Friday, December 27

France, on the ropes

"Attacks against politicians are now commonplace in France ... 'a phenomenon unprecedented since the war in Algeria.' "

"The thread of civilised society in France is slowly being unpicked as the endgame of identity politics is played out on the streets."

France, not Britain, is the real angry and divided nation
By Gavin Mortimer

December 23, 2019
The (U.K.) Spectator

But the dissension in the ranks of the LREM is nothing compared to the divisions across the country in general. Last winter it was the Yellow Vest protests that rattled the government, and this year nationwide strikes against proposed pension reforms have ground France to a halt. For nearly three weeks the majority of the Paris transport network has been shut, and in recent days the far-left CGT (Confédération générale du travail) union has temporarily cut the power of hundreds of thousands of homes across the country.
More blackouts are promised by the union if the government doesn’t scrap its pension plans and in another sign of how radical the strikers are becoming, sports minister Roxana Maracineanu was recently forced to beat a hasty retreat from a football stadium after an angry mob shouted abuse and showered her with drink.
Attacks against politicians are now commonplace in France. A report in Le Figaro in August stated that 121 politicians – one fifth of the parliament – had been targeted since Macron came to power, a figure that the historian Jean Garrigues said was ‘a phenomenon unprecedented since the war in Algeria.’
The majority of the attacks involve damage to property. Most are directed against the ruling LREM party. But there is a growing fear in France that as anger increases, violence could switch from property to people.
If it does it will be following a familiar pattern. The thread of civilised society in France is slowly being unpicked as the endgame of identity politics is played out on the streets.
Last month, 30 extreme-left activists ransacked a bar in Rennes, overturning tables and attacking customers; this month, while in the last week far-right thugs have attacked students in Strasbourg and Lyon.
Lille university was the scene of an ugly incident in November when an anti-capitalist mob invaded the auditorium where former president François Hollande was scheduled to speak and destroyed hundreds of his books. The same ideology was responsible for an attack on a nativity play in Toulouse last weekend when 50 anti-capitalists terrorised a group of children in the name of upholding France’s secularism.
As to the identity of those who desecrated a Jewish cemetery at the start of this month, daubing scores of headstones with Swastikas, that could be the far-right, far-left or Islamist extremists. Such is the prevalence of anti-Semitism in France.
Then there’s the daily intimidation farmers face from animal rights extremists; this year there have been 1,000 incidents logged – from arson to graffiti saying ‘murderers’ daubed on walls – prompting the police to offer security training to farmers.
And, of course, the threat from Islamic extremism remains an ever-present danger, with a new report detailing the cases of 30 French soldiers who have deserted to Jihadist groups in recent years.
Macron has two and a half years to heal the divisions, but optimism doesn’t abound in France that he will succeed. The country is depressed, in every sense of the word, and its people weary, cynical and rebellious.
In fact, France is beginning to resemble the country that Michel Houellebecq depicted in his dystopian novel, Submission, a book that was scorned by the French intelligentsia when it was published in January 2015. They mocked the author’s bleak vision of a France on the cusp of a civil war in the lead up to the 2022 presidential election – but no one is laughing at Houellebecq now.


Latest on OPCW-Syrian chemical attack hoax

"... without waiting for the results of the international investigation, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France hit what they called Damascus’ chemical weapons facilities with over 100 missiles in response to the reported attack."

Senior OPCW Official Ordered to Delete Traces of Reports on Douma Chemical Attack - WikiLeaks
December 27, 2019

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concluded earlier this year that chlorine was most likely used in the suspected April 2018 attack on the city of Douma.
Wikileaks has published the fourth batch of documents from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons pertaining to the probe into the alleged chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma in 2018.
​The whistleblower organisation has shared an e-mail exchange between senior officials from the organisation as well as members of fact-finding mission dealing with the Douma attack.
According to the e-mails, Sebastien Braha, Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, has demanded that an engineering report, as well as all traces of this document, be removed from the organisation's Documents Registry Archive.
The report in question details the findings of a Douma investigation, which indicates that two cylinders located at the site of the purported attack had likely been planted.
Another document published by Wikileaks is from an OPCW staff member meeting dated 6 June 2018. The publication admits that an expert probe conclusively established that there was no correlation between symptoms manifested by the victims and chlorine exposure.
"The symptoms observed were inconsistent with exposure to chlorine and no other obvious candidate chemical causing the symptoms could be identified,” the extract said.
In addition, the whistleblowing website attached correspondence related to last August's meetings of the OPCW personnel with the toxicologists, as well as emails from last July containing instructions that the eight OPCW inspectors deployed to Douma must be barred from discussions regarding the project.

Alleged Douma Attack

Earlier this year, WikiLeaks published several damning leaked documents about the OPCW probe into the Douma incident, including those suggesting that the final report had been significantly doctored and misrepresented facts obtained during missions on the ground.
When the incident was first reported, the West promptly placed the blame on Damascus. However, the Syrian government denied any involvement, saying that the attack was staged by local militants and non-governmental organisation White Helmets. A week after the incident, without waiting for the results of the international investigation, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France hit what they called Damascus’ chemical weapons facilities with over 100 missiles in response to the reported attack.
The OPCW visited the site of the incident to conduct a probe, but not immediately after the alleged attack. In March 2019, it issued a report on its investigation, saying that chlorine was "most likely" the chemical agent used in the incident but stopped short of apportioning blame.

U.S. stabs India in the back. Again.

US approves new military training deal with Pakistan as it seeks to bolster its weakening foothold
Analysis by Shishir Upadhyayais,
former Indian Naval Intelligence Officer, PhD.
December 27, 2019

Barely a year after the Trump administration suspended military training for Pakistan, the US government has approved the resumption of Pakistan’s participation in its International Military Education and Training Program, or IMET.

In 2018, US President Donald Trump signaled his decision, blindsiding the State Department, in a tweet squarely blaming Pakistan for failing to crack down on terrorist groups in their country and providing “nothing but lies and deceit.”

That decision was rolled back by the end of the year – as Pakistan’s strengthening relations with Russia and China threatened to sideline American influence.

Defense training as a policy instrument

Defense training is a useful policy in the long term that helps to cultivate potential military leaders and influencers, particularly in military dominated states such as Pakistan. Trump’s decision to cut-off military training assistance for Pakistan appears to have raised concerns in the State Department over loss of influence in the country, carefully cultivated through years of defense cooperation and training provided to a generation of military officers who trained at various defense establishments in the United States. This move to resume the IMET is clearly an attempt to restore American strategic influence in Pakistan.

Significantly, this comes at a time when the United States government is reviewing training for foreign personnel on American soil, following a recent incident involving a Saudi Royal Air Force officer who opened fire in a classroom at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, killing three American sailors and wounding eight other people, before being shot dead by police. This factor could possibly weigh against the government’s decision when it comes up for a vote in Congress. However, the military establishment in the United States, which has always tried to insulate military-to-military engagements from political tensions, regards that long-term benefits of defense cooperation that could potentially build mutual trust outweigh short-term political risks.

Cutting into regional politics

The resumption of defense training comes in the wake of the Prime Minister Imran Khans’ visit to Washington in July this year, in an attempt to re-boot Pakistan’s relations with the US.

Pertinently, Imran Khan was accompanied by the country’s top military leadership including the Chief of the Army and the Director General of the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), the premier national intelligence agency of Pakistan. In recent years, Pakistan-US strategic ties have declined significantly, with the Trump administration pressuring Pakistan to crack down on terrorist groups within its borders that targeted US troops in Afghanistan. At the same time, the US elevated its relationship with India – which has always opposed US-Pakistan defense cooperation – to a strategic partnership. Evidently, Pakistan’s reacceptance into IMET is likely to upset India.

But for Washington, the wish to have an avenue of influence on the Pakistani military appears stronger than concerns about India’s opinion – especially seeing as how, snubbed by the United States, the Pakistan military has sought to build closer ties with China and even Russia.

Another reason for a closer alliance with Pakistan could be to facilitate Trump’s promised withdrawal from Afghanistan, where the US has lost over 2,200 soldiers over the past 18 years, and spends $45 billion per annum. The Pakistan military could potentially play a crucial role in the ongoing negotiations involving the Taliban and the Afghan government. [Pundita Note re that last sentence: Surely Shishir is joking.]

Military ties mean political influence

The military has always played an instrumental role in Pakistan since its creation in 1947, with the country being ruled by military dictators on three occasions. Even with a civilian government now in place, the influence of the military is massive – and having it as an ally can be seen as a way for Washington to influence Pakistan politically.

Pakistan was a Cold War ally of the United States, at a time when India refused to align with the Americans, and several US presidents, particularly Nixon, were known to be enamored with the Pakistan military. Significantly, during the Cold War in 1971, Pakistan’s military dictator General Yahya Khan brokered the historic Sino-US rapprochement by facilitating Kissinger’s secret trip to China. Over the years, the United States government has advanced strategic ties with the Pakistan military establishment supported by close defense cooperation, including arms sales and training for officers, many of who have since reached senior and influential positions in the government.

Thus, the resumption of the IMET is clearly a step towards preserving American strategic influence in Pakistan by promoting its military engagements in a country that has shown it is ready to turn elsewhere for allies.


See also: Pakistan and state-sponsored terrorism; Wikipedia


Trump is backing al Qaeda in Syria, Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan


Donald Trump, a self-proclaimed man of peace, on a self-proclaimed mission of peace. Just like that other self-proclaimed peacenik Barack Obama. Where do they come from? Where do you think fiends come from?


Wednesday, December 25

They smashed their churches but they could not break Syria's Christians

The remains of ancient Christian books burnt by Daesh militants, found in the ruins of St. George's Church in Al-Hasakah province of Syria.

Above are four of the photographs taken by Valeriy Melnikov for Sputnik's December 2015 photo essay, Rescued at Last: Christian Villages in Syria Liberated from Daesh. Two quotes from the essay:

"Over 30 Christian villages in Al-Hasakah province were completely devastated during the initial attack by Daesh forces."

"Despite being threatened by Daesh extremists, the local residents kept wearing their baptismal crosses and praying."

The caption for the first photograph reads, "A resident of one of the Christian villages in Al-Hasakah province of Syria prays in the ruins of St. George's Church destroyed by Daesh militants."
Merry Christmas to one and all.


Oh no! Germany and France forced to stop feeding al Qaeda in Syria!

"The German and French NGOs, which have been providing food to the Al-Qaeda jihadists and their families via Turkey, will have to stop doing so as from January 2020, now that Ankara -- as per a UN resolution -- is no longer under the obligation to allow the supplies for the jihadists to go through."

Mon Dieu! What are those poor terrorists and their families going to do? Kleenex box, I can't find my -- it's all right, I'll use my sleeve. Wait! I have an idea! Put half on ships to France and the other half to Germany. And send some to the U.K. Now what is 1.5 million divided by three -- never mind, just stuff the starving on ships and get them fed while they're under sail. 

But it's not only the mandate. As of today, I think, they can't get the supplies through, if the Syrian Army has indeed taken control of the M5 highway. But have they? I hope Thierry Meyssan is not experiencing irrational exuberance.  According to his report -- well, here is what it says, below. I should add that I don't think all observers agree the Syrian Army's blitz has been that successful as yet. But remember Thierry lives in Syria, which means he watches Syrian news reports live on TV.

(For readers who ask why he's calling it northwestern Syria when everyone else is calling it southeastern -- that gave me trouble for a moment but I think he takes compassion on people who still can't find Idlib on a map. Anyhow, it's southeastern Idlib in northwestern Syria. Something like that.)

Lightning onslaught to liberate northwestern Syria

24 DECEMBER 2019

The Syrian Arab Republic launched the second stage of its offensive against the residual pocket of Al-Qaeda jihadists (now labeled the Levant Liberation Committee - Hayat Tahrir al-Cham) in Idlib Governorate.

At least 1.5 million jihadists and their families have amassed there, and hold hostage about an equal number of Syrians.

The Syrian Arab Army, covered by the Russian air force, liberated the city of Maarat al-Numan, thereby retaking the M5 motorway connecting Aleppo to Damascus.

In accordance with the agreements concluded in Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), the Turkish army did not intervene.

The German and French NGOs, which have been providing food to the Al-Qaeda jihadists and their families via Turkey, will have to stop doing so as from January 2020, now that Ankara - as per a UN resolution - is no longer under the obligation to allow the supplies for the jihadists to go through.

On 20 December 2019, Germany, Belgium and Kuwait tried to get the Security Council to approve an extension of the cross-border privileges enjoyed by these NGOs. But China and Russia vetoed the motion.

About 400,000 people have fled the fighting. Al-Qaeda jihadists and their families retreated to the city of Idlib, while the Syrians have been accommodated in refugee camps.



Tuesday, December 24

Knock! Knock! Idlib: Who's there? Syrian Arab Army.

"This will be a decisive victory with Damascus regaining control over most of the M5 [highway] and a good part of Idlib governorate."

I wish a very merry Christmas to the Syrian Arab Army and the militias supporting them. Godspeed! Now go get 'em!

SAA at the gates of Ma’arat Al-Nu’man
Sic Semper Tyrannis
December 23, 2019

[Begins with Southfront map and quotes from Al-Masdar News report; see website and links below]

The SAA has been preparing for an offensive to take Ma’arat Al-Nu’man for several weeks at least. In addition to the 25th Division, the 5th Corps and Liwaa Al-Quds are spearheading the offensive along with a host of supporting troops and militia units. Enough mass, I believe, to sustain the offensive until victory is achieved.

Just prior to the start of the SAA offensive, the jihadis of HTS launched their own offensive, a spoiling attack. The gamble did not pay off. The jihadis were able to advance in the first few hours, but were then beaten back… badly. Jihadi losses were around two hundred KIA/WIA along with a lot of equipment. These losses left the jihadis ill-prepared to face the SAA offensive. Jihadi defensive positions, already shattered by weeks of aerial and artillery bombardment, fell quickly all along the front.

In four days of fighting, the SAA took 35 towns and villages.

This will be a decisive victory with Damascus regaining control over most of the M5 and a good part of Idlib governorate. The Turks will probably have to relocate two, if not three, of their OPs.

In the meantime, Christmas celebrations continue in Aleppo. [see website for pix of celebrations]

Through the efforts and sacrifices of the SAA, these scenes will one day be possible throughout Syria. 

FIDO, my brothers, FIDO!



"US, EU begin ditching the Syrian opposition." Where is my Kleenex box?

"The majority of the Syrian opposition groups are now based in Turkey, which is who they receive most of their support from, along with Qatar."

Turkey and Qatar. Muslim Brotherhood supporters.  

Well, here's the report, from Al-Masdar News, published November 22. 

More Syria News:

Here's the transcript of the Phoenix TV (Hong Kong) interview with President Bashar al-Assad, published December 16 at SANA.  After a discussion about situations related to China, Assad talks about the United States of America.   

The Syria you won’t see: Max Blumenthal on visiting Damascus after the proxy war; Grayzone Project, September 24

"Newsweek reporter resigns after accusing outlet of SUPPRESSING story about OPCW leak that undermines Syria ‘gas attack’ narrative;" RT, December 8. 

See also Moon of Alabama's December 15 in-depth backgrounder report on the same incident, "Media Suppressed Evidence Of The OPCW's 'Chemical Attack' Manipulations - There Is Now More Of It."

"Scientific paper arguing Assad not responsible for Syria chemical attack [in Khan Sheikoun] shelved after Bellingcat-led backlash;" RT, October 7

The Road to Damascus: How the Syria War was WonPepe Escobar for Consortium News, October 18.

" ‘You’ve been duped by spooks & terrorists’: Russian military reveals flaws in NYT’s report on Syria hospital bombings;" RT, October 14

Syria’s new border crossing gives Russia land route to the Mediterranean; Al-Masdar News, October 2


Monday, December 23

The oil data revolution, but societies run on the velocity of information exchange, not its accuracy

In March 2007 I wrote about one of the more amazing revelations of the last decade, Who runs the world? You're about to find out:
The world is run by five clerks who work above a grocery store in Geneva, Switzerland. I am not making this up, except the number could be more than five depending on the amount of square footage above the store.
The clerks work for a company called Petrologistics, which is the world's only source for OPEC oil production numbers that come from outside OPEC. That means Petrologistics is the only definitive source for sets of numbers that underpin the entire global financial sector and thus, Petrologistics keeps modern civilization from falling back into the dark ages.
Actually, civilization did manage to function on the packs of lies that the biggest governments in oil-producing nations routinely posted, but it was getting harder to totter along as globalized economic events moved faster and in an increasingly erratic fashion. Petrologistics changed the picture. Now satellite data is changing the picture again, as Irina Slav reported for Oil Price in October 2019:
Satellite data has become instrumental in providing reliable oil supply and production information to an increasingly volatile market. Companies such as Kayrros, OilX, and all use data from satellites as well as other sources to paint a more or less comprehensive picture of oil’s fundamentals and help inform trading decisions.

The growing importance of satellite data in the oil market became acutely evident recently, following the drone and missile attacks on Saudi oil production facilities, MarketWatch’s William Watts wrote last week. He noted that the increasingly frequent satellite launches and the advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence that have combined to create a new, “alternative data” segment in the oil fundamentals market.
After a number of paragraphs that should be read, if you're plugged into the issue of transparency in vital statistics, Irina points  out a snag:
Satellites and artificial intelligence are changing every aspect of the oil industry and oil markets as well, it seems. They can apparently provide much more accurate data about the global supply and production than traditional reports of the sort the EIA releases weekly and OPEC and the IEA monthly. What’s even more important, they can provide it in much shorter timeframes.
On the one hand, this removes some uncertainty from the oil market. On the other, this data could actually increase price volatility when enough of it accumulates.
She ends by observing:
Perhaps traders still prefer to wait for the traditional sources of information to confirm something satellite data providers have registered earlier. Such is the power of authority and reputation. But it is possible the scales could tip the other way as the reliability of the information these “alternative data” sources provide becomes more public.
Yes, very possible. What can we expect then? The cynical answer would be "Not much" because if the velocity of data reporting threatens to destabilize the narratives that mask reality, governments would respond in typical fashion. They would distort satellite data by one means or another or outright quash the information, as they did with the booming oil trade between the Islamic State and Turkey. It took Vladimir Putin passing around photos at a G20 meeting to bust up the Western narrative that they had no real idea where Islamic State was getting all its money from.

But things will be different, as the alternative data sources multiply and become public. Governments will be forced to respond ever more quickly to the sheer velocity of information exchanges.

As long as I'm on the subject of energy, here are other reports that I thought important enough to pass along:

China’s Ultimate Play For Global Oil Market Control; Yossef Bodansky for Oil Price, August 15.  This report is as much about the vast changes underway in the Middle East as in the global oil market. Seffy begins:
All attention is focused on the twists and turns of the very noisy US-Iran dispute in the Persian Gulf, but all the while the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is rapidly and quietly consolidating a dominant presence in the area with the active support of Russia.
Beijing, as a result, is fast acquiring immense influence over related key dynamics such as the price of oil in the world market and the relevance of the petrodollar. The PRC and the Russians are capitalizing on both the growing fears of Iran and the growing mistrust of the US. Hence, the US is already the main loser of the PRC’s gambit.
The dramatic PRC success can be attributed to the confluence of two major trends:
(1) The quality and relevance of what Beijing can offer to both Iran and the Saudi-Gulf States camp; and
(2) The decision of key Arab leaders — most notably Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin ‘Abd al-’Aziz al Sa’ud (aka MBS) and his close ally, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (aka MBZ) — to downgrade their traditional close ties with the US, and reach out to Beijing to provide a substitute strategic umbrella.
As to whether China's galloping strides in the Middle East are a factor in U.S. backchannel diplomacy with Iran, I'd say it's a distinct possibility. See Debkafile's September 30 report, 
Crack in the anti-Iran front: US persuades Saudis to engage Tehran in regional deals. The same could be a big factor in the U.S. deployment of large amounts of equipment and 3,000 troops to Saudi Arabia -- supposedly to counter Iranian actions -- that Riyadh approved in October.

Finally, here is RT's helpful Story of 5 major pipelines explains Europe’s love-hate relationship with Russian energy, published September 26.  

"Deciphering confusion about the Kurds" and the plot to overthrow Trump

Lee Smith, writing for The Washingon Times; January 22, 2019. Map posted in the report:

See also Lee's recently published e-book about the attempted soft coup against President Trump: 
"The Plot Against the President: The True Story of How Congressman Devin Nunes Uncovered the Biggest Political Scandal in U.S. History"


Here is exactly how Erdogan stays in power in Turkey

He does it through an ancient system that while fragmented in most parts of the world today is intact in Turkey.  Ahval lays out the details in their April 26 report, The wheel of fortune that keeps Turkey’s Erdoğan in power.

And while Ahval doesn't make an issue of it, do you notice something odd about the wedding photo in the report? 

That doesn't look like an Islamist wedding dress to me. Could it be that one's financial status in the country is a big determinant of how much Turks must toe the Islamist party line?  

More on Turkey

Turkey Joins Russia's Ruble-Based Alternative To SWIFT; October 9, ZeroHedge 

Yes, the flip side of Open Borders is Brain Drains

“[T]hese nations cannot reach their potential if a generation of youth abandon their homes in search of a life elsewhere.”
-- From Donald Trump's September 24 address to the UN General Assembly

More of Graham Noble's quotes from the speech, which he titled, "Trump To UN: The Future Does Not Belong To Globalists."  I hope he's right. Noble posts at Liberty Nation. 


Brace yourself

I am cleaning out the 'history' section of articles I've collected this past year but didn't get around to posting.  I will now proceed to post those articles I still consider important enough to pass along to readers. Here goes -- 


Thursday, December 19

How to stop illegal migration to the USA

Today the Associated Press published a detailed description of the multi-billion dollar business of smuggling people across the American southern border. ($4 billion annually according to U.S. estimates, $6 billion according to Mexico's government.)  The report begins with a Sinaloa cartel moneyman explaining to an American AP how they smuggle so many people: “We control all the territory” along the frontier with Arizona.

I don't know how that moneyman kept a straight face.  Now for the benefit of the Associated Press reporter and all other Americans who were born yesterday -- that being 96 percent of the populace -- the smuggling industry is run by governments, not crime cartels. 

The governments want USD remittances in large amounts, which is a big slice of their foreign exchange.  

That's been what it's all about ever since the World Bank and China's government with help from banking lobbies that wanted in on the remittances gold rush talked President George W. Bush into making it easy for foreign workers to remit wages earned in the U.S. to relatives in their home country.

That's the ball game, that is what explains the hugeness of the smuggling industry. Everything else -- all the other explanations -- is crap.  Absolute bullshit.   

So, for Americans who are always wondering how is it that these dirt-poor 'economic migrants' are able to scrape together enough in their funny money to pay the smugglers in many thousands of dollars: They're not scraping it together; they're not passing the hat among their relatives, not in many if most cases. They're being paid to get into the United States and get a job, wages from which will, in large measure, be remitted.

That's how important remittances are to governments who are willing to fund the migrations -- funding which goes to crime cartels, which then pass the bulk of the payments they receive back to the governments in the form of bribes or outright payments. Then the governments recycle the payments into funding yet more illegal migrations. 

And so it goes, while the government's coffers from skimming off remittances get bigger and bigger, but without this spent on projects that would encourage their citizens to work in their own country. This for Americans who can't figure out how the governments can afford to keep paying citizens to migrate. The money goes round and round. 

If you ask isn't this self-defeating in the long run? In the long run, we're all dead.  

Now if you know all this, then a solution presents itself, one so simple it hardly needs description. Yes, just make it harder once again to remit wages.  Presto! Ilegal immigration nosedives and without the U.S. spending billions in the attempt to interdict the human wave of illegals at the border and chase them down inside the U.S.   

Here we come to a snag: the financial institutions that clean up by charging a pittance per remittance transaction would have hysterics. Not to mention hysterics from governments that got used to relying on a USD foreign exchange, made possible by large numbers of their citizens working in America.  

But I'm just saying. If Americans are serious about stopping the waves of illegal immigration to the USA, go after the remittances industry instead of trying to empty the ocean with a sieve. 

None of the above should discourage you from reading the Associated Press report, which is interesting as far as it goes. But the report is describing what is in essence window dressing.


Wednesday, December 18

The mother of all Black Swan events is upon us

For the sticklers who say there's really no such thing as a Black Swan event, in the way Nassim Taleb describes it, well, how about 'big surprise?' What creates a big surprise for humanity at large?  An unforeseen convergence of situations coupled with chain reactions or domino effects associated with one or more of the situations. 

The massive die-offs among bird and insect populations are not in themselves unimaginable. And taken singly the reasons that scientists have offered to explain the massive number of deaths are not hard to imagine. But the big surprise is the number of reasons for these die-offs and how they are converging.  

In November Sputnik reported on a new study from Tufts University that found what seems to be a significant causal connection between insect die-offs and nighttime artificial light. The study's authors concluded on a hopeful note:  by reducing reliance on artificial light and shielding outdoor lights, the worst of the problem should be relatively simple to solve.  

Ah but those scientists in the United States weren't mucking around in English cornfields with Simon Leather, a professor of entomology at Harper Adams University in Shropshire.  Last year, Professor Leather delivered some very bad news to a reporter for the Guardian's article Where have all our insects gone?
The fact that insect biomass has been declining at a steady rate for almost three decades strongly suggests some profound influences must be at work. Most entomologists believe habitat change lies at the heart of the problem. “There have been massive alterations to the way we use the land and it is hard not to believe these are closely involved in what we are seeing,” said Leather.
As he points out, intensively farmed wheat and cornfields support virtually no insect life, and this means that as intensive agriculture spreads there are fewer and fewer islands of natural habitat left to support them.
But, but, intensive agriculture is going to save the human race! Do try to keep up, Professor Leather.  

Now you might be happy to know that not everyone is seeing apocalypse around the corner. Consider this November article for, Scientists find no evidence for 'insect Armageddon' but there's still cause for concern. Howeverthose scientists, who did their research at the University of York, were focusing on their little patch -- namely, moths. Meanwhile, to return to the Guardian report, scientists in Scotland were nailing down a connection that the moth researchers hadn't been looking for:
Further confirmation of the link between insect and bird numbers was provided last week with the publication of a study by Aberdeen University researchers which showed that the plunge in numbers of cuckoos in some areas of England was closely linked to declines in tiger moth caterpillars on which cuckoos feed.
“There is now a lot of correlational evidence to show that when certain insects do badly, very often the birds that feed on them get into trouble as well,” said David Gibbon, of the RSPB.
Methinks all this is also known as Complexity Theory. Historians are learning that rarely is there one single event that brings down a civilization or society, although there can be a final straw, a single calamitous event suddenly revealing the weaknesses created by many convergences and chain reactions.

But can the birds and the bees bring down the entire human race?  One thing is by now clear. We're going to learn the answer very soon.

Above photograph of a garden tiger moth caterpillar by H. Lansdown/Alamy, published in the Guardian report.


Monday, December 9

"U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan" This is news?

Another bombshell report, but one that Soros and his buddies can use as part of their new anti-war push. Will that make a difference? Not unless NATO is shut down, the governments in the most powerful Arab Gulf states are wiped out, and England is swallowed up by the sea. Now can we look forward to bombshell reports telling us that U.S. officials -- that would include high-ranking military -- failed to tell the public the truth about the U.S.-led wars in Syria and Iraq and the uh 'operation' in Libya?  As soon as the cows come home.  

Well, here is the bombshell, first published 7 hours ago by The Washington Post. MSN has published an "optimized" version of the report for "offline reading on your apps" but urges readers to read the entire version at Wapo's site. I see that Sputnik hasn't picked up the report yet. I can't wait until they do -- and they will. I hope they publish their version of the report in every language they publish in, which I think is at least 10 ten including Russian and English, of course.  

WaPo's version: 

Confidential documents reveal U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan


Sunday, December 1

Actually, it's well established that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 US election

November 21, BuzzFeed News:
Fiona Hill addressed Republican members of Congress promoting the conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election: "This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves."
November 22, from Yasha Levine's Ukraine and Meddling in 2016
I know I’ve written about this before, but I feel like I have to address it again — seeing how just about every impeachment witness has repeated the claim that meddling by Ukrainian government officials did not happen in 2016 and that anyone who says otherwise is spreading toxic Russian propaganda. I’ve been dipping into these hearings every now and again and I’ve heard this said over and over. It reminds me of those new-age quantum mind-over-matter types in The Secret: Repeat the mantra often enough and convince yourself it’s true and -- it is!
Let’s start with a fact: Meddling in the 2016 election by Ukrainian politicians and government agencies happened.
The above is true and no amount of denial is going to change that. What’s more: Ukrainian nationals didn’t just meddle on their own, they also worked with Americans — including Ukrainian-American political operatives on the payroll of the [U.S.] Democratic Party. Not only did all this happen, it was written up as fact by establishment papers and outlets as varied as Yahoo, Politico, and the Financial Times in 2016 on the eve of the election. (See this by me here.)
 The involvement of Ukrainian pols and officials in all of this has never been secret. It was acknowledged at the time. The principle actors openly talked and bragged about their exploits in the press. And why not? Back in 2016, no one thought that Trump would win the presidency. So why bother hiding it?
Read on for the truth, and the twisted efforts to wipe truth from the record.  


Saturday, November 30

If their lips are moving the British are lying

I respect MoA Bernhard's careful analysis of the Skripal case and his retraction today in light of the OPCW scandal:
The OPCW explained the BZ find by claiming that it had mixed BZ into the probe to test the laboratory. Something which it said it regularly does. At that time I still believed in the OPCW and found that explanation reasonable:
In light of the OPCW management manipulation or suppression of the reports of its own specialists for the purpose of attributing the Douma incident to the Syrian government I have to change my opinion. I hereby retract my earlier acceptance of the OPCW's explanation in the Skripal case.
 As we now know that the OPCW management manipulates reports at will we can no longer accept the 'control probe' excuse without further explanations or evidence.
My own approach to analyzing such matters is simpler: Did it happen in England? Did it have anything to do with Russia? If yes, then the British did it. How they did it makes no matter because discovery could take a half-century. This noted, of course an evidence-based approach to uncovering the truth is always preferable. But the beauty of applying my method of analysis is that one will never have to publish a retraction.