sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Geopolitical Update

North Korea - The Mouse that Roared

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

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

South Korea

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

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

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

Chinese Peace Brokering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nigeria

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

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

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

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



Observations

Keep Pelosi

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

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

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

Age haters need to be destroyed.

Torched Reporters

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

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

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


Monday, June 26, 2017

Geopolitical Events


Qatar Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pakistan

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

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

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

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

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

Syria

There have been a few things going on in Syria worth of comment. On 22 June, Russia launched a salvo of six Kalibr cruise missiles from ships in the Mediterranean Sea at targets near Hama. It was more of a live fire exercise/crew training, but if you have an authorized (fragged) target, why not combine the two? That's how the Russians roll.  
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The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces reported liberating another district in western Raqqa after three days of fighting. It hasn't been covered in the corrupt, elite, nasty, lying mainstream media in the US but it's a huge victory in the fight against ISIS.
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The Syrian de-escalation zones ("safe zones") are getting some play. The next session of talks in Kazakhstan on 4 and 5 July is supposed to determine the details of how the de-escalation zones will be demarcated, monitored and enforced and by which of the guarantors – Russia, Iran and Turkey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Venezuela

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

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



On the Road Less Traveled

Take a Chance

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


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

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

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


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


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday's sunday Sermonette

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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

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











Saturday, June 24, 2017

Passing Observations

Bernie and Jane Sanders have lawyered up (more here) It's interesting that they started by blaming President Trump. 
On January 10, 2016, in the midst of Sanders’ sudden stardom—just weeks before the votes in Iowa and New Hampshire—the U.S. attorney for Vermont was sent a “Request for an Investigation into Apparent Federal Bank Fraud.”
Oops.
Jane and Bernie Sanders
Backed by six exhibits and a dozen documents, the four-page letterdescribed how Jane Sanders had “orchestrated” the purchase of 33 acres along Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont’s largest city, where her husband had minted his populist political brand as mayor. The deal closed in 2010, when the senator’s wife was president of Burlington College, a tiny, obscure, nontraditional school that always seemed to be struggling for students and funds. The letter alleged that to secure a $10 million loan and execute her grand plan to expand the college, Jane Sanders had falsified and inflated nearly $2 million that she’d claimed donors had pledged to repay the loans.
It's one of those things that we have to watch, to see how it all turns out.

It's Just Chump Change

All pigs are equal. Some are more equal than others.
The infamous Clinton Foundation now admits that it took $1 million from Qatar while Hillary was Secretary of State, and forgot to tell the US government. (more here

It could have happened to any one of us. Of course if you're not elite and you do that, you end up in custody with soap-on-a-rope around your neck in the communal prison shower.
Among the thousands of emails hacked from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman John Podesta and published by Wikileaks, one stated that officials from the government of Qatar gave the Clinton Foundation $1 million to celebrate Bill Clinton’s 65th birthday, funds which the foundation did not report to the State Department. 
That would seemingly violate an ethics agreement Hillary Clinton signed when she became Secretary of State in 2009, in which she promised the foundation would notify the State Department's ethics official if a new foreign government wanted to donate or "increase materially" its contributions.

Qatari officials pledged the money in 2011; in April 2012 Amitabh Desai, the Clinton Foundation's foreign policy director, sent an email acknowledging the Qataris wanted to meet Bill Clinton “for five minutes” in New York City. 
Clinton Foundation spokesman Brian Cookstra told Reuters that the $1 million gift was not a "material increase" in Qatar’s contributions. But Qatar had given between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation in total, meaning the $1 million gift represented between a 20% to 100% increase.
America is still waiting for a serious investigation into the Clinton Foundation, shady uranium deals and a host of other "irregular" transactions. The FBI could do a good job here and it might begin to remove the "Comey Stain" that is on the FBI badge. Currently, people allege that the FBI (along with the corrupt mainstream media) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democrat Party. I don't believe that, but I do believe that there is a lot of partisan politics being played instead of following evidence and sticking to a discovery of facts. It makes the Bureau look tawdry.

ObamaCare

The system is broke and insurers are either increasing premiums dramatically while also raising deductibles or they're pulling out of the exchanges/market completely.

The Dems knew that this would happen and under a Clinton presidency, it would have been a predicate for single-payer healthcare mandated to all Americans. In effect, it would have made all healthcare in the us equal to the Veteran's Administration. Care would have been smashed and the cost would have been unsustainable (enter death panels). That was the program. But elections have consequences.

Today it remains to be seen whether Congress will put lipstick on a pig (ObamaCare) or will repeal and replace. The swamp is very deep, my friends. I have no idea where this will land, but the Republicans aren't showing much spine. President Trump promised America a repeal of ObamaCare and a rational replacement that included opening up the entire US to all insurance carriers so that competition could drive down cost.


Geopolitical Commentary

Pusillanimous Pakis

During the past week, the Chinese have offered to mediate Pakistani differences with Afghanistan. When you consider that the Pakistani Intelligence Service (ISI) created the Taliban, and has supported them since the beginning, I don't know what form those mediations will take.

This week the Russians offered to mediate Pakistani differences with India.
The US has tried to use its position as an ally of Pakistan and Afghanistan and a friend of India to persuade Pakistan to halt support to terrorist groups in Afghanistan and in India for the past 16 years. US efforts failed.
The most important countries on earth are getting tired of Pakistani duplicity. Pakistan has become a source of instability and a training ground for international terrorists that now threaten Chinese and Russian interests, not just those of the US. 

Pakistani leaders do not seem to be getting the message that China will not tolerate Pakistan’s ineffective security operations and selective support for terrorists because they jeopardize China’s Belt and Road initiative. The terms of Pakistani participation virtually allow China to take charge of Pakistani security, if Pakistan cannot meet its responsibilities. 

Russian President Putin made the mediation offer on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization conference in Astana, Kazakhstan, in early June. As the US has exerted increased pressure on Pakistan to terminate its support for terrorist groups, Putin’s advisors perceive an opportunity to increase Russian influence.

Pakistani leaders also have incurred increased displeasure from Saudi King Salman because Pakistan has twice declined to support important Saudi initiatives. Pakistan has refused to support the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and the Saudi-led sanctions regime against Qatar.

The Pakistani leaders do not seem prepared to cope with the complexity of the situation that their policy choices have created. 

There is no good reason that the US should extend .02 cents to Pakistan by way of foreign aid. Let the Chinese watch their bribes disappear onto the pockets of Pakistani leaders without the slightest movement toward improving the lives of the regular people or improving the security situation.

Iranian Missiles

Israel reported that only two Iranian missiles hit Deir ez-Zor. Israeli press also reported that Iran launched seven missiles, not six as the spokesman for the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said.
“Out of the seven ballistic missiles fired at ISIS havens in Deir ez-Zor, only two hit the targets,” Haaretz reported. Two landed in the surrounding area; three landed in Iraq, according to Israeli military sources. 
Iran said the missiles killed 65 Islamic State fighters. 

The Israeli narrative corrects the record, but the inaccuracy of the Iranian missiles might be considered more threatening than more accurate missiles. Inaccurate missiles are arguably more terrifying than precision weapons. The Iranians would accept a mixed result from a missile attack against Israelis.

The problem of Iranian missiles reaching their targets may have something to do with their design being based on North Korean Missiles.

Turks vs Kurds

If a Turk should marry a Kurd, the resulting union would be... puzzle that one out for yourself. Meanwhile...

Several Turkish army convoys were seen heading into Syria on 21 June toward the rebel-held town of Azaz. The Turkish troop movement reinforces rumors of a pending Turkish-backed rebel assault on Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) positioned around the town of Tell Rifaat.

A local analyst observed that a battle over Tell Rifaat, a previously rebel-held town that was seized by the YPG, isn't as sensitive as a direct Turkish attack on core YPG areas, as Manbij has become. 

The Turkish leadership is obsessed with and confounded by the Syrian civil war. President Erdogan’s initial policy was to support the Islamic State in overthrowing the Assad government. That policy failed and backfired when the Russian expeditionary force arrived to save the Assad government and when the US narrowed the fight by focusing on the Islamic State.

Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield succeeded in creating a limited safe zone, around a few villages west of Manbij, but, even with the help of Turkish regular units, the Turkish proxy forces were unable to push the Syrian Kurds back across the Euphrates River. Turkey ended that operation with a promise of returning. 

Turkey hoped to have its proxy rebel forces join the fight for Raqqa and to replace the Syrian Kurds. The US rejected the Turkish plan. 

Erdogan sensed an opportunity in cooperating with the Russians and Iranians in creating the four de-escalation zones. Turkey’s task supposedly was to ensure that the Sunni armed opposition groups complied with the ceasefire terms. The triumvirate has yet to decide where and how the Turks perform this task. That is a primary topic for the next round of talks in Kazakhstan.

The latest move suggests Turkey unilaterally is determining its area of responsibility by committing Turkish army units a second time.

The Turks might be doing to the Syrian Kurds in the north what the US and its proxy force did to the Syrian army and its allies at Al Tanj. That is set up a blocking position to protect its interests. At Tell Rifaat, the Turkish army will ensure that the Syrian Kurds from their two cantons in eastern Syria never create an uninterrupted land corridor to the Afrin Canton. I believe that the Turks will be frustrated in their efforts once again.

USA

The smug, elite, progressive, lying, filthy mainstream media continues their rant against the American people, while the rest of the world just wonders if the American elites have gone completely insane.

The answer to that question would be "yes".

It would help if the mainstream media could get out of the DC Beltway or off Manhattan Island - but that is asking too much.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Minimum Wages in America

Tell me, is something eluding you, Sunshine?
Is this not what you expected to see?
If you want to find out what’s behind these cold eyes,
You’ll just have to claw your way through this disguise...
--Roger Waters - Pink Floyd, The Wall
Sadly, the reality is that you are paid precisely what you're worth to somebody else. Minimum wage was never intended to be the standard for employment compensation, but since government created a minimum wage thus interfering with commerce, it has been a convenient place to peg salaries for people, many of whose time is actually worth less.

And this is a problem for many employers and employees. 

The cost of living in the USA is not uniform. What is a living wage in Arkansas is a starvation wage in much of California, New York, Hawaii or Washington DC.



Arkansas has the lowest hourly income needed for a two-bedroom rental at $13.72, and the state minimum wage is $8.50/hr. Hawaii demands the highest income of renters: Workers need to make $35.20 to rent a two-bedroom there, and the state minimum wage is $9.25. This means that you need a roommate or two to spread the burden if you plan on turning burgers, for the rest of your life.

The antidote to this situation is to learn a trade or gain a profession where your time is worth more. Sadly, the cant of the progressive left is that businesses should subsidize those whose time is worth less than they're being paid by increasing the minimum wage. It makes no sense unless you are a social justice warrior (and likely don't work for a living and are living in Mom's basement).

Fiddling with and increasing the minimum wage means that some businesses who can't afford to pay workers more go under. This situation has never bothered the progressive left and our former president who reminded us over and over that YOU DIDN'T BUILD THAT. Then again, there is no record of Barack doing a day's labor in his life.


Barack successfully race baited his way into a position of advantage and I guess it's fair to say that he was paid what he was worth. If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit. (hint: bring a teleprompter) It isn't the best solution to the minimum wage issue, but being President is better than flipping burgers, bussing dishes, fluffing for the porn industry or picking cotton. The Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to President Obama for being the first mixed race president is an example of how some can work the situation to their benefit without the need for a minimum wage.

Hillary receives a really nice medal for not doing anything.
Then there's Hillary Clinton, famous wife of Bill (Slick Willy) Clinton who was simply more wicked than her opponents...until she ran into Barack and then The Donald. Politics may be a solution or a road to success for many low skilled people, but there aren't enough Congressional seats for all of them.
A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."

"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."
Government hands medals and awards to their elite in the very same way that Hollywood recognizes its elite. Hollywood does a better job with the pomp and circumstance.

Vice President Joe Biden receives a participation trophy.
Receiving a medal if you are an elite politician doesn't mean that you'll be paid more for your next movie the way that they do it in Hollywood. But in Hollywood, you're only as good as your last game. The same is true for prostitutes and consultants (and there's not much difference - I know - you just don't get a happy ending from a consultant). In government, you have a guaranteed income for as long as you live, a robust pension with survivor's benefits, etc. No particular talent is required - See Barack, Hillary and Slow Joe (above). They all have medals and awards and didn't do a damned thing but make life miserable for the American people. They all got rich on pay to play, but that's another story.

"When you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed." – Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
In government as a legislature, you can vote yourself a pay raise. The California Legislature voted themselves a fat pay raise this week and Gov. Moonbeam is the highest paid governor in the nation. He would tell you that he's worth it. I agree. Scamming (as with Barack) pays at times - thousand times minimum wage. California legislators also receive $183.00 per day in tax free per deim to cover incidentals while they're in session, and a wide range of other perks not available to anyone who is not voting themselves raises. Better than trimming trees? You bet!

No skills, stuck in a minimum wage job? Try politics!
"The government consists of a gang of men and women exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods." - H. L. Mencken

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mid-Week Crazies

Progressive thought...

Antarctica

(WaPo) "Antarctic sea ice hit 35-year record high Saturday." As one could predict without reading the article, the Washington Post (progressive publication) attributes the expanding sea ice to...wait for it..."Global Warming". The article cites suspicious vortexes as the potential cause even while predicting that the ice will melt, seas will rise, etc. To assert anything else would be to reveal themselves as "climate deniers", repudiating "settled science".

(h/t John D. for putting me onto this)


Oh, Canada!

Canadian law panders to fringe psychopathies, sexual neuroses, hysteria, paranoiac delusion, and freakish sociopathies disguised as an abortive political ideology. It's now a violation of criminal law in Canada to use the wrong pro-noun when referring to a person's (perceived) gender. I don't know if the Canadians ascribe to the 31 genders that are all part of law in New York or if they run with the 18 genders in California -- or if they have their own list. (these genders are fluid and to some extent it's how you wake up feeling on any given day and on whether you feel like wearing boxers or panties on that given day)
(Daily Caller) Canada passed a law Thursday making it illegal to use the wrong gender pronouns. Critics say that Canadians who do not subscribe to progressive gender theory could be accused of hate crimes, jailed, fined, and made to take anti-bias training. 
Canada’s Senate passed Bill C-16, which puts “gender identity” and “gender expression” into both the country’s Human Rights Code, as well as the hate crime category of its Criminal Code by a vote of 67-11.
“Great news,” announced Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister.
Going along with the Canadian theory (now law) how anyone could know which pronoun a particular person would prefer? I'm not planning travel to Canada - but if I went and if I got it wrong, I could land in a Canadian prison after being convicted by a kangaroo court after saying "he" when the Canadians assert, that I should have said, "she". I'd end up like the hapless Otto Warnbeir - murdered by North Koreans (only Canadians in this case) and then returned to the USA in a coma days before he expired. Is there a Canadian who reads this blog who could explain it to me and the rest of the readers?

Now for a breath of fresh air.

USA - Supreme Court Declares that "Hate Speech" is Free Speech

Matal v Tam
(National Review) With the Left feverishly attempting to squash unwelcome speech on college campuses, with the president of the United States musing about tightening libel laws, with prominent liberals asserting that so-called hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment, free speech in America at least has one reliable friend — the Supreme Court of the United States. 
In a firm 8-0 decision, the court slapped down the Patent and Trademark Office for denying a band federal trademark registration for the name “The Slants,” a derogatory term for Asian-Americans. The case involves a very small corner of federal law, but implicates the broader logic of political correctness, which is that speech should be silenced for the greater good if there is a chance that someone, somewhere might be offended by it.
Read the entire article.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Nelson

(note: the "today" below is actually yesterday for you, the reader)

Desert Bighorn Sheep in El Dorado Canyon
The 2010 Census showed that Nelson, Nevada had 37 residents. It's no more of a ghost town than Hackberry or Oatman, Arizona are, but it is a town with a historic reputation. In fact, there was a time when residents of Hackberry or Oatman, Arizona had to cross the Colorado River at Nelson's Ferry, to get ore to California and the railroad thus, linking them then - but not today. 

It's 120 degrees (F) in the shade today in Nelson, but the big horn sheep are out in force in El Dorado Canyon. (photo above right) There are a lot of Desert Bighorn in the greater Mojave Desert, primarily because there is a lot of water in the Mojave if you know where to look for it. In this case, they're close to the Colorado River.

Nelson Ghost Town
The City of Nelson was originally called El Dorado in 1775, by the Spaniards who made the original discoveries of gold in the area that is now Eldorado Canyon (read the story). The town was the site of one of the first major gold strikes in Nevada and one of the biggest mining booms in state history. 
In its heyday, the area established a reputation for being rough and lawless. During the War of Northern Aggression, deserters from both Union and Confederate armies made their way to El Dorado in search of a bonanza.  
Desert Bighorn Ram
Among the early mines established was the notorious Techatticup Mine (read the story) in the middle of the canyon. Disagreements over ownership, management and labor disputes resulted in wanton killings so frequent as to be routine and ordinary. Despite the sinister reputation of the mine, it along with others in the town produced several million dollars in gold, silver, copper and lead. The mines in the canyon were active from about 1858 until 1945.

The City of Nelson was named for Charles Nelson, a popular prospector, who was slain in his home, along with four other people, in 1897 by the renegade Indian, Avote. There is a lesson here for the present day...don't let renegade savages into your home (or in your country). And if they arrive with hostile intent, there is always space in Boot Hill. But there is no need for a draw Mohammed contest in Nelson to winnow out the savages. Jihadist Mohammedans avoid the place instinctively even though they do like the desert. 

Between, 1901 and 1905 the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad was built across southern Nevada, through Las Vegas to Daggett, California where it connected to the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad and the complete Salt Lake–Los Angeles line was opened on May 1, 1905. 

This nearby railhead ended the need for steamboats at El Dorado Canyon. The landing and the stamping mill there was abandoned. It was cheaper to hire drayage to haul raw ore to the railhead and have the precious metal extracted elsewhere.

Today in the heat, the Desert Bighorn herd, sited at dawn (first bighorn photo) made its way down to the shore of the Colorado River, for another deep pull on the water. 

Who can deny them a drink? You'll note the family across the little bay, escaping the heat in a similar way with the help of an E-Z Up. It's not Desert Bighorn hunting season, so they're not the least bit afraid. The nervy elk at the White Wolf Mine behave the same way, taking what they feel is due them.

Nelson is a short detour from the Road Less Traveled that leads up and up into Mogollon Rim Country and the White Wolf Mine.

Can Desert Bighorn Sheep be part of art philosophy? I don't know, but why not?