Thursday, February 28, 2019

Looking For A Friend

Falling Out,

Can't get something for nothing. Kim Jong Un saw what happened to Gaddafi.
President Trump had apparently hoped that the pomp and circumstance of another historic summit would soften Kim Jong Un up. But despite all the talk about North Korea being "ready to denuclearize" and both leaders hyping up the possibility that a deal would be struck, alas, no deal was forthcoming, and Trump is now headed back to Washington empty handed.
Talks between the two world leaders broke down Thursday afternoon as President Trump abruptly walked away from the table and canceled a planned lunch and signing ceremony (it's still not clear what the two leaders had hoped to sign, though scheduling the ceremony before a deal had been struck did seem risky). With the talks in disarray, Trump moved up a news conference where he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took questions from the press.
Trump told reporters that the talks collapsed after the North refused to yield from its demand that the US completely remove all of the U.S.-led international sanctions - including the sanctions approved by the UN security council -  in exchange for the shuttering of the North's Yongbyon nuclear facility. Trump and Pompeo refused to make a deal without the North committing to giving up its secretive nuclear facilities outside Yongbyon, as well as its missile and warheads.
According to Trump, the talks ended amicably enough, with a commitment to keep the talks alive, and Kim also promised that he would not resume nuclear and missile tests - the basis for the detente between the two countries - and Trump said he would take Kim at his word

​Moon of Alabama:
The U.S. demanded the destruction of Yongbyon and of other complexes before any change in the sanction regime. North Korea insisted on following the sequencingthat was agreed upon during the first summit. The joint statement by the two leaders signed in June 2018 defined four clearly sequenced steps:
President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:
The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
The United States and DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
Eight month later new relations in form of the opening of embassies or a lifting of sanctions were not established. No peace treaty was signed. North Korea destroyed nuclear testing tunnels and a missile test stand. Some POW/MIA remains have been repatriated. But the U.S. side has taken no steps that could be seen as fulfilling its commitments.
Since the first summit Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. media have done their best to ignore the sequencing. North Korea on the other side has insisted on it again and again. It made absolutely clear that it would not budge on the issue. In his New Year speech the chairman emphasized:
If the US responds to our proactive, prior efforts with trustworthy measures and corresponding practical actions, bilateral relations will develop wonderfully at a fast pace through the process of taking more definite and epochal measures.
We have no intention to be obsessed with and keep up the unsavoury past relationship between the two countries, but are ready to fix it as early as possible and work to forge a new relationship in line with the aspirations of the two peoples and the requirements of the developing times.
I am ready to meet the US president again anytime, and will make efforts to obtain without fail results which can be welcomed by the international community.
But if the United States does not keep the promise it made in the eyes of the world, and out of miscalculation of our people’s patience, it attempts to unilaterally enforce something upon us and persists in imposing sanctions and pressure against our Republic, we may be compelled to find a new way for defending the sovereignty of the country and the supreme interests of the state and for achieving peace and stability of the Korean peninsula.
The "corresponding measures" the U.S. promised will have to come first before North Korea gives up more of its nuclear infrastructure.

W​hoa! This is recent history of SOUTH KOREA.
Nobody knows how many innocent Koreans were accused as “Reds” and killed, imprisoned and tortured by the conservative governments. But several millions could have been the victimUnder the government of Rhee Syngnman, more than 200,000 innocent Koreans were killed in the areas of Jeju, Yosu and Soonchon. The government accused these poor victims for being “communists”, “Reds”, “PPal- gaing-ie” Among the victims were children and old people who had nothing to do with ideology.
General Chun Doo-hwan had his share of killing the people. In 18th of May, 1980, the citizens of Gwang-ju organized a street demonstration to protest the Chun’s dictatorship. Chun mobilized highly trained air-born battalion and killed at least 1,000 citizens with tanks and helicopters. A great number of citizens were wounded. Moreover, Chun set up, during his presidency (1980-1987), a massive killing field in the Sancheong Education School; about 100,000 young people were massacred for not supporting Chun’s government policies and some other dubious reasons.
The true reason behind these massacres was to silence the voice of opposition against the corruption and the violation of human rights committed by the conservatives. These people were falsely condemned as “Reds” or “being friendly with North Korea” (Chin-book). In other words, the existence of North-South tension provided a good reason to oppress the people.

Finian Cunningham on this weekend's failed Venezuelan false-flag border incident and the Imperial need to get a puppet government installed there right away. Getting UN approval for bloody war would help. What's the best false-flag operation to stage next?
The desperation for regime change in Venezuela by Washington has only become more frenzied as its machinations appear to be coming unstuck.
Therefore, it can be anticipated, Washington needs a game-changing event – badly – in order to shift its lackey Lima Group, the EU and the United N
ations to accepting its agenda for a military option.​..
Voice of America quotes Dany Bahar, a Venezuela expert at the DC think-tank the Brookings Institution, as saying that the next steps for Washington in its pressure campaign on the “Maduro regime” is “to try to get the United Nations on board, which has not happened yet.”
Ominously, the Lima Group has issued a statement claiming to have credible evidence that Juan Guaido’s life is seriously threatened by Venezuelan state securityPence also warned that Maduro would be held responsible for Guaido and his family’s safety. Last month, Guaido made claims that his wife’s family was menaced by state agents who allegedly visited their home.​..
As easily as they are lionized, US puppets can be just as easily disposed of. Guaido playing the dirty game of regime change with the most criminal organization in the world – the US government – is a very dangerous game. He’d better watch his back.  

Moon of Alabama updates the India-Pakistan border war around Kashmir. Modi's corrupt fighter-jet kickback scheme may bite him hard.
On February 14 a suicide car bomb hit a police convoy in Pulwama in the Indian controlled part of Kashmir. The suicide bomber was a local man. The Pakistan based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility and uploaded a video of the attacker.
General elections in India are due in May and the Hindu-fascist Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under pressure. The incident in Kashmir led to violence of Modi followers against Kashmiri people. Pakistan denied any involvement in the incident and called for a joint investigation.
After the suicide attack Modi immediately threatened to retaliate against Pakistan. He did so yesterday. In an elaborate operation Indian fighter jets released stand-off weapons, purchased from Israel, against an alleged JeM training camp near Balakot. India made explicit that it hit a "non-military" target...
Two rather antique Indian MIG-21 jets scrambled to chase the Pakistani fighter jets away. They were lured into the Pakistan controlled air space and both were shot down. Pakistan published pictures of one of the downed jets and claimed that the other one fell into an Indian controlled area. An Indian pilot ejected from his plane and was captured by Pakistani troops who had trouble (vid) to keep the locals from lynching him. The captured pilot was blindfolded and interrogated (vid). He identified as Wing Commander Abhi Nandan, Service No: 27981, and did not respond to further questions. His father is said to be a retried Air Marshal of the Indian air force. The pilot now seems to be fine (vid). He thanked the Pakistani military for rescuing him from the mob​..​.  
That the Indian air force uses the antique MIG-21, which first flew in 1956, against state of the art Pakistani-Chinese F-17 again opens questions about Modi's corrupt deal to buy Rafale jets from France. As we discussed last September. 

​Germany is a critical Imperial power center in Europe. Thanks Eleni.
More than four-fifths of the respondents (84.6 percent) rate the German-American relationship as negative or very negative. Only 10.4 percent find it very positive or rather positive. A clear majority (57.6 percent) argues for a greater distance between Germany and the United States. Only 13.1 percent want a closer approach; 26 percent want to keep the current arrangement. …
Almost half of respondents (42.3 percent) consider China a better partner for Germany than the US. Conversely, only 23.1 percent believe that the US is a more reliable partner than China. …
[Concerning Germany’s current foreign policies,] only 18.6 percent see a positive impact, 34 percent a negative. …Asked about the currently most dangerous global trouble spots, only 1.9 percent of the respondents named the expansion of the Russian zone of influence. The growing influence of China is seen by 2.2 percent as the biggest threat. …

​ Russia’s state-run energy major Gazprom said its share of sales of natural gas in the European Union has increased to 36.7 percent last year, rising over two percent against 34.2 percent in 2017.
“In 2018, according to preliminary data, the share of gas supplies to the EU countries and Turkey has reached an all-time high and totaled 36.7 percent,” the director general of Gazprom Export Elena Burmistrova said at Gazprom’s Investor Day event, taking place in Singapore.

​Charles Hugh Smith looks at housing (bubble) price trends in the US.
Housing Bubble #1 wasn't allowed to fully retrace the bubble, as the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates to near-zero in 2009 and bought $1+ trillion in sketchy mortgage-backed securities (MBS), essentially turning America's mortgage market into a branch of the central bank and federal agency guarantors of mortgages (Fannie and Freddie, VA, FHA).
These unprecedented measures stopped the bubble decline by instantly making millions of people who previously could not qualify for a privately originated mortgage qualified buyers. This vast expansion of the pool of buyers (expanded by a flood of buyers from China and other hot-money locales) drove sales and prices higher for six years (2012-2018).
As noted on the chart below, this suggests the bubble burst will likely run from 2019-2025, give or take a few quarters.

Quanta Magazine, writing about a new Nature Geoscience study on warming and clouds, described the temperature spike known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, when a sharp increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide led to an even sharper increase in temperature—along with “mass extinctions” of ocean life, immense dislocations of land animals, and “flash floods and protracted droughts.” How did the temperature jump out of normal boundaries into a lethal range? 
Clouds currently cover about two-thirds of the planet at any moment. But computer simulations of clouds have begun to suggest that as the Earth warms, clouds become scarcer. With fewer white surfaces reflecting sunlight back to space, the Earth gets even warmer, leading to more cloud loss. This feedback loop causes warming to spiral out of control.
In computer simulations, researchers found that at 1,200 parts per million of carbon dioxide, the level at which temperatures would be expected to be 4 degrees Celsius above the historical baseline, the atmosphere would become too warm and too turbulent to allow sheets of stratocumulus clouds to form. If the clouds fell apart, the extra sunlight could bring on an extra 8 degrees of warming—for a total increase of 12 degrees Celsius, or more than 21 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Like the methane-spilling permafrost or the fracturing Antarctic ice sheet, the clouds can’t come back if they’re broken; the runaway heating effect would linger even after carbon dioxide levels dropped​..
One climate scientist in the Quanta story optimistically predicted that, as solar energy becomes cheaper than fossil fuels, “there will be an exponential transformation of entire industries.” Another, however, “noted that possible economic collapse caused by nearer-term effects of climate change might also curtail carbon emissions before the stratocumulus tipping point is reached.”

​What should we make our houses from? (No, I don't think a cement tax will save us.)
Because of the heat needed to decompose rock and the natural chemical processes involved in making cement, every tonne made releases one tonne of C02, the main greenhouse warming gas.
It also magnifies the extreme weather it shelters us from. Taking in all stages of production, concrete is said to be responsible for 4-8% of the world’s CO2. Among materials, only coal, oil and gas are a greater source of greenhouse gases. Half of concrete’s CO2 emissions are created during the manufacture of clinker, the most-energy intensive part of the cement-making process.
But other environmental impacts are far less well understood. Concrete is a thirsty behemoth, sucking up almost a 10th of the world’s industrial water use. This often strains supplies for drinking and irrigation, because 75% of this consumption is in drought and water-stressed regions. In cities, concrete also adds to the heat-island effect by absorbing the warmth of the sun and trapping gases from car exhausts and air-conditioner units – though it is, at least, better than darker asphalt.

​Monsanto got a favorable Federal Judge. I wonder how...
Monsanto is facing its first federal trial over allegations that its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer, but a US judge has blocked attorneys from discussing the corporation’s alleged manipulation of science.
​I​n an extraordinary move in a packed San Francisco courtroom on Monday, US judge Vince Chhabria threatened to sanction and “shut down” a cancer patient’s attorney for violating his ban on talking about Monsanto’s influence on government regulators and cancer research.
“You’ve completely disregarded the limitations that were set upon you,” the visibly angry judge said to attorney Aimee Wagstaff, threatening to prevent her from continuing. “If you cross the line one more time … your opening statement will be over … If I see a single inappropriate thing on those slides, I’m shutting you down.”

​It's really just a little bit, a "trace". What was that one beer that didn't have any?
A new study has shown that traces of a commonly-used and possibly cancerous weed killer can be found in the majority of wine and beer.
Researches tested five wines and 15 beers from the US, Asia and Europe for traces of pesticide glyphosate.
Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Roundup, a common weed killermanufactured by Monsanto.
The research found that of the 20 samples, 19 (95 per cent) contained particles of the chemical, including products labelled as organic.

​Still Looking​

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Pillage Venezuela

Looking Aghast,

Is Marco a Sadist? He even tweeted the picture of Gaddafi being murdered.
It appears Rubio, disappointed that weekend events didn't escalate further beyond isolated border crossing clashes, must be venting his frustrations by reminiscing about the "good ole days" of Libya and Syria regime change wars.
As As'ad AbuKhalil, a professor of Middle East history at California State University-Stanislaus points out, "The esteemed senator from Florida is calling for the anal rape and murder of Maduro."
Perhaps a minor question that remains is: will Twitter make Rubio delete a tweet threatening the extra judicial killing of a head of state?

The Washington Post has stealth-edited all mention of Richard Branson's Venezuela aid concert in Cucuta, Colombia, after the paper originally claimed that the event "drew a crowd of more than 200,000 people Friday."  ...
According to the Google map scale the field's northern edge is some 125 meters wide. The crowd was standing at the northern end of the field at a depth of about 50 meters. The density of the static crowd was low to medium with on average 2 to 3 people per square meter.
125m * 50m = 6,250 m2 * 2.5 people/m2 = 15,625 people
One may generously add a count of one or two thousand for the people mingling around in the back of the public area. In total there may have been up to 18,000, but certainly no more than 20,000 people at the concert. -Moon of Alabama
In short, Fake News.

Moon of Alabama and RT have video of the pro-Guaido thugs lighting some "aid" trucks on fire. None of it got into Venezuela. 

Guaido Left Venezuela against a court order. He'll get arrested if he returns... and this:
The last aim of yesterday's stunt was to give justification for the next steps towards "regime change" - whatever those steps may be. The success of achieving that aim was never in question as all U.S. media and politicians were already backing Trump's plans by accepting the "humanitarian aid" nonsense in the first place:
Bernie Sanders @SenSanders - 18:47 utc - 23 Feb 2019
The people of Venezuela are enduring a serious humanitarian crisis. The Maduro government must put the needs of its people first, allow humanitarian aid into the country, and refrain from violence against protesters.
This response to the fake socialist is warranted:
Roger Waters @rogerwaters - 22:27 utc - 23 Feb 2019
Replying to @SenSanders
Bernie, are you f-ing kidding me! if you buy the Trump, Bolton, Abrams, Rubio line, “humanitarian intervention” and collude in the destruction of Venezuela, you cannot be credible candidate for President of the USA. Or, maybe you can, maybe you’re the perfect stooge for the 1 %.

Pence meets with Guaido and promises that all of the wealth of Venezuela is rightfully his to command, and only his The US will block any sale of Venezuelan oil, while still holding all Venezuelan money and gold under lock and key, for now. It's all Guaidos to command, someday...

John Pilger traveled with Hugo Chaves, and reveals these insights about the people's revolution.
What struck me was his capacity to listen...
Watching Chavez with the people, la gente, made sense of a man who promised, on coming to power, that his every move would be subject to the will of the people.  In eight years, Chavez won eight elections and referendums: a world record. He was electorally the most popular head of state in the Western Hemisphere, probably in the world.
Every major chavista reform was voted on, notably a new constitution of which 71 percent of the people approved each of the 396 article that enshrined unheard of freedoms, such as Article 123, which for the first time recognized the human rights of mixed-race and black people, of whom Chavez was one.
One of his tutorials on the road quoted a feminist writer: “Love and solidarity are the same.” His audiences understood this well and expressed themselves with dignity, seldom with deference. Ordinary people regarded Chavez and his government as their first champions: as theirs...
  Cartoonists in the Venezuelan press, most of which are owned by an oligarchy and oppose the government, portrayed Chavez as an ape. A radio host referred to “the monkey.” In the private universities, the verbal currency of the children of the well-off is often racist abuse of those whose shacks are just visible through the pollution...
 “Of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored,” said former President Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Center, is a respected monitor of elections around the world, “I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” By way of contrast, said Carter, the U.S. election system, with its emphasis on campaign money, “is one of the worst.”​...
In her 95 years, Mavis Mendez had seen a parade of governments, mostly vassals of Washington, preside over the theft of billions of dollars in oil spoils, much of it flown to Miami. “We didn’t matter in a human sense,” she told me. “We lived and died without real education and running water, and food we couldn’t afford. When we fell ill, the weakest died. Now I can read and write my name and so much more; and whatever the rich and the media say, we have planted the seeds of true democracy and I have the joy of seeing it happen.”
In 2002, during a Washington-backed coup, Mavis’s sons and daughters and grandchildren and great-grandchildren joined hundreds of thousands who swept down from the barrios on the hillsides and demanded the army remained loyal to Chavez...
 Since Chavez’s death in 2013, his successor NicolásMaduro has shed his derisory label in the Western press as a “former bus driver” and become Saddam Hussein incarnate...
Like a page from Alice’s tea party, the Trump administration has presented Juan Guaidó, a pop-up creation of the CIA-front National Endowment for Democracy, as the “legitimate President of Venezuela.” Unheard of by 81 percent of the Venezuelan people, according to The Nation, Guaidó has been elected by no one...
Researchers at the University of the West of England studied the BBC‘s reporting of Venezuela over a 10-year period. They looked at 304 reports and found that only three of these referred to any of the positive policies of the government. For the BBC, Venezuela’s democratic record, human rights legislation, food programs, healthcare initiatives and poverty reduction did not happen.  The greatest literacy program in human history did not happen, just as the millions who march in support of Maduro and in memory of Chavez, do not exist.​..​A war has been declared on Venezuela, of which the truth is “too difficult” to report...
The former United Nations Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, has likened this to a “medieval siege” designed “to bring countries to their knees.” It is a criminal assault, he says. It is similar to that faced by Salvador Allende in 1970 when President Richard Nixon and his equivalent of John Bolton, Henry Kissinger, set out to “make the economy [of Chile] scream.” The long dark night of Pinochet followed...
 Should the CIA stooge Guaidó and his white supremacists grab power, it will be the 68th overthrow of a sovereign government by the United States, most of them democracies. A fire sale of Venezuela’s utilities and mineral wealth will surely follow, along with the theft of the country’s oil, as outlined by John Bolton.

In a series of tweets posted in her twitter account a few hours ago, Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirmed that the US government is moving special forces to the borders of Venezuela along with military equipment.
She also alerted that the same US government (and US companies) with the help of some NATO allies is seeking to buy arms and ammunition in east European countries to arm the Venezuelan opposition.

​Indians and Pakistanis are the same people, divided by religion and recent history, and armed with nuclear weapons.​
After some initial confusion and conflicting statements about the number of aircraft involved in Wednesday's hostilities, Bloomberg has produced this roundup of remarks from both sides that helps to clear things up.
Indian and Pakistani fighter jets engaged each other, resulting in the worst escalation since the war between the two in 1971.
Pakistan said it engaged six targets across the de facto border between the nuclear-armed neighbors. Pakistan said its fighter planes shot down two Indian fighter aircraft that entered its airspace. Two Indian pilots were in its custody, one of them in hospital.
India admitted to losing one MiG 21 fighter jet in the aerial engagement. India's Kumar said the pilot of the plane is "missing in action," and the government is ascertaining Pakistan's claim of their custody. India said it shot down a Pakistani fighter jet today.
Pakistan PM Imran Khan in his address to the nation sounded conciliatory, saying he was willing to investigate the Feb. 14 terror attack in Kashmir. He said a war won't be in his or in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's control and called for a dialogue between the two.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and offered to play a "constructive role," while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the two nations to "avoid escalation at any cost."

​I hope this doesn't derail the peace negotiations!
Just hours after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Vietnam for his second historic summit with President Trump, Dutch authorities acting on a tip from the Russian Foreign Ministry seized 90,000 bottles of vodka that authorities believe was destined for North Korea, where Kim was planning to distribute them as gifts to his top military commanders.

​I picked this paragraph out of an article about US Imperialism in Europe. Operation Gladio is not mentioned in the article. It's more about post-USSR European relations with the US, Russia and China. Russian oil and gas are sure part of the deal-making.
The technological interconnection between China and Europe is already happening thanks to Huawei devices that are being purchased by European companies in increasing numbers. The absence of back doors in Huawei systems, in contrast to what Snowden has shown with other Western systems, is the real reason why Washington has declared war on this Chinese company. Industrial espionage is a priceless advantage enjoyed by the United States, and the presence of backdoors on Western systems, to which the CIA and NSA have access, guarantees a competitive advantage allowing Washington to excel in terms of technology. With the spread of Huawei systems this advantage is lost, to the chagrin of Washington's spy apparatus. European allies understand the potential advantage to be gained and are protecting themselves with the Chinese systems.

Brexit-paint-into-corner details revealed!
Deputy Political Editor for Sky News Beth Rigby tweeted of Mrs May’s speech: “This really is a big shift. “May has finally played her cards and sided with the Europhile wing of her party .. “Vote for her deal (March 12) Vote for no-deal (March 13) Vote for delay (March 14) .. “Only yesterday she refused to even acknowledge there might have to be a delay to Brexit.”

2 year delay is a sure-thing, then? How sure?
The UK government is due to hold emergency talks with industry leaders on Tuesday after discovering that the country doesn’t have the right pallets to continue exporting goods to the European Union if it leaves without a deal next month. Under strict EU rules, pallets – wooden or plastic structures that companies use to transport large volumes of goods – arriving from non-member states must be heat-treated or cleaned to prevent contamination and have specific markings to confirm that they meet standards. Most pallets that British exporters are using do not conform to the rules for non-EU countries, or “third countries,” as EU member states follow a much more relaxed set of regulations.  

Damn! Look at the map of US Military Bases on this planet.
Each year, through a vast constellation of global training exercises, operations, facilities, and schools, the United States trains around 200,000 foreign soldiers, police, and other personnel. From 2003 to 2010, for example, the U.S. carried out this training regime at no fewer than 471 locations in 120 countries and on every continent but Antarctica. Most of it goes on behind closed doors, far from public view. And almost all of it escapes independent scrutiny. Is the training effective? Does it achieve the desired results? Is it worth the cost? Does it conform to U.S. laws? It’s often difficult to glean basic information about what types of training are taking place, let alone the results.
Recently, for example, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) told Yahoo News -- unequivocally -- that the U.S. does not “conduct exercises with members of the [Saudi-led coalition] to prepare for combat operations in Yemen.” While CENTCOM admitted to providing “training” to the coalition, it called that assistance “limited non-combat support.” Internal military documents, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, told an entirely different story however. Air Force files state, just as unequivocally, that the United States has trained members of the Saudi-led coalition “for combat operations in Yemen.”​...​
This is particularly true of missions in which there are American boots on the ground engaging in direct action against militants, a reality, my team and I found, in 14 different countries in the last two years. The list includes Afghanistan and Syria, of course, but also some lesser known and unexpected places like Libya, Tunisia, Somalia, Mali, and Kenya. Officially, many of these are labeled “train, advise, and assist” missions, in which the U.S. military ostensibly works to support local militaries fighting groups that Washington labels terrorist organizations. Unofficially, the line between “assistance” and combat turns out to be, at best, blurry.  

​War Dog​

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Going Down Together


John Ward, expat Limey in not-Paris-France gives update in general, which lead I sorta' follow with the rest of the stories today...
In a period of just nine days during February, a US search engine with links to the NSA has been caught conspiring to record Americans secretly, and censoring news about the populist movement Les Gilets Jaunes; while the French energy supplier EDF has been continuing to force an instrument of domestic surveillance into every French home on the direct orders of a President in the tertiary stages of a Napoleon complex.As Jackie Mason often said, “Now you should worry”.
Yesterday, Google told the media (having been caught in the act of illegal surveillance) that it had made an “error” in not disclosing that its Nest Secure home security system has a built-in microphone in its devices. Consumers could, if they wished, turn the integral mic off, Google insisted.
Except, of course, it’s hard to turn off a mic if you don’t, as it were, know it’s there. “The feature was never meant to be secret,” Google whined.

​Charles Hugh Smith sent this article on surveillance capitalism.
Industrial capitalism depended up-on the exploitation and control of nature, with catastrophic consequences that we only now recognise. Surveillance capitalism depends instead upon the exploitation and control of human nature,” writes Shoshana Zuboff, a professor in the Harvard Business School. The prototypes of surveillance capitalism are Google and Facebook, which extract information from their users and deploy it to re-engineer their behaviour for maximum profit. Human experience is raw material to be mined. Individual autonomy is usurped by ubiquitous monitoring, with techniques of behaviour modification digging deep into what was once a private and subjective world. Personal experience is commodified, and reshaped in the interests of capital. Whatever utopian claims may have been made for it as a force that emancipates individuals, this is a type of collectivism that subverts what has in the past been described as free will.
“Surveillance capitalism is best described as a coup from above, not an overthrow of the state but rather an overthrow of the people’s sovereignty and a prominent force in the perilous drift towards democratic de-consolidation that now threatens Western liberal democracies,” says Zuboff. Big-data companies present the future as a new era of transparency and freedom. In fact, the end-point of information capitalism is a social order that can only be described as totalitarian.

​Charles sent this, too.
“China is not just cheap. It’s a place where, because it’s an authoritarian government, you can marshal 100,000 people to work all night for you,” said Susan Helper, an economics professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and the former chief economist at the Commerce Department. “That has become an essential part of the product-rollout strategy.”
Ms. Helper said Apple could make more products in the United States if it invested significant time and money and relied more on robotics and specialized engineers instead of large numbers of low-wage line workers. She said government and industry would also need to improve job training and promote the development of a supply-chain infrastructure.
But, she added, there is a low chance of all that happening.
Apple still assembles Mac Pros at the factory on the outskirts of Austin, in part because it has already invested in complicated and custom machines. But the Mac Pro has been a slow seller, and Apple has not updated it since its introduction in 2013.

​Charles Hugh Smith on taking steps to restore and enforce the intent of the US Constitution.
The founders feared exactly what has come to pass: a government that no longer represents the interests of the citizenry. They did their best in a fractious debate to stipulate safeguards, but it's clear that many of the Founders understood that no document could completely safeguard the Republic against a leadership that sought to undermine the Republic at every turn for personal gain.
It is also constructive to recall Jefferson's observations on the need for dissent to maintain liberty:
When Jefferson said, “God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion,” he was expressing the idea that “liberties are ensured by the spirit of resistance” and that all great nations had rebellions (again justifying that liberty shouldn’t be sacrificed by conservative worry). (source)
It seems to me that adding strict limits to the government's powers and closing the loopholes that now threaten the Republic are forms of dissent that deserve an open airing. I offer these proposed amendments as a start. I consider them common-sense ways to limit the abuses of power and rank corruption that are undermining the Republic. The penalties have to be severe enough to thwart all who seek to exploit the government's many powers for their private enrichment and gain.

​Sister Caitlin in Oz talks about Richard Branson's fake photo op and glitzy benefit concert for invasion of Venezuela.
They’re lying to us about Venezuela. Anyone with access to alternative media has access to the fact that they’re lying to us about Venezuela. We know this for a fact. We also know for a fact that Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves on planet Earth, and that in spite of all these appeals to the humanitarian impulses of the US empire the Trump administration is openly interested in controlling that oil. We also know for a fact that US interventionism in modern times is consistently disastrous, and consistently never truly about humanitarianism. We also know for a fact that PNAC neocon Elliott Abrams, who is spearheading this “humanitarian aid” initiative, has previously used humanitarian aid as a pretext for arming militia groups in Nicaragua.
If you have access to alternative media, all of these facts are easily available to you. If all of these facts are easily available to you, and yet you still support the US government’s interventionism in Venezuela, you are a complete f***ing moron.

​Charles also sent this from George Monbiot, who sees the Brexit crisis as opening the door for vulture capitalists to take everything that the people of England, Wales and Scotland have left, like the cleaner places which remain there.
With Liam Fox in charge of trade policy, and the US demanding the destruction of food and environmental standards as the price of the trade deal he desperately seeks, nothing is safe. A joint trade review by the British and Indian governments contemplates reducing standards on pesticide residues in food, and hormone-disrupting chemicals in the plastics used in toys. This must be heartening for Jacob Rees-Mogg (known in some circles as Re-smog), who has proposed that we might accept “emission standards from India”, one of the most polluted nations on Earth. “We could say, if it’s good enough in India, it’s good enough for here.”

George Galloway, the honest politician in the House of Commons, until they got rid of him, has further insights about the stress fractures taking place in UK politics. (via some Russian fake-news propaganda site)
Having laboured mightily for more than two years Labour’s Blairite wing brought forth a mouse – or a rat – depending on your point of view.
Just seven MPs announced their departure from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and though there may be others to come this was their first rank. And there lies the first problem.
Other than Chuka Umunna virtually nobody has ever heard of the new Independent Group of MPs who were quickly dubbed the ‘Seven Dwarfs’. One of the seven had to issue a humiliating public apology for a shocking racist blunder live on TV during an interview discussing...racism! And this was just the first hour. The rest of their first day didn’t go too much better.
From a crowded field I’d say the next biggest blunder was registering their parliamentary factions as a private company in a transparent effort to avoid...transparency!
It’s true that Chuka and co are the corporate suit types and most of them are more familiar with the boardroom than the boiler room but no parliamentary group in history has turned themselves into a business!
The reasons – millions of them – are not hard to discern. A political party must declare who’s funding it and how much. A private company doesn’t. But again what seemed like a wheeze is in fact a blunder. I’m now free to speculate that they’ve already received millions from Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and President Putin. It’s probably not true, but how can one tell?
Perhaps George Soros will favour their rampant and so out of touch Europhilia? Perhaps Mr Netanyahu will respond to their unconditional unrequited love of Israel?
Perhaps the military industrial complex will be turned on by the group’s love of NATO weaponry? Again, how can one tell?
And of course if we can’t tell we will all just speculate as I’ve just done there.

Jonathan Cook has more observations on the pre-brexit-regroupings.
The announcement by seven MPs from the UK Labour Party on Monday that they were breaking away and creating a new parliamentary faction marked the biggest internal upheaval in a British political party in nearly 40 years, when the SDP split from Labour.On Wednesday, they were joined by an eighth Labour MP, Joan Ryan, and three Conservative MPs. There are predictions more will follow.The chief concern cited for the split by the eight Labour MPs, though, was a supposed “anti-semitism crisis” in the party...  The breakaway faction seemingly agrees that anti-semitism has become so endemic in the party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader more than three years ago that they were left with no choice but to quit.Corbyn, it should be noted, is the first leader of a major British party to explicitly prioritise the rights of Palestinians over Israel’s continuing belligerent occupation of the Palestinian territories.

This looks kind of similar...
Emmanuel Macron has declared anti-Zionism a form of antisemitism as he ramps up France’s crackdown on racism against Jewish people. 
Speaking at the 34th annual dinner of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, Mr Macron said a surge in antisemitic attacks in his country had not been seen since World War Two.
He promised a new law to tackle hate speech on the internet and said France would adopt the definition of antisemitism set by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). 
The IHRA definition does not use the phrase "anti-Zionism" but does say denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination "e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour," is antisemitic.
Some critics of Israel, its occupation of territory internationally recognised as Palestinian, and its isolation of the Gaza Strip, say they risk being unfairly branded antisemitic, although the IHRA definition says: "criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country" is not.

​I don't advise anybody to bike commute who is not confident in their survival skills when hit by cars, and  their abilities to narrowly avoid it.​
As cities strive to improve the quality of life for their residents, many are working to promote walking and biking. Such policies make sense, since they can, in the long run, lead to less traffic, cleaner air and healthier people. But the results aren’t all positive, especially in the short to medium term.
In Washington D.C., for example, traffic fatalities as a whole declined in 2018 compared to the year before, but the number of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths increased by 20 percent. Pedestrian deaths also have risen in New York, and pedestrian and cycling fatalities have increased in Los Angeles in the past several years.
Across the nation, cyclist fatalities have increased by 25 percent since 2010 and pedestrian deaths have risen by a staggering 45 percent. More people are being killed because cities are encouraging residents to walk and bike, but their roads are still dominated by fast-moving vehicular traffic. As my research has shown, this shifting mix can be deadly.

​Single stream recycling is the lie that is now exposed. Burning it for power requires a lot of specific conditions be met by the waste, so...
There isn’t much of a domestic market for US recyclables – materials such as steel or high-density plastics can be sold on but much of the rest holds little more value than rubbish – meaning that local authorities are hurling it into landfills or burning it in huge incinerators like the one in Chester, which already torches around 3,510 tons of trash, the weight equivalent of more than 17 blue whales, every day.
“This is a real moment of reckoning for the US because of a lot of these incinerators are aging, on their last legs, without the latest pollution controls,” said Claire Arkin, campaign associate at Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives. “You may think burning plastic means ‘poof, it’s gone’ but it puts some very nasty pollution into the air for communities that are already dealing with high rates of asthma and cancers.”
Do something different, yourself, please...​
The world’s capacity to produce food is being undermined by humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity, according to the first UN study of the plants, animals and micro-organisms that help to put meals on our plates.
The stark warning was issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation after scientists found evidence the natural support systems that underpin the human diet are deteriorating around the world as farms, cities and factories gobble up land and pump out chemicals...
It found 63% of plants, 11% of birds, and 5% of fish and fungi were in decline. Pollinators, which provide essential services to three-quarters of the world’s crops, are under threat. As well as the well-documented decline of bees and other insects, the report noted that 17% of vertebrate pollinators, such as bats and birds, were threatened with extinction.
Once lost, the species that are critical to our food systems cannot be recovered, it said. “This places the future of our food and the environment under severe threat.”...
Most countries said the main driver for biodiversity loss was land conversion, as forests were cut down for farm fields, and meadows covered in concrete for cities, factories and roads. Other causes include overexploitation of water supplies, pollution, over-harvesting, the spread of invasive species and climate change...
Two-thirds of crop production comes from just nine species (sugar cane, maize, rice, wheat, potatoes, soybeans, oil-palm fruit, sugar beet and cassava), while many of the remaining 6,000 cultivated plant species are in decline and wild food sources are becoming harder to find...
“The supermarkets are full of food, but it is mostly imports from other countries and there are not many varieties. The reliance on a small number of species means they are more susceptible to disease outbreaks and climate change. It renders food production less resilient,” warned Julie Bélanger, the coordinator of the report.
As examples, the report noted how overdependence on a narrow range of species was a major factor in the famine caused by potato blight in Ireland in the 1840s, cereal crop failures in the US in the 20th century, and losses of taro production in Samoa in the 1990s.
“There is an urgent need to change the way food is produced and ensure that biodiversity is not something that is swept aside but is treated as an irreplaceable resource and a key part of management strategies,” said Bélanger...
“Around the world, the library of life that has evolved over billions of years – our biodiversity – is being destroyed, poisoned, polluted, invaded, fragmented, plundered, drained and burned at a rate not seen in human history,” Ireland’s president, Michael Higgins, said at a biodiversity conference in Dublin on Thursday. “If we were coal miners we’d be up to our waists in dead canaries.”

C​oal Mining Canary​

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Wars Fail

Pupils of History,

Eleni Tsigante, an Athenian of ancient family, has translated to English, the essay by a French Colonel, commander of artillery of NATO coalition forces in Syria, which was referenced in the Moon of Alabama article I posted 2/20/19.
This essay has ceased to be available online, but I copy what she has sent me, with thanks to her and to Colonel François-Régis Legrier.

Channeling Vietnam

Battle of Hajin: tactical victory, strategic defeat?
Colonel François-Régis Legrier
Head of the 68th Artillery Regiment of Africa. commanding officer Wagram Task Force Levant from October 2018 to February 2019. 
Author of If you want peace, prepare the war for Via Romana Publishing.

The battle of Hajin (September 2018 - January 2019) named after a small
locality on the east bank of the Euphrates on the borders of Syria and Iraq
deserves to be named in military history for more than one reason. First, it is 
the last "pitched battle" against the pseudo Islamic State and seems to put
an end to its desire to control a territory. It is then, for Westerners, rich in lessons 
about the war, and especially the limits of proxy warfare and our supremacy approach
through technology.

In the nineteenth century, the fate of a battle involving a few thousand
men was settled in one day - Austerlitz for example; in the twentieth century it
must be counted in weeks - one thinks of the Dunkirk pocket in 1940; in the
Twenty-first century, it takes almost five months and an accumulation of destruction to
fight combat 2000 combatants who have neither air support nor
electronic warfare, neither special forces nor satellites. That is the reality of
war today that should lead us, policy makers and military leaders,
to a salutary critical examination of how we conceive and wage war.

Of course, the battle of Hajin was won, but at exorbitant cost and the price of gross destruction. 
Of course, Westerners, in refusing to engage troops on the ground, have 
limited their risk and in particular that of placating public opinion. But this refusal begs a question: 
why maintain an army if we dare not use it? If the reduction of the last bastion of
Islamic State is not worth the trouble of engaging conventional troops, what cause is important enough? 
While extremely comfortable about demanding swarms of officers from major multinational staffs, Western nations
did not have the political will to send in 1,000 seasoned fighters to settle in a few weeks the 
fate of Hajin's pocket and save the population several months of war.

In addition, by subcontracting the conduct of ground operations to its proxies the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)
 - troops backed by the Americans who delegated to them the right to fight in their place - , the Coalition (1)
gave up its freedom of action and lost control of the strategic tempo. Caught in a vice between 
Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from northeastern Syria and MSDS aims, 
we did not find a better solution than to intensify bombing to end it as soon as possible, thereby 
jeopardizing the future of this province. 

In the end, the question is whether the liberation of a region can be done only at the cost 
of the destruction of its infrastructures (hospitals, places of worship, roads, bridges, dwellings, etc.). 
This is the approach taken, yesterday and today, by the Americans; it's not ours and we wish 
here to indicate what could have been done to put the enemy out of action without transforming
Hajin's pocket into fields of ruins.

Characteristics of the Battle of Hajin: a distillate of all types of war

Located in the heart of the "Big Game" between regional and large powers, 
the pocket of Hajin gathered in September 2018 about 2 000 Islamist combatants
 including a majority of foreigners. Stretched over thirty kilometers
along the Euphrates in Syrian Arab-Kurdish territory and a dozen
kilometers deep, it is the last bastion of the so-called Caliphate of the "Islamic State",
which is not saying much. In reality, we will see that the battle extends beyond its geographic 
framework into the field of public perception, another essential issue of combat.

The action zone is a V-shaped strip of land wedged between the Euphrates to the 
the West and the Iraqi-Syrian border to the East with a rural area (fields and villages)
along the river and some desert. Note that the West Bank of the Euphrates is more or 
less under the control of the Syrian regime and Iraqi militias also control part of the border. 
The population is estimated to be a few thousand people, concentrated in the northern part of the
pocket (Hajin locality).

South of the pocket (tip of the V) and at the edge of the Euphrates in Iraqi territory
is the city of Al-Qaim. North of the city the border is held by the Iraqi army and, slightly 
set back, the ground-to-ground firing position of the coalition light artillery. In the South, the border 
is held by a militia affiliated to Iran (Katiba Hesbollah), a real little army with tanks and guns. If the border
is generally watertight in the North, it is very porous in the South, with the militia engaged in contraband.

The ground combat was entrusted to the US proxies - the SDF, the Arab-Kurdish alliance - advised by US
special forces and supported by the ground-to-ground and air-to-air fire of the Coalition. The Coalition troops 
are of a volume substantially equivalent to that of Daesh, but their combat value is quite relative knowing 
that the Kurdish fighters come from northeastern Syria where they are regularly attacked by Turks, American 
allies in NATO. At the end of October 2018, the SDF announced the suspension of operations following Turkish 
strikes and it took several weeks of negotiations to resume the fight. The same scenario was repeated 
in mid-December and almost compromised Hajin's proxy intake.

On the ground, the distinctive features of this battle are quite close to those of
battles of the First World War: a front line between fighters where each gain of 500 meters or 1 kilometer 
of territory represents a success; violent and repeated counter-attacks by an enemy surrounded on all sides and
who seeks to loosen the grip of SDF; a massive use of artillery, alone able to deliver fire in bad weather conditions 
and which, several times, saved the SDF when violently attacked; and finally, comparable combatant losses  
(several hundred in total on both sides).

On a purely tactical level, this battle has rediscovered all the virtues of ground-to-ground fire support 
(2) which combines the effects of saturation explosive shells and precision ammunition, and which is
operational in all weather. Thus, on December 3, 2018 Anti-tank shells were successfully fired for the first time in
Operation Infinite Resolve, with the bonus of destroying a pickup column launched on the assault of the SDF defense lines.

In the air, Western supremacy is obviously total. As in Gavin Hood's movie, Eye in the Sky (3), it's the 
quintessence of high technology unfolding almost without limit through the massive use of surveillance
and intelligence, and planes to observe and strike. In the space of six
months, several thousand bombs were dumped over a few tens of kilometers
square with the main result being destruction of infrastructure.

Has the enemy been destroyed by these strikes? Yes, but not as much as the reports claim - the impressive BDA (4) 
is calculated statistically and not by visual observation.
Has the enemy's morale and willingness to fight been destroyed? Obviously, no. He has deployed to the end 
an unshakable combativeness which profited in periods of bad weather preventing air strikes, to violently
counter-attack and repeatedly inflict serious tactical setbacks to MSDS. When defeat became unavoidable, 
he exfiltrated to areas of refuge to continue the fight in insurrectional mode leaving on the spot
only a handful of foreign fighters.

Thus, this battle perfectly illustrates the words of General Desportes:
"Increasingly efficient weapon systems always produce ever more disappointing results"(5). Let's pay heed. 
They are not disappointing because of the performers but because poorly employed; we will come back to this.

Finally, the battle of Hajin goes well beyond its geographic context to register widely in the infinite 
field of public perception. It is clear that in this area, Daesh has been able to exploit this weakness
to create value and make it their strategic success. The Western strikes and their real or fictitious collateral damage 
have been widely and successfully publicized. Indeed, on several occasions, the Coalition too often in reaction 
to public perception, gave up its strikes in the face of media pressure. There is a whole field of thought here 
to explore and in particular the shift in perspective: where Daesh uses this strategically to aim at Western public opinion, 
the Coalition, a military tool without any real political thinking, is forced to remain at the tactical level and can not exploit its
superiority in the information field with the same reactivity as the enemy.

The limits of proxy war and our techno-centered approach:
Proxy war - or how to lose control strategically

By relying on proxies to conduct the battle on the ground, the Westerners have certainly gained a short-term political 
advantage: that of avoiding losses and thus avoiding public opinion against their policy. On the other hand, in the medium-long term, 
this choice proved disastrous.

While asserting that the pocket was the Main Battle Area (6) by refusing to engage ground means or even attack helicopters, 
the Americans have created doubt about their real intentions to finish quickly. Therefore, it has been suggested that the Hajin pocket 
was an excellent alibi for maintaining a presence in northeastern Syria and especially to prevent possible
disintegration of the Coalition too fast. So, as the battle progresses, the speech was articulated as follows: "we must destroy Daech" 
to "yes, Daesh will soon be eliminated in Syria but it is reconstituted in Iraq and remains just as "dangerous", which raises the question 
of the relevance of the strategy followed all these years. Where is the real stake? Destroy Daesh or contain Iran?
Moreover, the most immediate consequence of such an approach is the loss of time and control: the operation progresses 
according to the will of the proxies and according to their own agenda and it trails in length whatever the scale of
support granted. It's called a stagnation.

To complicate matters, the divergence of views between Donald Trump and his military staff came to light. Faithful to his campaign 
promise, the President of the United States seized the opportunity of the recovery of Hajin in mid-December
to announce victory over Daesh and the withdrawal of US forces from Syria - showing, with brutal clarity, that it is the political tempo 
which should determine strategy and not the other way around.

By ignoring and refusing to include in their Middle East strategy Trump's desire for withdrawal announced two years ago, 
the US Administration and Coalition states created their own trap. Jostled by the political decision maker
on the one hand, and having relinquished control of the tempo of ground operations on the other, that is to say deprived of any 
margin of maneuver, their only reaction was to intensify air strikes and therefore further increase the intensity of destruction. Hajin
suffered the same fate as Mosul and Raqqa: near total destruction.

So this tactical victory, by the way it was acquired, compromised the future of this province without opening up any interesting 
strategic perspectives for the Coalition. The future of North-Eastern Syria is more than ever uncertain and Daesh, though it lost 
this territory, does not seem to be affected in its will to continue the fight.
The lesson is this: there can be no strategy and therefore no lasting victory without freedom of manouver. This is at the very heart 
of the intersection between politics and the military. The strategist must imperatively plan his action in the context of policy and must keep
control of operations in all areas including land operations if he wants to be able to present several options to the decision maker. 
There are no other possible solutions.

The techno-centered approach or the illusion of power

Relying mainly on special forces and tactical air strikes which become inoperative when weather conditions deteriorate, the Coalition
lost a lot of time, energy, and credibility, while Daesh had a nice game boasting of having defeated the world's leading power for months.
You have to be in a Strike Cell (7) on a cloudy day to understand all the limits of our techno-centered approach. Indeed, in the case of rain,
fog and clouds, screens become black, people play cards or watch a movie: the war stops for them while waiting for the next window of clear 
weather. During the violent Daesh counter-attacks in October 2018 and the withdrawal of SDF, the first observation of a general officer 
was to say: "Because of the weather, we no longer had air support". Implied: Daesh does not respect the rules of the game, it attacks 
in bad weather!

No, we were not held in check by the weather but by our refusal to adapt to our enemy and to the reality. The proxy war, that is to say
this refusal to engage combat-capable ground troops but to rely solely on special forces and the air force, is one of the main factors of
our current failure. Special forces are made ... for special operations and not conventional combat in urban or desert areas.
Again, make no mistake, this is not about criticizing here the indispensable contribution of the air force or special forces
but it is a mistake to rely solely on them to win a battle. This ultra-technological concept designed to reduce conventional troops and 
seduce the politician into believing we can do better with less is a seductive lure but a lure anyway.

So what did you have to do?

The answer is simple: understand that if the battle is won at the tactical level - adaptation to the terrain and to the enemy - the war is won 
at the strategic and political level, and that it is a dialectic of wills and not an eradication of "Bad guys" impossible to achieve.
In this case, it was necessary to relocate the battle of Hajin in a more global context: that of preventing Daesh from reconstituting itself 
on the one hand and preserving the future of the Euphrates valley by avoiding unnecessary destruction on the other hand.

At the tactical level, a battle is won by having the appropriate means in the right place and at the right time (principle of economy 
of forces and concentration of effort) to create a favourable balance of power. So, while relying on the SDF, it was necessary, in addition 
to supporting fire, to engage at least a grouping of tactical motorized interarmes able to seize quickly the Hajin pocket and thus limiting 
the destruction of infrastructure as much as possible.

Indeed, a battle is not just about destroying targets like at a fairground. It is the combination of manoeuver and fire power that dislocates
the enemy and makes it impossible for him to continue battle: by conquering the key points of the field, and its means of command
and logistics.  Hajin's capture in December is a late illustration of this: the enemy, having lost his command center, was no longer able 
to oppose coordinated resistance thereafter. Finally, the battle must be fought in imminent time in the public information field, that is to say 
in advance. The greater public believe what is stated first: this is an immutable law that must be taken into account.
Greater responsiveness was necessary to disqualify the behaviour of the opponent and value our success instead of having to 
justify afterward the unnecessary destruction, the collateral damage.

The evocation of the battle in the field of influences allows us to make a transition to the high parts of the war, strategy and politics.
Instead of focusing excessively on Hajin's pocket, the Coalition should have integrated it into a strategic approach and 
thus cut out its space of battle not according to its internal structures (division between command Special Forces in Syria and 
Conventional Command in Iraq) but depending on the enemy battle space from Kirkuk in the northeast of Iraq through the desert of Al-Anbar 
to the West through Hajin and Al-Qaim. Only an overall view of the problem would have made it possible to draft an overall strategy
and avoid the bitter realization that Daech will re-emerge where it was hunted two years before. Only a global strategy 
aimed at a lasting political resolution [my italics] would have allowed politics to understand the need for more time instead of rushing
to come out of what looks like a dead end and a failure.

We must therefore recall with General Desportes that the military victory must always be thought through the lens of its political 
purpose and that it can not do without of a commitment to contact: "The war at a distance is a decoy: it produces a
military effect but no political effect. The "power projection", that is to say the projection of destruction, without "projection of forces", 
of soldiers on the ground does not work ; it destroys without mastering the reconstruction and creates chaos. There is
a true illusion of air efficiency: yes, it allows some savings initially but it never leads to the expected result. At the end, 
it is always necessary, in one way or another, to control the space. »(8)


Yes, the battle of Hajin was won, but by refusing engagement on the ground, we unnecessarily 
prolonged the conflict and therefore contributed to increase the number of victims in the population. We destroyed massively
the infrastructure and gave the population a detestable picture of what may be a Western-style liberation leaving behind the 
seeds of a resurgence next time of a new opponent. We have not in any way won the war - for lack of a realistic and persevering 
policy and an adequate strategy.
How many Hajins  will it take to understand that we are wrong? 

(1) Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR): Coalition led by the Americans.
(2) It should also be noted the massive use by Daesh of rockets and mortars sometimes going to consumptions
100 ammunition a day.
(3) Released in 2016: shows the politico-legal ambiguities of a decision of an air strike.
(4) Battle Damage Assessment: estimate of enemy losses.
(5) Vincent Desportes: "Lessons today for the wars of tomorrow", Casoar n ° 231, p 19.
(6) The priority battle space
(7) Operations center covered with screens allowing a replica of the view provided by drones or airplanes. It is 
from there that air strikes and artillery fire originate, hence its name Strike Cell.
(8) Vincent Desportes: "Lessons today for the wars of tomorrow", op. cit.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

War For Survival

Armed Refugees,

Syrian War update from Moon of Alabama, the soon-to-be-retired French Colonel's assessment:
For now everyone waits for the U.S. to retreat from northeast Syria as Trump has ordered. Idleb will only be attacked when that proceeded.
The Islamic State as a territory holding entity is finished. It will continue to exist for some time as an underground terrorist movement in Syria and Iraq and as a brand that local groups elsewhere will use for their misdeeds.
Since the end of last week the last holdout of ISIS is down to a few thousand square meters. The U.S. is now again negotiating with the terrorists instead of finishing them off:
More than 300 Islamic State militants surrounded in a tiny area in eastern Syria are refusing to surrender to U.S.-backed Syrian forces and are trying to negotiate an exit, Syrian activists and a person close to the negotiations said Monday.
The DeirEzzor 24, an activist collective in eastern Syria, said several trucks loaded with food stuff entered IS-held areas in Baghouz in Deir el-Zour on Monday morning. The group also reported that ISIS released 10 SDF fighters Sunday without saying whether the supplies of the food stuff were in return for the release.
DeirEzzor 24 said that the truce reached between ISIS and the SDF last week has been extended for five more days as of Sunday.
A French colonel who led an artillery group in the fight against ISIS criticized the U.S. way of fighting that war:
Colonel Francois-Regis Legrier, who has been in charge of directing French artillery supporting Kurdish-led groups in Syria since October, said the coalition's focus had been on limiting its own risks and this had greatly increased the death toll among civilians and the levels of destruction.
"Yes, the Battle of Hajin was won, at least on the ground but by refusing ground engagement, we unnecessarily prolonged the conflict and thus contributed to increasing the number of casualties in the population," Mr Legrier wrote in an article in the National Defence Review.
"We have massively destroyed the infrastructure and given the population a disgusting image of what may be a Western-style liberation leaving behind the seeds of an imminent resurgence of a new adversary," he said, in rare public criticism by a serving officer.

MUNICH — Vice President Mike Pence repeated warnings to Turkey not to proceed with the purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, a day after Turkey dismissed the first of two deadlines to cease with the planned sale.
Pence, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, told attendees “we will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries. We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East.
"The U.S. had set a Feb. 15 deadline for Turkey to respond and signal their intentions to cease with the sale, a U.S. official told Military Times. If Turkey refuses, a forthcoming sale of a Patriot missile defense system from the U.S. will be halted.
“We have been clear with Turkey,” the U.S. official said. “The will not receive the Patriot if they purchase the S-400."​ 
(Erdogan shakes in fear!)​

In his first major public address since the US formally pulled out of the INF arms-control treaty, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that Russia would point its new arsenal of hypersonic missiles - which can purportedly bypass NATO's ABM systems - directly at the US if it dares to reintroduce ground-based intermediate-range missiles to Europe...
 Though Russia won't deploy weapons preemptively, Putin said that if the US does place weapons in Europe, Russia will deliver an "asymmetric" response and target not only the host countries of those weapons, but "decision-making center" in the US (presumably Washington).
Still, Putin said he's hoping the US and Russia can work out their differences.
"We don't want confrontation, particularly with such a global power as the US."

​At least the Empire is winning the Trade-War...​
Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times warned - or perhaps threatened - late Tuesday that failed trade negotiations would have dire consequences for global stocks.  
The threat of a market catastrophe has pigeonholed the US into striking a deal with Beijing, the report suggests although many are confident that the situation is flipped...
Why China's implicit threat? Perhaps because, as Shard's Bill Blain noted earlier today, at least in the context of its economy, China is already losing the trade war, and therefore has little to lose by escalating the war of words. This is what Blain said overnight:
The recent data highlights the Chinese economy may be slowing faster than XI can maintain his grip – he’s weaker than ever before. (Raising one scenario threat of a long-drawn out period of uncertainty if he is marginalised/deposed and a power struggle follows. That could be very destabilising and disruptive for the Occidental economies desperate to sell the China!)
We reckon XI knows he’s out of time and has to settle – handing Trump a critical victory. Long-term the US-China tech-war is difficult to call. Trump is determined to garner payback for China IP theft, and its difficult to imagine the rest of Asia adopting Chinese tech systems if they lose the current trade war to the US. However, you can’t just undo years of China tech development. My techy contacts tell me Huawai’s boasts about the US’ inability to close them is partial bluff and bluster – it’s not as advanced or robust as it claims, plus the US is going to insist on wrecking it – which could prove another long-term friction point.

​War of the Worlds... A lot has happened on this field of battle since this prescient October 2018 article was penned.
Today America is locked in a struggle for high-tech supremacy with China. The battlefields range from lasers, hypersonic weaponry, and advanced unmanned systems for the military, to artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum computers and even driverless cars in the civilian sector. One is transparently clear: whoever wins this struggle will become the dominant superpower in the 21st century; and one of the most decisive contests will be over 5G wireless.
Fifth-generation or 5G technology is much more than the future of global telecommunications, offering more bandwidth than anyone ever imagined (think of downloading entire movies in a few seconds) and enough to make the Internet of Things a daily reality. The rollout of 5G also demands billions of dollars to install the fiber-optic networks needed for these high-capacity systems, and billions more to operate them. Which companies and which countries design and invest in this new infrastructure, will have a hefty say in not only how 5-G transmits information, but also how others are to access the system.

​5G is a poisoned chalice. These frequencies are weaponized by the US military to beam at crowds, making them flee in pain.​ 
Samsung and telecom company Verizon made a joint announcement on Monday that was supposed to be unequivocally exciting news: the blazing-fast fifth generation wireless cellular network — known as 5G — is slated to be more accessible in the United States in the first half of next year (2019).
Yet public health experts, professors, and watchdog groups are increasingly concerned about the untested aspects that this next-gen cell network requires — including more cell towers and a constant chorus of higher-energy photons streaming through human bodies and dwellings.

​Charles Hugh Smith:
Those who are betting on Central Planning do not understand the essential role of adaptation.
The global economy is in the midst of a grand experiment pitting centralization (Central Planning) against the evolutionary model of adaptive, self-organizing networks. Centralization is the dominant dynamic of the Status Quo everywhere: the economies of China, Japan, Europe and the U.S. are all dominated by Central Planning: central banks, central state agencies, and Deep State / private sector nodes of wealth and power that pull the systemic strings.
Central Planning--the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few--is presented as the "solution": in China, the "solution" is a Total Information Awareness Social Credit Score system of centralized control of the populace...
That which is rigid and inflexible cannot adapt to rapid change, and thus it fails to adapt and vanishes from the Earth. That is the essence of evolutionary dynamics...
 Central Planning strips out the all the core dynamics of adaptation as dangers:dissent, experimentation, decentralization of power and capital, and a diversity of competing narratives. These are all mortal threats to Central Planning, which is by its nature rigidly hierarchical...
Adaptation can't be faked. Organizations that cannot adapt quickly and efficiently implode. This is a scale-invariant dynamic: the organizational size doesn't matter. Size and scale do not provide magical protection. Households, corporations, governments and empires that fail to adapt will collapse.
There is a real solution: decentralize, diversify, open the economy and society to dissent, experimentation and self-organizing networks of peers. Rapid adaptation requires radical decentralization, autonomy, transparency, flexibility and experimentation.

​Target Venezuela (Hey, Brazil, too!):
The real prize that these powerful international oil giants are eyeing likely lies well to the east of the Orinoco heavy oil fields where they now operate. The real prize is the ultimate control over one of the best-kept secrets in the oil industry, the huge oil reserves of a disputed area straddling Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil. The region is called Guayana Esequiba. Some geologists believe the Esequiba region and its offshore could contain the world’s largest reserves of oil, oil of far better quality that the heavy Orinoco crude of Venezuela. The problem is that owing to the decades-long dispute between Venezuela and Guyana the true extent of that oil is not yet known.

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba denied on Tuesday it has security forces in Venezuela and charged the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign of lies paving the way for military intervention in the South American country.  

​Venezuelan military moves to defend all borders. "Over our dead bodies!"​

Death Of Sailor In Iconic VJ-Day Photo Reminds Americans Of Halcyon Days When Wars Still Ended

​Helen of DesTroy (unattributed) wrote this fun piece for RT:
The boy who became the face of “white privilege” when an edited video of his confrontation with an indigenous protester went viral is suing the Washington Post for defamation, asking for its entire value in a 2013 sale as damages...
The suit claims the Post “wrongly targeted and bullied” the high schooler in order to “advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump” because Sandmann is white and wore the red Make America Great Again hat that has become an iconic symbol among the president’s fans – and his detractors.
By implying that Sandmann “engaged in acts of racism by ‘swarming’ Phillips, ‘blocking’ his exit away from the students, and otherwise engaging in racist misconduct,” the Post “fanned the flames of the social media mob into a mainstream media frenzy,” compounding the threats and bullying directed at the teen, while its failure to fact-check – the unedited video was freely available at the time of publication – confirms its “utter and knowing disregard for the truth.”

​That's not a bug, it's Charles De Gaulle's designed-in feature of the 5th Republic.​
Outside France, many economists tend to ascribe the yellow vest movement to the fact that the French are rebellious and that France is politically unmanageable. But what is special about France is not its people but its institutional system, which differs vastly from those of other European​ ​countries. Three dimensions seem to me particularly relevant in the current context.
The first concerns the political system. Under the current constitution, power is far more personalised than elsewhere. France is not a parliamentary democracy like Britain or Germany. Sure, all three have a lower and an upper chamber, but political parties play a fundamentally different role in France.
There, the dominant party is a creation of the president – like the RPR was a creation of Jacques Chirac, the Socialist party was created by François Mitterrand, and La République en Marche is the creation of Emmanuel Macron, around whom the party entirely revolves...
The second French peculiarity concerns the role of intermediate institutions, and in particular labour unions. Among the large European countries, France is where the rate of union membership is the lowest. In 2015, it was 36% in Italy, 25% in Britain, 18% in Germany, 14% in Spain, 12% in Poland and barely 8% in France. And the current practice further weakens the role of labour unions in the management of social conflicts.
The third concerns the organisation of the country’s territory. Metropolitan France is the largest country of the European Union by land mass, with 550,000 km2, compared with 499,000 km2 in Spain, 349,000 km2 in Germany, 304,000 km2 in Poland, 294,000 km2 in Italy and 242,000 km2 in Britain. Among these six countries, France is also the one (just behind Spain) with the lowest population density, with 119 inhabitants per square kilometre against 236 in Germany and 275 in Britain.
Despite this situation, France is the most centralised of the six biggest EU countries. According to the OECD, the share of sub-national entities in total public expenditure is only 20% in France against 50% in Spain, 47% in Germany, 32% in Poland, 30% in Italy and 26% in Britain.
The conclusion is incontestable. France is the European country where there is the most rebellion against its leader, because his power is the most personalised and the most centralised among the six big EU countries.
The personalisation of power, the weakness of Parliament – with a dominant party dominated by a single person – and the weak role of intermediate bodies like labour unions all combine to create a situation where citizens have no recourse to make their voice heard other than taking to the streets and demanding the resignation of the president.

​Like the old days...​
The Ten Years for Agroecology study shows that agroecological and organic farming can feed Europe a healthy diet, while responding to climate change, phasing out pesticides, and maintaining vital biodiversity.
The study suggests that agroecology – using ecological principles first and chemicals last in agriculture – presents a credible way of feeding Europe by 2050. But it says action is needed now, with the next 10 years critical in engaging Europe in the transition. The agriculture bill now going through parliament in the UK makes no mention of agroecology, although an amendment drafted by a cross-party group of MPs proposed that farmers using the approach should receive some sort of payment.
“The idea of an entirely agroecological Europe is often considered unrealistic in terms of food security because agroecology sometimes means lower yields,” said Percival. “But this new research shows that by refocusing diets around plant-based proteins and pasture-fed livestock, a fully agroecological Europe is possible.”

Replenishing the world’s forests on a grand scale would suck enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to cancel out a decade of human emissions, according to an ambitious new study.
Scientists have established there is room for an additional 1.2 trillion trees to grow in parks, woods and abandoned land across the planet.
If such a goal were accomplished, ecologist Dr Thomas Crowther said it would outstrip every other method for tackling climate change – from building wind turbines to vegetarian diets.

​Sequestering Carbon​