Monday, November 13, 2017

Extortion, blackmail against LGBTQ people common in many African countries, especially Nigeria


A Wordpress posting by Mike Daemon today points to the practice of extortion and blackmail in African countries with strict anti-gay laws, especially after robberies.  The link is here
Right now Nigeria seems to be one of the worst countries for this.  All of that is disturbing, in contradiction to the entrepreneurial aspect of business in Nigeria in a recent report on “Parts Unknown” by Anthony Bourdain. (TV blog, Oct. 15, 2017). 

Wikipedia attribution link by Benji Robinson, CCSA 4.0 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ethiopian communism results in a society of prying eyes


The New York Times has a rather striking article Kimikno de Freytus-Ramura, “We are everywhere: How Ethiopia became the land of prying eyes.”


Communism was presented to me when I was younger as a system where everything you say is watched, and this sounds like it is the case in Ethiopia as the government recruits nested legions on spies on each other in all the villages.  And there seems to be a party system that provides some privilege.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture by Senay of capital Addis Ababab. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pentagon admits it can't take out "Un" threat without ground war in North Korea


NBCNews is reporting that South Korea has said “War with Kim Jong Un must not happen”, story by F. Brinley Bruton, two days after NBC particularly had made a point of reporting Pentagon findings that it would take a ground invasion to remove all of North Korea’s hidden nuclear test sites and missile launchers. 

Of course, air strikes (maybe 4G tactical nuclear weapons based on new laser triggers) from the US could destroy maybe most of these capabilities, but not all, to prevent retaliation, possibly against the US.


This morning the Cato Institute in Washington held a 3 hour forum on what to do about North Korea. I’ll have a detailed posting about it on Wordpress soon, along with complete videos. There was concern that the US does not really have reliable missile defense, and that it may not make sense to defend South Korea forever (that is, in time the old Domino Theory of the LBJ era could kick in).

North Korea has been “warning” Trump not to do or say anything rash on his Asia trip (he will not visit the DMZ).  Fat-shaming chance, as per Milo. ("Fat little rocket man”??) 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Presbyterian group sponsors benefit concert and dance for Syrian and Iraqi refugees


Three Presbyterian churches in northern Virginia (Trinity Presbyterian Church, First Presbyterian Church of Arlington, and Immanuel Presbyterian Church of McLean VA, held a benefit Saturday night “Hope Rising:Refugees Rebuilding Lives” for Syrian and Iraq refugees.

  
The benefit was in part sponsored by Rev. Elmarie Parker and Rev, Scott Parker, from the Associates for Ecumenical Partnerships.  They sponsor a program called “Strong Kids, Strong Emotions”.
  

   
The music was provided by a group called “Collective a’Chord”.  


Thursday, November 2, 2017

CNN interviews military family stationed in South Korea living under threat and possible evacuation order



Brooke Baldwin on CNN interviews a US family living under threat of a “retaliation” from Kim Jong Un from the North.



This is a military family in a “house”. Home is back in the states. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Latest NYC attack invokes the problem of "gratuitous" social media


Certainly this tragedy is going to illustrate how the many in any social group can be punished for the sins of a few. 

Trump says he is eliminating the “diversity lottery” and changing to a “merit-based” system but Congress has little appetite for anything now.  


And what seems particularly disburbing Sayfullo Saipov, from Uzbekistan, not only reportedly bragged to police and seemed well off economically, but that he followed “gratuitous” social media recruiting methods to a tee.   He seems to be radicalized in the US since 2010. 

But he also acted like a self-appointed soldier, who looks at civilians as enemy combatants.


The Boston Tsarnaev brothers had come from part of Russia, and this terrorist comes from a former Soviet republic.  Does a history of communism also play into the mindset?  It should be noted that the only "communist" or post-communist country on any Trump list is North Korea. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Xi Jingping takes on Mao-like powers and status of his "People's Republic of Capitalism"


Chinese president Xi Jingping has outdone Donald Trump, getting his name in the Chinese “constitution”.  Vox has a typical story by Zeeshan Aleem, here

His powers are said to be Mao-like. His ideology sounds like statist nationalism, curiously echoing Donald Trump.  And he plans to crack down on dissent even further.

It seems that authoritarian leaders are getting more determined that only they can right-size everyone and guarantee every citizen that everyone else is kept in his place.  But is this real communism, or statist capitalism?  Mao was serious about the commie stuff.


Yet, everybody (but me) has to do business in China. (Even Facebook tries.)  Blogger is banned in China.  Trump has to count on him to sanction North Korea. 
I wonder why Wordpress is allowed but Google products are not.  It appears that my non-Google hosted sites are accessible in China despite their heavily political content.

Wikipedia attribution link of 2015 meeting by Iran Khamanei with Xi, CCSA 4.0, owned by Iran. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Trump could try a strike after visit to DMZ in November, to "get it done" before the Winter Olympics in South Korea in Feb. 2018, but "Milo-Dangerous"


President Donald Trump is supposed to visit Asia between Nov. 3 and Nov. 14 and is supposed to visit the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea during that period, which could escalate tensions, story

Others have noted the 2018 winter Olympics are to be held in PyeongChang, South Korea, Feb. 9-25.
  
That means that if Trump wants to start a surgical war to stop the DPRK from keeping its nuclear weapons (as if nears the ability to hit he US with thermonuclear weapons and EMP, and may already have that capability), he would risk the South Korean people immediately but the risk to the US would increase in early 2018.  So Trump would appear to have every reason to act before the end of November, to remove the regime "in time" for things to settle down for the Winter Olympics.  A morbid fantasy, maybe/ 


Observers say there is no sign of increased activity at he Pentagon – lights on at night, or Metro traffic.



Here’s a long article by Evan Osnos in The New Yorker, Sept. 18, 2018, “The risk of nuclear war with North Korea”. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Assassination of "Panama Papers" anti-graft journalist in Malta shows independent bloggers can be at risk even in democratic countries


The New York Times has a very disturbing editorial about the recent assassination by car bomb of an independent journalist (that is, blogger) in Malta, “a developed democratic country”, that is, Daphe Caruana Galizia, link here. The opinion rather speaks for itself.  She was known as the “Panama Papers journalist”.


The Washington Post has a detailed story by Eli Rosenberg. Does this filer down to real amateurs?

By Inkwina (talk · contribs) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Singapore's educational system: a model for the world, or authoritarian?


A reader sent me an article on Singapore’s education system as a “world leader”.  That is CM Rubin’s World’s article.  

  

One can wonder if this education system particularly promotes the values of an authoritarian and nationalistic city-state which, however. Is stable and prosperous and has very activist methods to force various national groups to interact, as Fareed Zakaria has often explored. 
  
By Erwin Soo from Singapore, Singapore - view of MBS from the gardens, CC BY 2.0, Link

Monday, October 2, 2017

Catalonia may become independent; could Spain break up?


Catalonia leaders seem determined to make Catalonia a sovereign country, it would seem from this article this evening by Raphael Minder on the New York Times, link here

I visited Bilbao in 2001, stayed near the ETA quarters, where the Basque region has sought similar independence.



Catalonia used to refer to itself as “a country in Spain”.  Isn't that true of Portugal, too? 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Vietnam War myths exposed


Lan Cao has a long piece in the Outlook section of the Washington Post, Sunday Oct. 1, p. B3, “Five Myths: The Vietnam War”, in response to Ken Burns film (TV reviews blog, Sept. 17).


One of the myths is that the War was fought mainly by draftees, although draft calls increases sharply from 1965 through 1968. Another is that the Viet Cong were ragtag;  they were professional North Vietnamese soldiers.  Still is that South Vietnamese soldiers were unwilling to fight.  They were overwhelmed after lack of support in the final years after the US pulled out.

All of this provides lessons for how to handle Korea now. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Saudi Arabia will let women drive, finally


Saudi Arabia will finally allow women to drive, as reported by CNN and multiple sources. But it may take until June 2018 to take effect.


The move is seen as necessary to help the stumbling Saudi economy.  But it breaks up a cultural norm that used to keep women more dependent on men.


CCSA 2.0 Wikipedia attribution link for photo by Six. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trump's speech "warning" North Korea evokes coming perils which Trump may not fully understand (hint: Milo)


NBC News has published Donald Trump’s first United Nations speech here. Trump also slammed Iran (the object of the movie "American Assassin" which I saw today) and Venezuela. The North Korean delegation walked out. 
   
Everybody is talking about the “Rocket Man” threat.  I guess we don’t need to run it further into the ground.  CNN calls this global Trumpism, shattering international norms.  Every country is for itself.  Remember history class in high school?  Remember that essay question on explaining mercantilism?  (I got 15 points off out of 20 in 11th grade on that.)

CNN reports that the "Rocket Man" metaphor has been added to the teleprompter, and that the phrase had come from the British periodical "The Economist". There is also a song by Elton John.
  
To put things bluntly, there are advanced “bunker buster” tactical weapons (including nuclear 4th Generation) that could take out most or all of Un’s missile silos very quickly.  The biggest danger to the US sounds like a level 1 EMP from a missile or maybe a satellite. South Korea could be bombarded with conventional artillery (for a few hours at least) and another level 1 EMP.  Does the US evacuate the South first? Maybe its own citizens? 
  

I think it pays to tweet “@realDonaldTrump” and urge caution.  He actually reads individual people even if he hates the establishment media.



We want diplomacy to work. But down the road (despite Fareed Zakaria’s claims about Un’s “rationality”) we could face the dominoes – demands that the US pull out of defending South Korea completely.  A grave sign would be a missile launch (or even a satellite) that actually does detonate something.  That would ratchet up the immediate risk to the continental U.S. very suddenly. The 2014 Sony hack shows that Un can lose his temper (as can Trump)  -- remember Google’s joke about defending free speech in Seth Rogen (and James Franco) movies?  What if Milo Yiannopoulos fat-shames Kim Jong Un on Breitbart or on his own site.  It sounds so perverse: Un actually gained weight to look like his grandfather, as if this would make his people worship him.  It seemed to work, more fully than any domestic religious cult here (even James Jones).  The idea of doing this sounds unthinkable in the West.  

Update: Sept. 21

In addition to the dotard remarks, North Korea has threatened to detonate a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific, the first nuclear test outside its boundaries.  And it it detonated from a satellite or missile, that would cross a new threshold for Trump, Guardian story.

Update: Oct. 8

There's a lot of attention to Trump's tweets, about the "calm before the storm" and "only one thing will work", Washington Post story.   UK and Russian sources claim that DPRK will probably fire a major ICBM test by Oct. 10 (a Communist holiday) but it is unclear if it can detonate from a missile.  Atlantic has a major piece by Mark Bowden on four strategies for dealing with North Korea here. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dream Act's paradox about "legality"; Army refusing to process immigrant recruits


In the wake of Trump’s waffling policies on DACA, Army recruiters have stopped trying to recruit well-qualified immigrants, writes Alex Horton in the Washington Post Saturday, p. A3, link here

Many existing tentative contracts have been cancelled.

Here's a copy of the proposed Dream Act (S. 1615) right now.  David Bier of Cato points out that the bill would actually favor “illegality”, as paradox.