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Web Log - August, 2020


30-Aug-20 World View -- South China Sea: Vietnam prepares new lawsuit against China, as China launches missile barrage

South China Sea tensions soar after China launches missile barrage

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

South China Sea tensions soar after China launches missile barrage

U-2 spy plane (Reuters)
U-2 spy plane (Reuters)

China's military launched a barrage of ballistic missiles into the South China Sea on Tuesday, triggering a further escalation of tensions between China and the United States.

China's state media said that they were DF-21D and DF-26 missiles, which China developed specifically to target moving American aircraft carriers, with the ability to adjust their path after launch to follow the moving carrier. According to the Global Times, "China's DF-26 and DF-21D are the world's first ballistic missiles capable of targeting large and medium-sized vessels, earning them the title of 'aircraft carrier killers.'"

The missile launches set off a flurry of statements on both sides.

According to a Pentagon statement:

"Conducting military exercises over disputed territory in the South China Sea is counterproductive to easing tensions and maintaining stability. The PRC's [China's] actions, including missile tests, further destabilize the situation in the South China Sea."

According to Chinese military commentators:

"This is China’s response to the potential risks brought by the increasingly frequent incoming US warplanes and military vessels in the South China Sea. China doesn’t want the neighboring countries to misunderstand Beijing’s goals. ...

The US continues to test China’s bottom line in Taiwan and South China Sea issues, and this pushed China to showcase its military strength to let Washington know that even US aircraft carriers cannot flex their full muscle near China’s coast."

The "incoming US warplanes and military vessels" phrase refers to an American U-2 spy plane sent on Tuesday into an area illegally claimed by China, and a Freedom of Navigation operation (FONO) by the US guided missile destroyer USS Mustin near the Paracel Islands, which are illegally claimed by China.

Laughably, when the FONO operation ended, the Chinese claimed that they had driven the Mustin away:

"The USS Mustin, a US Navy guided missile destroyer, trespassed into the China's territorial waters in the [Paracel] Islands on Thursday, and the [Chinese military] dispatched naval and air forces to track, identify and warn it leave, said Senior Colonel Li Huamin, a spokesperson.

The US ignored the rules of the international law, repeatedly stirred up troubles in the South China Sea, exercised navigational hegemony in the name of "freedom of navigation," seriously undermined China's sovereignty and security interests, and severely sabotaged the international navigation order in the South China Sea, Li said.

China has undisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters in the region, and the command troops are always on high alert to resolutely protect national sovereignty and safeguard peace and stability in the region of the South China Sea, Li said."

You know, Dear Reader, writing these articles over the years, I've had to deal with so many trolls, from China, Russia, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere, and after a while one just gets tired of the bullshit. China does not have "indisputable sovereignty" over the islands. They have no sovereignty whatsoever. The US plus everyone in the region is disputing it. Furthermore in July 2016, the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that China had no sovereignty, and that its activities in the South China Sea are illegal.

Furthermore, the Chinese are highly contemptuous of international law as it applies to them, but they demand that everyone else conform.

As I've said in the past, the Chinese are unique in a highly racist way, as I described in my book, "War Between China and Japan." While people in America consider themselves to be ordinary people who were lucky enough to be born in the greatest nation in world history, the Chinese Communists view themselves as the Master Race -- yellow race, black hair, brown eyes, yellow skin -- and the rest of us as barbarians. They see international law as a way to control us, the barbarians. They'll sign an international agreement knowing that they'll violate it at will, because they're the Master Race, and the rest of us are just there to serve the Chinese.

Since completing my book on China and Japan, I've been working on a book on the history of Vietnam. It's clear that nobody has a claim on the South China Sea, but if anyone does, it's Vietnam. Vietnam's Champa Kingdom, in particular, has been guardian of the sea for centuries. The Chinese were never interested in it until Chiang Kai-Shek, an admirer of Adolf Hitler, took an interest in it in 1947, and decided to claim it just as Hitler had claimed Poland. Mao Zedong continued to claim it for Communist China.

The whole claim has always been a hoax, based on one lie after another. One of the biggest lies occurred at a September 25, 2015, press conference on the White House lawn, where Xi Jinping blatantly lied to President Barack Obama, saying that China had no intention to militarize the South China Sea, at a time when China was already moving rapidly to militarize the South China Sea. This was a significant lie about a major military matter, and it shows that the thugs in the Chinese Communist Party are never anything but trolls, even at the top.

So now the Chinese are still claiming "indisputable sovereignty." After a while, one just gets sick and tired of listening to all this crap from the Chinese Communists.

The US retaliated on Wednesday with sanctions, blacklisting 24 Chinese companies and individuals involved in China's illegal construction and military actions in the South China Sea.

Vietnam prepares new arbitration lawsuit against China

The Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) has ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

This association has always worked very hard not to anger China, which means saying very little about China's illegal claims to the South China Sea. In particular, very little is said at their meetings about the 2016 victory by the Philippines at International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in the Hague. The ruling declared China's activities in the South China Sea to be illegal.

However, positions have been hardening this year. The US and Australia have already issued "notes verbales", or formal diplomatic requests, to the United Nations, challenging China's claims to the South China Sea, quoting the 2016 Tribunal ruling. Japan is taking similar steps.

What's new is that several ASEAN states are also losing their fear of angering China, and are issuing their own notes. These include Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Brunei.

In particular, Vietnam has been taking steps to file a new lawsuit with International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to reaffirm the 2016 decision for the Philippines, and provide additional support for Vietnam's own claims. This would be politically explosive.

In July 2016, one day after the Hague Tribunal issued its ruling against China, the Master Race's vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin said, "It is just a piece of waste paper. You may just chuck it in the bin, leave it on the shelf, or put it in archives." Whether it's China's 1984 agreement on Hong Kong, or China's commitments to the World Trade Organization, or any other agreement, the Chinese are contemptuous of all such agreements, and see their only use as keeping the barbarians (the rest of us) under control.

The path to war with China

China has gotten away with that for decades, as the world kept hoping that China would slowly turn a liberal democracy. Instead, each year it's become more and more criminal.

As I'm working on my book on Vietnam, I have to point out one irony. After the Vietnam war, Vietnam was a hardcore communist country led by a fanatic, Le Duan. When he died in April 1986, the country actually did open up and institute many reforms. It's far from a liberal democracy today, but it has been moving in that direction.

The opposite is true in China. After the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Chinese Communist Party became paranoid, desperate and belligerent, increasingly so every year.

Now the world is turning against China, especially after they seeded hundreds of nations, apparently intentionally, with the Wuhan Coronavirus, while controlling it with China itself. I've often said that Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward, which killed 50 million innocent Chinese for nor reason at all, was the stupidest policy enacted by any nation in the history of the world. But I may have to change that opinion now that China has adopted an even stupider policy with regard to the Wuhan Coronavirus.

So China is becoming increasingly belligerent every year, and the Western nations are becoming increasingly hostile to China every year. This has resulted in tit-for-tat confrontations that have been escalating and will continue to escalate.

These escalating tit-for-tat escalations are exactly the path that always leads to war. There's no way to stop this, given the paranoia and desperation of the Chinese Communist thugs.

This past week, China's military launched four "carrier killer" missiles into the South China Sea, in a "signal" to the United States. That's just the next escalating step. Sooner or later, it will escalate to full scale war.


Related Articles:

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22-Aug-20 World View -- Hezbollah implicated in catastrophic Beirut Lebanon explosion

Media investigations reveal new facts about the Beirut Lebanon explosion

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Media investigations reveal new facts about the Beirut Lebanon explosion

A man stands near the Beirut blast site on August 11.  Graffiti reads 'My government did this' (Reuters)
A man stands near the Beirut blast site on August 11. Graffiti reads 'My government did this' (Reuters)

Ever since the catastrophic explosion in the Beirut, Lebanon, seaport on Tuesday, August 4, leveled thousands of homes, killed and injured thousands of people, and left 300,000 people homeless, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, the Iranian puppet leader of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, has been running as fast as he can in the other direction, to avoid being blamed. ( "9-Aug-20 World View -- Beirut Lebanon police clash with furious protesters following Tuesday's catastrophic explosion")

At first, Nasrallah insisted he knew nothing about the 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that exploded, after being stored in the port unprotected since 2013, in a warehouse next door to a fireworks factory. Then he tried to blame Israel. Then, when a furious public demanded an international investigation, he insisted that any investigation could only be done locally -- that is, controlled by Hezbollah.

Nasrallah is still doing everything possible to prevent an official international investigation by the United Nations or by the European Union, but unfortunately for him, he has no way to stop unofficial investigations by media or other private parties.

An investigation conducted by the German magazine Der Spiegel and the journalism network called the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has revealed that Hezbollah fingerprints are all over the explosion, and that the storage of the ammonium nitrate in the first place was under Hezbollah control.

Investigation implicates Hezbollah in explosion

As I detailed in my August 9 article, the "official" narrative has been that a Moldovan-flagged, Russian-owned cargo ship, the MV Rhosus, carrying 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, left Georgia in 2013 heading for Mozambique, but stopped in Beirut because of technical problems, and because the owner could not afford the fees to pass through the Suez Canal. The ship was impounded in Beirut, but despite repeated requests and warnings of danger from customs officials, the Beirut courts refused to permit the ammonium nitrate to be removed or sold.

The investigation by Spiegel and OCCRP revealed numerous flaws and problems with the official narrative:

The Hezbollah militia has an iron grip on Beirut, especially on the Beirut seaport. So one possibility is that in 2013 Hezbollah ordered the delivery of the ammonium nitrate, and has been using it for weapons and explosives in Syria and elsewhere since then.

There are other possibilities as well. That's why it's most important for an international investigation to determine what actually happened. Even though Hezbollah will do everything possible to block any such investigation, it's only a matter of time before all the facts come out.

In any case, this crisis isn't over, and won't be for years.


Related Article:

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17-Aug-20 World View -- Microsoft's monopolistic practices leave Windows 10 vulnerable to massive hacking attack

The political power of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Microsoft's monopolistic practices leave Windows 10 vulnerable to massive hacking attack

Windows 10 task manager screen showing when Microsoft is downloading crapware (games, ads, trials, teasers) to your computer without asking you.  Notice that the C: drive is 100% active, and this can go on for hours, at high priority, sometimes crippling the computer
Windows 10 task manager screen showing when Microsoft is downloading crapware (games, ads, trials, teasers) to your computer without asking you. Notice that the C: drive is 100% active, and this can go on for hours, at high priority, sometimes crippling the computer

There was a major news story recently that you may have missed about an extremely serious hacking breach.

Last month, hackers took control of dozens of Twitter accounts, and used them to try to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from millions of Twitter users. The hackers used a very simple "low tech" technique to gain control: they bribed or extorted or tricked a Twitter employee to giving them control. There are undoubtedly hundreds or even thousands of people in Twitter's IT department with full access to the user databases who could have satisfied the hackers, although Twitter is now thought to be reducing that number.

When this happened, most people were shocked that this could even happen. Most thought that it was impossible. In this article, we're going to show that this and a lot worse can happen to Microsoft and other online services.

According to Twitter:

"The attackers successfully manipulated a small number of employees and used their credentials to access Twitter’s internal systems, including getting through our two-factor protections. As of now, we know that they accessed tools only available to our internal support teams to target 130 Twitter accounts. For 45 of those accounts, the attackers were able to initiate a password reset, login to the account, and send Tweets. We are continuing our forensic review of all of the accounts to confirm all actions that may have been taken. In addition, we believe they may have attempted to sell some of the usernames."

News reports at the time speculated that the Twitter attack was just a rehearsal for a much larger attack by Russia or China to be launched just prior to the November 3 election, to influence the election.

According to press reports, all the hackers wanted was money, but press reports speculate that they could have been a lot more malicious, and the recent attack could have been a practice test for a more extensive attack to manipulate the November 3 elections.

According to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.):

"This hack bodes ill for November balloting. Count this incident as a near miss or shot across the bow. It could have been much worse with different targets. So many security red flags are raised by this criminal attack that the culprits should be tracked down as quickly as possible."

Blumenthal is right about the large number of security red flags. But he's wrong that the problem can be solved by tracking down the culprits. The reason he's wrong is that this is a simple, low-tech attack. There's no super-complex hacking software involved. It's done the old fashioned way, with bribery and extortion or tricking of Twitter employees.

And the same low-tech attack could be used on any of the online giants -- Google, Amazon, Facebook, or Microsoft or indeed on any large online service. A malicious actor, including a country like China or Russia, could use bribery or extortion to "manipulate" one or more IT employees to gain access to or control of dozens or hundreds or even thousands of user accounts or computers. This is what happened at Twitter, and it can happen at any of the online giants. How the malicious actor uses that access or control varies from one online giant to another, but the core technique of using bribery or extortion to gain control is the same in all cases.

In this article, we're going to focus on Microsoft. According to Microsoft, there are almost one billion desktop computers running Windows 10. Microsoft is a monopolist with complete control of Windows 10 on those one billion computers. Microsoft can update or modify the Windows 10 software at any time, and there's nothing that any user can do to stop it because, for almost all users, there's no other choice but to use Windows 10. Microsoft is the quintessential monopolist, with total control of a product that one billion people are forced to use.

We're going to show how Microsoft illegally uses its monopoly power to extort money from users. The method is obvious from the numbers: If Microsoft can update or modify the Windows 10 software on computers in order to "coerce" a million users to pay $100 each for Microsoft apps or services or upgrades, then Microsoft makes $100 million for doing essentially nothing. This is the essense of monopoly power.

We're going to show how Microsoft is already doing that, and we're going to show how a malicious actor, like Russia or China, could use an attack similar to the Twitter hack to extort money or even to start a war.

Let's begin by giving three examples of how this has already occurred in other ways.

Example #1: Apple's iPhone forced slowdown using 'throttling'

It's estimated that some 3 billion iPhones have been sold, and Apple has the kind of monopolistic control over them that Microsoft has over Windows. Apple has already used criminal monopolistic behavior to force users of older iPhones to upgrade.

You may recall from March that Apple was forced to pay up to $500 million to settle a US lawsuit. Apple had used its monopolistic control over iPhones to slow down old iPhones, in order to coerce users into upgrading. This is criminal behavior under the antitrust laws, and that's why Apple was forced to settle, and was anxious to settle. They were lucky that it cost them only $500 million.

Here are some excerpts from a Reuters news story from March:

"Apple to pay up to $500 million to settle U.S. lawsuit over slow iPhones

(Reuters) - Apple Inc has agreed to pay up to $500 million to settle litigation accusing it of quietly slowing down older iPhones as it launched new models, to induce owners to buy replacement phones or batteries.

Consumers contended that their phones’ performance suffered after they installed Apple software updates. They said this misled them into believing their phones were near the end of their lifecycles, requiring replacements or new batteries.

Apple attributed the problems mainly to temperature changes, high usage and other issues, and said its engineers worked quickly and successfully to address them. Analysts sometimes refer to the slowing of iPhones as “throttling.”

Following an initial outcry over slow iPhones, Apple apologized and lowered the price for replacement batteries to $29 from $79."

Apple was committing a crime by using its monopoly control of iPhones to force iPhones to run more slowly, in order to coerce the user to upgrade to a new iPhone. That's why Apple was desperate to settle as quickly as possible.

An important part of Apple's behavior is that it must be as obscure as possible to the user. If the user knew that Apple was purposely throttling his iPhone, he might trade it in for an Android. Instead, slowing the iPhone down is made as obscure and invisible as possible so that the user doesn't know what's going on, and just buys a new iPhone.

I realize that many people idolize Tim Cook and Apple, but this is incredibly sleazy behavior. Apple managers are screwing their own customers to essentially extort their customers to buy new iPhones. It's absolutely incredible, but it shows the state of corporate management these days. Apple managers like Tim Cook and Craig Federighi are criminals who are totally lacking in morality and ethics. And this criminal behavior actually happened.

But with 3 billion iPhones under their control, morality and ethics go out the window, as Cook and Federighi look for ways to extort more cash from users. The chance to extort billions of dollars from users is just too tempting.

If anyone reading this wants to argue that Microsoft managers are less unethical and immoral than Apple managers, then I'd like to hear that argument.

Example #2: Microsoft forcing an upgrade to Enterprise edition

Example #1 was Apple's illegal throttling hack on iPhones to slow them down, forcing users to upgrade.

Example #2 is an illegal action in 2016 by Microsoft to force Windows Pro users to upgrade to Windows Enterprise, costing as much as $200 for each user.

In July 2016, Microsoft updated Windows 10 on its customers' desktop to make it impossible for Windows Pro users to eliminate Windows crapware like games, ads, trials and teasers. Users already have to pay a big premium to run Windows Professional, but they do so because, well, they're professionals like me, and want a professional version of Windows, so they want the option of removing things like games. But that's not good enough for Microsoft. Microsoft wants to force Pro users to pay $100-200 more per computer to get the professional features they thought they already had.

Here is a July 28, 2016, post by Russian blogger Sergey Tkachenko on his Winaero blog:

"Microsoft locks some Group Policy options to Enterprise editions in Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Today, we surprisingly discovered that Microsoft has secretly changed the availability of some Group Policy options in Windows 10 version 1607. Windows 10 version 1607 "Anniversary Update" has reduced the control via Group Policy that you have in Pro edition. Pro edition users have lesser options available compared to version 1511, so many behaviors of the OS cannot be controlled.

If you open the Group Policy management console and read the description of certain policy settings in Windows 10 build 14393, you will find out that the options mentioned below are NO LONGER AVAILABLE for Windows 10 Pro users. They are locked down to Enterprise and Education editions only: ...

Turn off Microsoft consumer experiences. Using this option, you could prevent Windows 10 from automatically downloading and installing promoted apps like Candy Crush Soda Saga, Flipper, Twitter, NetFlix, Pandora, MSN News and many other potentially unwanted apps and games. Now you can't prevent these apps from being automatically downloaded and installed if you are using Windows 10 Pro or Home editions. The policy setting (or Registry setting) has no effect in these editions. consumer experience Starting with Windows 10 Anniversary Update, you can only control unwanted apps in Enterprise and Educations editions of Windows 10. This behavior was confirmed when I upgraded my Windows 7 Professional to Windows 10 Pro and many unwanted apps installed automatically from the Store."

A Zdnet article by Mary Jo Foley at that same time explains why Microsoft did this:

"Why did Microsoft remove the ability for admins to change and shut off these apps and settings? I asked and didn't hear back from company officials.

Some of us cynics believe the change was because Microsoft wants to get more users to upgrade to the more expensive Enterprise SKU. ...

Microsoft officials have been very up front about looking for ways to make money indirectly from Windows 10 in various ways, including promotional/sponsored app suggestions. ... The Softies are trying to push more people to go to the Store and download new/more apps. Microsoft gets a cut of third-party apps downloaded from the Store."

This is pretty much a smoking gun. Microsoft wants to prevent Pro users from stopping the crapware attacks, so the option to stop them is disabled in the Pro edition. Foley call the Microsoft execs "softies," but I would call them hardcore monopolistic criminals.

This is clearly extortionary behavior by Microsoft that's illegal. There is absolutely no reason to remove these options from the Pro version, except to extort money from users who are trapped by Microsoft's monopoly, and have already paid a premium for the "Professional" version of Windows 10.

Example #3: Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10

Like many sophisticated users, I used to love my Windows-7 system. It worked great, with none of the Microsoft crap that you have to put up with in Windows-10.

In mid-January 2019, on a Tuesday afternoon, all of a sudden my Windows 7 computer started getting incredibly slow. Firefox was brought to its knees, and Chrome was working intermittently.

I spent many days trying to figure out which process was causing the problem, and then I realized that it was far more sinister: Whenever I started using Firefox, or a Youtube video on Chrome, or Windows Media Player, or any of several other programs, then the problem would occur. What would happen is that that particular program would only use 15-20% of the cpu, but Windows would magically jack up the CPU usage of other normally innocuous processes.

So for example, when the system was mostly idling, process explorer might show the top cpu users as omnipage 1.3%, firefox 0.9%, sidebar 0.9%, emacs 0.1%, acro rd32 0.3%, and so forth, totalling around 10%.

But when I started up a youtube video on chrome, that process would use 23% of the cpu, which wouldn't be a problem. But all of those numbers in the last paragraph were now jacked up to 13.1%, 8.4%, 5.6%, and so forth, totaling 100%, bringing the system to its knees.

In other words, starting up something on Chrome or Media Player or any of numerous other programs would affect every other process on the system. For example, I open Media Player, and suddenly Emacs would go from using 0.1% of the cpu to 13.1% of the cpu, which makes no sense at all.

So I started searching the internet, and I found that it's happening to other people. Apparently it was triggered by a particular windows update. Being a paranoid individual, I took note of the fact that this problem started occurring the same week that Microsoft reminded everyone that Windows 7 support would expire in a year, and I wondered if this was a Microsoft plot to force people to install Windows 10.

What was going on was purposely obscure to 99.9% of the Windows-7 users. I'm one of the few users who could figure out what was going on, since I spent many years of my career developing operating systems. I developed three embedded operating systems, and two mainframe operating systems, so I'm very capable of diagnosing these situations.

So after a great deal of analysis, I knew that the only way this problem could be occurring would be is if someone (Microsoft) changed the operating system in a certain way. There's a process queue in the core of any timesharing operating system, and there's a core o/s function that takes the top process off the queue and gives it a time slice -- let's it execute for a few milliseconds. When the time slice expires, then that process goes on the bottom of the process queue, and the new top of queue is allowed to run for a time slice. That's how the operating system makes it appear that multiple programs are all running simultaneously when, in fact, they are running in turn, a few milliseconds at a time.

So the problem I was having could happen only one way: Microsoft had modified the operating system on my computer to add several milliseconds of time in a do-nothing loop to each time slice for each process. This might have been simply a bug, and that's why I was hoping that it would be corrected in the next Windows update. But it wasn't corrected in the next update or the one after. It was clear to me that that Microsoft was doing this on purpose, to force me to upgrade to Windows 10.

By the way, the only reason I could figure this out was because of my years of operating system experience. Ordinary users would have no clue what was going on, and that's how Microsoft wanted it. And if they called anyone for support, they would simply be told that their computer was getting too old, and they should upgrade to Windows 10.

I knew what was going on, but it didn't matter. Microsoft is a powerful monopolist that can screw me or any of its users at any time of its choosing, to extract money or whatever. After a few weeks of despair, I bought a new Dell Windows-10 computer. Then, of course, Microsoft started with crapware downloads on my new computer, which caused the same kind of performance problem as on my old computer.

Example #4: Microsoft's crapware (games, ads, trials) downloads

I've now given three examples of illegal monopolistic behavior -- Apple throttling iPhones, Microsoft forcing upgrade to Enterprise edition, and Microsoft forcing upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10. All of these are examples are of a monopolistic company illegally using its monopoly power to extort money from users.

We'll now turn to the particular subject of this article, Microsoft's illegal monopolistic behavior downloading crapware. However, this example is much worse because unlike the recent Twitter hack, it's about more than money.

At any time of the day or night, Microsoft downloads several gigabytes of data to my computer, essentially crippling my computer. If I'm trying to get some work done, then I'm screwed. Response time to a simple command becomes 15-30 seconds, and saving a file in an Emacs editor can sometimes take as much as 5 minutes.

The crapware downloads are different from the regular Windows Updates downloads. Those updates occur at scheduled times, and they're carefully controlled by Microsoft procedures that have been developed for years.

However, with Windows 10, that hasn't been enough for Microsoft. Every week, Microsoft downloads several gigabytes of ads, games, videos and other crapware to your computer in a completely uncontrolled fashion. These downloads go on for hours, often completely crippling the desktop computer being targeted.

My experience for the last year is that Microsoft cripples my computer at any time of the day or night, for any number of hours at a time, to store more crapware on my computer. To say that this infuriates me would be a big understatement.

Let me make it clear that I don't care about the ads. I'm used to seeing ads on tv, on web sites, in magazines, and so forth. That's not the problem. The problem is that Microsoft is purposely crippling my computer at any time, for hours at a time, to download their crapware, preventing me from getting my work done. This is criminal behavior by a monopolist, designed to force users to upgrade or to purchase additional Microsoft services.

As a Senior Software Engineer of many decades, I can spot bad software and sloppy implementations. Here's a list of the characteristics of these crapware downloads that reveal the intent:

As a software engineer of many decades, I see the above list as proof that Microsoft is purposely screwing its users for financial gain, just as Apple did in throttling iPhones. Some of the items in the above list could be fixed trivially, such as displaying advance notifications, and allowing the user to reschedule, or lowering the priority of the process, so that the computer isn't crippled. The fact that Microsoft designed these downloads to do the greatest possible harm to its own users in the most chaotic way is proof, in my opinion, of extreme malice and criminal behavior on the part of Microsoft.

For most users, it's almost impossible to see what's going on, except that your computer slows down. The only way that I know of to see what's happening during a crapware download is to open the Task Manager, go to the performance tab, and click on the "Disk 0 (C:)". You'll see that disk activity is solid 100% without variation, sometimes for hours. (By the way, I've gotten into the habit of leaving the Task Manager window open all the time to that tab. If I'm suddenly having problems, I can click on that window, and usually I can see that a new Microsoft crapware attack is just beginning.)

The graphic at the beginning of this article shows what Task Manager looks like during a crapware attack. Note that the Drive C: activity is at 100%, and this can go on for minutes or hours. That's on the Performance tab. If you try to switch back to the Process tab, you'll see that there's nothing going on -- Microsoft has purposely hidden the crapware download activity so that you can't plan for it or modify it, or even know it's going on. Microsoft can do this because it's a monopoly and it has control of your computer, and can do whatever it wants to you.

As a Software Engineer, I've always had a very high opinion of Windows, and Microsoft technology. I started playing around with Windows version 1 in 1985. Since then, I haven't always agreed with some of the directions that Windows took, but I always felt that they were intended to be in the best interest of the users. Until a year or two ago, Windows was always a gold star product, in my opinion.

I also met Bill Gates two or three times in the 1990s. I thought he was a really decent, competent guy who, once again, believed in doing what was in the best interest of the users.

But Bill Gates is gone now, having left Microsoft years ago to save the world from malaria and coronavirus. The company that he left behind has turned into a sewer with a corporate culture of young people who happily sacrifice the best interest of their users for their own agendas and money.

Crapware downloads risk global hacking attack

I'm now ready to show how Microsoft's policies risk a global hacking attack on Microsoft that can have much more serious consequences than the similar attack that's already occurred on Twitter.

I've now shown the following:

With regard to "manipulating" any of the employees of these services, let's recall that there are hundreds of thousands of Chinese living in America. Under Chinese law, the Chinese military tracks them and requires them to provide intelligence or perform other duties as described by the military. China's 2017 National Intelligence Law requires all Chinese citizens and businesses to perform such duties, even when doing so is illegal. I don't blame the Chinese citizens for this. I blame the Chinese Communist thugs who treat their own citizens like dirt, as contrasted to ethnic Chinese citizens who live in Taiwan and have much higher standards of living, much more freedom, and aren't persecuted by a paranoid, desperate government.

The major online services are mostly headquartered in the west, and so have many Chinese employees. These people are all subject to China's National Intelligence Law, and so they can be directly "manipulated" by China's military. If one of these employees has access to the company's user database -- and I have no doubt that many do -- then those employees can be "manipulated" into stealing data, stealing accounts, or taking control of millions of users' accounts, as has already happened in the case of the Twitter hack.

I have a personal anecdote related to this subject. A few months ago, I started receiving robocall phone messages in Chinese on my home phone. So I recorded one of them and asked someone to translate. It went: "Hello, this is the Chinese embassy. You have a very important notification. For details please press xxx." So I don't know why my phone number was called, or what sort of "important notification" was intended, but this shows one of the ways that the Chinese Communists keep Chinese people in America on a short leash, ready to do as they're told.

The political power of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft

On July 29, 2020, the House Judiciary committee held a hearing on examining the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. The CEOs of all four companies came and testified, and were questioned by the politicians on the committee.

The hearing began in full-scale farce. The opening statement of Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, began as follows:

"My mom, Jackie, had me when she was a 17-year-old high school student in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Being pregnant in high school was not popular in Albuquerque in 1964. It was difficult for her. When they tried to kick her out of school, my grandfather went to bat for her. After some negotiation, the principal said, “OK, she can stay and finish high school, but she can’t do any extracurricular activities, and she can’t have a locker.” My grandfather took the deal, and my mother finished high school, though she wasn’t allowed to walk across the stage with her classmates to get her diploma."

Listening to this, I was soooooooo touched that I almost had tears streaming down my face. It was just so sad.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet Google, took a slightly different approach:

"Expanding access to opportunity through technology is deeply personal to me. I didn’t have much access to a computer growing up in India. So you can imagine my amazement when I arrived in the U.S. for graduate school and saw an entire lab of computers I could use whenever I wanted. Accessing the internet for the first time in that computer lab set me on a path to bring technology to as many people as possible. It’s what inspired me to join Google 16 years ago."

Once again, very touching.

So what's going on here? These ridiculous statements are carefully planned and carefully rehearsed well in advance, in both content and demeanor, to show that these huge online service monopolies are really just innocent little businesses, bringing the American dream to millions of others.

It's as if to say, "We're not like other wicked monopolists -- John D. Rockefeller in oil, Andrew Carnegie in steel, Cornelius Venderbilt in railroads. Those are nasty, mean, old, ancient, out-of-date monopolies. Not like us. We're sweet, happy, modern, hip, cool monopolies, and we're different."

The CEOs were playing on the politicians' ignorance and stupidity, which is trivially easy. The objective of the CEOs was to avoid answering any real questions from the posturing politicians, who are too dumb to know what was going on anyway, since they barely know how to turn on a computer. And it worked.

So what are the questions that the CEOs were afraid to answer?

One of them was the one we've been discussing. This hearing occurred shortly after the Twitter hack, and the CEOs were undoubtedly all dreading the question: "Could the same thing happen to you?" They were dreading that question because the answer would have to have been "Yes," although they would have buried that answer in multiple paragraphs of self-excusing verbiage.

The 'Hate Speech', 'Fake Speech' censorship monopoly

The second question the CEOs are afraid to answer is about their censorship monopoly.

This article has been about illegal abuse of monopoly power and exposure to data breaches, by the large online services, especially Microsoft.

However, with the November 3 presidential election approaching, we're seeing abuse of a different kind of monopoly power. We're seeing Google, Facebook and Twitter abuse their monopoly power over censorship to influence the election toward the Democrats by censoring anything from Trump's 63 million supporters as "hate speech" or "fake speech." There are many examples of this that are extremely ridiculous, such as approving support for left-wing protests and violent riots by antifa, while condemning street protests against Democratic governors as racist or dangerous.

Ironically, this didn't start with Trump's presidency and actually has nothing to do with Trump. It was already going on early in the Obama administration with the vitriolic attacks by Democrats on members of the conservative Tea Party, referring to Teapartiers with the hate term "teabaggers," which is as bad as the N-word. In my almost 20 years of developing Generational Dynamics, I've seen many similar examples of one group hating another group for no reason at all. I don't know what chromosome or hormone causes this, but I do know that that chromosome or hormone causing Democrats to hate 63 million Teapartiers and Trump supporters is exactly the same as the one that caused the Nazis to hate the Jews, the Hutus to hate the Tutsis, or the Chinese Communists to hate the Uighurs and Tibetans. This is a constant of human nature, and we're seeing it played out in America today in the Democrats' vitriolic hatred of 63 million Teapartiers and Trump supporters.

So today we have the major online services -- Google, Facebook and Twitter -- supporting this hatred by classifying anything by Teapartiers or Trump supporters as "hate speech" or "fake speech."

When confronted with evidence of this, a standard answer is to appeal to the magic of artificial intelligence. "The decision whether something is hate speech is made by impersonal AI algorithms in computers that are non-partisan and not political. Haha."

Politicians who barely know how to turn on a computer just accept this argument, as if there were some magic involved. Actually, there's no magic involved. AI algorithms like that are rules-driven, and programmers would write the rules.

The rules used by Google and others are confidential, of course, but we can speculate on how some of them work. Let's suppose a tweet contains the text, "Make America great." That alone wouldn't be enough to classify it as hate speech, but it would add points in some sort of point system. If a tweet contains another "racist" phrase like that, then there might be enough points for the "non-partisan" algorithms to decide that the tweet is hate speech.

Who decides what these rules are? The deciders are Google employees. Among the Google employees making the rules there will be women as well as men, to prevent anti-female bias in the rule-making. And there will be blacks as well as whites, in order to prevent anti-black bias in the rule-making. But what do they do about anti-conservative bias? The answer is NOTHING. We know from various statements and blogs and leaked meeting videos that all the employees at Google are far left, and if there are any politically moderate employees at Google (such as James Damore), they will be fired or marginalized by the others, and their suggestions for rules will ignored in group code reviews.

So we have a situation where Google is fully on-board to target 63 million tea partiers and Trump supporters in order to affect the November 3 election. As I said, for one demographic group to hate another demographic group is common throughout history and the world, as in the Nazi hatred of Jews and the Hutu hatred of Tutsis or any of a million other examples that anyone who studies history can name. The one good thing we can say about the current situation is that the hate campaign has not yet degenerated into genocide, although genocide is the stated objective of the fascist organization antifa.

The power of monopoly -- and the danger

I can't end this article without looping back to the beginning.

There are some important points to be made about the power of monopoly. I've shown how companies like Apple and Microsoft use their monopoly power to coerce millions of users to purchase additional unnecessary services, products and upgrades, making hundreds of million or billions of dollars for the companies involved, or how Google, Twitter and Facebook are using their monopoly power over censorship rules to control the November 3 elections.

But I've also shown the danger of monopoly -- to the companies, to the country, and even globally. Think of a monopoly as an enormous source of power that the company can use in many ways to make money. But now suppose a malicious actor, like Russia or China, finds a way to gain control of that enormous power, as has already happened in the case of the Twitter hack. That power then becomes a weapon that can destroy the company, destroy million of lives or businesses, or destroy a country.

Right now that monopoly power is being used to make money and to affect the November 3 election. But we can also be certain that hackers around the world have learned from the Twitter hack, and are working 24 hours a day to gain control of an online system for their own financial or political benefit. It's possible that they've already succeeded without our knowing it.

In the middle of an election season, it's too late to even think about fixing this problem this year. But fixing this problem should be among the highest government priorities next year, no matter who wins the election.


Previous articles about China

Previous articles about financial fraud

Previous articles about the financial crisis

Previous articles about disaster

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14-Aug-20 World View -- Mideast leaders split on Israel-UAE 'historic' peace agreement

Palestinians infuriated by UAE-Israel peace agreement

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Mideast leaders split on Israel-UAE 'historic' peace agreement

Egypt-Israel peace agreement handshake, on September 6, 1978, at Camp David.  Left to right: Egypt's president Anwar Sadat, US president Jimmy Carter, Israel's prime minister Menachem Begin (CNN)
Egypt-Israel peace agreement handshake, on September 6, 1978, at Camp David. Left to right: Egypt's president Anwar Sadat, US president Jimmy Carter, Israel's prime minister Menachem Begin (CNN)

US President Donald Trump has mediated a peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) being described as "historic," since the agreement will lead to normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries, for the first time. They will exchange embassies and ambassadors, and cooperate in numerous areas, including commerce, trade, security, anti-terrorism, and health.

Historically, this is the third agreement between Israel and an Arab country since Israel was created in 1948. In 1979, Egypt and Israel signed a peace agreement between the two countries, and in 1994, Jordan signed a peace agreement with Israel. Thus, the UAE becomes the third country to take this step.

According to Trump, both Israel and UAE were anxious to reach this agreement, because Israel and UAE are united in their opposition to Iran. Trump said that the agreement only became possible because the Trump administration backed out of the Iran nuclear deal, and because Trump then developed personal relations of friendship with several Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia.

A significant part of the new agreement is that Israel will suspend plans to annex a portion of the West Bank occupied by Israeli settlers. These plans to annex a portion of the West Bank have been extremely controversial since they were announced several months ago. This has infuriated Jewish settler organizations. David Elhayani, head of the Yesha Council of settlers, said: "He deceived us. He has deceived half a million residents of the area and hundreds of thousands of voters."

Trump is claiming that this agreement is an important step on the path to Mideast peace. This is political fantasy. The Palestinians are not part of this deal, and they will not be in favor of it.

Another country that won't be happy will be Qatar. Qatar is still under an air, sea and ground blockade by Sunni Arabia and UAE. The blockade began in 2016, and attempts at mediation by Trump have failed. However, the US has a large military naval base in Qatar, so that relationship is important.

Palestinians infuriated by UAE-Israel peace agreement

As long-time readers know, the first Generational Dynamics analysis that I posted was on May 1, 2003, when I predicted that President George Bush's "Mideast Roadmap to Peace" peace plan would fail, because the Jews and the Palestinians would be re-fighting the bloody 1948 war the followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Since then, there have been several smaller Mideast wars, with but there has been no sign of an acceptable peace agreement. Indeed, I have said any number of times that the so-called "two-state solution" is impossible.

So it's not surprising that Palestian leadership is denouncing this agreement, and accusing the UAE of betrayal of the Palestinians, and even of "stabbing them in the back." Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's senior adviser said, "The Palestinian leadership rejects and denounces the UAE, Israeli and US trilateral, surprising, announcement."

A former deputy foreign minister of Iran tweeted:

"UAE's new approach for normalizing ties w/fake, criminal #Israel doesn't maintain peace & security, but serves ongoing Zionists' crimes. Abu Dhabi behavior has no justification, turning back on the Palestine cause. W/ that strategic mistake, #UAE will be engulfed in Zionism fire.

— H.amirabdollahian (@Amirabdolahian) August 13, 2020"

Other Mideast leaders reacted as expected.

Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain and European countries endorsed the agreement with varying levels of enthusiasm. At the very least, individual spokesmen hoped that it would advance the "peace process." Saudi Arabia has not commented on the agreement, but it's thought that the UAE would not have taken this step without the Saudi's tacit approval.

As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that there is an approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, pitting the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Part of it will be a major new war between Jews and Arabs, re-fighting the bloody the war of 1948-49 that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The war between Jews and Arabs will be part of a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other.

Text of the UAE-Israel peace agreement

The following is the text of the agreement announced on Thursday:

"Joint Statement of the United States, the State of Israel, and the United Arab Emirates

President Donald J. Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and Sheilch Mohammed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates spoke today and agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region. All three countries face many common challenges and will mutually benefit from today's historic achievement.

Delegations from Israel and the United Arab Emirates will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit. Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East's most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation, and forging closer people-to-people relations.

As a result of this diplomatic breakthrough and at the request of President Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President's Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world. The United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are confident that additional diplomatic breakthroughs with other nations are possible, and will work together to achieve this goal.

The United Arab Emirates and Israel will immediately expand and accelerate cooperation regarding the treatment of and the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus. Working together, these efforts will help save Muslim, Jewish, and Christian lives throughout the region.

This normalization of relations and peaceful diplomacy will bring together two of America's most reliable and capable regional partners. Israel and the United Arab Emirates will join with the United States to launch a Strategic Agenda for the Middle East to expand diplomatic, trade, and security cooperation. Along with the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates share a similar outlook regarding the threats and opportunities in the region, as well as a shared conimilment to promoting stability through diplomatic engagement, increased economic integration, and closer security coordination. Today's agreement will lead to better lives for the peoples of the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and the region.

The United States and Israel recall with gratitude the appearance of the United Arab Emirates at the White House reception held on January 28, 2020, at which President Trump presented his Vision for Peace, and express their appreciation for United Arab Emirates' related supportive statements. The parties will continue their efforts in this regard to achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As set forth in the Vision for Peace, all Muslims who come in peace may visit and pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque, and Jerusalem's other holy sites should remain open for peaceful worshippers of all fifths.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Crown Prince Sheilch Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan express their deep appreciation to President Trump for his dedication to peace in the region and to the pragmatic and unique approach he has taken to achieve it."


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9-Aug-20 World View -- Beirut Lebanon police clash with furious protesters following Tuesday's catastrophic explosion

Why was 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in Beirut's seaport for years?

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Beirut Lebanon police clash with furious protesters following Tuesday's catastrophic explosion

Protests in Beirut Lebanon's Martyrs' Square on Saturday.
Protests in Beirut Lebanon's Martyrs' Square on Saturday.

Police are firing rubber bullets and teargas at protesters in Martyrs' Square in central Beirut, Lebanon's capital city. One person was killed and dozens injured on Saturday, as government buildings were occupied by protesters.

There is a growing anti-government fury in Lebanon, following the catastrophic explosion on Tuesday at the Beirut seaport. Hundreds were killed, thousands were injured, hundreds of thousands are now homeless because their homes were destroyed.

The exploded materials were 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer that had been stored in the seaport since 2013. As a point of comparison, Timothy McVeigh used only about one ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer to destroy the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995.

There is a growing fury in Beirut that the politicians who have been destroying Lebanon's economy for years by lining their own pockets have allowed this to happen. A lot of people knew about the stored fertilizer, and a lot of people complained about it during the last six years, but nothing was done. It was just allowed to sit there, without proper precautions taken. Meanwhile the corrupt élite politicians just continued growing fat and happy, allowing the economic collapse to worsen month after month, allowing garbage to pile up around the city, taking kickbacks for approving defective fuel oil so there's been no electricity, and still going on tv and spouting the usual unbearable self-serving crap that comes from all politicians who are incapable of accomplishing anything but the enrichment of themselves and their cronies.

Even before the explosion, even before the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic, the country Lebanon was already on the verge of collapse. Nearly 50% of the population are living in poverty. Lebanon has two problems. The Iran-controlled terrorist group Hezbollah runs the country, but is receiving less money from its puppetmaster Iran, thanks to US sanctions. And second, there is massive government corruption, stemming from its "confessional system of government," where power is divided based on sectarian affiliation or confession (Sunni, Shia, Christian), as I've described in detail in the past. The confessional form of government has worked fairly well in resolving disputes in both Iraq and Lebanon, but it gives each sectarian group unrestricted access to the funds of the portions of government it controls, leading to a situation where government officials take all the money for themselves, and let the people starve and freeze in darkness. Now, for the first time, there is massive anger growing against Hezbollah in both Lebanon and Iraq, and Lebanon's government may collapse completely.

The country has been in free fall for months. The currency has collapsed. The unemployment rate is over 30%. A tainted fuel oil scandal revealed enormous corruption -- bribes, forged documents, and falsified tests. There have been anti-government protests for months, and after the explosion they are now propelled by a new fury.

The 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilizer was left sitting in a storage warehouse, adjacent to a fireworks factory, in the midst of a densely packed residential area. 300,000 people lost their homes from the explosion, hundreds were killed, and thousands were wounded. 85% of the country's grain storage was destroyed. Several hospitals were destroyed. The explosion was far larger than anyone had ever seen, and property was damaged and windows broken all across the city, and for miles around. The explosion could be heard as far away as Cyprus.

Public officials in Lebanon are all trying to cover their asses to claim that they had nothing to do with storing 2750 tonnes of fertilizer in the seaport for several years, and each one is pointing to someone else to blame. Citizens in Lebanon are blaming the entire government, and demanding that all of it be thrown out.

It's interesting that none of Lebanon's politicians is willing to come to Martyrs' Square to talk with the people. The only politician who did so was France's president Emmanuel Macron, who visited Beirut on Thursday and poignantly went into the square to talk to the people that Lebanon's leaders didn't dare talk to.

Marwan Bishara at al-Jazeera is reporting that Hezbollah officials are referring to the protesters in Martyrs' Square as "the scum of the earth." We'll discuss this more later.

Why was 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in Beirut's seaport for years?

The sequence of events was so ridiculous that it would be a joke if it hadn't ended in catastrophe. Here's a summary:

Theory of Government in Lebanon - Generational Dynamics

Imagine if there were no checks and balances in the US constitution. Donald Trump would have been able to impose all sorts of immigration and other policies with no resistance from the courts or Democrats. Similarly, if the Democrats were in power, they would be able to impose far left Socialist green new deal policies without resistance. It's the checks and balances in the US constitution that prevent radical policies from being implemented, and force compromises.

China illustrates what happens when there are no checks and balances. An example of what happens is Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward policy in 1958-60. This may have been the stupidest, most destructive policy of any nation in the history of the world, and it resulted in tens of millions of unnecessary deaths of innocent Chinese, from starvation, execution and torture, all to impose a Socialist ideology. China's economy still has not recovered from the disaster. It happened because there were no courts to stop it, and any politician who pointed out to Mao that it was failing was tortured and executed. Today, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and dictator Xi Jinping are repeating mistakes in the same way -- genocide, executions, torture, invasion, annexation, and so forth -- and there are no courts or opposition to stop him. China is headed for another disaster. That's what happens when you don't have government checks and balances like the United States.

So that brings us to Lebanon's "dynastic confessional" system of government. Lebanon's "confessional" system of government is defined in its constitution, which requires that the three main government offices be occupied by specific sectarian groups:

Because each sect has complete control of one portion of the government, there are no checks and balances and corruption is rampant, with the leaders of each sect able to steal as much money as they like from their own part of the government.

As time goes on, each sect creates its own dynasty within the section of government that it controls. So one way to think of Lebanon's government is, not as a dictatorship, but as a triple dictatorship, which each dynastic sect have complete dictatorial control over one part of government, with complete power of corruption, and no controls, no checks, no balances.

This system of government was set up that way for a reason. Recall that several paragraphs back I referred to Hezbollah politicians referring to the protesters as "scum of the earth." The different sects of Lebanon are not capable of simply getting along with each other. The level of mutual hatred between the sects runs extremely deep.

Recall Lebanon's last generational crisis war, the civil war of 1975-90, mainly between Muslims versus Christians, killing some 200,000 people. A major event occurred on September 15-16, 1982, when Maronite Christian militias massacred 2-3,000 Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps. This act has haunted Lebanon to this day.

That was less than 40 years ago. Most of the people today vividly remember the horror of that mass slaughter, and many are still traumatized by it. 15 years ago, when I wrote about the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah. I quoted Lebanese President Émile Geamil Lahoud as saying:

"Believe me, what we get from [Israeli bombers] is nothing compared to [what would happen] if there is an internal conflict [a new civil war] in Lebanon. So our thanks comes when we are united, and we are really united, and the national army is doing its work according to the government, and the resistance [Hizbollah] is respected in the whole Arab world from the population point of view. And very highly respected in Lebanon as well."

In 2006, the people of Lebanon were still more sickened and horrified by what they had done to each other in 1982 than in the bombing by Israel's warplanes. The Lebanese feared, above all else, a repeat of something like the 1982 massacre at Sabra and Shatila, and considered that to be a worse possibility than Israeli bombers.

Some 14 more years have passed, but those feelings still remain. There's a terror in the population that a spark will be lit, and there will be another huge, bloody massacre of Lebanese people by other Lebanese people, as happened in 1982.

Lebanon's political situation is complicated in another way. Lebanon has become a vassal state of Iran, which uses Iran to fight its Mideast wars. Iran itself has turned into a full-fledged vassal state of China, who is buying Iranian oil as long as the Iranians do as they're told. A political change in Lebanon could have some kind of chain reaction in Iran and China.

Seeking a political solution in Lebanon

Lebanon is in a generational Awakening era, a time when older traumatized generations who had survived the war do anything possible to prevent it from happening again, while the younger naive generations rebel against the strict rules and institutions that their parents had put in place. In America and Europe, the last Awakening era was the 1960s, following the horrors of World War II.

One thing that WON'T happen in this current crisis in Lebanon is a new civil war. There are too many people who are still traumatized by the memories of the last one, and they won't let it happen again.

But what does happen during an Awakening era is a political climax -- a regime change, a "velvet revolution," "palace coup" or non-violent coup that fundamentally changes the government in a significant way. In America, this was the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974. Another example is Germany's change of government that led to the Weimar Republic in 1918.

So today's protesters in Martyrs' Square are seeking a major political reform: Repeal the dynastic sectarian form of government and replace it with a real democracy with checks and balances.

A solution of this kind will probably be adopted, but it has the problem that it will tear down the firewalls between the sects that the strictly confessional government provides. This would normally lead to low-level clashes among the sects, and then full-scale sectarian civil war again probably around 2040.

The future of Lebanon

Beirut seaport after the explosion on Tuesday (EPA)
Beirut seaport after the explosion on Tuesday (EPA)

It's hard to overstate how devastated Lebanon is. The economy was in a state of collapse before Tuesday, and now hundreds of thousands more are homeless and the food stocks have been destroyed. Lebanon is desperately in need of international aid.

Lebanon has been negotiating for a bailout with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for years. The problem is that there's no point in giving money to Lebanon's corrupt government, since it would just go into the coffers of the cronies of the sleazebag Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, and the others. So the IMF refused to provide money to Lebanon unless Lebanon reforms, which was never going to happen.

On Sunday, Emmanuel Macron will lead an international donors' conference. Macron has already promised that aid to Beirut will not fall into "corrupt hands," but whether there are any non-corrupt hands left in Beirut remains to be seen.


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