sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Monday, October 16, 2017

FBI Corruption

SHOCKER - The FBI is Corrupt

No, I'm not shocked at all. Then again, while I have worked in concert with the FBI at times, the record will show that by in large, our relationship was acrimonious. A lot of that had to do with unethical conduct on the part of agents that was covered up by management.
On Monday, the FBI confirmed former Bureau Head James Comey personally drafted a statement exonerating Hillary Clinton months before interviewing her.
The FBI cares about its public image. This is the face of the current FBI. Like it, don't like it, doesn't matter. That's what it is. 


Thoughts on Distant Lands and Friends

It's difficult for me to care about Somalia. I'm sure that God cares. Though some say that it's the land that God forgot.

Suicide truck bomb kills at least 276 people

The worst suicide bombing attack in the history of the fight against Al Shaba’ab occurred in Mogadishu on 14 October. News services reported at least 300 people were injured. 

Back to the truck bombing in a moment, but there is a back story as to how and why I feel about Somalia as I do.

John S. is a good, close, personal friend of mine. We worked together in Greece and Italy. His story appeared in the Washington Post. He was shot three times with an AK-47 during the whole Blackhawk Down debacle. The CIA refused his claim for medical retirement, largely because they didn't want to acknowledge that they had case officers in Mogadishu...typical. They'd rather that he rot without a pension than confess that they had a CIA Station (such as it was - read the article) in Somalia.
"...There to meet him was his deputy, Spinelli, 46, a former New York City police detective. He was a solid man with dark hair and a long, thin nose, a native Roman who had immigrated to Brooklyn with his family when he was 12. Only a week before, Spinelli had been torn from a plum assignment in the CIA's Rome station and sent to Somalia. He knew nothing about Africa, but he spoke Italian, and the Italians in the U.N. peacekeeping force weren't getting along with their American counterparts. 
"When Spinelli took Jones to the CIA station, the new chief's jaw dropped: It consisted of two windblown rooms in the vandalized former residence of the U.S. ambassador. Only one room had a door. Spinelli told him they had no business being in the middle of this war zone, trying to meet secretly with agents in a city where they couldn't drive down the street without getting shot at."
Back to the truck bomb...

The truck driver passed through at least five check points without getting stopped and searched at the sixth check point near a hotel down the street from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the truck was stopped, but sped away and detonated before it could be searched. The truck exploded near a fuel tanker that also exploded.

This bombing occurred in the most densely populated area of Mogadishu. This blast attests to major security failings and to the existence of significant support for al-Shaba’ab. 

The last suicide car/truck bomb in Mogadishu killed 10 people in July. After a lull, terrorist groups regularly stage a sensational attack to demonstrate their continued vitality. 

Some 20,000 soldiers from the African Union serve as peacekeepers in Somalia. Security has improved, but this attack shows that Al Shaba’ab retains significant support in the countryside among some Somali clans.

And in North Korea

South Korean and US intelligence agencies have published warnings that North Korea is preparing more long-range ballistic missile launches. 

According to an official source on Friday, 13 October, a US satellite detected North Korean ballistic missiles mounted on transporter-launchers as they moved to areas near Pyongyang and in North Pyongan Province. 

North Korea can track US imaging satellites and is aware of their window of access to North Korea. North Koreans also are experts at concealment.

If imaging satellites detect missiles during movement, it is because the North Korean leadership wants them to be seen to send a message to its enemies. The message is that North Korean opposition to Allied exercises (which will soon begin) is serious and that North Korea can launch missiles with little warning.


Mish-Mash

Cruising Newport (CA) harbor in 90+ degree heat
in October...global warming or just the weather?
Hats

My daughter, Emilie, is not obsessed, but she does wear quite a few hats as part of her ensembles, or get-ups or whatever you want to call them. 

I'm clearly not the most stylish guy on the planet, preferring to wear ripstop cotton or blue denim to other more chique options.

She doesn't need a hat...I've tried to tell her that. 

Of all my daughters, she's the most prone to making fashion statements. Maybe it's because she's the youngest, and still single.

Holding an HK Offensive handgun, which is
too much pistol for her.
Being in paramedic school, I thought that she'd calm down a bit with the whole passion for fashion/thing for bling motif. No, not hardly.

She told me that I destroyed her capacity to be politically correct, anti-gun and all of the progressive proclivities. At least I might have done something right.

But I don't get the hat thing.

Nuclear Iran

The problem with Iran producing nuclear weapons of its own revolves around their promise to use them to wipe out Israel. It's like a person with turrets syndrome.  They can't help but announce the they wish to wipe out (first) Israel and then (second) the United States.  And they are building the launch capacity to accomplish those goals.

Dominoes
They seem mystified when the US (under President Trump) and Israel refuse to come lowing to the knacker for destruction. That may be because President Obama had a different agenda. Then again, he closest and longest serving senior political advisor (Valerie Jarrett) was born in Iran and maintained a close affinity to the world of the not quite right.

Jarrett worked hard to convince her boss that steers can sign meaningful treaties with meat packers.

Naturally, the light-bringer bought it hook, line and sinker.

The worm has turned in terms of the US approach to the world and it's for the better. Ask ISIS - but you can't. Their homeland has been wiped out. No, you won't hear that on the corrupt, smug, lying, elite mainstream media.

Is your Halloween Costume P/C?

I'm guessing that it's not because a Halloween costume, by definition, reflects cultural appropriation. My granddaughters are going as: zombie (age 8), cheerleader (she's 5, she's never been an actual cheerleader) and a bee (age 1). It's the same story with the five grandsons. I can't find the white wolf mask that a friend sent me last year. It's packed somewhere, thus I will go as a grandpa, which reflects no cultural appropriation at all. I'm feeling very superior in that hard fought decision. 

h/t LSP
However if I was a younger version of myself, I might go as a negro in 'black face', Indian, wearing a Vietnamese coolie hat, and I'd drive to some Hollywood neighborhood to beg for candy. I'd have a girlfriend in tow (heterosexuality is not cultural appropriation when you are one) dressed as a witch to show the witches and satanists in Sin City that my heart is really in the right place...


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Geopolitical Observations

Cholera in Yemen

"War is Hell" - W. T. Sherman

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the cholera epidemic in Yemen has become the largest and fastest-spreading outbreak of the disease in modern history.

The WHO has reported more than 815,000 suspected cases of the disease in Yemen and 2,156 deaths. It expects a million cases by the end of the year and at least 600,000 children likely to be affected.  About 4,000 suspected cases are being reported daily, more than half of which are among children under 18. Children under five account for a quarter of all cases. 

WHO commented that the spread of the outbreak, which has quickly surpassed Haiti as the biggest since modern records began in 1949, has been exacerbated by hunger and malnutrition. There were 815,000 cases of cholera in Haiti between 2010 and 2017. Yemen has exceeded that number in just six months.

This is arguably the worst effect of a stalemated and increasingly pointless conflict in one of the poorest countries in the world. 

Iraqi Kurdistan

On 12 October, Kurdish forces in Iraq installed barriers to block the two main roads that connect Irbil and Dohuk with Mosul. They reopened the roads after a few hours later. According to a Kurdish military official, the closure "was prompted by fears of a possible attack by Iraqi forces" on disputed areas held by Kurdish forces outside the Kurdistan Region. 

Two days ago Kurdish officials began to react to reports that Iraq was sending Iraq army units and Shiite militia to seize areas that the Kurds liberated from the Islamic State. In those reports, Kirkuk was the supposed government target.

Prime Minister Abadi denied any intention to attack Kurdish forces, but tension has remained high and distrust runs deep.

The action taken by the Kurds near Mosul looks deliberate because it sends the message that the Kurds are aware of the leverage they have gained by liberating territory from the Islamic State. It enables them to bargain over territory, if the situation deteriorates and Iraqi forces threaten Kirkuk. 

Turkey in Syria

Turkey's mission in Syria is to kill Kurds. Let there be no mistake about their intentions or their goals. Make of that what you will. The first Turkish Army convoy crossed into Syria on 12 October. The convoy included about 30 military vehicles, according to a commander in a Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel group based in the area. The Turks entered via the Bab al-Hawa border crossing.
A Free Syrian Army officer told the press, “The Turkish army convoy is entering under the protection of Tahrir al-Sham to take positions on the front line with the YPG (Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units).” (Note: Tahrir al-Sham is the name of the coalition led by the former al-Qaida associate, the al-Nusra Front.)
Turkey’s Anadolu press service published images of Turkish Army vehicles near the border crossing, but still in Turkey at the time.

The Turks have made deals with the al-Nusra Front to permit Turkish soldiers to enter Syria without resistance. Several open source reporters confirmed that the Turks entered without a fight. Apparently, the Turkish proxy forces, the Free Syrian Army, did not have permission to pass and had to fight their way in earlier this week.

Open sources have not reported about the arrangements the Turks have made have with the still-undefeated rebel coalition based in Idlib. However, the public collusion between the Turkish Army and the al-Nusra Front has negative implications for the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurds and portends a possible prolongation of the civil war.

For one thing, Idlib remains the strongest base for rebel forces determined to overthrow the Assad government. It contains thousands of rebel fighters relocated from other areas of Syria and their families. They have not been defeated and have not surrendered.

The al Nusra Front consistently has refused to join the Russian de-escalation zone arrangement and refused to agree to a ceasefire. Its refusals raise questions about the arrangements the Turks have made because Turkish President Erdogan also remains determined to overthrow the Assad government if another opportunity arises.

The effect of Turkish actions is to create and protect an entire Syrian province as an armed preserve for anti-government forces. 

The Turkish action also ensures that the Syrian Kurds will remain under threat from Turkish Army forces in Turkey and in Syria. One local witness said that Turkish forces have occupied a hill that overlooks the Syrian Kurdish town of Afrin. President Erdogan has not abandoned plans for a “Euphrates Sword” operation against the Syrian Kurds in Afrin. Turkish Army units have now outflanked the Kurds in that town.

Erdogan finally has a position in Syria from which he can pursue his goals of overthrowing the Assad government and containing the Syrian Kurds, under the umbrella of the Russian de-escalation arrangement. 

The Russians and the Iranians have not yet commented on Turkish movements, but both consider the al-Nusra Front and its coalition partners to be targets. With al Nusra Front cooperating with the Turks, it is impossible to determine who the enemy is.  Even if you have a spread sheet with pictures, you simply can't tell. 

Palestinian Authority

Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal on 12 October. Hamas agreed to hand over administrative control of Gaza to the Palestinian national unity government.
“We in Hamas are determined and are serious this time and just like all other times...We have dissolved the administrative committee (shadow government) ...We have opened the door to reaching this reconciliation,” Saleh Arouri, the head of Hamas negotiators in Cairo, said after the signing ceremony. 
Hamas also agreed to surrender to the presidential guards of the Palestinian Authority control of the Rafah border crossing. 

Multiple commentators observed that this agreement is the most promising made between Fatah and Hamas, but it is still fragile. Placing control of the Rafah border crossing under the Palestinian Authority might be its most important provision because that might persuade Egypt and Israel to allow goods and services to enter the Gaza Strip in order to alleviate the poor economic conditions.

The agreement does not address Hamas’ positions on refusing to recognize Israel, possessing weapons and armed resistance. The negotiators said the agreement will be implemented in stages. More talks are certain to take place.

The reaction of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) which is notorious for firing rockets into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip during ceasefires, has not been reported.

Nothing in this agreement creates conditions or improves prospects for a broader peace settlement. 

Israel opposes the reconciliation deal. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “Israel is opposed to any form of reconciliation in which the terrorist organization of Hamas does not disarm and does not stop fighting for the destruction of Israel.” 

He said Israel will never accept Hamas’ determination to destroy Israel and will not deal with an organization that “advocates genocide” and launches “thousands” of rockets and tunnel incursions into Israel.

The end of the Syrian civil war with an enhanced position for Iran, the return of Lebanese Hizballah forces to Lebanon and a durable Palestinian reconciliation add to a negative shift in Israel’s strategic environment and increases the likelihood of more instability.

A positive dimension to the agreement is Egypt’s role. Egypt, and, thus, the Saudis, have replaced Iran as backers of Hamas. Hamas is back in the Arab fold. The Egyptian role is an indicator that multiple powerful interests have helped Egypt create incentives and conditions for the Palestinians to make progress.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Freaky Friday-the-Thirteenth

Yes, they are on Sale



It is a politically correct onesie that your or your student (son/daughter) can wear at university while drinking $11.00 coffees & bad-mouthing the President or running to their safe spaces to sip coco. I hear that they're blowing off the shelves in Berkeley and Harvard. Maybe a Christmas gift to your liberal friends or relatives? What could possibly be more cherished?

It's an insult to Dear Leader to wear them as Halloween Rocketman costumes...but there's no law against it

Disgraced Hollywood mogul and Clinton friend/idol.
And while I'm on the topic of bizarre clothing, the new Harvey Weinstein fat suits are all the rage for Halloween. Hollywood directors will be wearing them on 10/31 in the high hopes of obtaining sex from the little children out trick-or-treating. 

The ORIGINAL Harvey is hanging out at a chateau in France (or a fat farm in Arizona), undergoing 'treatment' for his sexual addiction that is being administered by maids in fetish outfits.


Conjoined twins, separated at birth
Trick-or-Treat?

There has been yet another in an endless stream of rants from North Korea. This time, given by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, speaking to the Russian news agency, TASS. Ri quoted Kim Jong Un who said that North Korea’s strategic forces … will not let America, an aggressor state, go unpunished. Ri depicted North Korea’s nuclear program in eschatological terms.
“Now it is the United States’ turn to pay, and all of our military servicemen and our entire people insistently demand that final scores be settled with the Americans only with a hail of fire, and not with words.”

“We have nearly achieved the final point on the way to our ultimate goal, to achieving a real balance of force with the United States. Our nuclear weapons will never be a subject matter of negotiations as long as the United States’ policy of pressure on the DPRK has not been uprooted once and for all.”
Popular Halloween costume in the US. In North Korea
wearing it would bring a death sentence, instead of the
reward of a hand full of candy at each house visited.
Ri said, in effect, that there can only be talks with the US after America (and President Trump) surrender to the 'peace loving' Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), and after the Americans pay SUBSTANTIAL reparations to North Korea. 

The Esteemed Supreme Dear Leader said once again, ..."that it is a sacramental sword of justice, which allows for banishing the dark clouds of nuclear tyranny and ensuring an independent life of the whole of humanity under clear blue skies.”

Ri is well known to US diplomats and negotiators. He is courtly, soft-spoken and glib, speaking idiomatic American English. His recent rants against the US at the UN General Assembly session are judged to be out of character by those in the West and Australia who know him. 
On 7 October, Ri was promoted to full membership in the Politburo. That is a testament to his Party and family credentials plus a personal relationship with Kim Jong Un. One implication of his prominence is that there is almost no chance of misunderstanding because of translation problems from American English to Korean when the US makes statements about North Korea. Another implication is that the messages are going directly to Kim Jong UN. A third is that Ri is Kim’s personal envoy and spokesman.
Halloween costume
Mandarins in US intelligence circles are predicting that the next missile launch will demonstrate that North Korean missiles can reach cities on the US West Coast. They will not be aimed at the West Coast, but it's a ranging issue - and will demonstrate capacity.

Ri’s remarks to TASS were elegantly phrased pretense and exaggeration. North Korea is not a victim, except of its own mismanagement and the Faustian bargain between the army and the Kim family. Kim can rule so long as he buys army loyalty. It does not want to be just left alone to develop in peace and security. Kim wants to conquer South Korea and exceed the achievements of his father and grandfather.

North Korea is threatened because it threatens aggression against South Korea. No nations look to North Korea for protection or justice. North Korea cannot achieve a balance of force against the US. If Ri is Kim’s personal spokesman, then Kim is delusional...which may be a shock to this blog's readers.

China

The 19th Party Congress will convene in Beijing on 18 October. President Xi Jinping is expected to be re-elected to serve until 2022. Xi’s achievements, policies and the progress towards his “China Dream” of a moderately prosperous society by 2021 will be featured in leadership reports. 

The continuing North Korean nuclear and missile confrontation is probably the most important failure in Xi’s leadership record during the past five years. It is the most unstable hotspot in Asia and it directly affects China’s strategic, security and economic interests. 

North Korean nuclear and missile tests have damaged Chinese security interests in the past year by causing a strengthening of the US-South Korea-Japan alliance structure and by inducing South Korea to accept the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. President Xi and his cohorts have been unable to reduce tension and restore stability or otherwise handle the Korean problem. Chinese party leaders have been advising and instructing their North Korean counterparts to refrain from any action that would detract from President Xi’s Congress.

Saudi Arabia (and Russia)

Another Russian mediation initiative. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said his country is ready to establish dialogue or organize bilateral contacts between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Iran cut diplomatic ties in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran in response to the execution of prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has not commented on this Iranian news report. Prior to King Salman’s visit to Moscow, a Russian mediation offer had no chance of acceptance by Saudi Arabia. The timing of this initiative -- so soon after King Salman’s visit -- suggests exchanges during Salman’s visit encouraged the Russian Foreign Ministry to extend its good offices. 

Since the military intervention in Syria in September 2015, the Russia Foreign Ministry has been pro-active in consolidating relations with its Asian neighbors. In addition to the new Saudi initiatives and the Syrian intervention, Russia has improved ties with Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan, longstanding US allies. It also has joined China in President Xi Jinping’s proposal for reducing tension on the Korean Peninsula. 

It already has good ties with Iran and India and maintains contact with North Korea. Under Foreign Minister Lavrov, Russia has stabilized its southern flank and the Far East at relatively little cost, except for Syria. It also has emerged as and has regained the stature of a world leader. 

Every advance in Russian interests has been at US expense. Russia is running a bluff most of the time because its resources are limited by low oil prices. Lavrov has leveraged those resources masterfully.

A Seismic Event in North Korea

The US Geological Survey reported that it detected a 2.9 magnitude earthquake near the North Korean nuclear testing site on 12 October.
“This event occurred in the area of the previous North Korean nuclear tests. The event has earthquake-like characteristics; however, we cannot conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event. The depth is poorly constrained and has been held to 5 km by the seismologist.” 
The event occurred 5 km deep and 23 km northwest of the test complex at Punggye-ri. Contacts with analysts indicate that there is no certainty the event is related to a nuclear test, but reported that it shared characteristics of past tests. 

One suggestion is that it was a failed nuclear test. Another is that the event is related to tunnel digging. A third is that it reflects a delayed collapse of a tunnel from the last test.



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

Do androids really dream of Electric Sheep? (Philip K. Dick's original novel) Trailer
[from trailer] Every civilization was built on the back of a disposable workforce, but I can only make so many.
If you never saw nor enjoyed the original Blade Runner, I don't know what your take on this sequel will be. The film is visually stunning, but that may not be enough to hold your interest.

The concept of the film revolves around the production of 'replicants', androids that are built on human DNA and are designed for off-world labor where the replicant humans die creating new worlds instead of risking human life. As with the original Blade Runner, this sequel takes place on Earth. 

The action plays out 30 years after “blade runner” Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) gave up chasing down androids and fell in love with one instead. Through this dystopian swamp, Ryan Gosling’s “K” walks in Deckard’s footsteps, tracking down wayward androids and “retiring” them. “How does it feel?” asks Dave Bautista’s Sapper Morton, taunting this deadpan hunter that he can only do his job because he’s “never seen a miracle” – an enigmatic phrase that will haunt K (and us) as he attempts to unravel its meaning.

After years of being an unflappable killer, the “Constant K” is experiencing doubts about his job, his memories and his nature. “I never retired something that was born,” he tells Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright), musing that “to be born is to have a soul”. Joshi is unimpressed, insisting that in this line of work, you can get along fine without one.
Such existential anxieties are at the heart of the film, which has the confidence to proceed at a sedately edited pace utterly at odds with today’s rapid-fire blockbusters. Mirroring and inverting the key themes of its predecessor, Blade Runner 2049 swaps unicorns for wooden horses while retaining the visual grandeur that fired Scott’s film. From vast landscapes of grey rooftops and reflectors, through the rusted shells of post-industrial shelters, to the burned-ochre glow of radioactive wastelands, cinematographer the movie conjures a twilight world that seems to go on for ever. Bright candy colours are restricted to the artificial lights of advertising and entertainment. 
I like a plot that is difficult to read at first, that is revealed as the movie marches forward. This, to me, is the strength of Blade Runner 2049. I'm not going to engage in spoilers here because part of the fun of this movie is peeling the onion. As the layers come off, the revelations unfold right up to the last five minutes of the show.

Should you see it/will you enjoy it?

I suggest that you watch the original Blade Runner first if you haven't seen it in a long time because so much of this film draws itself from the original. 

If you don't enjoy science fiction, you won't like the movie. It is genre specific.

I personally enjoyed it. It's a long movie, but it held my interest even though the pace is slower than in the block busters that the movie going public has become accustomed to. Savoring the moment and trying to work on the plot and what is actually happening is important to enjoying the film.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Random Thoughts

A Viking Dog's Life

Being a dog under normal circumstances in the present is like being a small child that never grows up. Or if you live in Korea, you'll end up the main course in a BBQ meal. (different cultures, different customs)

However, if you were a Viking Dog, you fought in the shield wall and were turned loose on the enemy and tear them up with your fangs. (not unlike LSP's dog, Blue Avenger, who did that to the FEDEX man and was put into dog custody)

When your master died, you were dispatched to take out his enemies on the 'other side'.
Viking Dogs Followed Their Masters to Valhalla - Large amounts of animal bones have been found in Viking Age ship graves. For example, there were eight large sighthounds (Old Norse: mjór) buried on both sides outside the ship In the Gokstad burial mound (c. 900 AD). A small lapdog was also buried inside the longship. 
For some reason it would seem to me that a Viking Dog had a more meaningful life than most dogs these days. (to swipe a quote from Hollywood) Their masters crushed their enemies, saw them driven before their army, and heard the lamentation of the women. (sigh) Those days are gone for man and beast.

Freedom of Navigation

On 10 October, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG-90) conducted a freedom of navigation operation in international waters near the Paracel Islands. 

The news reports did not name the islands near which the US ship passed. This was the eighth such operation since October 2015 to challenge excessive Chinese maritime claims. It was the fourth during President Trump’s administration.

The last freedom of navigation operation was in August in the Spratly Islands. The last operation near the Paracels was in July near Triton Island.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not comment on this operation at the daily press session. Maybe China feels confident enough in their ownership of the South China Sea that they're not thumping their chests because an "imperialist warship" is exercising the right of innocent passage on 'their ocean'. It takes a lot of balls to claim an entire ocean. It's not as if they weren't fishing the place out already.

Syria Update

The Syrian Arab Army claimed to have made significant advances in Deir ez-Zor, after launching a large-scale assault inside the provincial capital. Supported by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian army stormed the Islamic State’s positions and captured most of al-Arfi neighborhood. 

Russian military spokesman Major General Konashenkov said Russian aerospace forces flew 180 missions in the prior 24 hours. One Russian Su-24 crashed on takeoff.

West of Idlib, Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army forces reported heavy fighting and stiff resistance by the al-Nusra Front -led rebel coalition.

If you find it difficult telling the players apart, imagine if you were there on the ground...since a lot of these people turn-coat or are paid by different hosts (Turks, Russians, Americans, ISIS, Saudi/Al Qaeda, etc.) at the same time.

Multiple news services reported that Islamic State fighters are fleeing Deir ez-Zor by trying to cross the Euphrates River. Deir ez-Zor city is located on the west bank of the river. US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces had been located on the east bank of the river. The river was the informal boundary between the Syrian forces and US-backed fighters.

One thing is certain: War is a racket. That means that when this current war against ISIS is over, there will be another war. The military industrial complex demands it.