sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Not Necessarily "In the News"


If you missed all of this in the corrupt, elite, smug, nasty, lying mainstream media, I'm not surprised. However, I'm sure that they spent all of their broadcast time ripping the President and making excuses for being caught at fake news - again - and - again (CNN).


Boom

Headline: ISIS Suicide Bomber Accidentally Kills 12.

Terrorists were giving their comrade a send-off in Diyala, Iraq (near Lake Hamrin). It's a martyrdom tradition in ISIS, called a "blood party". Unfortunately for the well-wishers, the explosives detonated prematurely, killing them all. Aloha Snackbar, gentlemen. You'll be getting those 72 virgins a little more quickly than you'd planned. 

This sort of thing happens. A Boko Haram terrorist had the same thing happen in Nigeria - and because of a bad bomb design, he only gutted himself, and not the squad of soldiers that he wanted to dispatch. The question on everyone's mind is whether or not that qualified him for 72 virgins. I don't have an answer to the question but in my opinion they should do this a lot more often.

South Korean Gambit

South Korean news outlets reported that the South Korean Unification Ministry approved the Eugene Bell Foundation's application for sending materials, including medicines to treat tuberculosis and hospital construction materials, to North Korea. The aid is valued at $1.67 million. 

The supplies will be transported to Nampo through China in July.

At the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s daily press session, the spokesman Lu Kang said,
“We have noted the relevant report. If the report is true, it is of course a good thing. We have said many times that North Korea and South Korea are one nation and improvement of mutual relationship and promotion of reconciliation and cooperation are in line with the two sides' fundamental interests and are also conducive to promoting peace and development in the region. The Chinese side is willing to provide necessary support regarding this.”
“Particularly under the current situation, we hope the two Koreas can continue to release goodwill to each other and play a positive role for pushing the easing of tensions of the Korean Peninsula and for restarting dialogue and consultation.”
The approval has been confirmed by the South Korean Unification Ministry. In addition to the medicines, the project involves shipping prefabricated materials for quick construction of hospital wards. The Foundation has a contract to ship materials to build 300 wards this year. It has been working on the hospital ward construction project for three years.

This is the Moon government’s first approval of aid for North Korea. It demonstrates the extent of President Moon’s commitment to reaching out to North Korea. 

The involvement of the non-governmental organization, the Eugene Bell Foundation, is a reminder that North Korea is not as beleaguered as the elaborate sanctions regime would suggest. A significant number of private aid organizations are willing to provide aid that is not subject to sanctions. 

Assad's Tour

President Assad traveled outside Damascus for the first time in months. He visited the Russian air base at Hmeimim, where Russian General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the armed forces escorted him. Assad had a photo op of himself in a Russian Su-35 fighter-bomber. It was his first visit to the base.

On Sunday, the 25th, he performed end of Ramadan prayers in Hama, accompanied by his wife and children. This was his first visit to Hama since the civil war began in 2011. 

These visits are the farthest he has traveled from Damascus since the Russian intervention began in September 2015. These are confidence and morale building actions. They also are statements of defiance to the rebels still seeking to overthrow him.

US/Russia and Syria

Since the US has no news media that is worthy of the name, there is no way for the mass of Americans to understand what the government is planning. USGOV isn't in the business of telegraphing punches. However we can look at the US through the eyes of others, and read the tea leaves that way, all the while understanding that our lensing may be distorted. Russian leadership expects a US military presence to remain in Syria indefinitely.

Relations between the US and Russia in regard Syria are close to crisis mode (when viewed from a Russian perspective). In response to the warning issued to Syria by the US President, the Russian Presidency replied on 27 June,
"I am not aware of any information about a threat that chemical weapons can be used," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters. 
"Certainly, we consider such threats to the legitimate leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic unacceptable."
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov accused the US-led coalition of being reluctant to bomb positions of the former Al-Nusra Front in Syria. Lavrov urged the US to drop its "double standards" for the sake of an “uncompromising” fight against terrorism.

Lavrov said there is "new evidence” that indicates that the US-led coalition continues "to take the heat off" the former Al-Qaeda offshoot in Syria.

Russian patience is being severely tested. Russian commentators are repeating an internet web posting that a Russian S-300 air defense system already has downed a US Global Hawk drone. No sources have confirmed the report, but it exemplifies the kind of action that some Russians are considering.

As in April, the rebels are the party that has strong motives for staging another chemical incident, to draw the US more heavily into the fight. It worked once, but did not alter the course of the civil war. 

Commentators in the Russian Press accuse the US of seeking the permanent breakup of Syria. In the north, the Syrian Kurds would come under the protection of the US, which supposedly plans to build another US air base in Syrian Kurdistan for that purpose. 

Based on the chatter from Russia, US protection would be the payment for Syrian Kurdish operations against the Islamic State far outside Syrian Kurdistan, such as against Raqqa, which is an Arab city. 

In the southeast and east, the US-sponsored version of the Free Syrian Army is supposed to liberate Deir ez-Zor. This is the group that has been formed from the al-Qaida offshoot the Al Nusra Front. It also is under US protection.

The theme of the Russian analyses is that the US has switched from seeking to replace President Assad to concentrating on creating enclaves that will block any expansion of Iranian influence, access or presence in Syria. 

The northern route from Baghdad to Lebanon runs through Raqqa. The southern route runs through the border crossing at Al Tanf. Control of Deir ez-Zor affords control of Syria’s oil industry and of the eastern region in general. 

What is the US Planning to do?  I think that the Russians are reading things correctly. The US will crush ISIS and keep a heavy presence in the region as a hedge on Iran -- at least until the next Democrat President takes office. The lack of continuity in US internal leadership is one of those things that drives other nations nearly mad.



NOTE: A section on North Korea will go live on this blog at noon (Pacific Time Zone)


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Zzzyx and Magical Thinking

Along US Interstate 15, the road-more-often-traveled, between Barstow and Baker California, there is an off-ramp in the middle of nowhere. Exit 239 leads to the road less traveled (the Mojave Road) and to an abandoned spa, now owned by the California State University system and operated as the Desert Studies Center.

CSU doesn't want people visiting these days, but that restriction is a new event in the history of a very old place.

The Soda Spring area has been used by humans for thousands of years. It's also a water stop on the Mojave Road that leads from the Colorado River to Los Angeles. It's part of the larger/longer Mormon Road. If you follow this blog, there has been a lot of mention of the historical Mojave Road (last leg of the Mormon Road or Old Spanish Trail which leads from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles), and which still exists as an unpaved dirt road. In antiquity, the Mojave Indians and other tribes used this road for trading and made their trips on foot, never having adopted the horse. 

The US Army garrisoned all of the water sources (that they knew about) along the Mojave Road to control the local Indian populations. During the War of Northern Aggression, the Army built a small fort/redoubt there. At the time, it was called Bitter Spring. (See the Bitter Spring Campaign of 1860). The site was used for salt mining and the salt flats have a road across them that vehicles can traverse today. If you get off the road, even in summer, you can go to your axels in mud...I've seen it happen and it's not pretty. During the winter it's even more important to stay on the road (a metaphor for life?).

The Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad put a train station (water and whistle stop) in the area and called it Soda Springs.

Soda Springs
Curtis Howe Springer, who claimed to be a doctor at times and a Methodist minister at other times (he was neither) gave the made-up name Zzyzx to the area. He established the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa in 1944 at the spot, which was federal land.  Springer had a syndicated radio show for many years and used that platform to promote the location (selling government land that he didn't own, to stupid people) as a 'magic spot' on the planet.   He used the springs to bottle the magic water, said to cure all manner of illness (think of Springer as a barker for a medicine show). Scamming people, he used the money to build a spa and then used the spa to bilk more money out of people. The promise of magic appeals to many people today as then.


Springer had a boat that guests could use to row around Soda Springs Lake (see left). It's odd to see a boat in the middle of the desert. Grist for art philosophy? Maybe.

In 1974, the Bureau of Land Management kicked him off the land, closed the spa and the somewhat interesting history of Zzzyx entered a new phase - the one that you see today a few miles from the I-15 off-ramp or as you drive in your 4x4 along the Mojave Road.

There is a lot of standing water in the desert. Most people don't understand the concept of an "oasis", which is as old as time and feel that the desert is a dead place because that's all that they see as they race down the Interstate. The Road Less Traveled offers its own subtle surprises, and if you want to call that magic, I won't disagree with you.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Geopolitical Update

North Korea - The Mouse that Roared

A June 23 Rodong Sinmun (North Korean News) article calling President Trump a “rough and reckless war maniac” and a “lunatic” is the latest—and harshest—in a series of commentaries attacking the President by name. It's odd that the Norks are not nearly as tough on President Trump as the elite, smug, American media is.  None the less, the North Korean rhetoric is ratcheting up, as they consider whether or not to test another nuclear weapon. 

You'll note that I often lead off with a discussion of events in North Korea. I do this because I believe that it's the single most volatile situation in the world today.

South Korea

At a conference in Seoul on 26 June, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said that President Moon’s directive for a review of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system’s deployment does not mean that the deployment will be canceled.
She went farther. "As my President himself made it clear on numerous occasions, my government has no intention to basically reverse the commitments made in the spirit of the ROK-U.S. alliance."

"Going through the environmental-impact assessment is an issue of domestic due process. It does not mean that we will cancel or reverse the decision to deploy THAAD," she added.
At a separate venue in Seoul on the 26th, China’s vice chairman of the National People’s Congress, Zhang Ping told a meeting of 25 European and Asian parliamentary leaders that South Korea should "get rid of the major obstacle called THAAD." 
Zhang said, "The South Korean side must pay attention to the THAAD issue; we hope they communicate the right signals to the Chinese side regarding THAAD." 
Over the weekend, one news source reported that President Moon’s government might limit the deployment to a single firing unit, based on the environmental impact review. That would be a face-saving maneuver by Moon who opposed THAAD despite North Korea’s aggressive missile firing program.

As for the Chinese, they sense progress in their campaign to persuade the Moon government to require the US to remove the THAAD system. The right signal is to cancel the deployment. A scaling back of the deployment would count as a signal heading in the right direction.

Chinese Peace Brokering

China is brokering a deal between Afghanistan and Pakistan. All three parties participated in a press release yesterday. There are five major points in the joint press release:
First, China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are willing to jointly maintain regional peace and stability, enhance connectivity and economic cooperation, and promote common security and common development.” 
“Second, Afghanistan and Pakistan are willing to positively improve mutual relationships, agree to establish a bilateral crisis management and control mechanism, and carry out timely and effective communication on sudden outbreaks of incidents.” 
“Third, the three sides agree to establish a dialogue mechanism among the foreign ministers of China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, start from practical cooperation, and carry out cooperation in areas of common interests.” 
“Fourth, the three sides agree to restart the Afghanistan-Pakistan-China-US quadrilateral coordination group, commit to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, and call on the Taliban to join the peace process at an early date.” 
“Fifth, the three sides support the early resumption of the work of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization-Afghan Liaison Group so as to play a constructive role for the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.”
And I'm sitting on the sidelines, eating popcorn, watching the chameleons make love. Pakistan created and continues to support the Taliban and their active campaign of terror in Afghanistan. If the Taliban suddenly stand down, then I'll take this seriously. At present, it's more like a mutual masturbation session between the parties to the discussion with no happy ending. Does that sound crude? Well it should, because that's what it is.

The Chinese have pushed their influence deep into Pakistan and they want to de-escalate an unpleasant system that has been brewing since anyone reading this was born. A lot of the problem in Pakistan is based on endemic corruption and grinding poverty. Add Islam and you have a system of terror and violence that is difficult to defeat. But the Chinese take their Belt Road Initiative very seriously and they are earnestly in the belief that their approach will work. Back to the popcorn.
The subtext of China’s message is economic, more than security. The Chinese Foreign Minister’s stated reason for fighting terrorism is its negative impact on trade and economic development. Terrorist movements pose the greatest threat of instability in most less developed states. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cannot succeed without stability in all 100 countries that have registered with the program. China’s BRI can only work in a stable world order. The last nation to bring stability to Asia was the Mongols...
The Military Dimension in Qatar

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said on Monday, the 26th, that the dispute with Qatar is related to politics and security as there are no military reasons behind it.
“The dispute never had military reasons. Bringing foreign armies and their armored vehicles represents military escalation which Qatar bears the responsibility of,” he said via Twitter.

The minister also said that some regional powers’ interference in the crisis with Qatar is wrong. “Some regional powers are wrong if they think interfering in the crisis will resolve it. It’s in these powers’ interest to respect the current regional system which can resolve any urgent matter,” he added.
This is the first recent statement hinting that there might be a potential military dimension to the Qatar crisis. Al Jazeera noted that on 10 June Sheikh Khalid told the press that the Turkish military base agreement had nothing to do with the crisis between Qatar and other Arab states. He was visiting Turkey when he made that statement.

Bahrain has now reconsidered that earlier position. One implication is that some Arab leaders are thinking about military options. The Turkish military presence essentially invites such considerations. 

Bahrain expects Turkey to butt out of an Arab dispute. A second implication is that Sheikh Khalid considers that Turkish troops in Qatar are living proof that Qatar has betrayed Arab values, concerns and issues.

For now, it's all churning below the surface, but something has to give - and it will likely be an internal re-shuffling in Qatar. How far that extends to the rest of the Gulf has yet to be seen.

Nigeria

In Maiduguri, a series of suicide bombings on Sunday night and Monday morning, 26 June, killed 16 people, including the bombers, and injured 13. The local police commissioner said all but one of the bombers were girls.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the use of girls as suicide bombers is one signature of Boko Haram. Maiduguri is a favorite target. The most recent suicide bombings in Maiduguri occurred on 7 June and on 19 June, killing 26 people.

The bombings occurred on Eid al-Fitr, at the end of Ramadan. Police officials said that Nigerian authorities also disrupted bombing attempts in three other northern Nigerian cities. Police said that most recent bombers are young and inexperienced so that they succeed mainly in killing themselves.

The security situation has improved, but one of the legacies of Boko Haram is a humanitarian crisis that nurtures extremism.



Observations

Keep Pelosi

I agree with many that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is doing a wonderful job as House Minority Leader. She needs to be retained and the strident calls for her replacement by certain malcontents need to be crushed.

Anyone who disagrees with me is a misogamist, is against gay rights, and may also be a racist because Pelosi is a member of...a race. They also must hate old people (Pelosi at age 77, showing some signs of dementia) if they want Nancy Pelosi out of government.

She's not even as old as Joe (Slow Joe) Biden, who is 74, and has been a candidate for a nursing home for a couple of years now. 

Age haters need to be destroyed.

Torched Reporters

Eric Lichtblau
(LINK) CNN announced on Monday afternoon that three network officials are leaving their jobs over the incident: Frank, the reporter on the story; Eric Lichtblau, a recent CNN addition from the New York Times who edited the piece; and Lex Haris, the executive editor of “CNN Investigates.” The moves follow an investigation carried out by CNN executives over the weekend, with the conclusion that longstanding network procedures for publishing stories weren’t properly followed. “There was a significant breakdown in process,” says a CNN source. “There were editorial checks and balances within the organization that weren’t met.”
As an aside, I first met Erick Lichtblau at the start of his career l when he was a brand new cub reporter for the Los Angeles Times doing political corruption and organized crime stories. He trained at the feet of George Frank, a reporter of great renown - truly.  Eric, if you read this story, think back to your beginnings and ask yourself who you learned from and what they would think.
There's nothing quite like going back to a place that remains unaltered (even if only in memory) to find how you have changed. That's all that I have to say except that I expected better of you.
Mueller

Robert Mueller has an opportunity to be a hero or a zero, and the jury is still out on the "foolish" Russia probe. He's hired a lot of cronies to help him come up with a decision (which will be made by committee to defray any personal accountability for an F-up).

However, let me take a moment to point out that a screw up on Mueller's part is a black eye on the FBI. I realize that he hasn't been the director for a long time now, but it's a crony operation. Despite how the corrupt, elite, lying mainstream media tries to spin it, the FBI and their already damaged reputation will own it. If he does an honest job, it may help the FBI. If he doesn't, they'll be diminished even further.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Geopolitical Events


Qatar Update

Last week, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Egypt delivered the following list of demands to Qatar with a 10-day ultimatum for compliance as carried by The Khaleej Times, an Emirati news service.
1. Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions in Qatar. Expel members of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps from Qatar and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US and international sanctions will be permitted.

2. Sever all ties to "terrorist organizations," specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, Daesh (the Islamic State), Al Qaida, and Lebanon's Hizballah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.

3. Shut down Al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations.

4. Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.

5. Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence currently in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar.

6.Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organizations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the United States and other countries.

7. Hand over "terrorist figures" and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.

8. End interference in sovereign countries' internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries' laws.

9. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar's prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.

10. Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar's policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.

11. Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014. 
12. Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid.

13. Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.
There are more demands, unstated above, that are likely to be levied. One of those will be a demand for Qatar to stop meddling in Yemen and supporting the Iranian proxy Houthi rebels. The list appears to have been crafted deliberately to be unacceptable to Qatar in order to justify the next escalation step. One source suggested that one punishment for non-compliance would be ouster from the Gulf Cooperation Council.

No country would agree to such intrusive demands, such as inspections for ten years, unless it was under threat of invasion. 

Qatar’s Foreign Minister called the demands unreasonable. Turkey said it will not withdraw its soldiers from Qatar. The US Secretary of State said some of the demands are impossible to meet. Technically, many of the demands would be almost impossible to accomplish. Parts of Qatar would have to go off the grid.

Reading the tea leaves -- Saudi Arabia would like to see the current emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, replaced by somebody else from the Al Thani family. They can't openly state that, but it's certainly implicit in everything that they are saying. There are some key members of the Al Thani family who would be good choices to replace the emir and would bring calm to the area where Sheik Tamim is a pain in everyone's butt.

Pakistan

In the final days of Ramadan, Muslim terrorists tried to overshadow the Eid al-Fitr observance by performing three deadly attacks.

On 23 June, a suicide car bomber detonated in Quetta, Baluchistan, killing 13 people and injuring 20. A Pakistani-Taliban offshoot and the Islamic State claimed responsibility for this attack. The Pakistani Interior Ministry said the Islamic State has no presence in Baluchistan.

Also, on 23 June, two bombs exploded at a market in Parachinar, killing 67 people and injuring over 200. Lashkhar e-Jhangvi, a Sunni extremist group, claimed this attack. Parachinar’s population is mostly Shia.

To complete the 23 June festivities, unidentified gunmen attacked and killed four policemen in Karachi.

In Bahawalpur, a tanker truck carrying gasoline overturned and began to leak. As locals attempted to collect the leaking fuel, it exploded, killing at least 150 people. Emergency authorities said that some of the people collecting fuel oil were smoking cigarettes and using cell phones to inform other people about the crash and to collection the leaking fuel. If any of you have traveled to that part of the world, you'll be nodding your heads as you read this. This event is stereotypical in the extreme. Then again so are the bombings and shootings to celebrate Ramadan.

Syria

There have been a few things going on in Syria worth of comment. On 22 June, Russia launched a salvo of six Kalibr cruise missiles from ships in the Mediterranean Sea at targets near Hama. It was more of a live fire exercise/crew training, but if you have an authorized (fragged) target, why not combine the two? That's how the Russians roll.  
_____

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces reported liberating another district in western Raqqa after three days of fighting. It hasn't been covered in the corrupt, elite, nasty, lying mainstream media in the US but it's a huge victory in the fight against ISIS.
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The Syrian de-escalation zones ("safe zones") are getting some play. The next session of talks in Kazakhstan on 4 and 5 July is supposed to determine the details of how the de-escalation zones will be demarcated, monitored and enforced and by which of the guarantors – Russia, Iran and Turkey.

According to an article in Izvestiya, a significant dispute has emerged between Turkey and Iran. Based on talks with Russia last week, Turkey is planning to send Turkish troops to police the perimeter of the zone that it is supposed to guarantee. Presumably that is still Idlib.

In the outlined initial plan,  no soldiers from the guarantor countries would be involved in monitoring the buffer zones between the de-escalation zones and the forward lines of the Syrian forces. Soldiers from countries not involved in the war would perform the policing functions.

Turkey interpreted its role as guarantor differently because it accused Iran of building up its “presence” in Syria. The Iranians had not intended to send Iranian soldiers as peacekeepers, until they learned of Turkey’s plans. Now they have reversed their policy because of the Turks. If you are visualizing a 'monkey f#cking a football, you're right on the money.

The Turks’ obsession with influencing the outcome of the civil war is putting stress on the de-escalation zone arrangements. As a general principle, the Turks want no parties to succeed in ending the fighting without Turkey’s active involvement. Specifically, Turkey may be expected to do everything it can to block any further expansion of Iranian influence. I'm ok with that, but creates some sharp chasms in the deal that they were party to. Thus far, Turkey’s moves are again backfiring because they misjudged Iran’s intentions. As a result, the Turkish policymakers have precipitated an increased Iranian presence -- the action they intended to block. Turkey’s action as a spoiler could unhinge the Russian arrangement.

The Russian leaders judge that if they must choose a side, they must side with Iran. Turkey is a NATO country. The Syrian leaders have not commented in public about the terms of the de-escalation zones, but they also would side with Iran. They would never approve Turkish soldiers in Syria.
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Israeli forces attacked Syrian units near the Golan Heights on 24 and 25 June.
The pro-Syrian army Al-Masdar News website posted, “Suspected Israeli military strikes have hit Syria's southern region of Qunaitra for the second time in 24 hours.” 
"The Israeli military once again attacked the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the Golan Heights this weekend, after projectiles fired from Syria allegedly landed in the occupied territories."  
The posted statement cited "initial reports from soldiers in Qunaitra Governorate" as saying the strikes hit Syrian army positions near an old administrative building in the Golan Heights that is now being used as a field hospital.
The pro-Syrian government pan-Arab Al-Mayadeen TV cited local sources who said that the latest Israeli strike had hit a Syrian army armored vehicle. It also quoted Israeli media as confirming that the country's forces had carried out air strikes on Qunaitra after shells fired from Syria landed in the Golan Heights.

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) confirmed Israel attacked Syrian army units in the northern Golan Heights, after errant fire (ten rounds) from the Syrian side spilled over into Israeli territory. The army confirmed the IDF attack after Syrian and Lebanese news outlets reported it. The Israeli army struck a Syrian army ammunition truck and two artillery guns in the Syrian Golan. 
"The IDF is not a side to the internal fight in Syria and isn't involved in it. However, it views with severity any attempt to harm the sovereignty of Israel and the safety of its citizens and considers the Syrian regime responsible for what transpires in its territory," the IDF said in a statement.
Israeli admissions about IDF attacks are infrequent, deliberate and always signify that the leadership wants a target audience to receive Israel’s message. The target audience is the Syrian military and civilian leadership. The message is that Israel will not tolerate creeping aggression by the Syrians under the guise of errant and stray rounds, even when the Israelis know that fighting is taking place. Israel’s policy is no tolerance for cross border fire and encroachment.

The Israelis and the Iranians probably are the two leadership groups most focused on the next phases of the civil war. Both are sensitive to opportunities for taking advantage of the current confused stage of fighting in order to improve or defend positions along the Golan Heights. The Iranians and their proxies want to improve their tactical positions against Israel. The Israelis are determined that they gain no advantages that Israel must fight to neutralize later. 

Venezuela

Those of you who follow the news, understand that the worker's paradise of Venezuela is starving and its people are unhappy under the rule of the Bolivarian Republic's dictator-for-life, Nicolas Maduro Moros. Last Saturday, President Maduro “denounced” leaders of the opposition in Venezuela, as being operatives of the USA, which is planning a military invasion. In his words: 
"I am not exaggerating … a chain of events of these characteristics that were planned to be activated this week was going to imply the arrival of a US fleet and troops to seas and land belonging to Venezuela to justify a humanitarian military operation and to occupy our country, they are serious facts that have been planned by the opposition with the approval and participation of the political chiefs of the opposition." 
"…We have contained; we have unveiled; and we are defeating the oligarchic and imperialist coup d'état planned against our country to be executed this week."
The President made these reflections from the Honor Courtyard of the Military Academy, in Fort Tiuna, during the main commemorative ceremony of the 196 years of the Battle of Carabobo and Bolivarian National Army Day. This is at least the third time he has claimed to have thwarted a US-backed attempt to oust him, with no proof. Each time the story has grown more sensational and less credible.

The people best able to destroy Venezuela are the communists who run the country. To date, they've done a bang-up job. Why would the USA want to invade and take financial responsibility for the place? Such logic never really occurs to the dictator-for-life.



On the Road Less Traveled

Take a Chance

The Grand Canyon Caverns Inn is just down Route 66 from Hackberry, Arizona.  There's only one room in the hotel and it's 220 feet underground.  It's not cheap, but it might save your life if somebody drops The Bomb (until the water and food run out).


It's on the road to the White Wolf Mine, a long with a lot of other little by-ways on the Road Less Traveled. 

I don't think that I'd spend the night there. It's not because I fear the experience. I don't - it's pretty cool...even in summer. But I am a bit cheap.

George Washington may have slept there but it definitely wasn't THE
George Washington.
Just when you think that you've seen everything, there in the middle of the desert, you find something new.


It would be a great location to gift a honeymoon to. (open every day but Christmas)


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday's sunday Sermonette

As a father of four girls who are now women with families of their own, I have a job to do as a grandfather of eight. To spoil the grandkids as much as I spoiled their mothers. This is your Sunday Sermonette, and it has more to do with the sort of sunday that you eat than a religious service on the Day of Rest. Though some would say that eating one of the milk shakes pictured below borders on a religious experience.

Savannah likes pizza
First you start with a daughter/aunt and a granddaughter who has been entrusted into the care of both of you. In this case it is Emilie, and Savannah, age 4 1/2. 

Then you drive to California Pizza Kitchen where the lucky granddaughter orders a delicious cheese pizza and lemonade for herself.

Emilie and I spit a peperoni and olive pizza with a salad.



Savannah and Emilie
Under some circumstances that would be enough but it wouldn't qualify as "spoiling". It would just be a meal that my granddaughter likes better than any other. It's lunch.

Making the day memorable requires ice cream in significant quantities, in a really delicious delivery/display that makes it taste even better:

So we went to Mug Shakes, which makes a milk shake/sunday the right way:


Since this is Savannah's first encounter with this sort of milkshake, and because they're almost as big as SHE is, she didn't quite know what to do at first. But that's why she was issued Aunt Emilie.

Savannah ate an M&M's and Cookies and Cream Shake.
Emilie opted for Strawberry Cheesecake decadence.
I asked Savannah if she had the perfect day. She explained that while the day was memorable, it would be better if we could go to the toy store. Naturally we went there and she picked out her favorite thing.

Savannah was happy but the sun was bright so she kept squinting.

And Grandpa had to have a bite as well. In this case it's a banana caramel/toffee shake.