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Web Log - December, 2012

Summary

31-Dec-12 World View -- Iran and Turkey trade accusations, as relations deteriorate

Venezuelans wonder if Chavez's cancer surgery has failed

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's Erdogan says that Assad's regime in Syria is ending


Erdogan (R) introduces Syrian opposition leader on Sunday (DHA)
Erdogan (R) introduces Syrian opposition leader on Sunday (DHA)

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that he's started to receive what he called "strong signals" that the Syrian civil war is coming to an end:

"We are receiving strong signals that the end is approaching in Syria. This bloody, this despotic process that continues nearly two years is already nearing to end. A government that meets the demands of people in Syria – God willing – will come to power soon."

The tide turned in favor of the opposition fighters in mid-November, when they captured military bases near Aleppo, carting off tanks, armored vehicles and truck-loads of munitions.

On Sunday, Erdogan introduced Moaz al-Khatib, the head of the National Coalition for Opposition Forces, and added the following:

"My brothers, more than 100 countries have recognized the leadership of this friend [Moaz al-Khatib] and his team. What does this mean? It means that ‘al-Assad, we don’t recognize you any more, get out’ because leaders who do not get approval from their people cannot remain in power. Unwanted leaders will quit and the ones who are demanded will come to power. ...

"Tyrants will be remembered with al-Assad’s cruelty. His father [Hafez] is not remembered with good deeds, he won’t be remembered in the same way, too. [Assad once said that] his elders made some mistakes but that we won’t make the same mistakes.

[Cruelty] is cultivated in his genes. He even surpassed his father. Some 50,000 Syrian brothers have been killed by his bombs."

According to Erdogan, once the ruling powers change in Syria, the "people of [Turkey and Syria] will walk together into the future, joining forces."

Erdogan has made similar predictions in the past. Zaman (Istanbul) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

Iran and Turkey trade accusations, as relations deteriorate

After centuries of wars, Iran and (Ottoman) Turkey signed the Qasr-i Shirin Accord in 1639, which drew today’s Iran-Iraq and Iran-Turkey borders. For over 400 years, Iran and Turkey have respected one another and, no matter what kind of regimes governed them, recognized each other as experienced and established states and adhered to a code of conduct that restrained their competition for influence and power and prevented the use of force, and even restrained their language about each other. However, the two-year-old Syrian conflict has caused this mutual respect to erode, and this erosion has become more pronounced in the last couple of months. When Turkey decided recently to deploy Nato Patriot missiles, a furious Iran said that the Patriots could cause a third world war.

Last week, Turkey's Interior Minister accused Iran of supporting PKK terrorists in Turkey, allowing them to use Iran as a base for sanctuary and as a site for transit, training and indoctrination, recruitment, fund-raising and the supply of arms and munitions:

"Intelligence was received indicating that the [PKK training camp], where Iran had denied access to the terrorist organization in the past, has again become operational and that terrorist members who were injured during operations [conducted by Turkish security forces] were being treated in Iranian state hospitals near the border area."

He added that members of the terrorist organization are using vacated Iranian military posts for logistical support.

Iran fears a Turkey/Sunni alliance against Iran and Shias, but this may be a good time to remind readers that the Generational Dynamics analysis indicates that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, Iran will be allied with Russia, India and the West, including Israel, versus Turkey, the Sunni Arab states, Pakistan, and China. Al-Monitor (Washington) and Zaman (Istanbul)

Greece makes plans for Syrian refugee camp on Corfu

Greece is the most popular entry point for refugees trying to get into the European Union, and there have been waves of them from the entire Mideast, and as far away as Afghanistan. In 2012, some 8,000 Syrian refugees came to Greece, many of them arriving on the island of Lesbos. The Greek government is tentatively planning to accommodate as many as 20,000 Syrian refugees on the island of Corfu. Greek Reporter

Venezuelans wonder if Chavez's cancer surgery has failed

Venezuelan Vice-President Nicolas Maduro made a sudden, unexpected trip to Cuba on Saturday, increasing speculation that the December 11 cancer operation on president Hugo Chávez, his fourth, was unsuccessful. Chávez has not been seen in public since the surgery, and the location and type of cancer have been kept a closely guarded secret. The Venezuelan opposition are becoming more vocal in demanding the latest medical reports on Chávez, and the people are openly wondering why Chávez has to go to Cuba to be treated, rather than take advantage of treatment facilities in Venezuela. They note that Paraguay's president Fernando Lugo was successfully treated for cancer in the prestigious Hospital Sírio-Libanês (Syrian-Lebanese hospital) in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Al-Jazeera and Latin-American Herald Tribune

Fiscal Cliff negotiations collapse

I watched the discussions about the fiscal cliff negotiations on the Sunday morning talk shows, as much as I could stand, and it's hard to overemphasize how pathetic and sickening all of these people are -- President Obama, the Republicans in Congress, the Democrats in Congress. All they want to do is cover their asses. None of these corrupt politicians gives a shit about what they're doing to everyone else. They're a disgrace to the country.

The clown negotiations in Washington have collapsed for now, apparently because the Republican proposal includes the "Chained CPI" proposal that I wrote about two weeks ago, since it cuts Social Security benefits by 0.3%, and which one Democrat I quoted said "hammers" 95 year old women, and throws grandma under the bus. (See "19-Dec-12 World View -- 'Chained CPI' proposal enters the farcical Fiscal Cliff negotiations")

It would be kinda funny if these people weren't so pathetic.

It's worth remembering that in the 1980s, when the Silent generation was in charge, Republicans and Democrats could reach agreements on many things, including saving Social Security and controlling the budget deficit. Even as late as 1996, they could agree to end the welfare entitlement. Today's Generation-Xers and Boomers couldn't agree on the color of mud. CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Dec-12 World View -- Iran and Turkey trade accusations, as relations deteriorate thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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30-Dec-12 World View -- The 'Kick the Can Theory' and the Fiscal Cliff

H1N1 Swine Flu kills nine people in the West Bank

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nasa's Mars Rover, Curiosity, takes a photo of itself


Curiosity Self-Portrait (NASA)
Curiosity Self-Portrait (NASA)

The spacecraft carrying the Mars Rover, Curiosity, was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011. Curiosity landed on Mars on August 6, 2012, and it's been conducting science experiments since then, though rumors that life had been discovered on Mars turned out to be false. This is an actual picture of Curiosity on the Martian landscape on November 1. Curiosity's cameras are not able to take this shot, of course, so this picture is a composite of dozens of images that the cameras took, combined into a self self-portrait image. Nasa and Jet Propulsion Lab (PDF)

H1N1 Swine Flu kills nine people in the West Bank

There have been 187 recent recorded cases of H1N1 swine flu in the northern West Bank, and nine Palestinians have died. In 2009, an H1N1 epidemic erupted in Mexico and spread into a worldwide pandemic. "WHO declares a worldwide H1N1 'mild' swine flu pandemic" The pandemic died out by Spring 2010, after killing over 17,000 people world wide, and the World Health Organization has warned that there could be a resurgence at any time. AFP and Jerusalem Post

The 'Kick the Can Theory' and the Fiscal Cliff

Some time ago, I formulated the "Kick the Can Theory" which said that if you want to predict what the Europeans are going to do, especially with Greece, then just figure out what the minimum amount is that they can do to get past the current day's crisis without solving the underlying problems, which then continue to worsen. The crisis then returns in much worse form, a few weeks or months later.

The "Kick the Can Theory" has never failed. It has always correctly predicted what the Europeans were going to do. It's worthwhile looking at it a little more closely, so that we can apply it to the fiscal cliff negotiations currently going on in Washington.

The Kick the Can Theory turns out to be more complicated than you might think, because it runs in major cycles, with several steps within each cycle. Let's remember how the cycle worked with Greece:

We've had three or four cycles of the above steps. The cycle as a whole is can-kicking, but what's important to understand is that each step within the cycle is also a mini-can-kicking.

It's worth repeating that there was never a "final solution" for Greece because no solution exists. It's not that there were three or four really good solutions, and the participants simply could not agree on which wonderful solution to implement. It's that no solution exists, and all the participants can do is blame each other.

Fiscal cliff negotiations

The United States is barely at the beginning of this can-kicking process. There have only been a couple of "summit meetings" so far, barely enough to get anywhere at all. Everybody is lying to the press and blaming each other except that, as usual, the mainstream media is totally in the tank for President Obama, irrespective of anything else going on, and will always agree with whatever he says, even when it's totally incoherent.

As of this writing on Saturday evening, there appears to be a good chance of a "deal" that will raise tax on the "rich," which is what President Obama wants, and there will also probably be some spending increases, and an increase in the debt ceiling. Thus, any deal will actually make things worse, but President Obama and the mainstream media will declare it to be a major victory and stocks will rise.

Or, perhaps there won't be a mini-deal. Yesterday I heard analysts say that we may go over the "fiscal cliff," which will result in huge tax increases on everyone, but then agreement will be reached next week (because then the Republicans will be voting for a tax decrease rather than for a tax increase) ... or by January 14 ... or by January 21 ... or by March.

If a "final solution" cannot be reached now, then how stupid do you have to be to think that one will be found in March?

The Kick the Can Theory predicts that there will be multiple "summit meetings" and confrontations, that all parties will continue to lie to the press and blame each other, and that no agreement will be reached until just a few days before some real crisis. At that point, there will be some agreement on some part of the issue, just enough to delay the current crisis a few more weeks. The cycle will repeat over and over until we're at war. As in the case of Greece, no actual solution exists.

By the way, I haven't read anything about this, but I'm going to guess that a lot of Europeans are looking forward with glee to the Schadenfreude they're expecting to feel when America has to go through the same farcical process that they went through.

America is truly Greece now.

Bloomberg

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Dec-12 World View -- The 'Kick the Can Theory' and the Fiscal Cliff thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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29-Dec-12 World View -- Gang-raped victim sparks nationwide protests in India

Iran begins annual war games in Strait of Hormuz

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran begins annual war games in Strait of Hormuz


Iran's Navy Chief Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari orders the commencement of the exercises (Payvand)
Iran's Navy Chief Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari orders the commencement of the exercises (Payvand)

Iran launched the Velayat-91, six days of major naval exercises around the Strait of Hormuz on Friday. The exercises will involve warships, submarines, jet fighters and hovercraft while testing the navy's missile systems and electronic warfare capabilities. Iran has frequently threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint through which about a third of the world's tanker-borne oil passes, linking the Gulf's petroleum-exporting states of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar. The exercises come just after the Gulf Cooperation Council (BCC) of Arab states said that it "rejects and denounces" Iran's "continued interference" in their internal affairs. The National (UAE) and Payvand (Tehran)

Sunnis hold mass protests in Iraq against Shia-majority government

Tens of thousands of protesting Sunnis have shut down highways providing vital trade routes carrying government supplies between Baghdad to and from Jordan and Syria. The protests were on their fifth day on Friday. Iraq's army forces are preventing protesters from other provinces from arriving to join in the protests. The army is also preventing journalists from covering the event, and is confiscating journalists' transmission equipment. The latest protests were triggered by the arrest, last week, of nine bodyguards of Iraq's finance minister, who is one of the governments most senior Sunni officials in the Shia-majority government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. This is also the one-year anniversary of the complete withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, and the immediately subsequent arrest of Sunni Arab Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who is currently hiding in exile. Sunni protesters are complaining of massive discrimination against Sunnis by the Shia-led government, and some activists are demanding that Sunnis should have autonomy in their own region, along the model of the Kurdish region in the north. Al-Jazeera and Aswat Al-Iraq

Gang-raped victim sparks nationwide protests in India

An unnamed 23-year-old girl who was gang-raped last weekend died on Saturday in a Singapore hospital from her injuries. The girl had been coerced onto an off-duty bus, where the bus driver and six other males gang-raped her for half an hour, beat her and her male companion with an iron bar, and then threw them off the bus while it was in motion. The attack has triggered widespread protests all week in Delhi and across the country, with feminists complaining about everything from men who merely say "Hey, let's do it babe!" to men who actually commit rape.

There's something fundamentally wrong with the way the mainstream media is spinning this story. Men and women both have erotic rape fantasies, but those fantasies are really seduction scenes where the male becomes a bit aggressive and the female succumbs to his charms and can't resist him. These scenes are common in women's romance novels. No one, to my knowledge, has ever had a rape fantasy where six men gang-rape a girl, then smash her with a steel bar and throw her off a moving bus. There's nothing erotic about that.

So there's a lot more going on here than the mainstream media are talking about, and in India, that would be caste. Apparently the girl who was raped was from an upper caste, while the six men were from a lower class, such as the "untouchable" Dalit caste. Dalit activists say that they're forced to take the worst jobs, if they can get employment at all, that they're subject to repeated discrimination and harassment, and that Dalit girls are frequently raped and then ignored by the police. If a Dalit girl brings charges, then the alleged perpetrator is almost always acquitted.

So this is only tangentially a story about rape. The real story here is that India's caste system is far from dead, and that there will almost certainly be another war among India's castes and many ethnic groups. AFP and Guardian and Eurasia Review

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Dec-12 World View -- Gang-raped victim sparks nationwide protests in India thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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28-Dec-12 World View -- Pakistan commemorates 5th anniversary of Benazir Bhutto's murder

Pakistan has a new 'hope and change' candidate, Maulana Tahirul Qadri

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Benazir Bhutto's son launches political career in midst of Pakistan's political chaos


Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (R) with his father, President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan (BBC)
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (R) with his father, President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan (BBC)

It's been exactly five years since Pakistan's popular former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated (From 2007: "Benazir Bhutto killed by suicide bomber after election rally in Rawalpindi".) She had been favored to win the office of Prime Minister again in elections two weeks later. Bhutto was well-known internationally, and the scenario that Western countries have been hoping for was that Bhutto as Prime Minister would work closely with President Pervez Musharraf, and that between them they would restore stability to the country. Bhutto's assassination only destabilized Pakistan further, and a large part of the population blamed the Bhutto's death on the government and the army for not protecting her from terrorists. Moreover, her death propelled her widowed husband, Asif Ali Zardari, into the presidency.

On Thursday, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the 24 year old son of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari, commemorated the anniversary of his mother's murder by launching his own political career. In his 30-minute televised speech, delivered alongside his mother's tomb, he recalled not only the death of his mother, but also the death of his grandfather, who was hanged by a former military ruler. He said:

"I am the heir to the martyr. If you kill one Bhutto, there will be a Bhutto in every house.

Bhutto is not a name, it is an obsession, a passion, a love. You can chain our feet to the ground but we will still keep moving."

There will be new elections, probably in May, but Bilawal will not be old enough to run for office until September, so there is talk of postponing the elections until them. Daily Times (Lahore) and Reuters

Pakistan has a new 'hope and change' candidate, Maulana Tahirul Qadri

I've frequently written about former Pakistani cricket superstar Imran Khan, once voted as the "Sexiest Man of The Year" by Australia Magazine Oz, who has become an anti-American "hope and change" Pakistani politician who hopes to win the 2013 elections. (See "Hope and change Pakistan candidate Imran Khan draws huge crowd in Karachi" from November 2011.) He drew crowds of hundreds of thousands in campaign appearances in which he blamed the Taliban and al-Qaeda linked terrorist attacks in Pakistan on the United States war on terror, and promised to end all such relations with the U.S.

Now there's a new "hope and change" candidate, Dr. Maulana Tahirul Qadri. He's not nearly as sexy as Khan, but he's a highly respected Sufi scholar, and he has a different solution to the problem of Taliban terrorist in Pakistan: Instead of ending relations with the U.S., he's declaring a jihad against terrorism -- though he has yet to lay out a road map for how he plans to accomplish his jihad.

While Khan drew crowds of hundreds of thousands, Qadri drew crowds of millions in a rally last weekend in Lahore. Even so, Qadri does not yet have the stature to achieve his stated goals. The News (Pakistan) and Kuna (Kuwait)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Dec-12 World View -- Pakistan commemorates 5th anniversary of Benazir Bhutto's murder thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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27-Dec-12 World View -- Asians increasingly talk about war between China and Japan

Gun Control versus 3D printing

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Gun Control versus 3D printing


Supposedly the world's first 3D-printed gun
Supposedly the world's first 3D-printed gun

In my article yesterday, "26-Dec-12 World View -- Andrew Sullivan and the Gun Control Fantasy", I pointed out that there's no evidence that prohibitions in the past -- of alcohol, drugs, abortion and prostitution -- had any actual effect, but they had a large negative effect of creating bootleggers, organized crime, drug cartels and prostitution rings.

A web site reader complained of a flaw in the argument because, guns are different from alcohol and the others, because "gun manufacturers and importers can be legally controlled and illegal weapons can be destroyed."

In other words, he's claiming that although you can distill your own alcohol in your basement or garage, you need a gun manufacturer if you want a gun.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Just google the words "how to make a gun," and you'll find plenty of information on how to make a home-made gun from ordinary construction materials, such as metal tubes, bars, nuts and bolts. It's no more difficult to make a home-made gun than to make home-made moonshine.

And that doesn't take into account 3D printers. These devices have been around for decades, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and capable of "printing" or manufacturing 3D plastic models of anything designed by CAD (computer-aided design) software.

Basically, you can design anything you want -- a house, a car, a bridge -- on you CAD software, click the "3D PRINT" button, and your design is sent to the 3D printer. Within a couple of hours, you have a precise plastic model of your design.

The thing that's changed recently is that the prices of 3D printers have fallen dramatically. You can now get very nice desktop models for a few thousand dollars, and that should be below $1000 by the end of 2013. If you'd like to learn more, go into YouTube and do a search on 3D printers, for demonstration videos.

The gun pictured above is claimed to be the world's first 3D printed gun. A couple of standard metal parts were combined with parts from the 3D printer, and a new gun could be in your hands within a few hours. Once you've figured out how to do it, you can clunk out several new guns every day -- for your own use, or to sell.

There are already 310 million non-military firearms in America, and 5,400 licensed firearms manufacturers. Given those numbers, any attempt to get rid of all guns is simply a fantasy. Gun control, except for some trivial prohibitions, will never become law.

But suppose the fantasy of gun control DID come to pass. It wouldn't be more than a few months before tens of thousands of basements and garages turned into homemade gun manufacturers. Organized crime and drug cartels would quickly move into gun manufacturing. Some would do it the "old fashioned" way, with metal tubes and bars. But within 2-3 years, the technology for 3D printing would have advanced to the point where thousands of them would be done with 3D printers.

Actually, even without gun control, it will soon be possible to manufacture guns and a lot of other stuff in your home spare room. Most people today would be lost if they didn't have a computer. Well, within a few years you'll be lost if you don't have your own 3D printer. Extreme Tech and CNN

Asians increasingly talk about war between China and Japan

Normally, the mainstream media never talks about possible war, for fear of getting people angry or, in the worst case, for fear of triggering a war themselves. So it's surprising to suddenly see so many year-end editorials talk about a possible war between China and Japan in 2013.

Here's an editorial from Wednesday's Sydney Morning Herald:

"THIS is how wars usually start: with a steadily escalating stand-off over something intrinsically worthless. So don't be too surprised if the US and Japan go to war with China next year over the uninhabited rocks that Japan calls the Senkakus and China calls the Diaoyu islands. And don't assume the war would be contained and short.

Of course we should all hope that common sense prevails.

It seems almost laughably unthinkable that the world's three richest countries - two of them nuclear-armed - would go to war over something so trivial. ...

Where will it end? The risk is that, without a clear circuit-breaker, the escalation will continue until at some point shots are exchanged, and a spiral to war begins that no one can stop. Neither side could win such a war, and it would be devastating not just for them but for the rest of us."

The article contains a lengthy historical analysis comparing the relationship between Japan and China to the relationship between Sparta and Athens that led to the Peloponnesian War. That's not a good omen.

However, the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands are far from worthless. Along with ownership of these islands comes a huge exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that provides the right to take advantage of rich fishing grounds, as well as huge oil and gas fields.

The Wall Street Journal Asia edition says the following:

"The past year was a turning point in Sino-Japanese relations: Japan suffered a total defeat. Beijing realized practically all its diplomatic objectives, whereas Tokyo could not achieve any of them. But this victory may prove self-defeating for China.

Since the Japanese government's purchase of the Senkaku Islands from their private owners on Sept. 11, Chinese forces have regularly violated the territorial waters around the islands. As of Dec. 18, some 62 Chinese vessels entered the area on at least 18 occasions.

Beijing has also firmly established a national narrative that these islands were grabbed by Japan from the falling Qing Dynasty at the end of the 19th century. China and Taiwan have found common ground on this issue despite some obvious policy differences over the islands. Lastly, Beijing's economic retaliation has harmed Japanese companies. ...

If Beijing considers that the Senkakus belong to China and Japan's ownership of the islands is unfounded, it has every right to say so in the bilateral talks and elsewhere. It might mobilize the Chinese diaspora to buy full-page advertisements in major U.S. newspapers. It might even take diplomatic measures to pressure third countries to curtail ties with Japan.

But there is one measure from which China must absolutely refrain: changing the status quo by force. And entering the territorial waters or airspace where another country has implemented effective control already for 117 years with an objective of establishing its own jurisdiction is precisely that.

This is one of the most serious challenges to the post-World War II order of peace and security under the United Nations Charter. Achieving territorial claims by force is a crude state behavior usually defined as hegemonism, which China itself firmly denounced in the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1978. ...

Beijing's present behavior is a reversion to the crude imperialism of the late 19th century. It seems China's leaders have not learned from the mistakes of Imperial Japan and all the peaceful diplomacy that Japan painstakingly undertook since its defeat in 1945."

This article fails to mention the source of China's "reversion to crude imperialism": Increased widespread nationalism, and a thirsty desire for revenge against Japan for wrongs committed prior to 1945.

The Strategy Page, which reports on military matters worldwide, says that both China and Japan are rapidly preparing for war:

"Newly selected Chinese Communist Party chief (and ruler of China) Xi Jinping has come out strongly in favor of stronger and more aggressive armed forces. ...

The new Chinese leadership openly called for the military to get ready for regional (with the neighbors) war. Newly elected leaders in Japan and South Korea made similar pronouncements, in response to growing Chinese aggression. In particular the Chinese are claiming all the islets and reefs in the South China sea, including some that are clearly in the waters (as recognized by international law) of other nations. Outside the South China Sea China and Japan are contesting ownership of the Diaoyu (in Chinese) Islands (Senkaku in Japanese and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan). ...

Currently, the Japanese have the most powerful naval forces in the region, and are backed up by a mutual defense treaty with the United States. China was long dissuaded by that, but no more. China is no longer backing off on its claims, and neither is Japan. So these confrontations are becoming more serious. ...

[On a related subject:] Indian officials repeated their belief that China was now India’s major military threat, not Pakistan."

China's Global Times looks upon the new government in Japan, led by Shinzo Abe, with apprehension:

"The Abe cabinet was officially installed yesterday. ... It is already impossible for China and Japan to resume the friendly ties they had before the Junichiro Koizumi-era. In the short term, it's impossible for the relationship to be what it was before the outbreak of the [Senkaku/Diaoyu] Islands conflicts. ...

Officials from both China and Japan will continue to stress mutually beneficial relations. However, we cannot realistically expect this. Tension has existed in the Sino-Japanese relationship for more than a decade. Given that the situation in the Asia-Pacific hasn't improved, the relationship of the two countries cannot really become warmer.

China does not intend to confront Japan. However, at this stage, we can only adjust our policies based on reality.

The "cold politics but hot economics" relationship between the two countries is transforming to "cold politics and cold economics." China's economy has also suffered from this.

Sino-Japanese relations have been filled with suspicion and misunderstandings. Both sides expect the other to be overawed by hard-line attitudes, while they also worry about escalation leading to war. We should have the proper strategic vigilance to avoid war. However, we should not transform this vigilance into excessive anxiety. ...

There's a possibility that Japan may decide to tie its future to the US and become an anti-China country even more radical than the US. However, whether this comes true depends on the overall situation in the region. China does not have the capability to take the initiative to prevent this from happening. China's increasing strength may be more effective in defusing Japanese hostility."

As I've said many times in the past, China is preparing for preemptive war on multiple fronts. It's beginning to look like 2013 will be the year. This will be the worst war in history, killing billions of people. The survivors, including the Chinese, will regret that it ever occurred, even if they "win."

Sydney Morning Herald and Wall Street Journal and Strategy Page and Global Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Dec-12 World View -- Asians increasingly talk about war between China and Japan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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26-Dec-12 World View -- Andrew Sullivan and the Gun Control Fantasy

The Metastasis of Corruption and Violence

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The Gun Control Fantasy

Gun control is one of those issues that politicians use to bash each other or to make money from. Like it or not, there are already 310 million non-military firearms in the United States, and you'd have to have an IQ of 50 to think that some gun control law, even if it passed, would have any effect on that number.

Let's take a quick look at some similar issues:

The point is that people of all political stripes have this erotic fantasy that they can pass a law to make anything happen. The truth is that anyone who wants get drunk, get stoned, get an abortion, get porn, use a prostitute, or be a prostitute, can do so, and there's no evidence that prohibitions do anything but promote drug cartels, prostitution rings, and other forms of organized crime.

So, with 310 million non-military guns already available in the United States, you'd have to be a fool to think that any gun control law will accomplish anything.

"But," you say, "we have to do SOMETHING. There are kids being killed in our schools."

Well, I'm as scared of guns as anyone. I've never held a gun (except water pistols) and I don't belong to the NRA. I don't really care whether gun control laws are passed or not, except that they have very negative consequences, as do prohibitions against other things -- alcohol, drugs, abortion, etc.

There's only one SOMETHING that I've heard that will protect kids from being killed in our schools -- the NRA proposal to use retired policemen, marines and soldiers to protect schools, on an optional basis for those cities and towns that opt to use them.

I can only marvel at the sheer stupidity of the people on the loony left making vitriolic attacks on this proposal, but it shows the state of politics in the U.S. today. The proposal is certainly worth considering, as it's the only proposal I'm aware of that might actually do some good.

Andrew Sullivan's proposed solution to gun violence

When Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in January, 2011, left-wing commentator Andrew Sullivan described where the blame should lie. According to Sullivan, the shooting was caused by Sarah Palin, who put a map on her web with with a little cartoon target on the state of Arizona:

"An Assassination?


Map appearing on Andrew     Sullivan's site
Map appearing on Andrew Sullivan's site

When a congresswoman is shot in the head in the very act of democracy, we should all pause. This is fundamentally not a partisan issue and should not be. Acts of violence against political figures destroy democracy itself, for both parties. We don't know who tried to kill congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (she appears to be still alive) and we should be very cautious in drawing any conclusions yet about why. But we can know that, whoever tried to kill her and for whatever reason, political rhetoric involving words like "target" and "gun-sights" is inherently irresponsible.

For a public figure [Sarah Palin] who has appeared on a national ticket and who commands a cult-like following, the irresponsibility is even more profound. ...

Giffords was one of twenty members of Congress placed within metaphorical "gun-sights" in SarahPac's graphic. That is not the same thing as placing a gun-sight over someone's face or person. No one can possibly believe - or should - that Sarah Palin is anything but horrified by what has taken place. But it remains the kind of rhetorical excess which was warned about at the time, and which loners can use to dreadful purposes."

Andrew Sullivan's implication that Sarah Palin was responsible for Giffords' shooting was repeated by the mainstream media constantly for weeks, even though it's unlikely that the shooter ever even saw the Sarah Palin web page.

Now, fast forward to the week of the Newtown massacre of 26 children. Earlier in that week, we had Teamsters Union leader James Hoffa declaring "civil war" on the country, and we had and we have union thugs running around beating people and destroying property, all because of a proposed labor law.

The mainstream media repeatedly justified this violence by saying that the union thugs had a right to be angry. A number of left-wing loonies said that Fox commentator Steven Crowder "deserved what he got" when he was beaten by union thugs.

The union thugs were assaulting people on behalf of President Obama, and Obama said nothing, condoning and supporting the violence with his silence, implying that violence is OK as long as the victim "deserved what he got."

These expressions were all over the mainstream media, and it's likely Adam Lanza heard them. So in his troubled, twisted mind, he may well have thought that his mother and the 26 Sandy Hook elementary school children "deserved what they got" when he slaughtered them, and that President Obama would approve.

Union thugs, supported by the NY Times, NBC news, and other mainstream media, and supported by President Obama himself, have created a cultural environment that violence is OK as long as the victim "deserved what he got." There are numerous examples:

President Obama's supporters, and Obama himself, are creating a cultural acceptance of violence towards anyone who "deserved what they got."

Now let's go back to Andrew Sullivan, who blamed the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords on Sarah Palin's "rhetorical excess," which "loners can use to dreadful purposes." Well, James Hoffa certainly used "rhetoric excess" when he declared war on President Obama's opponents, and Adam Lanza was certainly a loner who may have used Hoffa's call "to dreadful purposes." Has Andrew Sullivan written anything to condemn the violence of union thugs who support President Obama the way he criticized a little cartoon target used by Sarah Palin?

Piers Morgan on CNN recently called an anti-gun control advocate an "unbelievably stupid man":

"You're an unbelievably stupid man, aren't you? You have absolutely no coherent argument. You don't actually give a damn about the gun murder rate in America."

Actually, the stupidest man in America would have to be Andrew Sullivan:

As Piers Morgan might say, Andrew Sullivan is an unbelievably stupid man who doesn't give a damn about how many children are killed in American schools.

The Metastasis of Corruption and Violence

I've previously described how corruption and violence have metastasized in America in the last ten years. At first, it was just Generation-Xers defrauding Boomers and creating the financial crisis. Since then:

These left-wing calls for war and violence may eventually trigger a right-wing response at some point.

In the past week, Facebook has suspended an account of someone who questioned the official story of the Sandy Hook shooting. Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut state police warned people posting "misinformation" on social media web sites would be "investigated and prosecuted." Vance said he confirmed with with "federal authorities," presumably President Obama's Dept. of Justice.

As I've written in the past, what's happening today parallels what happened in 1930s Germany. Germany's Lost Generation began with discrimination and isolated violence against the previous Missionary Generation. Corruption and violence metastasized into discrimination against Jews, and eventually the Holocaust. Anyone who objected was called a "Jew" or "Jew lover" by the mainstream media and politicians.

The fact that America today is on the same trend line as 1930s Germany does not mean that America will go as far as Germany did on that trend line.

However, there may well be what might be called a "Kristallnacht moment," an incident where violence by Obama supporters against Americans is so heinous that it forces the mainstream media and the left in general to make a "yes" or "no" decision whether to allow the violence and corruption to continue to grow.

I believe in America's institutions, and I believe that when the "Kristallnacht moment" comes, even the loons will come to their senses and reverse direction.

We actually have a modern day example of this. In Pakistan on October 9, the Taliban shot an innocent young girl, Malala Yousufzai, for advocating education for girls. This appears to be Pakistan's "Kristallnacht moment," and it caused revulsion throughout the country, at least temporarily. Sometimes the thugs go too far in their violence, and it backfires against the thugs. But we have to remember that the thugs never went too far for the ordinary people or the mainstream media in 1930s Germany.

In the meantime, the amount of violence and corruption in America continues to grow. Let's close with Martin Niemöller's famous statement:

"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me."

At least I, Dear Reader, am willing to speak out.

Andrew Sullivan, January 8, 2011 and AFP and CNN and NY Daily News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Dec-12 World View -- Andrew Sullivan and the Gun Control Fantasy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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25-Dec-12 World View -- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Americans should thank 'Made in China' for a Merry Christmas

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Americans should thank 'Made in China' for a Merry Christmas



According to People's Daily, if Americans have a Merry Christmas, then it's all thanks to China, particularly low-cost "Made in China" manufactured goods:

"However, facing a declining economic growth, ballooning deficit and looming "fiscal cliff", the Christmas season in the United States this year seems particularly chilly. Amid the current economic chill, some major American media outlets recently called on the American people to boycott the "Made in China Christmas gift" and revive the "Made in America Christmas". They spoke negatively about the quality of Chinese-made products and said "Made in China" has been controlling the American people and big businesses. ...

It is time to let the truth do the talking. Our American fellows deserve to know the truth, the stinging truth about how the ubiquitous "Made in China" has helped the US economy. .. "Made in China", with its fine quality and low price, has greatly improved the purchasing power of the American people. This was especially evident after the global financial crisis. During the financial winter, the number of one dollar stores sprang up. Among those in these shops, "Made in China" products accounted for a large percent. Based on Morgan Stanley's research report, in 2009 alone, approximately $100 billion in US consumer spending was saved by the "Chinese imports". ...

This Christmas morning, when you wake up and smell this couple of coffee, accept your gifts with gratitude."

People's Daily (Beijing)

Vatican displays a low-cost Nativity scene


Vatican Nativity scene, by Francesco Artese
Vatican Nativity scene, by Francesco Artese

In previous Christmas seasons, the Vatican displayed a Nativity scene that looked like an elaborate film set, decorated with larger-than-life-size models of Mary, Joseph and the Christ Child sculpted in wood and plaster more than a hundred years ago. In 2009, the cost of the Nativity scene was more than $700,000. However, with the financial crisis hitting Italy very hard this year, the Vatican had to cut costs, and almost had no Nativity scene at all. However, the remote southern town of Basilicata came to the rescue, and is supplying a Nativity scene as a gift to the Vatican, with the Christ Child lying in a manager in a miniature village made of polysterene. The scene was the work of 55-year-old Basilicata-born artist Francesco Artese. Total cost: Just $25,000. BBC

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

The song, "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas," has been changed in the last few decades into a cheerful little ditty. But in the 1944 movie, Meet me in St. Louis, it was a bitter, sad, angry song, sung beautifully by Judy Garland.

The daughter, played by Judy Garland, had just learned that this was her last Christmas with her lifelong friends in St. Louis. After the New Year, she and her family would be moving to New York. Although the plot of the movie takes place in 1904, this song was definitely in the spirit of 1944, when despair over torn families was at its deepest.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

YouTube - Judy Garland - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Dec-12 World View -- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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24-Dec-12 World View -- Russian military advisers enter the fray in Syria

Morsi's landslide referendum victory divides Egypt

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Morsi's landslide referendum victory divides Egypt


Mohamed Morsi
Mohamed Morsi

The overwhelming 64% "YES" vote on the referendum to approve the draft constitution has divided Egypt has thrilled the supporters of Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi, and frightened his opponents. The new constitution, which was drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood and conservative Salafists, incorporates Islamic Sharia law, which opponents claim deprives most citizens, especially women, of the hard-won rights that they fought for in last year's Egyptian revolution, violating many promises by Morsi. It now turns out that the Muslim Brotherhood was training over 7,000 activists to get out the vote on the referendum, whiles opposition leaders squabbled among themselves. Opposition leaders are hoping to overturn referendum results, pointing out that only 33% of eligible voters even bothered to vote, but it's hard to see how they can overcome the 64% majority of those who did vote. One of the opposition's examples of alleged lies by Morsi was his claim, prior to the vote, that Article 198 of the new constitution prohibits military trials of civilians. However, they point out that the actual article states:

"Civilians shall not stand trial before military courts except for crimes that harm the Armed Forces. The law shall define such crimes and determine the other competencies of Military Judiciary."

The opposition points out that this article allows the army to try any civilian in military court, since the army decides which crimes are to be tried. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Jerusalem Post

Russian military advisers enter the fray in Syria

The statements by Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that we reported yesterday that Syria's chemical weapons were "under control," with the aid of "Russian military advisers training Syria's military," is causing rapid strategic changes in the West's plans. Up until three days ago, it was feared that the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad would use his chemical and biological weapons against the opposition, and this would trigger a forced response by the West to take control of these weapons, using ground forces and air power. However, new reports indicate that Russia has upgraded Syria's defensive forces with advanced surface to air missiles, manned by Russian forces, making any U.S.-led intervention extremely dangerous, protracted and costly.

However, Debka puts an entirely different spin on this story, saying that Israel, the U.S. and Russia are actually cooperating to make sure that the opposition, especially al-Qaeda linked jihadists, do not gain control of the weapons. Guardian (London) and Debka

Assad's air strikes target bakeries to deprive Syrians of bread

At least 90 people were killed and hundreds injured on Sunday by an air strike by the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on a baker where over 1,000 people were queuing for bread. The attack occurred in the town of Halfaya, where the rebels had driven out regime forces. The regime has particularly targeted bakeries in order to kill civilians and to deprive civilians of bread. Al-Jazeera

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Dec-12 World View -- Russian military advisers enter the fray in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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23-Dec-12 World View -- Russia says that Syria's chemical weapons are under control

Egyptians approve the controversial Islamist constitution

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egyptians approve the controversial Islamist constitution


An elderly Egyptian man shows his inked finger, indicating that he voted (AP)
An elderly Egyptian man shows his inked finger, indicating that he voted (AP)

The official results won't be available until Monday, but the Muslim Brotherhood and others are saying that Egyptians voted "YES" in the referendum to approve the new draft constitution, by a landslide vote of over 64%. The vote was conducted on two consecutive Saturdays, last Saturday in the urban areas, and yesterday in the rural areas. The draft constitution is considered controversial because it was drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood itself, and contains many clauses that reflect strict Islamic Sharia law. Al-Ahram (Cairo)

Russia says that Syria's chemical weapons are under control

Two weeks ago, intelligence reports were indicating that the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad was moving its stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, giving rise to fear in the West that al-Assad was repositioning them in order to use them against Syrian rebel forces. However, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that they were moved in order to bring them under stricter control:

"So far according to our information, which correlates with Western data, the weapons are under control. The Syrian authorities have concentrated these stockpiles in one or two centers. Previously they were scattered around the country.

Our American colleagues acknowledge that the main threat is if (the chemical weapons) are seized by the insurgents. For us this is very serious. We check every rumor that concerns chemical weapons."

Lavrov also referred to "Russian military advisers training Syria's military." Debka connects the dots in these statements to conclude that the Russians themselves have taken control of the chemical weapons in Syria.

Lavrov also said that the Americans and Europeans are secretly pleased that Russia and China have been blocking resolutions in the United Nations Security Council.

"No one has any appetite for intervention. Behind the scenes, I have a feeling they are praying that Russia and China go on blocking intervention, as sanctioning it would mean they must act – and they are not ready."

Lavrov is also denying that al-Assad is welcome to take refuge in Russia, if he decides to step down.

AFP and Debka and Russia Today

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Dec-12 World View -- Russia says that Syria's chemical weapons are under control thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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22-Dec-12 World View -- Ethnic revenge massacre in Kenya kills 41

President Obama nominates John Kerry as Secretary of State

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ethnic revenge massacre in Kenya kills 41


Massacre victims in Kenya
Massacre victims in Kenya

At least 41 people, including many women and children, from the Christian Pokomo tribe in southwest Kenya were massacred while they slept in a 3am by the Muslim Orma tribe. The attack was in revenge for a attack by the Pokomo against the Orma in August, where 52 people were hacked to death with some being burnt alive, and hundreds of cattle were mutilated. (Paragraph corrected, 22-Dec)

Although the two tribes have adopted different religious faiths, this is actually the same issue that began the Darfur conflict. (See "13-Dec-12 World View -- Darfur war may explode again soon into full-scale genocide")

The Darfur war began with violence between two ethnic groups, one of farmers and the other of herders. There were similar conflicts in the United States in the 1800s, although those conflicts didn't lead to war. What happens is that the farmers are infuriated when herds of animals trample their crops. They respond by building fences, and that infuriates the herders.

Exactly the same dynamic is occurring between the nomadic Orma herders, who have frequently had violent conflicts with the Pokomo farmers. However, Friday's violence is the worst incident in a while, and it raises fears of a repeat of the massive ethnic violence that followed the 2007 presidential, in which more than 1,200 people were killed, and many thousands were driven from their homes. I wrote about this in January, 2008, in "Post-election massacre in Kenya raises concerns of tribal war".

In that article, I described the recent generational history of Kenya. The country's last crisis war was the Mau-Mau Rebellion, which climaxed in 1956. In my 2008 article, I pointed out that it was just 51 years since the climax of the Mau-Mau rebellion, making it unlikely that a new crisis war would begin at that time. So I indicated that the violence at that time was likely to fizzle (which it did), but that violence would return, and the probability of new violence triggering a major crisis war increases with each year.

Today, another five years have passed, and it's now 56 years past the end of Kenya's last crisis war, so the probability of triggering a major new genocidal crisis war is much higher. In examining hundreds of wars throughout history, it has turned out that the peak year for a new generational crisis war is 58 years past the climax of the previous crisis war. Apparently, this is exactly the point where the generation of survivors of the previous war, who have devoted their lives to making sure it doesn't happen again, become too old to be effective in preventing a new crisis war.

The conflict between the Pokomo and the Orma seems to be highly localized, so the current skirmish seems likely to fizzle. But Kenya is headed for a major new genocidal ethnic war, almost certainly within the next five years. Standard Media (Kenya) and The Nation (Kenya)

Syria's civil war versus Kenya's civil war

This is a good opportunity to contrast the civil wars in Syria and Kenya. People constantly ask me whether the war in Syria is a generational crisis war, and I've written dozens of times in the last two years that it is not -- it's a civil war in a generational Awakening era, and it's going to fizzle.

A crisis war comes from the people, while a non-crisis war comes from the politicians, and nothing illustrates this better than the contrast between Kenya and Syria. The war in Syria is driven entirely by president Bashar al-Assad, and it would fizzle quickly if al-Assad stepped down. Syria is still several decades away from a full-scale generational crisis war. But in Kenya, there are no politicians driving the war. It's a war between two ethnic groups, farmers and herders, and it could spread and envelope the entire country at any time.

President Obama nominates John Kerry as Secretary of State

When Massachusetts Senator John Kerry was running for president in 2004, I was wondering how it would be possible for someone who thought that the U.S. Army was worse than the Nazis could be president and lead the country in the war against terror.

In 1971, Kerry said that American soldiers were committing war crimes "on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." These atrocities included rape, torture, and cutting off ears, heads and limbs. He compared the actions of our armed forces to those of Genghis Khan. I wondered if Kerry still believed this in 2004. I didn't get answer then, but I did get an answer in 2006, when Kerry appeared on Imus and reaffirmed that he had "told the truth" in 1971. ( "John Kerry and Seymour Hersh trash the armed forces.")

In 2006, Kerry also made his famous statement indicating that he thought that people in the American armed forces were stupid:

"You know, education -- if you make the most of it, you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

With his contemptuous view of America's armed forces, by nominating Kerry to be Secretary of State, President Obama has insulted every American soldier and, indeed, every American.

And I honestly have no idea how this guy is going to represent the United States. If he condemns a terrorist act in some other country, how will he answer the question: "But according to what you said in 1971, American soldiers are worse rapists, torturers and terrorists than al-Qaeda. Why does America have the right to criticize anyone else?"

On the other hand, maybe Kerry isn't such a bad choice after all. When all the raping, torturing and ear-cutting was going on with Kerry's fellow soldiers in Vietnam, presumably Kerry didn't just sit there twiddling his thumbs. He probably participated himself. He probably raped a few Vietnamese girls himself, and cut off a few Vietnamese men's ears himself as well.

So, which would be the better candidate for Secretary of State: A wishy-washy girl like Susan Rice, or a white male likely rapist and torturer? Well, if we're headed for the Clash of Civilizations World War, I'll go for the likely rapist and torturer for Secretary of State. Washington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Dec-12 World View -- Ethnic revenge massacre in Kenya kills 41 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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21-Dec-12 World View -- United Nations approves military intervention in Mali

Interest rate fixing probe expands into Asia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The Chinese prepare for the end of the world on Friday (today)


Liu Qiyuan and his 'tsunami survival pod' in China's Hebei province
Liu Qiyuan and his 'tsunami survival pod' in China's Hebei province

Many people around the world believe that the world is coming to an end on Friday, thanks to an ancient Mayan calendar and to thousands of doomsday web sites. According to polls, 20% of the population believe this in China, whereas 22% believe it in the United States. The Chinese have been panic-buying candles and other supplies, because of rumors that the doomsday will begin with total darkness. (It's not clear to me why you need candles if the world is going to end.) China has arrested over 450 people for spreading rumors about the imminent apocalypse. One Chinese entrepreneur, Liu Qiyuan, a former furniture-maker, now builds "survival pods" with a capacity of 14 people each, to survive 100-foot high tsunamis. However, Master Yancan, a Buddhist abbot in Cangzhou, says, "I suggest we nominate December 21 as World Humor Day to commemorate the humor of the Mayans. Why bother to believe rumors such as this? Just enjoy your life." Al-Jazeera

United Nations approves military intervention in Mali

The United Nations Security Council has authorized military intervention in Mali, to recapture the northern 2/3rds of the country, which has fallen into the hands of several terrorist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). UNSC members voted unanimously on Thursday to approve the resolution to restore peace and protect human rights in Mali. The resolution passed on pressure from France, which fears that if AQIM establishes a firm stronghold in northern Mali, then it will be used as a base to launch terrorist attacks on Algeria and Europe, especially France. However, most UNSC members really aren't too anxious to endorse military action in Mali, and so the resolution sets no time frame and no implementation plan, except a vague expectation that the troops will be provided by ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States. VOA

Interest rate fixing probe expands into Asia

As we reported yesterday, the Department of Justice has brought charges against the Japanese subsidiary of the Swiss bank UBS AG, for falsely influencing international interest rates (Libor) in order to defraud investors. The UBS charges have served as a wake-up call to investigative agencies in several Asian companies, including the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and Japan’s Financial Services Agency. These agencies are opening a probe into Asian subsidiaries of other European banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Barclays, UBS, Deutsche Bank AG and Rabobank Groep. According to one analyst, Asian prosecuters are more willing to send crooked banksters to jail. This would be unlike Eric Holder and the Obama Justice Department, which refused to investigate and send banksters to jail, even in the face of massive evidence of criminal fraud, presumably because these banksters contribute a lot of campaign money to President Obama. After all these years, not a single American bank employee has been jailed for the financial crisis, despite absolute proof that fraud was committed. In today's America, respectable people are gangsters, and gangsters are treated as respectable people. Bloomberg

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Dec-12 World View -- United Nations approves military intervention in Mali thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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20-Dec-12 World View -- Russia's Duma blocking U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans

Dept. of Justice brings criminal charges against Swiss bank UBS

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's Duma blocking U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans


The painting 'Orphanage - Nap Time' by Russian artist Vitaly Drozdov
The painting 'Orphanage - Nap Time' by Russian artist Vitaly Drozdov

Modern Russia has more orphans than any other country, 678,000, even more than the Soviet Union had during World War II. Over the past 20 years, U.S. citizens have adopted more than 60,000 of them. Some of the rest, especially those with mental or physical disabilities, are locked into cribs with iron bars, forced to lie in their own feces and urine. Now the Duma has given preliminary approval to legislation banning Americans from adopting Russian children. The ban is part of a larger bill forbidding NGOs (non-government agencies) from operating in Russia if they received U.S. funding and conduct political activities. President Vladimir Putin has accused American-funded NGOs of interfering in Russia's political process, as it became apparent that Putin's return to the Presidency occurred because of massive voter fraud. The ban on adoptions is retaliation for American legislation called the "Magnitsky bill," passed in response to an alleged fraudulent scheme uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer, who named names of numerous corrupt Russian tax and law enforcement officials, but who was then thrown into a Russian jail and left to die. Moscow Times and Bloomberg

Dept. of Justice brings criminal charges against Swiss bank UBS

U.S. prosecutors charged two former UBS AG traders on Wednesday with taking part in a multi-year scheme to manipulate Libor interest for their own personal gain. UBS was fined $1.5 billion, and its Japanese subsidiary pleaded guilty to criminal fraud. According to Attorney General Eric Holder:

"Today, the Justice Department is filing a criminal information charging UBS Securities Japan – a subsidiary of the multinational financial institution UBS AG – with felony wire fraud for engaging in a scheme to manipulate the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR – a key benchmark for financial products and transactions around the world. The company has agreed to plead guilty to this charge, to admit to its criminal conduct, and to pay a $100 million fine.

Additionally, in a separate complaint, two former UBS traders have been charged with conspiracy for their alleged roles in this scheme – which allowed UBS to boost its trading profits by placing bets on the movement of benchmark interest rates, and then manipulating those rates. One of these individuals has also been charged with wire fraud and an antitrust violation in connection with these activities.

By causing UBS and other financial institutions to spread false and misleading information about LIBOR, these alleged conspirators – and others at UBS – manipulated the benchmark interest rate upon which many consumer financial products – including credit cards, student loans, and mortgages – are frequently based. They defrauded the company’s counterparties of millions of dollars. And they did so primarily to reap increased profits, and secure bigger bonuses, for themselves."

One trader, Tom Hayes, a 33-year-old Gen-Xer, colluded with about 100 traders at other banks and 12000 interdealer brokers in the massive scheme.

Long-time readers are aware that we're seeing something of a miracle here. Eric Holder and the Obama Justice Department have adamantly refused to investigate and prosecute anyone for the financial crisis, even when the fraud was complete obvious and provable. "Financial Crisis Inquiry hearings provide 'smoking gun' evidence of widespread criminal fraud"

Thus, Tom Hayes is actually the first bankster crook to actually be charged. What made Holder change his mind?

We presume that Holder has stubbornly refused to prosecute bankster criminals because of all the money they contributed to Obama's presidential campaign. Maybe the fact that Obama won't be running again is one of Holder's reasons.

But the more obvious reason is that UBS is not an American bank, so it doesn't contribute to Obama's campaign anyway. UBS is a Swiss bank, and the criminal charges were brought against its Japanese subsidiary. Recently, British bank HSBC was fined ( "15-Dec-12 World View -- Outrage grows that U.S. did not jail anyone at HSBC bank for money laundering"), and before that Barclays bank was fined in the Libor scandal.

So it's STILL true that no American bank has been held accountable for the financial crisis, despite massive evidence of criminal activity, and no American bankster has been sent to jail. Going after the Japanese subsidiary of a Swiss bank almost seems like a joke. Dept. of Justice and Bloomberg

Deutsche Bank faces severe tax evasion charges in Germany

I became very aware of Deutsche Bank in 2007 and 2008 when I was writing about subprime mortgage fraud. What had happened during the bubble was that a bank would grant a subprime mortgage loan, and then sell the note and the deed to another bank. Readers may recall that many homeowners going through a foreclosure process were surprised to learn that the bank that had given them the mortgage loan was no longer involved, and often they could not figure out which bank actually owned their home. As I discovered at the time, in most cases, the bank that had taken the mortgage loans over was Deutsche Bank. Needless to say, Deutsche Bank lost a great deal of money when the subprime mortgage market collapsed.

Deutsche Bank was once Germany's proudest financial institution, but is now facing numerous legal charges and scandals, New management was brought in to recover from the subprime mortgage disaster, but it now appears that they did so by committing tax fraud. The fraud involved those greenhouse gas emissions certificates that European companies can trade with one another to be allowed to emit carbon dioxide. Deutsche Bank cooperated in a shell game to evade taxes by passing these certificates bank and forth through shell companies, across national borders. The scheme sounds remarkably similar to the way that subprime mortgages were passed from bank to bank to commit fraud.

A frequent theme that I've written about numerous times is that the financial crisis is far from over for many reasons, a major one being that the same people who committed fraud in the first place are still in the same jobs, finding new ways to commit fraud, and with the Obama administration refusing to investigate these crooks, the crooks know that then can go on committing crime after crime with no fear of prosecution.

In this case, however, it's German prosecutors going after Deutsche Bank, while American prosecutors are going after UBS. Maybe these are just the first signs of a coming flood of criminal prosecutions that will send lots of banksters to jail. Let's hope. Spiegel

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Dec-12 World View -- Russia's Duma blocking U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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19-Dec-12 World View -- 'Chained CPI' proposal enters the farcical Fiscal Cliff negotiations

Russia sends warships to Mediterranean for evacuations from Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Domestic violence revealed in ancient Egypt


The lid of the sarcophagus of Ramses III
The lid of the sarcophagus of Ramses III

After two years of scientific and archaeological research, Egyptologists have solved the mystery of the death of Ramses III, the Pharoah who ruled from 1187 to 1156 BC. Based on papyrus transcripts, combined with an examination of the body itself, scientists have determined that Ramses III was killed by his second wife Queen Tiya, who wished to put her son, Prince Pentawere, on the throne. However, at the trial following the murder, Queen Tiya and other officials were sentenced to death, and Prince Pentawere was ordered to kill himself. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Fitzwilliam Museum (PDF)

'Chained CPI' proposal enters the farcical Fiscal Cliff negotiations

Long-time readers are fully aware of what a farce have been the past two years of negotiations among European leaders on bailing out Greece. Every few months, they get together and announce a "nuclear option" solution that solves the problem of Greece once and for all. Investors, who I've truly come to believe are mostly total morons (at least when they're investing their own money, and not someone else's), push the markets up for a couple of days, thinking that the mid-2000s real estate and credit bubbles are going to return. Within a couple of weeks later, it becomes clear to everyone, even the morons, that the solution actually did nothing but postpone the crisis without resolving the underlying problems, thus making the next crisis round even worse.

The same pattern is appearing in the negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" on December 31. If there's a deal, it looks like President Obama will get his way and there will be tax cuts for "the rich," which will accomplish nothing, but there will be no cuts in the entitlements that cause the actual problem. So the crisis would be avoided for a while, and would come back again later, worse than ever -- just like Greece.

The latest sign of farce is the discussions over the Chained Consumer Price Index (CPI). The Chained CPI grows the computed inflation rate slightly slower than the ordinary CPI. Since things like Social Security increases and tax brackets are indexed to the CPI, they would rise more slowly as well.

The CPI is computed by measuring how much the cost of each item in a basket of goods increases each year, and averaging the results. So if the price of an apple goes from $1.00 to $1.20, that's a 20% increase in the price of apples. But the Chained CPI computation would say that if the price of apples goes up 20%, then people will switch to oranges instead, if those are going up only 5%, and the lower 5% figure will be used in the Chained CPI computation.

Thus:

So government payouts would increase less quickly, and tax collections would increase more quickly.

Now, no one really wants to see Social Security cut. I don't, because I'll probably be on it before too much longer. But I also know that there's no choice, and that Social Security and Medicare are probably going to be thrown out completely when the real financial crisis arrives. I'm all for reviving those "death panels" we used to hear about a couple of years ago -- just put us out of our misery when the time comes. You'll be doing us a favor.

The Chained CPI concept is favored by the White House and some Republicans and Democrats in Congress, because it has these advantages:

Well, it turns out that the last item is untrue. Democratic Senators Dick Durban and Harry Reid are strongly against it because it cuts social security increases.

Or let's see how radical feminist chick Bryce Covert puts it:

"As Brad DeLong put it yesterday, “’Chained-CPI’ is code for ‘let's really impoverish some women in their 90s!’” This change would end up reducing benefits by about .3 percent each year and will hammer elderly women. ...

This hurts women more than men because they are more likely to live longer and to be poor while they do so. The NWLC reports that a woman is twice as likely as a man to get to age 95, scrounging for ways to pay for two weeks of food."

So, we're talking about a debt of $16 trillion dollars and growing rapidly, and we have to listen to this feminist chick get hysterical about a 0.3% cut, when in fact we're going to be forced into a 50-100% cut before too much longer.

So this brings us back to the fiscal cliff negotiations. Taxes are going up on "the rich" because President Obama wants that, even though it accomplishes nothing. But cut Social Security benefits by 0.3%? That's hammering elderly women, so we can't do it. We can't do anything else, either. It's a farce and a disaster. Washington Post and Bryce Covert (The Nation) and Moment of Truth Project

Russia sends warships to Mediterranean for evacuations from Syria

Russia's navy has sent five ships -- three warships and two support ships -- from Russia's Baltic Fleet to join Russian naval forces in the Mediterranean off the coast of Syria. There are some 20,000 Russian citizens in Syria, and according to the Russian military, the warships are being deployed as a contingency for the possible evacuation of Russian citizens from Syria, in case of the collapse of the government of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. However, Debka reports that the warships are ill-suited for evacuation purposes, and that they're being positioned to send troops into Syria in case chemical or biological weapons are used by either side. In that case, there will be forces from Russia, the U.S., Israel, Jordan and Turkey, and possibly other countries as well, in Syria. Russia Today and Debka

Hugo Chavez battles respiratory infection, following cancer surgery

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who underwent lengthy, complex cancer surgery in Cuba on September 11, has now been found to be suffering a respiratory infection. According to Cuba's Information Minister, "The general condition of the commander-president is stable after he was diagnosed with a respiratory infection and the medical team treated him immediately. It has been controlled." Reuters

Taliban terrorists kill six female polio vaccination workers in Pakistan

Five female polio vaccination workers in Karachi, Pakistan, and one more in Peshawar, have been shot to death in coordinated attacks. The perpetrators are assumed to be Taliban terrorists. Taliban leaders have been for years describing the polio vaccination programs as Western espionage, or as attempts to sterilize Pakistani children to prevent the births of more Muslims. These claims turned into demands after the American administration, in the process of bragging about having killed Osama bin Laden, revealed that a phony vaccination program was used to help establish the identity of bin Laden. The polio vaccination program has now been put on hold, but it's considered critically important for Pakistan, which appears to be on the verge of a large polio epidemic. BBC (Check out the BBC link for an interesting pictorial history of polio.)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Dec-12 World View -- 'Chained CPI' proposal enters the farcical Fiscal Cliff negotiations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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18-Dec-12 World View -- After 20 years of deflation, Japan's new leader will try devaluation

Thousands of Palestinians flee Syria's Yarmouk refugee camp

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Silvio Berlusconi, 76, to marry stunning 27 year old brunette


Francesca Pascale with Silvio Berlusconi
Francesca Pascale with Silvio Berlusconi

European political leaders were horrified last week when Italy's former premier Silvio Berlusconi said that he would make a comeback and seek a fifth term as prime minister. Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel and France's then-president Nicolas Sarkozy were delighted when he resigned last year, because they blamed him for the financial condition of Italy, and because they felt that his "bunga bunga parties," always attended by gorgeous women, some of whom he (allegedly) slept with, sullied the names of honorable politicians everywhere. Now that he may return again, they can barely conceal their disdain.

But on Monday, 76 year old Berlusconi had a different kind of announcement: That he was engaged to be married to a stunning 27 year old brunette beauty, Francesca Pascale. Pascale was a founding member of a support group called "Silvio, we miss you." She has previously said the three most important things in her life are her family, politics and Mr. Berlusconi. It's said that she was jealous of the other women in Berlusconi's inner circle.

Berlusconi, a billionaire, announced the engagement on Monday on a tv talk show:

"It's official, I have got engaged to Francesca Pascale and finally I feel less lonely. There is a 49 year age difference between us. She is a beautiful girl on the outside and even more beautiful on the inside, of solid moral principles, she is very close to me, she loves me and I feel the same way. My daughter Marina appreciates her and loves her very much too."

Spiegel and Iconocast and Christian Post

Thousands of Palestinians flee Syria's Yarmouk refugee camp

The Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Syria, home of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees of the 1948 Arab-Jewish war, and their descendants, was bombed by president Bashar al-Assad's air force on Sunday, as we reported yesterday. On Monday, rumors that Syrian government forces were massing for an attack sent thousands of residents of the refugee camp running south across the border to Lebanon. Yarmouk residents are split between pro-Assad and anti-Assad forces, and there have been sporadic gunfights between the two groups for months. LA Times

After 20 years of deflation, Japan's new leader will try devaluation

Japan's economy has been in a deflationary spiral ever since the huge 1980s real estate and stock market bubble began to crash in 1990. The Tokyo stock exchange index is still down 75% from its bubble high at the end of 1989. Now, Japan's newly elected leader, Shinzo Abe, plans to make a full-scale effort to end the deflation by pressuring the Bank of Japan to use quantitative easing to flood the market with money. This will devalue the yen, relative to the dollar and other currencies, and make Japan's exports cheaper on the world markets. Massive amounts of quantitative easily in the U.S. and Europe have not been successful in reversing deflation or in growing the economy, so many people believe that it won't be effective in Japan either. It's worth pointing out here that macroeconomic models have been consistently wrong about almost everything for the past six years. Even before that, economics did not predict and can't explain the tech bubble at the end of the 1990s, the real estate bubble, the credit bubble, the 2007 credit crunch, or anything that's happened since then, and they don't have a clue what's going to happen in 2013. Now they're going to repeat some of these same policies in Japan, when they don't have the vaguest clue what's going there either. Telegraph (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Dec-12 World View -- After 20 years of deflation, Japan's new leader will try devaluation thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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17-Dec-12 World View -- Japan's leadership shifts sharply right in a return to nationalism

Assad bombs a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Japan's leadership shifts sharply right in a return to nationalism


New Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Reuters)
New Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Reuters)

Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led by Shinzo Abe, won an overwhelming election victory in the Diet (the Lower House of parliament) on Sunday, gaining 320 out of 480 seats, or 2/3 of the house. This is a "veto-proof majority," in the sense that the LDP can override and pass a bill even if it's defeated in the Upper House. The LDP was returned to power after ruling Japan for 50 years, before it was ousted in 2009.

This was a devastating defeat for the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), and the current prime minister Yoshihiko Noda. Noda was elected only 3 years ago, but many believe that his loss was caused by bad luck - the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster on his watch.

Abe is taking advantage of a new nationalist wave in Japan, following the confrontation between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. This level of tension increased sharply last week, when Japan scrambled war jets to confront a Chinese surveillance plane that traveled into the islands' airspace. ( "14-Dec-12 World View -- Japan scrambles F-15 jets to challenge Chinese surveillance plane")

Abe says that the islands indisputably belong to Japan:

"China is challenging the fact that (the islands) are Japan’s inherent territory. Our objective is to stop the challenge. We don’t intend to worsen relations between Japan and China."

He will also seek to permanently base public servants on the islands to strengthen Japan's effective control.

It's hard to see what he means that "we don't intend to worsen relations," unless perhaps he's making the point that relations between Japan and China are already so bad and so hostile, that it really doesn't make any difference what he does.

Abe has indicated some other policy changes that will infuriate the increasingly nationalistic and belligerent Chinese. He intends to establish closer relations with the U.S. and the Obama administration. He intends to revoke a 1993 Japanese admission that Japan used Chinese women as "comfort women" during World War II. He intends to amend Japan's constitution, removing the pacifist provisions that have been in place since the end of WW II. And he plans to resume personal visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, containing Japanese dead from WW II, including 14 convicted or accused Class A war criminals. Abe also plans a pro-nuclear policy, and to reverse the closings of nuclear plants that have occurred since the Fukushima disaster.

The Japanese electorate signaled its sharp move to the right in other ways as well. The newly formed ultra-nationalist Japan Restoration Party became the third largest party in the Diet, while the pacifist, anti-nuclear Tomorrow Party of Japan suffered a major setback. The Asahi Shimbun and Japan Times

Assad bombs a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria

The regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad sent new shock waves through the Arab world on Sunday, when his warplanes bombed the Yarmouk refugee camp, which houses hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. The camp was set up in 1957 for Palestinians displaced by the war between Arabs and Jews following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. The regime attack was a surprise because although al-Assad has been targeting Sunni Muslims across Syria, the Yarmouk camp houses the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an anti-Israel group that has been supporting al-Assad regime in the current conflict. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said,

"We call on the warring sides in Syria to spare the Palestinian people and their camps in Syria. [The bombing of the refugee camps] must be stopped immediately.

We also call on the international community to take immediate action to provide protection to our people in Syria."

Al-Jazeera

Iran's Ahmadinejad cancels visit to Turkey over Syria disagreements

Relations between Iran and Turkey continue to deteriorate, because the two countries support opposite sides in the conflict in Syria. Iran is a staunch defender of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, and has provided troops and weapons to al-Assad. Turkey used to have a close relationship with al-Assad, until the current conflict began, but now they're mortal enemies, with Turkey hosting well over 100,000 Syrians in refugee camps along the border. Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been scheduled to visit Turkey on Monday. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the central city of Konya for an annual ceremony marking the death of Rumi, the 13th century Sufi mystic. However, Iran is furious that Turkey is installing Nato Patriot missiles along its border with Syria, and Iran's military chief said that the move could lead to a "world war." The larger picture is that Iran has been trying for decades to gain hegemony over the entire Arabian peninsula, and has been courting terrorist groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan and Gaza with weapons and money. On the other side, Turkey hopes to regain some of the role that it played when it was the head of the Ottoman Empire, and also hopes to gain hegemony over the Arabian peninsula. The two are headed for a collision. Reuters and Arab News

Reminder: Generational Dynamics World View available through e-mail

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Dec-12 World View -- Japan's leadership shifts sharply right in a return to nationalism thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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16-Dec-12 World View -- Memories of the slaughter at Beslan, North Ossetia

Troubled Afghanistan counter-insurgency projects are costly and ineffective

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Memories of the slaughter at Beslan, North Ossetia


A man touches a wall with pictures of children who died in the Beslan massacre (Reuters)
A man touches a wall with pictures of children who died in the Beslan massacre (Reuters)

One of the saddest stories I covered in the last decade was the terrorist attack on September 1, 2004, on a school in Beslan, a small city in the Russian province of North Ossetia. The attack took place over three days. Islamist terrorists took control of a large elementary school, and all the children were held as hostages in the gymnasium. Finally, Russian security forces stormed the building, and what was left afterwards were the charred remains of 341 bodies, half of them children. The perpetrator was terrorist leader Shamil Basayev.

Almost as shocking as the attack itself, was what happened afterwards. (From 2005: "Russia infuriated over ABC 'Nightline' interview of Shamil Basayev")

In July, 2005, ABC News Nightline, willing to exploit violence for politics, aired a lengthy interview with Shamil Basayev himself, allowing him to explain on worldwide television why the Beslan massacre was justified:

"It’s not the children [of Beslan] who are responsible. Responsibility is with the whole Russian nation... If the war doesn’t come to each of them individually, it will never stop in Chechnya.” Asked if a Beslan-type attack could occur again, Basayev said: “Of course ... As long as the genocide of the Chechen nation continues, as long as this mess continues, anything can happen."

Russia was infuriated by this interview. An envoy of Vladimir Putin said that America "is encouraging terrorism by employing 'dual standards.'" President Alu Alkhanov of Chechnya said:

"I was startled by how they allowed this person, who openly claimed responsibility for dozens of terrorist attacks in Russia, which claimed hundreds of human lives, to voice new threats against Russia and the Russian people. My opinion is that those who gave the floor to Basayev, have not fully realized what threat this person and other terrorists like him pose to the whole world. We will never succeed in the fight against terrorism if such an approach is adopted toward terrorists. Virtually no peaceful place remains on the planet. The world should present a united front against terrorism and refrain from dividing terrorists into good ones and bad ones."

Shamil Basayev died a year later in a huge explosion. There was evidence that he died in the midst of preparing for a new terrorist attack to coincide with the upcoming G-8 summit in St. Petersburg. Vladimir Putin said, "For the bandits, this is just retribution for our children in Beslan ... and for all the terrorist attacks they carried out in Moscow and other regions of Russia."

Ukraine's sale of weapons to Syria's rebels backfires

In spite of opposition by Vladimir Putin's Russia, Ukraine has been shipping arms to Syrian opposition forces through Arab proxies, including Saudi Arabian proxies. Weapons crates found in the Syrian city of Aleppo show the arms, including AK-47 semi-automatic rifles, were shipped from Ukraine. However, Syrian rebels have been confusing Ukraine with Russia, and assume that Ukraine is supplying weapons to the Bashar al-Assad regime as well as to the rebels. Therefore, Syrian rebels have retaliated by kidnapping Ukrainian and Russian journalists and threatening to attack both countries’ diplomatic missions in Syria. Jamestown

Troubled Afghanistan counter-insurgency projects are costly and ineffective

A study by McClatchy shows that numerous humanitarian projects in Afghanistan are extremely costly, and either ineffective or counterproductive. In the rush to rebuild Afghanistan, the U.S. government has charged ahead with ever-expanding development programs despite questions about their impact, cost and value to America's multi-billion-dollar campaign to shore up the pro-Western Afghan president and prevent Taliban insurgents from seizing control. Many of these projects were begun in the Bush administration, and were failures at the time. The Obama administration said the failures were caused because the Bush administration was distracted by the Iraq war. So the Obama administration revamped the programs, and tripled the costs from $1 billion to $3 billion. But now the failures are continuing, despite the increased costs. McClatchy

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Dec-12 World View -- Memories of the slaughter at Beslan, North Ossetia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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15-Dec-12 World View -- Outrage grows that U.S. did not jail anyone at HSBC bank for money laundering

Russia supplies Syria with supersonic Iskander missiles to counter Patriots

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Outrage grows that U.S. did not jail anyone at HSBC bank for money laundering


HSBC - The World's Laundry Bank (ZeroHedge)
HSBC - The World's Laundry Bank (ZeroHedge)

HSBC, a bank headquartered in Britain, with huge presence in the United States, settled with the Department of Justice on Thursday over money-laundering charges that supported a breathtaking array of international criminal and terrorist activity -- including drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia and illegal financial transactions for terrorists in Iran, Sudan, Myanmar and Libya. HSBC violated the Bank Secrecy Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act, involving hundreds of thousands of transactions that laundered billions of dollars. According to the DOJ statement:

"HSBC is being held accountable for stunning failures of oversight – and worse – that led the bank to permit narcotics traffickers and others to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through HSBC subsidiaries, and to facilitate hundreds of millions more in transactions with sanctioned countries. The record of dysfunction that prevailed at HSBC for many years was astonishing."

HSBC was essentially the central banker for the criminal world, laundering huge flows of money supporting criminal activities and terrorism around the world. But as we know, the Obama administration Department of Justice under Eric Holder adamantly refuses to prosecute any banker, no matter how big or obvious the crime, because bankers make such huge financial contributions to their campaigns. In this case, HSBC was given a slap on the wrist -- a fine representing about a week's worth of profits. No one is going to jail.

What excuse is the DOJ giving for not sending anyone to jail? According to several reports, the DOJ is saying that sending someone from HSBC to jail would destabilize the entire banking system. The only thing it would destabilize is political contributions to the politicians.

Financial writer Mike Taibbi is furious:

"It doesn't take a genius to see that the reasoning here is beyond flawed. When you decide not to prosecute bankers for billion-dollar crimes connected to drug-dealing and terrorism (some of HSBC's Saudi and Bangladeshi clients had terrorist ties, according to a Senate investigation), it doesn't protect the banking system, it does exactly the opposite. It terrifies investors and depositors everywhere, leaving them with the clear impression that even the most "reputable" banks may in fact be captured institutions whose senior executives are in the employ of (this can't be repeated often enough) murderers and terrorists. Even more shocking, the Justice Department's response to learning about all of this was to do exactly the same thing that the HSBC executives did in the first place to get themselves in trouble – they took money to look the other way.

And not only did they sell out to drug dealers, they sold out cheap. You'll hear bragging this week by the Obama administration that they wrested a record penalty from HSBC, but it's a joke."

As I've pointed out a number of times, we're seeing a repeat of 1930s Germany, where respectable people were gangsters, and gangsters were treated as respectable people.

As usual, many Gen-Xers as usual are supporting the DOJ decision not to send anyone from HSBC to jail. Here's possibly the sleaziest defense of all from one of the sleaziest Gen-X economists, Felix Salmon:

"[I]t’s important to put HSBC’s crimes in context. The United States, in its role as global hegemon and guardian of the world’s only real reserve currency, has unapologetically taken the opportunity to use its economic power to push its geopolitical agenda. For instance, if you’re an Iranian business and you want to do business in dollars, the US is determined to make your life as difficult as possible. The US might have no jurisdiction over Iranian businesses, but it does have jurisdiction over nearly all the important banks in the world, since it’s impossible to be a global bank without having some kind of presence in the US. And — as Argentina is finding out right now in its court case against Elliott Associates — if you want to send dollars around the world, you basically have to send them through the USA.

To put it another way, the laws that HSBC broke were laws designed to bolster the international standing of the US relative to Iran and other countries: they were geopolitically motivated, and the intended target was not the international banking system, with which the State Department has no particular beef, but rather countries the State Department doesn’t like."

This is probably the epitome of the most sickening Gen-X stupidity. But what I found interesting is that there are dozens of comments following Salmon's article, and almost every one is contemptuous of Salmon. Here a sample:

"What a piece of krap.

The Government could have prosecuted individuals without destroying HSBC as an Institution.

When you launder money for terrorists and murderers and drug cartels, you should be out of business. Your executives should be prosecuted.

Were you paid by HSBC to write this article?"

There were so many comments like this, that Salmon had to add an "update" paragraph to his article, saying that it would be OK to prosecute executives. The problem with this feeble attempt to save his reputation is that his reasoning about the U.S. being an evil global hegemon picking on poor little Iran applies to the executives as well. What a pathetic piece of work!

But I'm actually taking heart from all this. You have dozens of comments expressing the highest contempt for Salmon and his article. Many of these commenters, possibly most, are Gen-Xers themselves, and I take this as a hopeful sign that Gen-Xers are finally beginning to realize that the moral values and ethics promoted by the World War II survivor generations weren't so full of shit after all. It appears that the Gen-Xers are finally learning some hard lessons. Maybe, just maybe, there's hope for Generation-X after all. U.S. Department of Justice and Mike Taibbi (Rolling Stone) and Felix Salmon (Reuters)

President Obama gives tear-filled statement about Newtown school shooting

President Obama, who through his silence condones, supports and encourages violence by union thugs, on Friday gave a tear-filled statement saying that violence in schools has to end, "regardless of politics." CBS NY

U.S. will send 400 troops with Patriot systems to Turkey-Syria border

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta paid a surprise visit to US troops at Nato's Incirlik Air Base in Adana, Turkey, and authorized the dispatch of two Patriot anti-missile system batteries to Turkey, to be deployed on Turkey's border with Syria. In addition, 400 U.S. soldiers will be sent to Turkey's border with Syria to operate the Patriot systems. Germany and the Netherlands have also authorized their own Patriot systems to be deployed to Turkey, with supporting troops. The U.S. now has ground troops in Jordan and Turkey on Syria's border, as well as an aircraft carrier fleet in the Mediterranean near Syria's coast. Zaman (Istanbul)

Russia supplies Syria with supersonic Iskander missiles to counter Patriots

Russia has sent to Syria a shipment of Iskander ground to ground missiles, which travel at hypersonic speed of over 1.3 miles per second (Mach 6-7), and which can't be traced or destroyed by the Patriot system. This is considered a "game changer," and is forcing a re-evaluation of the entire American and Nato strategy toward Syria and the Mideast. Pravda (Moscow) and Debka

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Dec-12 World View -- Outrage grows that U.S. did not jail anyone at HSBC bank for money laundering thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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14-Dec-12 World View -- Japan scrambles F-15 jets to challenge Chinese surveillance plane

Greece finally gets its bailout commitment

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Japan scrambles F-15 jets to challenge Chinese surveillance plane


A photo released by the Japan Coast Guard of the Chinese surveillance plane
A photo released by the Japan Coast Guard of the Chinese surveillance plane

According to China:

"Chinese and Japanese aircraft were involved in a standoff in the skies above the [Senkaku/Diaoyu] Islands on Thursday.

The situation remains under control, but Tokyo seems intent on upping the ante, observers said.

A Chinese marine surveillance plane, B-3837, was sent to join vessels patrolling the territorial waters around the islands, which belong to China, on Thursday morning, said a statement issued by the State Oceanic Administration on its website.

The plane arrived in the area at about 10 am and conducted joint patrols with a fleet of four surveillance ships.

The fleet ordered the Japanese ships that had entered China's territorial waters to leave the area immediately, the statement said.

Warned by the Japanese coast guard, the Chinese aircraft responded that it was flying in Chinese airspace, Japan's JiJi Press quoted the coast guard's 11th regional headquarters in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, southern Japan as saying.

The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force scrambled F-15 fighter jets to the area, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported.

Japan's Defense Ministry accused the air patrol of an "airspace intrusion"."

According to Japan:

"Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura says the jets were sent in response to a Chinese Oceanic Administration airplane that was spotted near the islands. He said Japan has lodged an official protest and summoned the Chinese ambassador in Tokyo.

"It is extremely deplorable that China's official airplane conducted an airspace invasion of Japan's territory today, on top of their intrusion of territorial waters for three days in a row, as of today, despite our repeated warnings."

A spokesperson for the Japanese prime minister's office confirmed to VOA that in addition to the F-15s, a E-2C "Hawkeye" observation aircraft was also scrambled from Naha, Okinawa.

The Japanese government described the incident as the first ever "intrusion" by a Chinese plane into what Japan considers its airspace.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said the plane's mission was "completely normal." "The Diaoyu Islands and affiliated islands have been part of China's territory since antiquity," said Hong. "China's surveillance plane flying in airspace over the Diaoyu Islands is completely normal. China calls on Japan to halt illegal activities in waters around Diaoyu islands and airspace.""

It's very hard to get past the feeling that China is planning something major very soon. In the South China Sea, China has established a strong military presence, and has threatened to board and seize foreign ships that enter its "territorial waters" -- which they claim are the entire South China Sea, even areas that historically belonged to other nations. And now China has escalated the confrontation in the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands with a surveillance plane. The amount of escalation seems to increase every week, and China may be preparing for much more in the next few months. China Daily and Japan Times / Kyodo and VOA

China commemorates the 1937 Massacre at Nanking (Nanjing)

The confrontation between Chinese and Japanese aircraft occurred on the 75th anniversary of the December 13, 1937, start of the "Massacre at Nanking (Nanjing)," during which Japanese soldiers allegedly raped, massacred and killed some 300,000 Chinese civilians. The Massacre at Nanking is the most potent symbol of today's Chinese nationalism and hatred of the Japanese. On Thursday, 10,000 people attended a ceremony at the Nanking massacre memorial hall, built on a pit where thousands of victims were buried. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

Russia admits that opposition may win in Syria

In what some people are describing as a major reversal of position by Russia, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said:

"We have to face up to reality: The trend is that the Syrian regime, the government is increasingly losing control, losing more and more territory.

Sadly, a victory by the Syrian opposition cannot be ruled out. ...

[Syria's Opposition Coalition] are saying that victory is just around the corner: ‘We will soon take Aleppo and then we will take Damascus,’ and saying they are in control of 60 percent of territory."

It's worth noting that in the last few days, the U.S. administration made an important concession to Russia's point of view, by designating Jabhat al-Nusra as a foreign terrorist group in Syria, as we reported. Russia is plagued by al-Qaeda linked terrorists in its own North Caucasus southern provinces, it was concerned that an opposition victory in Syria would put additional al-Qaeda linked terrorists in power, further threatening Russia in the Caucasus. Ria Novosti (Moscow) and Telegraph (London)

Greece finally gets its bailout commitment

A summit of European financial ministers agreed to release some 50 billion euros in bailout loans in the next few months, allowing Greece to pay meet its immediate debt payments and avoid going bankrupt. According to Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras:

"Over the next few months, we’ll get 52.5 billion euros, which is something nobody had expected. About 40 billion of this will stay in the country [to recapitalize the banks and pay money owed to suppliers], and the rest is being used to reduce our debt. 'Grexit' [the slang term for 'Greek exit from the eurozone'] is dead, Greece is back on its feet.

Within the next few weeks, we’ll complete the recapitalization of our banks, which will help liquidity and boost job creation, which is the top priority.

Some people expected us to be out of the euro and cannot believe that we are staying in. We have restored trust in Greece abroad; now we will restore the dignity of the Greek people."

The Europeans also announced a "banking union," which will bring control of national banks under the control of the ECB. After months of "kicking the can down the road," European officials are congratulating themselves and each other for finally solving the euro crisis. Kathimerini

Europe kicks the can down the road again

Over a year ago, I proposed the "Kick the Can Theory," which says that if you want to predict what Europe is going to do, always assume that they'll do the minimum possible to get through today's crisis, postponing the real underlying causes for a few weeks or months, after which the next crisis will be worse. The "Kick the Can Theory" has been proven true every single time so far, and the current agreement is no different.

Here's a BBC interview with Peter Spiegel, Brussels Bureau Chief for Financial Times (my transcription). He was asked his opinion of Thursday's European agreements:

"To be perfectly honest, there are some deals that are done, but as usual, there are things left undecided. They're going to have to come back to Greece, they're going to have to come back to banking union in the new year, and to be honest, the most pressing issues in both places have not been dealt with.

On the Greece side of things - look they still haven't gotten Greece's debt level back to a sustainable level, a level where Greece can sustain itself. They postponed a huge chunk of that debt relief -- they're going to decide it next year, in some cases in 2014 because they didn't want to take the hard decision, of whether they're going to take haircuts on their own bailout loans, so real tough decisions postponed again on Greece.

And on banking union, yes, there was a major decision to set up a single supervisor. The problem is that's the easy part of this new banking union. The hard part is -- who's going to pay for it? If we're going to say that the euro zone is going to centralize control over banks, what happens when you have to bailout the Spanish banks again? Who pays for that?

And what is very clear from the words of both [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel and [German Finance Minister] Wolfgang Schäuble during the banking union debate -- they want to kick that can down as far as they can. It was originally going to be some time next year. It now looks like the middle of 2014.

That's a day that's way too late for some of these countries, particularly Ireland. Ireland's supposed to come out of its bailout program next year. It needs some certainty on what it's going to be doing with its 60 billion euros in bank debt that was supposed to be shifted away from the Irish sovereign and onto this new banking union.

So these are decisions that people felt as recently as June needed to be taken by the summit, by December. Clearly now the Germans, the Dutch, the Finns, some of these others are pushing that not into next year, but potentially into the year after that.

[Question: [France's president] François Hollande said the euro crisis is behind us. You don't think he's right?]

His predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, almost said the exact same thing a year ago today. If you remember, there was the ECB with its bazooka, came out with something called the LTRO which is basically cheap financing for Europe's banks. Everyone patted themselves on the back, said this crisis is over.

It is remarkable now, after another ECB intervention, that the French president is again patting himself on the back for resolving the crisis. I mean, call me skeptical. I've been covering this now for over two years. Every time the crisis is determined to be done, and called "over," it rears its bloody/ugly head again, and if you look at places like - not just Greece but Spain, where the economy is really in a tailspin, their banking sector's still in real trouble, their private ability to borrow in the private sector - there's a real credit crunch there. The real problem in Spain, a country that is much bigger than Ireland, than Portugal, than Greece, that haven't been dealt with. Call me skeptical. I've heard these declarations before, and I'm a cynical reporter, I guess, but I just don't think this crisis is done."

As I've said many times in the past, no solution exists for the Greece problem. It's not that there are three or four different solutions, and the different European factions simply can't agree which solution to implement. The actual problem is that there are zero solutions, so all they can do is kick the can down the road.

The reasoning behind the repeated efforts to postpone the problem is that people believe that if they can stall long enough, then the real estate and credit bubbles of six years ago will return. They keep saying that the economy will start to grow again next quarter and it never does, because the bubbles are still contracting, and will continue to do so. There will be no real growth again until well into the 2020s.

So anyway, the "Kick the Can Theory" is proven correct one more time.

By the way, the "Kick the Can Theory" also applies to America's "fiscal cliff" negotiations. BBC Podcast (MP3)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Dec-12 World View -- Japan scrambles F-15 jets to challenge Chinese surveillance plane thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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13-Dec-12 World View -- Darfur war may explode again soon into full-scale genocide

Assad escalates Syria war again with Scud missiles

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Darfur war may explode again soon into full-scale genocide


Darfur refugee camp
Darfur refugee camp

Violent protests by hundreds of students in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, were broken up by police using heavy teargas on Wednesday. The increasingly potent protests, four days so far, were protesting the mysterious deaths of four deaths on December 7 of four Darfuri students, and the disappearance of two others. The bodies of the dead students were found in a canal after they went missing following their participation staged by students from Darfur to protest the university's tuition increases, in violation of their own signed agreements.

This comes at a time when money and troops are being withdrawn from the U.N.'s Darfur peacekeeping force, while violence against the millions of Darfuris in refugee camps is increasing. The U.S. labeled this a genocidal war in 2004 and the U.N. expended enormous resources to separate the sides and stop the fighting.

The war in Darfur, which is a western region of Sudan, has been an interesting case study for Generational Dynamics, since I've been able to follow it since it turned into a generational Crisis war in 2003. (The other war in that category was the Sri Lanka war, which became a crisis war in 2006, and reached a climax when the Tamil Tigers surrendered in May, 2009. Sri Lanka is currently in a generational Recovery era.)

The war began in the 1970s, but the world only discovered it in 2004, and then it became the most popular war in the world, with famous movie stars visiting, one after the other.

History of the Darfur war

Low level violence began in the 1970s between two ethnic groups, one of farmers and the other of camel herders. (There was a similar conflict between farmers and cowboys in the United States in the 1800s.) Farmers are infuriated when herds of animals trample their crops. They'd respond by building fences, and that infuriates the herders. (A more detailed history can be found in my 2007 article, "Ban Ki Moon blames Darfur genocide on global warming")


Sudan and neighboring countries. Southern Sudan is now a separate country, South Sudan
Sudan and neighboring countries. Southern Sudan is now a separate country, South Sudan

Prior to 1983, disagreements could be resolved by the elders, but things changed because of the drought and famine that ran from 1983-85. Both farmers and herders were forced to travel to regions with water, and that brought the two sides into closer contact. It also lessened the role of local leaders, with the result that both farmers and herders began to turn to Khartoum for help.

In Darfur in 1987, there were outside agitators on both sides, resulting in a brief war.

The two groups of Darfuris -- herders and farmers -- could also be distinguished ethnically as Arabs and non-Arabs, respectively. But that distinction had never before made as much difference as the individual tribal identifications, according to Sudan expert Alex de Wall.

A brief 1987 Darfur war was instigated by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who for years had been trying to start up a "pan-Arab" movement across northern Africa, under his leadership. He distinguished between the two groups of Darfuris -- herders and farmers -- could also be distinguished ethnically as Arabs and non-Arabs, respectively. He recruited the "Arab" herders, and tried to agitate them to be part of his attack force on the neighboring country Chad. That attempt failed, but the identity group name "Arab" stuck, and later became associated with the élite group running the government in Khartoum, who also think of themselves as "Arabs," and the other Darfuris as "non-Arabs," or just "Africans."

Once that happened, the conflict became international, with outsiders taking the side of the "Arab" herders or the "African" farmers, depending on their ideology.

In the 1990s, the level of low-level violence increased in Darfur between the two groups. If you're standing in Khartoum, Darfur is almost 1,000 miles away, and seems as far away as the moon, and the Darfuris might as well be an alien species. All the Sudan government wanted was for the Darfuris to take care of themselves, and leave Khartoum alone. Khartoum was already fully engaged in another war, with other ethnic groups in what is now South Sudan.

In the 1990s, the Khartoum government essentially delegated the responsibility of policing the region to the Arab Janjaweed militia, formed from certain groups of herders. This was an ideal solution to Khartoum, since it meant that the "African" and "Arab" Darfuris would have to solve problems themselves, and Khartoum would stay out of it. This would leave the Sudanese army free to focus on the southern war.

The transition from low-level violence to a full-fledged generational crisis war occurred in 2002-03. There were two shock events that triggered this transition.

The first occurred in April, 2002. The young men of one ("African") farmer village in central Darfur complained to the district authorities that they were being harassed by a herder ("Arab") militia group. The shock that they and the farmers received was that, instead of getting help, the young men were jailed, and so was a lawyer who tried to represent them. This infuriated and radicalized the Darfuri "African" farmers, especially the younger generation.

Jailing the young men was a catalyst the led to the formation of the Darfur Liberation Front.

The second shock event (the "regeneracy") occurred on February 26, 2003. The Darfur Liberation Front attacked a police station to take back their lost weapons from the time of the arrest. This action radicalized the "Arab" herders, especially the Janjaweed militia, who previously were supposed to be an impartial police force.

This led to panic in Khartoum. Suddenly the Darfuris, though still 1,000 miles away, turned overnight into a huge mass of millions of people ready to attack Khartoum itself!

In the mass hysteria that followed, the conflict escalated into a full-scale genocidal war. The Janjaweed militias (herders) began a program of mass murders, rapes, genocide and scorched earth.

It was only in 2004 that the world "discovered" Darfur. Jesse Jackson, the so-called anti-war activist, wanted President Bush to send troops into Darfur to stop the slaughter. Joe Biden wanted to move troops out of Iraq, where there no civil war, into Darfur, where there was civil war. He wanted to stop the Darfur civil war with just 2,500 American troops, to "end the carnage" and "stop the bleeding." ( "Still tilting at windmills, the UN will send 'peacekeepers' to Darfur")

The United Nations put millions of Darfuris into tents in the middle of the desert, and dozens of aid organizations sent food in. The idea was to spend $2 billion a year to "stop the bleeding," and then send Kofi Annan in to negotiate a peace deal that would end the war and bring peace to the region.

A generational crisis war MUST run its course. If you can imagine Kofi Annan's grandfather trying to negotiate a peace deal in 1944 between Britain and Germany, or between Japan and the United States, then you can imagine how ridiculous it was to expect a peace deal between the Sudan "Arabs" and "Africans."

Earlier, I mentioned the Sri Lanka civil war. That war ran its course and reached a crisis era climax in 2009, which I described in detail while it was occurring, as well as before and after.

But the Darfur civil war has NOT run its course, and has NOT reached a climax. You still have millions of Darfuris out in the middle of the desert, being protected by a dwindling number of U.N. peacekeepers. Once the peacekeepers are gone, the massive program of genocide, rapes, mass murders and scorched earth will begin again, and this time the war will reach a climax. Sudan Tribune and Reuters

Assad escalates Syria war again with Scud missiles

The regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is escalating the war further by firing Scud missiles within Syria, presumably at rebel groups, according to U.S. officials. The missiles were fired from the Damascus area into northern Syria. They did not cross the border into Turkey, but they came close. Analysts say the Assad government maintains up to 400 of the short- and medium-range Russian-developed Scud missiles. CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Dec-12 World View -- Darfur war may explode again soon into full-scale genocide thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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12-Dec-12 World View -- Left-wing union violence continues to increase in America

North Korea launches long-range rocket

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Left-wing union violence continues to increase in America


Steven Crowder (L) slugged in the face by union supporter on Tuesday (Fox News)
Steven Crowder (L) slugged in the face by union supporter on Tuesday (Fox News)

A legislative battle in Michigan over "right to work" labor laws, which unions oppose, has led to calls for violence from union officials and one of their legislative supporters, and actual violence by union supporters.

Fox News contributor Steven Crowder was punched in the face by a pro-union protester, breaking one of his teeth, while another pro-union protester shouted "get the f--- out of my face!"

Democratic representative Doug Geiss said:

"We’re going to pass something that will undo 100 years of labor relations and there will be blood, there will be repercussions, we will re-live the battle of the overpass."

The "battle of the overpass" refers to a bloody 1937 confrontation between union organizers and Ford security guards. Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Labor International Union of North America threatened supporters of the labor legislation: "We are going to take you on and take you out."

The latter is reminiscent of the the call to violence and war against the Tea Party last year by Teamsters president James Hoffa, when he introduced President Obama by saying: "We are ready to march. Let’s take these sons of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong." Hoffa's call to violence was, in fact, heeded two weeks later by hundreds of members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union members (ILWU) labor union, who violently attacked guards protecting a non-union grain terminal in the Port of Longview in Washington state.

In my opinion, the first important call for left-wing violence began with the 2006 Hollywood film "Death of a President" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0853096/), which seemed to me to have the purpose of inciting violence against President Bush. After President Obama was elected in 2008, mainstream news commentators such as CNN's David Gergen and Anderson Cooper were inciting violence against Tea Partiers by referring to them with the epithet "teabaggers."

Left-wing violence in America has been sporadic, though there has been a lot more in Europe, where it's triggered countervailing right-wing violence, particularly in Greece. In this generational Crisis era, we can expect this kind of violence to continue growing. CBS News (Detroit) and Fox News

Terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra gains support in Syria after U.S. designation

The group Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian wing of al-Qaeda in Iraq, has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization, as we've previously reported. The designation has generated a fresh wave of support for Jabhat Al-Nusra, which has been credited with executing numerous sophisticated attacks against the Syrian regime and playing a crucial role in weakening the latter. Syrian opposition websites and online campaigns on Facebook and Twitter have called on the public to take part in support rallies for Jabhat Al-Nusra to be held this coming Friday, under the slogan "No to American Involvement [in Syria] – We Are All Jabhat Al-Nusra." At the same time, the designation has also generated increased anti-U.S. sentiment among Syrians. Memri

France urges immediate military intervention in Mali

France has urged rapid foreign military intervention in Mali after the country's prime minister, Cheikh Modibo Diarra, was arrested and ordered to resign by the army. The northern two-thirds of Mali is under control of al-Qaeda linked jihadist groups, and France fears that if an Islamist state becomes firmly entrenched there, then it will serve as a base for terrorist attacks on Europe, especially France. However, other European countries and America are skeptical of a military intervention. Russia Today

North Korea launches long-range rocket

North Korea unexpectedly launched its long-range rocket test on Wednesday morning, after having announced on Sunday that it was extending its launch window to December 29. North Korea claims that the purpose of the test is to put a satellite into orbit, but it's thought that the real purpose was to develop a nuclear weapon delivery system that can reach the western United States. Japan had indicated that it would shoot the missile down if it threatened Japanese territory, but that didn't happen, even though the rocket passed over Okinawa. The Chosun Ilbo (Seoul)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Dec-12 World View -- Left-wing union violence continues to increase in America thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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11-Dec-12 World View -- Egypt's opposition plans mass rally in Cairo on Tuesday

Mercedes-Benz gives Pope Benedict XVI a new Popemobile

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt's president Morsi to allow the army to arrest people


A tank rolls down the street in Cairo (Reuters)
A tank rolls down the street in Cairo (Reuters)

Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi has given the army the power to arrest civilians. The power is similar to the "temporary" emergency powers that former leader Hosni Mubarak kept in place for decades, allowing civilians to be arrested and incarcerated for no reason. However, Morsi says that the new power was requested by Egypt's Supreme Electoral Commission to secure the voting process during the upcoming referendum vote on the new constitution. According to Morsi, the new powers will expire once the constitutional referendum vote has been completed. Al-Ahram (Cairo)

Egypt's opposition plans mass rally in Cairo on Tuesday

Opposition leaders are not mollified by Sunday's announcement by Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi that he was rescinding his constitutional decree that gave him dictatorial powers. They point out that the purpose of the decree in the first place was to push through a new draft constitution, and to establish a date for a referendum vote to ratify it. Since the referendum vote is still being held, canceling the decree at this point is an empty gesture, according to opposition leaders. The opposition is calling for mass rallies in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Tuesday as a final attempt to stop the referendum, while supporters of Morsi are also calling for a "million man march" to counter the opposition demonstration. But opposition forces lack unity, while Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood is very well organized to get its supporters out to vote, and so, many analysts consider it unlikely that they'll be able to stop ratification. LA Times and Al-Ahram (Cairo)

U.S. tries to slow growth of 'Al-Qaeda in Iraq' in Syria

The U.S. State Department designated the Jabhat al-Nusra (the "Nusra Front") militia fighting Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria a foreign terrorist organization on Monday. During the Iraq war, terrorist militia fighters from Syria crossed the border into Iraq and joined al-Qaeda in Iraq to fight the Americans. Now those fighters are traveling back into Syria to fight the al-Assad regime, and Jabhat al-Nusra is essentially the Syrian wing of al-Qaeda in Iraq (Islamic State of Iraq, or ISI). The group has been having an increasing number of successes in Syria, and the State Department designation is an attempt to slow its growth. Nonetheless, Jabhat al-Nusra is taking its place alongside al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) among the major al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups in the world. However, this designation also complicates the American strategy in Syria, since the collapse of al-Assad's government could mean that control of the country and its chemical weapons could pass to Jabhat al-Nusra. Foreign Policy and CS Monitor

Mercedes-Benz gives Pope Benedict XVI a new Popemobile


Mercedes-Benz's new M-Class Popemobile
Mercedes-Benz's new M-Class Popemobile

Mercedes-Benz has delivered a new M-Class Popemobile to Pope Benedict XVI. The rear bench seats have been replaced with hydraulically-assisted thrones. Compared to previous Popemobiles, there's more standing room in the back, with more glass area and better interior illumination. Digital Trends

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Dec-12 World View -- Egypt's opposition plans mass rally in Cairo on Tuesday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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10-Dec-12 World View -- Mauldin: Looming crisis, state budgets soon to be under siege

Latest climate charge conference is an even greater farce than previous ones

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Venezuelan women openly weep as Hugo Chavez faces malignant cancer


Hugo Chavez (Trome)
Hugo Chavez (Trome)

Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez announced late Saturday that his doctors have found new cancer malignancies, and that he would have to return to Cuba on Sunday for a fourth operation:

"It has been decided, it is necessary, absolutely necessary, absolutely essential, to undergo further surgery and that should happen in the coming days, even doctors recommended it was yesterday (Friday). ...

[With] the favor of God as in the past, we will be victorious.

Such are the circumstances of life, I still clung to Christ, clinging to my lord, clinging to hope and faith. I hope and I pray to God to give them good news in the coming days and we can continue together to build what we have to do for the homeland."

Chávez said Vice President Nicolas Maduro would take over if he is incapacitated, and urged supporters to vote for him if an election is held.

Chávez has had three previous operations in Cuba to remove cancer. Nonetheless, many Venezuelans were shocked by the announcement, since he had claimed to be completely cured before his October 7 re-election as president.

Rallies and prayer meetings were held across Venezuela on Sunday to show support and to pray for a quick recovery. Many were weeping in sadness, as in the case of housewife Gladys Millan, 45, who said, "Onward, my president. I love you, we need you, not only us but many other countries." Trome and Reuters

Latest climate charge conference is an even greater farce than previous ones

Every year, climate change activists expend astronomical amounts of carbon emissions to attend a climate change conference in some world class vacation spot. When they get there, they sit by the pool except to go to an occasional air-conditioned meeting room or to seek out a BBC reporter in order to whine about how the United States creates all the evils in the world.

The latest climate change conference ended on Saturday in Doha, Qatar, the carbon emissions capital of the world. The conference was characterized by even greater farce than previous conferences.

Previous climate change conferences had the objective of getting the United States involved in the "carbon trading system," which would allow banksters to create carbon trade derivative securities that would put trillions of dollars into banksters' pockets with a new set of synthetic securities even more fraudulent than synthetic subprime mortgage-backed securities that caused the financial crisis.

Well, apparently that fraud is now considered to be down the drain. This week's conference replaced it with a new objective: To get the United States to pay into a $100 billion "financial reservoir" called a "Loss and Damage Fund," to be used to pay developing nations huge amounts of money to compensate for "loss and damage" from climate change caused by America. The climate change activist freaks insist that the Loss and Damage Fund could be financed by a tax on financial transactions or airline levies, or by reducing the "immoral, obscene level of expenditures" on fossil fuels. They regard all this money as "free money" that they could use for their purposes, with no loss to anyone else.

It's embarrassing that the United States participated in this circus, because President Obama wants to prove how "committed" he is to saving the world from climate change. But in fact, the climate change freaks at the conference were FURIOUS at Obama, because he let them down and didn't agree to pay money into the "Loss and Damage Fund." But fear not. The Administration agreed to support a "Loss and Damage Fund" for some unnamed time in the future, allowing them to blame the Republicans if they win in 2016.

The conference also agreed to extend the moribund Kyoto Protocol, which was about to expire, to 2020.

You remember the Kyoto protocol, don't you? It was never ratified by the United States. Al Gore, who is the greatest climate change circus freak of all, tried to push this through the Senate in 1997, when he was vice-president. The attempt failed by a vote of 99 to 0 -- a unanimous vote against it.

So the Kyoto Treaty is a worthless peace of garbage that even Democrats unanimously rejected, which may explain why the Obama administration is so devoted to it. We have Wall Street "experts" openly lying about stock valuations on CNBC, and we have politicians in Brussels and Washington openly lying about climate change and the financial crisis, while the Obama administration commits itself to this farce. Respectable people are gangsters, and gangsters are treated as respectable people.

Reviewing the 'Climate Change' issue

Let's just go over some things about the climate change issue.

Climate science is not rocket science. When a rocket scientist tests his conclusions, the whole world can see whether or not the rover lands on Mars without crashing. There's no politics or guesswork in the final outcome.

Climate science is "science" only in the same way that sociology is science. They take measurements of weather around the world, do statistical analyses and create computer models, and reach some conclusions. Once they've determined statistically that it's getting warmer here or getting colder there or getting wetter here or dryer there, that's the end of the "science." The rest is all guesswork and politics.

Just as sociologists choose ideological targets to "blame" for poverty, climate scientists choose ideological targets to "blame" for climate change. Carbon emissions were chosen as the thing to "blame" because that's where the money is and what the politicians want. Correlating climate change to carbon emissions is not science, it's guesswork and politics.

Just to take one other possibility: There are 20,000 or so earthquakes a year, almost all of them too small or too remote to make the news. However, there are some reports that the number of major earthquakes has been increasing in the last 15 years, especially in the "ring of fire" in the Pacific, where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. Is that caused by carbon emissions? Why not?

More to the point, perhaps these 20,000 earthquakes per year and the volcanic eruptions are modifying and shifting ocean currents, causing the Arctic ice to melt. That seems to me to be a more likely explanation than carbon emissions, but you never hear it mentioned by the climate "scientists."

And even if you assume that the climate science is all true, and even if you assume that carbon emissions are the cause, it's still a financial scam, because there's no technical solution to the problem right now, and making trillions of dollars available to banksters will definitely not solve anything except hasten the worsening of financial crisis.

And making billions of dollars available to corrupt warlords and leaders of developing nations so they can build themselves larger palaces and larger Swiss bank accounts won't reduce carbon emissions either.

And even if you assume that the climate science is all true, and even if you assume that carbon emissions are the cause, and even if you assume that the technology exists, then some company will market it and quickly become very wealthy. We don't need Solyndra-type fiascos to bring carbon-related technologies to market. It will instantly be as popular as the Model-T Ford that solved the horse crap emissions problem a century ago.

In fact, I expect new nanotechnology and intelligent computer technology to begin to provide solutions to the carbon emissions problems in the 2020s, and this can't be sped up. Things happen in their own time. You can't invent the car before you've invented the wheel.

I have a very long memory. In 1970, I read an article in Ramparts Magazine that "scientists" had "proved" that because America was polluting the oceans so much, all the oceans would be covered with a layer of green algae by 1980. In 1972, the "Club of Rome" published a report on the Limits of Growth that "scientists" had "proved" that within a few decades, the world would grind to a halt because of pollution. It turned out that they had reached their conclusions because of a bug in their Fortran program. There's no end to this kind of crap. And recall that we used to believe in "global cooling" rather than "global warming."

So if you're a "climate change activist," you're welcome to believe anything you want, but don't confuse what you believe with science. BBC and Guardian (London)

Arab League votes $100 million per month in aid to Palestinian Authority

The members of the Arab League voted on Thursday to provide the Palestinian Authority with a $100 million monthly "financial safety net." On November 29, the United Nations General Assembly voted to create a state of Palestine, and Israel's reaction was to announce the building of 3,000 new West Bank settlements, and to withhold $100 million in tax collections to the Palestinian Authority. PA president Mahmoud Abbas requested the financial aid from the Arab League to compensate for the loss of the tax revenue. Reuters and Al-Jazeera

Mauldin: Looming crisis, state budgets soon to be under siege

I like quoting analyst John Mauldin, because he's phony in a different way than almost all the other financial analysts. The ones on CNBC and Bloomberg television tell full-throated lies about stock valuations constantly, as I've documented many times, naming names and quoting quotes. (See, for example, "14-Apr-12 World View -- Wharton School's Jeremy Siegel is lying about stock valuations" from earlier this year.) Respectable people are gangsters, and gangsters are treated as respectable people.

Siegel is a moron, but Mauldin actually understands the sophisticated mathematics behind price/earnings ratios (stock valuations): Divide the stock price by last year's earnings. That computation is too complex for the geniuses on CNBC, who are constantly claiming that valuations are at historic lows, when in fact they've been historically high continuously since 1995.

But Mauldin understands the math. He just fails to draw the obvious conclusion -- that by the Law of Mean Reversion, stocks are going to fall to the Dow 3000 level. He just pretends that stock valuations will stay historically high forever, so that he won't lose any of his multi-million dollar clients. As I say, that's a lot less phony than the liars and morons on CNBC.

In his latest column, Mauldin quotes himself from 2004:

"Unless steps are taken soon, it is possible we can see shortfalls approaching $1 trillion–$2 trillion in state-sponsored pension funds within 10 years. A deficit of this size on the state level can truly be called a crisis. A tax increase or other adjustments to fund this will be a large drag on the economy."

That was a pretty good prediction, though he complains that "I caught some flak for being so pessimistic about the potential problems," which I can understand, since I've been called a crazy psychopath a number of times, though much more rarely in recent years now that everything I've been writing keeps coming true.

His column contains an analysis by Ed Easterling of Crestmont Research which says, in essence, that Mauldin's 2004 prediction is now coming true, mainly because public sector labor unions are bankrupting the pension systems and the state taxpayers who are on the hook to make up the shortfall, and because estimates of stock market returns are wild overestimates. Easterly concludes:

"The result is an ongoing gap of near 4% annually that will cause an ever-widening shortfall for state pension plans. The problem is not a gap created by a unique event in 2008, but rather it is the result of an environment that started about a decade ago.

That gap, moreover, will not move at glacial pace presenting a subtle 4% shift each year. Rather, with the force of an earthquake, periodic market declines will reveal large chasms."

I certainly hope that no long-time reader of these Generational Dynamics articles is dumb enough to still be in the stock market. John Mauldin

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Dec-12 World View -- Mauldin: Looming crisis, state budgets soon to be under siege thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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9-Dec-12 World View -- Egypt's Mohamed Morsi cancels his decree, but not the referendum

Panic spreads as Mayan apocalypse date December 21 approaches

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt's Mohamed Morsi cancels his decree, but not the referendum


Mohamed Morsi addressing the nation on Thursday
Mohamed Morsi addressing the nation on Thursday

Seeking to end the turmoil of the last few days on the streets of Cairo, late on Saturday, Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi revoked the controversial constitution decree of last month, giving himself dictatorial powers. This was one of the two demands of the opposition protesters. The other demand, which Morsi refused to meet, was that the referendum on the ratification of the new draft constitution, embodying Sharia law, be postponed past its currently scheduled December 15 date. It will take a couple of days to see whether opposition accepts this compromise, or rejects it as insufficient and returns to the streets.

In the past few days, I've referred to the similar between President Obama and President Morsi -- both of them "hope and change" candidates who won on the basis of personality, and who then refused to compromise in any way. Since Morsi has softened his own stubbornness towards his opposition, perhaps this is a signal that Obama will do the same.

Will President Obama follow Morsi's example?

However, as similar as the two presidents are, there is one big difference between them from the point of view of generational theory. Morsi was born in 1951 and is clearly in Egypt's Boomer generation. Obama was born in 1961, and is clearly in Generation-X.

However, this requires some additional explanation. As many people know, the standard definition of Gen-X starts them in birth year 1963 or 1964. But from the point of view of generational theory, what matters is when a child is old enough to know what's going on, and is able to adopt generational attitudes and behaviors, usually around five years old. So in generational theory, the Boomers start from birth year 1942, and the Gen-Xers start from birth year 1959. So President Obama is definitely a Gen-Xer, as far as generational theory is concerned.

But there's more to the story. Generation-X is in the "Nomad archetype" in generational theory, so-called because generations in this archetype feel disaffected and alienated from society. The previous Nomad generation was called the Lost Generation, the soldiers who fought in World War I, and then were "rewarded" with joblessness and homelessness. The second generation following a crisis war is the one most beset by crime, alcohol and other social problems.

An important sub-class of the Nomads are the "early Nomads," born around 15 years after the end of the preceding generational crisis war, the leading edge of the second generation after the crisis war. What I've discovered about "early Nomads" is that they're the greatest heroes and greatest villains in history. (Conspiracy theorists should note that I first wrote about this in 2005, long before I knew anything about Barack Obama.)

For example, in one of the most brutal terrorist crimes of the last decade, hundreds of children were brutally murdered in a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, in Russia, in 2004. The mastermind was Shamil Basayev, a Chechen terrorist who was an early Nomad. Other monsters who were early Nomads (based on the generational timelines of their respective countries) were Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq), Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Leon Trotsky.

But there were also many heroes who were "early Nomads," including Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Charles de Gaulle. So early Nomads seem to occupy a special place in history, whether for good or for ill.

So this brings us back to President Obama, who is an early Nomad. Will he be a hero, a villain, or neither? That remains to be seen, and may depend more on the course of events than anything else.

But the immediate question is whether Gen-Xer Obama is going to soften his stubborn refusal to compromise in the way the Boomer Morsi did.

The signs aren't good. As we reported two days ago, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, representing president Barack Obama, quite openly said that the president would rather send the country off the "fiscal cliff" than compromise on taxes. This statement has been supported by a number of Democrats who apparently are looking forward to sending the country off the "fiscal cliff," because they believe that the Republicans will be blamed for it.

This is the epitome of Gen-Xer nihilism, destructiveness and self-destructiveness.

It's worth noting that there are several definitions of Nihilism, falling into two categories that we might describe, using the terminology of bipolar disease, as the "depressive" category and the "manic" category. The "depressive" category of Nihilism was the original philosophical view that life was meaningless and empty, along with the denial of real existence. There are variations of this that question whether life exists or, perversely, whether anything BESIDES life exists.

But the definition of Nihilism that we're most interested in is the "manic" category.

It began in Russia in the 1860s as a "Nihilist Movement," reacting to Russia's humiliating loss in the Crimean War in the 1850s. According to this movement, existing social and political institutions must be destroyed in order to clear the way for a new state of society.

Although the original movement ended, Nihilism in this form permeated the Russian Revolution. Stalin and Trotsky destroyed every Russian institution possible to bring about Communism as a form of government, and led Russia into more than a decade of bloody civil war. Adolf Hitler was so destructive that he's sometimes referred to as a nihilist.

So, we don't know what kind of "early Nomad" president Obama will finally turn out to be, but for now, it appears that he wants to send America off the "fiscal cliff" in order to save America -- the epitome of Gen-X nihilism. It will be a very pleasant surprise if he compromises after all. Al-Ahram (Cairo)

North Korea says it may delay its long-range rocket launch

North Korea had planned to launch a long-range rocket between December 10-22, but they're now saying that they may delay the launch. According to the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA):

"Our scientists and technicians are now seriously examining the issue of readjusting the launching time of the satellite for some reasons."

but the report didn't state what those reasons are. The attempt last April to launch such a rocket ended in a humiliating failure, where the rocket exploded shortly after launch, and the North Koreans presumably don't want to risk something similar happening again. In the meantime, the Japanese military has been ordered to shoot down the missile if its flight path is at all threatening to Japanese territory. Yonhap (Seoul) and VOA

Panic spreads as Mayan apocalypse date December 21 approaches

December 21 is the day predicted centuries ago by the Mayan calendar for the apocalypse that will end the world, and panic is spreading among believers. Panic buying of candles and essentials has been reported in China and Russia, and there's been an explosion in sales of survival shelters in America. Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev commented on the Mayan prediction:

"I don't believe in the end of the world. At least, not this year."

Telegraph (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Dec-12 World View -- Egypt's Mohamed Morsi cancels his decree, but not the referendum thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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8-Dec-12 World View -- Is Syria's Assad likely to use his aging chemical weapons arsenal?

Egypt's president Morsi considers making concessions to opposition

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Is Syria's Assad likely to use his aging chemical weapons arsenal?


Saddam Hussein, in the last days of his trial, who was convicted and hanged for crimes that included using sarin and mustard gas on the Kurds (AP)
Saddam Hussein, in the last days of his trial, who was convicted and hanged for crimes that included using sarin and mustard gas on the Kurds (AP)

There have been growing fears in the last week that a desperate Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was positioning chemical weapons for use in the near future, but some experts are suggesting that the weapons are too old to be used effectively. Syria is thought to have hundreds of tons of chemical weapons material, including not only sarin and mustard gas but possibly also the nerve agent VX, which, like sarin, kills by attacking the central nervous system. However, these weapons date back almost 40 years when Assad’s father, President Hafez Assad, began accumulating them. Iraq's Saddam Hussein used sarin and mustard gas on Kurds in northern Iraq in 1987-88, killing thousands of people, and some experts believe that Saddam transferred his remaining chemical weapons to al-Assad in 2002, just prior to the American ground invasion of Iraq. The use of such old technology weapons could backfire, and could end up killing al-Assad's troops as well as the opposition troops, and some analysts suggest that al-Assad would refrain from using them for that reason. AP

Syria's opposition increasingly frustrated by lack of American support

At a moment when Syria's rebels are closing in on Damascus and have a chance of toppling president Bashar al-Assad, the United States administration will be unable to influence events because they've avoided getting too deeply involved. Though the administration has provided diplomatic pressure, humanitarian relief and nonlethal aid, it has been unwilling to supply arms or to use U.S. military force to set up a no-fly zone, as it did in the Libyan civil war last year. Some analysts are concerned that lack of American involvement is causing some Syrian rebels to link up with terrorist militias.

On the military side, the U.S. seems to preparing to get involved. As we've reported, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier transited the Suez Canal on Saturday, and is now stationed off Syria's shores. Debka, which sometimes gets things wrong, is quoting its military intelligence sources as saying that Nato-Arab military intervention in Syria is imminent, with participation of the U.S., France, Britain, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar. The French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle carrying a complement of marines is deployed in the Mediterranean, having joined the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group and at least five British warships which are also carrying a large marine force. LA Times and Debka

Egypt's president Morsi considers making concessions to opposition

Friday is usually the biggest day for protests in the Arab world, because people pour out of mosques onto the streets after Friday midday prayers. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on Friday in Cairo and cities around Egypt to protest the policies of president Mohamed Morsi. The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, with only a few injuries. Morsi's cabinet sent out signals that several concessions were being considered to end the turmoil. These included amending several of the more controversial articles of the draft constitution, and postponing the referendum on ratifying the constitution. However, there will only be a postponement "if the opposition accepts dialogue without preconditions. ... The political forces who demand the delay of the referendum must provide guarantees that there will not be appeals [against the delay] in courts." Al-Ahram (Cairo)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Dec-12 World View -- Is Syria's Assad likely to use his aging chemical weapons arsenal? thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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7-Dec-12 World View -- Egypt's president Morsi refuses any compromise on constitution

Rate of decline in Russia's population doubles from previous decade

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt's president Morsi refuses any compromise on constitution


Mohamed Morsi addressing the nation
Mohamed Morsi addressing the nation

An angry Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi addressed the nation on Thursday, in a much anticipated speech that many hoped would offer some compromise to end the violence in Cairo. Instead, he accused the opposition of being remnants of the old Hosni Mubarak regime, and vowed he would never tolerate anyone working for the overthrow of his "legitimate" government. He invited the opposition to a "comprehensive and productive dialogue", but gave no sign that he might offer any meaningful concessions, so that "comprehensive and productive dialogue" apparently means doing everything his way. He said:

"It is my duty ... to protect institutions of the nation," he said. "I will always fulfill this role, no matter how much pressure or what the situation."

Another one of Morsi's advisors quit in protest on Thursday, following three such resignations earlier in the week. AP

Brotherhood offices torched, hundreds of casualties, as violence continues in Egypt

After Wednesday's "massive assault" by Muslim Brotherhood supporters of Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo was torched, as were several regional MB offices. Tens of thousands of Morsi supporters and opponents fought each other on Thursday, leaving at least six dead and 700 injured. Al-Ahram (Cairo)

Geithner, representing Obama, refuses any compromise in fiscal cliff negotiations


Mohamed Morsi and Barack Obama
Mohamed Morsi and Barack Obama

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, representing president Barack Obama, said Wednesday that the Obama administration is “absolutely” ready for the U.S. economy to go over the “fiscal cliff” rather than accept a budget deal that doesn’t include higher tax rates for top earners:

"There’s no prospect in an agreement that doesn’t involve those rates going up on the top 2 percent of the wealthiest Americans."

As I've written in the past, both Morsi and Obama are "hope and change" candidates who won on the basis of personality, and who are now refusing to compromise in any way.

In the next few months, we should be seeing a third example of this "hope and change" phenomenon.

Imran Khan, one of Pakistan's greatest cricket players of all time, once voted as the "Sexiest Man of The Year" by Australia Magazine Oz, is the "hope and change" candidate who is expected to win next year's presidential election. Khan is running on vitriolicly anti-American platform, referring to Pakistan's relationship with America as "client and master." If and when Khan wins, it will be interesting to see whether he refuses any compromise with his opposition as well. AP and Indian Express

Rate of decline in Russia's population doubles from previous decade

The fact that Russia's population has been declining has been known for some time, but new analyses of the 2010 census show that the decline is much more rapid than previously estimated -- nearly doubled during the past decade compared to the rate in the 1990s. However, it's even more significant that the share of ethnic Russians in the population is declining relative to the others, both indigenous and immigrant, but not as significantly as had been the case in the 1990s, largely because fertility rates among many non-Russian peoples have declined, approaching those of the ethnic Russians. Many non-Russians and especially Muslim writers suggested that the decline of the ethnic Russians reflected "high infant mortality, low fertility, emigration, poor health, a short life expectancy and a culture that supported high levels of consumption of alcohol." Jamestown

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Dec-12 World View -- Egypt's president Morsi refuses any compromise on constitution thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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6-Dec-12 World View -- U.S. prepares for military intervention in Syria over chemical weapons

Four Egyptians killed in clash between pro- and anti-Morsi protesters

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Four Egyptians killed in clash between pro- and anti-Morsi protesters


Demonstrator holds up a pro-Morsi poster (Al-Ahram)
Demonstrator holds up a pro-Morsi poster (Al-Ahram)

Four Egyptians were killed and hundreds injured in fighting that followed a "massive attack" by Muslim Brotherhood supporters of president Mohamed Morsi on opposition protesters. The attack by Morsi supporters occurred as the perception has been growing that widespread opposition to Morsi is causing him to lose his legitimacy as president.

Morsi had a great deal of legitimacy two weeks ago, after he successfully engineered a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza. A number of commentators say that Morsi apparently believed at that time that he had enough prestige that there would be little opposition to his constitutional decree giving himself dictatorial powers. That was a bad misjudgment, and opposition demonstrations have been increasing, even more so after the Muslim Brotherhood led Constituent Assembly came out with a draft constitution that embodied Islamic Sharia law.

Morsi made additional mistakes by refusing to reach out to the opposition. Morsi gave a speech last week in the face of growing opposition, but he directed the speech only to his supporters, without reaching out to the opposition. Now he's refusing any compromise in the draft constitution, and he's called for a nationwide referendum on December 15 to ratify the constitution.

Morsi's attitude towards the opposition is almost identical to President Barack Obama's attitude toward his opposition. He made no attempt to compromise with Republicans when he pushed through the Democratic Congress the huge fiscal stimulus and the Obamacare bills.

Although there have been no violent attacks by Obama supporters the way that Morsi supporters attacked the opposition on Wednesday, there have been a number of moves by Obama and his supporters to incite violence against Republicans -- calling Tea Party members "teabaggers," calling pretty much anyone who disagrees with an Obama policy a "racist," condoning of violence and rape by Occupy Wall Street protesters, and the call to violence and war against the Tea Party last year by Teamsters president James Hoffa, when he said:

"We are ready to march. Let’s take these sons of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong."

Hoffa's call to violence was, in fact, heeded two weeks later by hundreds of members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union members (ILWU) labor union, who violently attacked guards protecting a non-union grain terminal in the Port of Longview in Washington state.

Obama has been doubling down on the "racist" charges recently, after it was revealed that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice lied about the situation in Benghazi, and that the deception and cover up spread to senior administration figures, and possibly to Obama himself. Obama can usually count on the mainstream media to support him, no matter what he does, and to join him in calling his opponents "racist." But if Obama keeps doubling down on the "racist" as his only defense to an increasing level of accusations, then he's going to incite additional violence.

Morsi's aides have said that he'll give a new presidential address to the nation on Thursday. Egyptians will be watching to see whether he takes a hard line again, infuriating the opposition, or whether he reaches out to the opposition and seeks compromise, infuriating his supporters.

Obama and Morsi are very similar -- both "hope and change" candidates who won on the basis of personality, and who are now refusing to compromise in any way. This cannot end well. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and CNN

U.S. says that Syria's Assad is preparing to use chemical weapons

U.S. officials say that they've confirmed that the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has mixed the precursor chemicals for sarin, a deadly nerve gas, and loaded the gas into bombs. It's believed that the gas has been loaded in aerosol form into canisters that can be dropped from planes. Iraq's president Saddam Hussein's forces killed 5,000 Kurds with a single sarin gas attack on Halabja in 1988. Once mixed, the sarin gas has to be used within 60 days, or it becomes ineffective. NBC News

Thousands of U.S. troops arrive near Syria on USS Eisenhower

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier transited the Suez Canal from the Persian Gulf on Saturday, with 8 fighter bomber squadrons of Air Wing Seven on its decks and 8,000 sailors, airmen and Marines, and is now off the coast of Syria, according to unconfirmed reports. According to an unnamed U.S. official:

"The muscle is already there to be flexed. It’s premature to say what could happen if a decision is made to intervene. That hasn’t taken shape, we’ve not reached that kind of decision. There are a lot of options, but it [military action] could be launched rapidly, within days."

Yesterday, Nato approved Turkey's request for Patriot anti-missile systems on the border with Syria. According to Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu:

"The protection from NATO will be three dimensional: one is the short-range Patriots, the second is the middle-range Terminal High Altitude Air Defense [THAD] system and the last is the AEGIS system, which counters missiles that can reach outside the atmosphere."

Debka and Russia Today

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Dec-12 World View -- U.S. prepares for military intervention in Syria over chemical weapons thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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5-Dec-12 World View -- Concern grows over chemical weapons as Syria's war turns against al-Assad

Vietnam lodges a new protest with China over South China Sea belligerence

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria's war turns against Bashar al-Assad


Nato has approved Patriot anti-missile system for Turkey (BBC)
Nato has approved Patriot anti-missile system for Turkey (BBC)

Many analysts are saying that after 20 months of war in Syria, there has been a recent shift in the fighting that makes a victory by the opposition rebels over president Bashar al-Assad a real possibility. The rebels are better armed, and better trained to use the weapons they have. There are reports that they can shoot down al-Assad's warplanes and helicopters with shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, supplied by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In a major strategic shift, they're closing in on al-Assad's seat of power in Damascus. The Russians are still opposed to any external intervention in Syria, but they're no longer committed to al-Assad personally. (However, Iran is still committed personally.) AP

United States prepares for military action in Syria against chemical weapons

With the war turning against Bashar al-Assad, analysts are saying that al-Assad is facing three choices:

Fears about chemical weapons use were heightened over the weekend by satellite photos showing movement of al-Assad's chemical weapons, and reports that they're moving into position for battle.

As we reported two months ago ( "13-Oct-12 World View -- U.S. preparing for worst-case chemical weapons scenario in Syria"), the United States military has sent troops to Jordan to prepare to take action against the use of chemical weapons. Since then, American forces in Jordan, Israel and Turkey have gone on high alert, and are preparing for military action in Syria.

The al-Assad regime has issued a widely-quoted statement that they "would not use chemical weapons, if it had them, against its own people under any circumstances." In the first place, al-Assad's word is worthless, and it might even be argued that this statement means that he WILL use chemical weapons against his own people. And second, this statement ostentatiously omits mention of external forces, whether American, Turkish, Jordanian, or Israeli.

This statement also omits another possibility -- turning the chemical weapons over to Hizbollah or another terrorist group, and allow THOSE people to use chemical weapons against al-Assad's people. Bloomberg and Debka

Nato approves Turkey's request for Patriot missiles on Syrian border

Nato announced on Tuesday that it was approving Turkey's request to deploy the Patriot anti-missile system on Turkey's border with Syria. There have been fears expressed that the system would be used to establish a no-fly zone over Syria, like the no-fly zone that was established over Libya last year. However, Turkey and Nato have committed that the system will be used for defensive purposes only, especially out of fear that the al-Assad regime will launch chemical weapons into Syria. (It's not certain that the Patriot anti-missile system is effective against such weapons.) At any rate, things are moving rapidly in Syria right now, while the Patriot system will require several weeks to deploy. AP

Vietnam lodges a new protest with China over South China Sea belligerence

It seems that almost every day there's a new act of belligerence on the part of China, as it pursues its "Lebensraum" policy to confiscate as much property as possible that belongs to other nations. On Tuesday, Vietnam lodged a new protest with China, saying that Chinese boats had intentionally blocked and damaged a Vietnamese seismic survey vessel operating in Vietnam's internationally recognized exclusive economic zone. The incident occurred on November 30.

As we've reported, China last week issued a statement that starting in 2013 they would be boarding and seizing any ships in China's "territorial waters," which they claim include the entire South China Sea. This is one of the world's busiest commercial shipping routes, and if China starts boarding and seizing commercial ships of America or other nations, there is going to be a military response. Bloomberg and Washington Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Dec-12 World View -- Concern grows over chemical weapons as Syria's war turns against al-Assad thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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4-Dec-12 World View -- India's navy prepares to confront China in South China Sea

A 'Coalition of the Willing' is emerging against China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Japan deploys Patriot Missiles to counter North Korea's planned rocket launch


North Korean military parade, 4/15/2012 (AP)
North Korean military parade, 4/15/2012 (AP)

North Korea says it will launch a long-range rocket in a southerly direction sometime between December 10-22, between 7 am and noon. This will be the first new attempt following a humiliating failure in April, where the rocket exploded shortly after launch. North Korea claims that the purpose of the launch is to test putting a satellite into orbit, but it's believed to be a test of a long-range nuclear weapon delivery system. Because of the possibility that the rocket will land on Japanese territory, Japan will position surface-to-air Patriot missiles on Okinawa and two other islands, all of which are under the North Korean missile's likely flight path. In addition, Aegis ships carrying interceptor missiles will be deployed. The Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo) and Yonhap (Seoul)

India's navy prepares to confront China in South China Sea

India's nave is holding practice exercises to confront China's warships in the South China Sea. Navy chief Admiral DK Joshi said on Monday that the Indian Navy was prepared to defend Indian assets in the South China Sea:

"Not that we expect to be in those waters very frequently, but when the requirement is there for situations where the country's interests are involved, for example ONGC Videsh, we will be required to go there and we are prepared for that."

ONGC Videsh is an Indian energy firm that signed a deal in 2011 with Vietnam to explore oil in three oil blocks in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam. Oil has already started flowing from one of those blocks, despite the fact that China warned India earlier this year to refrain from oil exploration in the Vietnamese blocks in order to ensure "peace and stability" in the area. However, China has announced plans to board and seize foreign ships in the South China Sea starting in 2013, and has been conducting naval drills with warships in preparation. The Indian navy has so far restricted its sphere of influence to the Indian Ocean region from the Gulf of Aden to the Malacca Straits near Singapore. The navy chief's statement could mark a shift in that policy particularly with an assertive China. India Today

A 'Coalition of the Willing' is emerging against China

As we've been reporting, China's neighbors have been expressing increasing alarm over China's recent moves to consolidate its takeover of the entire South China Sea, including regions that historically have belonged to other countries. In addition to announcing plans to board and seize foreign ships entering the region, China has issued new passports containing it's "nine-dash map" that claims sovereignty over the entire area. ( "2-Dec-12 World View -- China's neighbors express alarm over militant new South China Sea policy")

In the wake of fury over China's belligerent policies, an ad hoc security alliance is emerging among Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and other countries to block China's assertive interventions through diplomacy or possibly by other means.

Japan is the only naval power in East Asia that can face off with the burgeoning naval power of the People's Liberation Army. Japanese officials say Japan has been "building up ties with other nations that share worries about their imposing neighbor." According to one Japanese official:

"We want to build our own 'coalition of the willing' in Asia to prevent China from just running over us."

China Post (Taiwan)

European nations summon Israeli ambassadors over new settlement announcement

Britain, France, Spain, Denmark and Sweden all summoned their Israeli ambassadors on Monday to criticize Israel's decision to build thousands of new settlement homes in the West Bank. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the it "a setback for peace," while Britain called the move "deplorable," and said in a statement:

"I also made clear that the strength of our reaction stems from our disappointment that the Israeli government has not heeded the calls that we and others had made for Israel to avoid reacting to the U.N. General Assembly resolution in a way that undermines the Palestinian Authority or a return to talks."

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government is "worried" about Israel's plans. Merkel is meeting with Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin on Monday.

According to an Israeli official:

"[Israel will] continue to stand up for its vital interests even in the face of international pressure.

The Palestinian unilateral move at the UN is a blatant and fundamental violation of agreements to which the international community was a guarantor. No one should be surprised that Israel is not sitting with its arms folded in response to the unilateral Palestinian steps."

Jerusalem Post and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Dec-12 World View -- India's navy prepares to confront China in South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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3-Dec-12 World View -- Israel withholds tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority

High police support for Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

High police support for Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party


The Golden Dawn symbol appears on a flag held by a party member (Reuters)
The Golden Dawn symbol appears on a flag held by a party member (Reuters)

Several months ago, a Greek newspaper reported that polling stations in Athens that had a high percentage of police officers voting tended to have extremely high votes for the far-right Golden Dawn party. ("Far right" has a different meaning in Europe than in America.) Al-Jazeera did a follow-up analysis and largely confirmed the claim that Athens policemen were voting disproportionately for Golden Dawn. This finding supports the claim that Athens police are doing nothing to stop Golden Dawn's neo-Nazi violence tactics against immigrants, including legal immigrants. To Vima (Athens) and Al-Jazeera

Failure of America's global anti-nuclear policies

For decades, America has pursued global antinuclear policies. No policy in American history -- not the Monroe Doctrine, not liberal internationalism, not containment -- has had more widespread, bipartisan support in domestic politics, or more energetic backing. Nonetheless, the policy failed, and today nine countries (India, Pakistan, China, North Korea, Israel, France, Britain, U.S., Russia) have nuclear weapons. Eight have modernized their nuclear arsenals, with weapons of longer range and with a diverse menu of delivery means and warhead types. The one exception is the United States. Foreign Policy Research Institute (PDF)

Israel withholds tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority


Jewish settlements in West Bank near Jerusalem (Reuters)
Jewish settlements in West Bank near Jerusalem (Reuters)

Israel is receiving worldwide criticism after announcing on Sunday that it would withhold more than $100 million in tax revenue from the Palestinian Authority (PA). This is PA money that Israel collects at border crossings on behalf of the PA and normally pays to the PA each month.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Sunday said that the move is a response to the successful application of the Palestinian Authority to the United Nations General Assembly to create a state of Palestine with non-member observer status. According to Steinitz:

"I have no intention of transferring the taxes due to the Palestinian Authority this month. They will be used to pay the Palestinian Authority's debts to the Israel Electric Corporation.

[The United Nations resolution] is a Palestinian provocation and an attempt to advance their state without recognizing Israel. We said this wouldn’t pass quietly."

The Palestinians owe Israel's electric company over $200 million, and the company has threatened to cut off the PA's electricity.

Sunday's action comes a day after Israel announced plans to build 3,000 new settlement homes in the West Bank. Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday:

"The response to the attack on Zionism and the State of Israel must reinforce the colony plan in all areas the government decides.

Today we are building and we will continue to build in Jerusalem and in all areas that are on the map of the strategic interests of the State of Israel."

The new proposed settlements are in the "E-1 area," and would be a five-square-mile project that would largely cut off the West Bank from Arab neighborhoods, substantially complicating the "peace process" talks, which have been dead for years anyway. AFP and LA Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Dec-12 World View -- Israel withholds tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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2-Dec-12 World View -- China's neighbors express alarm over militant new South China Sea policy

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians rally to support Morsi and Sharia law

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's neighbors express alarm over militant new South China Sea policy


China's '9-dash map' stamped into its passports (Reuters)
China's '9-dash map' stamped into its passports (Reuters)

China's neighbors are expressing alarm over China's belligerent new actions in claiming sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, including regions that historically belonged to other countries, including Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. China's new passports contain the "nine-dash map," a map that China uses to designate its claims with nine dashes circling the entire South China Sea. As I reported reported two days ago, China is now sending warships to the South China Sea and is preparing to board and take control of any ship in what china considers to be its sovereign "territorial waters." The Philippines, which refuses to recognize the new Chinese passport, is saying that China's new military policy is a violation of international laws. One senior Philippine naval officer has a different explanation:

"Those warnings [by China] are not directed at us. They might be trying to find out how far the United States would react because this could affect freedom of navigation in one of the busiest sea lanes in the world. If this is an official policy announced by Beijing, this is very serious and a cause of concern."

This may be just wishful thinking on the part of the Philippine official. It was just eight months ago that the Philippines were forced to back down in a naval confrontation with China over the Scarborough Shoal, some islands that are clearly the Philippines' sovereign territory. (See "8-Jul-12 World View -- China escalates military buildup in South China Sea")

Indonesia does not have a claim to the region, but it has been trying to act as a mediator in setting a Code of Conduct for China and its neighbors. The Indonesian government is now saying that unilateral actions by the China are exacerbating territorial disputes. According to Indonesia's Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa:

"We perceive the Chinese move as disingenuous, like testing the water, to see its neighbors’ reactions.

They can issue [the nine-dash map] but it will have no effect.

Indonesia’s focus will not be shifted [by any unilateral move]. We should concentrate on the completion of the Code of Conduct. I hope that we, ASEAN and China can focus on dialogue."

Reuters and Jakarta Post

China conducts drills to prepare for new military policy in South China Sea

A fleet of China's naval warships on Saturday morning carried out drills in the South China Sea to prepare for the new military policy of boarding and seizing ships of other nations that enter what China claims are its "territorial waters." China has not clarified the interpretation of its new military policy, and whether they will board and seize ordinary commercial ships passing through the South China Sea, which is one of the busiest commercial routes in the world. China Daily and Zee News (India)

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians rally to support Morsi and Sharia law

After several days of protests in opposition to Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi and his recent constitutional decree granting himself dictatorial powers, pro-Morsi demonstrators finally came out to protest. More than three hundred thousand demonstrators took to the streets on Saturday to support Morsi and his constitutional decree, and to demand the implementation of Islamic Sharia law in the new constitution. One demonstrator, a Salafist, said that he was calling for the implementation of "God's Law":

"It's like a refrigerator that comes with its manual; when God created us, our manual was the Quran and the Sunna [the prophet Mohamed's teachings], and they are what we must follow.

He added that Morsi's recent decisions are an example of the enforcement's of God's law.

The protests began near Cairo University. In the evening, hundreds of Islamists marched onto the High Constitutional Court (HCC), which is expected to issue its verdict on the constitutionality of the Constituent Assembly, which wrote the new constitution. Al-Ahram (Cairo)

Egypt's Morsi calls for constitutional referendum on December 15

Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi announced on nationwide television on Saturday that he's calling for a referendum on December 15 to ratify the draft constitution that was just put forward by the Constituent Assembly. Popular opinion is split between Islamists and Salafists who favor ratification on the one hand, and the liberal and secularist opposition who oppose ratification. Morsi has promised to rescind the constitutional decree giving himself dictatorial powers if the draft constitution is ratified. For this reason, some analysts are predicting that many in the opposition will vote to ratify the constitution, rather than continue under a government with Morsi as dictator. Al-Ahram (Cairo)

Kim Kardashian starts a riot in Bahrain


Kim Kardashian poses with a young Bahraini boy in Riffa, Bahrain, on Saturday (AP)
Kim Kardashian poses with a young Bahraini boy in Riffa, Bahrain, on Saturday (AP)

Thousands of Kim Kardashian fans, who had paid up to 500 Bahraini dinars ($1,360) a ticket, broke into hysterical screams as the 32-year-old celebrity launched the Millions of Milkshakes franchise inside a mall in Riffa, the second largest city in Bahrain. However, about 100 Sunni Salafists demonstrated with banners against the visit, saying she was "an actress with an extremely bad reputation." Kardashian made glowing remarks about Bahrain, calling it "the prettiest place on earth." Reuters and Daily Mail (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Dec-12 World View -- China's neighbors express alarm over militant new South China Sea policy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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1-Dec-12 World View -- Israel approves 3,000 new settlement homes on the West Bank

Bankster types take over the computer malware detection industry

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands of Egyptians protest the 'Brotherhood Constitution'


Anti-Morsi banner in Tahrir Square on Friday (al-Jazeera)
Anti-Morsi banner in Tahrir Square on Friday (al-Jazeera)

Thousands of Egyptians streamed into Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, on Friday to protest actions by the government of president Mohamed Morsi. For several days, there have been protests over Morsi's constitution decree, ten days ago, giving himself dictatorial powers. But now there's a second reason: Egypt's Constituent Assembly, consisting mostly of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi himself is a former leader, has rushed a draft of the new Egyptian constitution to completion. The new draft constitution, called by protesters the "Brotherhood Constitution," follows Islamic Sharia law and contains some clauses restricting freedom of speech. Morsi claims that once the new constitution is approved by a national referendum in the next couple of weeks, he'll rescind his decree giving himself dictatorial powers. LA Times and Al-Jazeera

Israel approves 3,000 new settlement homes on the West Bank

The Palestinian Authority is describing as a "slap in the face of the world" a decision by Israel to approve the constitution of 3,000 new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The announcement comes a day after the United Nations General Assembly overwhelming voted in favor of a resolution, strongly opposed by Israel and the United States, to recognize the state of Palestine as a non-member observer state. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was extremely critical of Israel's decision, but also said that he will not file complaints accusing Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court (ICC). "We now have the right to appeal the ICC, but we are not going to do it now and will not do it except in the case of Israeli aggression," he said. Jerusalem Post and AP

Bankster types take over the computer malware detection industry

When your home computer or your corporate network gets hacked, and someone steals your bank account information, it's often because of a "zero day bug," meaning an exposure that's been in the Windows software or other software for years. There are research groups that attempt to find and identify these bugs. They then notify Microsoft or other software vendor, and the software vendor issues a patch for the software that fixes the exposure. Or at least that's the way it used to work. Now these research groups are keeping the information private, and then selling it to corporate spies, foreign governments, or criminal enterprises. Companies like Vupen or NSS Labs, who are in this business, may be small fry compared to the banksters who caused the financial crisis by knowingly creating and selling trillions of dollars in synthetic subprime mortgage backed securities, but they're in the same category. Dark Reading

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Dec-12 World View -- Israel approves 3,000 new settlement homes on the West Bank thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Dec-2012) Permanent Link
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