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Web Log - November, 2014

Summary

30-Nov-14 World View -- Taiwan voters choose independence from China

Sunflowers and Umbrellas

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Taiwan voters choose independence from China


Student protests in Taiwan in April of this year (AFP)
Student protests in Taiwan in April of this year (AFP)

Taiwan's ruling nationalist party KMT (Kuomintang) suffered disastrous losses in local elections across Taiwan on Saturday, giving victories to the opposing DPP (Democratic Progressive Party), and forcing the resignation of the prime minister. Thousands of municipalities, including the capital city Taipei, that had been ruled for years by KMT mayors and politicians will not be ruled by DPP mayors and politicians.

The Kuomintang (KMT) is the modern day incarnation of Chiang Kai-shek's original nationalist party of soldiers that fought against Mao Zedong's Communist Revolution and lost, and fled to Hong Kong, then a British colony, and from there to Formosa (Taiwan) in 1949, at the conclusion of the civil war. The KMT position has always been that Taiwan would reunite with China.

KMT held an iron grip on power in Taiwan after the war, and that only began to fade in the 1980s with the founding of the DPP. However, the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, which people in Taiwan viewed with horror, proved to be a catalyst in turning Taiwanese people against Beijing, and by 2000 the DPP won a national election. A DPP corruption scandal in 2006 put KMT back into power, and KMT officials have been working closely with Beijing officials to woo Taiwan's public to voluntarily want reunite with China.

The policy hasn't really been effective. There are two groups of people who don't want to reunite. One group is the indigenous Taiwanese people who lived there before 1949, and who have suffered at the hands of the KMT. Young people generally form the second group, and they distrust China and they distrust the KMT for selling out to China. Central News Agency (Taiwan) and BBC and Forbes

Sunflowers and Umbrellas

In April of this year, hundreds of university students and other activists protested the proposed Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement (CSSTA), which KMT had negotiated with Beijing in secret. The students occupied the legislative chamber for several days, and moved to occupy the cabinet offices. This triggered a violent response from the police. The scenes of bloodied protesters, injured police officers and water cannon trucks galvanized the resolve of the protesters.

In the first week of the occupation of the legislature, a supporter brought bunches of sunflowers to the building to symbolize the need to let sunlight into the black box of KMT negotiations between Taiwan and mainland China. The protesters became known as the Sunflower Student Movement.

The Sunflower movement fizzled out as the summer began, but over in Hong Kong a new protest began, which later came to be known as the Umbrella Movement, because protesters used umbrellas to fend off police tear gas. In fact it was the use of tear gas that galvanized the Hong Kong protesters, just as police violence galvanized the Taiwan protesters last Spring.

The two protests have become synergistic in the sense that each one is providing energy to the other. According to some reports, the leaders of the two protests are helping each other out, providing mutual support and strategies.

The anti-Beijing movement in Taiwan really took off after the Tiananmen Square massacre, and each new show of force by government officials serves to renew the contempt that these protesters have for Beijing. With the KMT in power, Beijing has followed a conciliatory policy towards Taiwan, but in the months to come if it looks like the DPP is going to come back into power in 2016, then Beijing may feel forced to take some military action. The China Story (April) and Thinking Taiwan

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Nov-14 World View -- Taiwan voters choose independence from China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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29-Nov-14 World View -- Britain's David Cameron draws a red line on immigration

David Cameron accused of 'blackmail' on immigration demands

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's David Cameron draws a red line on immigration


David Cameron on Friday (AFP/Getty)
David Cameron on Friday (AFP/Getty)

Britain's prime minister David Cameron offered a set of proposals on Friday to discourage migrants from "benefit shopping" -- coming to the UK just to take advantage of the generous welfare benefits. His proposals are not targeted at Muslim migrants coming from Syria or northern Africa, entering the EU illegally. They're targeted at mostly Christian EU citizens in eastern Europe, for example in Bulgaria, where wages are typically 20% of those in the UK, or in Poland, with wages that are 40% of those in the UK.

Cameron is under tremendous political pressure to find a way to limit east European migrants from coming to UK. The UK Independence Party (UKIP), which favors Britain leaving the EU entirely, is gaining strength because of the immigration issue, and the fact that EU immigration is reaching record levels.

Previous proposals to simply put an annual cap or limit on the number of migrants have met with almost universal hostility from leaders across the EU, because they violate "guaranteed freedom of movement," which is one of the founding principles of the 1957 Treaty of Rome on which the EU is based.

So now Cameron is trying something different: To limit migrants by making Britain's welfare benefits less attractive for migrants.

The major elements of Cameron's proposal are:

Guardian (London) and BBC

David Cameron accused of 'blackmail' on immigration demands

In his speech, Cameron warned against the UKIP -- "betraying you" with "simple solutions":

"The British people will not understand - frankly I will not understand - if a sensible way through cannot be found, which will help settle this country's place in the EU once and for all. ...

Because those who promise you simple solutions are betraying you.

Those who say we would certainly be better off outside the EU only ever tell you part of the story. Of course we would survive, there is no doubt about that.

But we would need to weigh in the balance the loss of our instant access to the single market, and our right to take the decisions that regulate it. And we would of course lose the automatic right for the 1.3 million British citizens who today are living and working elsewhere in Europe to do so. That is something we would want to think carefully about giving up.

For me, I have one test, and one test only: what is in the best, long term interests of Britain? ...

If I succeed, I will, as I have said, campaign to keep this country in a reformed EU. If our concerns fall on deaf ears and we cannot put our relationship with the EU on a better footing, then of course I rule nothing out."

European leaders have accused Cameron of blackmail in the past, for threatening to put to a vote a referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union. Those accusations were renewed on Friday over his threat to veto new members from joining the EU unless his demands are met. Albania is likely to be the next EU member - population nearly 3 million - but there are several others in the wings, including Bosnia (3.8 million) and Montenegro (650,000)

Friday's speech is a change in tactics for Cameron. He's given up the idea of putting any sort of cap on the number of immigrants to Britain, since that proposal has received almost unanimous hostility from other EU nations. Instead, he's proposing to make Britain less desirable for migrants by limiting benefits. He's hoping that those proposals will be more acceptable to other European leaders, and that they will be enough to satisfy British citizens who are increasing turning towards UKIP. BBC and Daily Mail (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Nov-14 World View -- Britain's David Cameron draws a red line on immigration thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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28-Nov-14 World View -- Oil prices crash after OPEC meeting ends in discord

Russia and Venezuela on their knees with oil prices plunging

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Oil prices crash after OPEC meeting ends in discord


OPEC
OPEC

The 12-nation oil cartel, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), ended its meeting in Vienna on Thursday in discord. Poorer members, such as Iran, Iraq, Angola and Venezuela, had been calling for an agreement where all cartel members would cut production of oil, in order to force a global increase in the price of oil.

However, Saudi Arabia refused to agree to any such cuts. News of the discord led to a crash in oil prices. Oil was selling for $100-120 per barrel just a few months ago. But on Thursday, West Texas Intermediate plunged to $67.75 a barrel (for January delivery), while London's Brent North Sea crude nosedived to $71.25.

The plunge in oil prices is occurring because of a glut in the oil markets, and the glut in turn is caused by high production and decreasing demand. A lot of the glut has come about because of America's increased production of shale oil (fracking), which has made America the number one oil producer in the world. Even the OPEC cartel, which was supposed to be limiting combined oil production from the 12 members to 30 million barrels per day actually produced 30.6 million barrels per day in October. The reduction in demand is largely due to slowing growth in Europe and China. Reuters and AFP

Oil price plunge pressures budgets of oil exporting countries

Although the plunge in oil prices will cause a fall in gasoline prices, which is good news for consumers, it's going to put a great deal of pressure of the budgets of oil exporting countries that were counting on oil prices above $100 per barrel.

I've been listening to a number of analysts throw out different numbers for how high oil has to be for each country's budget to balance. The following list is a synthesis of all that I heard:

+----------------+--------+
| Libya          |   $184 | 
| Iran           |   $131 | 
| Algeria        |   $131 | 
| Venezuela      |   $110 | 
| Russia         |   $105 | 
| Nigeria        |   $100 | 
| Saudi Arabia   |   $ 98 | 
| UAE            |   $ 80 | 
| Kuwait         |   $ 78 | 
| Qatar          |   $ 77 | 
+----------------+-----------+
Table: Oil price per barrel required
to balance each country's budget

According to analysts, in order for American fracking operations to make money, oil prices have to be at least $65-70 per barrel. Analysts say that Saudi Arabia is keeping prices low as a long-range investment in order to suppress America's fracking industry, and that Saudi Arabia has enough currency reserves that it can sustain these low prices for 6-12 months. However, poorer countries will be in trouble much more quickly.

Russia and Venezuela on their knees with oil prices plunging


Oil revenue as share of government revenue (Quartz)
Oil revenue as share of government revenue (Quartz)

When Vladimir Putin first became president of Russia in 2001, oil revenues accounted for just 9% of the Russian economy. In 2013, oil revenues accounted for 52% of the Russian economy. On Thursday, the ruble currency slumped to historic lows against the dollar and the euro. Even at a price of $80 per barrel of Urals crude, the federal budget will run a deficit of 2-2.5%.

There's a feeling that Venezuela is getting its comeuppance with the plunge in oil prices. Hugo Chávez used to stick it to the United States whenever he could, because high oil prices made his country wealthy. But instead of saving any of that money, he wasted it on huge socialist programs design to buy popularity for himself and for his party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). These included things like subsidizing food so that prices are one-sixth of market prices.

But now Chávez is gone, and oil prices are plunging. His successor, Nicolás Maduro, doesn't have anything like Chávez's charisma, so he's been trying to borrow some charisma from Chávez by pretending to be able to talk to him in the afterlife. According to Maduro:

"I'm going to confess that a bird approached me, and approached me again and said ... that the commander [Chávez] was happy and full of love for the loyalty of his people ... must be proud."

I don't know how many people believed the talking bird story, but other PSUV politicians are saying things that are much harsher. According to one of Chávez's cabinet ministers, "It’s painful and worrying to see a Presidency that doesn’t show leadership." He criticized the “repetition of the approaches formulated by Comandante Chávez, without the necessary coherency."

The broader picture is that the plunging oil prices are part of a global deflationary spiral. I said, starting in 2003 when I first began writing about Generational Dynamics, that it was predicting deflation. Mainstream economists have been predicting high inflation and even superinflation every quarter for years, so they've been wrong every quarter and Generational Dynamics has been right. Quartz and Moscow Times and Panama Post and ABC (Madrid) (Trans)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Nov-14 World View -- Oil prices crash after OPEC meeting ends in discord thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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27-Nov-14 World View -- Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland forming alliance to confront Russia

Two British brothers jailed for training at Syria terror camp

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!

Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland forming alliance to confront Russia


Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko, right, greets Lithuania's president Dalia Grybauskaite in Kiev on Monday (AP)
Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko, right, greets Lithuania's president Dalia Grybauskaite in Kiev on Monday (AP)

Lithuania may supply weapons to Ukraine as part of plans to increase its support to the Ukrainian military with the formation of a joint Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian Brigade project. According to Lithuania's Defense Minister Juozas Olekas:

"A joint brigade formed by Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland will provide an opportunity for Ukraine to learn from Lithuania's and Poland's experience of Nato integration and to develop efficient armed forces."

The plan grew out of a visit to Kiev this week by Lithuania's president Dalia Grybauskaite and Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko. Grybauskaite announced that Lithuania would be providing Ukraine with military aid, but did not specify if this would include weaponry or be of the non-lethal kind.

In a bizarre statement of a kind that we've come to expect from the Russians, Russia's foreign ministry warned that supplying weapons to Ukraine would violate international agreements:

"We heard repeated confirmations from the [US] administration, that it only supplies non-lethal aid to Ukraine. If there is a change of this policy, then we are talking about a serious destabilizing factor which could seriously affect the balance of power in the region."

This is bizarre because Russia hasn't worried about seriously destabilizing the region when it invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, and continues to pour weapons and troops into east Ukraine, all in violation of international law.

Lithuania already has a tense relationship with Russia. Grybauskaite recently called Russia a "terrorist country" because of its troops in east Ukraine.

Ukraine has been lobbying for months to receive military assistance from Nato as a whole or from the United States, but those requests have always been refused. The new alliance will allow Ukraine to become integrated with two Nato countries - Lithuania and Poland - though obtaining far fewer resources.

Ukraine is already in an alliance of post-Soviet countries. The alliance is called "GUAM - Organization for Democracy and Economic Development" where GUAM stands for Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova. It used to be called GUUAM, but the fifth member, Uzbekistan, dropped out. However, GUAM is more an economic union, while the new alliance is primarily military in nature. Paul Goble and Army Technology and Russia Behind The Headlines and Global Security

Health workers boycott Pakistan's polio vaccination campaign after shooting

Gunmen killed four polio workers and injured three others on Wednesday morning in Quetta, in southwest Pakistan. The Lady Health Workers (LHW) association in the province subsequently announced a boycott of the polio campaign in Balochistan.

The polio vaccination campaign was announced earlier this month. Over 238,000 children under the age of five were to be administered polio vaccine. The boycott will put the campaign on hold. At least 10 cases of polio were reported so far this year from the region around Quetta. Many parents refuse to allow their children to receive polio vaccine, believing the Taliban claims that the polio vaccination campaign is a Western plot to sterilize Muslim children. Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, while polio has also reemerged in Syria.

Polio cases in Pakistan have been surging to record-breaking levels, thanks to the Taliban's opposition to polio vaccine, claiming that it's a Western plot to sterilize Pakistani children. The Taliban have been murdering health care workers in Pakistan involved in polio providing vaccines, ever since the U.S. administration bragged in 2011 that a hepatitis vaccination program in Pakistan was used as a cover to locate and capture Osama bin Laden. Dawn (Pakistan)

Two British brothers jailed for training at Syria terror camp

Two brothers, Mohommod Nawaz, 30, and Hamza Nawaz, 24, both citizens of Britain, were sentenced to 4 1/2 years and 3 years in jail, respectively, after admitting to having attended a terrorism training camp in Syria in 2013. According to the judge,

"It is clear from the evidence from mobile phones that you both had been in a camp in Syria used for terrorist training. The evidence shows you were there for jihad, or holy war, and wanted to join an extremist group."

In August 25 of last year, the pair said they were going out for a meal, but instead left for France by car, and then flew to Turkey and ultimately crossed the border to join a jihadist training camp. Later, they send a message by social media to selected friends confirming what they had done.

They returned to the UK in September but were stopped by border officers who found ammunition designed for use in AK-47 rifles, mobile phone pictures of a training camp, and videos of their trip to the war zone.

The jailing of the two men is the first in a string of cases, with several men convicted of terrorism offences in relation to Syria waiting to receive sentences. At least three other men face similar charges directly linked to activity in Syria. Others are awaiting sentencing for planning their own activity or assisting others.

European officials are becoming increasingly alarmed that thousands of young men and women are traveling to Syria to join terrorist groups, including the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). Some of them have already returned to Europe and others are expected to return. The fear is that they'll use the skills developed in Syria to perform terrorist acts in their home countries. Britain can't prevent young men and women from going to Syria, but the new laws mean that they can't simply return to Britain and resume their former lives as if nothing had happened. BBC and Independent (Ireland)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Nov-14 World View -- Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland forming alliance to confront Russia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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26-Nov-14 World View -- Pope Francis calls Mediterranean a 'vast cemetery' for migrants

E-Cigarettes can infect your computer with malware

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pope Francis calls Mediterranean a 'vast cemetery' for migrants


Pope Francis at the European Parliament on Tuesday (AFP)
Pope Francis at the European Parliament on Tuesday (AFP)

Pope Francis has previously spoken out on the treatment of migrants. Last year he criticized the "globalization of indifference" towards migrants, saying that the western society had "forgotten how to cry," and that "the culture of our own well-being makes us insensitive to the cries of others."

On Tuesday he gave a speech to the European Parliament in Brussels:

"There needs to be a united response to the question of migration. We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery.

The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance. ...

One of the most common diseases in Europe today is loneliness. You can see it in the eyes of migrants who came here seeking a better future."

Francis also said that the European Union had lost its way:

"Europe seems to give the impression of being somewhat elderly and haggard, feeling less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness.

We encounter a general impression of weariness and ageing, of a Europe which is now a grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant.

The time has come for us to abandon the idea of a Europe which is fearful and self-absorbed, in order to revive and encourage a Europe of leadership."

Francis also declared that the EU had lost its bearings, and was hostage to a uniform economic model that undermined democracy while the centrality of human rights was becoming confused with and supplanted by individualistic narcissism.

Over the past weekend alone, some 800 migrants were rescued from drowning by naval vessels from Italy and Libya. At least 215,000 asylum seekers arrived in Europe so far this year, while only 43,000 arrived during the entire year 2013. Guardian (London) and Reuters and AFP

Mali attempts to prevent the spread of Ebola

Two weeks ago, a 70-year-old sick Imam traveled by car from Guinea to Bamako, the capital city of Mali, where he went to a local hospital and died. Hundreds of people touched his body in the funeral preparations that followed, before anyone realized he had Ebola. ( "15-Nov-14 World View -- Ebola cluster growing in Mali, hundreds possibly exposed")

Mali officials said on Monday that another person had tested positive for Ebola, bringing the total number of cases to eight. Six previously identified patients have died. Health officials in Mali are currently monitoring some 300 people who may have come in contact with the Imam, or with someone who had been in a contact chain to the Imam. Teams of people check each of these people twice a day, every day, to catch anyone who may be sick with Ebola. Not everyone is cooperating, but Mali officials are being aggressive in chasing down anyone who avoids monitoring.

Health officials have been successful so far in preventing widespread Ebola infections outside of the three main West African countries - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. They're hoping that quick action has prevented Mali from becoming the fourth country devastated by Ebola.

The level of anxiety and panic has also simmered down. Thanks to political crises over immigration and Ferguson, I haven't heard a peep lately out of anyone demanding that anyone traveling by plane from West Africa be refused entry into the United States.

There was a time last spring, for about a month, when everyone thought that Ebola had been all but eradicated in West Africa. Then suddenly it turned out that there were dozens of cases that had previously been unreported, and soon these turned into hundreds, and then thousands.

Officials are hoping that nothing like that will happen in any other country, but the case of the Imam shows what can go wrong. All you need is one Ebola patient who travels to a crowded city or a war zone. Since an infected patient may not show symptoms for 21 days, it would be possible to start a new Ebola cluster anywhere, just as recently happened in Mali. VOA and Reuters

E-Cigarettes can infect your computer with malware

E-cigarettes are a great invention for people who are addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes. E-cigarettes look like cigarettes, they fulfill the need for nicotine, but they do not have any tars and other poisons that cause lung cancer. The "smoke" they give off is only water vapor.

However, an e-cigarette contains a battery that has to be charged, and many of them are recharged by connecting them to a computer with a USB cable. At least one brand of e-cigarette made in China infects your computer with malware when you connect the USB cable.

Apparently the same thing is possible for photo frames, MP3 players, or any other device that plugs into the computer via a USB cable. Guardian and Reddit

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Nov-14 World View -- Pope Francis calls Mediterranean a 'vast cemetery' for migrants thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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25-Nov-14 World View -- After swallowing Crimea, Russia goes after Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel fired by President Obama

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

After swallowing Crimea, Russia goes after Abkhazia and South Ossetia


Novoafonsky Monastery Abkhazia
Novoafonsky Monastery Abkhazia

Russia and Georgia's province of Abkhazia signed a treaty on Monday that will put a Russian commander in charge of all security forces in Abkhazia. The treaty envisages a gradual, but ultimate merger of Russian-occupied Abkhazia’s defense, security, law enforcement, border, customs, economic and healthcare agencies with that of Russia’s within three years. Many analysts believe that this is a step along the path of Russia annexing Abkhazia, just as it invaded and annexed Crimea earlier this year.

In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia and took control of two Georgian provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Last week, South Ossetia declared that it is negotiating a new "comprehensive agreement on integration" with Russia, which will raise the relationship between the two sides to a "qualitatively new level," indicating that South Ossetia is on the same path as Abkhazia.

We now have two countries -- Russia and China -- using military force to annex territories belonging to other countries. This is a very dangerous situation that could spiral into a wider war at any time, just as happened in the 1930s. Russia Today and Jamestown and AP

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel fired by President Obama

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is a Republican, mainly because he's pro-life on abortion, but he's well on the political left on defense issues. He and Obama worked together on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the mid-2000s, where they opposed the Iraq war. Obama selected Hagel in January 2013 to be Secretary of Defense in order to pursue Obama's goal of reducing the military power and footprint of the U.S., and to manage the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Pretty much all of Obama's foreign policy decisions have been debacles, and those were no exception. The rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) has forced Obama to send troops back into Iraq, and there have been several escalations in recent weeks. On Friday of last week, Obama escalated the U.S. mission in Afghanistan for 2015.

Pundits have been giving three reasons why Hagel was fired. The first reason is that Obama is using him as a scapegoat for his string of foreign policy debacles.

The second given reason is that Hagel contradicted and indirectly criticized the President. In January, Obama referred to ISIS as a "JV team in Lakers uniforms," where "JV" stands for "junior varsity." But in August, Hagel said that ISIS was "an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it's in Iraq or anywhere else," and that ISIS was "as sophisticated and as well-funded as any group we've seen."

The third reason given by pundits is that Hagel was an ineffective manager of the armed forces.

Whatever the reason, Hagel's successor is going to have deal with a military and foreign policy in chaos. NBC News and Investors' Business Daily

Iran nuclear deal collapses, forcing another seven months of talks

For weeks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was saying that a deal to halt Iran's development of nuclear weapons would be successful by Monday, the self-imposed deadline. Even as late as Sunday evening, Kerry was saying that a deal was close. But apparently he wasn't telling the truth, since on Monday it was announced that the deal would be postponed for seven months, until June, 2015.

Kerry wants a deal because the administration could tout it as a success, breaking the string of foreign policy debacles by the Obama administration.

Iran wanted a deal, because it would mean the end to Western sanctions. Sanctions have already been eased as an "incentive," and the remaining sanctions have been leaking badly, but the deal would remove the sanctions completely.

As things stand, the sanctions remain, and Monday's collapse is another debacle.

This is a good time to repeat something I've written about several times. There is no doubt in my mind that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. Iran was attacked with weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in 1988 by Iraq, and Iran would already have developed nuclear weapons if Saddam Hussein hadn't been expelled by the Iraq war in 2003. Iran sees itself surrounded by potential enemies, Pakistan and Israel, both having nuclear weapons. For Iran, developing nuclear weapons is an existential issue.

However, as I've described before, Iran takes an enormous amount of pride in not having invaded other countries, even though other countries have invaded Iran. If you look back at Iran's major wars of the last century -- the Constitutional Revolution of the 1900s decade, the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979, and the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, Iran never attacked anyone else. This is now part of Iran's DNA, and even the top leadership would be repulsed by the idea of a preemptive attack on Israel.

So my conclusion is that Iran will develop nuclear weapons as a defensive measure, but has no plans at all to use them on Israel, which is what is widely believed. USA Today and Foreign Policy

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Nov-14 World View -- After swallowing Crimea, Russia goes after Abkhazia and South Ossetia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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24-Nov-14 World View -- China's military strength and poor civilian control alarm neighbors

The disappearance of the 'Long March' generation

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's military strength increasingly alarms neighbors


China's military
China's military

China's Defense Minister General Chang Wanquan was forced to respond to concerns from China's Asian neighbors who are expressing alarms at China's rapid military expansion and aggressiveness in the South China Sea and elsewhere. According to Chang:

"The remarkable growth of China's comprehensive national power, and the continued progress in national defense modernization, have become a focus of international attention in recent years. China has learned a bitter lesson from its wretched history [as a victim of aggression and the] practical need to secure its own territory."

As we've reported many times, the "practical need to secure its own territory" means using military power to confiscate and annex regions in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines. Channel News Asia/AFP and Reuters

Fears increase over poor civilian control of China's military

Along with a simmering concern about China's intentions in building a huge military machine, alarm bells have also been rung over whether China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) does what it wants with little civilian control by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). There have been a number of incidents where the CCP has been caught by surprise by PLA actions. One that got worldwide publicity occurred when the PLA ran a surprise stealth fighter test during a visit by then U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in 2011. Apparently the PLA wanted to send a message to both the United States and the CCP. A similar event occurred in September 2012, during a visit by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

An analysis by Andrew Scobell finds a "civil-military gap" with two meanings:

Members of the military are "tougher than ... civilian officials" and more "hawkish" toward the United States and the international system. Much of this is related to the preoccupation with achieving unification with Taiwan, and the US military is the PLA's likely adversary.

I would modify Scobell's analysis to say that the gap between the CCP and the PLA is a generational gap, not a "civil-military gap." The policy-makers in the CCP are survivors of Mao's Communist Revolution (1934-49), while the military is filled with younger generations. We all know how, in the United States, many Millennials and Gen-Xers think that all Boomers are completely full of crap. The same thing is true in China, with the younger officers in the military thinking of the geezers in the CCP as hilarious and irrelevant.

The disappearance of the 'Long March' generation

In fact, Scobell himself gives a generational explanation. According to Scobell, the loss of CCP control over the military occurred with a generational change in the 1990s, when the generations of survivors of Mao's Communist Revolution all disappeared. Scobell refers to these survivors as the "Long March generation," referring to Mao's Long March that started China's civil war in 1934:

"The disposition and background of the post-Long March generations of political and military leaders have altered the format of civil-military relations and structure of the mechanisms of control.

A core distinguishing characteristic of the Long March generation was the substantial overlap of political and military elites. Former top leaders Mao Zedong, who dominated the Chinese Communist Party from the mid-1930s until his death in 1976, and Deng Xiaoping, who was the paramount figure from the late 1970s until his death in 1997, were the most prominent members of this famous generation of leaders who had participated in the legendary 1930s trek that ensured the survival of the Communist movement. In fact, most leaders of this generation were both political and military elites.

By the mid-1990s, with the passing of the Long March generation, China's civil-military relations had evolved. In subsequent generations, civilian and military leaders became more differentiated and distinct. At the highest echelon, elites such as retired top leader Jiang Zemin and current [2009] paramount leader Hu Jintao, while holding the position of head of the PLA in addition to their formal government and party posts, did not exert the same kind of influence in, or engender the same kind of deference from, China's military. In the twenty-first century, China's Communist Party leaders are civilian technocrats with little or no military experience or expertise. Twenty-two of the 25 members elected to the Politburo at the 17th Party Congress in October 2007 have no military experience, and two of the three remaining are PLA generals."

As I've written many times, it's a core principle of Generational Dynamics that even in a dictatorship, major policies and events are determined by masses of people, entire generations of people, and not by politicians. Thus, Hitler was not the cause of WW II. What politicians say or do is irrelevant, except insofar as their actions reflect the attitudes of the people that they represent, and so politicians can neither cause nor prevent the great events of history.

With this generation gap between the PLA and the CCP, we can see how a war with China could start. We've already seen a number of aggressive moves by younger, more impetuous PLA members. These include, for example, provoking confrontations with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, and provoking dangerous confrontation with U.S. surveillance planes flying over international waters in the South China Sea. One of these impetuous acts could quickly lead to miscalculations that spiral into a wider war. However it happens, the loss of CPP control over the PLA is a very dangerous situation. Diplomat and Andrew Scobell (2009)(PDF) and Foreign Policy (2013)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Nov-14 World View -- China's military strength and poor civilian control alarm neighbors thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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23-Nov-14 World View -- Somalia's Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for religion-based Kenya attack

Obama expands the U.S. mission in Afghanistan for 2015

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Somalia's Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for religion-based Kenya attack


File photo of al-Shabaab
File photo of al-Shabaab

Al-Shabaab terrorists forced a bus in Mandera County to stop carrying 60 passengers to stop. They asked the passengers to recite Koranic verses, and those who were unable to do so were lined up and then killed. 28 people were killed, 19 men and 9 women.

"The Mujahideen successfully carried out an operation near Mandera early this morning, which resulted in the perishing of 28 crusaders [Christians or non-Muslims], as a revenge for the crimes committed by the Kenyan crusaders against our Muslim brethren in Mombasa."

Early this week, police in Mombasa shot dead a man and arrested over 376 others when they searched four mosques in the largely Muslim coastal town of Mombasa that they said were used to recruit militants and store weapons.

Kenyans have not yet recovered from the horrific three-day attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in September of last year. ( "23-Sep-13 World View -- Minnesota link to Kenya shopping mall attack raises U.S. fears") 68 people were killed and hundreds injured.

After Saturday's attack, President Uhuru Kenyatta called for calm, as he did after the Westgate mall attack. Kenyatta's own nephew was killed in the Westgate mall attack, as was the nephew's fiancée. Abdikadir Mohammed, a senior adviser to Kenyatta, said:

"The aim is to create conflict between the Muslims and the non-Muslims in this country. The aim is to create a religious war, religious strife, in Kenya.

We have had a lot of the Muslim leaders come out today [Saturday] and strongly condemn this and call on Kenyans of all faiths and creeds to stand together against these heinous crimes and criminals."

The perpetrators are al-Shabaab, a Somalian offshoot of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Shabaab have been terrorizing Somalia, the country next door to Kenya, for years. Starting in 2011, Kenya's troops and African Union troops have been fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia, and have significantly reduced al-Shabaab's influence. However, since then, al-Shabaab has launched about 135 terrorist attacks inside Kenya. The Westgate Mall attack was the worst so far, but Saturday's attack has been a new major shock to Kenya. Standard Media (Kenya) and BBC and AP

China creating an island with an airstrip in South China Sea

China has been using a "salami-slicing" technique of using military force to annex one portion after another of regions of the South China Sea historically belonging to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Now China is using an even more aggressive military tactic. China is building its own island on a reef in the Spratly Islands large enough to accommodate an airstrip. The island on Fiery Cross Reef, which was previously underwater, is at least 3,000 m long and 200-300 m wide, and is being occupied by China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). China has previously built new islands at Johnson South Reef, Cuateron Reef, and Gaven Reefs, but none are large enough to house an airstrip in their current form.

China has a massive military advantage over the other countries in the region, and appears determined to annex every other country's territory in the South China Sea. Building an airstrip in the Spratly Islands has no other apparent purpose but to further this military takeover at a more rapid pace. Jane's Defence Weekly and Reuters

Obama expands the U.S. mission in Afghanistan for 2015

President Barack Obama has quietly approved guidelines to expand the mission of U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan in 2015, although the number of troops remains the same at 9,800. According to previous guidelines, U.S. forces could only attack the Taliban or al-Qaeda in self-defense, if they were being attacked. The new guidelines permit attacks on the Taliban if they are preparing to attack American troops. However, U.S. troops can't conduct offensive operations on any Taliban forces they locate. Those forces have to be threatening U.S. troops. The new guidelines also permit additional airstrikes in support of Afghan forces -- but only when they're in serious trouble.

President Obama has suffered a number of recent setbacks in his announced plans for fighting the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), forcing him to escalate American troop involvement from 300 to 800 to 1500 to 3000.

Now a similar escalation process might be occurring in Afghanistan. In the last few weeks, the Taliban have been launching a lot more aggressive attacks, and a lot more successful attacks. As in Iraq, it may be necessary for Obama either to admit defeat in Afghanistan or to return thousands of additional troops. Obama has had one foreign policy disaster after another, and this has to count as an additional one. CBS and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Nov-14 World View -- Somalia's Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for religion-based Kenya attack thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Nov-14 World View -- Britain in nationalistic surge as anti-EU UKIP party gains ground

Arab workers in Israel being fired in backlash from synagogue attack

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Arab workers in Israel being fired in backlash from synagogue attack


Israeli border policeman shown during clashes with Palestinian protesters in Rmallah on Friday (Reuters)
Israeli border policeman shown during clashes with Palestinian protesters in Rmallah on Friday (Reuters)

Following Tuesday's terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, Arab workers across Israel are being fired from their jobs. This came to light after the announcement that the mayor of Ashkelon, one of Israel’s leading cities, fired Arabs who were building bomb shelters in municipal kindergartens. Many Arabs in Israel are construction workers, and it's believed that one of the perpetrators of the synagogue attack was a construction worker.

The decision to fire Arab workers is causing outrage and charges of racism across the Israeli political spectrum. Israel's Commission for Equal Employment Opportunities said that "a not insignificant number of requests regarding employers firing or wishing to terminate the employment of Arab male and female employees, solely on racial grounds."

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

"The vast majority of Israel's Arab citizens are law abiding and whoever breaks the law — we will take determined and vigorous action against him."

National Post and AP

Britain in nationalistic surge as anti-EU UKIP party gains ground

The anti-EU anti-immigrant UK Independence Party (UKIP) had a startling by-election victory on Thursday when former Conservative (Tory) party MP Mark Reckless won re-election after defecting to the UKIP. Prime minister David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, had promised to "throw everything" at the campaign in order to defeat Reckless, but in the end Reckless got 42%, defeating the Tory candidate at 35%. This was the second by-election in a month where

Nigel Farage has been gloating about the victory and is warning other Tory MPs that they should also defect to the UKIP, or risk losing their seats in next year's general election.

However, it's not just Tory seats that are at risk. Comparing Thursday's vote to the 2010 election, Reckless stole away 14% of the Tory votes, but also took 12% of the Labour vote and 16% of the Lib Dem vote. This is only one district, but the vote could be signaling a rapid surge in nationalism.

According to the UKIP web site,

"UKIP is a patriotic party that promotes independence: from the EU, and from government interference. We believe in free trade, lower taxes, personal freedom and responsibility.

UKIP believes in Britain becoming a democratic, self-governing country once again. This can only be achieved by getting our nation out of the European Union and reasserting the sovereignty of Parliament.

As a party we are unashamedly patriotic: we believe there is so much to be proud about Britain and the contribution it has made to the world. We believe that Britain is good enough to be an independent nation, trading and building harmonious relations with the rest of the world.

We believe Britain must get back control over its borders, so that it can welcome people with a positive contribution to make while limiting the overall numbers of migrants and keeping out those without the skills or aptitudes to be of benefit to the nation.

UKIP believes in promoting self-reliance and personal freedom from state interference. We believe the state in Britain has become too large, too expensive and too dominant over civil society."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the increased British nationalism is no surprise, as countries around the world, including China and the United States, including the Israelis and the Palestinians, are becoming increasingly nationalistic. The survivors of the horrors of World War II were well aware of the dangers of extreme nationalism, and how it can cause the most brutal kinds of wars. That's why those survivors have done everything possible to promote globalism and racial tolerance. But those survivors have all but disappeared, and the generations that grew up after WW II are now in charge and have no fears of nationalism. Mirror (London) and Irish Times and UKIP Web Site

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Nov-14 World View -- Britain in nationalistic surge as anti-EU UKIP party gains ground thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Nov-14 World View -- Gulf nations paper over their differences for GCC Summit in December

Egypt may be considering release of al-Jazeera reporters

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Gulf nations paper over their differences for GCC Summit in December


GCC Summit meeting in 2009
GCC Summit meeting in 2009

Saudi Arabia has managed to mediate a reconciliation among the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that very publicly and vitriolicly split in March of this year, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar after a stormy GCC meeting. This year's GCC annual summit was originally scheduled for November 10, but was postponed to December 9-10. Now, the three countries had agreed to put their differences aside, at least until the end of the summit meeting, and return their ambassadors to Qatar.

Since the GCC was formed in 1981, there have always been differences between the individual countries, but until the explosion earlier this year, they were carefully hidden from the public. The trigger that raised tensions among the countries was the army coup, in July 2013, that ousted Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood, or at least is neutral towards it, and supported Morsi with billions of dollars in aid, and Qatar opposes the presidency of former army general Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi. Saudi Arabia and UAE support al-Sisi with billions of dollars of aid, and consider the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization.

Relations between Qatar and Egypt have been further complicated because Qatar is the home of al-Jazeera, which reported on the bloody army crackdown on protesters following the coup. Egypt got revenge by jailing three al-Jazeera reporters, who remain in jail to this day, and have given sentences of 7-10 years.

As I've written several times, there has been a major Mideast realignment following the Gaza war, bringing Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia in alliance versus Hamas plus Qatar plus Turkey. This was, and continues to be, a sharp and bitter division.

So now, in the last few weeks, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia says that these differences have all been resolved. That's not particularly credible. The GCC Summit on December 9-10 may be extremely stormy, and another bitter split may go beyond shouting to violence. Asharq Al Awsat (Riyadh) and Reuters

United Arab Emirates identifies 86 terrorist groups

One sign that sharp differences remain is that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced a list, controversial in the Arab world, naming 86 organizations that it considers to be terrorist. Some are uncontroversial, such as the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), Jabhat al-Nusra, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and Al-Qaeda on the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Also named were Iran-supported groups, including the Houthis in Yemen, and Hezbollah's affiliates in the Gulf states -- though not Hezbollah's main branch in Lebanon, considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the West.

But two Qatari-supported groups, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Union of Muslim Scholars in Qatar are named.

Hamas was not named.

Within the United States, the most controversial selection will be the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Also included are the Muslim Association of Britain and the Islamic Relief Organisation in London.

Some Muslim analysts complain that the inclusion of these organizations fosters Islamophobia in the U.S. and Britain. According to Anas al-Tikriti, the former president of the Muslim Association of Britain, the terrorist list is "beyond ludicrous":

"The fact that it piles together terrorist groups like Boko Haram and IS with think tanks and research centers who aren’t involved in political work and who espouse democratic principles belies any kind of rationality or logic.

Some of these organizations represent tens of thousands of people. Does the UAE mean to suggest there are tens of thousands of terrorists throughout the world from America, to Europe, to Africa?"

The National (UAE) and Middle East Eye and Gulf News - complete list and Al-Jazeera

Egypt may be considering release of al-Jazeera reporters

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has been encouraging Egypt to fix its strained relations with Qatar, and one consequence is that Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi may be considering releasing the three al-Jazeera journalists. In an interview with France24, al-Sisi said:

[At the time of the journalists’ arrests, I] did not have the power to take decisions about their situation. If I were president at that time, I would have decided, for the good and the security of Egypt, that the journalists would have to be expelled, so [it would] put an end to this issue once and for all."

Al-Sisi has said things like this before, but this time, when asked whether he intends to issue a presidential pardon, he said:

"Let me just say, this issue is currently under discussion so that we may find a solution."

This indicates, for the first time, that some kind of negotiation is going on that might result in the release of the reporters. The reporters' fates may be in the hands of the GCC negotiations, and particularly any possible reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar. France 24 and Al-Jazeera

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Nov-14 World View -- Gulf nations paper over their differences for GCC Summit in December thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Nov-14 World View -- Jerusalem becomes a city of fear, in a torrent of mutual hostility

Israel approves construction of 78 new homes in Jerusalem

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Global warming and climate change strike Buffalo NY


Buffalo man digs out his car on Wednesday
Buffalo man digs out his car on Wednesday

Israel demolishes apartment of terrorist

On Wednesday, Israeli forces demolished the home of Abdelrahman Shaludi, who had purposely plowed his car into pedestrians on October 22, killing two people. This was done following a policy revived by Benjamin Netanyahu of demolishing the homes of terrorists as a method of deterrence. Netanyahu has promised to do the same to the homes of the two perpetrators of Tuesday's synagogue attack. However, Palestinians claim that the policy is a violation of international law because it uses "collective punishment" of many people for the crimes of one person.

The Israelis point out that they didn't demolish the entire apartment building in which Shaludi lived, but only demolished Shaludi's individual apartment.

A reporter on al-Jazeera on Wednesday described the history of using home demolishing as deterrence. According to the reporter, the policy was used during British rule of Palestine prior to World War II in order to inhibit Jewish insurgents. Israel began using the home demolition policy starting in 1967, and it was continued until 2005, when it was ended because it was considered ineffective. However, Netanyahu reinstated the policy earlier this year after the three teenagers were abducted and killed in the West Bank. Israel National News

Jerusalem becomes a city of fear, in a torrent of mutual hostility

Following Tuesday's terrorist attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem, both Israelis and Palestinians are afraid to walk the streets. Israelis are afraid that any passing car driven by a Palestinian might change direction and kill pedestrians. Palestinians are afraid of revenge attacks from Israeli settlers.

Several analysts have pointed out that the conflict between Arabs and Israelis has shifted. It used to be a political conflict over land, but now it's become a conflict over religion, and a religious war is much more dangerous than a political war.

Former Senator George Mitchell, who was President Obama's "Special Envoy for the Mideast," said the following on the BBC on Wednesday (my transcription):

"I think one thing that the parties should consider is the potential that this could spread and branch out in ways that were unlikely in the past. There have been two Palestinian uprisings. at that time, there was a relatively stable and quiet region around the Israeli Palestinian conflict. That no longer exists. Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya -- you go down the list of turmoil and conflict, intersecting, overlapping different routes, different branches, so many competing organizations that the average person has trouble keeping track of them, and an outbreak of violence this time could spread in ways that was not possible in the past, and we may not fully comprehend yet."

This is exactly the kind of point that Generational Dynamics makes. As I've been saying since 2003, Generational Dynamics predicts that there will be a new war between Arabs and Israelis, refighting the 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that following the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The mechanism that all these crisis wars follow is that a crisis war is so horrible that the traumatized survivors -- both "winners" and "losers" -- vow to make sure that the same thing never happens again, to their children or grandchildren. And they succeed, until they all disappear (retire or die), all at once, leaving behind generations of children and grandchildren who have no personal memory of those horrors, and willing to cross any line, even if it risks another crisis war, which happens sooner or later. Pretty much the only important survivor of the 1948 war still left is Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, who is undoubtedly well aware of what's coming, but can't do anything to stop it.

Mitchell continued:

"And there is a further fact. Of all the difficult issues between Palestinians and Israelis, none is more difficult or important than Jerusalem. In part because Jerusalem is not just a Palestinian issue. Jerusalem is Muslim issue. Today of the 7 1/2 billion people in the world, 1 in 5 is Muslim, about a billion and a half. In the middle of this century, when the world's population gets past 9 1/2 billion, 1 in 3 will be Muslim. They all have an interest in Jerusalem, and it's in everyone's interest not to let this get out of control and dominate the issue. So the dangers are greater. The potential losses on all sides are greater. And to me the incentives of doing something about it should be greater. Will that be persuasive to the participants, I can't say that with certainty, but I believe that's the case we should be making to them."

Mitchell is making a fundamental error here. He was born in 1933, so he remembers well the horrors of World War II, and would do anything to keep them from happening again. But he assumes that because he doesn't want war, then nobody wants war. However, that's patently untrue, as history is replete with leaders who wanted war, thinking that they would win easily, and living to regret it. In fact, there are plenty of people in the Mideast, including both Palestinians and Israelis, who are itching for a war.

I've been writing for years that Sunni jihadists are doing everything possible to trigger a war. These groups, affiliated with al-Qaeda and lately the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), see one shining event that's guiding their lives -- the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution that turned Iran from a secular state into a Shia Islamic state. Al-Qaeda and ISIS would like to repeat that "success," and they've tried to trigger a war in numerous countries, and are still trying in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

There are plenty of young radical Israelis and Palestinians who would like to trigger a war because they hate each other and because each side thinks they would win. That day is coming, and there will be no winners. Reuters

Israel approves construction of 78 new homes in Jerusalem

Jerusalem’s municipal planning committee approved the construction of 78 settlements on Wednesday, provoking further fury among the Palestinians. Jerusalem Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Nov-14 World View -- Jerusalem becomes a city of fear, in a torrent of mutual hostility thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Nov-14 World View -- Jerusalem synagogue attack raises Arab-Israeli violence to new levels

Obama could order combat troops into Iraq and Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Jerusalem synagogue attack raises Arab-Israeli violence to new levels


Israeli security forces run in front of the synagogue that was attacked on Tuesday
Israeli security forces run in front of the synagogue that was attacked on Tuesday

The spiral of violence that began last Spring with the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers who were later found dead took a new leap upward on Tuesday when two Palestinians wielding a gun and butcher knives attacked a Jerusalem synagogue during morning prayers, killing four rabbis and a policeman. Three of the rabbis were American, and the fourth was British.

The extremely brutal attacks have drawn comments from both sides that are likely to enrage the other side further.

Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, condemned the attack, but blamed Israel for inciting it:

"It is time to end this occupation, to end all causes of violence and tension; we are committed to the two-state solution, and implementing all related international legitimacy resolutions."

Recently, Abbas called for an end to the "contamination" of the Jerusalem holy sites by Jews.

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Abbas and he blamed the international community as well:

"This is a direct result of incitement led by Hamas and Abu Mazen, incitement that the international community has been irresponsibly ignoring.

We will respond with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by lowly murderers."

Netanyahu said that the homes of the perpetrators would be demolished, an act that Palestinians say punishes innocent people living in the same homes.

The attack follows a death by hanging earlier this week in east Jerusalem of Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, a Palestinian bus driver. The death was apparently a suicide, but Palestinians are claiming, without confirmation, that he was killed by Israeli settlers. However, an autopsy performed jointly by Israeli and Palestinian coroners found no evidence of foul play.

A Hamas spokesman call for more attacks on Israelis:

"Jerusalem attack is a reaction to the execution of the martyr al-Ramouni and the ongoing Israeli crimes at al-Aqsa. Hamas calls for the continuation of acts of revenge."

There are increasing fears of a so-called "third intifida," a general violent uprising of Palestinians against Israelis. International Middle East Media Center (Gaza) and International Business Times and Latin American Herald Tribune

Spain's parliament calls for recognition of State of Palestine

On the same day as the synagogue attack in Jerusalem, Spain's parliament passed a resolution calling on the government to recognize the State of Palestine:

"The Spanish parliament urges the government to encourage the recognition of Palestine as a state... This recognition should be the consequence of a process negotiated between the parties that guarantees peace and security for both."

This was actually a version that was watered down at the last moment, possibly because of the Jerusalem attack.

European Union leaders have been expressing frustration about Israel's continuing settlement-building program in the West Bank. Palestinians claim that the settlements are being built on Palestinian land, making the two-state solution impossible. Israelis claim that the new settlements are being built only on land that would be part of Israel in a two-state solution. Reuters

Obama could order combat troops into Iraq and Syria

President Obama has repeatedly said that he would not permit American combat troops into Iraq or Syria to fight the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), but on Sunday he said:

"If we discovered that [ISIS] had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon, and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then, yes. I would order it."

This is reminiscent of Obama's "red line" promise to attack the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad if it used chemical weapons. Obama immediately backed down when al-Assad attacked his own people with Sarin gas. Al-Assad is still using chemical weapons -- barrel bombs packed with explosives, metals, and chlorine gas, which he's using against innocent civilians with impunity. So it seems unlikely that anyone will take this new red line very seriously.

On Tuesday, the al-Assad regime dropped multiple barrel bombs on a civilian neighborhood in Aleppo, killing at least 14 people, including mothers and children. ABC News and AP

NATO and OSCE see Russian military buildup on both sides of Ukraine's border

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says that information from NATO and OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) and other sources indicates that Russia is in the midst of "serious military buildup" on both sides of the Ukraine border. According to Stoltenberg:

"[We see] a military buildup...inside Ukraine, but we also see a military buildup on the Russian side of the border.

And we speak about troops, we speak about equipment, and we speak also about artillery and very modern air-defense systems so this is a serious military build-up. ...

We see that Russia is still destabilizing Ukraine, we see the movement of troops, of equipment, of tanks, of artillery and also advanced air defense systems and this is in violation of the cease-fire agreement. And we call on Russia to pull back its forces from eastern Ukraine and to respect the Minsk agreement."

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is practicing "shuttle diplomacy," traveling between Kiev and Moscow to prevent a Russia-Ukraine war. RFERL

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Nov-14 World View -- Jerusalem synagogue attack raises Arab-Israeli violence to new levels thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Nov-14 World View -- More Pakistan jihadist groups swear allegiance to ISIS

Japan in shock as economy plunges into recession

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Germany's friendly relations with Russia turn hostile


Putin wags his finger at Merkel at the 70th anniversary of D-Day commemoration in June (Reuters)
Putin wags his finger at Merkel at the 70th anniversary of D-Day commemoration in June (Reuters)

Russia's president Vladimir Putin has long had a soft spot for Germany, even developing a love for the German language when he was stationed in the East German city of Dresden as an office of the KGB in the late 1980s.

For her part, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has always promoted good relations with Russia, and for solving problems with dialogue. The business lobby in Germany is both more powerful and more sympathetic toward Russia than any major European state, and the German electorate has generally favored a neutral stance on foreign policy.

But that's changed dramatically in the last few months. Thanks to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, and the Russians' shooting down of airline flight MH17, Putin's reputation among the German public has been plummeting. In a nationwide survey conducted in August, a German pollster reportedly found that 82% of Germans do not believe that Russia can be trusted, while 70% called for tougher sanctions against the Russian economy.

Over the weekend, Merkel said, "Truly, the Ukraine crisis is in no way a regional issue. It affects all of us." She said that she was particularly concerned that Russia would not stop with the invasion of Ukraine, but would go to the Balkans.

She warned that the EU will not yield to Moscow like East Germany once did:

"Otherwise, one would have to say: We are too weak, be careful, we can't accept any others, we have to first ask Moscow if it is possible. That's how things were for 40 years; I never really wanted to return to that situation.

And that doesn't just apply to Ukraine. It applies to Moldova, it applies to Georgia. If the situation continues ... we'd have to ask about Serbia, we'd have to ask about the western Balkan countries. ...

After the horrors of two world wars and the end of the Cold War, [the Ukraine crisis] has challenged the peaceful order in Europe."

With the loss of Merkel as an ally, Russia is now almost completely estranged from Europe and the West, and further confrontations are sure to follow. Der Spiegel and Time and Europe Online

More Pakistan jihadist groups swear allegiance to ISIS

The black ISIS flag is beginning to appear all across Pakistan, from the south of Punjab province north to Islamabad, and in Balochistan and in the Afghan-Pakistan tribal region. At least 330 Pakistani terrorists are already known to be fighting alongside ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

ISIS has been recruiting heavily in Pakistan and Afghanistan, anticipating a gain of territory as American military forces withdraw. After meeting a three-man delegation from ISIS, the Jundullah terrorist group pledged allegiance to ISIS last week. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is also considering allegiance. What these two groups have in common is that they're committed to exterminating Shia Muslims wherever possible, and have committed numerous bombings of mosques and marketplaces in Balochistan and Iran to accomplish this. Analysts say that so far IS has mainly attracted sectarian (anti-Shia) groups rather than anti-state militants like the Taliban.

In response, al-Qaeda has announced a new umbrella organization, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) that has made deep inroads into Pakistan. On September 3, 2014, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a 55-minute video posted on the Internet, announced the launch of AQIS to spread Islamic rule and "raise the flag of jihad" across the Indian subcontinent, including Pakistan. South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Reuters

Japan in shock as economy plunges into recession

Economists were expecting Japan's economy to grow by 2% in the third (most current) quarter, after having plunged a historic 7.6% in the second quarter. Instead, the GDP fell an additional 1.6% in the third quarter. And since the GDP has now fallen for two months in a row, Japan's economy is officially in a recession. The fall into recession is being blamed on a sales tax increase from 5% to 8% in April, which caused consumers to stop spending.

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe will put any further planned tax increases on hold, and will dissolve the Lower House and hold a "snap election" in December.

Japan's economy has been in a deflationary spiral since the early 1990s, following a huge real estate and stock market bubble in the 1980s, and a huge crash that began in January, 1990. In the spring of 2013, Shinzo Abe launched something called "Abenomics," involving a huge quantitative easing program. Japan's central bank "printed" hundreds of billions of dollars and used it to buy bonds. This is similar to America's recent quantitative easing program which, at its peak, put $85 billion per month into the banking system.

The objective of Abenomics was to end deflation once and for all. But instead of stimulating spending, all the money just poured into the stock market, benefiting only a minority of rich people. The vast majority of Japanese people have incomes that are stagnant or falling.

This has also been a criticism of America's quantitative easing program. In the U.S., the median income has been falling, but the stock market has been pushed up into bubble levels, with the S&P Price/Earnings ratio (stock valuations) close to 19, an astronomically high level, much higher than the historical average of 14. Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo) and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Nov-14 World View -- More Pakistan jihadist groups swear allegiance to ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Nov-14 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan says Muslims, not Christopher Columbus, discovered America

Merger of ISIS and al-Nusra seen unlikely, despite reports

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Blunt language from Canada's Stephen Harper to Vladimir Putin


Stephen Harper and Vladimir Putin at G20 meeting on Saturday
Stephen Harper and Vladimir Putin at G20 meeting on Saturday

As we reported yesterday, Russia's president had to eat lunch alone on Saturday at the G20 meeting being held in Brisbane, Australia, because none of the other countries' national leaders wanted to be seen with the man who invaded Ukraine.

It's now been revealed that the conversation between Canada's prime minister Stephen Harper and Putin was particularly blunt:

HARPER: "I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I have only one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine."

PUTIN: "I’m not in Ukraine."

HARPER: "That’s why I don’t want to have a meeting with you, you’ll just lie to me."

AFP

Merger of ISIS and al-Nusra seen unlikely, despite reports

There have been several recent news reports about a possible merger between the Syrian jihadist groups Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) and the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front). However, examination of these reports make it evident that they all come from the same unreliable sources.

Although al-Nusra and ISIS fighters have cooperated in one or two specific local instances, ISIS would demand full subjugation of al-Nusra to itself, and that's not going to happen. In fact, statements from al-Nusra have expressed contempt for ISIS' claim to be either a "state" ("Islamic State") or a Caliphate, as ISIS leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi has claimed.

In the larger picture, al-Baghdadi has asked jihadist groups around the world to subjugate themselves to his self-declared ISIS caliphate, and a scattering of smaller jihadist groups from Indonesia to Algeria have done so. However, neither of the major al-Qaeda umbrella groups, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) headquartered in Yemen, nor Al-Qaeda on the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), headquartered in northern Africa, is going to give up its identity and subjugate itself to ISIS. Joshua Landis

Turkey's Erdogan says Muslims, not Christopher Columbus, discovered America

At a meeting of the 1st Latin American Muslim Religious Leaders Summit in Istanbul on Saturday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Muslims discovered America long before Christopher Columbus did:

"Latin America's contact with Islam dates back to the 12th century. Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus. Muslim sailors arrived in America in 1178. Christopher Columbus mentions the existence of a mosque on a hill along the Cuban coast. I will talk to my brothers in Cuba and a mosque would suit the top of that hill today as well. We would build it if they [the Cuban government] say so. Islam had expanded in the American continent before Columbus arrived."

Various groups, from Malians to Vikings, have claimed to be the first to "discover America," but there's no archaeological evidence of any permanent settlements prior the expedition of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus in 1492.

There is a small Muslim minority in Cuba, many of whom claim that they're discriminated against. A delegation from Turkey traveled to Cuba earlier this year to seek permission to build a mosque in Havana, but the Cuban authorities rejected the request. Today's Zaman (Istanbul) and Independent (Ireland)

UN committee in Jordan investigates Israeli war crimes

The investigation committee of the UN Human Rights Council is meeting in Amman Jordan to hear the testimonies of Palestinians claiming to be victims of Israeli violence, to gather evidence of Israeli war crimes in the Gaza war of several months ago. They're meeting in Jordan because Israel has denied its members entry into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Likewise, Egypt has denied them entry into Gaza via the Rafah border crossing.

Israel's Foreign Ministry officially announced last week that it would not cooperate with the Council's investigation, saying that the Council has already predetermined that Israel is guilty, and is not investigating crimes by Hamas. The probe is headed by Canadian legal expert William Schabas, who previously stated that he believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be brought before the International Criminal Court on war crime charges. Ma'an (Bethlehem) and Jerusalem Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Nov-14 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan says Muslims, not Christopher Columbus, discovered America thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Nov-14 World View -- Obamacare and the 'stupidity of the American voter'

Vladimir Putin eats lunch alone at G20 meeting

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Vladimir Putin eats lunch alone at G20 meeting


An isolated Vladimir Putin eats lunch alone at G20 meeting on Saturday(Reuters)
An isolated Vladimir Putin eats lunch alone at G20 meeting on Saturday(Reuters)

Nobody wanted to eat lunch with Russia's president Vladimir Putin on Saturday at the G20 Leaders' Summit being held in Brisbane, Australia. It was supposed to be an economic summit, but most other leaders used the opportunity to blast Putin for Russia's repeated military intervention in Ukraine, for annexing Crimea, and for supplying the weapons and training to the Russians who shot down the MH17 airliner over Ukraine, killing hundreds of innocent passengers. Several leaders told Putin bluntly to "get out of Ukraine."

By lunch time, Putin was so isolated that no one wanted to be seen having lunch with him, so he sat at a lunch table alone. Later, his delegation announced that he would be leaving the G20 meeting early, calling the meeting "nonsense." Australian Broadcasting

Jonathan Gruber on Obamacare and the stupidity of the American voter

Obamacare supporters have been fleeing in droves from MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, who was the principal architect of Obamacare. But there's no getting away from him. A glowing article in the NY Times on March 28, 2012, made it clear that Gruber was the number one health care expert in the country, not only because he had been developing models for decades, but also because he was a prime architect for Romneycare in Massachusetts, on which Obamacare was based.

Gruber's lectures at MIT are available on videotape, and they've revealed everything from the contemptuous attitude of Obamacare officials, and also deception and fraud in the selling of Obamacare.

According to Gruber:

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed.... Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass... Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not."

I'd like to point out that it's not people like me that Gruber is calling "stupid." The stupid people, in Gruber's view, are the supporters of Obamacare, who are presumably too stupid to see through the deception and fraud of Obamacare, as I was and many others were able to do. Gruber's remarks are an indictment of the Obamacare supporters, mostly Democrats who, in Gruber's view, were too stupid to see what was going on.

When I first wrote about the "Obama's health plan, a proposal of economic insanity" in 2009, I said that this plan would never be implemented because it would destroy markets and be economically disastrous. I compared it to President Richard Nixon's wage-price controls which were not as disastrous for the markets as Obama's health plan, but still wrecked the economy for close to a decade. I've repeated that many times since, and I'll discuss if further below.

However, let's turn to another Gruber quote, this one revealing financial fraud on the part of the Obamacare officials.

Obamacare advocates have repeatedly made statements to the effect, "Romneycare worked in Massachusetts, which proves that Obamacare can work across the country." However, another Gruber videotape says that's not true, because Romneycare was essentially bailed out by the federal government:

"We had a pretty powerful senator you may have heard of named Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy had managed to figure out a way to rip off the federal Medicaid program to the tune of about $500 million a year through a series of strange manipulations.

Here was Mitt Romney’s dirty little secret that we don’t like to talk about in Massachusetts, which is the way we passed our law is the federal government paid for it.

George Bush said why am I sending this Democrat $500 million a year, I’m taking it back. Mitt Romney to his credit went to George Bush and said, look, can we keep the money if we use it for universal coverage. And Bush to his credit said yes.

We realized that we can’t do this at the state level anymore. The feds are going to have to get involved. ...

[Kennedy was] delivering about $400 million a year in slush funds to our SafeNet hospitals, basically ripping off the federal Medicaid program."

So Romneycare was never self-sustaining, as Obamacare supporters have said, but was actually "ripping off the federal Medicaid program" to survive, according to Gruber. We now know that Obamacare was based on deception and fraud on many levels:

Daily Caller and Washington Examiner and New York Times (29-March-2012)

Massachusetts health care site finally up -- for $254 million

It's almost impossible to even imagine the astronomical sums that have been spent on the greatest IT disaster in world history, the HealthCare.gov web sites. As I wrote a year ago, this would have been a $10 million project if implemented in the private sector. (See "1-Dec-13 World View -- Obamacare: 500M lines of code, $500M, only 60% completed" from last year.)

But let's say that it should have cost $20 million. Then triple that amount because everything the government does is inefficient, and wastes enormous amounts of money, due to corruption, public sector labor unions, and cronyism. So that would be $60 million paid to the government for something that the private sector could do for $10 million.

According to some estimates, Healthcare.gov implementation costs are now in the billions of dollars.

On Saturday, open enrollment began, and the Massachusetts Obamacare web site, known as the Health Connector, came up. The cost for this one state web site? $254 million. And that was $80 million over budget.

This is almost unbelievable. Where is all this money going? There's no way that this is simply IT development expenses. There must be hundreds of millions of dollars being skimmed off by the contractors implementing Obamacare, and those contractors are going to be big Obama supporters and Democratic party contributors. My guess is that Obamacare contractors skimming off hundreds of millions of dollars and kicking it back to Obama administration cronies, to pay for the 2016 elections. That's the most credible explanation, until someone tells me where billions of development costs have been going. Boston Business Journal

The implementation of Obamacare

As soon as Obamacare was proposed, I called it a "proposal of economic insanity," and compared it to Nixon's wage-price controls, which is the same kind of proposal as Obamacare, at its core. I said that Obamacare would never be implemented, and I've repeated that many times.

Has Obamacare been implemented? It was supposed to be universal health coverage, and it certainly is not.

Nixon's wage-price controls were supposed to reduce inflation from 4% to 2%. That didn't happen. Instead, the economy was so screwed up with shortages and misallocations that the inflation rate rose to 12%. In other words, Nixon's wage-price controls destroyed the economy, and not only accomplished nothing, but were much worse than nothing.

Nixon's wage-price controls were popular because they promised something for nothing. They promised price controls that would keep prices of everything low. But then the shortages started occurring -- gasoline, heating oil, red meat, soybeans, and numerous other products. Nixon did everything he could to save the controls, granting special exemptions and perks to favored people, announcing frequent rule changes to resolve each new problem as it arose, and so forth.

Obamacare has followed the same path. People loved the promise of low-cost health care. But then shortages started showing up in the form of restricted networks. Skyrocketing insurance premiums are being ameliorated by federal subsidies that are a clearly in violation of the Obamacare law, and are being reviewed by Supreme Court, with a decision to be announced in June. (At least Nixon didn't try to reduce high prices with federal subsidies. That's an Obama invention.) And Obama has issued a wealth of rule changes and modifications to Obamacare to keep it from collapsing.

Obamacare supporters like to brag that there are 8 million more insured people now. That's a distortion of the situation. There are millions of "insured" people with deductibles of $5,000-$15,000. These millions of people are effectively uninsured, because they have to pay all of their medical expenses, in addition to the Obamacare insurance premiums. As a separate issue, millions of the newly insured are on Medicaid, and are unable to find doctors or hospitals that will accept Medicaid insurance. These people are also effectively uninsured. It's quite possible that there are fewer "effectively insured" people today than there were before Obamacare. (Paragraph modified. 16-Nov)

The heart of Nixon's wage-price controls were the mandates -- it was illegal to increase prices or wages by more than a certain amount.

The heart of Obamacare are the mandates -- the employer mandate that forces employers to provide insurance, and the individual mandate that forces people to purchase insurance.

Both of these have been eviscerated, for the time being. Because they were so unpopular, Obama was forced to effectively postpone them until 2015, under the assumption that Obamacare would be so wildly popular by 2015 that the mandates could be implemented then. Even so, millions of people with full-time 40 hour/week jobs have been forced into part-time 29.5 hour/week jobs by employers who can't afford to pay for health insurance for their employees. These mandates are at the core of Obamacare, just as wage/price mandates were at the heart of Nixon's controls, and without the mandates, both Nixon's controls and Obamacare become meaningless.

Nixon desperately did everything he could to save his wage-price controls, but in the end they were so unpopular and so disastrous that Congress forced them to be ended. They did enormous damage to the economy and accomplished nothing.

Similarly, Republicans are going to control both houses of Congress next year. My expectation is that some "compromise" will be found to weaken the mandates so much as to make them meaningless. In that case, both Obama and Republicans will be able to declare victory, and the only casualty will be the health care system which has been enormously damaged by Obama's "Obamacare" ego trip. But no matter. Obama will have his meaningless Obamacare legacy, and his cronies will have their hundreds of millions of dollars.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Nov-14 World View -- Obamacare and the 'stupidity of the American voter' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Nov-14 World View -- Ebola cluster growing in Mali, hundreds possibly exposed

U.S. scaling back troop presence in Liberia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Liberia announces end of Ebola state of emergency


A woman crawls toward the body of her sister as a burial team takes her away for cremation on October 10 in Monrovia, Liberia. The sister had died from Ebola earlier in the morning while trying to walk to a treatment center.  (Getty / CNN)
A woman crawls toward the body of her sister as a burial team takes her away for cremation on October 10 in Monrovia, Liberia. The sister had died from Ebola earlier in the morning while trying to walk to a treatment center. (Getty / CNN)

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced that Liberia's Ebola state of emergency, imposed in August, would not be extended. There is some evidence that the rate of growth of new Ebola cases in Liberia has begun to level off, justifying the end of the state of emergency, which was supposed to control the Ebola outbreak by curbing movement of people in worst-hit areas of the country.

In one particular region of Liberia, Lofa County, Ebola cases have plummeted. That's because Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) developed a strategy where health-care workers developed trusting relations with people in all the villages in the county, and were able to change behaviors.

However, it's hard for me, at least, to see any reason for less concern. According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) Ebola situation report, the number of cases in Liberia increased from 4665 to 6878, or an almost 50% increase, in the 17 days from October 25 to November 11. That's still pretty much the same rate of doubling every month, so I don't see what the difference is. And even if the number of cases in Liberia is leveling off a little, WHO reports that the number of new Ebola cases is still surging in Sierra Leona. BBC and Washington Post and WHO Ebola Situation Report, 14-Nov-2014

Ebola cluster growing in Mali, hundreds possibly exposed

It now appears that an Ebola cluster is growing in Bamako, the capital city of Mali. So far, there have been only four cases and four deaths. However, hundreds of other people may have been exposed.

The chain of transmission was started by a 70-year-old man living in a town along Guinea’s border with Mali. He was sick, but no one tested him for Ebola. He traveled by car to Bamako, where he was treated in a local hospital and died. Because of his religious status as a Grand Imam, his body was treated with a ritual washing ceremony, and then sent back to his home in Guinea for a traditional funeral. Hundreds of people were in contact with the body, and Ebola wasn't recognized until the nurse who treated him was diagnosed with Ebola.

Health workers in Mali are now doing contact tracing in a panicked state, hoping to stop the spread of Ebola in Mali, and keep it from joining Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea as entire countries in chaos, devastated by Ebola. We won't know until at least the end of the year whether they're successful. NPR and Reuters and NBC

U.S. scaling back troop presence in Liberia

The Pentagon doesn't plan to deploy the full 4,000 U.S. troops to Liberia as had been previously announced. Instead, the current 2,200 troops will grow to nearly 3,000 by mid-December.

The troops have been tasked with building 17 100-bed treatment centers for Ebola, and have already built a 25-bed facility for medical personnel who contract the disease. NBC News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Nov-14 World View -- Ebola cluster growing in Mali, hundreds possibly exposed thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Nov-14 World View -- Russia and Ukraine prepare for war in east Ukraine

Russia provides advanced weapons to Russians in east Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russian troops in East Ukraine bring along new advanced weapons systems


1RL232 'Leopard' battlefield surveillance radar system
1RL232 'Leopard' battlefield surveillance radar system

As we reported yesterday Russian combat troops, tanks and artillery have been pouring into East Ukraine for the last few days.

Photos taken by two different journalists indicate that these include new and advanced weapons systems -- the 1RL232 "Leopard" battlefield surveillance radar system and the 1RL239 "Lynx" radar system. These armored and weaponized radar systems are meant to operate just behind front lines to track the movement of enemy convoys, troops, incoming artillery fire, and even low-flying aircraft (helicopters or drones). They also act as a precision targeting system; in fact, the 1RL232 is capable of detecting targets in the air, land, and sea, which are up to 40 kilometers away.

A former Pentagon advisor estimates that there are currently around 7,000 Russian troops inside Ukraine, backed by "as many as 100 tanks are inside Ukraine now, more than 400 armored vehicles, and more than 150 self-propelled artillery and multiple rocket launchers." Another 40,000-50,000 Russian soldiers, the same source claims, are positioned at the border with even more tanks, armored vehicles and self-propelled artillery. Foreign Policy and Daily Beast

Ukraine and Russia prepare for full-scale war

The conflict in Ukraine between the Ukrainian army and Russian forces has been intensifying in the last few weeks, and with the infusion of hundreds of new Russian troops, along with advanced weapons systems, it appears likely that Russia is planning full-scale war in Ukraine. The objective would be to annex additional territory in east Ukraine, and probably to capture the port city of Mariupol, and continue to create a land bridge from Russia to the Crimean peninsula. Russia invaded Ukraine's Crimea earlier this year, and annexed the region to Russia.

Russia and Ukraine have both been threatening war with each other, and analysts are now concerned that the threat is going to become the reality, with the existing conflict spiraling into a full-scale invasion by the Russians, something that's quite possible, with both Russia and Ukraine in a generational Crisis era. LA Times and VOA and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Nov-14 World View -- Russia and Ukraine prepare for war in east Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Nov-14 World View -- Russian combat troops, tanks and artillery pour into Ukraine

Turkey's warships near Cyprus threaten Egypt and Israel

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russian combat troops, tanks and artillery pour into Ukraine


Armed personnel and unmarked military trunks arrive in Russian-controlled areas of east Ukraine (Reuters)
Armed personnel and unmarked military trunks arrive in Russian-controlled areas of east Ukraine (Reuters)

NATO says that fresh columns of Russian tanks, artillery and combat troops have been entering eastern Ukraine for the past few days. According to U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe:

"We have seen columns of Russian equipment – primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems – and Russian combat troops entering into Ukraine.

There is no question any more about Russia's direct military involvement in Ukraine."

Nato is confirming several days of reports by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) that there were unmarked convoys in the region.

As I wrote last week in "5-Nov-14 World View -- Russian troops approach Ukraine's border, threaten port city Mariupol", Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the Russian anti-government militias in east Ukraine, has vowed the intention to capture the Black Sea port city of Mariupol, with the plan for Russia to take control of all of southeastern Ukraine, putting a huge part of Ukraine from Russia to Crimea under Russian control. From there, the Russian army can continue on to Odessa.

Russia's defense ministry responded, "[We have] repeatedly stressed that there was and is no evidence supporting Brussels’ regular trumpeting over the alleged presence of Russian forces in Ukraine."

This is a comic statement in view of the events of the last few months. Russia claimed they weren't invading Crimea, just as Russian troops were invading Crimea. Russia claimed that they wouldn't annex Crimea, just before they annexed Crimea, a clear violation of international law. Russia claimed that there were no Russian troops in east Ukraine at a time when Russian troops were entering east Ukraine. On September 5, Russia signed an international peace agreement (the "Minsk protocols") in which they committed to a political compromise in east Ukraine, and then supported east Ukraine elections earlier this week in complete violation of their own agreement. Basically, anything that comes from Russian state media or Russia's government should be considered to be a lie. VOA and BBC and Russia Today

Turkey's warships near Cyprus threaten Egypt and Israel

Turkey's Navy has been authorized by the government to implement an aggressive set of rules of engagement for Turkish warships confronting Israeli or Egyptian warships in Cyprus's "exclusive economic zones" (EEZ) in the eastern Mediterranean, where Cyprus, Egypt and Israel have been conducting joint oil and gas explorations.

Cyprus has been divided into Greek Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus since a 1974 war between Greece and Turkey on Cyprus. Greek Cyprus is a member of the European Union, and is recognized as the legitimate government of all of Cyprus. Turkey provides administrative services to the Turkish portion of Cyprus. Turkey objects to oil and gas drilling by Greek Cyprus, and has sent warships to monitor these activities

I've written several articles on the Mideast realignment following the Gaza war, in particular the alliance between Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia versus Hamas plus Qatar plus Turkey. That realignment is also spreading into Europe. Because of Turkey's worsening relations with Israel and Egypt, the latter met with Greece and Greek Cyprus leaders to discuss security relations, and accused Turkey of "provocative actions" that were threatening security in the eastern Mediterranean.

However, Turkey is conducting its own seismic survey in retaliation for the Israeli, Greek Cypriot and Egyptian exploration, and Turkish Navy officials are saying that the warships aren't meant to be provocative, but are provided in support of Turkey's own research vessels. Furthermore, the naval activities were planned long ago. "The objective of the exercise is to improve cooperation with our allies and particularly to perform anti-submarine defense operations," according to the Turkish Navy's commander. Turkish Weekly and Defense News and Greek Reporter

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Nov-14 World View -- Russian combat troops, tanks and artillery pour into Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Nov-14 World View -- European high court clamps down on 'benefit tourism'

African football (soccer) federation expels Morocco over Ebola fears

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Vladimir Putin causes scandal with shawl for Xi Jinping's wife


Vladimir Putin puts blanket on Peng Liyuan, Xi Jinping's wife (Reuters)
Vladimir Putin puts blanket on Peng Liyuan, Xi Jinping's wife (Reuters)

Russia's president Vladimir Putin grabbed the spotlight on Tuesday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, when he put a shawl around the shoulders of the apparently chilly Peng Linyuan, the glamorous wife of China's president Xi Jinping. Peng accepted the shawl gracefully, but then took it off and accepted a coat provided by her assistant.

The gesture appears to have triggered a scandal, because it appears to show that Xi was being inattentive to his wife, and it also appears that Putin was hitting on Xi's wife. News of the gesture flooded Chinese web sites, as well as many international web sites. However, Chinese censors immediately clamped down, and within hours there was barely a trace of the story remaining in China. Russia Today and The Atlantic

European high court clamps down on 'benefit tourism'

As Britain's prime minister David Cameron campaigns to limit freedom of movement of EU citizens between different countries, the EU's highest court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has made a ruling that's viewed as undercutting Cameron's campaign. The court ruled that Germany could refuse to provide unemployment benefits to a migrant from another country under certain conditions. The case was brought by a Romanian woman who moved to Germany solely to receive welfare benefits, and then refused to take any of the jobs that were offered to her. Furthermore, since the woman didn't have "sufficient means of support" for herself and her 10-year-old son, she could be deported back to Romania.

Freedom of movement between nations is a core principle of the European Union. Cameron has proposed that Britain be permitted to put a cap on the number of EU citizens from other countries that could move to Britain each year. As we reported last week, Germany is threatening Britain with EU expulsion of Cameron implements the migrant cap. Cameron's opposition is now saying that Cameron's proposal is no longer needed, because "benefit tourism" has been curbed.

Cameron says that the ruling is a step in the right direction, and that he'll unveil his proposals by the end of the year. The Local (Germany) and Daily Mail (London)

African football (soccer) federation expels Morocco over Ebola fears

Morocco had been scheduled to host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations football (soccer) tournament from January 17 to February 8, but has repeatedly asked that the competition be postponed 6-12 months because of a fear that large crowds of visitors would bring Ebola to Morocco. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has just as repeatedly said that the dates of the tournament cannot be changed. So on Tuesday, Morocco confirmed that it will withdraw from hosting the tournament. At the same time, the CAF expelled Morocco from its membership.

There's been a scramble the last few weeks to find an alternate venue for the tournament, which is now only two months away. Possible replacements being discussed are Algeria, Angola, Egypt and Nigeria. Sun News (Lagos) and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Nov-14 World View -- European high court clamps down on 'benefit tourism' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Nov-14 World View -- Palestinian violence increases around Jerusalem

'Kiss of Love' demonstrations challenge Hindu nationalism in India

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's Xi Jinping snubs Japan's Shinzo Abe at Beijing meeting


Ice cold handshake Monday between Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe
Ice cold handshake Monday between Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe

Pollyannas have been hoping that finally Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would resolve their countries' differences over the islands in the East China Sea when then met on Monday. Abe had reportedly been looking forward to the meeting, but any hopes of détente were quickly dashed.

The encounter took place at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, being held in Beijing, attended by numerous world leaders. Xi violated protocol by keeping Abe waiting for Xi to greet him at Beijing's Great Hall of the People. Abe greeted Xi when they finally met and stiffly shook hands, but Xi didn't say a word, and ostentatiously frowned.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said wishfully: "Leaders (from the two nations) met and exchanged views frankly. I think there was big progress in freshly improving the economic and various relationships between Japan and China."

There have been private talks between Xi and Abe, but the outcome has not been reported. Reuters

Palestinian violence increases around Jerusalem

Fears are mounting that Israel may be facing a new Palestinian uprising on multiple fronts. Violence has been increasing since last June's abduction and murder of three Israeli teens, launching a spiral of violence that triggered the Gaza war, essentially in defeat for Hamas, and further violence after the war ended.

On Monday, a West Bank Palestinian stabbed and critically wounded a soldier in Tel Aviv. Hours later, a Palestinian tried to run over pedestrians, and then got out of his car and stabbed three of them. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. There have been several similar attacks -- stabbings and attempts to run over pedestrians -- in the last few weeks, and Hamas has been calling for more acts like that.

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again took a hard line:

"The terrorists want to drive us out from here. I promise they will not succeed. We will fight the incitement of the Palestinian Authority and we will act with determination against the rioters calling for Israel’s destruction. ...

To all those [Israeli Arabs] who are shouting against Israel and demonstrating against it — you are welcome to move to the Palestinian Authority or to Gaza, Israel won’t stand in the way.

But whoever stays here must know — we will stand in the way of terrorists and attackers. I have given instructions to use all of the means at our disposal, including passing new laws, including destroying terrorists’ homes, and other measures."

Palestinian Authority (PA/PLO) spokesman Hanan Ashrawi said:

"People are beginning to be provoked beyond endurance. We’ve been against violence from the beginning but Israel seems to think it’s a one-way street, that they can do it against Palestinians with impunity and if any Palestinian responds in the same way it’s called terrorism."

There's very much the feeling that the situation is spiraling out of control. Times of Israel and Foreign Policy and Independent (London)

Israeli lawyers file war crimes complaint in ICC against Mahmoud Abbas

The Israel Law Center (ILC) has filed a war crimes complaint in the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Palestinian Authority (PA/PLO/Fatah) chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The complaint states that the Fatah faction was responsible for numerous rocket attacks on Israeli cities during this past summer's Gaza war, making Abbas personally liable for the terrorist groups' criminal acts.

Neither the State of Palestine nor the Palestinian Authority is a member of the ICC. Nonetheless, the ILC says that the ICC has jurisdiction over Abbas because Abbas is a Jordanian citizen, and Jordan became a member of the ICC in 2002.

Abbas has been widely encouraged to have the State of Palestine become a member of the ICC, and then to bring war crimes charges against Israel. However, as we reported in July, Palestinian lawyers are saying that they are on solid grounds in some areas, but that Palestine would face much more severe war crimes charges for launching missiles at Israeli citizens. Jerusalem Post and Israel National News

'Kiss of Love' demonstrations challenge Hindu nationalism in India

A Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) organization is making threats against sponsors of "Kiss of Love" events, where couples embrace and kiss in public, which is considered to be indecent behavior by strict Hindu nationalists. According to the national president of a Hindutva youth outfit:

"We are not against love – I am a young man too. But we oppose any expression of love that goes against our traditions, against Hindu society. The country also has a law against indecent behavior in public. These are a few misguided youth who are affiliated with NGOs and want to attract media attention."

There have been some threats of violence against "Kiss of Love" participants. DNA India

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Nov-14 World View -- Palestinian violence increases around Jerusalem thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Nov-14 World View -- Israel raises alert level as protests surge

Jerusalem becomes epicenter of new protests

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Video of Israeli police shooting sparks outrage and protests


Israeli-Arab protesters clash with police in northern Israel on Sunday (AP)
Israeli-Arab protesters clash with police in northern Israel on Sunday (AP)

On Friday evening, an Israeli policeman shot and killed Kheir Hamdan, 22, an Arab-Israeli citizen living in the northern Israeli town of Kfar Kana. Police said that they shot Hamdan after he brandished a knife and slammed his fist on the windows of a police van, after a relative was arrested for using a stun grenade. Police said they feared they were in danger.

Palestinian witnesses to the event say that the police unit shot Hamdan dead, for no reason whatsoever, and that Hamdan neither held any knife, nor tried to attack the policemen.

Subsequent to the shooting, a surveillance video emerged that appeared to contradict the police story. Hamdan is seen banging with an object on the window of the police van containing Arab detainees. When a police officer tries to open the back door of the van to confront him, Hamdan lunges at him with the object, forcing the officer back inside. Hamdan begins to walk away, officers emerge from the van and one shoots him as he retreats.

At least 20 Arab-Israelis were arrested during riots in Kfar Kana on Saturday, during protests against the killing. Riots were also taking place in other Arab-Israeli cities.

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a hard line:

"We will take determined action against those who throw stones, firebombs and fireworks, and block roads, and against demonstrations that call for our destruction. We are not prepared to tolerate more demonstrations in the heart of our cities in which Hamas or ISIS flags are waved and calls are made to redeem Palestine with blood and fire, calling in effect for the destruction of the State of Israel.

“I have instructed the interior minister to use all means, including evaluating the possibility of revoking the citizenship of those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel."

Rioting continued on Sunday in Kafr Kana in northern Israel. Hundreds of extra police officers have been deployed to the district.

Israeli-Arab officials declared a nationwide strike on Sunday to protest the killing. Hundreds of students at Tel Aviv University and Haifa University staged demonstrations, with some changing "Israel is a terrorist state." Jewish Telegraphic Agency and International Middle East Media Center (Gaza) and Jerusalem Post

Israel raises national alert level, as protests continue in Jerusalem

As one studies world history, one remarkable fact becomes apparent: Almost every major "world war" affecting the West since Old Testament times has centered on or been heavily involved with Jerusalem as an epicenter. Jerusalem is a holy city to the four major religions of the West and Mideast: Judaism, Islam, Catholic/Protestant Christianity, and Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

As I've been reporting, there has been a clear trend line of increasing violence in and around Jerusalem, ever since the bodies of three Israeli teenage settlers were found weeks after they were abducted on June 10 by terrorists that Israelis believe were commissioned by Hamas. This was followed by a spiral of violence, as well as the Gaza war. Tensions and violence continue to increase almost every day, and violence between Jews and Arabs is the worst it's been in over a decade.

Tensions escalated sharply in Jerusalem last week, with increased violence between Palestinians and Israeli security police around the Temple Mount, the holiest site in the Jewish religion, which is part of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam (after Mecca and Medina). When Israel temporarily shut down access to the Al Aqsa mosque compound for two days last week, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas called it "tantamount to a declaration of war."

Israeli police raised alert levels nationwide on Sunday, as angry clashes and demonstrations took place across Israel.

Jordan's Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur said the ongoing tension over Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount compound was inflicting a "stab wound" on the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel. Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel last week.

There's a growing trend illustrated by the fact that almost every day there are new stories about international condemnation of Israel for the "occupation" of the West Bank and the Gaza war. Some of these condemnations are a revival of popular World War II anti-Semitism of the kind that led to the Holocaust. Others are genuine expressions of concern for the Palestinians. But either way, it seems that hostility to Israel grows every day, and Jerusalem may again be the epicenter of the next world war. Daily Star (Beirut) and Al Bawaba / Ma'an

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Nov-14 World View -- Israel raises alert level as protests surge thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Nov-14 World View -- Gorbachev warns of new cold war as Germany commemorates fall of Berlin Wall

The reunification of Germany

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Germany commemorates the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall


7000 illuminated balloons retrace the path of the Berlin Wall (DW)
7000 illuminated balloons retrace the path of the Berlin Wall (DW)

Some 7,000 illuminated balloons are lighting the streets of Berlin this weekend, retracing the path of a 15 km (9 mile) stretch of the Berlin Wall, whose 3.6 meter concrete slabs split Berlin into two for thirty years. Some 2 million people are filling the streets of Berlin this weekend, commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

When the German Nazis were defeated in 1945, the survivors wanted to make sure that the Nazis could never rise again to fight another war. So the four victorious allies divided Germany into four sectors, or zones of occupation: the American, British, French and Soviet zones. The city of Berlin, the Nazi capital city, which lay inside the Soviet zone, was also split into four zones. In the years that followed, the three western zones were reunited into the country of West Germany, leaving the Soviet zone to become East Germany.

It quickly became obvious that the two countries were as different as night and day. People in West Germany had freedom and a high standard of living under capitalism. People in Communist East Germany were in poverty and repressed, living under the Stalinist model of a command economy, found today only in Cuba and North Korea. During the years 1949-1961, some 2.5 million out of East Germany's 17 million people fled to West Germany, both humiliating the Communists and draining East Germany's best and brightest.

On August 12-13, 1961, the Communists ran a barbed wire fence down through Berlin, splitting it into two. When East and West Berliners work up on Sunday morning, August 13, 1961, they suddenly discovered that they could no longer cross over to the other side. Families were split. Neighborhoods were split. The barbed wire was soon replaced with cinder blocks, and the Berlin Wall was complete. Anyone trying to cross would be shot on sight. Deutsche-Welle and VOA

The reunification of Germany

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I was Technology Editor of InformationWeek magazine, and I happened to visit the Hannover Fair CeBIT, the largest computer show in the world. This was the first time that East Germans were able to go to this show, and their minds were blown. Like every other Communist country, Communist East Germany had been stuck in the 1950s. (This is because all transactions are controlled by government regulations, and you can easily prove mathematically that that as a country's population grows exponentially, the number of regulators required to manage the economy grows exponentially faster. And so communist countries have no choice but to freeze the economy, allowing no changes. China got around this problem essentially by setting up a fascist economy -- capitalism and pricing freedom, but repression and no political freedom.)

One Finanzgruppe manager at the show told me of the pain he felt when he spoke to visitors from East Germany:

"They have no understanding for business, and we have to help them. They visit here and within an hour they have a blackout -- it's too much for them. Their savings banks have no electronic devices to do the work. They do all their work with only mechanical devices."

Finanzgruppe was doing its duty willingly, like every bank in West Germany. It worked by finding a similar bank in the East and forming a partnership. They give the partner bank an IBM PC compatible computer, basic software including spreadsheet, data base, word processing, accounting software, and financial service programs. Finanzgruppe also provided training and consulting services. "They don't have to begin making payments for a year, and then only if they can," I was told.

It was inevitable that the two Germanys were going to reunite, and many people were frightened, including the French and the Poles and others that had been massacred by the Nazis. The German national anthem still began with the words, "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, Über alles in der Welt," meaning "Germany over everything. Germany over the world." I recall a TV interview of Henry Kissinger, born in 1923 as a German Jew, who said, "I will be able to die happy if I never live to see Germany reunited."

In fact, reunification happened rather quickly, like the fall of the Berlin Wall itself. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this was an Awakening era climax, like the resignation of Richard Nixon. A lot of people keep hoping that the same thing will happen today in Korea, reuniting the North and South. But this is a generational Crisis era, and Korea will not be reunited without a major war.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warns of a new cold war

Former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev is in Berlin this weekend, taking part in the commemoration ceremonies. Gorbachev is well respect and even loved in Germany because of something he DIDN'T do -- when the Berlin Wall started falling, he didn't send in troops to shoot everyone in sight. He let it happen bloodlessly.

So the Germans are likely to listen carefully to Gorbachev's warning to the West about causing another Cold War.

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. According to Gorbachev in a speech on Saturday, the leaders of the western world were intoxicated with euphoria of triumph, and they adopted anti-Russian policies that eventually led to the current crisis:

"Euphoria and triumphalism went to the heads of Western leaders. Taking advantage of Russia's weakening and the lack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership and domination of the world, refusing to heed words of caution from many of those present here. The events of the past months are consequences of short-sighted policies of seeking to impose one’s will and fait accompli while ignoring the interests of one’s partners."

Gorbachev said the West had made mistakes that upset Russia with the enlargement of NATO, with its actions in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Kosovo and Syria and with plans for a missile defense system. Referring to Ukraine, he said:

"To put it metaphorically, a blister has now turned into a bloody, festering wound. And who is suffering the most from what's happening? I think the answer is more than clear: It is Europe.

Instead of becoming a leader of change in a global world Europe has turned into an arena of political upheaval, of competition for the spheres of influence, and finally of military conflict. The consequence inevitably is Europe’s weakening at a time when other centers of power and influence are gaining momentum. If this continues, Europe will lose a strong voice in world affairs and gradually become irrelevant."

Gorbachev advised the West to tone down its anti-Russian rhetoric, but then he simply excused the rhetoric of Russia's president Vladimir Putin:

"Despite the harshness of his criticism of the West and the United States in particular, I see in his speech a desire to find a way to lower tensions, and ultimately to build a new basis for partnership."

Gorbachev's double-standard -- criticizing the West's rhetoric while excusing Putin's rhetoric -- illustrates the confusion in Gorbachev's message. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, he makes the same mistake that many others make in this generational Crisis era, by assuming that if everyone makes an effort to be nice and sweet, then everyone will compromise, just the way they did in the 80s and 90s, and that isn't going to happen. People in Russia and the West have become far more nationalistic than they were in the 80s and 90s, and not willing to compromise.

However, recall that before World War II, Russia was our bitter enemy; during WW II, Russia was our close ally; after WW II, Russia was our bitter enemy. As I've been saying for years, in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, Russia, India and Iran will be our allies, versus our enemies, China, Pakistan and the Sunni countries. Generational Dynamics predicts that these alliances are already determined, whether anyone follows Gorbachev's advice or not. Russia Today and VOA

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Nov-14 World View -- Gorbachev warns of new cold war as Germany commemorates fall of Berlin Wall thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Nov-14 World View -- Obama sharply escalates U.S. involvement in Iraq war

Chechnya refugees now fighting the Russians in Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.S. is doubling number of troops in Iraq, but it's not 'mission creep'


Iraqis fighting ISIS militants on October 25 (Reuters)
Iraqis fighting ISIS militants on October 25 (Reuters)

President Barack Obama announced late Friday afternoon, three days after the election, that he is authorizing 1500 new troops into Iraq, effectively doubling the number of authorized troops to 3,100.

What is more significant, however, is that while the previous troops were kept close to Baghdad for such tasks as protecting the embassy, the new troops will be out in the field in Anbar province, where they will be vulnerable to combat attacks and kidnapping. However, according to the White House, this new announcement is not "mission creep."

For reference, here's a selection of past statements by Obama:

"Jun 19: We're prepared to send a small number of additional American advisors, up to 300, to assess how we can best train, advise and support Iraqis security force forces going forward I think we always have to guard against mission creep, so let me repeat what I've said in the past -- American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again.

Sep 7: The notion that the U.S. should be putting boots on the ground is a profound mistake.

Sep 10: These American forces will not have a combat mission. We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.

Sep 12: My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.

Sep 12: But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.

Sep 18: The the American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission.

Sep 20: I won't commit our troops to fighting another ground war in Iraq or in Syria."

In Friday's announcement, the President insisted that this wasn't mission creep, and that they would be advising and assisting, but not fighting.

But these 1,500 new troops will be out in Anbar province, in the middle of the fighting. Are they really just going to sit there and watch as the fighting goes one?

It's worth pointing out that Obama has been consistently wrong about Iraq. In 2007, he opposed President George Bush's "surge," which turned out to be successful. In December 2011, he said Iraq was stable, and had no need for American troops at all. In June of this year, when he sent in 300 troops as advisors, he suggested that ISIS could be defeated with Iraqi troops and American air strikes.

At every step of the way, one analyst after another explained why Obama was wrong. And it now turns out that those analysts were right and Obama was wrong.

The comeuppance election

Today I heard one analyst say that at least 10,000 or so more troops would be needed for the operation in Anbar province to be effective, and he predicted that Obama would end up increasing the deployment to at least the level within a few months -- and that they would be combat troops.

I've told the following story many times, but it's worth repeating now. When I heard Obama campaigning in 2008, saying that with his election the earth would heal and the tides would recede, and making other ridiculous promises, I didn't think much of it, since politicians always say ridiculous things when they're campaigning, and then they pull them back after the election.

After the election, when I heard Obama continue saying the same things, I knew we were in trouble. And when I heard him say something to the effect that on January 21 the world will be a different place, I thought that if he really believed that, then he must be delusional.

Now, six years later, it's clear that he's delusional. His supporters make excuses for him, but the excuses don't explain the arrogance, the doubling down on every bad decision, the fact that every foreign policy decision has been a disaster, the attitude that he's the smartest guy in the room, in every room -- even though he's admitted he can't do his daughter's 7th grade math homework. It's gotten to the point where I almost dread it whenever he opens his mouth.

Everybody gets his comeuppance sooner or later, and on Tuesday Obama got his. It's a compliment to the American political system that we tolerate this kind of delusional arrogance only for so long, and then elections take over. This is in contrast to any number of countries where delusional leaders stay in office forever. Tuesday's election was a "comeuppance election" for Obama. He still hasn't learned anything, and he's still arrogantly doubling down on every bad decision, but at least the American political system has limited how much more damage he can do. We're really seeing the strength and brilliance of our Constitutional form of government.

In the meantime, there's little that we can do but watch as he stumbles, one step at a time, into a new American war in Iraq in the worst possible way. Reuters

U.S. cannot confirm claim that Russian tanks are entering Ukraine

According to Ukraine's military, Russia on Thursday sent a column of 32 tanks and truckloads of troops across Russia's border into Ukraine, to support the anti-government Russians in east Ukraine. This follows reports on Wednesday that Russian troops were approaching Ukraine's border.

However, the State Department said on Friday that it could not confirm the reports that the troops had crossed the border. State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said Russian battle tanks, armored vehicles and cargo trucks had been seen on Thursday at a rail yard about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from the border. Reuters and AFP

Chechnya refugees now fighting the Russians in Ukraine

In a surprise development, two battalions of Chechen veterans of late 1990s war between Russia and Chechnya are now fighting the Russians in Ukraine, under the Ukrainian flag. These are people who fought at the beginning of the second Russian-Chechen war and ended up in European countries as refugees.

Some of these Chechens had been going to Syria to join the jihadists fighting the Syrian regime because that was the only outlet available. But the Ukraine conflict has given them a new outlet, with the advantage that they can strike the Russian army and Russian interests directly. Jamestown

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Nov-14 World View -- Obama sharply escalates U.S. involvement in Iraq war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Nov-14 World View -- Russia's troubles rise as the ruble and oil prices fall

France adopts new law to stop young people from going to Syria to be jihadists

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's troubles rise as the ruble and oil prices fall


Underground gas storage facility in Ukraine (Bloomberg)
Underground gas storage facility in Ukraine (Bloomberg)

Oil markets fell sharply again on Thursday, with U.S. crude falling to $78 per barrel, and North Sea Brent Crude falling to $83 per barrel. Oil prices have been falling because of a combination of increased supply and decreased demand. Oil demand is falling because of a potential European recession and slowing Chinese growth. World oil production has been growing, particularly in the United States where oil from fracking has been surging. Saudi Arabia has been cutting prices and increasing production, apparently with the intention of trying to make U.S. oil production unprofitable, but in doing so they're pushing oil prices down further. Some analysts are predicting that it will reach $70 per barrel.

This is good news for people will cars, but it's bad news for Russia's government, which depends on oil income. Russia has budgeted for oil to be priced at $114 per barrel or more, an assumption that seemed fairly reasonably only a few months ago.

The value of the Russian ruble has also been plummeting, and fell 3.6% on Thursday, the biggest drop in six years. The fall in the ruble is mostly due to the fall in oil prices, but also due to the sanctions imposed by the West for Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Reuters and Bloomberg and Citibank

Russia loses influence in East Ukraine as economy weakens

The election last week by the East Ukraine Russians of leaders of the self-designated Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic, is just one sign that Russia's president Vladimir Putin is losing influence in East Ukraine. Because of its own economic problems, Russia is unable to provide much financial aid to Donetsk and Lugansk, where the economic situation is critical.

Schoolteachers and other government officials have not been paid since July, when Ukraine's government in Kiev cut off funding. State-owned companies in Donetsk and Lugansk have no idea how they're going to survive. In many villages there's no power, little water, and few medications. The real test will come in winter.

Even worse, disputes between leaders in Donetsk and Lugansk are growing, the citizen militias are disintegrating. Today, there's no real leader with whom anyone -- Moscow, Kiev, Nato -- can negotiate. Der Spiegel

France adopts new law to stop young people from going to Syria to be jihadists

More than 1,000 young people from France have joined jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, more than from any other country. Entire families have joined jihadist movements, including about 100 young French women. Even upper class families are shocked when their children suddenly disappear and are later discovered in Syria, the boys to be used as cannon fodder and the girls to marry the jihadists.

France on Tuesday adopted an anti-terrorism law that will impose a travel ban on anyone suspected of planning to wage jihad. It also brings in punishment for “lone wolves” who plan terrorist attacks on their own, and allows authorities to block entry to any EU citizen or their relatives if their presence in France constitutes a threat. Al Arabiya and Der Spiegel

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Nov-14 World View -- Russia's troubles rise as the ruble and oil prices fall thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Nov-14 World View -- Pakistan mob lynches Christian couple over alleged blasphemy charge

Jordan recalls Israeli envoy as violence increases in Jerusalem

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan mob lynches Christian couple over alleged blasphemy charge


Site of the brick kiln where the Christian couple was burned to death (Express)
Site of the brick kiln where the Christian couple was burned to death (Express)

A poor Christian couple who worked in a brick kiln were accused on Monday by a co-worker of having burned pages of the Koran. No evidence was presented. On Tuesday, a local cleric used loudspeakers of his mosque to demand that his community to punish the couple. A mob gathered outside the couple's house, dragged them out, and beat them. They locked up the couple for two days, attacked the woman with shovels, then tortured the husband, and threw both of them into the brick kiln where they had worked, letting them burn to death.

The police had two days to stop all this, but did nothing until after the couple had been killed.

I've reported on several similar cases over the years. A completely unsupported charge of blasphemy is made, and the accused is murdered or lynched.

In January 2011, Salman Taseer, a high ranking Pakistani official, was assassinated by one of his own bodyguards. Taseer had publicly opposed Pakistan's blasphemy law, and so Taseer himself was committing blasphemy. Taseer was shot in broad daylight on an Islamabad street by Malik Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the "Elite Force" that were supposed to protect him. ( "5-Jan-11 News -- Pakistan's crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated")

The next day, when Qadri was brought to court to face charges of having assassinated Taseer, the other lawyers showered him with roses. A statement by 500 Pakistan religious scholars praised Qadri for keeping alive a "tradition of 1,400 years in Islam" which requires the killing of anyone committing an act of blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed.

In September 2012, a mentally retarded 14 year old Christian girl in a suburb of Islamabad was arrested for blasphemy, accused by a Muslim cleric of burning papers containing verses from the Koran. She was later released when it turned out that the cleric had manufactured evidence, but she and her family had to be relocated because of threats against them.

The application of blasphemy laws in Pakistan is extremely irrational.

The cases that make international news are when blasphemy laws are used to target Christians, but in fact that's a small percentage of such cases. Blasphemy laws are used by Muslims to target other Muslims in well over 90% of the cases, usually by Sunni Muslims targeting Shia Muslims or Sufis or Ahmadis. Thousands of Pakistanis have been jailed, tortured or killed by means of the blasphemy laws. But what's really remarkable is ordinary Pakistanis accept this, and they refuse to speak out against it.

This is exactly the kind of behavior that I've frequently described in Generation-Xers in America, where thousands of Gen-X financial engineers created the financial crisis with the purpose of defrauding hated Boomers, without being investigated or sent to jail, because Gen-Xers refuse to blame other Gen-Xers for anything, even serious crimes. It's this refusal to blame other Gen-Xers for crimes that characterizes this generation today versus the Boomers, and it's exactly the same kind of behavior we're seeing in the Pakistani population today.

As I explained in "The Legacy of World War I and the Holocaust", this is also the same behavior that led to the 1930s Holocaust. Germany's Lost Generation (the generational predecessor of today's Generation-X) hated the previous Missionary Generation just as much as today's Gen-Xers hate the previous Boomer Generation.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these situations occur in all times and places throughout history, and result in history's greatest catastrophes. In each case, the generational conflict morphs into a political conflict, as people in every generation are forced to choose sides in the generational debate. In 1930s Germany, it was the Christians blaming the Jews for German humiliation in World War I. In America in the mid-2000s, it was the Democrats blaming the Republicans for the Nasdaq crash in 2000. In Pakistan, it's the Sunnis blaming the Shias. The result is always the same: catastrophe. Daily Times (Pakistan) and BBC

Jordan recalls Israeli envoy as violence increases in Jerusalem

Tensions escalated sharply in Jerusalem on Wednesday, as Jordan recalled its Israeli envoy, citing increased violence between Palestinians and Israeli security police around the Temple Mount, the holiest site in the Jewish religion, which is part of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam (after Mecca and Medina). When Israel temporarily shut down access to the Al Aqsa mosque compound for two days last week, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas called it "tantamount to a declaration of war."

Jordan's announcement was followed by further clashes, and a terrorist act, when a Palestinian drove his van into a crowd of bystanders, and then got out of his vehicle and began attack people with a crowbar. He was shot and killed by police. Hamas has claimed credit for the terrorist attack. A similar incident occurred two weeks ago, raising concern that this will be a new pattern of repeating terrorist attacks.

There is a clear trend line of increasing violence in and around Jerusalem, ever since the bodies of three Israeli teenage settlers were found weeks after they were abducted on June 10 by terrorists that Israelis believe were commissioned by Hamas. This was followed by a spiral of violence, as well as the Gaza war. Tensions and violence continue to increase almost every day, and violence between Jews and Arabs is the worst it's been in over a decade. This has led some Israeli officials to believe that a "third intifada" is here, and that Palestinians will increasingly attack Jews in the months to come. Irish Times and Jewish Press

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Nov-14 World View -- Pakistan mob lynches Christian couple over alleged blasphemy charge thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Nov-14 World View -- Russian troops approach Ukraine's border, threaten port city Mariupol

Hezbollah leader brags about Syria war despite spillover into Lebanon

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russian troops approach Ukraine's border, threaten port city Mariupol


Russian troops may be planning an attack on the port city of Mariupol, linking Crimea with Russia, and remaining poised to continue to Odessa
Russian troops may be planning an attack on the port city of Mariupol, linking Crimea with Russia, and remaining poised to continue to Odessa

Nato says that regular Russian troops in Russia are approaching the Ukraine border, after Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the Russian anti-government militias in east Ukraine, has vowed the intention to capture the Black Sea port city of Mariupol.

Russia's state-sponsored media is saying:

"Russia has repeatedly stated that it is not a party to the Ukrainian internal conflict and said that all of the country's actions are in accordance with the international law."

It's true that Russia has repeatedly claimed those things, but in each case those claims turned out to be lies. Russia claimed they weren't invading Crimea, just as Russian troops were invading Crimea. Russia claimed that they wouldn't annex Crimea, just before they annexed Crimea, a clear violation of international law. Russia claimed that there were no Russian troops in east Ukraine at a time when Russian troops were entering east Ukraine. On September 5, Russia signed an international peace agreement (the "Minsk protocols") in which they committed to a political compromise in east Ukraine, and then supported east Ukraine elections earlier this week in complete violation of their own agreement.

The winner of those east Ukraine elections was Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, said "Ukraine has to understand that the (Donetsk People’s Republic) is already another state," essentially declaring war on Ukraine's government. On the same day, Soviet army veteran Igor Plotnitsky became leader of the neighboring self-proclaimed People's Republic of Luhansk, and he appealed to east Ukraine regions to secede and create a new state of Novorossiya.

As the Russian military buildup proceeds, Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko has ordered army Ukrainian reinforcements to key eastern and southeastern Ukraine cities. However, no one seriously believes that Ukraine's army can withstand an invasion by Russia. BBC and LA Times and Ria Novosti (Moscow) and AFP/Reuters

Russia uses Hungary to put ethnic Rusins in play against Ukraine

Although Hungary has been a member of the European Union, the relationship has been extremely contentious because of discrimination against Jews and Roma citizens, and because of laws favored by Hungary's premier Viktor Orbán to limit free speech and limit the freedom of Hungary's central bank. Hungary's government has been growing increasingly pro-Russian, and Orbán's relationship with Russia's president Vladimir Putin has been getting closer.

Putin has been taking advantage of the closer relationship with Hungary as a cover to promote a secessionist movement in western Ukraine of the Rusin (or Carpatho-Rusin) ethnic group. Orbán's government promotes itself as a defender of the Rusins against Ukrainians, and a strong secessionist movement would destabilize Ukraine in the west, giving Russian troops a freer hand in the east, with the continuing threat of continuing to dismember Ukraine completely. Jamestown and Orthodox Holiness

Hezbollah leader brags about Syria war despite spillover into Lebanon

Shia Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, appearing on nationwide television in Lebanon on Tuesday, bragged about entering Syria's war on the side of the Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad, and tried to downplay the increasing Shia versus Sunni sectarian violence that's been spilling over into Lebanon, particularly along the northern border with Syria.

Tuesday is Ashura, the most important date in the Shia calendar. It commemorates the battle of Karbala in 680, which led to the historic split between Sunni and Shia Islam. Nasrallah tried to cool sectarian tensions in Lebanon by playing them down:

"There is an error in diagnosing the nature of the conflict in the region, which is not a Sunni-Shiite conflict.... We, the Shiites, should not be dealing with this conflict as being sectarian, our battle is not with the Sunnis, but with American hegemony, Israeli schemes, and Takfiris [Muslims accused of apostasy]."

Hezbollah used to be popular with both Sunnis and Shias, many of whom view the militia as the principal force in the "resistance" against Israel. But Hezbollah's invasion of Syria to bolster al-Assad's forces has reduced the popular view of Hezbollah as a sectarian Shia militia, backed by Iran, joining with a regime that's massacring innocent Sunni women and children in Syria.

During his speech, Nasrallah tried to regain popular support by speculating on a Hezbollah attack on Israel:

"Israelis are saying in the media that they would have to close down Ben-Gurion Airport and the Haifa port and yes, that’s true.

You should close all of your airports and your ports because there is no place in the land of occupied Palestine that the resistance’s rockets cannot reach. ...

They know that going to war with the resistance will be very costly because we are more determined, stronger, more experienced ... and we are capable of achieving such accomplishments."

Daily Star (Beirut) and Naharnet (Beirut) and CS Monitor

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Nov-14 World View -- Russian troops approach Ukraine's border, threaten port city Mariupol thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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4-Nov-14 World View -- Germany threatens Britain with EU expulsion over the migrant issue

Mystery drones fly over France's nuclear sites

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Germany threatens Britain with EU expulsion over the migrant issue


Polish jobseekers boarding buses to the UK (Getty)
Polish jobseekers boarding buses to the UK (Getty)

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is warning Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron that Britain might have to leave the European Union if Cameron insists on adopting quotas that would limit the number of migrant workers coming to Britain.

German sources are saying that if Cameron proceeded with his plan, then:

"There will be no going back. Should Cameron persist [in this plan], Chancellor Angela Merkel would abandon her efforts to keep Britain in the EU. With that a point of no return would be reached. That would be it then."

It should be noted that this isn't about migrants from Syria or northern Africa, which is an entirely different issue. This is about migrants who are EU citizens living in eastern Europe, mainly in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. These and other east European states joined the EU in 2004-2007, but restrictions on migrant labor did not fully disappear until January 2014.

A big driver of east-to-west migration is the big gap in average wages. In 2012, an average working in Bulgaria or Romania got a little over $4,000 a year, while the figure was $33,000 for UK and Denmark and $27,000 for Germany.

Cameron is also concerned about "benefit tourism," where jobless migrants shop around from country to country to find the best social welfare and unemployment benefits.

Cameron is fighting a political battle in Britain, over the rise of UKIP, the UK Independence Party, which favors Britain leaving the EU and has been gaining popularity.

But for Merkel, there is no possible compromise on this issue. British quotas on EU migration would call into question the European Union's "four freedoms" -- the free movement of people, goods, services and capital -- that form a significant part of the foundation for European unity. Der Spiegel and BBC and Independent (Ireland)

Mystery drones fly over France's nuclear sites

Officials in France, which gets more than two-thirds of its electricity from nuclear power, the highest proportion in the world, are concerned about a flurry of mystery drones that in the last month have flown over 15 of the country's 19 nuclear power plant sites. On Friday of last week, there were drone flights at five separate nuclear sites.

There is the fear of a security risk. The drones are small, of the kind that anyone can purchase for a few hundred dollars, but a terrorist might be tempted to launch a drone with an explosive payload. However, officials say that the drones present no danger to the public, since France's nuclear sites have been prepared for possible earthquakes or plane crashes, which presumably would be worse than an exploding drone.

However, a Greenpeace spokesman, while denying that Greenpeace had anything to do with the drones, warned that a medium-sized bomb on a drone could hit cooling pools that hold radioactive material.

French authorities are searching for the perpetrators who, if found, will face fines of up to 75,000 euros and year in prison. AP and Digital Journal

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Nov-14 World View -- Germany threatens Britain with EU expulsion over the migrant issue thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Nov-14 World View -- Multiple Taliban groups claim credit for suicide bombing in Pakistan

Journalist finds young Iranians very friendly to America

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Multiple Taliban groups claim credit for suicide bombing in Pakistan


Flag-lowering ceremony at the Wagah border crossing between India and Pakistan
Flag-lowering ceremony at the Wagah border crossing between India and Pakistan

At least 45 people were killed and over 120 injured on Sunday when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Wagah Pakistan border crossing to India, near Lahore. The suicide bomber walked past four check posts. When he was finally stopped at a check post, he blew himself up. Some reports indicate that a gas cylinder exploded.

Wagah is the only border crossing between India and Pakistan. The crossing closes every day at sundown, at which time there's a very colorful flag-lowering ceremony in which both Indian and Pakistani rangers participate. Hundreds of people, including families with women and children gather on both sides of the border to see the display of military pageantry. The suicide bomb was timed to explode when crowds of people on the Pakistan side were leaving the ceremony, heading for the parking lot. No Indians were injured.

The Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP) has been an umbrella organization for numerous terror groups in Pakistan. As we've reported many times, the TTP has been disintegrating, as a number of groups have declared independence, and some have even deserted al-Qaeda, and have declared allegiance to the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). ( "6-Oct-14 World View -- ISIS influence spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban pledges support")

The disintegration was on display on Sunday, as three different groups claimed responsibility for the Wagah bombing. One TTP faction said they carried it out to avenge the killing of a Taliban leader in a U.S. drone strike last year.

The Jamat-ul-Ahrar faction, which broke away from the main TTP leadership in September, said THEY were responsible, to avenge the ongoing Pakistan army military action against the Taliban on the border with Afghanistan at the opposite end of Pakistan from Lahore. A third militant faction, Jundullah, has also claimed credit.

There is certain to be a major political backlash because of Sunday's bombing. According to reports, intelligence sources had intercepted intelligence about a possible attack at the Wagah border crossing, and they had issued an alert on Saturday to Wagah border authorities. Security at the Wagah border had been increased, but that was not enough to avert the attack. The News (Pakistan) and Samaa TV (Pakistan)

Abu Nimr tribes blames Iraq government for massacre by ISIS

As we reported yesterday, the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) has been specially targeting the Abu Nimr tribe, one of the few Sunni tribes that have been actively fighting against the ISIS as it approaches Baghdad. Mass killings have killed 322 members of Abu Nimr. More than 50 bodies were found in a water well, while 65 members have been kidnapped, and are being held as hostages. The latest attack occurred on Sunday morning, when at least 50 were killed.

Now Abu Nimr leaders are claiming that the Shia government in Baghdad encouraged them to fight ISIS, promised them weapons that never came, and then left them to be massacred. They are claiming that they provided coordinates for U.S. air strikes, but they were ignored.

This experience may affect the American strategy. The planned strategy of the Obama administration is to repeat the success of the Bush administration "surge," when the army got cooperation from Sunni tribes, including Abu Nimr, to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq. ISIS will use the Abu Nimr massacre to convince other Sunni tribes not to attempt to cooperate with either Baghdad or the U.S. BBC

Journalist finds young Iranians very friendly to America

CNN correspondent Anthony Bourdain recently returned from a trip to Iran, and described his experiences on the Fareed Zakaria show on CNN:

"Yeah, and an incredible experience. What we saw inside Iran was extraordinary, heartbreaking, confusing, inspiring, and very, very different than the Iran I expected from always - you know, from looking at it from afar, from a geopolitical sense, what we read on the news, what we know from that long and very contentious relationship we've had as nations.

[The most surprising thing was to] walk down the street as an American and have total strangers constantly saying where are you from? America? You know, have you tried our food? Thank you for coming. I'm so -- just outgoing, friendly, welcoming to strangers to a degree that we really experience very, very few places and I'm talking Western Europe and allied nations. We were really - we'd been told to expect that, but you're thrown by it when you face it everywhere. Our producer was -- it was his birthday and we all went out with our local crew to a very crowded restaurant, traditional Persian music and Iranian families eating and someone found out that my producer -- it was his birthday, the entire restaurant sang "Happy Birthday" to him and they presented him with a cake. It was a very different Iran than I had been led to expect or could have imagined.

[You] see how careful people are, of course, and they are very cognizant that the -- what's OK right now might not be OK in five minutes as far as behavior. But it feels a lot like Barcelona for a few minutes at a time, and we went at one point -- hung out in a parking lot in Tehran late at night with all these young Iranian kids who collect American muscle cars and basically hang out and order up pizza and rev their engines and collect, you know, mustangs and challengers, and for a minute you can be forgiven for thinking it's southern California. The kids like any other - It's a very young country, of course. So the disconnect between the hard- liners and the people who run and control the country and the Iran you see and feel on the street is very jarring and I think people are - it's just going to blow people's minds when they see it."

Reading this, you can see the reason why I've been saying for ten years that Iran was going to become our ally. It actually began to be obvious in the early 2000s, when college students began having pro-American demonstrations.

Iran is in a generational Awakening era, just one generation past the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution and the Iran/Iraq war that climaxed in 1988. The generation of children that grew up after the war are rebelling against their parents, just as American children rebelled against their parents in the 1960s. Iran is having a "generation gap," just as America had a generation gap splitting the survivors of World War II from their children, the Boomers who grew up after the war.

Iran's hardliners are the survivors of the Great Islamic Revolution. As each year passes, there are fewer of them, and more of the younger generation, which likes the west, and has nothing in particular against Israel.

As I've reported many times ( "10-Jun-14 World View -- Iran's Supreme Leader complains young people are not revolutionary enough"), the attitudes of young people are causing panic among the old geezer hardliners. They know that the hardline Islamic revolution will not survive in anything like its present form when they're gone. CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Nov-14 World View -- Multiple Taliban groups claim credit for suicide bombing in Pakistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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2-Nov-14 World View -- Boko Haram ridicules Nigeria's government, says abducted girls are married

Wall Street posts hyperbolic five day surge

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS slaughters hundreds from the Abu Nimr tribe in Iraq


Iraqi security forces guard a checkpoint in Ramadi, Anbar province. (Reuters)
Iraqi security forces guard a checkpoint in Ramadi, Anbar province. (Reuters)

As the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) continues to close in on Baghdad Iraq, in recent weeks they've been specially targeting the Abu Nimr tribe. Reports during the last week indicate that hundreds of tribe members have been abducted and killed in a mass slaughter. It's not known how many more of the 10,000 Abu Nimr people have also been killed.

Abu Nimr is a Sunni tribe that developed a reputation for having stood up to Saddam Hussein. In the years after the 2003 Iraq war, Abu Nimr was one of the few Sunni tribes to fight against Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Later, during the "Anbar Awakening" and the American troop "surge," Abu Nimr worked with the Americans to expel the Sunni terrorists.

Recently, Abu Nimr has been one of the few Sunni tribes fighting ISIS, but they've been running out of ammunition, and Baghdad has refused to resupply them, because the Shia government fears that the Sunni tribes will turn against them later.

ISIS has been changing its tactics since the American-led bombing raids have begun. ISIS took control of much of Iraq by means of large sweeping operations. But because of the bombings, ISIS fighters now travel in small convoys, and try to stay out of side by hiding in villages. ISIS depends for its success on the cooperation of Sunni tribes in Anbar province, but Abu Nimr was one of the holdouts. Guardian (London) and CNN and Musings on Iraq

Wall Street posts hyperbolic five day surge

Wall Street stocks surged hyperbolically again last week, with the Dow increasing by almost 600 points, and the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations) once again approaching the astronomically high value of 19, putting the stock market into an enormous bubble. The historical average for the P/E ratio is 14, and every 30 years or so it falls to the range 5-6, which is where it was last in 1982. A fall in the P/E ratio to 5-6 again will push the Dow down below 3000.

Friday's surge particularly was apparently caused by a shock announcement by the Bank of Japan that they would start a new massive "money-printing" program in the form of quantitative easing, similar to the program that the American Federal Reserve has been pursuing. It's widely believed that the Fed's QE program, which ran as high as $85 billion per month, just pumped money into the stock market, benefiting the rich people and the Washington elites, without improving the income of ordinary people.

It's now assumed that the BOJ's new QE program will have the same effect.

However, the surprise BOJ announcement was a shock to individual investors who been expecting a further dive, and had a portfolio of short sales (essentially betting that the stock share prices would continue to fall). According to stock market guru Art Cashin:

"And anybody who was bearish, is now scrambling to cover. ... What we're seeing is a massive global short-covering. That's why stocks are rallying."

Cashin added that short-covering rallies seldom last long. However, other analysts point out that the European Central Bank may make a similar announcement soon, pushing the stock market bubble even more enormous.

Generational Dynamics predicts that, like all bubbles, this bubble will burst, in the context of a global stock market panic and financial crisis, pushing the Dow back down to the 3000 level. CNBC and Reuters

Boko Haram ridicules Nigeria's government, says abducted girls are married

Few really believed the Nigerian government claim on October 17 that they had struck a deal with Boko Haram to release the 219 schoolgirls abducted on April 16 from the town of Chibok. ( "18-Oct-14 World View -- Nigerians skeptical of deal with Boko Haram to release abducted schoolgirls").

But now Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has appeared in a video that mocks and ridicules the government, saying that that the girls have been converted to Islam and have all been married off. The video is a double humiliation for Nigeria's government because it had claimed the Shekau had been killed by the army.

Excerpts from the transcript translation of Shekau are as follows:

"Without wasting time, we hereby send a message to the tyrants of Nigeria and other infidels as well as their world tyrants as a whole in Hausa language.

You people should understand that we only obey Allah, we tread the path of the Prophet. We hope to die on this path and get eternal rest in our graves, rise up in bliss before our Lord and enter Paradise (quotes from the Koran). Our goal is the Garden of Eternal Bliss. May Allah protect us. ...

Therefore I tell you (that) we have not made ceasefire with anyone. Only battle, hitting, striking and killing with gun which we long for like tasty meal. This what we believe in and fight for. ...

When did we release Chibok schoolgirls that we seized, those that Shekau who is now talking, seized, brought them and kept them in the place he chose for more than six months now. ...

Surprisingly, if the women of Chibok, I mean the mothers of the Chibok schoolgirls and their fathers, if you know the condition your daughters are in today it could lead some to convert to Islam and some to die from grief.

Don’t you know the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls have converted to Islam? They have now memorised two chapters of the Koran. They have seen themselves in the Books of Luke and John that Christians have corrupted the Bible. Girls from Chibok confessing Islam is the true religion! A six-grader, liars.

We married them off. They are in their marital homes. (Laughter) ...

What is negotiation? We did not negotiate with anyone. It is a lie. It is a lie. We will not negotiate. What is our business with negotiation? Allah said we should not."

Premium Times (Nigeria) and Independent (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Nov-14 World View -- Boko Haram ridicules Nigeria's government, says abducted girls are married thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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1-Nov-14 World View -- Burkina Faso, critical U.S. ally, in government meltdown

U.N. report says that jihadists are flooding into Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Burkina Faso, critical U.S. ally, in government meltdown


Burkina Faso is a strategically located U.S. ally
Burkina Faso is a strategically located U.S. ally

After several days of violent anti-government protests, including burning down the parliament and several government buildings in the capital city Ouagadougou, protesters are cheering euphorically following the announcement that president Blaise Compaoré finally agreed to step down after 27 years in power. Compaoré issued a statement:

"In order to preserve the democratic gains, as well as social peace, I declare a power vacuum to allow the establishment of a transition leading to free and fair elections within a maximum of 90 days. For my part, I think I have fulfilled my duty."

Compaoré's whereabouts are unknown. Since there's no clear-cut constitutional successor, army chief Gen. Honoré Nabéré Traoré announced that he would take power. There are suspicions that the army may have engineered the resignation so that the army could take power.

Burkina Faso is an important U.S. ally, hosting a U.S. base in Ouagadougou, operating since 2007, which serves as a hub for a U.S spying network in the region, with spy planes departing from the base to fly over Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara, tracking fighters from the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

What triggered the riots was the plan by Compaoré to amend Burkina Faso's constitution so that he could continue in power past the current term limit date of 2015. It's thought that Compaoré's ouster will serve as a warning to Africa's other military leaders who have stayed in power for decades, and who are also considering revising the constitution. These include Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, José Eduardo dos Santos, president of Angola, Paul Biya, president of Cameroon, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, all of whom have been power since the 1980s.

Note: If any reader is familiar with the history of Burkina Faso and can help me identify the major tribal wars (generational crisis wars) of the last century or two, I would appreciate the help.

ABC News and Washington Post and Nigerian Guardian News

U.N. report says that jihadists are flooding into Syria

According to a new United Nations report, foreign jihadists are flooding into Syria and Iraq to join jihadist terror groups at the rate of over 1,000 per month, which about 15,000 there already. They're arriving from over 80 countries around the world, and they're joining the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) and the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), as well as other al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago ( "19-Oct-14 World View -- Forecasting the Ebola endgame and Global Risk"), my view is that the Syria/Iraq conflicts have passed the point of no return, and that they will not be settled before they spiral into a larger regional war between Sunni and Shia Muslims. This is in contrast to other brief Mideast wars of the past few years, such as the recent Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza.

As I've been writing for two years, the reason that Sunni jihadists are flooding into Syria is that Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad has flattened entire Sunni villages with Russia's heavy weapons, he's killed children by sending missiles into exam rooms and bedrooms, he's killed dozens with sarin gas, and he's killed countless more with barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metals, and chlorine gas. In addition, he's used electrocution, eye-gouging, strangulation, starvation, and beating on tens of thousands of prisoners on a massive "industrial strength" scale, and does with complete impunity, and in fact with encouragement and support from Russia and Iran.

Also to blame is Russia's president Vladimir Putin, who has been supplying al-Assad with the heavy weapons he needs to continue his genocide of the Sunni civilians. This makes Putin a war criminal.

However, many analysts are blaming U.S. president Barack Obama for the rise of ISIS. According to these analysts, the Obama administration made three fundamental mistakes:

Guardian (London) and Reuters and The National (UAE)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Nov-14 World View -- Burkina Faso, critical U.S. ally, in government meltdown thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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