.  Additionally, 22 percent of the world's cities are likely to exist in a climate domain that does not exist today.  Tropical regions will see the greatest change with 30 percent of cities experiencing a drier climate, a climate condition that does not exist today.  Here is a graphic showing the extent of climate change with cities that will experience climate conditions that no major city has experienced before coloured in red and those that will experience climate conditions that are reflected in current major cities today ( noting that the larger the dot, the greater the magnitude of change): 

Here is a graphic showing the latitudinal shift in climate in 2050 versus the equator for the world's major cities noting that the climate of northern hemisphere cities shift to climates that resemble the climate closer to the equator:

Let's look more closely at the shift in climate by 2050.  Cities in northern latitudes will experience the  most dramatic shifts in extreme temperature with cities in Europe seeing warmer summers with temperatures increasing 3.5 degrees Celsius and warmer winters with temperatures increasing 4.7 degrees Celsius.  This is equivalent to moving a European city 1000 kilometres closer to the equator.  Madrid's climate will be more like that of Marrakech, London's climate will be more like that of Barcelona, Stockholm's climate will be more like that of Budapest, Portland (Oregon) will have a climate that is more like San Antonio and San Francisco will have a climate that is similar to Lisbon.

Let's close with this graphic which shows the geographical shift of the climate (in degrees) toward the subtropics (i.e. 20 degrees latitude):

Cities located below 20 degrees north and south tend to move away from the equator while cities that are beyond the 20 degree latitude line tend to move toward the equator (i.e. the climate becomes more subtropical).

Here is a summary of the findings as quoted in the paper:

"At the global scale, our study reveals that geographical shift tend to converge towards the subtropics, going to warmer climate conditions from boreal and temperate regions and to drier conditions from tropical regions. While this lends support to previous observations of a “tropical belt widening” due to the expected warmer conditions, it also shows that tropical biomes tend to shrink in many areas due to drier conditions. We therefore suggest here to refer to a “sub-tropical widening” compared to the previous “tropical widening” due to climate change....

To our knowledge, our study represents the first global analysis of the shifts in climate conditions of the world’s major cities under climate change. Our analysis revealed that over 77% of the world’s cities are likely to experience a shift towards the climate conditions of another major city by 2050, while 22% will shift to climate conditions that are not currently present for any major cities on the planet. Across the globe, the direction of movement is generally trending towards the subtropics, providing unifying patterns that support trends observed in Europe and North America. In addition, this analysis revealed new insights for cities in equatorial regions, many of which are likely to move to entirely new climate conditions that are not currently experienced by any of the other global cities today. These city analogues, and the data we openly share, can help land managers and city planners to visualize the climate futures of their respective cities, facilitating efforts to establish targeted climate response strategies." (my bolds)

As I stated in my opening; what if?

Monday, July 29, 2019

Profiteering from Nuclear Weapons

Updated September 2019

Now that the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is officially dead as shown here:

...a look at what lies ahead for America's military-industrial-Congressional complex in this new reality is in order.  Under the terms of the  INF treaty, the use of ground-launch nuclear missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,000 kilometres was banned.  That is now officially over and could well lead to the development and production of weapons that were formerly banned under the INF.  Now that the "gloves are off" and Mike Pompeo, America's Secretary of State and co-chief warrior has stated the following:

"...the United States remains committed to effective arms control that advances U.S., allied and partner security...". is important to understand at just how committed the United States is to security and effective arms control, particularly of the nuclear variety and then examine who will benefit from the death of the INF Treaty.

According to a recent report entitled "Producing Mass Destruction: Private Companies and the Nuclear Weapons Industry" by Pax For Peace, a Netherland's-based peace organization, several American companies are benefitting from tens of billions of dollars in sales as part of their business model to build nuclear weapons or components for these weapons that have absolutely no redeeming value to humanity.  Let's look at America's top three defense contractors (according to DefenseNews) and their very strong connections to our nuclear weapon world by examining just some of the contracts that the companies have received for nuclear weapons-related work:

1.) Lockheed Martin: The company, the world's largest weapons producer, is responsible for construction of the Trident II missile which will be used on the new Ohio Class submarines.  A July 2014 contract for $19.9 million for the initial phases of the Trident II development was modified and under the new terms could reach a total maximum of $828.4 million.  Other contracts have also been issued for Trident II missile production, technical support etcetera as follows (including both the original contract amount and the maximum that could be reached if all options are exercised:

November 2014 - $35.9 million - $99.2 million maximum
April 2015 - $31.1 million
September 2015 - $392 million - maximum of $1.5 billion
April 2016 - $12 million and $21 million
February 2017 - $540 million plus $125.5 million for modifications
April 2017 - $11 million
September 2017 - $418.7 million - maximum of $1.1 billion
September 2017 - $55.7 million  - maximum $108.6 million
December 2017 - $154.4 million
March 2018 - $27.1 million
September 2018 - $103.9 plus several modifications totalling $620.8 million
December 2018 - $167.1 million

Lockheed Martin is also a member of the team which is involved in the production and maintenance of the Minuteman III missile family.  In June 2014, the company was awarded a contract for $109 million to sustain the missile reentry system.  In November 2017, the contract was updated to included repair and modification as well as testing of hardware and software for an additional $386 million.  Lockheed Martin is also part of the join venture Atomic Weapons Establishment, the company that manages the United Kingdom's atomic weapons, holding a 51 percent share.  AWE is responsible for the entire life cycle of Trident missiles and, in March 2015, a new contract was signed which will be in effect until 2025.  The contract has a value of $33.6 billion over the years from 1999 to 2024.  Lockheed Martin is also part of the Air Force's Long Range Standoff (LRSO) missile plans and was awarded a contract worth $900 million to develop the replacement for theAGM-86B air-launched cruise missile.

2.) Raytheon: Raytheon is involved in the Minuteman III, Ground-based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) team which is developing a replacement for the Minuteman III ICBM system by 2030, the Long-Race Standoff (LRSO) missile plans which will carry the new W-80-4 thermonuclear warhead set for deployment in 2027.  In August 2017, Raytheon was awarded a five-year contract for $900 million to develop the LRSO's technology by 2022.

3.) Northrop Grumman: Northrop Grumman is involved in the U.S. Minuteman III, U.S. (and U.K) Trident II missiles as well as with several nuclear weapons production facilities.  The company (along with Boeing and Lockheed Martin) are part of a 1997 $6.5 billion contract to produce and maintain the Minuteman III.  The company received a $963.5 million contract for ICBM ground subsystems support in January 1995.  In May 1995, it receive a $99.1 million contract to provide independent testing and evaluation of developers' software and hardware for impacts on Minuteman III nuclear safety.  Through its acquisition of Orbital ATK, Northrop Grumman took over a $790.3 million contract for engineering support and program management of the Minuteman III propulsion system.  In November 2015, the company received a contract worth a maximum of $223.6 million for a hardware refresh of the U.S. and U.K. Trident II launcher system and another contract work up to $198 million for engineering services to integrate the Trident II (D5) into the future Ohio submarine.  In September 2017, Northrop Grumman was award a $21.4 million contract for repair of the Air Launched  Cruise Missile inertial navigation element and the reconstruction of the missile's test stations.  Northrop Grumman is also a member of the Consolidated Nuclear Services (CNS) group with processes uranium which contribute directly to the U.S. nuclear arsenal fissile materials capabilities.  Through CNS, Northrop Grumman indirectly manages and operates the Pantex Plant which is the facility for assembly and maintenance of America's nuclear arsenal including the W-76-A , W 76-2, W-80-1 and W-88 warheads. 

Let's close this posting with a graphic showing which companies make the most money on the development and production of nuclear weapons:

Despite the calls from sane quarters that call for restraint and disarmament, new nuclear weapons are being developed, particularly the American low-yield variant, a move that is bringing us closer and closer to the nuclear brink.  On the upside, profits and executive compensation at these three companies and other companies involved in the nuclear weapon supply chain continue to grow unabated.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Lyme Disease and the American Military-Industrial-Intelligence Complex

To almost no fanfare, Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced this bit of legislation:

The amendment was added to the House's National Defence Appropriations Act and passed by a voice vote. 

Rep. Smith is a founding member of the Congressional Lyme disease Caucus.  According to the Lyme Disease Association, the investigation was triggered by information released in Lyme disease survivor Kris Newby's new book, "Bitten: the Secret History of Lyme disease and Biological Weapons."

In case you are not aware of Lyme disease, here is a summary of the disease from the Centers for Disease Control:

"Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks.  Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well."

Here is a map showing the occurrence of Lyme disease for the 2017 season:

During the 2017 season, there were a total of 29,513 cases of Lyme disease with most of those occurring in the northeastern states.  

Here is a graphic showing the confirmed cases of Lyme disease by month going back to 2001:

Here is a graphic showing the confirmed and reported cases of Lyme disease by year going back to 1997:

As you can see from the data, the incidence of confirmed cases of Lyme disease have risen by 130.5 percent over the two decade period from 1997 to 2017.

One of the great unknowns of Lyme disease is its persistence in some individuals.  Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome or PTLDS is described as follows:

"Lyme disease is caused by infection with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Although most cases of Lyme disease can be cured with a 2- to 4-week course of oral antibiotics, patients can sometimes have symptoms of pain, fatigue, or difficulty thinking that linger for more than 6 months after they finish treatment. This condition is called Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS).

Why some patients experience PTLDS is not known. Some experts believe that Borrelia burgdorferi can trigger an “auto-immune” response causing symptoms that last well after the infection itself is gone. Auto–immune responses are known to occur following other infections, including campylobacter (Guillain-Barré syndrome), chlamydia (Reiter’s syndrome), and strep throat (rheumatic heart disease). Other experts hypothesize that PTLDS results from a persistent but difficult to detect infection. Finally, some believe that the symptoms of PTLDS are due to other causes unrelated to the patient’s Borrelia burgdorferi infection.

Unfortunately, there is no proven treatment for PTLDS. Although short-term antibiotic treatment is a proven treatment for early Lyme disease, studiesexternal icon funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have found that long-term outcomes are no better for patients who received additional prolonged antibiotic treatment than for patients who received placebo. Long-term antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease has been associated with serious, sometimes deadly complications, as described in the links below.

Patients with PTLDS usually get better over time, but it can take up to many months to feel completely well. If you have been treated for Lyme disease and still feel unwell, see your healthcare provider to discuss additional options for managing your symptoms. If you are considering long-term antibiotic treatment for ongoing symptoms associated with a Lyme disease infection, please talk to your healthcare provider about the possible risks of such treatment."

With that background, let's go back to Representative Smith's amendment to the House National Defense Appropriations Act.  In this amendment, Smith is attempting to confirm or deny reports that Pentagon researchers, at places such as Fort Detrick in Maryland and Plum Island in New York (in the middle of the worst affected part of the United States for Lyme disease) implanted diseases into insects to learn about the effects of biological weapons and also looked into using such insects to disseminate biological agents going all the way back to 1950.

In case you should happen to think that this is just another story from the tin foil hat wearing conspiracy crowd, the United States actually was found guilty of using this sort of weapon after the Korean War.  I published this posting on the subject in June 2018 but will provide a brief summary.  In March 1952, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) issued a report on U.S. Crimes in Korea as shown here:

In this report, the IADL investigated allegations that American forces in Korea were using bacteriological weapons against both the DPRK armed forces and the nation's civilian population.  Between the 28th of January and the 12th of March (i.e. during the dead of winter), 1952, the Commission found the following insects which carried bacteria in many different locations:

The Commission noted that many of the insect species had not been found in Korea prior to the arrival of American forces and that many of them were found in mixed groups or clusters that would not normally be found together, for example, flies and spiders. It also noted that the January temperature was 1 degree Celsius (just above freezing) to 5 degrees Celsius in February but that the prevailing average temperature was far below the freezing level, temperatures that are extremely hostile to insect life.  The insects were infected with the following bacteria which include plague, cholera and typhus:

1.) Eberthella typhus

2.) Bacillus paratyphi A and B

3.) Shigella dysenteriae

4.) Vibrio cholera

5.) Pasturella pestis

The IADL Commission unanimously found that the United States was guilty of crimes against humanity during the Korean War and that there was a pattern of behaviour which constitutes genocide and noted that:

"...the use of such inhuman weapons as bacteriological warfare must be taken to indicate a new degree of savagery in the conduct of so-called civilized states which must threaten every man, woman and child..."

In conclusion, I suspect the odds that any investigation into the link between Lyme disease and the military-industrial-intelligence complex will be, at best, inconclusive but, given this:

...I believe that we have a pretty good idea of who we should NOT trust when it comes to any link between the military/intelligence community and the growing prevalence of Lyme disease.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Vladimir Putin's Strategic Intentions

white paper released by the U.S. Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff entitled "Russian Strategic Intentions - A Strategic Multilayer Assessment" reviews Russia's activities around the globe and will provide the U.S. government and military a better understanding of Russia's goals so that these "provocative" activities can be countered.

Let's open with this quote from the paper:

"The National Security Strategy (NSS), National Defense Strategy (NDS), and National Military Strategy all note that future confrontations between major powers may most often occur below the level of armed conflict. In this environment, economic competition, influence campaigns, paramilitary actions, cyber intrusions, and political warfare will likely become more prevalent. Such confrontations increase the risk of misperception and miscalculation, between powers with significant military strength, which may then increase the risk of armed conflict. In this context, the US capability to influence the outcomes of both global and regional events must be reconsidered. The growing divergence among great powers (i.e., the US, China, and Russia) regarding what constitutes legitimate or acceptable deterrence, compellence, and escalation management activities should be carefully examined."

According to Joint Staff Deputy Director for Global Operations Rear Admiral Jeffrey J. Czerewko, there are three main strategies being adopted by Russia:

"1.) Russia is adopting coercive strategies that involve the orchestrated employment of military and nonmilitary means to deter and compel the US, its allies and partners prior to and after the outbreak of hostilities. These strategies must be proactively confronted, or the threat of significant armed conflict may increase.

2.) Russia exhibits a deep-seated sense of geopolitical insecurity which motivates it to pursue strategic objectives that establish an uncontested sphere of influence in the post-Soviet region. Yet, Russians increasingly disagree with the Kremlin’s assertions that the US is a looming external danger and a subversive force in Russian domestic politics.

3.) Russia’s gray zone tactics are most effective when the target is deeply polarized or lacks the capacity to resist and respond effectively to Russian aggression. According to Russian strategic thought, deterrence and compellence are two sides of the same coin."  (my bold)

Please note that "gray zone tactics" refers to conflict that is short of an armed struggle, tactics that are somewhere between peace and war.

The paper notes that Russia is engaged in a "zero-sum" competition with the West and its looking to regain its "rightful status as a great power".  According to the paper, there is a sense of frustration in Moscow that the West has not realized that the two are locked in a "gray zone state of conflict" and that:

"...Since Russian armed forces do not possess the resources required to compete on an equal footing with the US, Russia has developed its own approach to competition, seeking out and exploiting contested spaces and points of vulnerability, whether it stems from a vacuum of military power, of political will to use it, or a divergence of threat perception within a country or an alliance. Information has been weaponized, and disinformation has become an incisive instrument of state policy. Nowhere is Western confusion more clearly demonstrated than in Russian employment of digital technology, used to reinforce one of Russia’s key tools of statecraft, maskirovka, literally translated as ‘little masquerade’. The concept of maskirovka involves camouflage, denial, deceit, misdirection, and operational dexterity."

While this paper is extremely detailed and quite lengthy, for the purposes of this posting, I want to focus on one chapter in particular, "Putin's Grand Strategy and U.S. National Interests" written by Dr. Christopher March.  The author begins his contribution by questioning whether Russia's President Vladimir Putin has a grand, overarching strategy for Russia and the world or whether he is just reacting to international events as they occur and what threat this strategy (if it exists) may post to the interests of the United States.  

Dr. March opens by observing that Mr. Putin is a serious strategist, in contrast to what other analysts believe (i.e Anne Applebaum and  Michael McFaul who believed that Putin's primary goal was to stay in power) and that he does have a strategy that will reposition Russia as one of several centres of power as U.S. dominance on the world stage fades and the global geopolitical system evolves into a multipolar (Chinese dominated) world.  In this new global order, both Eastern and Western Europe are forced to "play nice" with Russia since they are heavily dependent for Russian oil and natural gas as shown on these graphics from the Energy Information Administration:

In addition to "playing nice" with Europe as a whole, Russia is also embracing China in a "soft alliance", an arrangement that allows Russia to maintain its sovereignty along its eastern flank as China moves toward becoming the world's largest economy and, perhaps, its best outfitted military machine.  Along with Beijing, Moscow seeks a new multipolar world and a final end to Washington's agenda of complete global control.  Here is a quote from the paper looking at the advantages of a Russia - China alliance to Russia and the disadvantages of this alliance to the United States:

"Not only does the alliance provide each country with a secure rear flank, technology transfers and weapons sales support each other’s military-industrial complexes and military modernization. While Russia is still ahead of China in certain areas, including maritime, aviation, and weapons systems, the Kremlin knows that this edge will likely give way in the next 10-20 years, as China emerges as the more advanced and powerful of the pair. Hence the focus of acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan on “China, China, China”—for all indications are that, in the long term, China will dwarf Russian military power and present the greatest threat to US interests and national security."

This leaves the United States in a precarious position since Russia is likely to counter Washington wherever it can do so without punitive damages (i.e. sanctions).  We can clearly see this in the Middle East where Russia took top place in Bashar al Assad's efforts to remain in power in Syria.  The author states the following:

"Moscow will seek to counter U.S. action simply because it resents American global hegemony, and it can do so because the U.S. political system's dysfunctionality (by the design of the Founding Fathers) tempers its response while its alliance system too leads to the imposition of costs that do not outweigh the benefit of Moscow's perceived gains.

The author notes that Russia's strategy has two main pillars:

1.) Moscow's strategic alliance with Beijing in pursuit of a dipolar world in which U.S. hegemony is defeated.

2.) the retention of Russia's "tentacles" on its former Soviet neighbours.  This move will allow Russia to shatter the control of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization over some of its former vassal states (i.e. Poland).

Let's look at a summary of the author's conclusions about Mr. Putin:

1.) Russian President Vladimir Putin has a grand strategy that he is following.

2.) The threads of this strategy can be seen at the theater/operational level and join together at the grand strategic level.

3.) Russia seeks a veto power over its near abroad and considers the area part of its exclusive sphere of influence.

4.) Russia has entered into a strong alliance with China, one that is mutually beneficial.

5.) Russian recidivism is a threat to US national interests, particularly to NATO and its new members.

In conclusion, I would like to add one additional thought to the author's concerns about the threat that Vladimir Putin's grand strategy plays to America's geopolitical strategy.  With Washington as divided as it ever has been and with both parties focussing on issues that are of little consequence as well as nonsensical infighting, Russia and China have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity to defeat the United States at its own game and manipulate the global geopolitical picture to their own advantage.  As I noted above:

"Russia’s gray zone tactics are most effective when the target is deeply polarized or lacks the capacity to resist and respond effectively to Russian aggression."

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Vladimir Putin's Observations on America's Democracy and Russia's Electoral Interference

Updated October 2019

The Kremlin recently published the transcript of an interview with American film producer and director Oliver Stone that took place on June 19, 2019.  In this interview, President Putin provides us with insight into Washington's narrative that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election.  One of his comments is particularly pertinent as you will see.

Here is the initial part of the exchange about the allegations of electoral interference in 2016 which may surprise you:

"Oliver Stone: Yes. So recently, you know Russia has been obviously accused and accused over and over again of interference in the 2016 election. As far as I know there is no proof, it has not turned up. But now in the US there has been an investigation going on about Ukraine’s interference in the election. It seems that it was a very confusing situation, and Poroshenko seems to have been very strongly pro-Clinton, anti-Trump.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, this is no secret.

Oliver Stone: Do you think there was interference?

Vladimir Putin: I do not think that this could be interpreted as interference by Ukraine. But it is perfectly obvious that Ukrainian oligarchs gave money to Trump’s opponents. I do not know whether they did this by themselves or with the knowledge of the authorities.

Oliver Stone: Where they giving information to the Clinton campaign?

Vladimir Putin: I do not know. I am being honest. I will not speak about what I do not know. I have enough problems of my own. They assumed Mrs Clinton would win and did everything to show loyalty to the future US administration. That is nothing special. They wanted the future President to have a good opinion of them. This is why they allowed themselves to make unflattering statements about Trump and supported the Democrats in every possible way. This is no secret at all. They acted almost in public.

Oliver Stone: You do not want to go any further on that because you do not have any information?

Vladimir Putin: You know, this would be inappropriate on my part. If I said something more specific, I would have to put some documents, some papers on the table." (my bolds)

If you want to read more about the emerging story of alleged collusion between Ukrainians and the Clinton campaign and the connections between the Biden family and Ukraine please click here and here.

Here is an exchange about why Donald Trump won the 2016 election, why Russia preferred Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton and the internal electoral interference that takes place:

"Vladimir Putin: ... If you want to return to US elections again – look, it is a huge country, a huge nation with its own problems, with its own views on what is good and what is bad, and with an understanding that in the past few years, say ten years, nothing has changed for the better for the middle class despite the enormous growth of prosperity for the ruling class and the wealthy. This is a fact that Trump’s election team understood. He understood this himself and made the most of it.

No matter what our bloggers – or whoever’s job it is to comment on the internet – might say about the situation in the US, this could not have played a decisive role. It is sheer nonsense. But our sympathies were with him because he said he wanted to restore normal relations with Russia. What is bad about that? Of course, we can only welcome this position.

Oliver Stone: Apparently, it excited the Clinton people a lot. The Clinton campaign accumulated the “Steele dossier.” They paid for it. It came from strange sources, the whole “Steele dossier” issue. Some of it comes from Ukraine. They also went out of their way, it seems to me, with the CIA, with Mr Brennan, John Brennan, and with Clapper, James Clapper, and Comey of the FBI. They all seem to have gotten involved, all intelligence agencies, in an anti-Trump way.

Vladimir Putin: They (the Clinton campaign) had levers inside the government, but there is nothing like that here. They applied administrative pressure. It always gives an advantage in countries such as the USA, some countries of Western Europe, about 2 percent on average, at a minimum.

Oliver Stone: Two percent? What are you talking about?

Vladimir Putin: Yes. According to experts, those with administrative pressure (i.e. the incumbent) they can apply always have a 2 percent edge (in an election). You can look at it differently. Some experts believe that in different countries, it can vary, but in countries such as the United States, some European countries, the advantage is 2 percent. This is what experts say, they can be wrong.

Oliver Stone: I do not know. I heard of the one percent, but it seems to get more like 12 percent.

Vladimir Putin: That is possible, depending on how it is used." (my bolds)

This observation by President Putin is quite interesting.  Here is a quote from Lumen Learning about the advantages of incumbency by members of Congress:

"Incumbents have structural advantages over challengers during elections. The percentage of incumbents who win reelection after seeking it in the U.S. House of Representatives has been over 80% for more than 50 years, and is often over 90%."

Here is a quote from a paper on the advantages of incumbency by James Druckman et al:

"Competition is fundamental to democracy – it ensures choice for citizens and facilitates electoral accountability. Substantial scholarship shows how institutions, particularly electoral systems, influence the nature of competition and can, at times, privilege certain office-seekers. One widely discussed manifestation concerns the “incumbency advantage” in United States congressional elections. This refers to the electoral benefit a candidate receives simply due to being an incumbent (holding all else constant), which is in the range of nearly 8% of votes. It derives, in part, from the incumbent’s personal experience in office, familiarity (i.e., ties to the district), and the provision of benefits for the district (e.g., casework, pork-barrel projects)."

There is no doubt that, during the 2016 election, the Clinton campaign had significant inside resources in Washington that stemmed from Bill Clinton's presidency and Hillary Clinton's term as Secretary of State that gave her an "administrative advantage".

In this part of the interview, Vladimir Putin discusses a very rarely discussed but key aspect of the 2016 election that is rarely discussed:

"Oliver Stone: Well, you are not disagreeing. You are saying that it was quite possible that there was an attempt to prevent Donald Trump from coming into office with a soft, I will call it a soft coup d’état?

Vladimir Putin: In the USA?

Oliver Stone: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: It is still going on.

Oliver Stone: A coup d’état is planned by people who have power inside.

Vladimir Putin: No, I do not mean that. I mean lack of respect for the will of the voters. I think it was unprecedented in the history of the United States.

Oliver Stone: What was unprecedented?

Vladimir Putin: It was the first time the losing side does not want to admit defeat and does not respect the will of the voters."

With that in mind, let's look at one of the key problems with American-style democracy as shown here:

Even going back to the 1960 election, while John F. Kennedy appeared to have a landslide by winning 303 electoral college votes to Richard Nixon's 219, Kennedy only had 34,226,731 votes to Nixon's 34,108,157 for a majority of only 118,574 votes or 0.17 percent of total votes cast.  This is the problem with America's electoral college system.

Let's close this posting with this final quote from President Putin:

"I did not interfere then, I do not want to interfere now, and I am not going to interfere in the future."