Global Explorer II
by David McLeod
Cabaret Lion d'Or
April 13, 2018
"We have lost contact with our man in Novogord and with the missionaries."
"The Russian infrastructure—" the Bishop began.
"No, sir, it's not that. That firm we hired tells us the circuits are still live. There's just no one on the other end."
"Get someone in there. We have too much at stake," the Bishop said. And more than five million dollars paid to them, already.
"What about the missionaries?"
"Use that teachers' organization who issued their credentials. Have them contact the Russian Embassy. Keep us out of it, do you hear? Keep us out of it!"
April 14, 2018
The Colonel of Marines who had accepted responsibility for the missions—and reclamation—of the former KGB agents was more excited and a great deal happier than he had been a month or so ago.
"Sir? It worked," he reported. "The teni muzhchin—shadow men—have arrested forty-five people who came to Russia with forged visas, declaring them to be school teachers. Under questioning, several admitted to being missionaries for the United Fundamentalist Church of America." The colonel's disgust was obvious in his voice.
"Several of them held deeds to properties in Russia. Dachas and, in one case, a church building. The deeds have been turned over to someone named Cousin Louise?"
"She's an accountant," I said. "On the staff."
"I don't know how they did it," the colonel said, "but those cadets who have been working with us seem to have a knack for spotting the bad guys. Are you sure they're not elves or something?"
Jonathan chuckled. "Russia has many, many legends of the supernatural, Colonel, but they are just that: legends. On the other hand, if our enemies think we are receiving supernatural help. Well, that can't be all bad!"
It took Cousin Louise and her staff of Russian lawyers, accountants, and former KGB people—members of the "shadow men"—several weeks to trace the transactions for the properties. Each had been sold by the state for one ruble. Jonathan declared the sales to be null and void, and seized the properties in the name of the people. Then, he asked his mother how they might be used for her orphans.
April 15, 2018
It was hard to understand what the UFC was preaching that day. Francesca sent us summaries of sermons from churches in the USA and Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Africa.
Some—mostly in the USA—were preaching against hydrogen power. The ones in Australia were trying to convince their congregations that the increasingly high temperatures and droughts were the wrath of god on a sinful people, while those in Africa were preaching that global climate change (although they didn't call it that) was a sign of the second coming. It wasn't hard to understand, actually. Each country's preachers were telling their sheep just what the sheep wanted to believe. I think it was called confirmational bias.
The information from Francesca was on the ship's intranet, so I wasn't entirely surprised when Macon came to visit.
"Sir? I've read what Francesca . . . I mean, Miss Anconia . . . I mean your . . . "
"Macon! Relax! She's my little sister." I paused, mostly for dramatic effect. "Although sometimes, she is a little scary. What's on your mind."
"Alex? I read what she posted today. I was taught that the central church provided guidance on faith and doctrine, and gave individual pastors ideas for sermons. It looks to me as if they're going beyond that. That they're writing sermons for pastors, and that the sermons are different for different parts of the world. I do not understand."
Oh, this is way, way beyond my pay grade, I thought. And realized that should be my answer.
"Macon? I don't understand, either. You've probably figured out that I don't believe in your god, and that I don't subscribe to the views of the UFC. Maybe, just maybe, that's where we should start."
I've got to give the kid credit. He had memorized a lot of church doctrine, including creeds, professions of faith, and such. However, he was also—as I said—smart. He could think, and since he could think, he could challenge some of what he'd been brainwashed with.
We came to the conclusion that the central church had sent sermons, tailored to the problems and fears of each country. We came to the conclusion that the church was not quite sure where they were going. I had to look up things like amillennialists to understand all Macon said. I was pretty sure the UFC was "going where the money was," but wasn't ready to share that with Macon. Nor was I ready to discuss what our unknown friend said, even though I knew Macon would eventually see it.
@sciencetruthnolies: ufc doesn't believe in hpower might as well not believe the sun will rise tomorrow
Washington Standard, April 15, 2018 "DC Circuit Court Allows Atheist Suit Against UFC." The DC Court has ruled that an atheist organization does have standing to sue the IRS and the Universal Fundamentalist Church over the church's tax-exempt status following allegations that the church has illegally endorsed specific candidates for public office. The court's ruling read, in part, "If citizens of the United States do not have standing, who would?"
April 15, 2018
Al Jazeera, Earth Analogue III. November 2014. At the G-20 summit, the host, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, defied international pressure to include climate change in the agenda and questioned the scientific consensus of human-caused global temperature change.
Sydney had a quay that was big enough for us, and a harbor pilot who had docked aircraft carriers. Captain Izzard was a lot less tense than he had been at Wellington.
We had enough warning that Sea Cadets in dress whites lined the railing when the Australian Prime Minister was piped aboard to our military band's rendition of the Australian Anthem. As soon as the formalities were over, 500 high school students swarmed up the boarding ladders. Sea Cadets moved in, split them into groups of five or so, and began the tours. Using Davey's scheduling software, Nicky rigged a "shotgun start" so there was no waiting for anyone to begin. He also sequenced everyone into the supercargo mess hall for lunch beginning at 12:00 and then brought them into the auditorium at 3:00 PM for a Q&A session.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister had asked for a private meeting, so I escorted him to the conference room, and left Nicky to monitor the tour groups.
"Commander Anconia, it was Australia's privilege to be in Geneva with your father when Mr. Romanov opened the first of the vaults. It was our earnest desire to advance world peace when we recognized Tsar Jonathan's claim to the throne. Now, you honor us with a visit by this magnificent ship."
I heard the subtext. I didn't need telepathy for that, but I did pry, just a little, to make sure he was sincere. What he was saying was that we owed something to him and his country, and he was here to ask for it.
"Mr. Watson, Australia and the Anconia family have had a warm and close relationship ever since one of my ancestors was transported from Ireland to Australia for allegedly stealing a horse."
I laughed. "One of his illegitimate sons moved to the United States and became my several-times-great uncle. My father and I agree: family is the most important thing, and we are family."
"You understand climate," the Prime Minister said. His abrupt change of subject wasn't unexpected. He had a reputation for being direct. "And you must know that climate change has hit Australia harder than some other countries.
"The high-altitude rain forest of Queensland is disappearing and will likely be gone in another decade.
"Every climate model, as well as our experience over the past thirty years, shows that the interior of Australia, already a desert, is going to get hotter and dryer even while rising sea levels threaten coastal cities. We're not about to go under water, like Bangladesh and some of the Pacific Islands—although we are taking refugees from both places—as many and as quickly as we can possibly absorb them.
"Despite the resistance from a previous prime minister, our people—largely through the efforts of our school children—have come to understand the effects of climate change, and our role in creating global warming.
"Because of climate change, the continent of Australia is being burned from the face of the Earth. Our meteorologists have had to come up with new definitions for high temperatures and droughts.
"We need hydrogen power plants not only to reduce our dependence on coal, but also to power desalination plants for water. We need some of those carbon sequestration plants. We need—"
"Excuse me, sir, for interrupting, but when and where do you want your people to meet with our engineers?" It had taken me only seconds to understand.
"We plan for the Explorer to be in port for three days, and I'd be pleased to show your folks what we have, here, although perhaps it would be best if knowledge that we had on the Explorer fusion plants larger than the ones powering the sensors remains confidential for now. We can have our engineers with preliminary design specifications here from the USA in perhaps five days. If you want, Becker will help with construction, although my guess is that you'll want to use your own people. Maybe a couple of Becker people who have done this, before, to work with your supervisors and construction foremen, at first?
"Once the facilities are built, we will send in teams to install the hydrogen cores. They must, for the moment, remain proprietary to Anconia. We will provide as many as you want and will ask only one tenth of a cent—US—per kWh royalty. Once you have the power, you can start sequestration and nanotube manufacturing.
"Do you think that would work?"
"Damn, Alexander, you're even faster on the draw than your father. I agree to all of that. And please, ask your Uncle Ricardo to visit, too. I think some undersea mining will open up and that we can make an arrangement that will profit us both."
That understanding became the highlight of a joint announcement at the 3:00 PM briefing. It was carried by Australian television and forwarded to the world through Anconia satellites. Our press crew "produced" the show and made sure they appeared often enough. They were beginning to understand their position—and the power that went with it. Knowing how much they'd helped us, I was okay with that.
After the PM's announcement, I thought that the Q&A period would be anticlimactic, however . . .
"What can be done about China? They are the world's greatest carbon polluter."
I knew what the kid was saying. By 2014 China was burning half the coal that was burned in the world and was the greatest emitter of pollution. In doing so, China had created disastrous weather patterns over their own country. Their carbon emissions were affecting the global climate. But, they had also lifted hundreds of millions of their people out of the drudgery—if not poverty—of subsistence agriculture.
Obama and the Chinese had agreed back in 2014 to some carbon reduction targets . . . Well, not really reduction: the Chinese were to continue increasing their output of GHGs until they reached their peak by 2030 and then begin to cut back. No one but Obama was fooled.
The kid's question was way, way above my pay grade, but she deserved an answer.
"One of the messages we want to send is that young people throughout the world can make a difference. Prime Minister Watson credited Australia's understanding of climate change to the efforts of students such as you.
"The Chinese internet is pretty much closed to outsiders, but you can try to send messages to kids in China. They could get in trouble, so don't say anything subversive . . . just tell them what's going on in Australia . . . tell them about your footie heroes, your classes, and drop in a note or two about the horrible temperatures and droughts, and about carbon pollution.
"Remember, that it was cheap energy and cheap raw materials that lifted the people of Europe, North America, and Australia from a hand-to-mouth existence. It will take more cheap energy and cheap raw materials to lift the billions of China, India, and Africa from their poverty.
"Keep that in mind, and do not assign blame."
Nicky cornered me after the video conference. "Alexander? Your Aunt Barbara—the USA Secretary of State?—sent a message through the November circuit. You probably should see this," he said.
The message was simple but dealt with a complex subject. "Alexander: tensions four years ago between Obama and the late Russian premier derailed attempts to protect one of the most pristine marine ecosystems on Earth, Antarctica's Ross Sea. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources will hold its annual meeting in Australia beginning in two days. Jonathan will attend: this is not known to anyone but him and now you. He will support a cessation of commercial fishing in the Ross Sea. This too is secret for now. Will you and the Explorer remain in port and represent the USA? I will send diplomatic credentials. Barbara."
Speaking of way above my pay grade, I thought. But I had no choice, really.
I messaged Aunt Barbara: "What is the family's position?"
I didn't have to ask what was Uncle Carlos's position; that would be whatever the family had decided.
Aunt Barbara's answer was not unexpected: "The family—and President Hawkins—are in favor. It's one of those do it because it's right things."
I agreed to accept. There was no way President Hawkins could make me an ambassador—but I did get credentials as the Emissary for the United States of America. Way, way cool!