sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Sermonette

First, the fine print.

Disclaimer: "Sunday Sermonette" is a polemic on faith-based issues. It's occasionally commented on by the Lonestar Parson, unofficial chaplain of Virtual Mirage. If you disagree with anything presented here, nobody cares. Nobody.

Islamic Progressiveness

The new Sharia Barbie comes in two varieties. Un-mutilated genitalia for you to mutilate whenever you're ready or mutilated  genitalia for those who are two lazy to do it themselves. 

Keeping your women wearing 7th Century attire is impossibly progressive. Covering their faces hides the bruises and scars that are derived from Qur'anically correct discipline.

You can buy the new hijab Barbie on-line. There are a line of new Barbie doll styles including fat Barbie and flat-chest Barbie - with politically correct diverse ethnicities.  There is no Kardashian Barbie with a massive butt, but I'm sure that's in the works.

I haven't heard much of the new bald, black, beer-belly, gay/metro/gender flexible Ken doll making its appearance to accompany trailer trash Barbie and her menagerie of nine children, each fathered by a male of different ethnicity.

Can you buy your Sharia Barbie with your food stamps/EBT card? If not, why not? Call your Democrat representative in Congress and complain.

The Witches Continue the Witch Hunt

Marriage?

I'm suggesting that Mr Colon Kaepernick marry Ms Bruce Jenner. What could possibly be more progressive than that? The man of the year married to the woman of the year both are celebrated athletes -- it is written in the stars. 

Ok, there are a couple of things that would make it more progressive: They both need to become Muslims, which would mean Bruce would have to wear a burka. The blended marriage would be a big hit reality show on Bravo. Both would become even richer.

Electoral College

All the states in blue have a smaller population than Los Angeles County. Remember this next time someone says we don't need the electoral college.




Friday, November 17, 2017

Checking In

'Going Galt' is more difficult than the fictional character in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. I guess that I could have packed up and moved to Ouray, CO like the character in the book. I like summers in that area and am up in Ouray County almost every summer - but the winters are exceptionally brutal.

On the White Wolf Mine property:

Progress is being made - slowly. One person asked me why I was relocating so far from the human stain. I replied with one word, "peace". I am WAY too young to rest in peace, but there is a clear benefit to live in a peace far from the progressive world -- far from unicorns.

3 NOV 07


To frame the photo, you're looking up toward the ridge line at the dig where the garage is being cut out of the mountain. You can see the power line snaking its way along the ridge to the mine property. I originally wanted the build farther off the ridge, but simple design realities caused me to reconsider.

This is the garage, viewed from an angle parallel to the ridge line.  Placement of the garage portion of the hovel in this place makes cutting the road far easier on this side. The drive-through garage has a road going out the other side as well (to the rear of the photographer). That road has to branch down to the Phase 2 area as well as looping back to the main road in.

It's winter in the high country and with the exception of the pines, the place looks dead. In summer there are ferns and wild flowers everywhere.

16 NOV 07

The footers are being completed and they presage re-bar and concrete foundation footings being poured. Everything up on the Mogollon Rim seems to take longer than you hope that it will, but things are inching along. The weather has been exceptionally mild with highs in the 60's and lows in the 40's. Could it be that the long promised global warming is delivering (at long last)?

Thanks Al Gore.

17 NOV 07

The county will inspect the footings and the steel today and they're planning on pouring concrete for the foundation tomorrow (Saturday).

Normally, you'd think that, Thanksgiving Week is an excuse not to work on par with Elk Season. However as soon as the concrete has set up, the masonry will be laid. It makes for a better graphic for the Internet than trenches and rocks.


Because the hovel at the White Wolf Mine is being built on a slope, there is incremental masonry to support the floor. Thus the need for additional footings.

The White Wolf Mine is a hard rock mine, and because of that, nobody should be surprised that there have been a number of rocks (left) unearthed to dig the footings and get the ground prepared for the shack to go in. Some of them had to be blasted into smaller rocks to get them out.

This excavation does not include the extensive excavation for the alternative septic system ($35K price tag) that will be going in a quarter mile away. That has not begun yet and is less critical at this point because we need to have the concrete poured and the masonry in so that framing can begin before weather sets in. (no, I don't trust Al Gore)

The plumbers and electricians still need to do their magic before the initial slabs can be poured. And it needs to be inspected and signed off by the county. 


Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Review of the News

What's Next?


In Norkland

Whenever I need a laugh, I read North Korea propaganda, because it's just funny. I know that they don't mean to be - but they are entertainers.

(Fox News) President Trump should be “sentenced to death” for calling North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un “short and fat,” the regime’s state media declared Wednesday in an unhinged diatribe blasting Trump as an “old lunatic, mean trickster and human reject.”

Kim Jong Un, who took exception to be called short and fat
rides around in a "people's tractor", built in Norkland
The editorial published in Rodong Sinmun, the state’s ruling party newspaper, called Trump a “hideous criminal” for attempting to unite world leaders against Kim Jong Un and for later insulting the despot in a message he tweeted during Trump's five-country Asia tour, according to a translation published by the state’s Korean Central News Agency

"The worst crime for which [Trump] can never be pardoned is that he dared [to] malignantly hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership," the editorial stated. “Trump, who is no more than an old slave of money, dared point an accusing finger at the sun.”

It added: "[Trump] should know that he is just a hideous criminal sentenced to death by the Korean people."

My Entries to the Black and White Photo Challenge




Race for the Cure?

When progressive freaks have more credibility with the corrupt, nasty, lying, elite, smug, mainstream media than honest, hard working Americans do, you have to wonder if there is some sort of inoculation we could give them to fix them. There are physicians who drift by this blog. What say you?

Maybe they weren't breast fed as children? Maybe they were dropped on their heads by parents or siblings? Don't rule out organic brain damage.

Maybe they smoked some weed that had Agent Orange (a defoliant called Spike when used in this hemisphere) dusted on it? Maybe they injected heroin without enough rat poison in it and it turned them into a species of walking dead?



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Red Units, and other Geopolitical Stuff

I would like somebody to explain to me why the US remains in Afghanistan in such a way that it makes one lick of sense. Yes, I know that it will fall to radical Muslims as soon as we stop spending billions to prop up a corrupt (puppet) government and withdraw our army. I have a history with this place as do many other Americans. And I know that  inside every Afghan there is NOT an American screaming to get out.

What is our end-game? 
Why is Afghanistan worth one more American life?
Why is Afghanistan worth one more American dollar?

In addition to my history with Afghanistan, I have a son-in-law who pulls a 100% military disability pension from his service to our nation in that country. He's doing fine now, for the record. He's making it. But for him and for so many others who have left pieces of themselves behind in foreign lands, there is that enduring question of whether or not it was worth such a costly sacrifice.
Can somebody give me an updated count on post-military service service suicides? I've lost frigging count. The number is staggering.
The News: Afghan Taliban special operations forces, known as Sara Khitta or Red Unit/Group, conducted “rolling attacks” on 15 police checkpoints in Kandahar during the night of 13/14 November. The attack in Farah Province on the night of the 13th also was a Red Unit operation that killed nine, vice eight, policemen. 

The official death toll in Kandahar was 23 policemen killed and 16 wounded. However, local officials said that 70 policemen were killed in 36 hours.

Afghan sources said the Red Groups wear helmets with Russian night vision goggles attached. They have telescopic sights with laser target pointers and use US automatic rifles. Afghan sources said the equipment mix indicates outside sources of supply including Russian, Iran and Pakistan.

Context: The Taliban have created a force capable of much more effective night operations. The attacks this week appear to be the first of their type, although Red Units have been mentioned in reports since 2015.

Since mid-2015, various sources reported that the Taliban were forming and training new units modeled on their understanding of US special forces. They also were experimenting with new tactics.

In August 2016, Red Units participated in attacks in repeated attempts to capture Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province. They were used mainly as extra muscle in the attacks. 

Open sources said those Red Units were equipped with US automatic rifles with night-vision scopes and laser pointers. At that time, they supposedly numbered 300 members. They wore no distinguishing clothing or identifiers.

Dedicated Taliban fighters with better rifles and scopes are not major innovations. However, night vision goggles and different tactics are significant. These two features combine to represent an escalation of the terror threat to local security personnel.

All the sources state that the night vision goggles and helmets are Russian. No open sources identified the source of supply. Night vision goggles increase the vulnerability of Afghan police posts, which usually close during the night. The only Afghan units that have night vision equipment are the Afghan special operations forces. No Afghan police personnel have them, which means they can be killed in their sleep. That is what happened in Kandahar and in Farah.

The second new feature is the rolling attack tactic, hitting multiple checkpoints in succession to kill as many policemen as possible. The attackers overran police posts, but did not stay. 

A third point is not new, but is relevant. They coordinated attacks in separate provinces in cities more than 200 miles apart. If the police become afraid for their personal safety at night, the government presence at the district level will gradually collapse, which is why they're doing it.

Kurdistan Update

Iraqi Kurdish authorities said on 14 November that they would accept a court decision prohibiting the region from seceding.

On 5 November, the Federal Supreme Court ruled, “The Republic of Iraq is a federal, independent and fully sovereign state in which the system of government is parliamentary and democratic republic, and this Constitution is a guarantor of the unity of Iraq.” 
The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) statement said, “We believe that this Decision must become a basis for starting an inclusive national dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all disputes through implementation of all constitutional articles and in a way that guarantees all rights, authorities and status mentioned in the Constitution, since this is the only way to secure the unity of Iraq, as Article 1 stated.”
The Iraqi government has not replied.

The KRG’s statement is the KRG’s third overture to the authorities in Baghdad to open talks. They are trying to ensure the survival of a semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region. The al-Abadi government is likely to reject the latest offer because the KRG has no right to reject the ruling without starting a civil war. Its statement of acceptance could be considered an insult to the federal authorities.

Syria

As the war against ISIS draws to a close, the US is agreeing to disagree about who goes and who stays. Concerning US military deployments in Syria, the US Secretary of Defense said on 14 November, “We're not just going to walk away right now before the Geneva process has cracked. That doesn't mean everyone stays there. That doesn't mean for certain — certain troops are leaving. I'm just saying that we're going to condition — and I've honestly not made those decisions. We're going to make sure we set the conditions for a diplomatic solution […] Not just, you know, fight the cop part of it and then say good luck on the rest of it. We did it for that — to support the diplomatic solution."

Commenting on the statement of the US Defense Secretary, the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said on the 14th that the presence of the US forces in Syria without the approval of the Syrian government is considered an aggression. 

The Syrian opposition to the presence of Turkish and American soldiers in Syria is unchanged. It considers those forces to be aggressors and their presence a violation of international law. Although Russia and Iran agreed to Turkish military monitoring of the Idlib de-escalation zone, Syria did not.

I do not interpret Syria’s comment as requiring an immediate withdrawal of forces. Instead, it is a statement for the legal record that the only forces with a legal basis for their presence in Syria are those Syria invited. They are, primarily, the Russians, the Iranians and Iranian-backed militias and Lebanese Hizballah. 

This is the kind of issue that can strongly influence a political settlement because there are parties who were important to the outcome of the fighting who have no standing to participate in settlement talks… except they have guns and hold territory. 

The issue is the integrity of the Syrian state. Turkish and US forces are the de facto protectors of separate fragments of Syria and sectarian populations. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov clarified that a recently announced agreement on the terms of a ceasefire in Syria did not include a Russian commitment to ensure Iran-linked militias would be pulled out of the country. Lavrov said Iran maintained a “legitimate” presence in Syria.

Lavrov’s comment may be understood in several ways, which is typical for Lavrov. In one sense, it is a clarification that the new ceasefire arrangement among Jordan, Russia and the US does not require the withdrawal of Iranian-backed forces from Syria. Russia is in no position to make such a commitment and such a commitment serves no long term Russian interests.

A second sense is that Russia might not be able to enforce the distance terms in the new ceasefire arrangement that purport to define how close Iranian-backed militias can deploy to the Golan Heights. In this sense, Lavrov seems to admit that Russia promised more than it was authorized or more than it is prepared to do. 

Israel's Concerns

Prime Minister Netanyahu told members of his Likud party, “We are controlling our borders, we are protecting our country and we will continue to do so.” 
“I have also informed our friends, firstly in Washington and also our friends in Moscow, that Israel will act in Syria, including in southern Syria, according to our understanding and according to our security needs.”
According to Israeli press, Netanyahu’s remarks echoed those on Sunday, 12 November, by Israel’s regional cooperation minister, Tzachi Hanegbi, told reporters that it “does not meet Israel’s unequivocal demand that there will not be developments that bring the forces of Hezbollah or Iran to the Israel-Syria border in the north. There’s reflection here of the understanding that Israel has set red lines, and will stand firm on this.”

_______________

Zimbabwe

(The Army took over, but denies it’s a coup.) Zimbabwe sources stated that a “bloodless transition” is taking place to a new era in which ousted Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa will help.

On 14 November, Zimbabwe’s army took control of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and the main newspaper. Major General S. B. Moyo broadcast a statement.
“Fellow Zimbabweans. Following the address we made on 13 November 2017, which we believe our main broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporationand the Herald were directed not to publicize, the situation in our country has moved to another level.” 
“Firstly, we wish to assure our nation, His Excellency, the president of the republic of Zimbabwe and commander in chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, comrade R. G. Mugabe and his family, are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.” 
“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.”
The remainder of the statement directed people and businesses to go about their business normally. It ordered party and youth groups to not engage in acts of violence. 

The issue is the succession to President Mugabe.

The reference to a speech on 13 November is to a statement by Zimbabwe’s army chief, General Chiwenga, in which he demanded that President Mugabe halt the purge in the ruling Zanu-PF party, which began after Mugabe sacked Vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa for casue. Mnangagwa is out of the country, a fugitive from justice.

General Chiwenga told a media conference attended by at least 90 senior army officers at the army headquarters in Harare that "the current purging which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith." He said the Army was prepared to step in.

Mugabe fired Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa last week. The veteran of the country’s 1970s liberation war was popular with the military and had been seen as a likely successor to Mugabe. Most observers believe that Mugabe is preparing his wife Grace Mugabe, a much younger person, to succeed him.

On the 14th, Zimbabwe's ruling party accused General Chiwenga of treasonable conduct. The army moved armored personnel carriers to Harare and took over the capital.

Mugabe chaired a weekly cabinet meeting in the capital on Tuesday. Afterwards, the ruling party, ZANU-PF, said it stood by the “primacy of politics over the gun.” After that the army made its broadcast.

Mugabe is 93 and has been in power since independence from the UK in 1980. The struggle over his successor is longstanding. This operation will not settle it. 

Despite the army’s denial, it’s a coup. There are no good guys in this setting, including the army whose leaders have gotten rich under Mugabe. 

Building a Better Home


Château de Peyrelade dates back to at least the 12th-century. Objects discovered in this area date back to prehistoric times. (YouTube Tour

There are some who dispute the value of a compound. 

However, history shows that it's better to be hard than soft. And it's better that people don't know precisely where you are or what your defensive measures are -- until it's too late.

I do not argue that entropy takes everything that we are and everything that we build. That's obvious.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Upset Palestinians

I share with whoever reads this blog a certain war weariness when it comes to the Middle East. In fact, I'm reluctant to blog about the place because it's like a broken record -- has been before I was born and will be after I die. The Israel vs Arab conflict was well underway long before David slew Goliath with a rock launched from a sling (the earliest example of Iron Dome...

Israel acts based on its own interests alone. I don't consider them an ally by choice, but they are an ally by need. Which is better? You can decide.

The Palestinians are upset because they're Palestinians. Nobody can fix that accident of birth.

On 13 November, the Israeli military raised the alert level across the country. The move was a response to threats by the Gaza-based militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). PIJ vowed to avenge the deaths of 12 members who were killed when the Israeli army last month blew up a tunnel under the Gaza-Israel border. Demo-ing a tunnel makes perfect sense. The US needs to demo more drug tunnels under the US/Mexico border because that's how the bulk of hard narcotics and high value people (Middle Easterners and Asians) are smuggled into the USA...but back to Israel.

Commercial Channel 2 TV reported that the Israel Air Force has finished deploying Iron Dome batteries throughout Israel, including in the north and center of the country.

Additional troops have been deployed to the south to reinforce the Gaza Division, which is on alert both to defend the southern communities and for the possibility of an attack.

Israeli official sources declined to state whether Israel had specific information about a PIJ attack. They never do comment, but their behavior in raising vigilance involved high cost physical precautions. Those usually imply a serious and reasonably credible, specific threat.

PIJ is more extreme than Hamas and usually makes good on its threats of revenge, using rocket and/or mortar attacks. PIJ has not been a party to the reconciliation talks between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over control of the Gaza Strip. PIJ represents a wildcard that neither Hamas or Fatah control. PIJ’s top leaders are based in Damascus, Syria. The Sunni Arab terrorist group receives support from Iran and has close ties to Lebanese Hizballah.

Israel warned PIJ against attacking. On 11 November, the Israeli army warned PIJ that Israel would retaliate for any attacks and that the targets would include Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.
On 12 November, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “There are those who still amuse themselves these days by trying to renew attacks against Israel. We will take a very firm stance against anyone who tries to attack us or attacks us from any area.”
PIJ replied that the Israeli threats amounted to a declaration of war.

Arab and Israeli experts state that PIJ is under pressure from Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to take no action that disrupts the reconciliation between the main Palestinian factions. 

They also judge that PIJ leaders will feel that they must avenge the deaths. If so, there will be attacks. The Israelis will not limit their targets to the Gaza Strip.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Observations of Iranian Activities

The US invasion of Iraq and the defeat of that nation was viewed from Teheran as "God's Intervention" for Iran, which had difficulty handling the Iraqi menace.

There were those of us who tried to make the point back then, but Present Bush (and his friends) would not be deterred. The hubris and zeal that led to the invasion which cost the American nation so much blood and treasure over the past decade and a half can not be under stated. Some forget the situation, but I recall it clearly. I'm not going into details of who or why post September 11, 2001, but I was alarmed by the situation, but I was not alone in this.

Fast forwarding to the present (with a continuing dose of I-told-you-so), the multi-polar nature of the Middle East that includes the Islamic radicalization of Turkey, creates frustration when reading the tea leaves, because it's like ten chameleons making love. Even with a program and a sound understanding of the history of the area and the players, the variables keep it all looking like the Gordian Knot (cut by Alexander-the-Great).

Iran is Open for Business

A shipment of 15,000 tons of Indian wheat aid to Afghanistan arrived on Saturday via Iran’s Chabahar/Chahbahar port. The shipment left India’s western port of Kandla on 29 October and reached Chabahar on 1 November. It was then transported by trucks to Zaranj, in the Afghan province of Nimruz, which borders Iran. From there, it will travel to Delaram to join the Afghan Ring Road for distribution.

A total of seven shipments are planned to deliver 110,000 tons of wheat in stages between now and the end of January. A second wheat shipment already is at Chabahar. “With the opening of Chabahar port, Afghanistan will no longer be dependent on Karachi port,” said Nimruz Governor Mohammad Samiullah. 

Context: India has committed $500 million to develop the sea route, which will allow traders in landlocked Afghanistan to bypass Pakistani restrictions on shipments via Pakistan’s Karachi port. The sea route also is much more secure than the Pakistani roads.

Earlier this year, Afghanistan opened an air corridor to fly tons of fresh fruit to India after Pakistan raised taxes on the goods.

The shortest and most cost-effective land routes between India and Afghanistan are through Pakistan, but Pakistan refused to permit India to trade directly with Afghanistan using Pakistani roads.

India tried for many years to create a transit corridor to Afghanistan that used Pakistani roads. Last year it tried to send a shipment of wheat to Afghanistan overland via the border crossing at Torkham, but Pakistani officials objected. India has promised 1.1 million tons of wheat as a gift to Afghanistan, of which 700,000 tons have now been delivered.

In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed the north-south transit corridor agreement via Chabahar, rather than Bandar Abbas, Iran’s busiest port.

How does the US fit into this? The US in effect, remains the puppet master over the Afghanistani government. Thus all agreements of this nature must be ratified (at least tacitly) by USGOV.

Cause and Effect with China: Competition with China. China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor spurred India to get serious about developing its own infrastructure initiative with Iran and Afghanistan or lose opportunities for expanding trade into Central Asia. The transit corridor agreement is the result and a first step in India’s marketing plans.

The new route eventually will alter trade patterns in Afghanistan, away from Pakistan and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The Chinese project will have some competition. 

An Iranian Base in Syria?

On 10 November, the BBC published a series of images taken between January and October 2017 that show the construction of a military base eight miles south of Damascus. An unidentified Western intelligence source told the BBC the facility is a permanent Iranian base.

The main features in the images are a series of 12 large garages on one side of the facility and six buildings that appear to be housing for personnel on the opposite side. These buildings are not newly constructed, but probably have been refurbished. Several new buildings have been constructed. No gun emplacements, security fences or other security measures are apparent. 

Israeli news services have lionized the BBC report, citing Prime Minister Netanyahu’s warning that Israel will not let Iran establish itself militarily in Syria. Some cited the BBC report as confirmation of many similar, unconfirmed reports about Iranian base construction in major cities of western Syria.

The BBC provided no additional evidence to support the allegation that the base is Iranian. The location is astride the main north-south route from Damascus to Amman, Jordan, affording easy access to Damascus, but not much else.

The facility is unfinished after 10 months of construction. The buildings show no sign of urgency in completion. There are no obvious checkpoints, security fencing or other measures that would suggest the facility has special sensitivity. Iranian military facilities are heavily guarded and have perimeter roads, checkpoints for access and are surrounded by security fences. Thus the evidence that this is a military base is unconvincing at this point despite the BBC's assurances that it is. The buildings are organized but generic. Most importantly, the absence of security measures suggests this is not a sensitive facility. An obvious Iranian base in Syria would be a departure for Iran, which usually prefers to hide or disguise its personnel operating outside Iran.

The developments here as reported by the BBC are worth watching.

Those Pesky Muslims

An Iranian I know said that the assailant was a Sunni Muslim. He says that horses are off the menu for Shiites. You can make of that what you will.