sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Road Warrior

gotta bring home the bacon...so to speak.
I'm going to be on the road from here to there and back with a stop off at the White Wolf Mine to check on progress at the hovel and from there to Germany, China and back and forth and so on. Gotta fill the coffers with cash. No time for jet lag. I'm starting to feel like Old NFO.

This blog post will hit on Tuesday and by the time you read this, I'll be long gone.

It's going to be a busy month with less blogging. While sleeping on an airplane in a first class pod and having your caesar salad cut and tossed in the aisle while you watch is better than sleeping in coach and eating microwaved omelets with a total stranger slobbering on your shoulder - it's still sleeping on an airplane.

Likely back to China in July as they buy (retainer up-front) my time to listen to my drivel. Will President-for-life Xi take my advice? It remains to be seen.

And so it goes. I'll throw up some AZ pictures at some point. Meanwhile, carry on.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Clash of Cultures: progressives vs Americans

At a baseball game, a progressive female person came up to me, unbidden, while I was speaking with my daughter and son-in-law. My rhetoric was something along the line that our honored dead need ultimate respect every day, not just on Memorial Day. The female (who likely has a pink vagina hat in her drawer) came up to me and said, "Why don't you mourn the members of ISIS who were killed." 

I looked her and said, "Rest in pieces." She walked off and stood next to an ascetic man with a beard, likely her life partner (maybe a university professor) and didn't say anything else.

My daughter and son-in-law laughed her on her way.

So there you have it. The divide between Americans and progressives.

Monday

Barack's Gentleman's Agreement

The US (President Trump) withdrew from the gentleman's agreement that his predecessor made with the Mullahs in Iran. Progressives said that Iran was keeping its end of the deal and inspections proved it. Since the Iranians "self-inspected and self-certified", one can hardly wonder that they were in compliance. I suspect but can't say for sure that President Trump had convincing evidence that Iran was not in compliance. The nature of intelligence (methods and sources) is such that that proof is not laid out for public consumption. Iran's reaction was and remains somewhat mild, and I expect that they know that we know, etc.

The British are at odds with us in this. They want to keep selling goods and services to Iran. I understand that the Court of St. James feels that it needs blood money to prop up the welfare state that it created - much of which funnels to their immigrant Mohammedan population. But it could get hard for them, not because of a trade deal which they need but might not get from the US, but from the Saudis refusing to grant government contracts to British companies.

The Saudis did it to the Germans this past Friday and the British could be next. So the word on the street is that you need to choose - Iran or Saudi Arabia. Who do you love and who loves you? 
"Saudi Arabia is a significant trade partner for Germany, generating 2017 exports worth 6.6 billion euros ($7.7 billion), according to Germany's statistics office." 
And what about Deutsche Bank? How are they going to absorb the loss?

The corrupt, lying, nasty, smug, sly, elite media in the US felt that President Trump didn't know what he was doing and that Europe would thumb their noses at America's repudiation of the trade deal. They did not include Saudi Arabia AND THE REST of the Arab world in the calculus. They said that the President didn't know how to make a deal. However the details of the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal have yet to make themselves manifest. The devil is in the details.

Family Rumors

My youngest daughter, Emilie, who often rides shotgun in my rig in off-road adventures, is engaged to be engaged. When you have four beautiful daughters, it's one of those things that a father must take in stride.

Late last week, I received a phone call from Emilie, taunting me. "Guess where I am?"

"I can't guess."

"I'm at Schooner or Later having breakfast with Eric."

(it's a famous food diner/drive-in/dive in Long Beach near where I used to dock/slip my boat in Spinnaker Bay)

"Save me a chair, I'm about ten minutes out." You see, great minds think alike and I was already on the road to that destination to have breakfast, not knowing that the betrothed and her beau were already there. Such is the nature of bond between father and daughter - Vulcan mind meld or something like that. It disturbs Emilie, but that's how it rolls.


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday Sermonette


Saturday

Lynrd Skynrd Concert with family/friends - Confederate flags fly, and none of the snoop-dog types showed up. I'm sure they would have felt welcome if they'd have attended, but it didn't happen. Strangely, the women at the concert did not wear pink cat hats and carry posters depicting their reproductive organs. I know, what's that about? There were a few Confederate Battle Flags, and that is kryptonite to old hippies. And trust me, the average age - well, you get it.

There were a lot of veterans present, and it's the Memorial Day weekend when we honor those who offered up their last full measure of devotion to the country - that others may live free.

Veterans have all lost someone. We fought for those next to us. Some of us lost more than others. Some of us gave more than others and there were a number of disabled veterans at the concert. 

Sunday - 

Go to church and recover from the concert.

Monday - Memorial Day

Little League baseball games - hot dogs, cola drinks and loud cheering! 

Then a visit to the cemetery to recall. Many of my friends rest at the US National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia. Some, fewer, rest at the Fort Rosecrans Military Cemetery in San Diego. It's closer to drive to Ft. Rosecrans than it is to drive to Virginia. 

Sermonette:

Many of the men who I served with and died went home to rest under the earth in family plots in small towns where their people can visit them and lay cut flowers on their graves.

And no matter how we honor our warriors, killed in action, there is a little piece of us, who went into the ground with them. We share their crypts, their ashes and their resting places until the day when we are called home to join them.


Friday, May 25, 2018

Making Sense of Recent Events

North Korea

On 25 May, in response to the US letter canceling the 12 June summit, the Korean Central News Agency, (KCNA) published in English a statement by North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan. It's interesting on how fast the Norks put out their response. My personal sense is that Kim Jong Un (Little Rocket Man/Dear Leader) wanted the meeting and his minions screwed it up by thinking that they could manipulate US interest in a meeting for "free stuff". President Trump said, 'no'.
“The inglorious situation today is a vivid expression of the severity of the present status of the hostile DPRK-U.S. relations of long historical roots and the urgent necessity for the summit meeting for the improvement of the ties.” 
“As far as the historic DPRK-U.S. summit is concerned, we have inwardly highly appreciated President Trump for having made the bold decision, which any other U.S. presidents dared not, and made efforts for such a crucial event as the summit.” 
“His sudden and unilateral announcement to cancel the summit is something unexpected to us and we cannot but feel great regret for it.” 
“It is hard to guess the reasons.”
Kim Kye Gwan’s statement on 16 May was pivotal in the negative turn in Kim Jong Un’s détente initiative. He now has the job of damage limitation and repair.

His statement of regret indicates that North Korea overreached. It might have been his advice about the US administration and negotiating maneuvers that backfired. At the least, he is the responsible official. Vice Minister Choe, who disparaged the US Vice President, is his protégé.

Kim Kye Gwan
As for the substance of the statement, North Korea is treating the cancellation as a postponement, which is consistent with the message in the US President’s letter. 

Kim Jong Un wants a meeting. It also attests that Kim Jong Un has been involved in summit preparations. That raises questions about who directed the negative turn in North Korean public statements since 10 May.

Kim wants, or maybe needs, the US summit meeting. His propaganda outlets and Foreign Ministry contrived to make it appear that he could walk away from a meeting, but obviously he cannot and does not intend to. If his end-state is a unified Korea, for example, he cannot achieve it without engaging the US in negotiations. His team almost destroyed any chance of making progress towards that end-state during this US administration.

South Korean President Moon did not demand an apology, nor did he modify his outreach strategy. The North Koreans apparently expected the US to behave in the same fashion. 

… the US did not. The North Koreans grossly misjudged the US administration, which declined to act according to custom. The US neither took the high-road of looking past the insults nor did it react emotionally. The US message is that the North is not ready – mature enough? - to make deals in the big leagues. Now the North, in fact, is asking for talks, contradicting the hubris in Vice Foreign Minister Choe’s insulting statement on the 23d.

The North seems much more comfortable acting the bully. But they just got trumped.

China-North Korea

At the press session on 24 May, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang was asked whether he could comment on the delegation of senior North Korean officials that went to the official guesthouse in Beijing on 24 May.

Lu denied any knowledge of the visitors.

I suspect Kim made another trip to consult with Chinese President Xi.

Afghanistan

On 24 May, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) published a report of lessons learned from US involvement in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2017. It is titled, Stabilization: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan and is available on the SIGAR’s website. The report is the culmination of three years of work to discern lessons learned and runs to 285 pages.

The SIGAR’s analysis identifies seven key findings, copied below, regarding the stabilization strategy in Afghanistan and the programs used to achieve it:

1. The U.S. government greatly overestimated its ability to build and reform government institutions in Afghanistan as part of its stabilization strategy.

2. The stabilization strategy and the programs used to achieve it were not properly tailored to the Afghan context.

3. The large sums of stabilization dollars the United States devoted to Afghanistan in search of quick gains often exacerbated conflicts, enabled corruption, and bolstered support for insurgents.

4. Because the coalition prioritized the most dangerous districts first, it continuously struggled to clear them of insurgents. As a result, the coalition couldn’t make sufficient progress to convince Afghans in those or other districts that the government could protect them if they openly turned against the insurgents.

5. Efforts by U.S. agencies to monitor and evaluate stabilization programs were generally poor.

6. Successes in stabilizing Afghan districts rarely lasted longer than the physical presence of coalition troops and civilians.

7. Stabilization was most successful in areas that were clearly under the physical control of government security forces, had a modicum of local governance in place prior to programming, were supported by coalition forces and civilians who recognized the value of close cooperation, and were continuously engaged by their government as programming ramped up.

The report is packed with more cogent, discouraging findings for those who have followed Afghanistan since before the Soviet intervention in 1979. It would serve no purpose to repeat them here. 

One important lesson from Vietnam that is not included is about the need to destroy bases and safe havens in an adjacent country. The Taliban were soundly beaten in 2001. Afghanistan was stable through 2005. The Taliban leaders and many fighters were driven into Pakistan. There, they were allowed to regroup, recover and rearm with impunity and with protection. 

Syria-Israel

Syrian state media reported that a military airport near Homs was subject to "missile aggression" on 24 May. Syria claimed that a missile was intercepted by the Syrian air defense system before it reached its target.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 12 pro-government fighters were killed in the airstrike. According to the monitoring group, none of the fatalities were Syrian nationals but foreign fighters.

A Syrian source close to the government said the attack struck bases where Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps soldiers were located.

The Israeli threat to attack Iranian and Iranian proxy forces is real. The campaign continues to prevent Iran from consolidating its presence in Syria.

On 23 May, a senior Israel Defense Force spokesman said that if Syria activates its air defense, Israel will destroy them.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Op Ed

The Liberal Quandry (and lament)

95% of the media is elite, corrupt and liberal and they can only focus on one or possibly two things at a time. At the moment they are transfixed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose credibility continues to erode, and Stormy Daniels who is back in demand as a courtesan and porn star due to the coverage.

And while they focus on Stormy and her lawyer, the Trump Agenda marches forward without a lot of outrage directed toward it. The corrupt, progressive, smug, sly Environmental Protection Agency is being cleaned out as they go through a force reduction. The Department of the Interior is likewise being purged of social justice warriors. The Judiciary appointments of President Trump give renewed hope to constitutionalists. The State Department has likewise been purged by T-Rex Tillerson and now by Mike Pompeo. Now State is hiring again, but not the lesbian black activists that it once did. Imagine what MSNBC could cover if not for the 'fake' Muller investigation. Maybe we owe Robert Mueller a back-handed compliment for keeping everyone focused on corrupt FBI agents (friends of Mueller) who created a species of coup ('insurance policy') to deal with the then unlikely possibility that he'd defeat Hillary.
Hear their lament: (New York Times Op Ed) "The longer Mueller soldiers on, the more I worry, and the duration is part of the reason. There’s a Catch-22 to these special-counsel extravaganzas: In order to be credible, they must be thorough, but in order to be thorough, they risk becoming unwieldy, appearing indiscriminate and taxing the patience and trust of voters to the point where they numbly tune out."
That's right, NY Times, nobody cares about Stormy or Mueller. They are both news stories that have been trashed by the near constant coverage on the lying, elite, mainstream media news cycles.

AND the sad truth of the deep state efforts to spy on and undermine the Trump campaign through the use of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice is coming out like puss oozing from a weeping wound. America will begin to focus on that rather than the climate change hoax that the media relentlessly covered pre-Mueller and pre-Stormy. A CBS News poll several weeks ago showed that fewer Americans believed Mueller’s investigation to be legitimate (44 percent) than to be politically driven (53 percent).

The progressive leftist media paints itself into corners with President Trump. Their hatred of him recently ended up putting them in league with and often supporting the murderous MS-13 gang, Hamas terrorists, Kim Jong Un, football players disrespecting the flag and the national anthem, and promising to raise taxes if elected. 

Meanwhile the Trump agenda moves forward and he works diligently to make America great again.


Three Warriors

Lower Half Creek Falls
(Near Escalante, Utah)

Somebody painted the wall of the canyon about 1,000 years ago. 

The artist may have been from the Anasazi or possibly a culture that we've never heard of. 

They're about ten feet tall, about a mile away from a 120 foot waterfall, which may or may not have been a waterfall of the same dimensions 1,000 years ago. 

Or they're pictures of ancient aliens?

The fact that they are holding hands may mean something profound, but humans hold hands for so many reasons, dealing with things specific to culture.

Walking the road less traveled offers the opportunity to speculate all on your own without noise from outside. Maybe it is precisely what you think that it is.

The falls and the pool of water below are an example of an oasis in an otherwise parched land. No trees, or bushes in this place.

Just rock and water, and the occasional deer or desert bighorn sheep drifting by for a cool drink. The canyon does have some vegetation but it's in the middle of a desert...ok, it's a recreation area now.

Is the land haunted by the presence of spirits from roaming, restless shamans who resent the careless foot prints of belching tourists? Or are their dry bones just rendered to dust?



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Few Thoughts

Class Struggle?

The fat kid with the bad haircut (Little Rocket Man) wants the world to respect him. Those expectations of some Americans are a long way from being realized. The Democrats seem to cherish him, but they also cherish the murderous savage members of the MS-13 gang, and they work hard to insure that millions of babies are killed in utero every single year (it's how they roll).

Nork generals, shot callers and power brokers do not stand to benefit from new peace arrangements with the free world. They have all of the luxury items that their hearts desire now. And as with many privileged classes in countries run by tyrants, it can only go downhill from here. 

As a result, the rhetoric against the US is ramping up inside North Korea, the Hermit Kingdom, on the eve of potential peace talks.

Kim Jong Un, who was raised in Europe, may want to see some movement away from the decaying, backward nation that he runs, and to improve things. Irrespective, that is likely not the opinion of the elite class who like things the way that they are.

Banana Republic?

The filthy truth about the Obama White House and its efforts to spy on the Trump Campaign (false information to obtain FISA warrants, spies embedded with the campaign, 'unmasking' of names on information collected to discredit members of the campaign) make the country look more like a banana republic every single day.

Democrats should worry because if this becomes the way we do things, there is nothing stopping the current Republican administration from weaponizing the government against them. The point is that the investigation of the corrupt, elite FBI needs to proceed to a grand jury, and from there to OPEN COURT where the criminal trial needs to be televised. I'm not suggesting that it should be a guillotine event, but unless people are held accountable, it will continue, and will likely get worse.

The Plantation

Spike Lee produces and directs films that few people see, but he's celebrated because of his race in much the same way as some other under achievers are. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) comes to mind.

He was a big supporter of Donald Trump until the Democrat machine (which runs the plantation where he lives) decided to have him ramp up his rhetoric against the President. He's been spewing some hate filled talk about how President Trump is worse than Hitler recently in public.

When you think about the state of the economy, the tax breaks to small businesses and the low unemployment numbers - particularly among minorities, you'd think that Spike would be up at the microphone praising President Trump for his accomplishments. But that's not the case. He's out, spewing hate and Democrat talking points that he knows to be false.

The truth is that Spike Lee is a bigger whore than Stormy Daniels every thought of being. Sorry Spike, you're a pathetic excuse.

White Powder and the Afghan Economy

Opium and the politics of opium has dominated Afghanistan for a very long time. It's also the principal cash crop of the Kurds (American allies in Syria and Iraq). Therefore, while we wage a war on opiates at home in the US, we support the production of opium in the Middle East and the Asian Subcontinent by not destroying the crops - many of which are produced by our allies.

It's not a new story. And it may be time to shamelessly plug my book, "White Powder: A Novel of the CIA and the Secret War in Laos".

Context and Precedent

The vast bulk of heroin that hits the street in the USA today comes from Latin America (it must be somewhere around 95%+). Much of it is grown in Guatemala, Honduras and Southern Mexico. So while Afghan/Thai/Myanmar/Kurdish/Laotian heroin is a problem, it's more of a problem to Asia than it is to the US. The Mexicans control distribution (by in large) in the US.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan produced a record opium poppy harvest in 2017. On 21 May, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its latest report on opium poppy production in Afghanistan. It also produced a shorter summary of key points in the report. Virtual Mirage (your favorite blog) reproduced excerpts from the UNODC report’s executive summary and analytical comments from the UNODC’s separate summary of the report for your consumption. 
“The survey results found a clear and well-established link between lack of government control, insecurity and increased opium poppy cultivation. Lack of governmental presence and security are driving factors for opium cultivation and opium cultivation further destabilizes the country by funding insurgency and anti-government groups.”
UNODC Report opening paragraphs. “In 2017, opium poppy cultivation increased sharply to an unprecedented record high of 328,000 hectares from an estimated 201,000 hectares in 2016. Between 2016 and 2017, the area under cultivation with opium poppy increased by 127,000 hectares – the increase alone exceeded the levels of annual cultivation of 2009 and 2010.”

“Opium poppy cultivation increased strongly in almost all major poppy cultivating provinces. In Helmand province alone, cultivation increased by 63,700 hectares (+79 per cent) which accounted for about half of the total national increase between 2016 and 2017. Strong increases were observed also in Balkh (+10,000 hectares or almost five times more than in 2016), Kandahar (+7,500 hectares or +37 per cent), Nimroz (+6,200 hectares or +116 per cent), and Uruzgan (+6,000 hectares or +39 per cent).”

UNODC analysis: Potential heroin production is unprecedented. “Last year's record levels of production led to unprecedented levels of potential heroin production. From the 2017 opium harvest, some 550-900 tons of heroin of export quality (purity between 50 and 70 per cent) can be produced.

UNODC Report excerpt. “The record high opium production in Afghanistan led to a rapid expansion of the illegal opiate economy in 2017. Being worth between US$ 4.1 to 6.6 billion in 2017, it was of considerable size when compared to Afghanistan's overall economy, namely between 20 and 32 per cent of GDP. The opiate economy had about the size of the entire agricultural sector of the country and exceeded by far the value of Afghanistan’s licit exports of goods and services in 2016 (estimated at 7 per cent of GDP).”

UNODC analysis: The illegal economy rapidly expanded. With a value of up to 32 per cent of Afghanistan’s GDP, opium poppy is a lucrative cash crop. It has become a crucial component of the Afghan economy that secures the livelihoods of many Afghans who engage in cultivation, work on poppy fields or partake in the illicit drug trade.

Jobs for the Poor

Opium poppy cultivation is labor intensive. In 2017 it provided up to 354,000 full time jobs just for weeding and tending the fields

UNODC Report excerpt. “The income earned at the farm-gate supported the wider, licit rural economy. Afghan farmers purchase food, have medical expenses, and purchase daily needs products. These expenses - paid from opium money - benefited local bakers, butchers and other small-scale businesses in rural Afghanistan. Opiates have thus created an illegal economy that has permeated the rural society to the extent that many communities – not only farmers – have become dependent on the income from opium poppy to sustain their livelihoods.

Comment: The illegal rural economy supports the legal rural economy.

UNODC analysis: It is grown throughout the country. In the Western and Northern regions, farmers cultivated poppy in more than a third of the villages; in the Eastern region in more than 50 per cent and in the Southern region in almost 85 per cent of villages

In addition to farming households, opium provides access to daily wage labor to a large number of local and migrant workers hired by farmers. In 2017, opium poppy weeding and harvesting provided the equivalent of up to 354,000 full time jobs to rural areas. Wages from poppy cultivation support all the essential services of village life, including bakers, butchers, local clinics and small businesses.

The Afghan Ministry of Counter-Narcotics (MCN)/UNODC estimated that in 2017, insurgency groups, including the Taliban, accrued a minimum of US$ 116 - 184 million from taxing the opiate production in Afghanistan.

Comment: The quarterly report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan’s Reconstruction that was published last month judged that the security situation worsened somewhat, compared to conditions a year ago.

The UNODC report adds another perspective. The extent of poppy cultivation has evolved into a critical component of village life. All essential services in the village are financed by the wages from poppy cultivation. In this system, destroying poppy crops is the same as destroying general village livelihood. The ripple effects from eradication reach the entire village, including any security people who receive bribes to augment their salaries.

Poppy culture has evolved into an important measure of Taliban influence. It was not always the case because the Taliban banned poppy cultivation when Mullah Omar ruled in Kabul. When driven from power, the Taliban came to rely on it to finance their uprising.

Poppy cultivation information puts new light on discussions of the area of government or Taliban control. When an area is controlled or influenced by the Taliban that seems to mean that poppy cultivation flourishes openly. In areas influenced by the government, that seems to mean poppy cultivation is largely ignored.

With opium poppy cultivation contributing up to one third of GDP, involving a minimum of a third of the villages plus providing a third of a million wage-paying jobs, this crop is ineradicable without further impoverishing Afghanistan. The Taliban are not just fighting for a different government. They are fighting for the livelihood of more than half of the farm villages in Afghanistan.

Monday, May 21, 2018

International Update

Adventures in Norkland

North Korea apparently continues the preparations for dismantling the nuclear test site at Punggye-ri. The Daily NK reported its sources said that the government has ordered a crash effort to repair and improve the railroad tracks between Wonsan and the tests site. 

North Korea intends to transport foreign journalists by rail because other modes of transportation are poor or do not exist. The rail lines are neglected but are repairable.

On 19 May, a North Korean military officer and a civilian defected to South Korea. They were spotted in waters north of Baengnyeong Island” near the inter-Korean border, a source told Yonhap news agency. The source said, “They expressed willingness to defect.”

Baengnyeongdo is one of several islands off North Korea’s southwest coast but south of the seaward extension of the Military Demarcation Line. That extension is called the Northern Limit Line. South Korean forces garrison the islands.

If the defections are genuine, their timing is awkward for North-South relations. North Korea could use the incident to cause further strain with South Korea. 

Military defections are infrequent. The last was the December 2017 defection by an enlisted soldier at Panmunjom. Officer defections are rare. The last was in 2008. South Korean news sources reported that since 2000 14 North Korean officers have defected. Nevertheless, genuine defectors can provide timely insights about popular attitudes towards Kim Jong Un and his diplomatic outreach. Defector sources reported that North Koreans are not aware of a potential summit with the US.
If the defectors are North Korean agents, then the intelligence business has not been curtailed as part of the peace offensive.
On 19 May, North Korea demanded that South Korea transfer to North Korea 12 waitresses who defected from a North Korean state-run restaurant in Ningbo in northeastern China in 2016. The North Korean Red Cross issued a statement that said, “The South Korean authorities should … send our women citizens to their families without delay and thus show the will to improve North-South ties.”

North Korea claims the women were kidnapped by South Korean intelligence agents. South Korea claims that the women defected on their own and want to remain in South Korea.

This new demand looks like the North is going out of its way to be provocative, trying to see how far it can push South Korea to get concessions. That signals that a change in attitude has occurred in the leadership. North Korean leaders appear to have reverted to their comfortable, historic position of hustling the South Koreans. The charm offensive seems to have been replaced by the extortion offensive, rather quickly. Resurrecting old issues and compelling new talks on them to gain more concessions is vintage North Korean practice. The image of a more refined, calmer, conciliatory North Korea is beginning to look like a thin veneer. 

Taken as a whole, it would seem that North Korea is of two minds. Something is wrong in Pyongyang. (more wrong than usual) It would be interesting if Kim Jong Un defected to the US during the summit in Singapore. I'm not suggesting that it would happen. Only that it would be interesting. Maybe he'd defect to China and not the US? How would THAT play?

China

Chinese strategic bombers made their first landings in the Paracels. According to a statement released by the Ministry of National Defense on 18 May, “A division of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) recently organized multiple bombers, such as the H-6K, to conduct take-off and landing training on islands and reefs in the South China Sea in order to improve our ability to ‘reach all territory, conduct strikes at any time and strike in all directions.” 

The Chinese H-6K is China's version of the old Soviet Badger aircraft.
“It said the pilot of the H-6K bomber conducted assault training on a designated sea target and then carried out take-offs and landings at an airport in the area, describing the exercise as preparation for “the West Pacific and the battle for the South China Sea”. (CNN carried a report on their website as well. Not a bad report. Though their video media section only carried negative stories about President Trump and Stormy Daniels) 

The Chinese statement did not identify the island used by the bombers. However, multiple news agencies determined that the island was Woody Island in the Paracel Islands. Woody Island is the administrative center for Xisha District and contains the Chinese military headquarters for the South China Sea.

The H-6K has a combat radius of 3,500 kms/2,200 miles. It is a cruise missile carrier as well as a bomber. From Woody Island, Chinese H-6K bombers can patrol the entire South China Sea area claimed by China. In the Spratly Islands, the three runways China built on man-made islands can accommodate fighter aircraft, but not the bombers.

Strategic bomber deployments to Woody Island are another enhancement to Chinese capabilities to enforce its claim to the area within the nine-dash line, on the map.

India-Jammu and Kashmir State

Ramadan is here again. If I was in my old house, there would be parties and loud music every night when the sun went down and the Mohammedans feasted in homes all around me. Now that my house is in Mohammedan hands, I'm sure that they'll be splashing poolside. On the Subcontinent, India declared a Ramadan ceasefire, and Pakistan fired across the border. 

On 16 May, Indian announced it would halt operations against militants in Jammu and Kashmir State during Ramadan. It is the first Ramadan ceasefire in 18 years.

In India, including Jammu and Kashmir State, Ramadan began on 17 May. Not all groups welcomed the Indian ceasefire pledge. The Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group said that honoring the ceasefire would be a sin. It said it intended to continue its attacks.

Border exchanges of fire continue. On 18 May, Pakistani and Indian border forces exchanged first near Sialkot in Pakistan, just hours announced it would cease operations during Ramadan. The cross-border firing and shelling began overnight and spread to dozens of posts in the Jammu region of the Himalayan territory, said Indian police officer S.D. Singh. The exchanges of fire killed eight civilians and one Indian soldier.

Syria

In the past two days, news sources have reported two large explosions at different locations. On the 18th, large explosions occurred near the airport at Hama. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 11 people died and that the explosion was caused by a technical problem.

On the 21st an explosion occurred at a military base that is used by Iranians, south of Damascus.

Syrian sources said the earlier explosion was caused by farmers who set fire to their fields and lost control of it. News sources speculated both were Israeli attacks.

Power

Power requires neither permission nor forgiveness. 

I'm sure that was the sense of certainty in the triumph of the Democrat Party in the last presidential election that Barack Hussein Obama felt. Orwell said it best, perhaps, "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever." (1984) The feeling of power and invincibility must have been heady when he ordered the FBI into the Trump Campaign, when his minions created false FISA Court surveillance warrants and when his political adversary was wiretapped.

It wasn't the first time. Under Obama, the National Security Agency collected data on electronic transmissions of American citizens without a warrant. It was an age that Hillary planned to expand upon - and there was the pesky problem of hundreds of millions of firearms and trillions of rounds of ammunition in private hands. The Founding Fathers understood that free people are armed and that slaves are not.

Smug, sly, self-satisfied ghouls like Big Jim Comey and Robert Mueller are the perfect agents of "change" because they believe(d) that they had a messianic style mission to remove the stone from the shoe of the deep state. President Trump was never the "Republican" choice. The deep state Republicans and the media liked JEB! because he was a useful tool, a dim bulb, a legacy ruler who would fail  in his campaign - but fail graciously. His campaign slogan was "Jeb can fix it." $100 million bought him an early failure - largely due to Donald Trump, who mocked him and America saw that the retarded Bush was an incompetent goof.

The globalists don't trust America or its people. Americans are armed, they are remarkably resistant to the sort of Hope and Change offered. You'll note that Barack lost the legislature completely and gave President Trump a majority in both houses. He was also the best firearms salesman that the world ever saw. Under his watch, America geared up (for Hillary?) for trouble. Those pesky, despicable people in fly-over country who trusted to their God and guns never caught the vision that the bi-coastal elites peddled on mainstream television and in the elite media.

Now there is Trump. And you know they'd like to kill him. But killing him won't work unless they smear him first. They don't want a martyr. Think of that the next time you watch CNN.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Slow-Motion Coup (Sunday Sermonette)

The complicit and engaged corrupt, elite media, the Obama Administration and its catspaws in the media and the FBI have engaged in an effort to topple a duly elected President of the United States. The evidence is there for all to see and the current efforts of both the New York Times and the Washington Post to soften the blow that will fall from disclosures that the FBI infiltrated the Trump Campaign for the benefit of the Clinton Campaign (first) and to provide an "insurance policy" (their words, not mine) in the event that Donald Trump was elected president, are black marks upon our nation that will resonate. It was those actions for and on behalf of the Obama Administration that we now see played out. 
Is the FBI an enemy of the State? Make of it what you will, but the leadership and cadre at the very top clearly was acting against America. Is it still? Well, we don't know, do we. They expected Hillary to be elected and all of this filth would have been swept under the rug.
The current spin from the corrupt, lying, elite media is worth a brief review: "Obama’s FBI was not “spying” on the Trump campaign but used an “informant” to “investigate Russia ties.” The Washington Post is claiming that the Obama FBI was not going after Trump . . . they were “protecting him.” They claim that the nation and President Trump owe the FBI a huge debt of gratitude. It's not unlike having somebody take a dump in your bowl of cornflakes and expect you to thank them for giving you more to eat.

The Mueller Investigation has taken on the centerpiece of the slow-motion coup and the problem that they have is that there is not a scintilla of evidence that Donald Trump did ANYTHING wrong. 

Now for the sermonette: We all know that the Deep State has prospered in their efforts to bring America down. They've sold us out in trade deals, Barack sold us out to Iran, Barack was caught on a hot microphone colluding with Russian President Medvedev, and it's not only the Democrats. The RINOs too are just as much to blame. We don't have a wall with Mexico, we have ruinous trade deficits all over the planet. And they really hate the president for wanting to change their scam.

Thoughts are ephemeral. They evaporate the moment they occur, unless they are given action in material form. Wishes and intentions are the same. Meaningless, unless they impel you to one choice or the other, some deed or course of action, however insignificant. Thoughts that lead to action can be dangerous. Thoughts that do not, mean less than nothing.

Actions by the FBI need to be punished by prison terms. Treason needs to be dealt with not because of thoughts, but because of the actions that follow them. Deep State actors need to be exposed and need to be deposed because of what they did while in a position of honor, trust and profit for this nation.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Israel, Palestine - and American Inner Cities

Yesterday, The Jerusalem Post reported  that up to 8,700 Palestinians have been wounded and around 100 people killed in the rioting that Hamas started on 30 March.

The Great March of Return that Hamas launched in Gaza on 30 March culminated on Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe) on 15 May. Fewer civil disorders occurred on 16 and 17 May.

Context and Precedent: In 1988, Yasir Arafat instituted Nakba Day to commemorate the exodus of some 700,000 Palestinians before and after the Israeli declaration of independence in 1948.

These were not peaceful protests in any sense because the participants gathered at the fences prepared for violent confrontation. The Israelis also were prepared and issued multiple warnings. The confrontation was one-sided, as it always has been. 

The Jerusalem Post published on 14 May – Israeli Independence Day -- a lengthy, cogent analysis of the Hamas-instigated movement as self-destructive and self-victimized. The so-called marchers twice burned the only border crossing point for humanitarian aid and goods to Gaza. They disrupted the power and fuel lines for the Gaza Strip which is chronically short of power. The Palestinian men sent women and children to the border fences, knowing they would be shot.

The Israelis understand the problems in great detail, but the Hamas-instigated riots appear driven by pre-modern impulses that defy modern solutions and prescriptions.

Palestinian leaders say the marches and clashes are important because they send a message to the world. For the past two weeks, the Palestinians have been heard around the world. They have raised awareness at a great cost in lives and treasure. The message has been sent. The world is aware.

h/t Andrew Price
Every time the Palestinians send their message, the Muslim and western nations say all the right words of outrage. The Israelis get blamed for excessive use of force, until the next time. The major change is that the Palestinians in Gaza make their people’s living conditions worse.

The actions of the Palestinian leadership in Gaza and the West Bank are sufficient to sustain the life of their political system, but only because they are in a power-sharing relationship with Israel and aid donors. The Palestinian component of the power-sharing system is not self-sufficient and cannot prevent the collapse of its population without help. The Palestinians are dependents of the external components of the power-sharing arrangement.

The external components of the power-sharing arrangement – Israel and the aid agencies -- provide sufficient systemic sustenance to prevent the Palestinians from collapsing but not enough to make them whole, healthy or prosperous under present management.  It has been surviving under these conditions for 70 years. This is the system preferred by various and successive generations of Palestinian leadership because dependence on them keeps them valid, important and in power. 

Comparison

There is a comparison between Palestine, and its leadership and American inner cities and Democrat Party hegemony. Keeping a class of people dependent, miserable and by controlling the aid that reaches them, insures that power continues. It's cynical, but the calculus works. The corrupt, sly, elite media in the US (and they also cover the Palestinian situation) work hard to insure that the people never understand their role as poor and dependent pawns in a money game that is played at their expense.

It is no wonder that the media in the US is so frantic - so desperate to remove President Trump from office, because he does not buy into their false narrative in the way that so many former US presidents have. It could upset the applecart in the inner cities in America - and if the dependent class are employed, and happier, who knows what might transpire among those artificially depressed people?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Another Perspective

The reasons for suspending talks with South Korea are very different from those that prompted the threat to reconsider the US summit. North Korea suspended talks with South Korea because of the B-52's in the Max Thunder exercise. In Asia, a military exercise that contains the word “thunder” always implies B-52 attacks.

When Kim Jong Un said he understood routine training by forces in Korea, he also indicated that did not include offensive strategic assets deployed from outside. Somehow someone in South Korea and/or the US missed this point, ignored it, or has a tin ear.

The scheduled deployment of strategic bombers plus any other assets not based in South Korea caused the suspension of the talks. They are the iconic offensive weapon system in the USAF arsenal since the Vietnam War. In 1965, the B-52 operation in Vietnam used the word thunder, as in Operation Rolling Thunder. 

Belated appreciation of this caused the US to reconsider deploying the bombers this week. Talks will be held after the air clears.

The potential negative fallout and the nattering worries of the academics on the sidelines are all manageable by a great power. None of them are reasons to cancel a meeting between heads of state. 


Peace is their profession.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Serious Re-enacting

Neustadt-Glewe is a small German town, in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, in the district of Ludwigslust-Parchim. Last year, some serious re-enactors gathered together with seriously authentic arms and armor to relive the bloody past of that area in the age of Vikings. Live steel re-enactment is not a high school prom - not in the least.

The armor used by Vikings was no different than that used by English or German warriors of the same era. There were no horns on the helmets, and the blades were similar. Armor went from padded gambesons, to chain male, to laminar, to boiled leather curasses. The age of uniforms was still centuries in the future. 

Most warfare was fought from the shield wall. If your wall held and your brothers protected you as you protected them, they you might live to fight another day. Centuries later, the yew bow would render those sorts of formations less effective, as did the introduction of the handgun and Swiss pike - but those were also in the future.


















International Analysis

An End to Talks?

North Korea suspended high-level talks with South Korea and is threatening to reconsider the US summit. On 16 May, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published a report that cited joint US-South Korean air exercise Max Thunder as the reason for the suspension. The talks were supposed to be follow-up discussions on denuclearization.
“Public opinions at home and abroad comment that the maneuver is the largest-ever and a reflection of the invariable stand of the U.S. and south Korea to persist in the ‘maximum pressure and sanctions’ against the DPRK.” 
“The DPRK-targeted drill across south Korea is an undisguised challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and a deliberate military provocation to the trend of the favorably developing situation on the Korean Peninsula.”  --- yada-yada-yada I won't bore you with the whole rant.
The North suspends events when it is not ready to proceed or when proceeding would be disadvantageous to the North’s image or negotiating position. The above report does not signify a change in North Korean policy. It always has been situationally dependent.

The talks could be resumed, but not before there is a better understanding of what Kim and President Moon agreed to in the Panmunjom Declaration. Before the North-South summit on 27 April, Kim Jong Un told the South Korean special envoy that he “understood” the need for the US and South Korean forces to conduct routine exercises. He did not say he approved of them or tolerated them during peace talks.

Training Cycles

North Korea’s winter training cycle ended in March. May is the time for agricultural activity and post-winter training cycle housekeeping. It is easy for North Korea to promise to cease hostile activities at this time. 

South Korea is on a different training cycle. President Moon’s understanding of ceasing hostile military activities almost certainly means ending North Korean missile launches; no more shelling and raids across the Demilitarized Zone; no sinking of South Korean military or civilian boats and no cyber-attacks.

The North Koreans almost never share a negotiating partner’s interpretation of terms unless it suits them, even when their negotiators fully understand the western interpretation. 

Today, the talks do not look promising, but that can still change. 

Ham-Ass

I find it interesting that the corrupt, venal, lying, smug, sly, mainstream media supports the cause of Hamas when they send people out to die by throwing themselves onto Israeli bayonets because the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem.

The Palestinians do these things in protest, but the political calculus does not impact the shot callers who make a lot of money by continuing the tension in Gaza and elsewhere.

War is a racket and nowhere is that more clear than in the Palestinian lands. 

It's also important to note that the Saudis and other Arab sponsors have grown tired of the Palestinians and shifted their support to Israel.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Things to Consider

Food - for thought


Age


Hotspots

Hiding the Ball?

North Korea has begun dismantling the nuclear test site. The Korea analysts at 38 North reported on the 14th that satellite imagery from 7 May shows North Korea already has begun dismantling facilities at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

The imagery showed that since late April “several key operational support buildings, located just outside the North, West and South Portals, have been razed.” The imagery also showed that some of the mine railways that serviced the tunnels had been removed. Some rail carts have been tipped over and/or disassembled, and several small buildings have been removed.

The analysts judged that none of the tunnel adits have been sealed yet. The larger administration buildings remain. The tunnels are to be rubbled with explosives, and all the buildings are to be demolished. 

North Korea is taking actions that ensure that the outside world will not learn more details about what transpired at Punggye-ri over the past 12 years.

On 14 May, a group of North Korean Party officials, including Ryu Myong Son, deputy United Front Department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), and Kim Nung O, head of the party's North Pyongan Central Committee, were seen visiting Beijing.

At the 14 May daily press session, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a journalist that he was not aware of the visit.

Lu’s reply indicates this visit was not a matter for the Chinese Foreign Ministry. It is another of the high-level party-to-party exchanges that Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed for improving North Korea’s relationship with China.

Syria

Syria controls 60% of its national territory. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the recent surrenders and transfers of rebel fighters and their families from pockets of resistance south and north of Damascus have strengthened and expanded the government’s hold over the country. 

According to the SOHR, Syria’s government held just 20 per cent of the country at the beginning of 2017, but it now controls more than 60 per cent of Syrian territory.

The Russian intervention in September 2015 began the process of reversing the Syrian government’s inward collapse on Damascus. Having secured Damascus, the Syrian, Russian and allied forces gradually expanded outward to fulfill President Assad’s pledge to recover the entire national patrimony.

Most of the other 40 percent is controlled by the US or Turkish proxy forces. The Turks and their Free Syrian Army proxy control most of the border area west of the Euphrates River, including the area formerly known as Syria’s Afrin Canton. The Syrian Democratic Forces, the US proxy, controls most of Syria east of the Euphrates River.

A key pocket of Islamic resistance is in and around Idlib. Reducing that area remains a major challenge for the government and its allies. 

Nicaragua

Nicaragua has become politically unstable. Up to 65 people have been killed and 500 injured in clashes between anti-government protestors and security forces. The Catholic bishops announced that a dialogue with the government would begin on 16 May to stop the violence.

Since 18 April, large and still growing protests have occurred in Managua and other cities over government repression and corruption. The trigger for the civil disorders was an executive order to increase withholdings from employers and employees and to cut benefits for the purpose of rescuing the nearly insolvent Nicaraguan Social Security Institute.

That order sparked almost immediate protests that have continued. Five protestors were reported killed in clashes with police on Saturday and Sunday.

President Ortega’s government has applied a variety of carrot and stick techniques to placate the protests. Its initial reaction was to use force to disperse the demonstrators, including mass arrests, firing live rounds into crowds and using pro-government gangs to manhandle demonstrators.

On 22 April the Ortega government offered to open a dialogue with the business community and announced a mass release of detainees. It also rescinded the cuts to social security payments. That concession encouraged protestors to continue and to expand their grievances to include justice for the killed and a more democratic government. 

On 23 April, the United States Embassy in Managua announced it would cease routine operations and family members of embassy staff were ordered to leave the country. 

By the end of April more than 43 protestors were killed. The Nicaraguan Red Cross reported that it assisted 435 people, 242 of whom had to be hospitalized

Ortega has used the same repressive tactics to remain in power that the Somoza regime used, against which the Ortega brothers and the Sandinistas fought 40 years ago. His government has treated economic-based protests as challenges to political authority. As usually happens in such cases, the economic-based protests converted into anti-government protests. However, few protestors have called for President Ortega to resign.

The government does not yet appear in danger of overthrow, primarily because the security forces remain responsive to the president. Over the weekend, the Nicaraguan army urged an end to the violence.

Violent political protests are likely to continue but might decline somewhat depending on the outcome of the Church-sponsored meeting.