Thursday, January 31, 2019

Litmus Tests

Self Identified,

When Trump announced his support for the unfolding coup in Venezuela, Bernie Sanders remained silent for 24 hours.  This matters because coups are made or broken in the first moments or hours; a day during a coup can feel like a month or more.
With each hour Bernie’s silence roared louder.  So much was hanging in the balance with Trump at home and abroad, to the point where a finger could tip the scales—  yet Bernie refused to lift his.
Among the many Democratic Party candidates running for President, only​ ​Tulsi Gabbard made an unequivocal statement condemning the coup, while leftist darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez limited her criticism to a retweet.​.. Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats went further and cheerleaded their Commander and Chief by using their platform to attack President Maduro.  Trump’s position was consequently strengthened. Instead of being condemned for breaking international law he was made to look like a responsible statesman, leading a “coalition” of countries facing off against an ‘authoritarian dictator’. The virulently anti-Trump section of the U.S. media closed ranks in his favor— since it was difficult to find a dissenting opinion.

​Please note that the form of political organization chosen by the Yellow Vests is an "Assembly of Assemblies", with small groups self organizing and sending a representative with their positions, and that process of carrying the message up the structure being respected at each organizational level, rather than the top-down hierarchy of command that we are accustomed to living under
We, Yellow Vests, are inviting anyone with his/her own abilities and capacities to join us. We call to pursue the actions with Act 12 against police violence in front of the police stations and the Acts 13, 14 etc… We call for the continuation of the occupation of the roundabouts and the blockage of the economy, to engage in a massive unlimited general strike starting on February 5th 2019. We call for the creation of popular committees in the workplaces, in study places et everywhere else in order that this strike could be conducted from the grassroots by the strikers themselves and not by the unions. Let’s take the matter in our own hands ! Don’t stay alone, join us !
Let’s organise ourselves democratically, independently and autonomously ! This assembly of assemblies is a very important milestone which allows us to discuss about our demands and our means of action. Let’s federate to transform the society!
Describing himself as an admirer of US history, Maduro said that he hopes that reasonable US citizens will prevail, adding that America “is a great country, and it is much more than Donald Trump.” “The United States is a great country and it is much bigger than Donald Trump,” he said. “I only ask for respect for Venezuela and I need your support to avoid a war like Vietnam.”

Yves Smith, at Naked Capitalism: ​The Wall Street Journal has just published an important, disheartening story, U.S. Push to Oust Venezuela’s Maduro Marks First Shot in Plan to Reshape Latin America. The Trump Administration has apparently decided to embark on a large-scale interventionist campaign to reverse supposed undue influence of Russia, China, and Iran in Latin America. Venezuela and Cuba are the first targets, and Nicaragua is next on the list. John Bolton, in too obvious a nod to Bush’s “axis of evil” has called them the “troika of tyranny”.

Juan Guaidó is the product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers. While posing as a champion of democracy, he has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization.​ ​By Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal
Before the fateful day of January 22, fewer than one in five​ ​Venezuelans had heard of Juan Guaidó. Only a few months ago, the 35-year-old was an obscure character in a politically marginal far-right group closely associated with gruesome acts of street violence. 

Following Monday’s imposition of sanctions against Venezuela’s oil industry, the Trump Adminsitration is gearing up for what could be a protracted international battle over the legal control of Venezuela’s main overseas assets,the most substantial of which is Citgo.
Citgo is Venezuela’s US-based refinery business, which owns three refineries in the United States and a major chain of gas stations across the country. They are where much of Venezuela’s overseas oil exports end up.
Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA owns the majority of Citgo, while 49% of it is owned by Russia’s Rosneft as collateral for loans. PDVSA is ordering all US-bound oil tankers to pre-pay for their oil now, as the US sanctions would effectively prevent them from getting paid. The sanctions require all payments to be put in a frozen account that PDVSA cannot access.
Venezuela’s Oil Minister says the country is examining imposing force majeure to get out of certain contracts which are no longer tenable amid the US sanctions. Force majeure would allow them to back off contracts on the grounds of forces outside of their control.  

​Moon of Alabama on the new class of mercenary soldiers among us...:
The UAE hires 'ex-CIA', 'former NSA' and 'ex-soldiers' to spy on dissidents, friends and enemies. It uses tools produced by the NGO Group which is run by 'alumni of Israel's famous Unit 8200 signals intelligence arm'. When Canadian researchers dig too deep into NGO Group's business they get visits by 'retired Israeli security official' from a company founded by 'former Israeli military officers' who recruit many 'former Mossad agents'.​..​
When I read pieces like those linked above I always presume that the 'former' CIA/NSA/FBI/MI6/8200/Mossad/military folks are not 'former' at all, but active agents on a mission for their original service. Some stories only make sense when one reads them under that premise.
But many of the 'former' people above may really have quit their service. They then get hired for a lot of money by shady states or businesses. This is dangerous not only for human rights advocate in the Emirates or some Jamal Khashoggi. These people could be directed to attack anyone.

Apple has blocked Facebook's internal apps from working on employees' phones, The Verge reported.
The move was in response to reports this week that Facebook's misused Apple's enterprise-app program, meant for internal use in a company, to run a research app that gathered data on people's phone activity in exchange for payment.
Facebook said it was shutting down the app, which paid people (including teens) up to $20 a month to install a virtual private network used to track data and activity.
Apple later contradicted Facebook's statement with one that said it had revoked Facebook's enterprise certificates after finding it had violated its developer policies.
The move has big ramifications for Facebook, as employees are reportedly locked out of internal apps. The streaming news network Cheddar described some as saying they thought Facebook was being "unfairly targeted" by Apple.

​Ilargi at The Automatic Earth looks at the rise of self organizing, grassroots movements in England and France, with Brexiteers and Yellow Vests, and the awkwardness and confusion in the ranks of power elites. Brutality isn't working? Propaganda backfiring? Huh?

Positions harden. It seems the fighting will really begin on April Fool's Day.
Britain would keep paying into the EU budget for years after a no-deal Brexitunder contingency plans drawn up by the European Commission.
In a move likely to enrage Brexiteers and cause yet another political row in Westminster, on Wednesday Brussels unveiled proposals for the UK to keep up its payments for the 2019 EU budget and beyond.
The UK would have to consent to the plan, with a deadline to agree set for 18 April – deliberately placed after the effects of a no-deal would have become apparent.

Sadly, I present the view that the new, practical mini-nukes now being made up at Pantex in Amarillo, will actually INCREASE the risk of nuclear Armageddon. (That is really a downside, in my humble opinion. Maybe it's just sour-grapes from the Russkies.​)

Is she serious? I hope so.
Presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation Wednesday seeking to stop the US from launching a first-strike nuclear weapons attack on another country.  

​Pleasantly biting vitriol about Howard Schultz from frantic Rolling Stoner, Matt Taibbi,  who sees four more years of Trumpf coming...
His plan therefore is to skip the grueling [rigged, ed.] ​Democratic primary and buy his way past one tier of certain electoral failure, jumping straight to the general. Once there, he’ll spend just enough of his personal fortune to split the anti-Trump vote and re-elect the dumber version of himself currently in the White House.
Schultz timed his announcement to coincide with his ghostwriter Joanne Gordon’s new work, the aforementioned memoir entitled, From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America, released Tuesday.
From the Ground Up belongs to the Fuck You: How I Became a Billionaire and You Didn’t genre that has an oddly persistent market in America.
Because it’s also designed to double as an extended stump speech, it’s a particularly difficult read — the boring and insincere autobiography of a pretentious oligarch who probably hasn’t been told to his face he’s full of shit since the first Bush administration.

​Stopping military high-powered sonar use to quite torturing whales to death will happen when we become the responsible stewards of Life on Earth.
Sonar was developed in the 1950s to detect submarines – and mass strandings of beaked whales were rare before this point
​Voting Without Feet​

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Desperate Empire

B​led to Death,​

This story looks at the Petrodollar global financial regime, and how those countries which sought to break away from it have been treated: Iraq, Libya, Venezuela. As oil and natural gas control the engines of global economies, the flows of these are literally the lifelines for people of the industrialized world, almost everybody. The control of waning energy resources is absolutely essential to control of the peoples of this planet.
American economic sanctions have been the worst crime against humanity since World War Two. America’s economic sanctions have killed more innocent people than all of the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons ever used in the history of mankind.
The fact that for America the issue in Venezuela is oil, not democracy, will surprise only those who watch the news and ignore history. Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves on the planet.
America seeks control of Venezuela because it sits atop the strategic intersection of the Caribbean, South and Central American worlds. Control of the nation, has always been a remarkably effective way to project power into these three regions and beyond.
From the first moment Hugo Chavez took office, the United States has been trying to overthrow Venezuela’s socialist movement by using sanctions, coup attempts, and funding the opposition parties. After all, there is nothing more undemocratic than a coup d’état.
United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, recommended, just a few days ago, that the International Criminal Court investigate economic sanctions against Venezuela as a possible crime against humanity perpetrated by America.  

I​t says here that Chinese investments are the most at risk from the sanctions against Venezuela. China is the rising-power threat to the Petrodollar Empire.​

This is attack on Venezuela and Russia and China, in urgent defense of the Petrodollar. Crawling humans be damned! This must be CRUSHED!
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has authorized Venezuelan opposition leader and self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido, to take control of US-held assets belonging to the country’s government... Venezuelan petroleum company Citgo will continue operating in the US, but its profits will go into a blocked account, only accessible to Guaido’s government, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explained.
Mnuchin added that sanctions will only be lifted upon the “expeditious transfer of control to the interim president, or the subsequently democratically elected interim government.”
Maduro has denounced the sanctions as an attempt to “steal” Citgo from Venezuela, and said that PDVSA will take legal action.

​What is the history of PDVSA, Venezuela's nationalized oil company, dedicated to supporting the people of Venezuela with the proceeds from oil sales? There has been financial war on the country since nationalization of this oil wealth began in the late 1990s. Who else gets hurt?
According to Bloomberg, refiners in Louisiana and Texas would be greatly affected by the recently-announced sanctions, and the hardest-hit would be PDVSA's US-based refining arm, Citgo Petroleum Corp., which is Caracas's main source of foreign income.
​Venezuela​ exports some 500,000 barrels of oil to the US, mostly to Citgo and refineries owned by Valero Energy Corp and Chevron Corp; Citgo imported the most Venezuelan crude oil in the first ten months of 2018, followed by Texas-based Valero and California-based Chevron.

This war on Venezuela is not for America, Americans or American principles. It's for the global financial power elites. (Helen of DesTroy's story)
Ron Paul comments:
American intervention in Venezuela’s affairs is not only hypocritical, but “unwise, very dangerous, it will be costly, it’s against our rules, and if they pretend that we have to go in because we want to spread American values, those aren’t my values!” Paul exclaimed, pointing out that the US criticizes other countries for alleged ‘meddling’ but “when we do it, it’s right and proper and almost holy.”  

H​ere is Helen's journalistic output from the past week. Her version of the planetary-collision-that-created-Earth is the best one I've seen.​

I've repeatedly made the point, as have others, that the critical consideration of the Petrobuck-Empire in Syria has to do with the pipeline to take gas from the Pars field, controlled by Iran and Qatar, to Europe. Syria said "no" to the Saudi pipeline, and the Empire says "NO" to the Iranian pipeline. The gas has to get to Europe. Europe is full of industry that needs fuel. Iran is already involved in rebuilding Syria.
Because of terrorist attacks and US-led bombings, millions of homes, educational and health facilities, and infrastructure remain either damaged or destroyed.
Iran is best placed to play a leading role in their reconstruction because it is currently the Middle East’s largest producer of cement and steel.
Moreover, several important projects halted after the outbreak of the war can be revived, most notably a $10 billion natural gas pipeline to take Iranian gas to Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria and from there to Europe through the Mediterranean.
As it stands, a US military base on the border between Syria and Iraq appears to be the most immediate hurdle to its implementation.
On Friday, Washington-based Foreign Policy magazine said the United States plans to keep some of its forces at al-Tanf base in southeastern Syria despite a total withdrawal ordered by US President Donald Trump.
US forces at the base train and arm several groups of militants fighting to topple the government of President Assad.

VIENNA, January 29. / TASS /. The construction of the first line of the Nord Stream - 2-gas pipeline will be completed in November of this year, the second - in December, said Paul Corcoran, company financial director, at the European Gas Conference on Tuesday...  The head of Gazprom, Alexey Miller, has previously stated that the implementation of the construction schedule for Nord Stream 2 makes it possible to speak of a possible start of gas supplies through this gas pipeline from January 1, 2020.  

The US has savaged Afghanistan, one of the world’s poorest countries. US B-52 and B-1 heavy bombers are razing tribal villages, predator killer drones attack most road movement, US-paid Afghan puppet forces, many former Communists, routinely torture and murder. All this while the US-installed yes-man regime in Kabul does nothing to halt massive drug dealing and human rights abuses.
In fact, dealing in opium and morphine is the primary business of Afghanistan. This cash crop could not be exported to Pakistan, India, Iran and Russia without the connivance of the Kabul regime and its US military protectors. When the full truth about the war is finally written, the US will be in the deepest shame over involvement in the drug trade​..​.
Why is the US still at war in Afghanistan after 18 years? First, because the politicians and generals involved won’t accept responsibility for a defeat and its huge cost. There is nothing more wasteful than a lost war. Second, because imperial-minded circles want to keep bases in Afghanistan to menace China, Iran and Pakistan. There are huge profits to be made from this endless war with its $400 per gallon gasoline trucked in from Karachi and 24-hour on call air support. Plus the bases and fleet that support the war and promotion for the senior officers involved.

​Drug Czar​

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Goldilocks War

Dropping Hints,

Head Fake, or the war to unite America?
During a Monday White House press briefing national security adviser John Bolton was photographed carrying a notepad — presumably as he was fresh out of a national security meeting — and one of the things which appears to be handwritten on the pad is "5,000 troops to Colombia".
The contents of the notepad were spotted almost immediately by multiple journalists online after an NBC news release featuring the AP photo was published. More precisely the full contents appear to read:
"Afghanistan -> Welcome the Talks. 5,000 troops to Colombia."

Trump's national security advisor John Bolton recently admitted to Fox Business that the US has a "lot at stake" amidst the ongoing Venezuela crisis given the fact that it has the world’s largest proven oil reserves. Bolton told host Trish Regan:
It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.

This last paragraph may be the most important and revealing bit of news we see today:
[..] Torino Capital Chief Economist Francisco Rodriguez, who advised defeated opposition presidential candidate Henri Falcon last year, wrote on Twitter that the recognition from the Trump administration makes it possible for Guaido, or a presumed transition government, to take charge of Venezuelan assets on US soil, such as state oil company PDVSA’s largest subsidiary, CITGO. It could also prevent the Venezuelan government from invoicing payments for oil shipments.

Just hours after The Bank of England refused to hand over $1.2 billion of Venezuela's gold from its custody vaults (stored there after the completion of a gold-swap transcation with Deutsche Bank) to President Maduro (after heavy lobbying from US officials), The Guardian reports that a UK foreign office minister is now urging the same Bank of England to transfer the bullion to the self-proclaimed interim leader Juan Guaidó.  

​I'm not sure how influential this is in Venezuela...
"As the Venezuelan defense attaché in the United States, I do not recognize Mr. Nicolás Maduro as president of Venezuela," Silva told el Nuevo Herald in a telephone interview from Washington.
"My message to all armed forces members, to everyone who carries a gun, is to please let’s not attack the people. We are also part of the people, and we’ve had enough of supporting a government that has betrayed the most basic principles and sold itself to other countries," added Silva. 

Russia has made no secret of its support for the regime of embattled Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro (after all, the Kremlin has invested billions of dollars in backstopping the Maduro regime by buying the debt if Citgo, the US subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, among other measures). But in a statement to the press on Sunday, a spokesman for the Kremlin denied reports that 400 Kremlin-linked security contractors had been dispatched to Caracas to provide security for Maduro as he faces the most credible challenge to his rule since 2013.
 Asked by a local reporter if the Russian government had dispatched the men to shore up support for its struggling ally, Peskov replied "no, of course not."

America needs a lot of little nuclear warheads it can actually use for everyday household chores without triggering Armageddon...
The new weapon - the W76-2, is a modification of an existing Trident nuclear warhead. According to the NNSA, the first batch have come off the production line, and an unspecified number of them referred to as "initial operational capability" will be ready for delivery before the end of September.
According to Stephen Young, a senior Washington representative of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the yield on the W76 was likely reduced to created the W76-2 by removing one stage from the original two-stage device.
"As best we can tell, the only requirement is to replace the existing secondary, or second stage, with a dummy version, which is what they do every time they test fly a missile," said Young, who noted that the amount of the hydrogen isotope tritium may also be adjusted.
The result is that the yield has been reduced by 95% - from 100 kilotons of TNT to around five kilotons; around 1/3 of the force of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. 

​You-Tube is tweaking it's algorithms to further protect you from fake-news content which might mislead you, like "Flat Earth" and "9/11 Truth" crackpots.​
You won't have to be bothered by ever seeing those crazy videos about architects and engineers and pilots and physicists saying the government is lying to you. 
Whew! Let's look at some more Trannie Porn!

Gail Tverberg says "You Are Here", but I really think we are a little to the right of that dotted line, which explains the panic amongst our political and financial elites, and their difficulty agreeing upon a solution.
What seems to be happening is that the world economy is reaching Limits to Growth, as predicted in the computer simulations modeled in the 1972 book, The Limits to Growth. In fact, the base model of that set of simulations indicated that peak industrial output per capita might be reached right about now. Peak food per capitamight be reached about the same time.  

Chris Martinsen agrees with me on that point. We're farther out on the curve, but denying it.
Many people are expecting some degree of approaching collapse -- be it economic, environmental and/or societal -- thinking that they’ll recognize the danger signs in time. 
As if it will be completely obvious, like a Hollywood blockbuster. Complete with clear warnings from scientists, politicians and the media.  And everyone can then get busy either panicking or becoming the plucky heroes. 
That's not how collapse works.
Collapse is a process, not an event.
And it's already underway, all around us. 
Collapse is already here.
However, unlike Hollywood's vision, the early stages of collapse cause people to cling even tighter to the status quo. Instead of panic in the streets, we simply see more of the same -- as those in power do all they can to remain so, while the majority of the public attempts to ignore the growing problems for as long as it possibly can.
For both the elite and the majority, their entire world view and their personal sense of self depends on things not crumbling all around them, so they remain willfully blind to any evidence to the contrary.

In what's expected to be one of the most complicated bankruptcies in recent memory thanks to the involvement of indignant state and federal regulators, activist shareholders, worried bond holders and angry fire victims, PG&E has officially filed for bankruptcy.
The Wall Street Journal reported that as we previewed last night, the troubled utility which serves 16 million California customers, filed for bankruptcy early Tuesday, claiming more than $50 billion in debt. Facing what some analysts estimate could be some $27 billion in fines relating to the role of malfunctioning equipment in causing wildfires, the bankruptcy process is expected to be a protracted mess as state and federal regulators try to figure out the best plan for holding the country's largest utility accountable...
In the filing, the utility revealed that it's facing some 750 complaints on behalf of 5,600 fire victims, with fire-related liabilities amount to some $30 billion.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Desperate Resource Grabs

Good Neighbors,

The U.S. has been intervening in oil-rich Venezuela since at least the early 2000. Several U.S. backed attempts to oust the elected socialist government, first under Chavez and then under Maduro, failed. But the economic sanctions by the U.S. and its lackeys have made the life for business and the people in Venezuela more difficult. With access to international financial markets cut off, the government did its best to work around the sanctions. It, for example, bartered gold for food from Turkey. But the Bank of England, which is custodian of some of Venezuela's gold, has now practically confiscated it.
The Trump administration is launching another attempt to kick the elected government led by President Maduro out of office. Today the usually hapless opposition in Venezuela is set to launch another period of street riots against the government. It calls on the military to take over:
Opposition leaders are also urging Venezuela's powerful armed forces to withdraw their support for Maduro. And they are taking their campaign abroad by lobbying foreign governments to cut diplomatic and economic ties with Caracas.
On Tuesday, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said that Washington would support any effort by the opposition to form a provisional government to replace Maduro. Addressing average Venezuelans, Pence added: "We stand with you and we will stay with you until democracy is restored."​ ...
The military, which the U.S. already secretly tried to instigate stage a coup, is unlikely to do so. It does well under the socialists and has no interest in changing that. The U.S. also tried to incite Brazil and Columbia to invade their neighbor. But neither country is capable of doing such. The U.S. itself is also unlikely to invade. At the United Nation Venezuela has Russia's and China's support.

"Diplomats" means "CIA operatives".
In what may shape up to be a major international incident over the next 48 hours, the United States has refused to withdraw diplomats from Venezuela, saying in a Wednesday evening statement that the US "stands with interim President Juan Guaido," adding "The United States does not recognize the Maduro regime as the government of Venezuela. Accordingly the United States does not consider former president Nicolas Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the United States or to declare our diplomats persona non grata.  

Russia has dismissed the political crisis engulfing Venezuela as an attempted coup while expressing concern over the role of external states and the potential for foreign military intervention, calling Juan Guaido's move to declare himself president illegal.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday, “We are very concerned by statements that don’t rule out some kind of external intervention,” as cited by Bloomberg. “We consider such intervention unacceptable,” Peskov added while describing the internal unrest spilling into the streets after the catalyst of Monday's failed military revolt of 27 officers in an opposition neighborhood of Caracas an “attempt to usurp power”.
This follows President Trump's declaration that the US would only recognize the unelected head of the opposition-held National Assembly as "the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela." A senior Trump administration official followed by saying “all options are on the table”.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said further in website statement that Washington's joining a growing list of about a dozen other countries to recognize Guaido “is aimed at deepening the split in Venezuelan society, increasing the conflict on the streets, sharply destabilizing the internal political system and further escalation of the conflict.” And in words eerily similar to the brief international exchange of words over prior US action in places like Libya and Syria the ministry said that external armed intervention would be “fraught with catastrophic consequences.”
The foreign ministry further described that the situation “has reached a dangerous point” and called on the international community to engage in diplomacy and mediation between the Maduro government and opposition.
And separately, a senior Russian official on Thursday warned the Trump administration against what he called the "catastrophic scenario" of military intervention in the region. "We warn against this," Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said in an interview with International Affairs magazine, as cited in USA Today. "We believe that this would be a catastrophic scenario that would shake the foundations of the development model we see in the Latin American region."

Right and Left elites, who share the common goal of making the world work for themselves, and who do not have to live with the consequences of their policies, have co-opted non-elite people with cultural and social issues meant to distract them from what's going on economically.
Right elites take the bread out of the non-elites mouths by coopting non-elites on the right with the circuses of religion and nationalism. At the same time, the left elites have done the same by coopting left non-elites with the circuses of political correctness, multiculturalism, etc.
None of these things - religion, nationalism, political correctness, multiculturalism, feminism, anti-racism, etc. - are necessarily bad in themselves, particularly in moderation. However, to distract people from having the economic wool pulled over their eyes, they need to be amped up into a public shouting match, which is what we see happening in media outlets controlled by, you guessed it, the elites.

​Change is in the wind...
'Strategic Threat' To Israel - Progressives Lose Fear Of Speaking Out On Palestine
Two weeks ago the Zionist lobby targeted civil rights activist Angela Davis for her support of the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement (BDS). Following lobby pressure the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama canceled its annual gala at which Davis was to receive a prestigious human rights award. This created a huge backlash. The city council of Birmingham unanimously adopted a resolution "recognizing the life work of Angela Davis". The Institute's chair, vice-chair and secretary had to resign from the board.
Following that scandal the gates of hell opened and, on Sunday, the New York Times published a column that criticized the Apartheid policy of the Zionist entity in the Middle East.
Time to Break the Silence on Palestine
Martin Luther King Jr. courageously spoke out about the Vietnam War. We must do the same when it comes to this grave injustice of our time.
Written by Michelle Alexander, a civil rights lawyer, author of The New Jim Crow, and now a regular NYTcolumnist, the piece reaches back to Martin Luther King. It compares MLK's courageous early opposition to the Vietnam War to today's reluctance of people who are 'progressives except for Palestine' to oppose the policies of the so called Jewish State:
It was a lonely, moral stance. And it cost him. But it set an example of what is required of us if we are to honor our deepest values in times of crisis, even when silence would better serve our personal interests or the communities and causes we hold most dear. It’s what I think about when I go over the excuses and rationalizations that have kept me largely silent on one of the great moral challenges of our time: the crisis in Israel-Palestine...
The column, and that fact that it was published by the New York Times, changes the Overton window on Palestine. Positions that were earlier condemned or smeared as anti-semitic, will now become discussable.  

Israel’s practice of spontaneous strikes on Syria must be brought to an end, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters on Wednesday.
"The practice of spontaneous strikes on the territory of a sovereign state, in this case Syria, must end," the diplomat said, commenting on Israel’s recent strikes on the Arab Republic.
"We believe that stirring up hostility in the region does not meet long-term national interests of any Middle East states, including Israel, of course," Zakharova stressed. "We should prevent turning Syria, which has suffered over the past years of the armed conflict, into an arena of settling geopolitical scores."

Damascus has threatened to exercise its legitimate right for self-defense against Israeli aggression and target Tel Aviv airport in a mirror response, unless the Security Council puts an end to IDF intrusions into Syrian airspace.
Apparently fed up with years of Israeli impunity in the Syrian skies and regular strikes carried out in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport, Syria has threatened to retaliate in explicit terms.

​Chemistry Professor, Ugo Bardi looks at The Collapse of Complex Societies, Joseph Tinter's work, with modern models.
The system dynamics model tells us that the origin of the diminishing returns lies in the gradual depletion of the resources that flow through the system. It is not so much an effect of increasing complexity in itself, the problem is sustaining that complexity.
Then, the model also tells us what happens on "the other side" of the curve. That is, what happens if the system continues its trajectory beyond the point where Tainter's curve stop. The curve shows a clear hysteresis, that is, it doesn't follow the earlier path, but it remains always on a low-benefit trajectory. It means that cutting on bureaucracy doesn't make the system more efficient.  
These results are not the final word on the question of societal collapse. But they do provide some fundamental insight, I think. It is the fact that the system is "alive" as long as its resources provide good returns -- in terms of energy resources, it means they have a good EROEI (energy returned on energy invested). If the EROEI goes down, then the system falls into the Seneca Cliff.
Of course, since our society depends on fossil fuels, we are bound to go that way because the depletion of the best resources is progressively lowering the EROEI of the system. If we want to keep alive some kind of complex society, we can't do that by scraping the bottom of the barrel, desperately trying to burn what we can still burn. But, unfortunately, it is exactly what most governments in the world are trying to do. It is a good way to speed up toward the impending cliff.  

​Feeling Helpless​

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Dead Hands

Exhuming Our Past,

Please support the Truth and Reconciliation Committee call to re-investigate the murders which destroyed America. 
(George HW Bush is dead now. It's ok to look.) \
“The organized killing of JFK, Malcolm, Martin, and RFK was a mortal attack on our democracy,” said historian James W. Douglass, author of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (2010). “We’ve been walking in the valley of the dead ever since. Our campaign is all about recovering the truth embodied in the movement they led. Yes, the transforming, reconciling power of truth will indeed set us free.”  

First, the ruling class kill messengers and then co-opt their messages. It’s a ploy that dates back to biblical times; Pharisees dispatch prophets and then whitewash their legacies in a concerted campaign to appropriate their movements. Truth tellers are twice victimized, once by assassins and the second time around by propaganda. Their likeness and their teachings are then cunningly marketed by the same powers they spoke against to reinforce the status quo...
 King realized that the infringements against “black” folks in America were interconnected to the injustices felt by marginalized people throughout the world. That awakening is the reason he traveled to Memphis, by standing up for striking sanitation workers, he was hoping to form a bridge between poor folks irrespective of their skin color. The establishment love people who lead sectional movements—those who seek exclusive justice are doing the work of the status quo—what they will not abide are those who try to unify the oppressed and inspire collective actions.
King paid with his life for having the courage to pursue inclusive justice. After he was murdered, institutions of power—from government, academia to mainstream media and beyond—kicked in, stealthy erased King’s legacy and replaced it with disinformation. What has taken place over the past fifty years is a systematic and coordinated effort to blacken his narrative and dilute the power of his message.

​Matt Taibbi, at Rolling Stone, has fun with the question posed by political pundits: "Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez more like Donald Trump or Sarah Palin?"
Take the tax proposal offered by Ocasio-Cortez, which would ding the top bracket for 70 percent taxes on all income above $10 million.
The idea inspired howls of outrage, with wrongest-human-in-history Alan Greenspan peeking out of his crypt to call it a “terrible idea,” Wisconsin’s ex-somebody Walker saying a 5th grader would know it was “unfair,” and human anti-weathervane Harry Reid saying “you have to be careful” because voters don’t want “radical change quickly.”
Except polls show the exact opposite. Almost everyone wants to soak the rich. A joint survey by The Hill and Harris X showed 71 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and even 45 percent of Republicans endorse the Ocasio-Cortez plan.

"Let Them Eat Tube-Steak." Macron's "reforms" are what the yellow vests are marching about every week. They are excruciatingly bad for un-billionaires.​
President Emmanuel Macron told dozens of the world’s most powerful executives on Monday that he would not follow the path of guillotined French royals and would continue to reform the French economy despite a sometimes violent popular revolt...
Exactly 226 years after the decapitation of Louis XVI, who failed to plug the crown’s dismal finances and quell popular discontent over a sclerotic feudal society, Macron started his speech by invoking the king and his wife Marie-Antoinette.
“If they met such an end, it is because they had given up on reforming,” Macron told the guests, according to his office.

French President Emmanuel Macron's push for what he previously called "a real European army" got a big boost on Tuesday amid France and Germany signing an updated historic treaty reaffirming their close ties and commitment to support each other during a ceremony in the city of Aachen, a border town connected to Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire. But the timing for the renewal of the two countries' 1963 post-war reconciliation accord is what's most interesting, given both the rise of eurosceptic nationalism, the uncertainty of Brexit, and just as massive 'Yellow Vests' protests rage across France for a tenth week. 
Macron addressed this trend specifically at the signing ceremony with the words, "At a time when Europe is threatened by nationalism, which is growing from within... Germany and France must assume their responsibility and show the way forward."​  (This will confuse German and French nationalists!)

The Doomsday Machine, Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Daniel Ellsberg​  (Ellsberg gives a sequence of steps to dismantle the massive global suicide machine, while retaining nuclear weapons.)​
The Doomsday Machine, the title of Daniel Ellsberg’s superb book is not simply an imaginary contraption from a movie masterpiece. A Doomsday Machine uncannily like the one described in Dr. Strangelove​ ​exists right now. In fact, there are two such machines, one in US hands and one in Russia’s. The US seeks to hide its version, but Ellsberg has revealed that it has existed since the 1950s. Russia has quietly admitted that it has one, named it formally, “Perimetr,” and also tagged it with a frighteningly apt nickname “Dead Hand.”  ​...​
 First Strike Capability is the source of the problem. It leads to Launch on Warning and Delegation by a targeted nation. The U.S. pioneered and maintains a First Strike Capability and refuses to adopt a “No First Strike” policy....
(In 1961) Launching of the nuclear weapons planned for use in a First Strike by the U.S. would result in the deaths of 1.2 billion from explosions, radiation and fire. That number was the number of deaths and did not include injuries. And it was only the result of US weapons; it did not include deaths from a response from the Soviet side if they managed one. 1.2 billion people was the toll at a time when the population of the earth was about 3 billion!
The ash from the fires of burning cities would be cast up into the stratosphere so high that it would not be rained out. There it would remain for at least a decade, blocking enough sunlight that no crops would grow for ten years...
The launch of the 1600 “deployed” warheads of either the US or Russia is sufficient to give us nuclear winter. So we in the US have put in place a weapon system on hair trigger alert commanded by we know not whom which can kill virtually all Americans – along with most everyone else on the planet. We have on hair trigger alert a weapon which is in fact suicidal.

​Why the US is simultaneously losing and "not losing" the bizarre war on Afghanistan.
While the U.S. military and diplomats and the Afghan military try to make nice with the Afghan population, these CIA proxy forces continue to alienate it. It drives recruits to the Taliban:
[T]he units have also operated unconstrained by battlefield rules designed to protect civilians, conducting night raids, torture and killings with near impunity, in a covert campaign that some Afghan and American officials say is undermining the wider American effort to strengthen Afghan institutions.
Those abuses are actively pushing people toward the Taliban, the officials say.
It is likely that today's large attack on the NDS compound hits CIA controlled forces:
Many of the strike forces were officially put under the control of Afghan intelligence starting in 2012. But senior Afghan and international officials say that the two most effective and ruthless forces, in Khost and Nangarhar Provinces, are still sponsored mainly by the C.I.A.
This conflict between militarized CIA proxy forces and forces trained by the U.S. military played out in every recent war the U.S. waged. In Iraq CIA sponsored Shia units clashed with Pentagon sponsored Sunni militia. In Syria CIA trained 'rebels' ended up shooting at U.S. military trained 'rebels' and vice versa. In Afghanistan the rogue force under CIA control is some 3,000 to 10,000 strong. It largely alienates the same population the Afghan military tries to protect.

​Schroedinger's Hostage​

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Illuminating Liminality

Luminous Beings,

One concept I have found invaluable for navigating the increasingly incoherent—and explosive—social landscape is that of liminality. This is an anthropological term (coined in the early twentieth century by folklorist Arnold van Gennep) that refers to the quality of ambiguity or disorientation in the middle stage of religious rites. Later on, anthropologist Victor Turner used it to describe how ceremony masters usher ritual participants from one state to another, as in a coming of age ritual. The liminal stage is the intermediary one in which the initiate is on the threshold (limen) between his or her old status and a new, as-yet unknown one. More recently, the philosopher Rene Girard (among others), applied the term to sociopolitical and cultural conditions. And not a moment too soon, since we have now entered a time in history when ambiguity and disorientation have assumed epic proportions.
A few examples from the anthropological database: People trapped in a liminal situation are increasingly unable to act rationally, because the structures upon which their rationality is based have disappeared. (Check.) Being in a liminal state spells crisis for most people. Emotions run wild, making clear thinking all but impossible. (Check.) This leads to “mimetic” (imitative) behavior by those trapped in the liminal space. (Check. 4 out of 4.)
In the politics of liminality, the future is unknown; since no one has gone through the process before, there is no one to lead people out of it. This allows for false ceremony masters—politicians, pundits, sophists, and general snake oil salesmen—to fill the void and offer bogus solutions or ways out of the liminal state, to alleviate the disorientation and helplessness of others, thereby perpetuating liminality indefinitely. (Check. Check. Check. Check.)...
Right-wing libertarianism advocates the primacy of the individual; Left-wing socialism speaks for the primacy of the collective. Liminality is the collapse of categories, however, and as the category of “individualized sameness” expands to include more and more orientations and identifications, things like biological facts—and eventually any kind of fact, since facts, like numbers, tend to assert the reality of difference—become scapegoats sacrificed on the altar of oneness for all. The old values become the expendable “deplorables,” because the ideology of equality can only extend its assimilation agenda by erasing all differences between people. The final ritual sacrifice is the idea of individuality itself—or possibly the individual him- or herself, if Girard is right about human sacrifice being “the revelatory yet menacing dynamic that animates the whole of this civilization” (Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, p. 138). 

The goal of the Cultural Revolution is to render all those who resist the ruling elites politically and socially invisible. The goal isn't to play nice and share power and wealth with the losers of financialization-globalization; the goal is to liquidate their influence in politics and society via relentless negative stereotyping by the elite-controlled mass media and an Orwellian reversal of identity that makes the dissenters into threats to democracy while elevating the elitist oppressors into selfless guardians of democracy--the exact opposite of reality.
In China's Cultural Revolution, the Red Guards mindlessly destroyed much of China's priceless cultural heritage as part of the deranged agenda of destroying whatever was traditional and valued by "counter-revolutionaries." Out with the old, in with the new--the time-honored pattern of power grabs masked by utopian goals.
If in doubt, purge, destroy, denounce. This is the Inquisition nature of all Cultural Revolutions.

"Fake News" clearly defined? Not yet. Refer to Cultural Revolution article, I think.
In the last few days I was looking around for stories that could illustrate what fake news actually is, and I had a nice collection, but then last night Robert Mueller of all people clarified what exactly fake news is better than I could have. At first the BuzzFeed crew that was caught staring straight into the headlights has a feeble response (what exactly was untrue in our article?), but was silenced by the WaPo of all publications: Mueller’s team said every bit of the article was false.

It's hard to escape the conclusion that the EU offered Britain such a bad deal because they knew it wouldn't be passed. Then, maximum pressure could be exerted on the UK to reconsider its decision to leave, or at least kick Brexit into the long grass, which is what having a second referendum would do...
The European establishment is desperate for Britain to reconsider Brexit. Internationalist ideals about 'preserving European unity', don't come in to it, this is all about protecting income streams.
 Consider a few facts. If Britain does leave without a deal, then the EU as an institution would be considerably worse off. The UK has consistently been one of the top three countries that puts most into the EU budget (after Germany and France).
It is one of ten countries that puts more into the EU than it gets out. In 2017, the UK's net contribution was £9bn.
If Britain leaves, the EU faces a financial shortfall. In 2016, 16 countries were net receivers, including Donald Tusk's Poland. Little wonder that he regards Britain staying as "the only positive solution".
The very generous financial remuneration packages of EU officials might also be threatened by British withdrawal...
We also have to discuss fishing. The other EU countries do extremely well out of the Common Fisheries Policy, which provides them with access to UK waters.Belgian fleets get around half their catch from British waters! As reported in the Independent, the Common Fisheries Quota has for the past 34 years given 84% of the cod in the English Channel to France and just 9% to the UK. Overall, EU vessels take out around four times as much fish out of UK waters as British vessels take out of EU waters.

Smithsonian Magazine this month published a stunning map detailing just how expansive the post-9/11 "war on terror" has become, demonstrating that contrary to the common assumption that it's "winding down" more than 17 years later, it actually continues to grow and has now spread to more than 40% of the world's countries.
This includes American military and support personnel engaged in ongoing missions in 80 nations on six continents, according to Brown University’s Costs of War Project at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, which has recently calculated that since 2001 the US has spent $5,900,000,000,000 on war, mostly in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen — where US military operations have become more or less permanent, with no consideration of ending them under any circumstances.

Corporate masters of war, top 10 global weapons manufacturers by 2018 sales. (I wonder if Helen wrote this article.)

Hypersonic weapons are unlikely to become a bargaining chip (What does the US have that is worth trading these away for?)

​Approaching Lightspeed​

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Dead Man's Tale

Bemused Mourners,

Seymour Hersh has outlived George HW Bush, and appears to now be free to release some information. (I'm sure there is much more.) 
Bush leaked Iran-Contra because it was impinging on his own covert operations in central America.
According to his sources former CIA director George H.W. Bush, who was then Reagan's vice president, ran his own secret operations through a special office in the Pentagon. It was led by Vice-Admiral Arthur Moreau. The office and its operations were kept outside of congressional oversight. Neither the CIA nor the Joint Chief's of Staff were aware of its doing. During some 30 different operations the Bush team used small groups of U.S. marines to effect Soviet operations in foreign countries and to get rid of unwanted foreign politicians. Bush essentially ran the prequel of the 'war on/of terror' which today is run by the CIA and the Joint Special Forces Command.
Bush disliked William Casey, who Reagan had named as new CIA director. Casey was a business man who got the job after he managed Ronald Reagan's election campaign. Bush thought that he was too incompetent to run the clandestine service.

​Here is that Hersh article, on the London Review of Books:

Here is the story of an American Army nuclear suicide bomber, who never had to do "the mission".
During the Vietnam War, the US military came up with a different idea. What if one made a slightly bigger bomb that can fit into a backpack? A soldier could carry one deep behind enemy lines, and then use it to destroy sensitive enemy facilities. Well, the military did exactly that, with one catch: the soldier was not supposed to evacuate before detonation.
"We all knew it was a one-way mission, a suicide mission," Mark Bentley, who served in the US Army at the end of the Vietnam War, told the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

​Despite American soldiers dying during a meeting in Manbij, a bombing claimed by ISIS (which seems to claim anything newsworthy) Trump says US forces are still leaving Syria.​ (Some are saying this was a false-flag attack to force Trump to keep US forces in Syria.)
The statement comes as a spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve said that several US servicemen had been killed in a suicide bombing in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. The Daesh* terrorist group reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.
During a meeting with a group of Republican senators on Wednesday, President Donald Trump signalled his readiness to adhere to his plan to withdraw US troops from Syria and Afghanistan, according to Senator Rand Paul.
"Not only is he following through with his Syria policy, I really do think there will be changes in Afghanistan as well. If you look at the polling data for the American people, I think the American people are with the president and they're tired, frankly, of both parties, who are unwilling to stand up and say enough is enough", Paul said.

​Finian Cunningham brings up the false-flag angle. Why does he not mention the Mossad? ​
As always, the key question arises: who stands to benefit from the killing of the American troops? The scale of the attack suggests it was carried out with a sharp political message intended for Trump...
 It would in fact be naive to not suspect that the CIA could have pulled off such a false flag in Manbij. As in 1950s Vietnam, as told by Graham Greene in ‘The Quiet American’, the CIA have been doing such dirty tricks with bombing atrocities and assassinations for decades in order to precipitate wars in foreign countries that the agency calculates are in America’s geopolitical interests.

The first defense white paper released during the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in deleted a phrase about the North Korean regime and military being the “enemy” of South Korea. The white paper placed new emphasis on South and North Korea pursuing military confidence-building, meaningful arms control and incremental arms reduction.  

​Watch John Bolton, really...
​U​S President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have agreed to a second summit meeting, to be held in late February, a move that aims to rekindle what many see as an initially hopeful but now stalled dialogue process on Korean Peninsula denuclearization.
The White House announcement came after a 90-minute meeting in the Oval Office between Trump and Kim Yong-chol, a former North Korean intelligence chief who serves as Kim’s top nuclear negotiator, according to news reports.

​(I think the deep state splinter faction that backs Trump is starting to skirmish with small arms, not big guns, to increase pressure on the dominant/waning faction to negotiate and agree to a unified imperial policy. This ain't really about the wall or Pelosis' plane trip.)
The Wall Street Journal continues to counter  the  liberal mainstream media's Trump Derangement Syndrome, dropping uncomfortable truth-bombs and refusing to back off its intense pressure to get to the truth and hold those responsible, accountable (in a forum that is hard for the establishment to shrug off as 'Alt-Right' or 'Nazi' or be 'punished' by search- and social-media-giants).
And once again Kimberley Strassel  - who by now has become the focus of social media attacks for her truth-seeking reporting - does it again. Confirming what we detailed yesterday - that The Justice Department was fully aware that the notorious Steele Dossier was connected to Hillary Clinton and might be biased, a crucial detail which was omitted just weeks later from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant used to spy on the Trump campaign - Strassel makes the aggressive and correct statement that the Justice Department official’s testimony raises new doubts about the bureau’s honesty.

Stock market traders use "leverage", margin debt, to amplify their profits (and losses). Margin debt just plunged the most since the 4th quarter of 2008. What might this "deleveraging" point to?

Please meet my new pen-pal, gainfully employed, anonymous Russian propagandist for RT, and Putin-tool... Helen of des Troy!
Here are Helen's anonymous articles for RT for the week ending a week ago.

(more Helen) 1 in 5 US millennials expects to die in debt and their parents are broke, too. (Debt slavery is the business plan. They are "assets".)

Helen has the Russian-propaganda take on Hawaiian Congresswoman, Iraq war vet, and Army Reserve Major Tulsi Gabbard. Vote accordingly!
With Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) entering the 2020 presidential fray, establishment figures on both Right and Left are scrambling to smear the anti-war congresswoman with impeccable identity-politics bona fides.
Ever since her 2017 visit to Syria, Gabbard has been condemned for daring to seek firsthand accounts rather than blindly trusting the MSM narrative, so on Friday the pundits were again off to the races, with fresh accusations of Assad-sympathizing.

NASA satellite images reveal clear proof of climate engineering. (Yeah, wow, those are machine patterns, like the lines on a chalkboard my teacher used to make with that thing that held 8 pieces of chalk.)

​Bye-bye UPS Man, robo-dogs deploy from robo-van to walk up steps and deliver stuff. How many more subsistence-jobs will fall?
Continental believes that the last mile of goods delivery should be automated, it will be an integral part of future urban mobility. Driverless vehicles like the CUbE can transport multiple robot dogs that could handle the last yards of the goods and parcel delivery logistics chain.
“Industrializing the automation of goods delivery requires reliable, robust, high-performing and best-cost technology – a mix perfectly reflected in the automotive equivalent of automation. It is this very profile of expertise that has made Continental one of the industry-leading suppliers of advanced driver assistance systems and vehicle automation,” said Ralph Lauxmann, Head of Systems & Technology, Chassis & Safety division, Continental.

Approximately 500 robots will be coming to supermarkets in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, thanks to a strategic partnership between Retail Business Services and Badger Technologies. 

Theresa May made no change to her Brexit demands in cross-Channel phone calls with European Union leaders despite her own plan being heavily defeated by MPs earlier this week, it has been reported.
The Prime Minister left EU diplomats in a state of 'disbelief' over her failure to shift her stance despite the historic defeat by a margin of 230 votes, a source said.
Mrs May's requests continued to focus around either a legally binding time-limit for the Irish backstop; a right for Britain to unilaterally withdraw, or a commitment to a trade deal finalisation before 2021 to prevent the backstop from coming into force.

​Mish Shedlock points out a maze of political impasses, all leading to paralysis, which makes "No Deal Brexit" a very likely situation at end of March.​

​Prince Philip hits a Kia and rolls his Land Rover at 97, and is again, demonstrably NOT DEAD. The royal geriatric married to The Queen of England​ gives no ground at all to famous commoner Keith Richards, who is also reported NOT DEAD this week.
​Lizard Consort​

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Pick New Teams

Draft Choices,

Charles Hugh Smith looks at the change in Western political dynamics since 1968, when French workers and French students united in a strike, that came a hair short of revolution, and the government changed, in response. The students, and employed graduates of higher education, have since been split from actual workers, and unions have been co-opted at the top, by power elites. They are hip, and sensitive, and get paid more.
I don't see the yellow vest uprising as idealistically fueled; it's fueled by desperation and what Francis Fukuyama termed the working classes' "perception of invisibility" in a recent essay (Against Identity Politics (Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct. 2018), a view echoed by French geographer / author Christophe Guilluy who said that "the French people are using the gilets jaunes to say we exist." ...
 One illustration of this cultural divide is that most modern, progressive social movements and protests are quickly endorsed by celebrities, actors, the media and the intellectuals. But none of them approve of the gilets jaunes. Their emergence has caused a kind of psychological shock to the cultural establishment. It is exactly the same shock that the British elites experienced with the Brexit vote and that they are still experiencing now, three years later."

This is USA Today, really, USA Today...
What’s happening in America is an echo of what’s happening in democracies around the world, and it’s not happening because of Trump.To understand events around the world today, one must think in terms of the class struggle.

"A New Cold War Has Begun"
In June 2005, I published a cover story in the Atlantic, “How We Would Fight China.” I wrote that, “The American military contest with China … will define the twenty-first century. And China will be a more formidable adversary than Russia ever was.” I went on to explain that the wars of the future would be naval, with all of their abstract battle systems, even though dirty counterinsurgency fights were all the rage 14 years ago.
That future has arrived, and it is nothing less than a new cold war: The constant, interminable Chinese computer hacks of American warships’ maintenance records, Pentagon personnel records, and so forth constitute war by other means. This situation will last decades and will only get worse, whatever this or that trade deal is struck between smiling Chinese and American presidents in a photo-op that sends financial markets momentarily skyward. The new cold war is permanent because of a host of factors that generals and strategists understand but that many, especially those in the business and financial community who populate Davos, still prefer to deny.

​Moon of Alabama has Syria update:​
Turkey moved enough troops to its border to launch an invasion but the risk for its economy is high. There are local elections in March and the Turkish President Erdogan does not want to upset them by jumping into a quagmire. Erdogan will soon visit Russia again and discuss the issue with President Putin. Most likely Erdogan will be convinced that Syrian government control over the Kurdish areas, and Russian guarantees for a mostly quiet border, are a better solution than a costly Turkish occupation of a hostile population.
Earlier today a suicide bomber killed 4 U.S. soldiers and wounded at least three in an attack in Manbij city (video). A number of YPK/PKK fighters and bystanders were also killed or wounded. The incident happened in front of a restaurant where the U.S. troops presumably were meeting someone.​..
The Islamic State took credit through its regular outlets and even named the suicide bomber.
The killed and wounded U.S. troops were evacuated in a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter. The S-92 is not flown by U.S., French or British forces in Syria. The armed helicopter is likely owned and operated​ ​by a private military company hired by the U.S. military for MedEvac services. This again proves that official U.S. numbers of 2,000 soldiers in northeast Syria do not paint the full picture. There are surely several thousands more, including more than 1,000 French troops, 200 British SAS and several hundreds if not thousands of U.S. contractors who are also involved in combat missions​...
Those U.S. politicians who want to continue the U.S. occupation in Syria will use the Manbij incident to argue for an unlimited U.S. stay. ISIS would have won. Those who, like Trump, want the U.S. out will use the incident to argue for an urgent retreat from the area.
Trump is likely to win that argument.

Syria’s government has never stopped dialogue with the Kurds who are full-fledged citizens of the country and an integral part of the nation, Syrian Assistant Foreign and Expatriates Minister Ayman Sousan said on Sunday.
He said that contacts with the Kurds have intensified in the recent time "in the face of aggressive and expansionist threats from Turkey."
"The current situation requires consolidation of all Syrians to defend national sovereignty. That is why dialogue with the Kurds is necessary and useful," he stressed, adding that the Kurdish statements are positive concerning their support to Syria’s unity.

​Israel continues military attacks against Syria, careful to stand off and avoid Israeli pilots getting shot down. Israel states that this will continue.

This is the kind of political negotiation that is holding up the federal budget, not the wall. Elite power factions are poised to go into full legal battle mode against each other. So far it a been one-sided against the Trump side, with little ammunition, but lots of soldiers. The Trump side has lots of ammunition...
In what Judicial Watch describes as a "major victory for accountability," a federal judge ruled Tuesday that former national security adviser Susan Rice and former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes must answer written questions about the State Department's response to the deadly 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, as part of an ongoing legal battle over whether Hillary Clinton sought to deliberately evade public record laws by using a private email server while secretary of state.  As Fox News' Samuel Chamberlain reports, the judge's order amounts to approval of a discovery plan he ordered last month. In that ruling, Lamberth wrote that Clinton's use of a private email account was "one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency" and said the response of the State and Justice Departments "smacks of outrageous misconduct."​  ​Judicial Watch announced last night that United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that discovery can begin in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides will now be deposed under oath. Senior officials - including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap - will now have to answer Judicial Watch’s written questions under oath.

The Justice Department was fully aware that the notorious Steele Dossier was connected to Hillary Clinton and might be biased - a crucial detail which was omitted just weeks later from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant used to spy on the Trump campaign, reports John Solomon of The Hill.   According to Solomon's sources - which have proven impeccable, the former #4 Department of Justice (DOJ) official, Bruce Ohr - who had extensive contact with Steele, briefed "both senior FBI and DOJ officials in summer 2016 about Christopher Steele's Russia dossier, explicitly cautioning that the British intelligence operative's work was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton's campaign and might be biased."
Ohr’s activities, chronicled in handwritten notes and congressional testimony I gleaned from sources, provide the most damning evidence to date that FBI and DOJ officials may have misled federal judges in October 2016 in their zeal to obtain the warrant targeting Trump adviser Carter Page just weeks before Election Day. -The Hill

​The New York Times posts a piece by a couple of rookies, taking the position that US Presidents can't talk to Russians, because it is against "our" foreign policy. They leave out mention of all the presidents in my lifetime who did, and got good results. David Stockman has the story.
At the end of the day, there is no other way to say it. The Goldman/Schmidt/Fandos types of the present era are not journalists at all; they are lazy, intellectually corrupted, mendacious stenographers of Imperial Washington's oppressive group think.​..
 In the old days, journalists often had the integrity and summoned the courage to speak truth to power. By contrast, the trio of sanctimonious brats pictured above were too lazy, stupid or mendacious to even connect the dots. That is, this ballyhooed counter-intelligence investigation was launched the very next day after Comey was fired by two of the most compromised people in the entire Obama Administration posse of anti-Trump election meddlers--if not criminals—led by former CIA director John Brennan.

This essay looks at the migration of neocons to the left, the not-Trump side, which is now the pro-war-left. Congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard is in a position without political support outside of her home state, Hawaii. This American Conservative article is actually the most even handed reporting I've found.
In the meantime, as the hawks have migrated to the Left, the doves have migrated to the Right. According to that same Politico/Morning Consult poll, 73 percent of Republicans support getting out of Syria: that’s a whopping 44 points more than the Democrats. And 76 percent of Republicans endorse reducing our footprint in Afghanistan.​..
  In the meantime, Gabbard is undeniably progressive on most issues. For instance, in 2017, long before Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal was a thing, Gabbard introduced legislation to eliminate fossil fuels by 2035.
In these times, of course, nobody’s crystal ball is working well. And yet it does seem fair to say this much: if Gabbard could somehow win the 2020 Democratic nomination, she’d likely be formidable in the November election. That is, she’s a woman, she’s “diverse”—she was the first Hindu elected to Congress—and she’s a combat veteran with a no-nonsense attitude toward terrorism. And yes, she’s pro-peace. These days, among Americans overall, that’s a winning hand.

​Rather than picking sides on these "fightin' words", look at the fact that the US Constitution has been effectively annulled and bypassed, allowing the running of the "Empire" which O'Rourke describes.​ 
 O’Rourke boomeranged between a bright-eyed hope that the United States will soon dramatically change its approach to a whole host of issues and a dismal suspicion that the country is now incapable of implementing sweeping change.
When asked which it is, O’Rourke paused.
“I’m hesitant to answer it because I really feel like it deserves its due, and I don’t want to give you a — actually, just selfishly, I don’t want a sound bite of it reported, but, yeah, I think that’s the question of the moment: Does this still work?” O’Rourke said. “Can an empire like ours with military presence in over 170 countries around the globe, with trading relationships…and security agreements in every continent, can it still be managed by the same principles that were set down 230-plus years ago?”

​The already faded British empire has not got a clear course on Brexit yet. EU countries have invested in their no-deal contingencies, and it is expensive, and they will expect to extract the costs from the UK...

With (almost) 10 weeks until the end of March, and no-confidence in the worse-than-nothing deal Theresa May negotiated with the EU, it seems that the 2 real options are: 1) Indefinite delay of Brexit, and 2) No-Deal crash-out Brexit. There is gridlock in London. No way out for Theresa May.
Jeremy Corbyn has said he will not hold talks with Theresa May until the prime minister agrees to remove the threat of a no-deal Brexit, ruling out any meeting with the prime minister in the immediate aftermath of the no-confidence vote.
Responding to May’s offer of swift talks to break the Brexit impasse, the Labour leader told MPs that before he would entertain “positive discussions about the way forward” she had to agree to his precondition.
“The government must remove clearly once and for all the catastrophe of a no-deal exit from the European Union and all the chaos that would result from that,” Corbyn said minutes after the opposition party was defeated in the confidence vote.
Minutes after the exchanges in the Commons, with Downing Street refusing to take no deal off the table, Corbyn’s spokesman said that as things stood, the Labour leader would not take up May’s offer of an evening Brexit meeting.

​California's largest Utility just filed for Bankruptcy, Hello Climate Change!​ 
(It seems that PG&Es lines got overheated by excessive electrical demand overloading the lines, and they caught a lot of forests on fire, that had gotten too overgrown in recent years, since nobody could agree on how to prevent that.)

​The WHO investigation found glyphosate to be a dangerous carcinogen. 
The EU study found that it was just fine. It turns out that they used different sources.​ 
The EU investigators just copied and pasted some papers they got from Monsanto.
The study found plagiarism in 50.1% of the chapters assessing published studies on health risks – including whole paragraphs and entire pages of text.
The European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), based its recommendation that glyphosate was safe for public use on the BfR’s assessment.

​No birds, because no bugs. Why worry?
“We knew that something was amiss in the first couple days,” said Brad Lister. “We were driving into the forest and at the same time both Andres and I said: ‘Where are all the birds?’ There was nothing.”
His return to the Luquillo rainforest in Puerto Rico after 35 years was to reveal an appalling discovery. The insect population that once provided plentiful food for birds throughout the mountainous national park had collapsed. On the ground, 98% had gone. Up in the leafy canopy, 80% had vanished.

​This is actually a big deal, this many humans coordinating in action, and for good, not destruction. Thanks Cat.
On Jan. 1, 5.5 million women in the Indian state of Kerala (population 35 million) built a 386-mile wall with their bodies. They stood from one end to the other of this long state in southwestern India. The women gathered at 4 p.m. and took a vow to defend the renaissance traditions of their state and to work towards women’s empowerment.​.. 5.5 million women in Kerala — one in three women in the state — took to the streets to champion the emancipation of women. What brought them to join the Women’s Wall was that the Left Democratic Front government took a clear position, a principled position: that menstruation should not be used as a penalty against women’s full participation in society. Clarity defines the struggle. It is a lesson worth learning around the world.