Study Claims Transgenders Suffering Because Straight People Aren’t Dating Them – Psychology Today Report

Woman's Body

Researchers have long contended that transgender and “non-binary” individuals are at a substantially higher risk of mental illness and suicidal thoughts or actions than the rest of the population.

The attempted suicide rate ranges from 29.9 to 50.8 percent among transgender adolescents according to a paper released by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2018 — research often cited by even the most ardent LGBT advocacy groups.

Now, researchers are arguing that these individuals are further suffering because of American’s unwillingness to date transgender, “non-binary” and questioning individuals.

According to the researchers, Karen L. Blair and Rhea Ashley Hoskin, participants in their survey were asked to consider what type of individual would be included in their “hypothetical” pool of “potential dating partners.”

Participants were then given the options of “a cisgender woman,” “a cisgender man,” “a transgender woman,” “a transgender man” and “a person with a non-binary gender identification,” and told to choose all that apply.

Unsurprisingly, the two Canadian academics found that the vast majority of their 958 respondents would not consider dating someone who identifies as transgender.

“Recently, my colleague and I asked this question of just under 1,000 participants and we published our findings in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,” Blair wrote in a Sunday Psychology Today article laying out the pair’s findings.

“Our results indicated that 87.5% of the participants who were asked this very question only checked off the cisgender options and excluded transgender and non-binary individuals from their hypothetical dating pool,” she added.

And Blair argues, though the question may seem simple or even foolish, that it is anything but “inconsequential.”

“After all, relationships are one of our most important sources of social support. Indeed, our relationships play an important role in our overall mental and physical well-being and our relationships are a better predictor of how long we’ll live than smoking or obesity!” she continues.

Therefore, if relationships are a better indicator of health, well-being and life expectancy, the smaller “dating pool” created by lack of attraction from straight, “cisgender” people must have profound impacts on transgenders, Blair contends.

The remainder of her Psychology Today article did not shy away from the opportunity to not-so-subtly blaming straight people’s lack of attraction to the transgender community for higher rates of suicide and other mental health problems.

Progressive as she is, Blair included a disclaimer indicating that the goal of her research was not to shame anyone for their preferences or tell them who to pursue — everyone does have the “freedom to decide whom they date,” she said.

But just as previous research was done on the acceptance of different races into the American culture and dating pool, Blair argues her research will serve to illuminate the underlying “prejudice” that leads the straight community to find transgenders unattractive.

“However,” Blair wrote. “Understanding the extent to which trans individuals are excluded from the realm of dating can serve as a benchmark for where society currently stands with respect to including trans and non-binary individuals.”

And it is not until the straight community begins dating transgenders at a higher rate that Western civilization will truly show itself to be accepting and safe for the LGBT community.

“(I)t is one thing to make space for diverse gender identities within our workplaces, schools, washrooms and public spaces,” Blair wrote. “But it is another to fully include and accept gender diversity within our families and romantic relationships.

“Ultimately, however, this research underscores the consequences of shared societal prejudices that impact our trans friends, partners, family members, and coworkers on a daily basis.”

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Boeing’s 737 MAX software outsourced to $12.80-an-hour engineers – By Peter Robison (Sidney Morning Herald) 29 June 2019

It remains the mystery at the heart of Boeing’s 737 MAX crisis: how did a company renowned for meticulous design make seemingly basic software mistakes leading to a pair of deadly crashes?

Longtime Boeing engineers say the effort was complicated by a push to outsource work to lower-paid contractors.

The MAX software — plagued by issues that could keep the planes grounded months longer after US regulators this week revealed a new flaw — was developed at a time Boeing was laying off experienced engineers and pressing suppliers to cut costs.

Were cost cuts ultimately behind the Boeing 737 MAX disasters?
Were cost cuts ultimately behind the Boeing 737 MAX disasters?

Increasingly, the iconic American planemaker and its subcontractors have relied on temporary workers making as little as $US9 ($12.80) an hour to develop and test software, often from countries lacking a deep background in aerospace — notably India.

In offices across from Seattle’s Boeing Field, recent college graduates employed by the Indian software developer HCL Technologies occupied several rows of desks, said Mark Rabin, a former Boeing software engineer who worked in a flight-test group that supported the MAX.

The coders from HCL were typically designing to specifications set by Boeing. Still, “it was controversial because it was far less efficient than Boeing engineers just writing the code,” Rabin said. Frequently, he recalled, “it took many rounds going back and forth because the code was not done correctly.”

Boeing’s cultivation of Indian companies appeared to pay other dividends. In recent years, it has won several orders for Indian military and commercial aircraft, such as a $US22 billion one in January 2017 to supply SpiceJet.

That order included 100 737-MAX 8 jets and represented Boeing’s largest order ever from an Indian airline, a coup in a country dominated by Airbus.

Based on resumes posted on social media, HCL engineers helped develop and test the MAX’s flight-display software, while employees from another Indian company, Cyient, handled software for flight-test equipment.

Costly delay

In one post, an HCL employee summarised his duties with a reference to the now-infamous model, which started flight tests in January 2016: “Provided quick workaround to resolve production issue which resulted in not delaying flight test of 737-MAX (delay in each flight test will cost very big amount for Boeing).”

Boeing said the company did not rely on engineers from HCL and Cyient for the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which has been linked to the Lion Air crash last October and the Ethiopian Airlines disaster in March.

The Chicago-based planemaker also said it didn’t rely on either firm for another software issue disclosed after the crashes: a cockpit warning light that wasn’t working for most buyers.

“Boeing has many decades of experience working with supplier/partners around the world,” a company spokesman said. “Our primary focus is on always ensuring that our products and services are safe, of the highest quality and comply with all applicable regulations.”

In a statement, HCL said it “has a strong and long-standing business relationship with The Boeing Company, and we take pride in the work we do for all our customers. However, HCL does not comment on specific work we do for our customers. HCL is not associated with any ongoing issues with 737 MAX.”

Boeing's 737 MAX planes have been grounded since March. Now a new design fault has emerged.

Recent simulator tests by the Federal Aviation Administration suggest the software issues on Boeing’s best-selling model run deeper. The company’s shares fell this week after the regulator found a further problem with a computer chip that experienced a lag in emergency response when it was overwhelmed with data.

Engineers who worked on the MAX, which Boeing began developing eight years ago to match a rival Airbus plane, have complained of pressure from managers to limit changes that might introduce extra time or cost.

“Boeing was doing all kinds of things, everything you can imagine, to reduce cost, including moving work from Puget Sound, because we’d become very expensive here,” said Rick Ludtke, a former Boeing flight controls engineer laid off in 2017. “All that’s very understandable if you think of it from a business perspective. Slowly over time it appears that’s eroded the ability for Puget Sound designers to design.”

Rabin, the former software engineer, recalled one manager saying at an all-hands meeting that Boeing didn’t need senior engineers because its products were mature. “I was shocked that in a room full of a couple hundred mostly senior engineers we were being told that we weren’t needed,” said Rabin, who was laid off in 2015.

‘Nonsense’

The typical jetliner has millions of parts — and millions of lines of code — and Boeing has long turned over large portions of the work to suppliers who follow its detailed design blueprints.

Starting with the 787 Dreamliner, launched in 2004, it sought to increase profits by instead providing high-level specifications and then asking suppliers to design more parts themselves.

The thinking was “they’re the experts, you see, and they will take care of all of this stuff for us,” said Frank McCormick, a former Boeing flight-controls software engineer who later worked as a consultant to regulators and manufacturers. “This was just nonsense.”

Sales are another reason to send the work overseas. In exchange for an $US11 billion order in 2005 from Air India, Boeing promised to invest $US1.7 billion in Indian companies. That was a boon for HCL and other software developers from India, such as Cyient, whose engineers were widely used in computer-services industries but not yet prominent in aerospace.

Boeing 737 MAXs around the world have been grounded since March 13.

Rockwell Collins, which makes cockpit electronics, had been among the first aerospace companies to source significant work in India in 2000, when HCL began testing software there for the Iowa-based company. By 2010, HCL employed more than 400 people at design, development and verification centers for Rockwell Collins in Chennai and Bangalore.

That same year, Boeing opened what it called a “center of excellence” with HCL in Chennai, saying the companies would partner “to create software critical for flight test.” In 2011, Boeing named Cyient, then known as Infotech, to a list of its “suppliers of the year” for design, stress analysis and software engineering on the 787 and the 747-8 at another centre in Hyderabad.

The Boeing rival also relies in part on offshore engineers. In addition to supporting sales, the planemakers say global design teams add efficiency as they work around the clock.

But outsourcing has long been a sore point for some Boeing engineers, who, in addition to fearing job losses say it has led to communications issues and mistakes.

Moscow mistakes

Boeing has also expanded a design centre in Moscow. At a meeting with a chief 787 engineer in 2008, one staffer complained about sending drawings back to a team in Russia 18 times before they understood that the smoke detectors needed to be connected to the electrical system, said Cynthia Cole, a former Boeing engineer who headed the engineers’ union from 2006 to 2010.

“Engineering started becoming a commodity,” said Vance Hilderman, who co-founded a company called TekSci that supplied aerospace contract engineers and began losing work to overseas competitors in the early 2000s.

US-based avionics companies in particular moved aggressively, shifting more than 30 per cent of their software engineering offshore versus 10 per cent for European-based firms in recent years, said Hilderman, an avionics safety consultant with three decades of experience whose recent clients include most of the major Boeing suppliers.

With a strong US dollar, a big part of the attraction was price. Engineers in India made around $US5 an hour; it’s now $US9 or $US10, compared with $US35 to $US40 for those in the US on an H1B visa, he said. But he’d tell clients the cheaper hourly wage equated to more like $US80 because of the need for supervision, and he said his firm won back some business to fix mistakes.

Dozens of grounded Boeing 737 MAX plans crowd a parking area in Seattle. Are there other Boeing models with software problems?

HCL, once known as Hindustan Computers, was founded in 1976 by billionaire Shiv Nadar and now has more than $US8.6 billion in annual sales. With 18,000 employees in the US and 15,000 in Europe, HCL is a global company and has deep expertise in computing, said Sukamal Banerjee, a vice president.

It has won business from Boeing on that basis, not on price, he said: “We came from a strong R&D background.”

Still, for the 787, HCL gave Boeing a remarkable price – free, according to Sam Swaro, an associate vice president who pitched HCL’s services at a San Diego conference sponsored by Avionics International magazine in June.

He said the company took no up-front payments on the 787 and only started collecting payments based on sales years later, an “innovative business model” he offered to extend to others in the industry.

The 787 entered service three years late and billions of dollars over budget in 2011, in part because of confusion introduced by the outsourcing strategy.

Under Dennis Muilenburg, a longtime Boeing engineer who became chief executive in 2015, the company has said that it planned to bring more work back in-house for its newest planes.

Engineer backwater

The MAX became Boeing’s top seller soon after it was offered in 2011. But for ambitious engineers, it was something of a “backwater,” said Peter Lemme, who designed the 767’s automated flight controls and is now a consultant.

The MAX was an update of a 50-year-old design, and the changes needed to be limited enough that Boeing could produce the new planes like cookie cutters, with few changes for either the assembly line or airlines. “As an engineer that’s not the greatest job,” he said.

Rockwell Collins, now a unit of United Technologies, won the Max contract for cockpit displays, and it has relied in part on HCL engineers in India, Iowa and the Seattle area. A United Technologies spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Under Dennis Muilenburg, a longtime Boeing engineer who became chief executive in 2015, the company has said it plans to bring more work back in-house for its newest planes.
Under Dennis Muilenburg, a longtime Boeing engineer who became chief executive in 2015, the company has said it plans to bring more work back in-house for its newest planes.

Contract engineers from Cyient helped test flight test equipment. Charles LoveJoy, a former flight-test instrumentation design engineer at the company, said engineers in the US would review drawings done overnight in India every morning at 7:30 am.

“We did have our challenges with the India team,” he said. “They met the requirements, per se, but you could do it better.”

Multiple investigations – including a US Justice Department criminal probe – are trying to unravel how and when critical decisions were made about the MAX’s software. During the crashes of Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines planes that killed 346 people, investigators suspect, the MCAS system pushed the planes into uncontrollable dives because of bad data from a single sensor.

That design violated basic principles of redundancy for generations of Boeing engineers, and the company apparently never tested to see how the software would respond, Lemme said.

‘Stunning fail’

“It was a stunning fail,” he said. “A lot of people should have thought of this problem – not one person – and asked about it.”

Boeing also has disclosed that it learned soon after MAX deliveries began in 2017 that a warning light that might have alerted crews to the issue with the sensor wasn’t installed correctly in the flight-display software.

A Boeing statement in May, explaining why the company didn’t inform regulators at the time, said engineers had determined it wasn’t a safety issue.

“Senior company leadership,” the statement added, “was not involved in the review.”

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San Francisco CA: School Board Votes to Paint Over Historic Works of Art – Erasing History to Fight ‘Racism’ – by Vivian Ho (Guardian) 27 June 2019

 

San Francisco school board votes to paint over murals showing slavery and violence

The San Francisco Board of Education is currently considering the removal and destruction of 83-year-old murals depicting the life of George Washington, which treat the issues of slavery and Native American genocide. The campaign against the art work is censorious and deeply misguided, bound up with contemporary identity politics, and has nothing progressive about it.

 

A mural at George Washington high school.
A mural at George Washington high school.

The San Francisco school board has unanimously voted to paint over a series of graphic school murals featuring a dead Native American and black slaves, overruling community outcry over censorship in favor of righting a historical wrong.

SF Censorship

“People keep pointing out that this is art, but it can be art and it can also be racist,” said Alison Collins, a board member. “The people who created the art may not have intended it to be harmful, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful.”

Thirteen murals in total have covered the walls of George Washington High School since its opening in 1936, two of which have been the subject of complaints since the 1960s. The debate has re-emerged over the last couple of years due to the possibility of the school’s designation as a historical landmark, an action that would make the murals very difficult to remove.

Mural 00

The works were created shortly before the opening of the school by renowned artist Victor Arnautoff, a Russian immigrant, as a project of the federal government’s Works Progress Administration (WPA).

The artwork at George Washington high school in San Francisco has faced heightened scrutiny since April, when an ad hoc committee recommended that it be archived and removed. But the murals themselves have been the subject of student complaint for at least five decades.

The 1,600-sq-ft New Deal-era art installation, painted by the Russian emigre Victor Arnautoff, depicts the life of Washington in 13 scenes and spans the space of the school’s staircase and lobby.

mural 2

In one, Washington stands over a map of a young America while pointing westward as four white settlers with rifles walk over the body of a deceased Native American. At the dead man’s feet, another Native American, wearing a headdress, shares a pipe with an armed white man.

In another scene, Washington meets a white man gesturing at some of Washington’s slaves at work: a shoeless black man shucking corn, three stooped black women picking cotton and another black man hammering wood for a group of white men manufacturing barrels.

mural 1

“I was never taught the purpose or message of these murals when I was in high school,” said Nancy Trong, a George Washington high school alum, at the school board meeting. “These murals are not teaching students about the history of slavery or historical genocide that happened under George Washington and other settlers. Instead, it is teaching students to normalize violence and death of our black and indigenous communities.”

Arnautoff, the mural painter,  had an extraordinary history. During the civil war that followed the October Revolution in Russia, Arnautoff served as a cavalry captain in the counter-revolutionary White Army. Later, he supervised the cavalry of a Chinese warlord! He eventually emigrated to the US and arrived in San Francisco in 1925. Four years later, Arnautoff moved his family to Mexico and became an assistant muralist to Diego Rivera, the great left-wing Mexican artist. In the 1930s, he became the best-known muralist in San Francisco.

In the meantime, Arnautoff had shifted politically to the left and joined the Communist Party. While teaching art at Stanford University in the 1950s, he was investigated and interrogated by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Stanford was urged to dismiss him, which to its credit, the university did not do. After retiring, Arnautoff moved to the Soviet Union where he died in 1979.

Along with the striking murals at George Washington High School, Arnautoff completed numerous projects around San Francisco, including murals at the Palo Alto Clinic, Presidio Chapel, the library at the California School of Fine Arts and Coit Tower.

The complaints against the high school murals—produced during a period when left-wing views dominated artistic circles in San Francisco, a city that had experienced a historic general strike only two years earlier, in July 1934—are wrongheaded from every point of view.

The cost of painting over the murals will be at least $600,000, while obscuring the artwork with panels could cost up to $825,000.

Many argued at the meeting that it did not appear to be the artist’s intent to celebrate these acts of violence and subjugation, and that students needed to learn about this too-often overlooked part of this country’s history.

“These murals are not racist,” argued Jeff Powers, a member of the Socialist Workers Party. “They don’t glorify racism. They’re an artist’s interpretation of a society that is racist, and it’s important for us to study that and look at these murals.”

mural 3

In one of the disputed murals, a dead Native American is shown on the ground in a scene depicting the westward expansion of US capitalism in the mid-19th century. The mural is obviously intended to shed light on the forced removal and mass destruction of the Native American population and offers a critical view that was previously often neglected or ignored in American schools.

In the second controversial mural, slaves belonging to George Washington are shown working in the fields at Mount Vernon, Washington’s estate in Virginia, and presumably being bought or sold at auction. In other words, Arnautoff’s work was hardly hagiographic. It attempted to present the contradictory reality of early American life.

Arnautoff carried out the work using the buon fresco process (also used by Rivera in his murals in Detroit and elsewhere), “painting with earth-tone pigments directly onto the building’s wet plaster before it dried,” according to the Richmond District Blog.

But those in favor of the removal pointed out that by presenting the murals without context, the school wasn’t educating the students. Instead, those unaffected by the history grew inured to the violent images, joking to “meet under the dead Indian”, while the students from the communities depicted suffered in silence.

“It’s not a matter of censorship, it’s a matter of human right: the right to learn without hostile environments,” said Paloma Flores, a member of California’s Pitt River Tribe who is also the district’s Indian education program coordinator. “Even the best intentions do harm, and one’s intent does not negate all the lived experience that we live every single day of our lives.”

OutsideLands.org reports, “Since murals have to be painted on a wet surface, Mr. Arnautoff had to follow right behind the plasterers, and a scene, once begun, had to be completed that same day, in order that the walls did not dry. Carpenters and plasterers worked all around the building, while Mr. Arnautoff was above on a scaffold.

“The artist was so rushed for time that he had to improvise as he was painting. Covering about nine feet of wall a day, he sometimes worked from ten to twelve hours a day to finish a given section. The murals took ten months to complete; ironically, the school was not opened until a full year later.”

This remarkable artistic achievement, for which Arnautoff did extensive historical research, now faces possible destruction (the murals are so embedded that they cannot be removed from the walls), thanks to petty bourgeois elements who claim the work is “offensive” and “traumatizing.”

The San Francisco Unified School Board (SFUSD) appointed a “Reflection and Action Group” largely made up of opponents of the murals to make a recommendation about whether to keep or remove the work. The group recently voted 12 to 1 in favor of removing all 13 murals from the walls.

The group members came to their recommendation, they asserted in a statement, “due to the continued historical and current trauma of Native Americans and African Americans with these depictions in the mural that glorifies slavery, genocide, colonization, manifest destiny, white supremacy, oppression, etc. This mural doesn’t represent SFUSD values of social justice, diversity, united, student-centered. It’s not student-centered if it’s focused on the legacy of artists, rather than the experience of the students.”

No objective observer could possibly conclude that the murals “glorify” slavery or genocide. The use of phrases such as “social justice” and “bias through stereotypes” are simply plucked out of thin air and divorced from any historical or political context to serve a right-wing and repressive agenda.

Tellingly, the current identity politics campaign arises in regard to a critical portrayal of Washington’s historical role. Numerous attempts have been made by similar layers in recent years to deny any progressive content to the American Revolution, one of the earthshaking events that ushered in the modern world. As the WSWS has explained, the American Revolution “was a bourgeois-democratic revolution, and not a socialist revolution. It could assert universal human equality, but it could not bring it about. Yet, like all great historical events, it had implications and consequences that went beyond the constraints imposed upon it by its own time.”

George Washington, the subject of the murals in question and the school’s namesake, was a contradictory figure, like all bourgeois revolutionaries. A slave owner, he also led a struggle against the powerful British monarchy, the divine right of kings and for a world rooted in the progressive ideals of the Enlightenment, a struggle that inspired revolutionaries and revolutions in different parts of the world. The “implications and consequences” of the American Revolution ultimately included the bloody conflict that erupted some 80 years later, the Civil War, which violently destroyed the slave system.

The great abolitionist Frederick Douglas, in his famous 1852 speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?,” indicted slavery and inequality in the US, but pointed at the same time to the radical impulse of the American Revolution. He paid this tribute to the Founding Fathers, “With them, nothing was ‘settled’ that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were ‘final’; not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation.”

The claim made by Stevon Cook, president of the San Francisco Board of Education, that Arnautoff’s honest and dynamic murals are “offensive to certain communities” (New York Times) simply doesn’t hold water. It largely “offends” middle class elements who do not want students to encounter complex and challenging art work. In the end, well-heeled African Americans and other prosperous minorities fear the radicalizing influence of such efforts.

In any event, if all potentially “offensive” art were removed, what would be left? Notably, the Times article admits that when a class of 49 freshman was asked to write essays about the frescoes, “Only four favored removal.” One student wrote, “The fresco shows us exactly how brutal colonization and genocide really were and are. The fresco is a warning and reminder of the fallibility of our hallowed leaders.”

While scrolling through the comments sections beneath the various articles published following the release of the Reflection and Action Group’s recommendation, it is difficult to find a single reader supporting the removal of the murals. Many school alumni and teachers, as well as current students, have criticized the group and expressed support for the murals. Some of the alumni argue that exposure to Arnautoff’s work was one of the most memorable educational experiences during their time at the school.

On one blog, Stephanie Glick Dove wrote, “Please do not whitewash our history. It’s dangerous not to have these images of our history to learn from. We need to keep examples of our past to save our future.”

Another comment reads, “Why would anyone want them removed or destroyed, they are art. I thought only fascists destroyed works of art. It’s hard to believe the painter a persecuted Russian immigrant in 1936 would create something offensive and city officials would let him do it.”

One could draw a parallel between the current attack on the high school murals and the campaign Arnautoff and other left-wing artists faced when painting the Coit Tower murals, a project that coincided almost exactly with the 1934 General Strike.

Because Arnautoff and his collaborators adopted a realistic and sympathetic attitude toward the strike in their work, they faced scrutiny as “communist agitators.” The opening of the murals was delayed and at the time of their public unveiling, a San Francisco Chronicle columnist commented, “The very fact that there is a continuous controversy about the Coit Tower murals would show that there is something wrong with them. … The humble writer’s shrewd guess is that the next generation will have these daubs painted out in a delicate light green by a union house painter.” Mural at George Washington High School

Another historical parallel, of course, and one that is equally unflattering, would be the destruction of Diego Rivera’s fresco, Man at the Crossroads, in the lobby of New York City’s Rockefeller Center in 1934. Nelson Rockefeller ordered the plastering over of the work because it included an image of Vladimir Lenin.

Suppose an artist had the audacity to propose painting a mural depicting the millions of victims of US wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan in a high school today? Or a work exposing the brutal treatment of children and families held in private detention centers on the US border with Mexico? What sort of reception would this receive from the media and political establishment?

Historical debates reveal as much or more about the present as they do about the past.

The current controversy around the George Washington High School murals painted in 1936 points to two interrelated processes: the turbulent movement of the working class and youth to the left and the rapid movement of selfish, aspiring layers of the upper middle class in the other direction.

https://archive.fo/mdGaN

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中国:维吾尔人和政治伊斯兰教 – 2019年6月25日

谷歌翻译
Gǔgē fānyì
………………..

我记得,正如大多数人所做的那样,中央情报局在中国的一些邻国的帮助下,投入了3000万美元来破坏西藏的稳定,基本上资助和培训了康巴叛乱的参与者,并最终寻求取消来自西藏的达赖喇嘛 – 他们做了。他们护送他离开西藏到达兰萨拉。在冷战期间,维吾尔人也做出了类似的努力,从未真正起步过。在这两种情况下,你都有宗教信仰挥舞着支持独立或自治的愿望,这当然是任何国家的诅咒。美国大使查斯。 H.弗里曼。

由于我们的媒体仅限于不受支持的指控,我收集了几个关于新疆事件的第一手资料,新疆是我自己从未去过的中国地区。

许多中国人认为维吾尔族是一个生活在中国之前的土地上的一个被蒙古的白人帝国主义军队的后代。埃德加·斯诺[1]于1937年访问新疆,并报道说,“特别是在九世纪,当大量的Ouigour土耳其人(其伟大的领袖塞尔柱人尚未出生)被召唤到唐阁以镇压叛乱,伊斯兰教在中国根深蒂固。在他们取得成功之后,许多Ouigours获得了头衔和大型庄园的奖励,并在西北部和四川和云南定居。几个世纪以来,穆罕默德人坚决抵制中国人的吸收,但逐渐失去了土耳其文化,采用了大量的中国人,并且或多或少地接受了中国法律。然而在十九世纪,他们仍然有足够的力量为权力做出两次巨大的竞标:一次是杜维秀在云南建立一个王国并宣布自己为苏丹苏莱曼;最后,在1864年,当穆罕默德人控制了整个西北地区,甚至入侵了Hupeh。“

伊斯兰教既不是维吾尔人的本土宗教,也不是他们唯一的宗教信仰,但是,在它的Wahabbi形式中,它在全世界造成了问题,我们可以感谢两位热心的基督徒,吉米卡特和兹比格涅夫布热津斯基,[2]他们认为团结一致欧亚大陆,“对美国霸权唯一可能的挑战。”

1979年,苏联进入阿富汗前几个月,布热津斯基起草,卡特签署了一项绝密的总统令,授权中央情报局培训原教旨主义穆斯林,以对抗苏联共产党的异教徒以及保守的逊尼派伊斯兰教的所有不信者和圣战组织的反恐战争。阿富汗的苏联士兵成为中央情报局历史上最大的秘密行动。[2]布热津斯基的“危机之弧”策略激怒了中亚的穆斯林,在经济危机期间破坏了苏联的稳定,当Le Nouvel Observateur后来问他是否有任何遗憾时,布热津斯基猛地说,“对世界历史最重要的是什么?一些激动的穆斯林或中欧的解放?“

维吾尔族人在第二次世界大战期间与日本人合作,并在靖国神社参拜靖国神社之后与美国政府客户热比娅卡德尔合作,将新疆战后归还中国政府称为“重新征服”。卡德尔女士的关系很有趣。 20世纪90年代末,东土耳其斯坦伊斯兰运动的创始人哈桑·马苏姆将其总部迁至喀布尔,并会见了乌萨马·本·拉丹和受中央情报局训练的塔利班,协调中亚各地的行动。 1995年伊斯坦布尔市市长雷杰普·塔伊普·埃尔多安宣称:“东突厥斯坦[新疆]不仅是突厥人民的家园,也是突厥历史,文明和文化的摇篮。忘记这将导致我们对自己的历史,文明和文化的无知。东土耳其斯坦的殉道者是我们的殉道者。“在埃尔多安土耳其之下,土耳其成为运往叙利亚的国际恐怖分子的过境点,土耳其机场充斥着乘坐土耳其护照旅行的维吾尔人。

二十年后,在1999年,中央情报局的伊斯兰战略家格雷厄姆·富勒宣布:“指导伊斯兰教进化并帮助他们对抗我们的敌人的政策在阿富汗对俄罗斯人的表现非常好。同样的理论仍然可以用来破坏俄罗斯剩余的权力,特别是对抗中国在中亚的影响力。“[3]

我们将回到富勒先生那里,但首先,来自F. William Engdahl的一些背景,“今天西方 – 特别是华盛顿 – 正在进行针对中国稳定的全面非正规战争。最近几个月,西方媒体和华盛顿政府已经开始对中国西北部新疆的大规模拘禁营地发出色调和呐喊,据说多达一百万维吾尔族华人被拘留并接受各种形式的“再教育”。关于这些指控的一些事情值得注意,尤其是所有这些都来自西方媒体和像人类Ri这样的“民主”非政府组织 观察,其真实性的记录留下了一些不足之处。“

以不容忍为目标抓住中国将是艰苦的工作。这本最早出版的印刷书籍的版本 – 金刚经的九世纪中文译本 – 写着“为了普遍免费发行”。虽然三分之二的中国人是西方意义上的无神论者,四分之一是非宗教道家,他们的宪法保障政府批准的宗教组织的礼拜自由,他们的政府支持七十四所神学院,七千七百座西藏寺院,三千宗宗教组织,八万五千宗教场所和三十万全职天主教,新教,佛教,古代中国人,道教和穆斯林神职人员。 2000年的人口普查记录了2030万穆斯林:120万哈萨克人,840万维吾尔人和980万回族。哈萨克人和回族穆斯林都没有造成麻烦。

富勒先生与维吾尔族领导人在名字基础上。波士顿马拉松Tsarnaev兄弟的叔叔Ruslan Tsarni在20世纪90年代与富勒的女儿萨曼莎结婚,并且是中情局签约的兰德公司的雇员。在2013年波士顿爆炸事件后的媒体采访中,“鲁斯兰叔叔”在谴责他的两名侄子同时核实联邦调查局对他们的描绘时表现过度。媒体忽视了这样一个事实,即Tsarni不仅担任RAND和USAID等中央情报局前线的顾问,还担任Halliburton的承包商,但甚至建立了一个名为车臣国际组织大会的实体,该组织使用富勒的马里兰州支持高加索地区的伊斯兰分离主义武装分子。 home作为其注册地址。

在2000年代在巴基斯坦部署伊斯兰主义者以破坏中国的基础设施,在缅甸破坏中缅能源资产以及整个苏丹,利比亚和叙利亚扼杀中国的石油和天然气富勒说:“维吾尔人确实与外面的穆斯林团体保持联系新疆,其中一些人在这个过程中被激进化为更广泛的圣战政治,少数人早先参与了在阿富汗的游击队或恐怖主义训练,有些人与国际穆斯林圣战者在世界范围内为穆斯林独立斗争而斗争。“富勒指派他们利用2008年北京夏季奥运会,削弱对中国政府的信任,并挑起西方媒体可能谴责为“人权犯罪”的镇压。在奥运会开幕前三周,他主持了一次会议,“东突厥斯坦:共产党执政60年”和国家民主基金会,NED,[4]为世界维吾尔代表大会(WUC)的移民组织处理公关由亿万富翁热比娅卡德尔[5]和她的丈夫,美国之音员工西迪克鲁兹领导。他们的意识形态[6]很熟悉。

在奥运会前夕,中国南方航空公司的一次自杀性爆炸事件被挫败,但新疆南部喀什的恐怖分子在开幕前四天杀死了十六名警察。第二年,维吾尔族极端分子在乌鲁木齐又杀害了两百人,但西方媒体拒绝将这些袭击描述为恐怖主义和暴力行为的继续:

2013年10月:北京天安门广场的ETIM袭击造成五人死亡。
2014年2月:昆明火车站的一次刀袭击造成30人死亡。
2014年4月:乌鲁木齐发生一起刀袭炸弹袭击,造成3人死亡,79人受伤。
2014年5月:两辆汽车撞上了乌鲁木齐的一个市场,袭击者投掷爆炸物,造成31人死亡。
2014年9月:自杀式炸弹袭击和冲突造成50人死亡,50人受伤。
2015年10月:对煤矿的刀攻击造成50人死亡。

然后是叙利亚战争,在2017年5月叙利亚和中国商人在北京举行的会议期间,叙利亚驻中国大使[7]以惊人的数字惊吓了5000名记者,据称他们在叙利亚争夺的维吾尔族人数为5000人。各种圣战组织。许多人已经返回中国,12,900人(维吾尔族家庭坚持旅行和待在一起,甚至在监狱里)被判处长达两年的徒刑,主要是因为非法入境并被关押在再教育营地。 NED没有隐瞒其参与:

国民民主进程

中国(新疆/东突厥斯坦)。亚洲中国[新疆/东突厥斯坦]维吾尔人权项目的宣传和推广。 $ 310,000。

提高对维吾尔人权问题的认识,并在全球范围内突出这些问题。受让人将研究,记录并提供有关影响维吾尔族在中国的侵犯人权行为的独立而准确的信息。它还将与中国公民进行外联,以改善维吾尔人的人权状况。受助人将为维吾尔族青年组织领导和宣传培训研讨会;监督,记录和突出东突厥斯坦/新疆的侵犯人权行为;并加强对维吾尔族问题的宣传

今天,NED资金支持世界维吾尔代表大会(WUC),称中国的新疆省“东突厥斯坦”和中国的新疆政府称为“中国占领东突厥斯坦”,发表文章如“热门:热比娅卡德尔的简介”,无畏的维吾尔独立活动家,“并承认,卡德尔寻求维吾尔独立于中国。

面对武装叛乱,大多数州实施戒严或紧急状态,正如英国在1945年至1957年间在马来亚所做的那样以及美国在“爱国者法案”中所做的那样,但中国决定 – 尽管民众愤慨 – 将其损失和游戏归还漫长的比赛。

中国与哈萨克斯坦,吉尔吉斯斯坦,俄罗斯,塔吉克斯坦和乌兹别克斯坦共同成立了上海合作组织(SCO),[1]政治,经济和安全联盟,他们停止为维吾尔恐怖分子提供资金和进出的走廊。中国。此后,上海合作组织扩大到包括印度和巴基斯坦,伊朗已开始加入进程,使其成为世界上面积和人口最多的安全协定,也是唯一一个成员包括四个核大国的协定。

形成上海合作组织比缓和公众愤慨更容易。受害者亲属的闻所未闻的诉讼指责政府反向歧视,因此他们加强了安全并公布了他们的目标:

恢复法律和秩序
防止恐怖分子施加更多暴力
使用’高强度调节’
遏制恐怖主义在新疆以外的蔓延
从社会中清除极端分子和分裂分子。

社区中心 – 在西部新闻界标记为“集中营”,教育农村维吾尔人关于宗教极端主义的危险,并培训他们从事城市工作。

2013年,习主席访问了欧亚大陆,并为30亿人提出了“一带一路”倡议,旨在打造世界上最具市场潜力的无与伦比的市场,并建立了从土库曼斯坦到乌兹别克斯坦,塔吉克斯坦和吉尔吉斯斯坦的中国天然气管道。中国的其他西部管道,输电线路,铁路和公路网络贯穿新疆维吾尔自治区。

北京随后将工作岗位转移到新疆,开设职业学校,培养农村青年的识字和工作技能,并发誓保护邻国免受恐怖主义侵害,以换取他们的回报承诺。为了在省内创造就业机会,习近平将四十五家中国顶级公司和八十家财富500强制造商的投资转移到乌鲁木齐。公司投资从2015年的100亿美元增加到2017年的150亿美元,2017年和2018年的基础设施投资达700亿美元,使年货物出货量超过1亿吨,目标是每小时离开15个欧洲国家首都。 50万维吾尔族人已经从偏远的村庄搬迁到城市,作为结果,2016年有60万维吾尔人摆脱了贫困,2017年有312,000人,2018年有40万人。最后一位贫困的维吾尔人将在2020年中期加入现金经济。

真正的战争正在我们的媒体上进行,一位工程师在令人心碎的故事中遇到了一个典型的例子,那就是历史悠久的喀什老城的野蛮破坏,“华盛顿邮报”称之为“古老的文化,被推土机”,“纽约时报”,为了保护古城,中国动摇了它,“时间”,“撕毁旧喀什:另一次打击维吾尔人。”Patrik Meyer教授接受了这个故事:

作为一名游客,这些头条新闻也引起了我的共鸣。我希望保持喀什老城区不受影响,并能沿着土坯房两旁的狭窄阴影小巷漫步。但是,如果我对其居民的生活条件和安全负责,以及对喀什噶尔的大规模现代化负责,那么我会更加积极地看待北京的转变。鉴于我在2010年至2013年期间获得了几乎前所未有的访问权,以便在新疆进行民族政治研究以及我在土木工程方面的强大背景,我认为自己有能力提供更广泛的视角,以便在批评KOT更新时提供更多关于西方记者提出的问题的观点。项目。一项对西方媒体的简单调查显示,对北京重建KOT的严厉批评建立在四个核心论点上:维吾尔族历史遗产的破坏,维吾尔族社会结构的破坏,维吾尔族在项目中的声音缺失,以及足够的抗震性能现有的房屋。此外,西方记者经常争辩说,北京在喀什的作品的目的是削弱甚至抹去维吾尔人的身份,而不是改善他们的生活条件。

KOT的历史价值是无可争议的,但它没有西方批评家所假设的那么重要。虽然有些房子是百年纪念的,有魅力的庭院和装饰精美的木制框架,但大多数都是建造不良的新旧泥土和砖石墙。因此,虽然整个老城区具有重要的历史意义

但是,与2018年8月在联合国消除种族歧视委员会开始的冲击相比,KOT的破坏是小啤酒,然后定期审查中国遵守“消除一切形式种族国际公约”的情况。歧视。盖伊麦克杜格尔是一名独立的联合国机构的美国非专业成员,他声称中国有一百万穆斯林实习。人权高专办的官方新闻稿显示,其唯一的美国成员仅提及所谓的再教育营地,并表示她“深切关注”有关“可信的报道”,指控在“拘留营”大规模拘留数百万维吾尔族穆斯林少数民族。据报道,McDougall’在听证会上的言论中没有指明该信息来源’,会议视频证实McDougall没有提供她的索赔来源。虽然路透社没有透露任何一个消息来源的报道,但“联合国认为,中国在秘密摄像头中拥有数百万的权利,这令人难以置信。”

随后,中国邀请联合国,欧盟和世界穆斯林大会派遣视察员进行独立调查。在欧盟和土耳其衰落的情况下,有11个穆斯林国家接受了。穆斯林委员会的报告称赞中国对穆斯林的待遇,一名检察官穆塔兹扎赫拉洛och接受了印度时报的采访:

“在这次访问期间,我没有发现任何强迫劳动或文化和宗教压迫的事件,”巴基斯坦驻华使馆代表穆塔兹·扎赫拉·巴洛赫周四告诉国营的环球时报。

“我们在清真寺遇到的伊玛目以及新疆伊斯兰教学院的学生和老师告诉我们,他们享有实行伊斯兰教的自由,中国政府对新疆各地清真寺的维护提供了支持,”访问新疆的俾路支说。外交官代表团的一部分。

“同样,我没有看到任何文化压制的迹象。他们的语言,音乐和舞蹈表明维吾尔文化是新疆人民生活的重要组成部分,“她说。

在被问及“被恐怖主义困扰”的新疆安全局势时,俾路支说:“我们了解到最近采取的措施已经改善了新疆的安全局势,最近几个月没有发生过恐怖事件。”

“正在采取的反恐措施是多方面的,不仅仅关注执法方面。教育,扶贫和发展是中国政府反恐战略的关键,“她说。

新疆地方政府邀请外交使节以及来自俄罗斯,哈萨克斯坦,吉尔吉斯斯坦,乌兹别克斯坦,塔吉克斯坦,印度,巴基斯坦,印度尼西亚,马来西亚,阿富汗,泰国和科威特的代表报道有关数千名维吾尔族和其他穆斯林被大规模拘留的报道教育营地。

联合国驻日内瓦的消除种族歧视委员会去年表示,对于在维新地区被拘留并且要求立即释放的“维吾尔族和其他穆斯林少数民族的大量报道”感到震惊。

据他们说,对它们的估计“从数万到数百万不等”。

中国为这些难民营辩护说,这些难民营是旨在将维吾尔族人口从极端主义和分裂主义中解放出来的再教育营地。

除联合国官员外,美国和其他几个国家对难民营表示担忧。

中国一直在对新疆的东突厥斯坦伊斯兰运动(ETIM)进行大规模镇压,在该地区占多数的维吾尔人对汉族社区日益增加的定居点感到不安。

巴基斯坦和其他几个穆斯林国家对中国镇压新疆穆斯林的沉默表示批评。

中国有大约2000万穆斯林,他们大多是维吾尔族,一个突厥族的族群,以及回族穆斯林,他们是中国人。维吾尔人居住在新疆,与巴基斯坦占领的克什米尔接壤,回族穆斯林居住在宁夏。

“环球时报”最近发表的一份报告称,中国通过了一项五年计划,旨在“将伊斯兰教中国化”,以使其与其社会主义版本兼容。

报告说:“这是中国探索现代国家宗教治理方式的重要举措。”

俾路支说,代表团可以完全和开放地访问他们在喀什和和田访问的三个中心。

“培训计划包括教授国家共同语言(中文),法律和宪法以及职业技能。学生还参加体育,音乐和舞蹈等娱乐活动。我们目睹了这些中心提供的几种技能课程,“她说。

“在访问这些中心期间,我们有机会与管理层和管理层进行互动

“我有一位刚刚从新疆回来的朋友,他曾参观过一些再教育营地,并与那里的人交谈。他告诉我,维吾尔人真的接受过职业教育,而不是开玩笑,直到完成课程才能离开。新疆政府根据他们从各种渠道收到的报告,简单地保留了他们在拘留期间可能发现的所有潜在“麻烦制造者”,其中来自社区的报告构成了主要部分。多年来,政府已经知道,受过良好教育的失业人员更容易激进。现在他们采取行动确保他们不会制造麻烦。这是中国式政府行为的另一个例子,就像独生子女政策一样。“

另一个写道,

“今年夏天,我亲自去过新疆约20天。我完全靠自己去了。我没有在任何旅行社注册任何旅行团。我没有开车但乘坐火车,公共汽车,汽车或马。从我个人的经验来看,首先,维吾尔人不是新疆唯一的少数民族。我看过蒙古人,哈萨克人,回族穆斯林和其他许多少数民族。在这里,我的意思是,即使我们不考虑汉族人,新疆也不是维吾尔族占主导地位的地方。这是一个更加多样化的地方。其次,维吾尔人保留了他们不同的习惯,传统,语言和宗教,这些都是大多数中国人的异国情调。但他们也像中国其他地区的人一样,面临服装和习惯的西化。人们担心在中国保存他们的文化。

有趣的是,乌鲁木齐的人们很少穿着非常宗教的方式,尽管穆斯林人数众多。有人告诉我,当地政府认为一些宗教服装是极端主义,因为它们与当地传统不符。也许他们的意思是当地穆斯林不应该像严格的宗教法一样穿着极端分子,因为中国没有这样的法律。人们大多穿着相当现代的外观,或穿着传统服装,但没有女人会用黑色丝绸遮住脸。

第三,不同民族之间存在不信任。我不得不承认,因为我觉得即使是同一族裔的人也不相互信任,更不用说种族群体之间的不信任了。在乌鲁木齐,安全检查非常严格,几乎无处不在。在城市公园的大门口,我在几秒钟内通过了检查站,但是一个看起来像维吾尔族的男人花了很长时间才通过。虽然保安本人似乎也是维吾尔族,但她仍然非常仔细地检查了该男子的身份证和电脑资料。在许多其他地方,我也感受到成为汉族人的“特权”。在东土耳其斯坦共和国所在的伊犁,我被告知一年前维吾尔族恐怖分子用长剑在附近的自动取款机上杀害了维吾尔族警察。恐怖分子希望从军官那里获得枪支。所以这个城市在深夜限制了所有活动。任何在午夜后出门的人都会被认为是可疑的,警察可以在街上或办公室检查他们的身份证。在这里,我想进一步解释,因为在大多数中国城市,你可以随时在夜间闲逛,除非有人抱怨噪音等,否则警察不会在街上巡逻检查你的身份证。

当然,不信任会产生种族主义。在乌鲁木齐,我问为什么少数民族以不友好的方式对待,他们试图告诉我这是因为新疆非常独特的情况。听起来像歧视是自然的,但我不能根据我学到的东西来判断。一位出租车司机告诉我,正是伊斯兰教的信仰使得维吾尔族与最近由共产党领导的社会不和谐,并且宗教是有毒的。我认为他指的是伊斯兰极端主义,但看似偏颇。

第四,我试图了解人们对2009年骚乱的态度,并得到维吾尔族和汉族的类似回应。他们都害怕骚乱,并试图告诉我那天是多么可怕。乌鲁木齐当地人的一些维吾尔人声称,所有这些恐怖主义分子都不是该市的当地人,并试图杀死所有公民,不论种族如何,这些都使他们变得可怕。在我的旅程中,我遇到的大部分维吾尔人都是友好的农民,其中一些人甚至愿意免费接待我。有一次,我乘坐了6个小时的公共汽车,我和一个坐在我旁边的维吾尔人说话。我们几乎谈论了一切,包括我们的家乡,我们的家庭等等。这家伙非常健谈和友好,给我留下了对维吾尔族的非常好的印象。

最后,我的意思是,我从未听说过再教育营。所以我猜这与正常人的生活无关。我遇到的少数民族通常非常健谈,并向我抱怨许多事情,包括政策,t自20世纪90年代以来,三大邪恶势力 – 恐怖主义,宗教极端主义和分裂主义 – 成为中国新疆的祸害,并实施了一系列骇人听闻的恐怖袭击,包括2009年7月5日在乌鲁木齐发生的事件。我们该怎么办?除了采取有力措施外,我们还需要为三种邪恶力量移除土壤。所有这些措施旨在帮助那些受到三种邪恶势力煽动或受极端主义影响的人回归理性,回归社会过正常生活。为实现这一目标,中国根据中国宪法,反恐法和新疆维吾尔自治区关于反激进化的条例建立了培训中心,并参考了其他国家反恐的成功经验。

新疆的培训中心不针对任何民族或某些宗教,所有人都得到平等对待,不受歧视。一个人是否应该进入中心有两个标准 – 他们是否参与了三个邪恶势力的非法活动以及他们是否对社会构成威胁。

例如,一些人使用社交媒体,例如WhatsApp,在网上宣传圣战或在不严重构成犯罪的情况下传播有关暴力的视频。这些人去了培训中心。有些人因参加恐怖主义或极端主义活动而被判入狱,但拒绝放弃极端主义并计划报复,也需要前往培训中心。

简而言之,遵守法律法规并且不做任何错误行为的人不需要担心“去训练中心”,无论他们来自哪个民族,无论他们的宗教信仰是什么。培训中心不是监狱,而是公立学校。学校只有一个目标 – 教育人们并阻止好人变坏。人们在中心学到了什么?他们学习普通话,以确保所有中国公民都能理解,能说,并能写出全国共同语言。这是来自任何文明国家的公民的基本要求和责任。

学员学习法律知识,以便所有中国公民都明白他们生活在21世纪,法律已经到位并严格执行,任何违反法律的人都将被追究责任。受训者应该具备基本的法律意识,这样他们就不会被极端主义所诱惑。他们还学习中心的职业技能,包括糕点制作,编织和纺织印花,制鞋和修理机械,美发和化妆以及电子商务。学员可以根据自己的兴趣选择一到两种技能。他们将有更多的机会获得就业机会,并且更少有机会参与三股邪恶势力。

随着这些培训中心的工作顺利实施,越来越多的学员从中心毕业,回到社会,过上了更好的生活。这些培训中心没有酷刑,只有保护和尊重人权。与假新闻相反,受训者的宗教和传统得到充分尊重 – 所有中心都提供各种食物,包括清真食品供他们选择。有不同的娱乐活动,包括唱歌,跳舞,唱歌或打篮球,以保持身体健康。谈到人权问题,让我提一个问题,如果一个现代人不能理解或写出该国的共同语言,不了解现代婚姻或零职业技能,只能将妻子奴役在家或受到她安排的丈夫的虐待。被三种邪恶势力使用或洗脑,你怎么能说他或她理解人权呢?

所有事实都说明培训中心的工作是有效和有益的。目前,中国新疆的稳定和局势有所改善,两年多来该地区没有发生暴力事件。这不仅对新疆维护安全工作产生积极影响,而且对维护邻近中亚地区的稳定作出了重大贡献。

新疆维吾尔自治区政府主席Shohrat Zakir:

新疆建立了以专业职业培训机构为平台的培训模式:学习国家的共同语言,法律知识,职业技能,以去极化教育为主要内容,以就业为主要方向。职业培训机构设立了教学,管理,医疗,物流和安全等部门,并配置了相应数量的教师,班级顾问,医疗,餐饮,物流和安保人员。在学习和培训的过程中,

学员将学习国家的共同语言,学习法律知识和职业技能。首先,学员将学习国家的共同语言,以提高他们的沟通能力,获得现代科学知识,增进他们对中国历史,文化和国情的了解。教学遵循标准化计划,教科书,材料和系统。学员将以各种适合其识字的方法进行教学,以提高他们尽快使用国家共同语言的能力。其次,法律知识的学习是培养学员的民族意识,公民意识和法治的关键部分。聘请法律专家讲授宪法,刑法和民法等,并邀请法官,检察官和律师教授刑法,公安管理法,反恐法,婚姻法法律,教育法和新疆的去极化法规。第三,职业学习被视为帮助学员找到工作的关键方式。建立了服装和鞋类制作,食品加工,电子产品组装,排版和印刷,美发和电子商务课程,以满足当地社会需求和就业市场。为有学习欲望和能力的学员提供多技能培训,使他们在毕业后获得一到两种职业技能。服装制造,手机组装和民族美食餐饮业务的企业安排为学员提供实际机会。与此同时,他们获得基本收入和奖金。该机制已经形成,学员可以“学习,练习和赚钱”。

在日常生活中,职业院校和学校严格贯彻法律法规精神,包括宪法和宗教事务规章,尊重和保护各民族的风俗习惯及其对饮食和日常生活的信仰。各机构和学校的院系也在免费教育的基础上,尽力确保和满足学员在学习,生活和娱乐方面的需求。自助餐厅准备营养丰富的免费饮食,宿舍设备齐全,配有收音机,电视,空调,浴室和淋浴。已经建成了篮球,排球和乒乓球的室内和室外运动场地,以及阅览室,计算机实验室,电影放映室以及小型礼堂和露天舞台等表演场地。举办各种活动,如演讲,写作,舞蹈,歌唱和体育比赛。许多学员说,他们以前受到极端主义思想的影响,从未参加过这种艺术和体育活动,现在他们已经意识到生活可以如此丰富多彩。

此外,职业院校和学校高度重视学员的心理健康,帮助他们解决生活中的问题。他们不仅提供专业的心理咨询服务,还适当处理学员及其家属的投诉。这一切都表明,职业院校和学校的管理是以人为本的。

在一场涉及穆斯林在收费站战斗的冲突爆发后,中国检察官禁止在社交媒体上使用“反伊斯兰”字样。微博阻止对穆斯林和搜索引擎不尊重的短语阻止侮辱,嘲弄和诽谤性言论,“现在是时候删除歧视伊斯兰教的激进短语,并且对穆斯林有偏见,以防止对他们的网络仇恨恶化。这些短语严重破坏了宗教和谐与民族团结,“北京中央民族大学北京教授熊昆新说。 “中国关闭了开斋节祈祷的街道,支付穆斯林中国人朝向朝觐,并审查互联网和社交媒体,以防止批评伊斯兰教可能会加剧社会紧张局势。他们应该突然要求穆斯林交出他们的Qurans和祈祷垫的想法是经典的假新闻和国家宣传。因此,和平可能会爆发,最近西方企业媒体发布的大量虚假消息将中国政府视为对人权的严重侵犯,而帝国则扼杀,轰炸,挨饿和杀害数百万穆斯林儿童,从阿富汗到也门和数百万人流离失所。“

十年前…… 新疆社区暴力 – 马克思主义观     From ten years ago….. Xinjiang Communal Violence – Marxist View

……………..

Zhōngguó: Wéiwú’ěr rén hé zhèngzhì yīsīlán jiào

Trump May be in Too Deep to Avoid War with Iran – by Patrick Cockburn (Independent) 23 June 2019

Iran Map

President Trump’s last-minute change of mind over launching US airstrikes against Iran shows that a military conflict of some description in the Gulf is becoming highly probable. His hesitation was most likely less connected with an Iranian surface-to-air missile shooting down a US surveillance drone than with his instinct that militarising the crisis is not in America’s best interests.

If Trump had not pulled back and the strikes against Iranian radars and missile batteries had gone ahead, where exactly would that have got him? This sort of limited military operation is usually more effective as a threat than in actuality. The US is not going to launch an all-out war against Iran in pursuit of a decisive victory and anything less creates more problems than it resolves.

Iran would certainly retain post-strike the ability to launch pin-prick attacks up and down the Gulf and, especially, in and around the 35-mile wide Strait of Hormuz through which passes 30 per cent of the world’s oil trade. Anything affecting this choke point reverberates around the word: news of the shooting down of the drone immediately sent the price of benchmark Brent crude oil rocketing upwards by 4.75 per cent.

Drone over Iran

Note that the Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down a $130m (£100m) drone, in practice an unmanned aircraft stuffed with electronic equipment that was designed to be invulnerable to such an attack. The inference is that if US aircraft – as opposed to missiles – start operating over or close to Iranian airspace then they are likely to suffer losses.

But the dilemma for Trump is at a deeper level. His sanctions against Iran, reimposed after he withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, are devastating the Iranian economy. The US Treasury is a more lethal international power than the Pentagon. The EU and other countries have stuck with the deal, but they have in practice come to tolerate the economic blockade of Iran.

Iran was left with no choice but to escalate the conflict. It wants to make sure that the US, the European and Asian powers, and US regional allies Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, feel some pain. Tehran never expected much from the EU states, which are still signed up to the 2015 nuclear deal, and has found its low expectations are being fulfilled.

A fundamental misunderstanding of the US-Iran confrontation is shared by many commentators. It may seem self-evident that the US has an interest in using its vast military superiority over Iran to get what it wants. But after the failure of the US ground forces to win in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention Somalia, no US leader can start a land war in the Middle East without endangering their political survival at home.

Trump took this lesson to heart long before he became president. He is a genuine isolationist in the American tradition. The Democrats and much of the US media have portrayed Trump as a warmonger, though he has yet to start a war. His national security adviser John Bolton and secretary of state Mike Pompeo issue bloodcurdling threats against Iran, but Trump evidently views such bellicose rhetoric as simply one more way of ramping up the pressure on Iran.

But if a ground war is ruled out, then Iran is engaged in the sort of limited conflict in which it has long experience. A senior Iraqi official once said to me that the Iranians “have a PhD” in this type of part political, part military warfare. They are tactics that have worked well for Tehran in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria over the past 40 years. The Iranians have many pressure points against the US, and above all against its Saudi and Emirati allies in the Gulf.

The Iranians could overplay their hand: Trump is an isolationist, but he is also a populist national leader who claims in his first campaign rallies for the next presidential election to “have made America great again”. Such boasts make it difficult to not retaliate against Iran, a country he has demonised as the source of all the troubles in the Middle East.

One US military option looks superficially attractive but conceals many pitfalls. This is to try to carry out operations along the lines of the limited military conflict between the US and Iran called the “tanker war”. This was part of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and the US came out the winner.

Saddam Hussein sought to throttle Iran’s oil exports and Iran tried to do the same to Iraq. The US and its allies weighed in openly on Saddam Hussein’s side – an episode swiftly forgotten by them after the Iraqi leader invaded Kuwait in 1990. From 1987 on, re-registered Kuwaiti tankers were being escorted through the Gulf by US warships. There were US airstrikes against Iranian ships and shore facilities, culminating in the accidental but very avoidable shooting down of an Iranian civil airliner with 290 passengers on board by the USS Vincennes in 1988. Iran was forced to sue for peace in its war with Iraq.

Some retired American generals speak about staging a repeat of the tanker war today but circumstances have changed. Iran’s main opponent in 1988 was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Iran was well on its way to losing the war, in which there was only one front.

Today Saddam is gone and Iraq is ruled by a Shia-dominated government. Baghdad is trying to stay neutral in the US-Iran crisis, but no Iraqi leader can afford to oppose Iran as the greatest Shia power. The political geography of this part of the Middle East has been transformed since the Iran-Iraq war, with change very much to the advantage of Iran. From the Afghan border to the Mediterranean – in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon – Shia communities are in control or are the most powerful forces in the state. The US and UK often refer to them as “Iranian proxies” but in practice Iran leads a sectarian coalition with a religious basis.

It is a coalition which has already won its main battles – with Shia parties in Iraq, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon – and this outcome is not going to change. The Houthis in Yemen, who belong to a different Shia variant, have survived a prolonged attempt by Saudi Arabia and UAE to defeat them.

Compared with 28 years ago in the Gulf when the US was last fighting a limited war with Iran, the US is in a weaker position. Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE may have urged Trump to tear up the nuclear deal and confront Iran, but they show no enthusiasm to join any war that ensues. Supposing that this month’s pin-prick attacks on tankers were indeed carried out by Iran, which seems likely, then the purpose will have been to send message that, if Iran’s oil exports can be cut off, so too can those of the other Gulf producers. Trump thinks he can avoid the quagmire of another Middle East war, but he may already be in too deep.

 

(Republished from The Independent )

The Ongoing Imperialist Restructuring of the Greater Middle East – by C.J. Hopkins • 25 June 2019

So, according to the corporate media, and to President Literally Hitler, himself, while America was sleeping last Friday morning, the U.S. Air Force was just minutes away from bombing the bejesus out of some desolate outposts somewhere in the Iranian desert and launching another catastrophic military blunder in the Middle East.

At approximately 0400 Zulu time, President Hitler and his top advisors (among them, John “the Walrus of Death” Bolton) were gathered in the Pentagon’s War Room, flight paths arcing across the big board. The hotline to Vladimir Putin’s office in St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow had been activated. The full force of the U.S. military was about to be brought to bear upon a package of top-level Iranian targets with no strategic value whatsoever. Apparently,planes were in the air!” It was all so terribly, terribly exciting.

This awesome demonstration of American resolve was meant to be punishment for the vicious slaughter of an expensive U.S. military drone, which was peacefully invading Iranian airspace, and not at all attempting to provoke the Iranians into blowing it out of the sky with a missile so the U.S. military could “retaliate.” The military-industrial complex would never dream of doing anything like that, not even to further the destabilization and restructuring of the Greater Middle East that they’ve been systematically carrying out the since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, which … more on that in just a moment.

Nor did the incursion into Iranian airspace of this non-provocative military drone have anything whatsoever to do with the crippling economic sanctions the U.S.A. has imposed on Iran in order to completely destroy its economy and foment a coup against its leaders, who are allegedly conspiring with Hezbollah and al Qaeda to develop an arsenal of nuclear weapons to launch at Israel and Saudi Arabia, and other peaceful Middle Eastern democracies, and who were possibly responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and, who knows, maybe even the Holocaust!

Iran, remember, is aterrorist nation,” which is not playing ball with the “international community,” which is why NATO has it completely surrounded and is flying hundred million dollar military drones up and down its coastline. Also, they don’t like homosexuals (i.e., the Iranians, not NATO, of course), and they burn big American flags on television, and are generally Hitlerian in every other way. On top of which, they’re allies of Russia, the fount of all democracy-hating, fascist evil in the world today.

Which, I don’t know, makes it kind of weird that President Hitler would want to attack them, and destroy their economy with those crippling sanctions. I mean, why would Putin allow him to do that? What was the point of brainwashing all those African Americans with those Facebook ads if his Manchurian President Hitler Puppet was just going to let The Walrus of Death and his deep state cronies bomb his allies? Honestly, the more I watch of this movie, the less the plot makes sense to me … but, hey, I’m just a political satirist, and not a professional Putin-Naziologist, or a geopolitical analyst, or whatever.

If I were (i.e., a geopolitical analyst), I guess I might want to take a step back and try to frame last week’s events within a broader historical context, rather than getting all worked up by the manufactured mass hysteria of the moment. If I did that, things might look a bit clearer, albeit somewhat less terribly exciting.

For example, that destabilization and restructuring of the Greater Middle East I just mentioned above, which has been in progress since the early 1990s, regardless of who was sleeping in the White House. The Gulf War, the Iraq War, the “Arab Spring,” Egypt, Libya, Syria, et cetera … if I were a geopolitical analyst, I might be able to discern a pattern there, and possibly even some sort of strategy.

If I were a particularly cynical analyst, it might look to me like global capitalism, starting right around 1990, freed by the collapse of the U.S.S.R. to do whatever the hell it wanted, more or less immediately started dismantling uncooperative power structures throughout the Greater Middle East. My cynical theory would kind of make sense of the “catastrophic policy blunders” that the United States has supposedly made in Iraq, Libya, and throughout the region, not to mention the whole “Global War on Terror,” and what it is currently doing to Syria, and Iran.

Take a good look at this Smithsonian map of where the U.S.A. is “combating terrorism.” Note how the U.S. military (i.e., global capitalism’s unofficial “enforcer”) has catastrophically blundered its way into more or less every nation depicted. Or ask our “allies” in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and so on. OK, you might have to reach them in New York or London, or in the South of France this time of year, but, go ahead, ask them about the horrors they’ve been suffering on account of our “catastrophic blunders.”

See, according to this crackpot conspiracy theory that I would put forth if I were a geopolitical analyst instead of just a political satirist, there have been no “catastrophic policy blunders,” not for global capitalism. The Restructuring of the Greater Middle East is proceeding exactly according to plan. The regional ruling classes are playing ball, and those who wouldn’t have been regime-changed, or are being regime-changed, or are scheduled for regime change.

Sure, for the actual people of the region, and for regular Americans, the last thirty years of wars, “strategic” bombings, sanctions, fomented coups, and other such shenanigans have been a pointless waste of lives and money … but global capitalism doesn’t care about people or the “sovereign nations” they believe they live in, except to the extent they are useful. Global capitalism has no nations. All it has are market territories, which are either open for business or not.

Take a look at that map again. What you’re looking at is global capitalism cleaning up after winning the Cold War. And yes, I do mean global capitalism, not the United States of America (i.e., the “nation” most Americans think they live in, despite all evidence to the contrary). I know it hurts to accept the fact that “America” is nothing but a simulation projected onto an enormous marketplace … but seriously, do you honestly believe that the U.S. government and its military serve the interests of the American people? If so, go ahead, review the history of their activities since the Second World War, and explain to me how they have benefited Americans … not the corporatist ruling classes, regular working class Americans, many of whom can’t afford to see a doctor, or buy a house, or educate their kids, not without assuming a lifetime of debt to some global financial institution.

OK, so I digressed a little. The point is, “America” is not at war with Iran. Global capitalism is at war with Iran. The supranational corporatist empire. Yes, it wears an American face, and waves a big American flag, but it is no more “American” than the corporations it comprises, or the governments those corporations own, or the military forces those governments control, or the transnational banks that keep the whole show running.

This is what Iran and Syria are up against. This is what Russia is up against. Global capitalism doesn’t want to nuke them, or occupy them. It wants to privatize them, like it is privatizing the rest of the world, like it has already privatized America … according to my crackpot theory, of course.

But, again, I’m just a political satirist, not a geopolitical analyst. What the hell do I know about anything? Probably, if we just impeach Donald Trump, or The Walrus of Death, or elect Joe Biden, or Bernie Sanders, or some other individual, we can put an end to all these catastrophic blunders that America keeps making in the Middle East.

So forget about my crackpot conspiracy theories, and let’s get back to whatever terribly exciting crisis is unfolding today. Seriously, my brain kind of hurts. I can’t wait to switch on the Internet and find out who’s threatening America at the moment … Russians, Iranians, Venezuelans, anti-Semites, Mexican migrants, Nazis? The possibilities are endless.

Ready? OK, here we go.

……………

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and political satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant Paperbacks. He can be reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org.

China: Uyghurs and Political Islam – by Godfree Roberts • 25 June 2019

 

I recall, as probably most people don’t, that the Central Intelligence Agency, with assistance from some of China’s neighbors, put $30 million into the destabilization of Tibet and basically financed and trained the participants in the Khampa rebellion and ultimately sought to remove the Dalai Lama from Tibet–which they did. They escorted him out of Tibet to Dharamsala. There were similar efforts made with the Uyghurs during the Cold War that never really got off the ground. In both cases you had religion waved as a banner in support of a desire for independence or autonomy which, of course, is anathema to any state. US Ambassador Chas. H. Freeman.

Since our media have confined themselves to unsupported allegations, I’ve collected several first-hand accounts of happenings in Xinjiang, an area of China I myself have never visited.

Many Chinese consider Uyghurs the descendants of a marooned, white imperialist army living on land that was China’s long before they arrived. Edgar Snow[1] visited Xinjiang in 1937 and reported, “Especially in the ninth century, when vast hordes of Ouigour Turks (whose great leader Seljuk had not yet been born) were summoned to the aid of the T’ang Court to suppress rebellion, Islamism entrenched itself in China. Following their success, many of the Ouigours were rewarded with titles and great estates and settled in the Northwest and in Szechuan and Yunnan. Over a period of centuries the Mohammedans stoutly resisted Chinese absorption but gradually lost their Turkish culture, adopted much that was Chinese, and became more or less submissive to Chinese law. Yet in the nineteenth century they were still powerful enough to make two great bids for power: one when Tu Wei-hsiu for a time set up a kingdom in Yunnan and proclaimed himself Sultan Suleiman; and the last, in 1864, when Mohammedans seized control of all the Northwest and even invaded Hupeh.”

Islam is neither the Uyghurs’ native religion nor their only one but, in its Wahabbi form, it has caused problems around the world, for which we can thank to two fervent Christians, Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski,[2] who considered a united Eurasia, “The only possible challenge to American hegemony.”

In 1979, months before the Soviet entry into Afghanistan, Brzezinski drafted and Carter signed a top-secret Presidential Order authorizing the CIA to train fundamentalist Muslims to wage Jihad against the Soviet Communist infidels and all unbelievers of conservative Sunni Islam and the Mujahideen terror war against Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan became the largest covert action in CIA history.[2] Brzezinski’s ‘Arc of Crisis’ strategy inflamed Muslims in Central Asia to destabilize the USSR during its economic crisis and, when Le Nouvel Observateur later asked if he had any regrets, Brzezinski snapped, “What is most important to the history of the world? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe?”

The Uyghurs had collaborated with the Japanese in WWII and Rebiya Kadeer, ‘Mother of the Uyghurs’ and a US Government client, after kissing the ground at Yasukuni Shrine, called Xinjiang’s postwar reversion to Chinese administration a ‘reconquest.’ Ms Kadeer’s connections are interesting. In the late 1990s Hasan Mahsum, founder of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, ETIM, moved its headquarters to Kabul and met with Osama bin Laden and the CIA-trained Taliban to coordinate action across Central Asia. In 1995 Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then mayor of Istanbul declared, “Eastern Turkestan [Xinjiang] is not only the home of the Turkic peoples but also the cradle of Turkic history, civilization and culture. To forget that would lead to the ignorance of our own history, civilizati on and culture. The martyrs of Eastern Turkestan are our martyrs.” Under Erdogan Turkey became the transit point for international terrorists destined for Syria and Turkish airports were filled with Uyghurs traveling on Turkish passports.

Twenty years later, in 1999, the CIA’s Islam strategist, Graham E. Fuller, announced, “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Russians. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.”[3]

We will return to Mr. Fuller anon but, first, some background from F. William Engdahl, “Today the West–and especially Washington–is engaged in full-scale irregular war against the stability of China. In recent months Western media and the Washington Administration have begun to raise a hue and cry over alleged mass internment camps in China’s northwestern Xinjiang where supposedly up to one million ethnic Uyghur Chinese are being detained and submitted to various forms of ‘re-education.’ Several things about the charges are notable, not the least that all originate from Western media and ‘democracy’ NGOs like Human Rights Watch, whose record for veracity leaves something to be desired.”

Tarring China with the brush of intolerance will be hard work. The colophon of the earliest dated, printed book in existence–a ninth century Chinese translation of the Diamond Sutra–reads, ‘For universal free distribution.’ Though two-thirds of Chinese are atheists in the Western sense and one-fourth are non-religious Taoists, their Constitution guarantees freedom of worship in government-sanctioned religious organizations and their government supports seventy-four seminaries, one thousand seven hundred Tibetan monasteries, three thousand religious organizations, 85,000 religious sites and 300,000 full time Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Ancient Chinese, Taoist and Muslim clergy. The 2000 census recorded 20.3 million Muslims: 1.25 million Kazakhs, 8.4 million Uyghurs and 9.8 million Hui. Neither the Kazakh nor the Hui Muslims have caused trouble.

Mr. Fuller is on a first name basis with Uyghur leaders. Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the Boston Marathon Tsarnaev brothers, was married to Fuller’s daughter Samantha in the 1990s and was an employee of the CIA-contracted RAND Corporation. In media interviews in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston bombing, ‘Uncle Ruslan’ gave an overdone performance condemning his two nephews while verifying the FBI’s portrayal of them. The media ignored the fact that Tsarni not only worked as a consultant for CIA fronts like RAND and USAID and as a contractor for Halliburton but even established an entity called the Congress of Chechen International Organizations which supported Islamic separatist militants in the Caucasus, using Fuller’s Maryland home as its registered address.

After deploying Islamists in Pakistan in the 2000s to disrupt Chinese infrastructure, in Myanmar to disrupt the China-Myanmar energy assets and across Sudan, Libya and Syria to choke off China’s oil and gas Fuller said, “Uyghurs are indeed in touch with Muslim groups outside Xinjiang, some of them have been radicalized into broader jihadist politics in the process, a handful were earlier involved in guerrilla or terrorist training in Afghanistan, and some are in touch with international Muslim mujahideen struggling for Muslim causes of independence worldwide.” Fuller assigned them to capitalize on the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, weaken trust in China’s government and provoke repression that Western media could condemn as ‘human rights crimes.’ Three weeks before the Games he sponsored a conference, “East Turkestan: 60 Years under Communist Chinese Rule” and the National Endowment for Democracy, NED,[4] handled PR for the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) the emigré group headed by billionaire Rebiya Kadeer[5] and her husband, Sidiq Rouzi, a Voice of America employee. Their ideology[6] is familiar.

On the eve of the Olympics an attempted suicide bombing on a China Southern Airlines flight was thwarted but terrorists in Kashgar, Southern Xinjiang, killed sixteen police officers four days before the opening. The next year Uighur extremists murdered another two hundred in Urumqi but Western media refused to characterize the attacks as acts of terrorism and the violence continued:

  • October 2013: ETIM attack at Tiananmen Square in Beijing killed five.
  • February 2014: A knife attack at a train station in Kunming killed 30.
  • April 2014: A knife and bomb attack in Urumqi killed three and wounded 79.
  • May 2014: Two cars crashed into a market in Urumqi and the attackers lobbed explosives, killing 31 people.
  • September 2014: Suicide bombers and clashes left 50 people dead and 50 injured.
  • October 2015: A knife attack on a coalmine killed 50.

Then came the Syrian War and, on the sidelines of a May 2017 meeting between Syrian and Chinese businessmen in Beijing, Syria’s ambassador[7] to China startled reporters with a surprising number, 5000, the number of Uighurs he claimed were fighting in Syria for various jihadist groups. Many have since returned to China and 12,900 (Uyghur families insist on traveling and staying together, even in prison) have been sentenced to up to two years, mostly for illegally entering the country and are held in re-education camps. The NED is not hiding its involvement:

NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY

China (Xinjiang/East Turkistan). ASIA China [Xinjiang/East Turkistan] Advocacy and Outreach for Uyghur Human Rights Project. $310,000.

To raise awareness about Uyghur human rights issues and to bring such issues to prominence globally. The grantee will research, document, and provide independent and accurate information about human rights violations affecting Uyghurs in China. It will also conduct outreach to Chinese citizens in an effort to improve the human rights conditions for Uyghurs. The grantee will organize leadership and advocacy training seminars for Uyghur youth; monitor, document, and highlight human rights violations in East Turkestan/Xinjiang; and strengthen advocacy on Uyghur issues at the United Nations and the European Parliament.

Today, NED money supports the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) which calls China’s Xinjiang Province ‘East Turkistan’ and China’s administration of Xinjiang as ‘Chinese occupation of East Turkistan,’ runs articles like, Op-ed: A Profile of Rebiya Kadeer, Fearless Uyghur Independence Activist,” and admits that Kadeer seeks Uyghur independence from China.

Faced with an armed insurrection, most states impose martial law or a state of emergency, as Britain did in Malaya from 1945 to 1957 and the US did with the Patriot Act, but China decided–despite popular outrage–to write off its losses and play the long game.

China founded The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO),[1] a political, economic, and security alliance, with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, who stopped funneling money and providing corridors for Uyghur terrorists to move into and out of China. The SCO has since expanded to include India and Pakistan and Iran has begun the accession process, making it world’s largest security pact in both area and population and the only one whose membership includes four nuclear powers.

Forming the SCO was easier than assuaging public outrage. An unheard-of lawsuit by victims’ relatives accused the government of reverse discrimination so they stepped up security and published their objectives:

  1. restore law and order
  2. prevent terrorists from inflicting more violence
  3. use ‘high-intensity regulation’
  4. contain the spread of terrorism beyond Xinjiang
  5. purge extremists and separatists from society.

Neighborhood community centres–labelled ‘concentration camps’ in the western press–educate rural Uyghurs about the perils of religious extremism and train them for urban jobs.

In 2013 President Xi toured Eurasia and proposed the Belt and Road Initiative for three billion people, designed to create the biggest market in the world with unparalleled development potential, and built a gas pipeline to China from Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan which, like China’s other western pipelines, power lines, and rail and road networks, runs through the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Beijing then moved jobs to Xinjiang and opened vocational schools to train rural youth in literacy and job skills and swore to protect its neighbors from terrorism in exchange for their pledge to reciprocate. To create jobs in the province Xi directed investment from forty-five of China’s top companies and eighty Fortune 500 manufacturers to Urumqi. Corporate investment increased from $10 billion in 2015 to $15 billion in 2017 and infrastructure investments of $70 billion in both 2017 and 2018 lifted the annual goods shipments past 100 million tons with a goal of hourly departures to fifteen European capitals. Half a million Uyghurs have relocated from remote villages to cities and, as a reult, 600,000 Uighurs were lifted out of poverty in 2016, 312,000 in 2017 and 400,000 in 2018. The last poor Uyghurs will join the cash economy in mid-2020.

The real war is being fought in our media and an engineer encountered a classic example in the heartbreaking tale of savage destruction of historic Kashgar Old Town, which The Washington Post called, “An Ancient Culture, Bulldozed Away,” The New York Times, “To Protect an Ancient City, China Moves to Raze It,” TIME, “Tearing Down Old Kashgar: Another Blow to the Uighurs.” Professor Patrik Meyer⁠ takes up the story:

As a tourist, those headlines resonate with me, too. I wish to keep the Kashgar Old Town untouched and to be able to wander along its narrow, shaded alleys lined by adobe houses. However, if I were responsible for the living conditions and safety of its residents, as well as for the modernization of Kashgar writ large, then I would see Beijing’s transformation in a more positive light. Given the almost unprecedented access I was granted between 2010 and 2013 to conduct ethno-political research in Xinjiang and my robust background in civil engineering, I consider myself well positioned to provide a broader perspective on the issues raised by Western journalists when criticizing the KOT renewal project. A simple survey of Western media outlets shows that harsh criticism of Beijing’s renewal of the KOT is built on four central arguments: demolition of Uyghur’s historical heritage, destruction of Uyghur’s social fabric, absence of Uyghurs’ voices in the project, and the sufficient seismic performance of existing houses. Moreover, Western journalists often argue that the goal of Beijing’s works in Kashgar is to weaken, or even erase, Uyghur identity, not to improve their living conditions.

KOT’s historical value is indisputable, but it is not as significant as assumed by the Western critics. While some houses are centennial, with charismatic courtyards and beautifully decorated wooden frames, the majority are a poorly built patchwork of old and new mud and masonry walls. Hence, while the old town as whole has significant historical value, many of its houses are not historically valuable. Kashgar is one of the few Chinese cities where the old town is being partly preserved and remodeled following traditional standards. There is indeed some damage being caused to the Uyghurs’ historical heritage, but it is far less significant than the Western critics claim and it is intended to modernize Kashgar, not to “Demolish the Uyghur History” as argued by the Smithsonian. The second dominant argument, the tearing apart the Uyghur identity, is also happening, but again, not to the extent or for the purpose that it is being reported in the West. China’s fast modernization results in numerous communities being reshaped and displaced, including the one in the KOT. However, when asked for their view about Beijing’s renewal of the KOT, most of its dwellers welcome it. And for good reasons. Their houses are often very small, poorly ventilated, dusty and dark, have no toilets, and are unpractical. It is those who do not live in the old town–Uyghurs, tourist, and Western journalists–who are most critical of the renewal project. Hence, I believe that the KOT project is causing Uyghur identity change, not its destruction, as argued by the West.

As for the third argument, that the Uyghurs have no say in the project, it is again only partially correct. Their voice is indeed absent from the upper levels of the project’s decision making process. However, the majority of homeowners decide whether to stay or leave the KOT and how to proceed with the repair of their houses. They are offered three options, the first being to permanently move to a free, new apartment larger their old house. Second, they can opt to let the government tear down the old house and replace it with a new structure for free, which does not included finishing works such as flooring, windows, and decoration. During the time that this work is being done, the families can rent an apartment subsidized by the government at about $900 per year. In case the house is deemed to be structurally sound, the homeowners are given a subsidy (about US$90/m2) to upgrade the house themselves. Additional subsidies are also offered for those willing to finish the façade using traditional Uyghur style. While there might be some irregularities within this system, most homeowners affected by the renewal of the KOT have the choice to stay or leave, which the Western critics seems to ignore.

Finally, a fourth dominant argument against Beijing’s KOT project is that the old town must be seismically safe because it has survived hundreds of years without being destroyed. Again, this is only partly true. There are a number of houses that were built properly over a hundred years ago, but the majority have been either poorly built or structurally modified in the last 30-50 years, making them prone to structural damage in case of a significant seismic event. Based on my expertise in seismic performance of adobe structures and my countless visits to the KOT, I can confirm that it is not feasible to retrofit most of its houses because of their deficient structural condition.

But the destruction of KOT was small beer compared to the onslaught that began in August, 2018, at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, then conducting its regular review of China’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Gay McDougall, an American lay member of an independent UN body, claimed that China was interning one million Muslims. The OHCHR’s official news release showed that its sole American member made the only mention of alleged re-education camps and said she was “deeply concerned” about “credible reports” alleging mass detentions of millions of Uighurs Muslim minorities in “internment camps.” AP reported that McDougall ‘did not specify a source for that information in her remarks at the hearing’ and video from the session confirms that McDougall provided no source for her claim. Though she failed to name a single source Reuters reported, “UN SAYS IT HAS CREDIBLE REPORTS THAT CHINA HOLDS A MILLION UIGHURS IN SECRET CAMPS.”

China then invited the UN, the EU and the World Muslim Congress to send inspectors to for independent investigations. Eleven muslim nations accepted while the EU and Turkey declined. The Muslim Council’s report commended China for its treatment of Muslims and one inspector, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, gave an interview to The Times of India:

“During this visit, I did not find any instances of forced labour or cultural and religious repression,” Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the Charge d‘affaires, Pakistan‘s Embassy in China, told the state-run Global Times on Thursday.

“The imams we met at the mosques and the students and teachers at the Xinjiang Islamic Institute told us that they enjoy freedom in practicing Islam and that the Chinese government extends support for maintenance of mosques all over Xinjiang,” said Baloch, who visited Xinjiang as part of delegation of diplomats.

“Similarly, I did not see any sign of cultural repression. The Uighur culture as demonstrated by their language, music and dance is very much part of the life of the people of Xinjiang,” she said.

Asked about the security situation in Xinjiang, which has been “beset by terrorism”, Baloch said, “We learned that the recent measures have resulted in improvement of the security situation in Xinjiang and there have been no incidents of terrorism in recent months.”

“The counter-terrorism measures being taken are multidimensional and do not simply focus on law enforcement aspects. Education, poverty alleviation and development are key to the counter-terrorism strategy of the Chinese government,” she said.

Xinjiang‘s regional government invited diplomatic envoys as well as representatives from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Thailand, and Kuwait following reports about detention of thousands of Uighur and other Muslims in massive education camps.

The UN‘s Geneva-based Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination last year said that it was alarmed by “numerous reports of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities” being detained in Xinjiang region and called for their immediate release.

Estimates about them “range from tens of thousands to upwards of a million,” it had said.

China defended the camps, saying they are re-education camps aimed at de-radicalising sections of the Uighur population from extremism and separatism.

The US and several other countries besides UN officials have expressed concern over the camps.

China has been carrying out massive crackdown on the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in Xinjiang province, where Uyghurs who formed majority in the region were restive over the increasing settlements of Han community.

Pakistan and several other Muslim countries faced criticism about their silence over China‘s crackdown on Muslims in Xinjiang.

China has about 20 million Muslims who are mostly Uighurs, an ethnic group of Turkic origin, and Hui Muslims, who are of the Chinese ethnic origin. While Uighurs lived in Xinjiang, bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Hui Muslims resided in Ningxia province.

A recent report in the Global Times said China passed a five-year plan to ‘sinicize Islam‘ in a bid to make it compatible with its version of socialism.

“This is China‘s important act to explore ways of governing religion in modern countries,” the report said.

Baloch said the delegation was given full and open access to the three centres that they visited in Kashgar and Hotan.

“The training program includes teaching of national common language (Chinese), law and constitution and vocational skills. The students also participate in recreational activities like sports, music and dance. We witnessed several skill classes being offered in these centres,” she said.

“During the visits to these centres, we had the opportunity to interact with both the management and the students. We observed the students to be in good physical health. The living facilities are fairly modern and comfortable with separate dormitories for men and women. They are being served halal food,” she said.

She said the Uighur language is being used in official establishments, airports, subway stations, police stations or hotels.

“Even the copies of the Koran that we saw in the mosques and the Islamic centre were translated into the Uighur language. The most visible sign of protection of Uighur culture by the government is the government-run bilingual kindergarten schools where children learn Putonghua as well as Uighur language and culture from a very young age,” she said.

A Chinese friend, Xiao Zhang, writes,

“I have a friend who just came back from Xinjiang and he has visited some of the re-education camps and talked with people there. He told me that Uighurs really received vocational education inside, not kidding, and cannot get out until completion of courses. The government in Xinjiang simply kept all the potential “trouble makers” they could find in detention based on the reports they received from various sources, among which reports from communities make up a major part. The government has known for years that poorly-educated, unemployed people are more easily radicalized. Now they take actions to ensure they won’t make trouble. This is another example of Chinese style of government behaviour, just like one-child policy.”

Another wrote,

“I have personally been to Xinjiang for around 20 days this summer. I went totally on my own. I did not sign up in any travel agencies for any travel groups. I did not drive but took the train, the bus, or the car, or the horse. From my personal experience, firstly, the Uyghurs are not the only minority in Xinjiang. I saw Mongols, Kazakhs, Hui Muslims and many other minorities. Here I mean Xinjiang is not a place that is dominated by Uyghurs, even if we don’t take the Han Chinese into consideration. It is a far more diverse place. Secondly, Uyghurs keep their different habits, traditions, language, and religions that are exotic to most Chinese. But they also face westernisation in clothing and habits just like people in other areas of China. People worry about the preservation of their cultures across China.

Interestingly, people in Urumqi were hardly dressed in a very religious way, although there were a great number of Muslims. I was told that the local government regarded some of the religious clothing as extremism, for they were not consistent with the local tradition. Maybe what they meant was that the local Muslims should not be dressed like extremists following strict religious laws, since there was no such law in China. People were mostly dressed in a quite modern look, or in their traditional clothing, yet no women will cover their face with black silk.

Thirdly, there is distrust between different ethnic groups. I have to admit that, because I feel that even people of the same ethnicity do not trust each other, let alone the distrust between ethnic groups. In Urumqi, the security check is very strict and almost everywhere. At the gate of a park in the city, I passed the checkpoint within seconds, but a Uyghur-looking man after me took much longer time to pass. Even though the security guard herself also seems to be Uyghur, she still checked the man’s ID cards and computer profiles very carefully. In many other places, I also feel the ‘privilege’ of being a Han Chinese. In Ili, where the East Turkestan Republic is located, I was told that Uyghur police officers were killed in an ATM nearby a year ago by the Uyghur terrorists with long swords. The terrorists were hoping to acquire guns from the officer. So the city restricted all activity in late night. Anyone who are out after midnight will be considered suspicious and the police can check their ID in the street or in the office. Here I want to make further explanation, for in most Chinese cities, it is totally safe to hang out at night at any time you want, and the police won’t patrol in the street checking your ID unless someone complains about noise and etc.

Surely there is racism arising in the distrust. In Urumqi, I asked why ethnic minorities were treated in an unfriendly way and they tried to tell me that it was because of the very unique situations in Xinjiang. Sounds like the discrimination is natural but I cannot judge based on what I learnt. A taxi driver told me that it was the Islam belief that makes the Uyghur not in harmony with the recent society led by the Communist Party and that the religion was toxic. I thought he was referring to Islamic extremism but in a seemingly biased way.

Fourth, I tried to learn about people’s attitudes towards the 2009 riots and got similar responses from Uyghurs and Han. They both feared the riots and tried to tell me how horrible that day was. Some Uyghurs who were Urumqi locals claimed that all those terrorists were not local to the city and tried to kill all the citizens with regardless of ethnicity which made them dreadful. In my journey, most of the Uyghurs I met were friendly farmers, some of whom were even willing to accommodate me for free. On one time, I was taking a 6-hour bus, I talked with a Uyghur guy sitting next to me. We almost talked about everything, including our hometowns, our families and so on. The guy was very talkative and friendly, leaving me a very good impression towards the Uyghur.

Lastly, I mean, I never heard of the re-education camp. So I guess this was not related to normal people’s life. The minorities I met were usually very talkative and complained to me about many things including the policies, the government, the relation between the Han and the minorities, except the camp. I think most Chinese people just want to live a peaceful life no matter in Xinjiang or outside Xinjiang. I was so lucky to travel in Xinjiang, because the scenery I spotted was so great that I would probably pay another visit in the future.

Another visitor, Vadim Mikhailaov, visited,

“Xinjiang appears to have no criminality whatsoever and the police in the streets are unarmed. The checkpoints aren’t too time consuming if you have a Chinese ID card and know the security guards from daily contact. At the checkpoints we visited, on the other hand, annoyed police or security guards struggled with the protocol on how to handle foreigners. We all drank until late and went home without the slightest issue. Our group was coming from many places in the West where stumbling out of a bar late at night can often be quite dangerous. We had to admit that you feel safe at night in Xinjiang. Completely safe. Most places just asked for our passports, took a look, and let us through, sometimes asking which country we came from. A few guards didn’t want to deal with the hassle and just told us to bypass the metal scanner and get out of their sight. As everything in China, enforcement is sometimes spotty. But those were the exceptions; discipline in the surveillance apparatus was generally quite high. We walked leisurely through the city, and while we attracted some attention, we were neither stopped, nor stared at, nor (I think) followed. As I mentioned, there are police everywhere; standing, walking, and driving. They’re not aggressive, or intimidating, or stopping people at random. They’re just there making themselves present.

One big difference between Turpan and Urumqi was that, again, most people were Uyghur. But the police were Uyghur, too. The people manning the checkpoints and the “convenience police stations,” and driving the patrol cars were all Uyghur. It’s worth emphasizing that whatever is happening in Xinjiang is not just an invasion by a foreign army hell-bent on annoying the locals. The locals are quite annoyed, indeed, but it’s their fellow tribesmen doing the grunt work. Or most of it, anyway. I must say that the Uyghur police we saw were more easy-going than the Han police we saw in Urumqi. More chill. Less zealous, you could say. At any rate, they never gave us a hard time, and we got plenty of smiles and easy treatment. Meanwhile France has soldiers, not police, patrolling the streets of Paris. Considering his post-resignation declaration about radical Islam replacing the Republic, I have to wonder what the former French Minister of the Interior, Gérard Collomb, would make of Xinjiang?

China’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan talked to local journalists:

Since the 1990s, the three evil forces – terrorism, religious extremism and separatism– have been a scourge in China’s Xinjiang and implemented a series of appalling terrorist attacks, including the incident in Urumqi on July 5, 2009. What should we do? Aside from taking strong measures, we also need to remove the soil for the three evil forces. All these measures aim to help people who were instigated by the three evil forces or influenced by extremism to come back to reason and to return to society to live a normal life. In order to achieve this purpose, China set up the training centers in accordance with China’s Constitution, the Counterterrorism Law and the Regulations of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on De-radicalization and by referring to the successful experience on counterterrorism from other countries.

The training centers in Xinjiang do not target any ethnic group or certain religion and all people there are treated equally without discrimination. There are two criteria for whether an individual should be in the centers – whether they participated in illegal activities of the three evil forces and whether they pose a threat to the society.

For example, some individuals used social media, such as WhatsApp to promote jihad online or spread videos on violence in circumstances that were not serious enough to constitute a crime. These people go to the training centers. Some people, who received prison sentence for participating in terrorist or extremist activities but refuse to abandon extremism and plan to take revenge, also need to go to the training centers.

To put it simply, people who obey laws and regulations and commit no wrong deeds do not need to worry about “going to the training centers” no matter which ethnic group they are from and whatever their religion is. The training center is not prison, but a school for the public. There is only one goal for the school – to educate people and to stop good people becoming bad. What do people learn in the center? They learn Putonghua to make sure that all Chinese citizens can understand, can speak and can write the national common language. This is the basic requirement and responsibility for a citizen from any civilized country.

Trainees learn knowledge on laws so that all Chinese citizens understand that they live in the 21st Century where laws are put in place and strictly enforced and anyone who violates the laws will be held accountable. The trainees should have the basic awareness of laws so they are not so easily tempted by extremism. They also learn vocational skills at the centers, including pastry making, weaving and textile printing, shoes-making and fixing machinery, hairdressing and make-up and e-commerce. Trainees can choose one to two skills to learn based on their interests. There will be more chance for them to get employment and less risk of becoming involving with the three evil forces.

With the work of these training centers being implemented in order, more and more trainees have graduated from the centers and returned to society and earned a better life. There is no torture in these training centers but only protection and respect for human rights. In contrast to the fake news, trainees’ religions and traditions are fully respected – all the centers offer various kinds of food, including halal food for them to choose. There are different entertainment activities, including singing songs, dancing, chanting or playing basketball for their physical health. Speaking of human rights, let me ask a question, if a modern person could not understand or write the country’s common language, has no idea about modern marriage or zero vocational skills and only enslaves his wife at home or is mistreated by her arranged husband and are used or brainwashed by the three evil forces, how could you say he or she understands human rights?

All the facts have told that the work of training centers has been effective and helpful. For now, the stability and situation in China’s Xinjiang has been improved and there have been no violent incidents in the region for more than two years. It is not only a positive influence on Xinjiang’s work on maintaining security but also makes a great contribution to safeguarding the stability of the adjacent Central Asia area.

Shohrat Zakir, Chairman of the Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region:

Xinjiang has established a training model with professional vocational training institutions as the platform: learning the country’s common language, legal knowledge, vocational skills, along with de-extremization education as the main content, with achieving employment as the key direction. The vocational training institutions have set up departments of teaching, management, medical care, logistics and security, and allocated a corresponding number of faculty, class advisors, medical, catering, logistics and security staff. In the process of learning and training, the trainees will advance from learning the country’s common language to learning legal knowledge and vocational skills. Firstly, the trainees will take learning the country’s common language as the basis to improve their communication abilities, gain modern science knowledge and enhance their understanding of Chinese history, culture and national conditions. The teaching follows standardized plans, textbooks, materials and systems. The trainees are taught in various methods suited to their literacy to raise their abilities to use the country’s common language as soon as possible. Secondly, the learning of legal knowledge is taken as a key part of cultivating the trainees’ awareness of the nation, citizenship and rule of law. Legal experts are hired to lecture on the Constitution, the criminal law and the civil law, etc., and judges, prosecutors and lawyers are invited to teach the criminal law, the law on public security administration, the anti-terrorism law, the marriage law, the education law and Xinjiang’s de-extremization regulations. Thirdly, vocational learning is taken as a key way to help trainees find employment. Courses on clothing and footwear making, food processing, electronic product assembly, typesetting and printing, hairdressing and e-commerce have been set up to suit local social needs and job market. Multi-skill training is provided to trainees who have the desire and capability to learn, so that they acquire one to two vocational skills upon graduation. Businesses in garment making, mobile phone assembly and ethnic cuisine catering are arranged to offer trainees practical opportunities. In the meantime, they are paid basic incomes and a bonus. The mechanism has taken shape in which the trainees can ‘learn, practice and earn money.

In daily life, vocational institutions and schools strictly implement the spirit of laws and regulations, including the Constitution and religious affairs regulations, and respect and protect the customs and habits of various ethnic groups and their beliefs in diet and daily life. Faculties of the institutions and schools also try their best to ensure and meet the trainees’ needs in study, life, and entertainment on the basis of free education. The cafeteria prepares nutritious free diets, and the dormitories are fully equipped with radio, TV, air conditioning, bathroom and shower. Indoor and outdoor sports venues for basketball, volleyball and table tennis have been built, along with reading rooms, computer labs, film screening rooms, as well as performance venues such as small auditoriums and open-air stages. Various activities such as contests on speech, writing, dancing, singing and sports are organized. Many trainees have said that they were previously affected by extremist thought and had never participated in such kinds of art and sports activities, and now they have realized that life can be so colorful.

Moreover, the vocational institutions and schools pay high attention to the trainees’ mental health and helped them solve problems in life. They not only provide professional psychological counseling services, but also duly deal with complaints from the trainees and their families. All this shows that the management of the vocational institutions and schools are people-oriented.

China’s censor banned the use of ‘anti-Islamic’ words on social media after a clash that involved Muslims fighting at a toll booth went viral. Weibo blocked phrases disrespectful to Muslims and search engines block insults, mockery and defamatory terms, “It’s time to remove radical phrases that discriminate against Islam and are biased against Muslims to prevent worsening online hatred towards them. Those phrases severely undermine religious harmony and ethnic unity,” said Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Beijing’s Minzu University of China in Beijing. “China closes streets for Eid prayers, pays for Muslim Chinese to make the hajj and censors the internet and social media to prevent criticisms of Islam that might inflame social tensions. The idea that they should suddenly demand that the Muslims turn over their Qurans and Prayer mats is classic fake news and state propaganda. As a result, peace may break out and the recent deluge of fake news from Western corporate media paints the Chinese government as a gross violator of human rights while the Empire has droned, bombed, starved and killed millions of Muslim children, women from Afghanistan to Yemen and displaced millions more.”

Video: A Uyghur Re-Education Camp. Translation: “The center provides professional training in clothing making, food preparation and IT. The guy named Ailijiang Masaidi said he received RMB 2800/month and sending RM2600 home. His family is very happy. The 2nd guy named Ahbulaihaidi is now working in a shoe making factory. He said he has mastered most skills and would get RMB 4000-5000/month soon, that would means RMB 60-70k a year. His technical manager says his company fully supports the factory’s effort in Hetian. The 2nd guy says that clothing factory has been set up in Yutian. The lady named Humakuli says she now work in a factory near her home Kashgar. She is working and learning at the same time. Training includes cultural learning about history about Xinjiang and about Zhonghua civilization. The narratives then says the center provides cultural and sports activities including painting, dance and Peking opera etc. The guy who dress as consort Yang is Abdula. He said every one admires him now because he is the best singer. Before he attend the center he was told that all sort of entertainment including singing and dancing is sinful. He said his life used to be gray and now is colorful. Then Kashgar National Congress Deputy Chairman Mijidi said he wants the people to learn about the traditional culture of the Uighur people. Singing and dancing are all acceptable.” The program was implemented in 2014, and since then no terrorist attack has happened in China. So it was considered a major success and was expanded greatly.

Notes

[1] Red Star Over China. Edgar Snow. 1937. Atlantic Books.

[2] The Grand Chessboard, 1990.

[3] Richard Labeviere, Dollars for Terror: The United States and Islam, Algora Publishing, 2000, p. 6.

[4] In 2017 the American government funded 48 anti-China groups and organizations through the National Endowment for Democracy, NED, to oppose and harm China’s reputation and to create social and ethnic tensions and conflicts within China. https://www.ned.org.

[5] A Chinese friend provided her background: She had 11 children, which confirms that Uighurs were not subject to China’s One Child Policy.. She was born to a family with no background. She started her business with a roadside convenience store and worked her way to be THE richest person in the province of Xinjiang. This proved Uighurs can earn their business success through hard work. She was a senior member of the People’s Congress of Xinjiang, and a senior member of the National People’s Congress of China. This shows Uighurs were not excluded from political life in China. She was arrested because she provided funding to Eastern Turkestan Independence Movement, labeled as terrorist organization by the US.

[6] “We have to conquer our own country and purify it of all infidels. Then we should conquer the infidels’ countries and spread Islam. The infidels who are usurping our countries have announced war against Islam and Muslims, forcing Muslims to abandon Islam and change their beliefs.” Abdullah Mansour, leader of the Uyghur ETIM. “The Duty of Faith and Support,” Voice of Islam/al-Fajr Media Center, August 26, 2009.

[7] “ISIS militants from China’s Muslim minority group vow to return home and ‘shed blood like rivers’ in the terror group’s first video to target the country By GARETH DAVIES FOR Daily Mail Online PUBLISHED 08:39 BST, 1 March 2017.

https://web.archive.org/web/20200521110205/https://xenagoguevicene.wordpress.com/2019/06/26/china-uyghurs-and-political-islam-by-godfree-roberts-%e2%80%a2-25-june-2019/

Hands – Line Drawings – One of the hardest things to draw…

hands 08

                                           

I made a video and found a dozen or so line drawings of hands.  One of the hardest things to draw are human hands.  Perhaps because so many people have hands and see them up close constantly, and they know what they look like. 

 

 

 

The denial of freedom symbolized by the restriction of the hands in handcuffs.

hand 100

Symbolizing solidarity and integrated cooperation – multiracial handshakes.

hands 13

The minimalist depiction of scratching a back.

hand 10

Are US and Russia Already in a Cyber War? – by Philip Giraldi (Checkpoint Asia) 25 June 2019


What is going on with Iran is certainly front-page material but there are two other stories confirming that brain-dead flesh-eating zombies have somehow gained control of the White House. The first comes from David Sanger of The New York Times, who reported last week that the United States had inserted malware into the Russian electrical grid to serve as both a warning and a possible response mechanism should the Kremlin continue with its cyberwarfare ways.

The astonishing thing about the story is the casual way it is presented because, after all, inserting malware into someone’s electrical grid might well be considered an act of war. The White House responded to the story with a tweet from the president claiming that “This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country…” though he did not state that the account was untrue. In fact, if it was actually treason, that would suggest that the news article was accurate in its description of what must be a Top Secret program. But then Trump or one of his advisors realized the omission and a second tweet soon followed: “…..ALSO, NOT TRUE!”

Assuming that Sanger did his job right and the story is actually correct, a number of aspects of it might be considered. First, interfering with a country’s electrical grid, upon which so many elements of infrastructure depend, is extremely reckless behavior, particularly when the activity has been leaked and exposed in a newspaper. Sanger explained the genesis of his story, revealing that he had been working at it for several months. He wrote:

The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said. In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections. Advocates of the more aggressive strategy said it was long overdue, after years of public warnings from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. that Russia has inserted malware that could sabotage American power plants, oil and gas pipelines, or water supplies in any future conflict with the United States.

The Sanger story elaborates:

Since at least 2012, current and former officials say, the United States has put reconnaissance probes into the control systems of the Russian electric grid. But now the American strategy has shifted more toward offense, officials say, with the placement of potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before. It is intended partly as a warning, and partly to be poised to conduct cyberstrikes if a major conflict broke out between Washington and Moscow. The commander of United States Cyber Command, Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, has been outspoken about the need to ‘defend forward’ deep in an adversary’s networks to demonstrate that the United States will respond to the barrage of online attacks aimed at it. President Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said the United States was taking a broader view of potential digital targets as part of an effort to warn anybody ‘engaged in cyberoperations against us.’ ‘They don’t fear us,’ he told the Senate a year ago during his confirmation hearings.

If the Sanger tale is true, and it certainly does include a great deal of corroborative information, then the United States has already entered into a tit-for-tat situation with Russia targeting power grids, largely initiated to “make them fear us.” One might suggest that the two countries are already at war. That is in no one’s interest and the signals it sends could lead to a major escalation very rapidly. Interestingly, the article states that President Donald Trump does not know about the program even though it could potentially lead to World War 3. That the piece appeared at all also inevitably makes some readers wonder why Sanger has not been arrested for exposing national security information a la Julian Assange.

Top 5 Soviet Russian Films About WWII

( To find the movies listed to stream – A useful site that shows what streaming platform offers a movie – JustWatch – https://www.justwatch.com/us )

1. “The Cranes Are Flying” (1957) by Mikhail Kalatozov

Soviet cinema’s critical engagement with the war began in many ways with Kalatozov’s film, which was voted by Russian critics in 2008 as the best film of the first 50 years of Russian cinema. Kalatozov’s film was the first among many classics from the Thaw era that dealt with the war’s significance, preceding Grigorii Chukhrai’s “Ballad of a Soldier” (1959), Fedor Bondarchuk’s “Fate of a Man” (1959), Chukhrai’s “Clear Skies” (1961), and Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Ivan’s Childhood” (1962).


The whole film can be seen on the Mosfilm YouTube channel. Source: YoutubeThe Cranes are Flying focuses on Veronika, who has seen her boyfriend Boris off to the front and who deals with the hardships the war causes at home. Tatiana Samoilova’s nuanced performance is one for the ages.

2. “Trial on the Road” (1971/1986) by Alexei German

Banned for 15 years, German’s first film tells the story of a Soviet soldier who defects to the Nazis, then switches sides again to fight with Soviet partisans. Based on his father’s novel and adapted by Eduard Volodarskii (who has written a number of important films dealing with the war), “Trial on the Road’s” examination of concepts such as “patriotism,” “hero,” and “traitor” remain profound.


“Trial on the Road” was censored and taken out of circulation in the Soviet Union for 15 years after its release due to its unflattering depiction of Soviet soldiers. Source: YoutubeGerman also directed another classic about the war, “Twenty Days Without War” (1976).

3. “They Fought For the Motherland” (1975) by Sergei Bondarchuk

Bondarchuk, a veteran of the war, first turned to it onscreen with his 1959 classic, “Fate of a Man”. After making the six-hour epic adaptation of “War and Peace”, which won the Academy Award, he returned to World War II in “They Fought for the Motherland”.

 

 

The film was selected as the Soviet entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 49th Academy Awards in 1977, but was not accepted as a nominee. Source: YoutubeSet in July 1942, as the Red Army begins to battle at Stalingrad, the “they” in the movie are broken, wounded, weary, older, complex individuals. Bondarchuk decided to have this collection of soldiers defend a small, relatively unimportant plot of land. In the end, after defending some far-flung locales, the regiment, which has lost all of its officers, is told they will head to Stalingrad.4. “Come and See” (1985) by Elem Klimov

Klimov’s masterpiece, set in occupied Belarus, is the story of Flyora, a young boy who gets caught up in the conflict and who stumbles through the hellish landscape that was the Eastern Front. Klimov’s film has consistently been cited as one of the best, if not the best, film about the war ever made.

 


Come and See is violent, brutal, horrific, and profound. Source: Youtube
When it appeared in the U.S., Walter Goodman declared that its “history is harrowing and the presentation is graphic” while its director was “a master of a sort of unreal realism that seeks to get at events terrible beyond comprehension.”

5. “The Cuckoo” (2002) by Alexander Rogozhkin

Among the more recent Russian movies about World War II, Rogozhkin’s “The Cuckoo” may be the most satisfying (Dmitrii Meskhiev’s 2004 “Our Own” is also worth a watch). In it, a Finnish soldier who was conscripted to fight for the Nazis and then chained to a rock after being labeled a pacifist, makes his way to the house of a Sami woman whose husband has also left to fight in the war. She is nursing an injured Soviet soldier who was sentenced to death for anti-Soviet activities but who managed to escape his execution.

 

The Cuckoo is a 2002 Russian historical comedy drama film directed by Aleksandr Rogozhkin. Source: YoutubeRogozhkin’s film explores the way misperceptions and differences in language affect the way the three view each other, often with comedic effect.

Alcohol-Free Bars Caught on in the U.S. and U.K. But Can They Go Global? – By Anna Ben Yehuda Rahmanan (Fortune) 22 June 2019

“[The trend] is a logical extension of the current wellness revolution,” says Ruby Warrington, the author of Sober Curious, a book exploring the culture of the nondrinking masses with the goal of normalizing it. Warrington argues that attitude changes in America—our new focus on meditation and yoga, healthy food, and

generally mindful practices—have evolved into an awareness of the detrimental effects that alcohol can have on the body. Are countries that pride themselves on a healthy relationship with alcohol, then, not ideal breeding grounds for liquor-free establishments? Are these new bars replicable concepts outside the likes of New York and London, cities renowned for excessive drinking? Is the fad here to stay?

According to Sam Thonis and Regina Dellea, co-owners of the new alcohol-free Getaway bar in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, the appeal of their venture goes beyond the need to stay sober. “We have the same comforts that a bar would,” says Thonis. “The lighting, the music, the layout. It’s just a place where everyone is on the same boat, and you don’t really have to explain yourself.”

The Getaway bar in Brooklyn.

When asked whether a traditional drinking den with a mocktail menu would tackle the same need, Dellea points out that “there is a difference between having a drink that was designed to have alcohol in it and removing [it], and then a drink that was designed without the intention of having alcohol.”

Lorelei Bandrovschi, the mastermind behind Listen Bar, a monthly alcohol-free pop-up bar whose first iteration landed in New York in October 2018, echoes Dellea’s sentiments: “I don’t think it’s about whatever percent of alcohol is in your Coors Light when you’re going to a bar. If the crowd is right, the music is right, the vibe is right, it’s been a revelation [to people, saying] ‘Wow, it really is a bar.’”

Less Is More

All three business owners stress the importance of well-prepared cocktails—with or without liquor in them—hence their investments in relatively expensive fresh ingredients, a cost that replaces pricey liquor licenses.

Working with a variety of award-winning bartenders and mixologists, Listen Bar proposes a menu specifically designed to be prepared sans liquor yet still boasting the complexity and creativity usually reserved for high-end cocktail bar offerings. “Nondrinkers have been made to feel like the odd ones out,” Bandrovschi says. “We are here to say that [they] deserve their own space and to be the star of the show. Making great alcohol-free drinks is actually much more complex than making decent cocktails.”

According to Bandrovschi, the people that flock to Listen Bar’s monthly residency at Von in New York are not exclusively sober. “Only a third of our guests define themselves as nondrinkers,” she says. “Two-thirds of people who come are either occasional drinkers or regular drinkers.” Following a successful first round of crowdfunding, Bandrovschi plans to open a brick-and-mortar shop. She believes that what attracts people to her concept is the idea of being able to go out without “taxing the body” the next day.

The Getaway bar.

We circle back to the viability of the concept: Are alcohol-free bars only practical options in cities of excess, where folks can’t control their drinking unless surrounded by liquor-free facilities?

It is interesting to note that both New York establishments were born out of an avoidance of excess: Listen Bar is the result of a dare that required Bandrovschi not to drink for a month, whereas Thonis began thinking of Getaway while hearing about his sober brother’s discomfort when visiting traditional imbibing spots.

A look at the recent uptick in liquor-free, distilled spirits that are being produced and shipped all across the world may actually point to the fact that this is, indeed, a global trend that’s here to stay. Sure, it might have first sprouted across cities with an unusually high number of alcoholics, but it surely speaks to the sober, pregnant, and not-in-the-mood-for-a-drink-tonight people of the world who still want to go out and enjoy human company without having to order a meal, go to a museum, or sit through a movie.

Blended and bottled in England, Seedlip, for example, is the first-ever distilled nonalcoholic spirit. It comes in three different flavors and is served in 100 Michelin-starred restaurants across 15 different international cities with plans to expand further. Heineken 0.0, the brand’s alcohol-free beer, first launched in Barcelona and then rolled out in the U.S. in time for “dry January” with a $50 million investment. Athletic Brewing Company produces nonalcoholic craft beers that even appeal to Olympians seeking recovery drinks.

The worldwide market for nonalcoholic beer is projected to double to about $25 billion by 2024, according to market research firm Global Market Insights. And Heineken’s own research says that nearly 30% of 21- to 25-year-olds haven’t had a beer in the past month, a stat inferring the need and demand for liquor-free options that still remind consumers of alcohol.

When queried about the longevity of their business model and its potential for replicability outside the likes of New York and London, the owners of Getaway and Listen Bar exude positivity. “We had some people here from Abu Dhabi the other night,” recalls Thonis. “They were saying that there are lots of bars [there] but nothing like this, where they are doing interesting cocktails with no alcohol. They were enthusiastic about it and thought it would be a great idea in Abu Dhabi.”

Archive

 

How Graffiti Became Gentrified – By Daisy Alioto – 19 June 2019

Street Art 002

How Graffiti Became Gentrified

Two decades after Rudy Giuliani tried to rid New York City of graffiti, the art form is flourishing—with unexpected consequences.

Graffiti artists learn early not to get too attached. Ephemera is as central to their medium as spray paint. Some works last months, others don’t make it through the night. Even the most famous pieces are not guaranteed to last. Many of the defining works of the late 1960s and 1970s in New York City—“DONDI” wrapped around the side of an entire subway car, “TAKI 183” sprayed on a brick facade—have been lost, painted over, or torn down entirely. So much of what is enshrined in the iconic 1983 graffiti documentary Style Wars cannot be found in the urban landscape today.

All of that made the demolition of 5Pointz, a legendary graffiti venue in Long Island City, Queens, an unlikely battleground for the soul of the art form. In the early 2000s, the derelict warehouse at 45–46 Davis Street became a haven for graffiti artists, thanks to an unusual arrangement. With the five-story complex in sparse use since the 1970s and entirely empty since 2009, the artist Jonathan Cohen—whose tag is Meres One—struck a deal with the building’s owner, Gerald “Jerry” Wolkoff: Artists who wanted to paint big, intensive projects could do so on the building’s exterior without running afoul of anti-graffiti laws, which had been ratcheted up during Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s reign in the 1990s. That pact created a flourishing street artist community around 5Pointz: The building featured work from some 1,500 artists from all over the world, earning it the title the “United Nations of Graffiti.”

5pointz 1

The arrangement went belly up in 2013, when Wolkoff decided that the building would be razed and converted into ritzy condominiums in the increasingly posh neighborhood, the cultural cachet of its painted exterior converted into a high-dollar payout.

Graffiti artists, including the British artist Banksy, clamored for the site’s preservation, while New Yorkers lamented the sacrifice of another cultural artifact on the altar of the city’s real-estate development machine. Under cover of darkness in November of that year, Wolkoff took advantage of a stalled court injunction to have the building whitewashed—over a decade’s worth of artwork gone overnight.

Then, in 2018, a court found that Wolkoff was liable for $6.75 million in total damages. The settlement, which is under appeal, was hailed as a victory for the artists. But it also signaled a strange new chapter in the history of graffiti. In the early days, by creed, a graffiti artist would ask neither for permission nor compensation. Now, after courting the former, artists at 5Pointz were receiving the latter. Graffiti was once a countercultural threat that conservative forces roundly maligned as a racially coded stand-in for urban delinquency. It was an archenemy of both the New York Police Department and real-estate developers for the supposed downward pull it exerted on property values. Now, graffiti had not only helped catalyze gentrification of one of the city’s fastest growing neighborhoods, but was also being handsomely rewarded for it, with legal recognition by a judge and jury.

“Real estate and art go hand in hand now,” Meres One, who was the lead plaintiff in the suit against Wolkoff and his associates, told me this spring. Graffiti can ruin a neighborhood, it turns out—just not the way the city expected.

(5 Pointz Project (NYC Street Art) [2:25 min] 2013 on Hooktube – https://www.hooktube.com/watch?v=K_4IHPpFkh0 )


Modern graffiti wasn’t invented in New York, but it took hold in the late 1960s and 1970s as a favored mode of cultural expression for the city’s creative young and poor. It was, among certain classes, loathed. It exploded in popularity just as the city was hurtling toward bankruptcy in the ’70s, which led graffiti to be identified with all the social ills that then plagued New York. Gangs of unruly teens, roaming the streets with no respect for private property or public infrastructure, joined a disreputable cast of characters who had turned New York into a dystopian nightmare. “Pickpocketing, and shoplifting, and graffiti defacing our public and private walls, they’re all in the same area of destroying our lifestyle and making it difficult to enjoy life,” said then-Mayor Ed Koch in Style Wars. “I think it has to be responded to.”

Graffiti enforcement quickly became a flagship component of “broken windows” policing, which encouraged cops to treat minor property crime as a gateway to violent crime, and punish it accordingly. “They’re trying to make it look like graffiti writers break windows and everything, it ain’t even like that,” said a young artist in Style Wars.

Even as the hip-hop era subsided, and the forces of financialization took over the city, the campaign to criminalize and stigmatize graffiti soldiered on. In 1994, The New York Times reported on a crackdown in which a 25-member vandal squad arrested 21 people in 17 days. In 1995, Giuliani established the Anti-Graffiti Task Force by executive order to examine “the effectiveness of existing provisions of law aimed at curbing graffiti vandalism,” and propose “amendments to strengthen such legislation.” Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern said the deleterious effect of widespread graffiti was best shown in 1962’s A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess’s tale about nihilistic youths with a taste for ultra-violence. “Graffiti is not a fashionable expression of the counterculture as it has been regarded in the past,” he said. “The ’60s are over.”

In 1999, Giuliani’s office helped lead an effort known as Graffiti-Free NYC (GFNYC). It allowed property owners to report illicit street art via the city’s 311 civic hotline or fill out a Forever Graffiti Free form giving the city blanket consent to “clean” their property. Even in 2019 in Brooklyn, it would not be out of place to see a GFNYC van on one side of the street and a tour headed to the Bushwick Collective, an open-air street art shrine, on the other.

As police chased graffiti artists from their canvasses of choice in the city’s subway depots, tunnels, and bridges, they began to take refuge in arrangements that relied on the kindness of more lenient and enlightened property owners. The art form metamorphosed, with graffiti, once known for its hurried, look-over-your-shoulder “throw ups,” merging with a nascent genre of street art: the less nefarious “mural.”

That change was reflected at a recent panel presented by the Center for Art Law at Fordham Law School titled “International Perspectives on Street Art.” In a sheet of key terms, graffiti was defined as “unauthorized artworks that are word-based,” while murals are “works typically authorized, if not commissioned.” Street art can encapsulate both these terms, although exact definitions vary among artists—some artists further legitimize the medium with the term “aerosol art.”

Was the work at 5Pointz graffiti, a mural, or something else? Well, it depends who you ask. The whole premise of GFNYC, marking its twentieth anniversary this year, runs against the appraisal work done on 5Pointz, which debunked the notion that graffiti brings properly values down. Quite the opposite: The art dramatically increased the value of Wolkoff’s property. And Wolkoff didn’t need a court judgment to know it. In 2012, the production company Summit Entertainment had rented studio space from Wolkoff in order to shoot its film Now You See Me with 5Pointz art as backdrop. By 2013, as many as 10 tour buses, chock-full of tourists, were coming to 5Pointz a day. Rents in the fledgling new cultural epicenter of Long Island City went up—and developers took notice.

In 2016, a study by Warwick Business School used Flickr uploads to analyze the relationship between photos of street art and London property values. “[T]he researchers’ analysis revealed that neighborhoods with a higher proportion of ‘art’ photographs also experienced greater relative gains in property prices.”

And in America, as crime dropped in the 1990s and affluent college graduates enacted a great migration from the suburbs to the country’s cities, graffiti became the literal poster board for the “authentic” urban culture they were seeking—driving up prices along the way. It was only a matter of time before the artists themselves got wise.


As it’s continued to exist in legal limbo, aerosol art has, under GFNYC’s two-decades-long watch, struck a precarious balance, straddling a public square full of ticket-writing cops and a private sphere eager to convert graffiti’s cultural capital into a quick buck. In the wake of 5Pointz’s whitewashing, Marie-Cécile Flageul​ and Meres One co-founded a group called 5Pointz Creates, a collective of those who worked at the Queens site, to put on “pop up events dedicated to the spirit of the Graffiti Mecca.” In 2016, 5Pointz Creates was approached by citizenM hotels to create the Museum of Street Art (MoSA), a free “museum” inside a hotel, showcasing the work of artists who formerly painted at 5Pointz.

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CitizenM is a Netherlands-based chain of “boutique” accommodations that provides “affordable luxury in some of the most exciting cities in the world.” Its location on the Bowery in lower Manhattan, one of two in New York City, is a far cry from the blighted urban areas that incubated the city’s graffiti scene—it’s not often that getting pushed out of Queens lands one in Manhattan.

Producing work for a corporate client might seem anathema to the hip-hop generation of yore. But, according to Flageul, the legal options for graffiti artists in New York City have dwindled, and when the hotel’s representatives promised wall blanche, the opportunity proved irresistible. The arrangement also seemed to resolve the ethical dilemma of contributing to gentrification. “We don’t want to be a tool of displacement,” Flageul told me​.

Every artist Flageul​ approached to be a part of her MoSA curation said yes. And all the artists were paid the same amount for their work, while receiving the same expense budget, no matter their experience level. Older graffiti artists might have furtively tagged the exterior of such an establishment; now, the artists of 5Pointz were working on the inside, with permission, for a paycheck, the radical ambition of the graffiti project replaced by something much more modest.

Developers are more than willing to take advantage of a changing graffiti culture. Down the street from citizenM is the Houston Bowery Wall, owned by the Goldman family, one of New York City’s highest-profile billionaire real estate developers. In the last two years, the wall has been the site of both protest art by Banksy and an ad for Instagram’s inclusivity and kindness campaign. (It is in the Goldmans’ best interest for these to be virtually indistinguishable.)

The Goldman family owns property in the Wynwood section of Miami, which is now known for the street art at Wynwood Walls. “Wynwood was nondescript and industrial. Where other people would see—excuse my language—shitty tagging all over the place, my dad said, ‘Wow! These buildings are canvases,’” Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO of Goldman Properties, said in a 2015 interview. Tony Goldman is also credited with revitalizing Miami Beach’s South Beach in the 1980s.

Goldman Properties calls its ability to flip neighborhoods “Gentlefication,” but there is nothing gentle about it. In 2016, a property adjacent to the Wynwood Walls sold for $53.5 million, or $1,250 per square foot, according to the Miami Herald. While some homeowners are seeing their property values increase, renters and others are being priced out. And though developers have offered a trifling number of affordable housing units in the area, it’s not enough to meaningfully slow the pace of change.

Not all graffiti artists have been eager to participate in that process. In a strange reversal of the Giuliani years, when graffiti artists were seen by the law as miscreants to be gleefully locked up, artists have started using the law to defend their art against corporate usurpers. In 2016, a photographer used a mural on a parking structure in Detroit that was painted on commission by the Swiss street artist Adrian Falkner as the backdrop for a Cadillac ad without the artist’s knowledge. When Falkner sued for copyright infringement, the court came down against General Motors.

In 2018, H&M settled a lawsuit with artist Jason “Revok” Williams, who had sent a cease-and-desist letter to the clothing company after it shot an ad at a Brooklyn handball court featuring his work. Before settling, H&M fought back on the basis that his work was done illegally.

But those artists are largely exceptions, working against a tide of more corporate-friendly work. “The artists that are co-opted [by brands] the most have a style that plays into the popular notion of what art should be,” Renée Vara, who was enlisted as an art expert in the 5Pointz case, told me.


So if the supposed threat caused by graffiti has been neutralized, why hasn’t the law kept pace? In a CityLab article published in February, a former research and policy adviser at the National Network for Safe Communities wrote, “The broken windows paradigm remains active throughout policing. Perhaps most significantly, it still colors how the public views violence and demands responses to it: both as a danger that characterizes entire poor communities of color, and as a menace that poses a constant threat.” The same style of artwork that gave rise to Wynwood Walls was lumped into a series of policies that terrorized a generation of minority citizens. No matter how many white gentrifiers move to Bed-Stuy, that era is not dead—indeed, it’s not even past.

In Style Wars, then-MTA Chairman Richard Ravitch, who is often credited with rescuing New York’s subway from infamy as a graffiti-plastered hellscape, said of the youths tagging the subway lines: “It isn’t the energy that is misplaced, it’s the value system that’s misplaced.” One could just as easily say the same for a city that rewards real-estate developers that use street art to lure gentrifiers, while calling that same art ugly and antisocial.

It seems well past time for détente between the city’s power brokers and one of its signature forms of expression. “The laws are the laws. If I could change anything [I’d] do one legal paint park in each borough,” Meres One told me. Such a proposal would hardly be groundbreaking: Public paint parks have had success in cities like London, Prague, and Buenos Aires.

What such an accord would mean for graffiti, an art form that has increasingly been defanged, coopted, and commodified, remains an open question. And at any rate, there’s little evidence that a truce is under consideration. For Meres One and other graffiti artists, there aren’t many viable options. “I have no legal walls. I can’t get up and say, ‘I really feel like painting today,’” he told me. “Now the options are a mural project that might be exploited,” a paid commission, or nothing. “If it wasn’t for the wall in my yard I’d go stir crazy.”

Line Drawings of Trees – r/HowToDraw101

tree 4Today I picked ‘Trees’ as a subject to highlight on my r/HowToDraw101 subreddit on Reddit.

I went online and did an image search for ‘trees line drawing’ to see what images popped up. I got a nice display of line drawings of trees and figured I’d copy them and also make a video for Youtube.

 

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I like how the one below is just one continuous line….

tree 7tree 6

From the simple, to the stylistic and complex.

tree 10

 

Hypersonic Nuclear Missiles Are Unstoppable – And They’re Starting a New Global Arms Race – by R. Jeffrey Smith (NY Times) 22 June 2019

This article is a collaboration between The Times Magazine and the Center for Public Integrity, where R. Jeffrey Smith is the managing editor for national security. 

On March 6, 2018, the grand ballroom at the Sphinx Club in Washington was packed with aerospace-industry executives waiting to hear from Michael D. Griffin. Weeks earlier, Secretary of Defense James Mattis named the 69-year-old Maryland native the Pentagon’s under secretary for research and engineering, a job that comes with an annual budget of more than $17 billion. The dark-suited attendees at the McAleese/Credit Suisse Defense Programs Conference were eager to learn what type of work he would favor.

The audience was already familiar with Griffin, an unabashed defender of American military and political supremacy who has bragged about being labeled an “unreconstructed cold warrior.” With five master’s degrees and a doctorate in aerospace engineering, he was the chief technology officer for President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (popularly known as Star Wars), which was supposed to shield the United States against a potential Russian attack by ballistic missiles looping over the North Pole. Over the course of his career that followed, he wrote a book on space vehicle design, ran a technology incubator funded by the C.I.A., directed NASA for four years and was employed as a senior executive at a handful of aerospace firms.

Griffin was known as a scientific optimist who regularly called for “disruptive innovation” and who prized speed above all. He had repeatedly complained about the Pentagon’s sluggish bureaucracy, which he saw as mired in legacy thinking. “This is a country that produced an atom bomb under the stress of wartime in three years from the day we decided to do it,” he told a congressional panel last year. “This is a country that can do anything we need to do that physics allows. We just need to get on with it.”

In recent decades, Griffin’s predecessors had prioritized broad research into topics such as human-computer interaction, space communication and undersea warfare. But Griffin signaled an important shift, one that would have major financial consequences for the executives in attendance. “I’m sorry for everybody out there who champions some other high priority, some technical thing; it’s not that I disagree with those,” he told the room. “But there has to be a first, and hypersonics is my first.”

Griffin was referring to a revolutionary new type of weapon, one that would have the unprecedented ability to maneuver and then to strike almost any target in the world within a matter of minutes. Capable of traveling at more than 15 times the speed of sound, hypersonic missiles arrive at their targets in a blinding, destructive flash, before any sonic booms or other meaningful warning. So far, there are no surefire defenses. Fast, effective, precise and unstoppable — these are rare but highly desired characteristics on the modern battlefield. And the missiles are being developed not only by the United States but also by China, Russia and other countries.

Griffin is now the chief evangelist in Washington for hypersonics, and so far he has run into few political or financial roadblocks. Lawmakers have supported a significant expansion of federal spending to accelerate the delivery of what they call a “game-changing technology,” a buzz phrase often repeated in discussions on hypersonics. America needs to act quickly, says James Inhofe, the Republican senator from Oklahoma who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, or else the nation might fall behind Russia and China. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are largely in agreement, though recently they’ve pressed the Pentagon for more information. (The Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island, and House Chairman Adam Smith, the Democratic representative for Washington’s ninth district, told me it might make sense to question the weapons’ global impact or talk with Russia about the risks they create, but the priority in Washington right now is to get our versions built.)

In 2018, Congress expressed its consensus in a law requiring that an American hypersonic weapon be operational by October 2022. This year, the Trump administration’s proposed defense budget included $2.6 billion for hypersonics, and national security industry experts project that the annual budget will reach $5 billion by the middle of the next decade. The immediate aim is to create two deployable systems within three years. Key funding is likely to be approved this summer.

The enthusiasm has spread to military contractors, especially after the Pentagon awarded the largest one, Lockheed Martin, more than $1.4 billion in 2018 to build missile prototypes that can be launched by Air Force fighter jets and B-52 bombers. These programs were just the beginning of what the acting defense secretary, Patrick M. Shanahan, described in December as the Trump administration’s goal of “industrializing” hypersonic missile production. Several months later, he and Griffin created a new Space Development Agency of some 225 people, tasked with putting a network of sensors in low-earth orbit that would track incoming hypersonic missiles and direct American hypersonic attacks. This isn’t the network’s only purpose, but it will have “a war-fighting capability, should it come to that,” Griffin said in March.

Development of hypersonics is moving so quickly, however, that it threatens to outpace any real discussion about the potential perils of such weapons, including how they may disrupt efforts to avoid accidental conflict, especially during crises. There are currently no international agreements on how or when hypersonic missiles can be used, nor are there any plans between any countries to start those discussions. Instead, the rush to possess weapons of incredible speed and maneuverability has pushed the United States into a new arms race with Russia and China — one that could, some experts worry, upend existing norms of deterrence and renew Cold War-era tensions.

Although hypersonic missiles can in theory carry nuclear warheads, those being developed by the United States will only be equipped with small conventional explosives. With a length between just five and 10 feet, weighing about 500 pounds and encased in materials like ceramic and carbon fiber composites or nickel-chromium superalloys, the missiles function like nearly invisible power drills that smash holes in their targets, to catastrophic effect. After their launch — whether from the ground, from airplanes or from submarines — they are pulled by gravity as they descend from a powered ascent, or propelled by highly advanced engines. The missiles’ kinetic energy at the time of impact, at speeds of at least 1,150 miles per hour, makes them powerful enough to penetrate any building material or armored plating with the force of three to four tons of TNT.

They could be aimed, in theory, at Russian nuclear-armed ballistic missiles being carried on trucks or rails. Or the Chinese could use their own versions of these missiles to target American bombers and other aircraft at bases in Japan or Guam. Or the missiles could attack vital land- or sea-based radars anywhere, or military headquarters in Asian ports or near European cities. The weapons could even suddenly pierce the steel decks of one of America’s 11 multibillion-dollar aircraft carriers, instantly stopping flight operations, a vulnerability that might eventually render the floating behemoths obsolete. Hypersonic missiles are also ideal for waging a decapitation strike — assassinating a country’s top military or political officials. “Instant leader-killers,” a former Obama administration White House official, who asked not to be named, said in an interview.

Within the next decade, these new weapons could undertake a task long imagined for nuclear arms: a first strike against another nation’s government or arsenals, interrupting key chains of communication and disabling some of its retaliatory forces, all without the radioactive fallout and special condemnation that might accompany the detonation of nuclear warheads. That’s why a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report said in 2016 that hypersonics aren’t “simply evolutionary threats” to the United States but could in the hands of enemies “challenge this nation’s tenets of global vigilance, reach and power.”

The arrival of such fast weaponry will dangerously compress the time during which military officials and their political leaders — in any country — can figure out the nature of an attack and make reasoned decisions about the wisdom and scope of defensive steps or retaliation. And the threat that hypersonics pose to retaliatory weapons creates what scholars call “use it or lose it” pressures on countries to strike first during a crisis. Experts say that the missiles could upend the grim psychology of Mutual Assured Destruction, the bedrock military doctrine of the nuclear age that argued globe-altering wars would be deterred if the potential combatants always felt certain of their opponents’ devastating response.

And yet decision makers seem to be ignoring these risks. Unlike with previous leaps in military technology — such as the creation of chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missiles with multiple nuclear warheads — that ignited international debate and eventually were controlled through superpower treaty negotiations, officials in Washington, Moscow and Beijing haven’t seriously considered any sort of accord limiting the development or deployment of hypersonic technology. In the United States, the State Department’s arms-control bureau has an office devoted to emerging security challenges, but hypersonic missiles aren’t one of its core concerns. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s deputies say they primarily support making the military’s arsenal more robust, an unusual stance for a department tasked with finding diplomatic solutions to global problems.

This position worries arms-control experts like Thomas M. Countryman, a career diplomat for 35 years and former assistant secretary of state in the Obama administration. “This is not the first case of a new technology proceeding through research, development and deployment far faster than the policy apparatus can keep up,” says Countryman, who is now chairman of the Arms Control Association. He cites examples of similarly “destabilizing technologies” in the 1960s and 1970s, when billions of dollars in frenzied spending on nuclear and chemical arms was unaccompanied by discussion of how the resulting dangers could be minimized. Countryman wants to see limitations placed on the number of hypersonic missiles that a country can build or on the type of warheads that they can carry. He and others worry that failing to regulate these weapons at the international level could have irreversible consequences.

“It is possible,” the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs said in a February report, that “in response [to] the deployment of hypersonic weapons,” nations fearing the destruction of their retaliatory-strike capability might either decide to use nuclear weapons under a wider set of conditions or simply place “nuclear forces on higher alert levels” as a matter of routine. The report lamented that these “ramifications remain largely unexamined and almost wholly undiscussed.”

So why haven’t the potential risks of this revolution attracted more attention? One reason is that for years the big powers have cared mostly about numerical measures of power — who has more warheads, bombers and missiles — and negotiations have focused heavily on those metrics. Only occasionally has their conversation widened to include the issue of strategic stability, a topic that encompasses whether specific weaponry poses risks of inadvertent war.

An aerospace engineer for the military for more than three decades, Daniel Marren runs one of the world’s fastest wind tunnels — and thanks to hypersonics research, his lab is in high demand. But finding it takes some time: When I arrived at the Air Force’s White Oak testing facility, just north of Silver Spring, Md., the private security guards only vaguely gestured toward some World War II-era military research buildings down the road, at the edge of the Food and Drug Administration’s main campus. The low-slung structure that houses Marren’s tunnel looks as if it could pass for an aged elementary school, except that it has a seven-story silver sphere sticking out of its east side, like a World’s Fair exhibit in the spot where an auditorium should be. The tunnel itself, some 40 feet in length and five feet in diameter, looks like a water main; it narrows at one end before emptying into the silver sphere. A column of costly high-tech sensors is grafted onto the piping where a thick window has been cut into its midsection.

Marren seemed both thrilled and harried by the rising tempo at his laboratory in recent months. A jovial 55-year-old who speaks carefully but excitedly about his work, he showed me a red brick structure on the property with some broken windows. It was built, he said, to house the first of nine wind tunnels that have operated at the test site, one that was painstakingly recovered in 1948 from Peenemünde, the coastal German village where Wernher von Braun worked on the V-2 rocket used to kill thousands of Londoners in World War II. American military researchers had a hard time figuring out how to reassemble and operate it, so they recruited some German scientists stateside.

As we entered the control room of the building that houses the active tunnel, Marren mentioned casually that the roof was specially designed to blow off easily if anything goes explosively awry. Any debris would head skyward, and the engineers, analysts and visiting Air Force generals monitoring the wind tests could survive behind the control room’s reinforced-concrete walls.

Inside the main room, Marren — dressed in a technologist’s polo shirt — explained that during the tests, the tunnel is first rolled into place on a trolley over steel rails in the floor. Then an enormous electric burner is ignited beneath it, heating the air inside to more than 3,000 degrees, hot enough to melt steel. The air is then punched by pressures 1,000 times greater than normal at one end of the tunnel and sucked at the other end by a vacuum deliberately created in the enormous sphere.

That sends the air roaring down the tunnel at up to 18 times the speed of sound — fast enough to traverse more than 30 football fields in the time it takes to blink. Smack in the middle of the tunnel during a test, attached to a pole capable of changing its angle in fractions of a second, is a scale model of the hypersonics prototype. That is, instead of testing the missiles by flying them through the air outdoors, the tunnel effectively makes the air fly past them at the same incredible pace.

For the tests, the models are coated with a paint that absorbs ultraviolet laser light as it warms, marking the spots on their ceramic skin where frictional heat may threaten the structure of the missile; engineers will then need to tweak the designs either to resist that heat or shunt it elsewhere. The aim, Marren explains, is to see what will happen when the missiles plow through the earth’s dense atmosphere on their way to their targets.

It’s challenging work, replicating the stresses these missiles would endure while whizzing by at 30 times the speed of a civilian airliner, miles above the clouds. Their sleek, synthetic skin expands and deforms and kicks off a plasma like the ionized gas formed by superheated stars, as they smash the air and try to shed all that intense heat. The tests are fleeting, lasting 15 seconds at most, which require the sensors to record their data in thousandths of a nanosecond. That’s the best any such test facility can do, according to Marren, and it partly accounts for the difficulty that defense researchers have had in producing hypersonics, even after about $2 billion-worth of federal investment before this year.

Nonetheless, Marren, who has worked at the tunnel since 1984, is optimistic that researchers will be able to deliver a working missile soon. He and his team are operating at full capacity, with hundreds of test runs scheduled this year to measure the ability of various prototype missiles to withstand the punishing friction and heat of such rapid flight. “We have been prepared for this moment for some time, and it’s great to lean forward,” Marren says. The faster that weapons systems can operate, he adds, the better.

Last year, the nation was confronted with a brief reminder of how Cold War-era nuclear panic played out, after a state employee in Hawaii mistakenly sent out an emergency alert declaring that a “ballistic missile threat” was “inbound.” The message didn’t specify what kind of missile — and, in fact, the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command at two sites in Alaska and California may have some capability to shoot down a few incoming ballistic missiles — but panicked Hawaii residents didn’t feel protected. They reacted by careening cars into one another on highways, pushing their children into storm drains for protection and phoning their loved ones to say goodbye — until a second message, 38 minutes later, acknowledged it was an error.

Hypersonics pose a different threat from ballistic missiles, according to those who have studied and worked on them, because they could be maneuvered in ways that confound existing methods of defense and detection. Not to mention, unlike most ballistic missiles, they would arrive in under 15 minutes — less time than anyone in Hawaii or elsewhere would need to meaningfully react.

How fast is that, really? An object moving through the air produces an audible shock wave — a sonic boom — when it reaches about 760 miles per hour. This speed of sound is also called Mach 1, after the Austrian physicist Ernst Mach. When a projectile flies faster than Mach’s number, it travels at supersonic speed — a speed faster than sound. Mach 2 is twice the speed of sound; Mach 3 is three times the speed of sound, and so on. When a projectile reaches a speed faster than Mach 5, it’s said to travel at hypersonic speed.

One of the two main hypersonic prototypes now under development in the United States is meant to fly at speeds between Mach 15 and Mach 20, or more than 11,400 miles per hour. This means that when fired by the U.S. submarines or bombers stationed at Guam, they could in theory hit China’s important inland missile bases, like Delingha, in less than 15 minutes. President Vladimir Putin has likewise claimed that one of Russia’s new hypersonic missiles will travel at Mach 10, while the other will travel at Mach 20. If true, that would mean a Russian aircraft or ship firing one of them near Bermuda could strike the Pentagon, some 800 miles away, in five minutes. China, meanwhile, has flight-tested its own hypersonic missiles at speeds fast enough to reach Guam from the Chinese coastline within minutes.

One concept now being pursued by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency uses a conventional missile launched from air platforms to loft a smaller, hypersonic glider on its journey, even before the missile reaches its apex. The glider then flies unpowered toward its target. The deadly projectile might ricochet downward, nose tilted up, on layers of atmosphere — the mesosphere, then the stratosphere and troposphere — like an oblate stone on water, in smaller and shallower skips, or it might be directed to pass smoothly through these layers. In either instance, the friction of the lower atmosphere would finally slow it enough to allow a steering system to maneuver it precisely toward its target. The weapon, known as Tactical Boost Glide, is scheduled to be dropped from military planes during testing next year.

Under an alternative approach, a hypersonic missile would fly mostly horizontally under the power of a “scramjet,” a highly advanced, fanless engine that uses shock waves created by its speed to compress incoming air in a short funnel and ignite it while passing by (in roughly one two-thousandths of a second, according to some accounts). With its skin heated by friction to as much as 5,400 degrees, its engine walls would be protected from burning up by routing the fuel through them, an idea pioneered by the German designers of the V-2 rocket.

The unusual trajectories of these missiles would allow them to approach their targets at roughly 12 to 50 miles above the earth’s surface. That’s below the altitude at which ballistic missile interceptors — such as the costly American Aegis ship-based system and the Thaad ground-based system — are now designed to typically operate, yet above the altitude that simpler air defense missiles, like the Patriot system, can reach.

Officials will have trouble even knowing where a strike would land. Although the missiles’ launch would probably be picked up by infrared-sensing satellites in its first few moments of flight, Griffin says they would be roughly 10 to 20 times harder to detect than incoming ballistic missiles as they near their targets. They would zoom along in the defensive void, maneuvering unpredictably, and then, in just a few final seconds of blindingly fast, mile-per-second flight, dive and strike a target such as an aircraft carrier from an altitude of 100,000 feet.

During their flight, the perimeter of their potential landing zone could be about as big as Rhode Island. Officials might sound a general alarm, but they’d be clueless about exactly where the missiles were headed. “We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us,” Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of United States Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2018. The Pentagon is just now studying what a hypersonic attack might look like and imagining how a defensive system might be created; it has no architecture for it, and no firm sense of the costs.

Developing these new weapons hasn’t been easy. A 2012 test was terminated when the skin peeled off a hypersonic prototype, and another self-destructed when it lost control. A third hypersonic test vehicle was deliberately destroyed when its boosting missile failed in 2014. Officials at Darpa acknowledge they are still struggling with the composite ceramics they need to protect the missiles’ electronics from intense heating; the Pentagon decided last July to ladle an extra $34.5 million into this effort this year.

The task of conducting realistic flight tests also poses a challenge. The military’s principal land-based site for open-air prototype flights — a 3,200-acre site stretching across multiple counties in New Mexico — isn’t big enough to accommodate hypersonic weapons. So fresh testing corridors are being negotiated in Utah that will require a new regional political agreement about the noise of trailing sonic booms. Scientists still aren’t sure how to accumulate all the data they need, given the speed of the flights. The open-air flight tests can cost up to $100 million.

The most recent open-air hypersonic-weapon test was completed by the Army and the Navy in October 2017, using a 36,000-pound missile to launch a glider from a rocky beach on the western shores of Kauai, Hawaii, toward Kwajalein Atoll, 2,300 miles to the southwest. The 9 p.m. flight created a trailing sonic boom over the Pacific, which topped out at an estimated 175 decibels, well above the threshold of causing physical pain. The effort cost $160 million, or 6 percent of the total hypersonics budget proposed for 2020.

In March 2018, Vladimir Putin, in the first of several speeches designed to rekindle American anxieties about a foreign missile threat, boasted that Russia had two operational hypersonic weapons: the Kinzhal, a fast, air-launched missile capable of striking targets up to 1,200 miles away; and the Avangard, designed to be attached to a new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile before maneuvering toward its targets. Russian media have claimed that nuclear warheads for the weapons are already being produced and that the Sarmat missile itself has been flight-tested roughly 3,000 miles across Siberia. (Russia has also said it is working on a third hypersonic missile system, designed to be launched from submarines.) American experts aren’t buying all of Putin’s claims. “Their test record is more like ours,” said an engineer working on the American program. “It’s had a small number of flight-test successes.” But Pentagon officials are convinced that Moscow’s weapons will soon be a real threat.

Analysts say the Chinese are even further along than the Russians, partly because Beijing has sought to create hypersonic missiles with shorter ranges that don’t have to endure high temperatures as long. Many of their tests have involved a glide vehicle. Last August, a contractor for the Chinese space program claimed that it successfully flight-tested a gliding hypersonic missile for slightly more than six minutes. It supposedly reached a speed exceeding Mach 5 before landing in its target zone. Other Chinese hypersonic missile tests have reached speeds almost twice as fast.

And it’s not just Russia, China and the United States that are interested in fast-flying military power drills. France and India have active hypersonics development programs, and each is working in partnership with Russia, according to a 2017 report by the Rand Corp., a nonpartisan research organization. Australia, Japan and the European Union have either civilian or military hypersonics research underway, the report said, partly because they are still tantalized by the prospect of making super-speedy airplanes large enough to carry passengers across the globe in mere hours. But Japan’s immediate effort is aimed at making a weapon that will be ready for testing by 2025.

This is not the first time the United States or others have ignored risks while rushing toward a new, apparently magical solution to a military threat or shortcoming. During the Cold War, America and Russia competed fiercely to threaten each other’s vital assets with bombers that took hours to cross oceans and with ballistic missiles that could reach their targets in 30 minutes. Ultimately, each side accumulated more than 31,000 warheads (even though the detonations of just 100 weapons would have sparked a severe global famine and stripped away significant protections against ultraviolet radiation). Eventually the fever broke, partly because of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, and the two nations reduced their arsenals through negotiations to about 6,500 nuclear warheads apiece.

Since then, cycles of intense arms racing have restarted whenever one side has felt acutely disadvantaged or spied a potential exit from what the political scientist Robert Jervis once described as the “overwhelming nature” of nuclear destruction, a circumstance that we’ve been involuntarily and resentfully hostage to for the past 70 years.

[Putin Warns That Russia Is Developing ‘Invincible’ Hypersonic Missiles]

Trump officials in particular have resisted policies that support Mutual Assured Destruction, the idea that shared risk can lead to stability and peace. John Bolton, the national security adviser, was a key architect in 2002 of America’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, which limited both nations’ ability to try to block ballistic missiles. He asserted that freeing the United States of those restrictions would enhance American security, and if the rest of the world was static, his prediction might have come true. But Russia started its hypersonics program to ensure it could get around any American ballistic missile defenses. “Nobody wanted to listen to us” about the strategic dangers of abandoning the treaty, Putin said last year with an aggressive flourish as he displayed videos and animations of his nation’s hypersonic missiles. “So listen now.”

But not much listening is going on in either country. In January, the Trump administration released an updated missile-defense strategy that explicitly calls for limiting mutual vulnerability by defeating enemy “offensive missiles prior to launch.” The administration also continues to eschew any new limits on its own missiles, arguing that past agreements lulled America into a dangerous post-Cold War “holiday,” as a senior State Department official described it.

The current administration’s lack of interest in regulating hypersonics isn’t that different from its predecessor’s. Around 2010, President Obama privately “made it clear that he wanted better options to hold North Korean missiles” at risk, a former senior adviser said, and some military officials said hypersonic weapons might be suitable for this. About that same time, the most recent nuclear arms reduction agreement with Russia deliberately excluded any constraints on hypersonic weapons. Then, three years ago, a New York-based group called the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, acting in conjunction with other nonprofits committed to disarmament, called on the president to head off a hypersonic competition and its anticipated drain on future federal budgets by exploring a joint moratorium with China and Russia on testing. The idea was never taken up.

The Obama administration’s inaction helped open the door to the 21st-century hypersonic contest America finds itself in today. “We always do these things in isolation, without thinking about what it means for the big powers — for Russia and China — who are bats–t paranoid” about a potential quick, pre-emptive American attack, the adviser said, expressing regret about how the issue was handled during Obama’s tenure.

While it might not be too late to change course, history shows that stopping an arms race is much harder than igniting one. And Washington at the moment is still principally focused on “putting a weapon on a target,” as a longtime congressional staff member put it, rather than the reaction this capability inspires in an adversary. Griffin even projects an eventual American victory in this race: In April 2018, he said the best answer to the Chinese and Russian hypersonic programs is “to hold their assets at risk with systems similar to but better than what they have fielded.” Invoking the mantra of military scientists throughout time, Griffin added that the country must “see their hand and raise them one.” The world will soon find out what happens now that the military superpowers have decided to go all in.

R. Jeffrey Smith has won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Magazine Award and is managing editor for national security at the Center for Public Integrity.

Archive

Shutting Down the Gulf Oil Trade: All Iran Needs to Do to Destroy the World Economy – by Pepe Escobar (Strategic Culture) 22 June 2019

Sooner or later the US “maximum pressure” on Iran would inevitably be met by “maximum counter-pressure”. Sparks are ominously bound to fly.

For the past few days, intelligence circles across Eurasia had been prodding Tehran to consider a quite straightforward scenario. There would be no need to shut down the Strait of Hormuz if Quds Force commander, General Qasem Soleimani, the ultimate Pentagon bête noire, explained in detail, on global media, that Washington simply does not have the military capacity to keep the Strait open.

<figcaption>General Qasem Soleimani</figcaption>
General Qasem Soleimani

As I previously reported, shutting down the Strait of Hormuz would destroy the American economy by detonating the $1.2 quadrillion derivatives market; and that would collapse the world banking system, crushing the world’s $80 trillion GDP and causing an unprecedented depression.

Soleimani should also state bluntly that Iran may in fact shut down the Strait of Hormuz if the nation is prevented from exporting essential two million barrels of oil a day, mostly to Asia. Exports, which before illegal US sanctions and de facto blockade would normally reach 2.5 million barrels a day, now may be down to only 400,000.

Soleimani’s intervention would align with consistent signs already coming from the IRGC. The Persian Gulf is being described as an imminent “shooting gallery.” Brigadier General Hossein Salami stressed that Iran’s ballistic missiles are capable of hitting “carriers in the sea” with pinpoint precision. The whole northern border of the Persian Gulf, on Iranian territory, is lined up with anti-ship missiles – as I confirmed with IRGC-related sources.

We’ll let you know when it’s closed

Then, it happened.

Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, went straight to the point; “If the Islamic Republic of Iran were determined to prevent export of oil from the Persian Gulf, that determination would be realized in full and announced in public, in view of the power of the country and its Armed Forces.”

The facts are stark. Tehran simply won’t accept all-out economic war lying down – prevented to export the oil that protects its economic survival. The Strait of Hormuz question has been officially addressed. Now it’s time for the derivatives.

Presenting detailed derivatives analysis plus military analysis to global media would force the media pack, mostly Western, to go to Warren Buffett to see if it is true. And it is true. Soleimani, according to this scenario, should say as much and recommend that the media go talk to Warren Buffett.

The extent of a possible derivatives crisis is an uber-taboo theme for the Washington consensus institutions. According to one of my American banking sources, the most accurate figure – $1.2 quadrillion – comes from a Swiss banker, off the record. He should know; the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) – the central bank of central banks – is in Basle.

The key point is it doesn’t matter how the Strait of Hormuz is blocked.

It could be a false flag. Or it could be because the Iranian government feels it’s going to be attacked and then sinks a cargo ship or two. What matters is the final result; any blocking of the energy flow will lead the price of oil to reach $200 a barrel, $500 or even, according to some Goldman Sachs projections, $1,000.

Another US banking source explains; “The key in the analysis is what is called notional. They are so far out of the money that they are said to mean nothing. But in a crisis the notional can become real.  For example, if I buy a call for a million barrels of oil at $300 a barrel, my cost will not be very great as it is thought to be inconceivable that the price will go that high.  That is notional.  But if the Strait is closed, that can become a stupendous figure.”

BIS will only commit, officially, to indicate the total notional amount outstanding for contracts in derivatives markers is an estimated $542.4 trillion. But this is just an estimate.

The banking source adds, “Even here it is the notional that has meaning.  Huge amounts are interest rate derivatives. Most are notional but if oil goes to a thousand dollars a barrel, then this will affect interest rates if 45% of the world’s GDP is oil. This is what is called in business a contingent liability.”

Goldman Sachs has projected a feasible, possible $1,000 a barrel a few weeks after the Strait of Hormuz being shut down. This figure, times 100 million barrels of oil produced per day, leads us to 45% of the $80 trillion global GDP. It’s self-evident the world economy would collapse based on just that alone.

War dogs barking mad

As much as 30% of the world’s oil supply transits the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Wily Persian Gulf traders – who know better – are virtually unanimous; if Tehran was really responsible for the Gulf of Oman tanker incident, oil prices would be going through the roof by now. They aren’t.

Iran’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz amount to 12 nautical miles (22 km). Since 1959, Iran recognizes only non-military naval transit.

Since 1972, Oman’s territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz also amount to 12 nautical miles. At its narrowest, the width of the Strait is 21 nautical miles (39 km). That means, crucially, that half of the Strait of Hormuz is in Iranian territorial waters, and the other half in Oman’s. There are no “international waters”.

And that adds to Tehran now openly saying that Iran may decide to close the Strait of Hormuz publicly – and not by stealth.

Iran’s indirect, asymmetric warfare response to any US adventure will be very painful. Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran once again reconfirmed, “even a limited strike will be met by a major and disproportionate response.” And that means gloves off, big time; anything from really blowing up tankers to, in Marandi’s words, “Saudi and UAE oil facilities in flames”.

Hezbollah will launch tens of thousands of missiles against Israel. As

Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hasan Nasrallah has been stressing in his speeches, “war on Iran will not remain within that country’s borders, rather it will mean that the entire [Middle East] region will be set ablaze. All of the American forces and interests in the region will be wiped out, and with them the conspirators, first among them Israel and the Saudi ruling family.”

It’s quite enlightening to pay close attention to what this Israel intel op is saying. The dogs of war though are barking mad.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jetted to CENTCOM in Tampa to discuss “regional security concerns and ongoing operations” with – skeptical – generals, a euphemism for “maxim pressure” eventually leading to war on Iran.

Iranian diplomacy, discreetly, has already informed the EU – and the Swiss – about their ability to crash the entire world economy. But still that was not enough to remove US sanctions.

War zone in effect

 

As it stands in Trumpland, former CIA Mike “We lied, We cheated, We stole”Pompeo – America’s “top diplomat” – is virtually running the Pentagon. “Acting” secretary Shanahan performed self-immolation. Pompeo continues to actively sell the notion the “intelligence community is convinced” Iran is responsible for the Gulf of Oman tanker incident. Washington is ablaze with rumors of an ominous double bill in the near future; Pompeo as head of the Pentagon and Psycho John Bolton as Secretary of State. That would spell out War.

Yet even before sparks start to fly, Iran could declare that the Persian Gulf is in a state of war; declare that the Strait of Hormuz is a war zone; and then ban all “hostile” military and civilian traffic in its half of the Strait. Without firing a single shot, no shipping company on the planet would have oil tankers transiting the Persian Gulf.

我的诗有 – 我的利默里克 – 诺贝尔文学奖 – 爱尔兰作家

我去找咖啡和甜甜圈,并与签署诗歌的人交换了一些押韵。我不知道他是谁。他是爱尔兰人,我知道他有一些关于爱尔兰多年来遇到的问题的诗。我有空闲时间,听说过文学接待;我识字,所以我去了。

当我走向诗人时,我有一个带洋葱面包圈的盘子说:“曾经有一个来自邓多克的男孩,他不知道怎么走……”

“这是英国人的错,考虑一下,”当他直接看着我时,他用一根手指在空中回答强调。他在笑我喜欢玩文字,他也是。

我以为他喜欢在所有讨好的粉丝中享受一点点无瑕疵的文字游戏,要求他在一本书的前面涂鸦。我又开始说:“曾经有一个来自秘鲁的男孩,他不知道该做什么,他去找他的妈妈,他给他看了一个骆驼……其余的押韵都取决于你。”

他笑了。我不记得他对此的回答了。这是一个阳光明媚的四月的一天,因为我们在学校的图书馆与几十个其他人聊天,我们反对一个低书案。咖啡让我的大脑竞赛。话语溢出。

我们谈到蒙巴顿勋爵在一次袭击事件中被一名爱尔兰共和军突击队杀害,他在1979年被定为暗杀。他谈到蒙巴顿是印度的殖民大师,执行英国统治,他不仅仅是一个有头衔的随机渔夫。希尼谈到蒙巴顿是印度的最后一位英国总督,一位来自外国的未经选举的独裁者我提到蒙巴顿勋爵是二战结束时负责越南盟军占领的英国官员,蒙巴顿重新武装了日本帝国军队在1945年在西贡镇压了越南托洛茨基主义工人阶级的起义。

“我不知道,”他对我说,好像还有一个重要的谜题

他告诉我,他在夏天在爱尔兰西部经营着一所诗歌写作学校,我很乐意参加聚会。我希望在我的脑海里,我那天晚上有足够的钱让我的汽车回家,而不是如何支付作家撤退到海洋。

几天后,一位教员和我开玩笑说,“你说得比他多。”我仍然不知道那个男人是谁。我知道他是爱尔兰人,我知道他写过关于爱尔兰不幸历史的诗。我在家里的架子上翻译了Beowulf。什么故事。

seamus heaney line drawing

后来我发现这个机智的人有诺贝尔文学奖。老实说,我并没有留下深刻的印象。奥巴马总统获得诺贝尔和平奖。投票给获胜者的是挪威精英和来自政府的政治家;他们挑选那个时髦的东西。不过,优秀的人才能赢得值得的努力。亨利基辛格获得诺贝尔和平奖。设想。

第二天,我得到了我部门负责人的正式通知,明年我没有得到工作,他们必须在那个日期前提醒我。我在自由文学讨论中的疯狂日子必须继续前进。我一直都知道,最终会把诗作为“对冲学校”的老师。

但多年来我真的想到了他对我的话语的回答:“曾经有一个来自Dundalk的人不知道如何走路……”Heaney回答:“这是英国人的错,想一想,”真的让我思考这个答案。他是不是意味着这个男人因为被英国士兵伤害而无法行走?他是否意味着英国对爱尔兰的长期开采导致爱尔兰人口大部分贫困,无法负担足够的医疗保健费用?

他是否意味着爱尔兰人将一切归咎于英国而不是为自己承担责任?自从希尼说出这些事以来,我已经想过这十几年了。

我仍然没有找到Seamus Heaney的答案。但他在我的架子上,在图书馆里,在我的记忆中活着。

Wǒ qù zhǎo kāfēi hé tián tián quān, bìng yǔ qiānshǔ shīgē de rén jiāohuànle yīxiē yāyùn. Wǒ bù zhīdào tā shì shéi. Tā shì ài’ěrlán rén, wǒ zhīdào tā yǒu yīxiē guānyú ài’ěrlán duōnián lái yù dào de wèntí de shī. Wǒ yǒu kòngxián shíjiān, tīng shuōguò wénxué jiēdài; wǒ shìzì, suǒyǐ wǒ qùle. Dāng wǒ zǒuxiàng shīrén shí, wǒ yǒu yīgè dài yángcōng miànbāoquān de pánzi shuō:
“Céngjīng yǒu yīgè láizì dèng duō kè de nánhái, tā bù zhīdào zěnme zǒu……”
“Zhè shì yīngguó rén de cuò, kǎolǜ yīxià,” dāng tā zhíjiē kànzhe wǒ shí, tā yòng yī gēn shǒuzhǐ zài kōngzhōng huídá qiángdiào. Tā zài xiào wǒ xǐhuān wán wénzì, tā yěshì. Wǒ yǐwéi tā xǐhuān zài suǒyǒu tǎohǎo de fěnsī zhōng xiǎngshòu yī diǎndiǎn wú xiácī de wénzìyóuxì, yāoqiú tā zài yī běn shū de qiánmiàn túyā. Wǒ yòu kāishǐ shuō:“Céngjīng yǒu yīgè láizì bìlǔ de nánhái, tā bù zhīdào gāi zuò shénme, tā qù zhǎo tā de māmā, tā gěi tā kànle yīgè luòtuó……
Qíyú de yāyùn dōu qǔjué yú nǐ.” Tā xiàole. Wǒ bù jìdé tā duì cǐ de huídále. Zhè shì yīgè yángguāng míngmèi de sì yuè de yītiān, yīnwèi wǒmen zài xuéxiào de túshū guǎn yǔ jǐ shí gè qítā rén liáotiān, wǒmen fǎnduì yīgè dī shū’àn. Kāfēi ràng wǒ de dànǎo jìngsài. Huàyǔ yìchū. Wǒmen tán dào méng bādùn xūnjué zài yīcì xíjí shìjiàn zhōng bèi yī míng ài’ěrlán gònghé jūn tújí duì shāhài, tā zài 1979 nián bèi dìng wèi ànshā.
Tā tán dào méng bādùn shì yìndù de zhímín dàshī, zhíxíng yīngguó tǒngzhì, tā bùjǐn jǐn shì yīgè yǒu tóuxián de suíjī yúfū. Xī ní tán dào méng bādùn shì yìndù de zuìhòu yī wèi yīngguó zǒngdū, yī wèi láizì wàiguó de wèi jīng xuǎnjǔ de dúcái zhě wǒ tí dào méng bādùn xūnjué shì èrzhàn jiéshù shí fùzé yuènán méng jūn zhànlǐng de yīngguó guānyuán, méng bādùn chóngxīn wǔzhuāngle rìběn dìguó jūnduì zài 1945 nián zài xīgòng zhènyāle yuènán tuō luò cí jī zhǔyì gōngrén jiējí de qǐyì.
“Wǒ bù zhīdào,” tā duì wǒ shuō, hǎoxiàng hái yǒu yīgè zhòngyào de mí tí  tā gàosù wǒ, tā zài xiàtiān zài ài’ěrlán xībù jīngyíngzhe yī suǒ shīgē xiězuò xuéxiào, wǒ hěn lèyì cānjiā jùhuì.
Wǒ xīwàng zài wǒ de nǎohǎi lǐ, wǒ nèitiān wǎnshàng yǒu zúgòu de qián ràng wǒ de qìchē huí jiā, ér bùshì rúhé zhīfù zuòjiā chètuì dào hǎiyáng. Jǐ tiān hòu, yī wèi jiàoyuán hé wǒ kāiwánxiào shuō,“nǐ shuō dé bǐ tā duō.” Wǒ réngrán bù zhīdào nàgè nánrén shì shéi. Wǒ zhīdào tā shì ài’ěrlán rén, wǒ zhīdào tā xiěguò guānyú ài’ěrlán bùxìng lìshǐ de shī.
Wǒ zài jiālǐ de jiàzi shàng fānyìle Beowulf. Shénme gùshì. Seamus heaney line drawing hòulái wǒ fāxiàn zhège jīzhì de rén yǒu nuò bèi’ěr wénxué jiǎng. Lǎoshí shuō, wǒ bìng méiyǒu liú xià shēnkè de yìnxiàng. Àobāmǎ zǒngtǒng huòdé nuò bèi’ěr hépíng jiǎng.
Tóupiào gěi huòshèng zhě de shì nuówēi jīngyīng hé láizì zhèngfǔ de zhèngzhì jiā; tāmen tiāoxuǎn nàgè shímáo de dōngxī. Bùguò, yōuxiù de rén cáinéng yíngdé zhídé de nǔlì. Hēnglì jī xīn gé huòdé nuò bèi’ěr hépíng jiǎng.
Shèxiǎng. Dì èr tiān, wǒ dédàole wǒ bùmén fùzé rén de zhèngshì tōngzhī, míngnián wǒ méiyǒu dédào gōngzuò, tāmen bìxū zài nàgè rìqí qián tíxǐng wǒ. Wǒ zài zì yóu wénxué tǎolùn zhōng de fēngkuáng rìzi bìxū jìxù qiánjìn. Wǒ yīzhí dōu zhīdào, zuìzhōng huì bǎ shī zuòwéi “duìchōng xuéxiào” de lǎoshī. Dàn duōnián lái wǒ zhēn de xiǎngdàole tā duì wǒ de huàyǔ de huídá:
“Céngjīng yǒu yīgè láizì Dundalk de rén bù zhīdào rúhé zǒulù……”Heaney huídá:“Zhè shì yīngguó rén de cuò, xiǎng yī xiǎng,” zhēn de ràng wǒ sīkǎo zhège dá’àn. Tā shì bùshì yìwèizhe zhège nánrén yīnwèi bèi yīngguó shìbīng shānghài ér wúfǎ xíngzǒu?
Tā shìfǒu yìwèizhe yīngguó duì ài’ěrlán de cháng qī kāicǎi dǎozhì ài’ěrlán rénkǒu dà bùfèn pínkùn, wúfǎ fùdān zúgòu de yīliáo bǎojiàn fèiyòng? Tā shìfǒu yìwèizhe ài’ěrlán rén jiāng yīqiè guījiù yú yīngguó ér bùshì wèi zìjǐ chéngdān zérèn?
Zìcóng xī ní shuō chū zhèxiē shì yǐlái, wǒ yǐjīng xiǎngguò zhè shí jǐ niánle. Wǒ réngrán méiyǒu zhǎodào Seamus Heaney de dá’àn. Dàn tā zài wǒ de jiàzi shàng, zài túshū guǎn lǐ, zài wǒ de jìyì zhōng huózhe.
…………………..

My Limericks with Seamus Heaney

I went for the coffee and donuts, and traded some rhymes with the man signing books of poetry.  I didn’t know who he was.  He was Irish, I knew he had some poems about the problems Ireland has had over the years.   I had some free time and heard about the literary reception; I’m literate, so I went.

I had a plate with an onion bagel as I walked up to the poet and said, “There once was a boy from Dundalk, who didn’t know quite how to walk….”

“It’s the Brits fault, think about it,”  he replied with a finger in the air for emphasis as he looked at me directly.  He was smiling.  I like to play with words, and so did he.

I thought he enjoyed a little unvarnished wordplay among all the fawning fans asking for his scribble in the front of a book.  I started again, “There once was a boy from Peru, who didn’t know quite what to do, he went to his mama, who showed him a Llama….and the rest of the rhyme’s up to you.”

He laughed.  I can’t remember his reply to that.  It was a sunny April day as we chatted in the school’s library with a couple of dozen other people around we were against a low book case.  Coffee makes my brain race.  Words spill out.

We talked about Lord Montbatten being killed by an IRA commando team in a targeted assassination in 1979.  He talked about Mountbatten being a colonial master in India enforcing English rule, that he was not just a random fisherman with a title.  Heaney spoke about Montbatten being the last British Viceroy of India, an unelected dictator from a foreign country  I mentioned that Lord Montbatten had been the British official in charge of the allied occupation of Vietnam at the end of WW2, and Montbatten re-armed Japanese Imperial Army troops to put down a Vietnamese Trotskyist working class uprising in 1945 in Saigon.

“I didn’t know that,” he said to me as if a little piece of an important puzzle had been added

He told me that he ran a writing school for poetry during the summer in the West of Ireland, and that I might enjoy coming to the gathering.  I was hoping in my head that I had enough money for gas to travel home in my car that night, not how to pay for a writers retreat across the ocean.

A faculty member joked with me a few days later, “you spoke more than he did.”  I still didn’t know who the man was.  I knew he was Irish, I knew he had written poems about the unhappy history of Ireland.   I had his translation of Beowulf on my shelf at home.  What a story.

seamus heaney line drawingLater I found out that this witty man had a Nobel Prize in Literature.  Honestly, I am not impressed by that.  President Obama has a Nobel Peace Prize.  The people who vote on the winners are Norwegian elite and politicians from the government; they pick whatever is trendy with that clique.  Still, good people do win for worthwhile efforts.  Henry Kissinger got a Nobel Peace Prize.  Imagine that.

The very next day I got an official notice from my department head that I was not being offered a job the next year and they had to warn me by that date.  My wild days at free literary discussions would have to move on.  I always knew I would end up passing poetry along as a teacher for a ‘hedge school.’

But over the years I really have thought about his answer to my words: “There once was a man from Dundalk who didn’t know quite how to walk….”  Heaney’s answer: “It’s the Brits fault, think about it,” really has made me think about that answer.  Did he mean the man couldn’t walk because he was hurt by the British soldiers?  Did he mean that the long term British exploitation of Ireland lead to the Irelands population to be largely poor and unable to afford adequate health care?

Did he mean that Irish people blame everything on the British rather than taking responsibility for themselves?   I have thought about that off and on over the dozen years since Heaney said them.

I still don’t have an answer to Seamus Heaney.  But he’s on my shelf, in the library, and alive in my memory.

U.S. fines firms transhipping via Cambodia to dodge Trump’s China tariffs – by Prak Chan Thul (Reuters) 19 June 2019

 

sihanoukville 5

 

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) – The United States has fined several companies for exporting goods via a Chinese-owned special economic zone in Cambodia in a bid to dodge President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports, a U.S. Embassy official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Sihanoukville 1

Earlier this month, Vietnam’s customs department said it had also found scores of cases of exporters illegally relabelling Chinese goods as “Made in Vietnam” in order to avoid tariffs imposed as a result of the ongoing U.S.-China trade war.

“The Department of Homeland Security has inspected and fined a number of companies for evading tariffs in the United States by routing goods through Cambodia,” U.S. Embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes told Reuters in an emailed statement.

Sihanoukville 2

“These companies are located in Cambodia’s Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone,” said Zwartjes, who did not name or say how many companies had been fined for avoiding the tariffs, how large the fines were, or what goods the companies had been exporting.

Zwartjes referred further questions to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside of office hours.

Cambodia’s customs department and foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

China is Cambodia’s biggest aid donor and investor, pouring in billions of dollars in development assistance and loans through the Belt and Road initiative, which aims to bolster land and sea links with Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

The Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), 210 kilometres (130 miles) west of the capital, Phnom Penh, is a Chinese and Cambodian joint venture in the Belt and Road initiative which produces textiles, garments, bags and leather products, according to its website.

sihanoukville 3

The zone did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Under a trade agreement that was expanded in 2016, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) allows Cambodia to export travel goods such as bags, luggage and accessories, to the United States duty free.

Kaing Monika, Deputy Secretary General of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), which represents 600 garment factories in Cambodia, said he was unaware of the transhipments.

The $7-billion apparel industry is the largest formal employer in the Southeast Asian country. Cambodia’s economy grew 7.5 percent last year, a four-year high, compared with 7 percent in 2017, helped by rising exports to the United States, the World Bank said in April.

Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by James Pearson & Simon Cameron-Moore

Archive

 

 

Cambodia: Hun Sen Turns Toward China – Government Cracks Down on Pro-US Right Wing CIA Backed ‘Dissidents’ – (Reuters) 19 June 2019

Hun Sen Cambodia

GENEVA (Reuters) – Cambodian authorities have questioned, summoned or detained more than 140 members of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) a in an escalating suppression of dissent, two U.N. human rights experts said on Wednesday.

U.N. special rapporteurs Rhona Smith and David Kaye, mandated by the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate human rights in Cambodia and protection of freedom of opinion and expression, respectively, said the authorities appeared to be making “an attempt to intimidate or silence political opinion”.

The opposition party supporters were questioned in relation to gatherings and comments made in support of Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy, two leaders of the CNRP, the only opposition party in the National Assembly until a court dissolved it in late 2017.

Hun Sen 2

(Hun Sen turns to China and suppresses pro-US right wingers)

 

“We are concerned about the use of criminal law to target free speech, both offline and online,” they said in a statement, adding that some of the detainees had posted videos on Facebook.

Many of the summonses appeared to breach the right to due process and a fair trial, and some of those detained had been charged with “incitement to commit a felony”, which was not appropriate for expressing political support, they said.

The statement did not specify the time frame within which the 140 people had been questioned and detained.

In February the European Union began an 18-month process that could lead to the suspension of Cambodia’s duty-free trade access over its record on human rights and democracy.  Cambodia has much more freedom than Saudi Arabia or Egypt, but the European Union looks the other way for those dictatorships.

The EU acted after elections maintained veteran Prime Minister Hun Sen in power and gave his party all parliamentary seats. He has led the Southeast Asian country since 1985.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Mark Heinrich

China Reiterates Support for North Korea (TeleSur) 19 June 2019

China NK

“One can say this friendship is irreplaceable,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping of the relationship between China and North Korea.

China and North Korea have announced a deepening of diplomatic ties and strategic cooperation a day ahead of the Chinese leader’s ‘historic visit’ to the upper peninsula, dampening United States attempts to peel away Chinese support toward the Korean nation.

On Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping penned an op-ed for Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling Korean Workers Party (WPK).

In the article, Xi pledged China’s support for North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un’s approach to peace efforts on the peninsula.

“We are pleased to see that with Chairman Kim’s correct decisions and the concerted efforts of all parties concerned, the general trend of peaceful dialogue on the Korean Peninsula has taken shape, and a political settlement to the Peninsula issue sees a rare historical opportunity, which has been universally recognized and anticipated by the international community,” stated President Xi as translated by Global Times.

Chinese state media, CGTN, also reports, “China will firmly support Kim’s achievements in socialist construction by leading the WPK and the people through a new strategic route, focusing all his efforts on economic development and improving people’s livelihoods.”

Xi’s article was published the day before his first state visit to North Korea, and the first by any Chinese leader in 14 years.

On Tuesday, China and Russia jointly defended North Korea at a United Nations sanctions committee meeting and successfully blocked the U.S. from ​​​banning refined oil imports to North Korea. U.S. representaives accused the Korean nation of exceeding its limit of 500,000 barrels of refined oil agreed last year at by the U.N. members. However, China and Russia blocked the move, demanding the U.S. provide more robust evidence to its accusation.

The increasingly close ties between Xi and Kim may disappoint U.S. foreign policy analysts who had hoped China would pressure North Korea into backing down on a number of key issues.

Writing in 2013, Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow for the neo-conservative Cato Institute, noted that China was growing “frustrated” with Kim’s government and U.S. foreign policy should be focused on exploiting the rift. “No one should be allowed to throw the region, even the whole world, into chaos for selfish gains,” Xi said several years ago regarding Kim’s governing style. 

Yet, as diplomatic and trade tensions grow between the U.S. and China, as well as with North Korea, the two Asian countries are now presenting a united front.

“One can say this friendship is irreplaceable,” President Xi described the North Korea-China relationship in his WPK-published letter. 

Archive

US Military Foresees Successful Limited Use of Nukes – Pentagon Document ‘Nuclear Operations’ Was Online Briefly, Ominously (RT) 19 June 2019

A winnable nuclear war? New Pentagon document shows US military thinks so

A winnable nuclear war? New Pentagon document shows US military thinks so
The Pentagon document laying out the US doctrine of nuclear operations was publicly available for about a week, then made ‘official use only.’ What’s inside is a chilling reminder that Washington sees nuclear war as winnable.

“Nuclear Operations,” or Joint Publication 3-72, was dated on June 11 and made private since, but not before it was downloaded by Steven Aftergood, an activist at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). It is currently available on the FAS website as a PDF.

The publication “provides fundamental principles and guidance to plan, execute, and assess nuclear operations.” The rest of it is in the same matter-of-fact tone, even when discussing practical consideration of potentially world-ending weapons.

RT 1

“That kind of thinking itself can be hazardous. It can make that sort of eventuality more likely instead of deterring it,” Aftergood told the Guardian on Wednesday.

Arguably, the US military’s job is to consider all possibilities, and the decision whether to use nuclear weapons is ultimately in civilian hands – in this case, those of President Donald Trump.

rt 3

The Trump administration has paid a lot of attention to nuclear matters, updating the US Nuclear Posture Review last year and earmarking funds for modernizing the US “nuclear triad”: bombers, land-based missiles and submarines. However, Trump has also announced the US would leave the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia by next month. The fate of the New START arms control treaty with Russia, set to expire in February 2021, is very much up in the air.

In such circumstances, the Joint Chiefs doctrine stating that “Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability,” might be taken as a cause for alarm, and with good reason.

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The document also describes nuclear bombers as offering “the greatest degree of flexibility in the triad because they can be a highly visible sign of resolve and, once ordered to conduct a nuclear strike, are recallable.” It’s a dry, factual statement, but when coupled with the presence of B-52 strategic bombers on Russian borders earlier this week, it begins to sound like a threat.

Asked about the document, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said it was removed from public access “because it was determined that this publication, as is with other joint staff publications, should be for official use only.” There was no explanation as to how or why it was published in the first place, whether it was a mistake or a deliberate message to other governments.

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Back in April, Trump made comments about “getting rid” of nuclear weapons altogether, and speculated about a major arms control treaty with Russia and China. Given his current trade war with Beijing and the continued hostility towards Russia driven at least in part by ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theories at home, it is unclear whether such a treaty will ever go beyond hopes and dreams.

The US is the only country ever to use nuclear weapons in battle, against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Neither was a primarily military target.

Archive

Non-Profit Fair Use – Texas court says photographer has no recourse against university copyright infringement – by L.M. Sixel (Houston Chronicle) 14 June 2019

The University of Houston got a big win this week when a state appeals court agreed to reverse a lower court ruling that would have allowed a Houston photographer to sue the university for using an aerial photograph the university used to promote its business school.

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The photographer Jim Olive lost and the University of Houston won.  The court found that the University of Houston had used the picture without profiting from the work and had offered to pay Jim Olive $2,500 for the past use of the photo.  Jim Olive refused the money and insisted that he be paid $41,000 for the use of his copyrighted photo.  The court did not agree with the photographer Jim Olive. 

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The Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas determined that the university’s copyright infringement of Houston photographer Jim Olive was not a “taking” of his property, an argument typically associated with real estate and not with intellectual property claims. In real estate when the government takes a person’s property to build a road or bridge, the owner must be compensated.

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In a closely watched case in creative and publishing circles, Olive, who has made a career out of getting difficult and dangerous aerial shots from open helicopters, sued the University of Houston two years ago with a novel argument that using one of his photographs without compensation or permission was an unlawful “taking” under the Texas Constitution, which prohibits government agencies from taking private property without adequate compensation.

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Olive tried the approach after the University of Houston rejected his claim that the public university should pay for a photo it used without permission in web and print publications, contending the university has sovereign immunity, a well-established legal principle that protects a state from getting sued.

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Olive was elated his constitutional takings case was allowed to proceed last year, but this week he was trying to make sense of what happened. He has never been paid for the picture by the University of Houston, now he can’t recover damages and he was ordered by the appeals court to pay the legal fees of the University of Houston, which Olive said he had no idea how he was going to do.

“It just doesn’t seem fair to me,” he said.

The bigger issue for the creative community, he said, is that the decision means that public institutions in Texas — including public hospitals, universities and government agencies — don’t have to pay for photographs and other creative content.

“With this, they can just run rampant over copyright and take intellectual property with impunity,” said Olive.  He could have taken the $2,500 before going to court, but now he has to pay the university lawyers for the time he wasted with his frivolous lawsuit.  He saw himself sticking up for everyone by demanding $41,000 for his creative work, but now it is Jim Olive individually who must pay the cost for losing. 

“The University of Houston has great respect for artistic talent and federal copyright protections and has routinely paid, and will continue to pay, market value for images provided by artists and professional photographers,” said Mike Rosen, executive director of media relations for the University of Houston.

Olive discovered the university’s business school had been using one of his aerial skyline photos for four years. He sent the university a bill for $41,000, which included $16,000 for the frequent use of the photo and $25,000 for stripping off his credit line when the university allegedly provided a copy to a national magazine for a story about the university’s ranking.

Within days, the University of Houston removed the photo from its website and later offered to pay $2,500, according to court documents. When Olive threatened legal action, the university responded that they would vigorously contest Olive’s novel claims and absurdly high bill of $41,000.  The University of Houston told Jim Olive that they would win in court, and that he would lose.  Jim Olive claims that the legal team for the university said it was immune from federal copyright lawsuits under the common law principle of sovereign immunity.

Note: This story has been updated to include comment from the University of Houston.

L.M. Sixel|Business Writer, Houston Chronicle

Connecticut: State Violates Title IX Protections for Women – Girls Can’t Compete Fairly Against Transgender Males – 18 June 2019

Female athletes challenge Connecticut policy that abolishes girls-only sports

ADF complaint asks DOE to investigate discrimination, enforce Title IX protections

BOSTON – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing teen track athletes Selina Soule and two other minor girls submitted a complaint Monday to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, asking it to investigate illegal discrimination against the Connecticut athletes. Ever since the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference adopted a policy that allows biological males who claim a female identity to compete in girls’ athletic events, boys have consistently deprived Soule and the other female athletes of honors and opportunities to compete at elite levels.

The CIAC policy regularly results in boys out-performing girls in competitive high-school track events across Connecticut. Throughout the 2018-19 track season, males consistently deprived the female athletes who are part of the complaint of dozens of medals, opportunities to compete at a higher level, and the public recognition critical to college recruiting and scholarship opportunities. The complaint notes that CIAC’s policy and its results directly violated the requirements of Title IX, a federal regulation designed to protect equal athletic opportunities for women and girls.

“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field. Forcing female athletes to compete against boys is grossly unfair and destroys their athletic opportunities,” said ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Title IX was designed to eliminate discrimination against women in education and athletics, and women fought long and hard to earn the equal athletic opportunities that Title IX provides. Allowing boys to compete in girls’ sports reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women under this law. We shouldn’t force these young women to be spectators in their own sports.”

The ADF complaint demonstrates that CIAC’s new policy and others like it pose a concrete threat to Title IX gains: “Because of the basic physiological differences and resulting strongly statistically significant differences in athletic capability and performance between boys and girls after puberty, no one could credibly claim that a school satisfies its obligation to provide equal opportunities for girls for participation in athletics by providing, e.g., only co-ed track or wrestling teams and competitions, with sex-blind try-outs and qualification based strictly upon performance.”

The complaint also describes how one mid-level male sophomore athlete failed to advance in boys’ indoor track events during the Winter 2018 season and then abruptly began competing in the girls’ events in the Spring 2018 outdoor track season. The student then “deprived girls of opportunities to advance and participate in state-level competition” in every statewide elimination track event that the student completed. This male now holds more than ten records within the state of Connecticut that once belonged to ten different girls.

“Selina and her fellow female athletes train countless hours to shave mere fractions of seconds off their race times,” Holcomb continued. “They put in that effort in hope of the personal satisfaction of victory, an opportunity to participate in state and regional meets, or a chance at a college scholarship. But girls competing against boys know the outcome before the race even starts: They can’t win. Boys will always have physical advantages over girls; that’s the reason we have women’s sports.”

The complaint asks the Office for Civil Rights to investigate the violations of Title IX and require CIAC to revise its flawed policy. The complaint further asks OCR to require the conference to acknowledge every girl who would have been identified as a champion or who would have qualified for participation in a higher level competition but for the participation of a male in her event.

Alliance Defending Freedom

Adult performers to picket Instagram HQ over company’s nude photo rules – by Kari Paul (Guardian) 19 June 2019

Artists, activists and models join in condemning confusing guidelines leading to account suspensions

 

Users complain that Instagram does not notify users of which standards were violated when accounts are suspended.
Users complain that Instagram does not notify users of which standards were violated when accounts are suspended

Dozens of adult performers are set to picket Instagram’s Silicon Valley headquarters over guidelines about photos containing nudity. The inconsistency of the rules, they say, has led to hundreds of thousands of account suspensions and is imperiling their livelihoods.

Adult performers are leading the protest on Wednesday, but other users including artists, sex workers, queer activists, sex education platforms, and models say they have been affected by the platform’s opaque removal system.

Most users affected are not criticizing the platform for enforcing standards; instead, they complain that the Facebook-owned Instagram doesn’t notify users which standards were violated and provides little direction about how to restore accounts.

As Instagram grows – the service now has more than 1bn users and an influencer market of $1.7bn, expected to reach as high as $2.3bn by 2020 – those types of decisions affect the livelihood of a growing number of users relying on the platform for booking work.

Amber Lynn, an American porn star based in Los Angeles, said her account was terminated without warning or explanation two months ago. She had more than 100,000 followers.

“I sent [Instagram] multiple emails through my lawyer and they will still not tell me why they did it,” she said. “They do not answer you, do not give you an opportunity to correct any problems or even tell you what problems they had to begin with so you can avoid it in the future.”

Lynn said she had been building her portfolio on the platform for five years, and lost it without warning. Videos and images she had shared of her brother, who has since passed away, are now gone forever, she said.

“There was a lot of stuff that was not just content of me as a model and an actor but private, personal mementos that were lost just because they can take it with the flick of a switch,” she said. “And Instagram doesn’t care.”

Threat of a class-action lawsuit

Adult performers on Instagram use the platform much like anyone else: to promote their work, share photos of friends and collaborators, and communicate with friends and fans. But the Adult Performers Actors Guild, the largest labor union for the adult film industry, says Instagram has removed the accounts of more than 1,000 adult performers so far in 2019, most without explanation.

In a pair of letters in April, the group asked Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, to provide more clarity for account terminations.

“In the large majority of instances, there was no nudity shown in the pictures. However, it appears that the accounts were terminated merely because of their status as an adult performer,” James Felton, the Adult Performers Actors Guild legal counsel, told the Guardian. “Efforts to learn the reasons behind the termination have been futile,” he added.

Felton said the Guild was considering taking a “legal route” pending the company’s reply to the letters. Instagram declined to comment on the potential lawsuit.

Instagram says it has not changed its community guidelines in recent years but that the number of accounts suspended may have increased as the platform’s user numbers increased.

Users describe an inscrutable process to restore accounts

The account removals come as online platforms face growing pressure to moderate the content on their platforms following the rise of fake news, terrorist events tied to social media, and increased radicalism.

Facebook and its platforms, including Instagram, have long banned hate speech and nudity. But users say removals without explanation are on the rise, and the process to get deleted accounts reactivated is impossibly confusing.

The feminist visual artist Betty Tompkins was booted off the app on 26 April for posting an image of her 1969 work Fuck Painting #1. She told the Guardian the platform had taken down her posts in the past, but after sharing this particular image she found herself unable to log back in, without explanation from the service.

Betty Tompkins in her studio in New York.
Betty Tompkins in her studio in New York.

Friends, former followers, and fellow artists began a grassroots campaign to get her account back, imploring users to contact Instagram’s customer support team directly to ask the platform to let her return. By her estimate, hundreds of people personally submitted requests before her account was restored without notice or explanation four days later.

In the interim, she worried about how she would promote her shows and find work if she was banned permanently.

“I didn’t realize before how embedded Instagram is in my professional life,” she said. “I started to become very aware of how much they control this section of the art world. Here we have a totally unregulated, privately owned entity that has tremendous control over artists’ lives and ability to earn an income.”

Tompkins, whose art was once banned by customs officials in Japan from entering the country and who has battled censorship in other countries over her decades-long career, said Instagram policies had been some of the most difficult for her to navigate.

“Instagram’s policies are totally opaque, I have no idea how they enforce them,” Tompkins said.

When she asked Instagram why her account was gone, she received an automated response. Others who have had their accounts disabled say in emails with Instagram they were prompted to take a photo of themselves holding a handwritten sign showing a username, to verify their identities. Most say they were given little or no clear direction on how to return to the app. Instagram declined to provide further context about account restoration.

On 8 April, Rachel Clugston, a Los Angeles-based model with more than 37,000 followers on Instagram, reposted a lewd message she had received from a photographer, warning her followers and friends in the industry not to work with him. Later that day, when she tried to log into the app, she found her account had been suspended without explanation.

Instagram reinstated her access 20 days later, after she sent dozens of emails to the customer support team. She estimates she lost out on at least seven potential jobs and thousands of dollars during that time.

“I learned through this experience Instagram has so much control over my life and my wellbeing and how I earn a living,” she said. “I literally would have been homeless if I did not get my Instagram back. I don’t know what I would have done for work.”

Clugston said she would now avoid speaking out against abuse in her industry on the platform, for fear she would be censored again. An Instagram spokeswoman said the account was mistakenly shut down for a violation of its policy against nudity.

In May, the privacy-focused not-for-profit organization the Electronic Frontier Foundation launched a campaign highlighting account takedowns carried out by Instagram and its parent company, Facebook. The project, called TOSsed Out, tracks the ways terms of service (TOS) agreements and other rule systems are “unevenly enforced” across platforms by allowing users to submit examples of removals.

As platforms face more scrutiny over suspensions and removals, Facebook appears to be offering users more insight into the procedures. After instituting an appeals process, Facebook reinstated more than 450,000 pieces of content whose removal was appealed and 668,000 other pieces of content the company deemed had been removed erroneously. Facebook did not provide numbers for how Instagram posts and accounts were affected by the appeals process.

Sex trafficking bill changes the online landscape

Some users affected by the nudity guidelines say they feel Instagram has been cracking down on sexual content more frequently since the passage of the Online Sex Trafficking Act (Fosta) and Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (Sesta), legislation meant to combat online sex trafficking that now holds platforms legally liable for the content hosted on them. Instagram said recent account removals were not related to these laws.

Daniel Saynt, founder of NSFW, a sex-positive private club and digital agency based in New York, said he had noticed accounts of his sex industry clients being shut down more frequently in recent months. His account for NSFW was shut down over an image that did not contain nudity but was “advocating for female pleasure”, he said.

“When you’re shut down there’s no system in place to get your account back. We can’t access any of our previous content,” he said. “It’s all lost and the thousands we’ve invested in building our audience are gone. Instagram is a utility at this point. It shouldn’t be able to impose biased censorship against women and yet it continues to do so.”

How Fosta and Sesta have affected Instagram’s censorship policy remains unclear, but the internet at large has shifted. Facebook recently banned “sexual slang”, Tumblr shut down all porn-related content, and Twitter allegedly “shadow bans” sex content, making it less visible in news feeds. In light of these bills, and their effects, Evans said it was more important than ever for sex workers to be able to communicate with large audiences.

“While people are working to appeal these bills, it’s important for everyone to understand how they affect us,” she said. “Many of us use Instagram to share everyday pictures of our lives – we are parents, we are tax-paying citizens, and most importantly we are human beings. We deserve a platform, too.”

https://archive.is/NCMkC

 

100 Best Lesbian And Gay Novels (The Publishing Triangle) 19 June 2019

I just found this while falling down a rabbit hole.  I love to illustrate lists of books, and I will get illustrations for these books.  But…not yet.

5:10 am 19 June 2019

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the 100 best lesbian and gay novels

To broaden the appreciation of lesbian and gay literature and to promote discussion between all readers gay and straight, the Triangle is proud to offer our picks for the 100 best lesbian and gay novels.

Our visitors have voted. We asked for your favorite novels, and the response has been overwhelming–at times heated (We’ve posted a few). The visitor list is below, next to the Triangle’s choices.

The Triangle’s list of 100 best lesbian and gay novels was selected by a panel of submitted by our judges, including the lesbian and gay writers Dorothy Allison, David Bergman, Christopher Bram, Michael Bronski, Samuel Delany, Lillian Faderman, Anthony Heilbut, M.E. Kerr, Jenifer Levin, John Loughery, Jaime Manrique, Mariana Romo-Carmona, Sarah Schulman, and Barbara Smith.

The Triangle’s 100 Best1. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
2. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
3. Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet
4. Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust
5. The Immoralist by Andre Gide
6. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
7. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
8. Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig
9. The Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar
10. Zami by Audré Lorde
11. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
12. Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
13. Billy Budd by Herman Melville
14. A Boy’s Own Story by Edmund White
15. Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran
16. Maurice by E. M. Forster
17. The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal
18. Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
19. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
20. Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima
21. The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
22. City of Night by John Rechy
23. Myra Breckinridge by Gore Vidal
24. Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller
25. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
26. Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote
27. The Bostonians by Henry James
28. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
29. Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
30. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
31. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
32. The Persian Boy by Mary Renault
33. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
34. The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst
35. Olivia by Dorothy Bussy
36. The Price of Salt (Carol) by Patricia Highsmith
37. Aquamarine by Carol Anshaw
38. Another Country by James Baldwin
39. Chéri by Colette
40. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
41. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
42. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
43. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
44. The Friendly Young Ladies (The Middle Mist) by Mary Renault
45. Young Törless by Robert Musil
46. Eustace Chisholm and the Works by James Purdy
47. The Story of Harold by Terry Andrews
48. The Gallery by John Horne Burns
49. Sister Gin by June Arnold
50. Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall by Neil Bartlett
51. Father of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram
52. Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
53. The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood
54. The Young and Evil by Charles Henri Ford and Parker Tyler
55. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
56. A Visitation of Spirits by Randall Kenan
57. Three Lives by Gertrude Stein
58. Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli by Ronald Firbank
59. Rat Bohemia by Sarah Schulman
60. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
61. The Counterfeiters by André Gide
62. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
63. Lover by Bertha Harris
64. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
65. La Bâtarde by Violette Leduc
66. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
67. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
68. The Satyricon by Petronius
69. The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
70. Special Friendships by Roger Peyrefitte
71. The Changelings by Jo Sinclair
72. Paradiso by José Lezama Lima
73. Sheeper by Irving Rosenthal
74. Les Guerilleres by Monique Wittig
75. The Child Manuela (Mädchen in Uniform) by Christa Winsloe
76. An Arrow’s Flight by Mark Merlis
77. The Gaudy Image by William Talsman
78. The Exquisite Corpse by Alfred Chester
79. Was by Geoff Ryman
80. Théresè and Isabelle by Violette Leduc
81. Gemini by Michel Tournier
82. The Beautiful Room Is Empty by Edmund White
83. The Children’s Crusade by Rebecca Brown
84. The Story of the Night by Colm Toibin
85. The Holy Terrors (Les Enfants Terribles) by Jean Cocteau
86. Hell Has No Limits by José Donoso
87. Riverfinger Women by Elana Nachman (Dykewomon)
88. The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer
89. Closer by Dennis Cooper
90. Lost Illusions by Honoré de Balzac
91. Miss Peabody’s Inheritance by Elizabeth Jolley
92. René’s Flesh by Virgilio Piñera
93. Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
94. Wasteland by Jo Sinclair
95. Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing by May Sarton
96. Sea of Tranquillity by Paul Russell
97. Autobiography of a Family Photo by Jacqueline Woodson
98. In Thrall by Jane DeLynn
99. On Strike Against God by Joanna Russ
100. Sita by Kate Millett

Our Visitors’ 100 Best

1. The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren
2. The Hours by Michael Cunningham
3. The Charioteer by Mary Renault
4. Like People in History by Felice Picano
5. Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden
6. A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham
7. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
8. The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt
9. Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim
10. The Object of My Affection by Stephen McCauley
11. Faggots by Lary Kramer
12. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
13. Other Women by Lisa Alther
14. Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel Delany
15. Six of One by Rita Mae Brown
16. Even Cowgirls Get The Blues by Tom Robbins
17. Martin and John by Dale Peck
18. Querelle by Jean Genet
19. The God in Flight by Laura Argiri
20. Totem Pole by Sanford Friedman
21. Falconer by John Cheever
22. Latin Moon in Manhattan by Jaime Manrique
23. Openly Bob by Bob Smith
24. The Lord Won’t Mind by Gordon Merrick
25. The Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp
26. Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
27. Quatrefoil by James Barr
28. The Better Angel by Richard Meeker
29. Known Homosexual by Joseph Hanson
30. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
31. Burning Houses by Andrew Harvey
32. The American Woman In The Chinese Hat by Carole Maso
33. Nightswimmer by Joseph Olshan
34. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
35. The Beauty of Men by Andrew Holleran
36. The Folded Leaf by William Maxwell
37. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon
38. The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger
39. The Sea of Light by Jenifer Levin
40. Bending at the Bow by Marion Douglas
41. Amnesty by Louise Blum
42. Hood by Emma Donoghue
43. Queer by William Burroughs
44. Funeral Rites by Jean Genet
45. The Thief’s Journal by Jean Genet
46. Forbidden Colors by Yukio Mishima
47. The Grandmothers by Glenway Wescott
48. Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson
49. Just Above My Head by James Baldwin
50. Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham
51. Equal Affections by David Leavitt
52. Tim and Pete by James Robert Baker
53. Dance of the Warriors by Kevin Esser
54. Streetboy Dreams by Kevin Esser
55. Livre blanc by Jean Cocteau
56. Confession of Felix Krull by Thomas Mann
57. Pryor Rendering by Gary Reed
58. Winter Birds by Jim Grimsley
59. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
60. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
61. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
62. Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing by May Sarton
63. Curious Wine by Katherine V. Forrest
64. In a Shallow Grave by James Purdy
65. The Unlit Lamp by Radclyffe Hall
66. Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady by Florence King
67. The Wild Boys by William S. Burroughs
68. Paxton Court by Diane Salvatore
69. Quatrefoil by James Barr
70. The Twyborn Affair by Patrick White
71. Hemlock and After by Angus Wilson
72. Chamber Music by Doris Grumbach
73. Ernesto by Umberto Saba
74. Separate Rooms by Pier Vittorio Tondelli
75. Bertram Cope’s Year by H.B. Fuller
76. Bom-Criulo by Adolfo Caminha
77. Nights in the Underground by Marie Claire Blais
78. The High Cost of Living by Marge Piercy
79. Toilet by Tom Woolley
80. Red Azalea by Anchee Min
81. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
82. Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley
83. Kissing the Witch by Emma Donohue
84. Biography of Desire by Mary Dorcey
85. Mother of the Grass by Jovette Marchessault
86. Six Chapters of a Floating Life by Shen Fu
87. The Four Winds by Gerd Brantenberg
88. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHug

Archive

To Deny Air Superiority to US Made Planes – Use New Russian Missile Systems – by Federico Pieraccini (Strategic Culture) 18 June 2019

Generally, when discussing air-defense systems here, we are referring to Russian devices that have become famous in recent years, in particular the S-300 (and its variants) and the S-400. Their deployment in Syria has slowed down the ability of such advanced air forces as those of the United States and Israel to target the country, increasing as it does the embarrassing possibility of having their fourth- or fifth-generation fighters shot down.

Russian S 400

 

Air-defense systems capable of bringing down fifth-generation aircraft would have a devastating effect on the marketability and sales of US military hardware, while simultaneously boosting the desirability and sales of Russian military hardware. As I have often pointed out in other analyses, Hollywood’s role in marketing to enemies and allies alike the belief that US military hardware is unbeatable (with allies being obliged to buy said hardware) is central to Washington’s strategies for war and power projection.

As clashes between countries in such global hot spots as the Middle East increase and intensify, Hollywood’s propaganda will increasingly struggle to convince the rest of the world of the continued efficacy and superiority of US weapons systems in the face of their unfolding shortcomings.

The US finds itself faced with a situation it has not found itself in over the last 50 years, namely, an environment where it does not expect to automatically enjoy air superiority. Whatever semblance of an air defense that may have hitherto been able to pose any conceivable threat to Uncle Sam’s war machine was rudely dismissed by a wave of cruise missiles. To give two prime examples that occurred in Syria in 2018, latest-generation missiles were intercepted and shot down by decades-old Russian and Syrian systems. While the S-400 system has never been employed in Syria, it is noteworthy that the Serbian S-125 systems succeeded in identifying and shooting down an American F-117 stealth aircraft during the war in the Balkans.

There is a more secret aspect of the S-400 that is little disclosed, either within Russia itself or without. It concerns the S-400’s ability to collect data through its radar systems. It is worth noting Department of Defense spokesman Eric Pahon’s alarm over Turkey’s planned purchase of the S-400:

“We have been clear that purchasing the S-400 would create an unacceptable risk because its radar system could provide the Russian military sensitive information on the F-35. Those concerns cannot be mitigated. The S-400 is a system built in Russia to try to shoot down aircraft like the F-35, and it is inconceivable to imagine.

Certainly, in the event of an armed conflict, the S-400’s ability to shoot down fifth-generation aircraft is a huge concern for the United States and her allies who have invested so heavily in such aircraft. Similarly, a NATO country preferring Russian to American systems is cause for alarm. This is leaving aside the fact that the S-400 is spreading around the world, from China to Belarus, with dozens of countries waiting in line for the ability to seal their skies from the benevolent bombs of freedom. It is an excellent stick with which to keep a prowling Washington at bay.

But these concerns are nothing when compared to the most serious threat that the S-400 poses to the US arms industry, namely, their ability to collect data on US stealth systems.

Theoretically, the last advantage that the US maintains over her opponents is in stealth technology. The effectiveness of stealth has been debated for a long time, given that their costs may actually outweigh their purported benefits. But, reading between the lines, what emerges from US concerns over the S-400 suggests that Moscow is already capable of detecting US stealth systems by combining the radars of the S-400 with those of air-based assets, as has been the case in Syria (despite Washington’s denials).

The ability of the S-400 to collect data on both the F-35 and F-22 – the crown jewels of the US military-industrial complex – is a cause for sleepless nights for US military planners. What in particular causes them nightmares is that, for the S-400 to function in Turkey, it will have to be integrated into Turkey’s current “identification friend or foe” (IFF) systems, which in turn are part of NATO’s military tactical data-link network, known as Link 16.

F 35

This system will need to be installed on the S-400 in order to integrate it into Turkey’s defensive network, which could potentially pass information strictly reserved for the Russians that would increase the S-400’s ability to function properly in a system not designed to host such a weapon system.

The final risk is that if Turkey were to fly its F-35s near the S-400, the Link 16 system would reveal a lot of real-time information about the US stealth system. Over time, Moscow would be able to recreate the stealth profile of the F-35 and F-22, thereby making pointless Washington’s plans to spend 1.16 trillion dollars to produce 3,000 F-35s.

What must be remembered in our technological age is that once the F-35’s radar waveform has been identified, it will be possible to practice the military deception of recreating fictitious signals of the F-35 so as to mask one’s own aircraft with this shape and prevent the enemy’s IFF systems from being able to distinguish between friend or foe.

Of particular note is the active cooperation between China and Russia in air-defense systems. The S-400 in particular has already been operational in China for several years now, and it should be assumed that there would be active information sharing going on between Moscow and Beijing regarding stealth technology.

It turns out that the S-400 is a weapon system with multiple purposes that is even more lethal than previously imagined. It would therefore not be surprising that, were S-400s to be found in Cuba and Venezuela, Washington’s bellicose rhetoric against these two countries would come to an abrupt halt.

But what US military planners fear more than the S-400 embarrassing their much-vaunted F35 and F22 is the doubts they could raise about the efficacy of these stealth aircraft in the minds of allies and potential buyers. This lack of confidence would deal a mortal blow to the US arms industry, a threat far more real and devastating for them than a risk of conflict with Moscow or Beijing.

Did Paula Smith’s Star Trek fiction “Mary Sue” damage the image of leading female characters? – by Dorie Campbell (Quora) 18 July 2018

Mary Sue Original

(Original line drawing appearing with Paula Smith’s fan-fiction “A Trekkie’s Tale” – The first graphic representation of Mary Sue)

Paula Smith’s A Trekkie’s Tale is a short fanfiction-parody piece published in a 1974 Star Trek fanzine, from which we derive the term “Mary Sue”. It is very obviously a parody of a lot of the poorly-written female OCs (original characters) in fanfiction that, apparently, were rampant even then.

Smith’s parody is not making fun of female characters in fiction. Rather, she is making fun of fanfiction clichés, particularly a cliché character that we now know as Mary Sue.

I think it is a perfectly fine story, and I love to reference it whenever I get the chance.

However. While Paula Smith does a very good job of capturing the essence of Mary Sue (as well as putting a name to the face,) what she does not do is tell us exactly what a Mary Sue is, how to identify her out of a crowd of well-written female leads, or how to avoid creating her. The science of fanfiction analysis was not very far along at that time.

Because the majority of fanfiction writers far and away are female, their poorly-written self-inserts tend to also be female. However, a Mary Sue can just as easily be male (sometimes called a Gary Stu, or a Marty Stu,), and there are plenty of well-written female OCs. For every fan who points the finger at Rey from Star Wars, there’s a Trekkie booing out Wesley Crusher, a Twihard who worships Bella Swann, and an Ellen Ripley or a Buffy Summers who no one seems to remember in the “We Need More StrongFemaleCharacters™” forum.

So far as I know, there is not a universal definition for Mary Sue, and so that can make pointing out the actual cases very difficult. My personal definition is: a black-hole character that forces other characters to act out-of-character or illogical events to happen in-universe, usually to the benefit of the character or author’s desires.

Not all of those who point at a female protagonist and scream, “Mary Sue!” are misogynists; plenty are just people looking for a good story and have been burned by one too many bad OCs. I, as well as many other fanfiction readers, steer clear of any fanfiction with an OC for just that reason.

If someone screams, “Mary Sue!”, I don’t see it as a time to run to battle stations and start picking teams. Regardless if the characters is male, female, white, black, straight, gay, or a unicorn, they deserve a serious analysis.

Sometimes, the Mary Sue criers have some legitimate concerns. With some analysis, though, you can usually come out the other end with a better understanding of the character, the setting, and the plot structure.

Tl;dr: A Trekkie’s Tale is important, I think; while it doesn’t quite identify the illness, it identifies many of the symptoms, and puts a name to the face. You can’t blame overeager fans for overdiagnosing it.

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Trump vs Bolton the Warmonger – Will Bolton Be Fired Soon? By John Kiriakou (Consortium News) 16 June 2019

John Bolton’s days as national security advisor are apparently numbered—for reasons that have all played out in the press, says John Kiriakou.

…………….

Everybody in America knows that Donald Trump places a premium on what he considers to be “loyalty.” You’re either with him or against him. The White House staff has been a revolving door from virtually the start of his administration. It’s not unusual for aides to last mere weeks or months, only to then be thrown out on the street.

Trump then inevitably says something about “loyalty.”

The situation isn’t unique to just the White House political and domestic policy staff. It is just as pervasive at the National Security Council. Nobody is sacred. Remember, you’re either with him or against him. Now it’s John Bolton’s turn to find himself in a corner. I believe that his days as national security advisor are numbered—for reasons that have all played out in the press.

I’m one of those people—not at all unique in Washington—who has contacts and friends all over the political spectrum, including in the Trump Administration. After work and over drinks, they like to vent. What they are telling me privately is what other Washington insiders are telling the conservative press. The White House, and especially the National Security Council, are in disarray. And Bolton will soon be fired.

Bolton-Centric

The right-wing Washington Examiner reported this week that Bolton acknowledged these reports, but in a back-handed way. He said in a Wall Street Journal podcast that he believes five countries are spreading “lies about dysfunction in the Trump administration.” Those countries are North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Russia, and China. That’s laughable.

What Bolton is saying is that there is a vast and incredibly well-coordinated international conspiracy that includes some of the most important countries in the world, the main purpose of which is to embarrass him. That sounds perfectly rational, right?

Of course, a more rational person might conclude that Bolton has done a terrible job, that the people around him have done a terrible job, that he has aired his disagreements with Trump in the media, and that the President is angry about it. That’s the more likely scenario.

Here’s what my friends are saying. Trump is concerned, like any president is near the end of his term, about his legacy. He said during the campaign that he wanted to be the president who pulled the country out of its two longest wars. He wanted to declare victory and bring the troops back from Afghanistan and Iraq. He hasn’t done that, largely at the insistence of Bolton. Here we are three years later and we’re still stuck in both of those countries.

Second, my friends say that Trump wants to end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war, but that Bolton has been insistent that the only way to guarantee the closeness of the U.S. relationships with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is to keep providing those countries with weapons, aerial refueling planes, and intelligence support.

Obsessed With Iran

That would explain the reason why the White House did not seek to block the recent Congressional vote on Yemen support. Bolton likely talked Trump into vetoing the resolution. Or he talked the Saudis into talking Trump into it. Still, at least in internal deliberations, Trump has said that he simply doesn’t see a national security reason to keep the war going. The U.S. gets nothing out of it.

Third, the mainstream media has accused Bolton of being the reason behind the failure of Trump’s second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Bolton toed a hard line, so much so that the North Korean media called him a “war monger” and a “human defect” once the summit ended.

This week Trump told reporters gathered on the White House south lawn that Kim had “kept his word” on nuclear and missile testing. This was a direct contradiction of Bolton, who had said just hours earlier that the North Koreans had reneged on their commitments to the U.S. Trump said simply, “My people think there could have been a violation. I view it differently.”

Most importantly, Bolton has been famous for decades for his irrationally hard line on Iran. He has made no secret of his desire to bomb Iran into the stone age, to smash and overthrow its government, and to let the chips fall where they may. The policy makes literally no sense.

Iran is a country of 80 million people. It has an active and well-trained global intelligence service. It has a robust navy with highly-specialized “swift boats” that are active in the Persian Gulf. And it controls the vital Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of the world’s oil and 33 percent of its liquified natural gas flows.

Trump said just a week ago that he was willing to begin talks with the Iranians “with no preconditions.” This was a major softening of U.S. policy toward Iran and it immediately drew Bolton’s ire. Indeed, The New York Times pointed out that the policy directly “overruled a longtime goal of (Trump’s) national security advisor.”

All of this has made Trump angry. He’s constantly being one-upped by one of the Washington swamp monsters he promised to rid the city of. He finally seems to have come to realize that even establishment Republicans dislike and distrust John Bolton. And now he understands why.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s chief of staff, has very quietly and discreetly begun informal meetings with a list of a half-dozen possible replacements for Bolton. Let’s hope he finds one that he and Trump both like sooner, rather than later.

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/06/12/john-boltons-long-goodbye/

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Since joining the Trump administration in April of last year, Bolton has taken the hardest line possible on every geopolitical flare-up. From advocating “humanitarian intervention” in Venezuela, to briefing journalists about a plan to deploy 100,000 troops to the Middle East, to rumors of him “sabotaging” Trump’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un last year, Bolton has trumpeted escalation and confrontation as a panacea to all of America’s foreign policy ills.

Now, former CIA agent Kiriakou writes, Bolton is falling out of President Trump’s favor. In the happy-hour bars of Washington DC, Kiriakou’s contacts within the Trump administration tell him a reckoning is coming, and Bolton’s head is next on the chopping block.

Bolton’s departure is “definitely not a done deal,” Kiriakou stressed, when contacted by RT. But in conversations with “mid-level” national security officials, he has learned that Bolton’s firing is being talked about. Concerned for his legacy, Trump is apparently willing to fire Bolton rather than get dragged into a reputation-tarnishing war, just over a year out from the 2020 election.

Trump himself has signaled in public that he sometimes disagrees with Bolton’s hawkish tendencies. With military confrontation with Iran and Venezuela on the cards last month, Trump described himself as “the one who tempers him, which is okay.” Days beforehand, Trump had expressed frustration that Bolton was trying to get him “into a war,” according to the Washington Post’s sources, at least.

The dissonance between Trump and Bolton’s world views can be seen in their response to the recent tension with Iran. According to Kiriakou: 

Just a week ago, Trump stated that he was open to a sit-down with Iran’s leadership “without preconditions,” directly contradicting Bolton’s long history of advocating pre-emptive strikes on the Islamic Republic. A flow of leaks to the press indicate an unease in the White House too, with an anonymous Pentagon official telling the New Yorker that Trump is “souring” on Bolton, and another telling the Washington Post that Trump is angry with Bolton and “not comfortable with all this regime-change talk.”

However, whether Trump will remain cool towards Iran in light of Thursday’s oil tanker attacks remains to be seen.

Trump has also recently contradicted Bolton on North Korea, telling reporters that Kim Jong-un has “kept his word” on halting nuclear and missile testing. Hours earlier, Bolton had argued the exact opposite.

Of course, Bolton is far from the only hardliner in the Trump administration. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pushed an equally hard line on Iran, and was quick to blame Tehran for Thursday’s attacks, reading out a litany of accusations against Iran at a press conference that day.

“Mike Pompeo is at least as much of a hawk, especially on Iran,” said Kiriakou. “But Bolton’s departure would isolate Pompeo. And one of the things that most observers are not paying attention to is the fact that most Republicans in Congress do NOT want to go to war with Iran.”  

Nor do Americans have the appetite for further foreign wars. Withdrawing from the decades-long conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were key campaign promises of Trump, and another foreign misadventure “would be a disaster that the US can ill afford,” the CIA whistleblower believes.

If the whispers are true, Kiriakou has heard several names mentioned as potential replacements, among them “several retired military officers and former intelligence officials.” None of them, he added, are “household names.”

Those expecting a complete reversal in the Trump administration’s foreign policy with Bolton out of the scene might want to keep holding their breath, however. “I don’t think we would see major changes in Trump’s foreign policy if Bolton leaves,” Kiriakou concluded. “Other than the fact that we would be far less likely to seek a fight against Iran.”

https://www.rt.com/news/461907-trump-fire-bolton-iran-kiriakou/

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John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

Cult of the Irrelevant: National Security Eggheads and Academics – By Justin Logan (American Conservative) 12 June 2019

A new book decries a lack of influence by realist scholars, but is it unduly blaming the victim?

Cult of the Irrelevant: The Waning Influence of Social Science on National Security, Michael C. Desch, Princeton University Press, 368 pages

For decades, international relations scholars have increasingly worried that American foreign policymakers aren’t buying what they’re selling. From the Vietnam war to NATO expansion to the Iraq war, the Beltway foreign policy elite has frequently ignored the work of academics who study those subjects, often at great cost to the nation. Why do foreign policymakers so rarely pay attention to scholarship on the regions they are bombing and seeking to dominate?

Michael C. Desch, political science professor at the University of Notre Dame, lays blame at the feet of the academy. In his new book, Cult of the Irrelevant: The Waning Influence of Social Science on National Security, Desch writes that “the privileging of complex methods and universal models over engaging substantive issues…reduced the policy relevance of the work of many academic defense intellectuals.” In other words, by moving toward abstruse ontological questions (“Sovereignty and the UFO” comes to mind) or complex statistics or formal modeling (coefficients or Greek letters), incentives inside the academy have shifted the field in the direction of policy irrelevance.

Desch poses the tradeoff between “rigor” and “relevance” by granting the premise that statistics and formal models define rigor. As Desch catalogs, from the Progressive Era through the Behavioral Revolution to modern times, social science has been punching up at the hard sciences by aping their methods. Too frequently, though, this view romanticizes what even the most rigorous science can actually do.

For example, hard scientists have the ability to run experiments, which social scientists mostly lack. But the work of meta-researcher John Ioannidis suggests that social scientists may not be missing out on much. According to a 2010 Atlantic article describing Ioannidis’s efforts to test the validity of medical research: “80 percent of non-randomized studies turn out to be wrong, as do 25 percent of supposedly gold-standard randomized trials, and as much as 10 percent of the platinum-standard large randomized trials.”

Further, when it came to his later effort to test “49 of the most highly regarded research findings in medicine over the previous 13 years,” Ioannidis found that of those that had suggested effective treatments, “41 percent had been convincingly shown to be wrong or significantly exaggerated.” Cutting-edge medical research: a bit better than a coin toss. On a related note, the scholarly journal American Statistician recently devoted an issue to the question of abolishing the concept of statistical significance. No science produces capital-T truth with much frequency.

♦♦♦

What this suggests is that all science oversells its rigor. Although the hope may be fanciful, a sense of limits among both the producers and consumers of science would be better than granting that math wizards are scientists and qualitative scholars are poets.

Cult of the Irrelevant exposes serious pathologies in the social sciences, most vividly the disgraceful treatment of Richard Betts by Harvard University. For his part, Desch calls for a more pluralistic, problem-driven political science. I agree, but I fear this will require more punching back from qualitative scholars along the lines of meta-researchers in medical research or the introspective statisticians described above.

The related question is whether political science’s flaws explain its irrelevance to policy. Here, in my view, Desch blames the victim.

There is a surfeit of excellent scholarship, written in clear prose and easy to find, that policymakers would benefit from consuming. Some of it is Desch’s. The journal International Security, to which Desch points, publishes relevant scholarship frequently accompanied by explicit policy recommendations. Just the last two issues saw articles on the subjects of India’s nuclear doctrine, how demographics affect countries’ war-proneness, whether China can reverse-engineer U.S. military technology to catch up quickly, how Chinese public opinion is likely to affect its crisis behavior, how best to measure national power and what it tells us about the U.S. position internationally, and what makes drone-led counterterrorism effective. This is only one journal. One should also include blogs like the Monkey Cage and War on the Rocks, as well as efforts, like Bridging the Gap, that offer to take policymakers by the hand and lead them to illuminating scholarship.

In short, it is easy to see that a wealth of relevant scholarship lies at the fingertips of any interested policymaker or staffer. The question becomes why policy seems to indicate that it is rarely consumed.

The evidence suggests that foreign policymakers do not seek insight from scholars, but rather support for what they already want to do. As Desch quotes a World War II U.S. Navy anthropologist, “the administrator uses social science the way the drunk uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination.” Scholars’ disinclination to be used in this way helps explain more of the distance.

 

It also explains the rise of think tanks, which are more pliant than academics but provide similar marketing support. As Benjamin Friedman and I wrote in a 2015 article on the subject, think tanks undertake research with an operational mindset: that is, “the approach of a passenger riding shotgun who studies the map to find the ideal route, adjusts the engine if need be, and always accepts the destination without protest.”

As former senator Olympia Snowe once put it, “you can find a think tank to buttress any view or position, and then you give it the aura of legitimacy and credibility by referring to their report.” Or consider the view of Rory Stewart, now a member of parliament in the UK, but once an expert on Afghanistan who was consulted on the Afghan surge but opposed it:

It’s like they’re coming in and saying to you, “I’m going to drive my car off a cliff. Should I or should I not wear a seatbelt?” And you say, “I don’t think you should drive your car off the cliff.” And they say, “No, no, that bit’s already been decided—the question is whether to wear a seatbelt.” And you say, “Well, you might as well wear a seatbelt.” And then they say, “We’ve consulted with policy expert Rory Stewart, and he says…”

Or look at how policymakers themselves define relevance. Stephen Krasner, an academic who became a policymaker, lamented the uselessness of much academic security studies literature because “[e]ven the most convincing empirical findings may be of no practical use because they do not include factors that policy makers can manipulate.”

The explicit claim here is that for scholarship to be of any practical use, it must include factors that policymakers can manipulate. This reflects a strong bias toward action, even in relatively restrained presidencies.

To take two recent examples, the Obama administration blew past voluminous academic literature suggesting the Libya intervention was likely to disappoint. President Barack Obama himself asked the CIA to analyze success in arming insurgencies before making a decision over what to do in Syria. The CIA replied with a study showing that arming and financing insurgencies rarely works. Shortly thereafter, Obama launched a billion-dollar effort to arm and finance insurgents in Syria.

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As Desch tracks the influence of scholars on foreign policy across the 20th century, a pattern becomes clear: where scholars agree with policy, they are relevant. Where they do not, they are not.

In several of the cases Desch identifies where scholars disagreed with policy, they were right and the policymakers were tragically, awfully wrong. In the instances where scholars differed with policy at high levels, Desch blames their “unrealistic expectations” for causing “wartime social scientists to overlook the more modest, but real, contribution they actually made” to policy. But why would we want scholars to trim their sails in this way? And why should social scientists want to be junior partners in doomed enterprises?

Social scientists have produced reams of qualitative and historically focused research with direct relevance to policy. They publish blog posts, tweets, excerpts, op-eds, and video encapsulations of their work. The only thing left for them to do is to convey their findings via interpretive dance, and a plan for doing that is probably in the works already. In the meantime, it should be simultaneously heartening and discouraging for policy-inclined scholars to realize that It’s Not Us, It’s Them.

In a country as powerful and secure as the United States, elites can make policy built on shaky foundations. Eventually, the whole thing may collapse. Scholars should focus on pointing out these fundamental flaws—and thinking about how they might help rebuild.

Justin Logan is director of programs and a research associate at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at Catholic University.

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US Secret Police Release Files on ‘Playboy’ Publisher Hugh Hefner – FBI Looked For Obscenity, Wild Parties, Claimed “He Looked Lonely” (Calgary Herald) 13 June 2019

The files document a canny interview agents had with Hefner in the late 1950s after he learned of their secret probe and boldly invited them into his office

Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner at an event celebrating at Playboy’s 60th anniversary, on Jan. 16, 2014. Charley Gallay/Getty Images
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation staked out the Chicago apartment of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner over two months during an investigation — and found the notorious hedonist only walked three blocks for a lonely dinner and then turned in early for the night, according to newly released documents.

The FBI’s case files on Hefner, who died in 2017, and the bureau’s investigation into obscenity accusations against him, were released this week as documents of “public interest and historical value.”

The 58 pages of documents, many significantly redacted of names and details, date back to 1956, three years after the launch of the magazine amid controversy over its unabashed presentation of female nudity.

The tipster said Hefner hosted ‘frequent late hour parties’

The files document a canny interview agents had with Hefner in the late 1950s after he learned of their secret probe and boldly invited them into his office.

At first, the FBI simply monitored the magazine’s 1953 launch, and various controversies over its content and distribution, through news clippings that describe Playboy as “oversexed,” “vulgar” and “obscene.”

The bureau’s first investigation into Hefner, however, was not about the contents of the magazine but for something he was suspected of doing using the magazine’s fame as cover. An investigation in 1958 into Hefner and a freelance photographer suspected they were engaged in “interstate transportation of obscene matter,” the files say.

The probe began after a tip to the bureau’s Chicago office, but the tipster’s identity was redacted from the files before their release.

Hefner and Edward Zukor Oppman, the documents say, were suspected of “producing nude photographs made of young models who pose thinking their photographs are to appear in ‘Playboy’ Magazine or used for modeling purposes.” There are later references to the production of “stag film” and the “sales or distribution of obscene matter.”

Hugh Hefner on a visit to a London Playboy club in 1969, with his 19-year-old girlfriend Barbara Benton and a group of Playboy Bunnies. Central Press/Getty Images

The tipster said Hefner hosted “frequent late hour parties” in Chicago. The parties were “almost on a weekly basis” and “sometimes last through the night.”

Agents interviewed several people who knew Hefner and Oppman, including a former Playboy employee who left the magazine because his salary was too low and “he did not approve of Hefner’s moral character.”

“He said that Hefner drinks excessively and conducts parties in his apartment,” the agents note. Even so, he didn’t think Hefner was violating any laws.

Another interviewee said Hefner “ran around with other women,” but to her knowledge, he was not involved in “obscene matters or prostitution” and said he was “too clever a man to knowingly violate a local or federal law.”

The probe seemed to focus more on Oppman than Hefner. Oppman, a former photographer with the U.S. military’s 8th Airborne Division during the Second World War, had a previous conviction for “contributing to delinquency of a minor,” the files say.

The FBI chased leads in Tennessee, Florida, Texas, Illinois and Mississippi.

Agents were instructed to put Hefner’s apartment under surveillance, “particularly in the evening hours.”

For seven nights, Special Agent Harold Brown staked out Hefner’s place at 232 East Ohio St., Chicago.

On May 13, 1958, Brown noted in his report, Hefner emerge at about 6:45 p.m. and walked three blocks to a restaurant where he ate dinner and then returned and turned off his apartment lights for the night. No other activity from his surveillance is noted.

Agents also hunted down people who knew Oppman. Most said they knew nothing about illegal photos and knew him as a legitimate photographer taking portraits of prominent people, including a court judge. He was a “flop” in business and poor at repaying debts, people said, but not a known deviant.

A former news correspondent who knew the photographer from the war, said Oppman occasionally took nude or semi-nude photos of models but nothing illegal. Once, the writer said, Oppman willingly turned over nude photos of a model who had gone on to become famous. The woman’s name is redacted from the file.

Agents got a first-hand look at the contention that Hefner was “too clever” for them. Hefner was tipped off to the FBI’s probe and called Brown directly. Hefner said he had been told “the FBI has been making inquiries about his activities” and invited them in to interview him, Brown wrote in a report.

On June 3, 1958, Brown and another agent went to the Playboy office to speak with him.

Hefner told agents about the magazine’s start and moving to its new location, that housed both the editorial offices and his apartment. He said the owner refused to sell it to him and he had repeated arguments with a landlord, who disconnected his lights, kept reporting him to the Chicago police and even hired a private eye to investigate what he was doing in an attempt to “build up to eviction” of Playboy from the building.

(Although the file does not say, there is a suggestion the landlord may have been the FBI’s original tipster.)

Hefner said he has never taken any movie or film that would not pass the censorship regulations and all of his film was processed openly through Eastman Kodak. He said Playboy is “edited to appeal to men and has a number of pin-up type and art type photographs.”

The file says: “Hefner stated that he has been accused of having wild parties in the offices of ‘Playboy’ but he emphatically denied any party activities at this address and stated that he occupies sleeping quarters at the rear of his office on the 4th floor.”

Hefner employed a number of “young girls” at the magazine but refrained from being “intimate” with them as it would “cast a bad reflection” on the magazine. He said he was separated from his wife but that was a personal matter.

He said Playboy was comparable to Esquire magazine (where he once worked) but “has a wider circulation.”

Playboy Magazine founder Hugh Hefner working at the Playboy offices in Chicago in the 1960s. Via AFP/Getty Images

Hefner told the agents he first met Oppman when the photographer sent him photos he took of a woman who Hefner then featured in the magazine.

Hefner agreed that Oppman “would be the type of individual who might become involved in obscene matters,” the file says, and he has since severed his ties to him because he found out he had a criminal record.

The agents’ investigation, the case notes concluded in July 1958, “fails to reflect a violation” of federal laws dealing with obscenity.

Hefner and Playboy again came to the FBI’s official attention in 1963.

A memo sent to J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, from the Special Agent in Charge of the bureau’s Chicago office, dated June 4, 1963, states: “Enclosed herewith is one copy of the June issue of Playboy Magazine and one newspaper clipping from the Chicago Tribune.”

The issue featured a provocative photo spread of American movie actor Jayne Mansfield and the news column described the pictorial as “coarse, cheap, vulgar, utterly without taste.”

The issue led to Hefner’s arrest in Chicago on state charges for obscenity. The Chicago office flagged the magazine’s nationwide circulation as possibly making it a federal matter.

An internal discussion in Washington branded the charge “ridiculous,” but the Chicago office was told to keep an eye on how the prosecution unfolded. A jury later was unable to reach a verdict, a follow-up note says.

The FBI’s files were then silent on Hefner, according to the records released, until 2001 when agents again interviewed him, this time as a complainant rather than suspect.

Someone had hacked into Hefner’s Playboy email account and was sending out emails — 15,000 to 16,000 of them — from his personal account of hef@playboy.com and other spoofed accounts in his name.

The nature of the emails are redacted from the files. Playboy officials told the FBI that messages alerting recipients to the intrusion had now been sent and a private security audit was underway.

There is no follow up noted.

The FBI routinely releases redacted files on prominent people after they die.

The FBI said these releases “may no longer reflect the current beliefs, positions, opinions or policies” of the bureau.

• Email: ahumphreys@nationalpost.com | Twitter: 

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Entirely Possible that US Would Lose a War Against Russia and China – by A Political Junkie (Viable Option) 14 June 2019

A fascinating recent study by Christopher Dougherty entitledWhy America Needs a New Way of Warat the Center for a New American Security or CNAS looks at a thought-provoking reality; what if the United States lost its next war.  While its so-called wins since the end of the Second World War have been, at the very least, contestable (think Korea, Vietnam and both Afghanistan and Iraq that have been dragging on for nearly two decades), this study looks at the implications of an American loss in a large-scale war with a great power, a battle that will be far different than the relatively small scale regional wars fought in the last half of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century.

There is no doubt that Americans (and many others around the world) have grown accustomed to America’s military superiority and its ability to both deter potential opponents and police the world at the same time.  That said, even though the United States has the world’s most powerful and expensive armed forces in the world as shown here:

 

…and here:

...according to the author, the possibility of an American defeat is real and growing.  Gone are the days of U.S. military dominance that was prevalent in the post-Cold War era.  While both Russia and China have been developing new concepts and strategies for defeating the United States, they have been able to offset their respective weaknesses by using both time and a lack of geographic proximity.  This has allowed both nations to develop strategies that will allow them to attack vulnerabilities in American military operations by avoiding what would be considered to be a “fair fight”.

Here is a quote from the author that succinctly outlines the problem facing Washington:

Unfortunately, the DoD’s responses to the many challenges posed by the emerging security environment have thus far been piecemeal and lethargic, largely because the Pentagon has failed to fully grasp the systemic nature and fundamental implications of the problem it faces: The American way of war that emerged following the Cold War will not work in an era of great-power competition.  It rests on a foundation of strategic and operational assumptions that were the product of an anomalous historical period of unchallenged U.S. military dominance.  The assumptions from that period are now deeply flawed or wholly invalid and must be updated for an era of great-power competition.

This has led to the situation in which U.S. armed forces are the most powerful in the world by a wide margin, and yet they increasingly run the risk of losing a future war with China or Russia.  The root of the problem is the DoD’s unwillingness thus far to fully come to grips with the reality that its principal competitors are no longer regional threats such as the Iraqs and Yugoslavias of the world, but rather great powers with advanced military forces and the ability to match U.S. escalation.” (my bolds)

Let’s look at the current “way of war”.  Here are the steps that are currently used by the United States to wage war against an adversary:

1.) Maintain a “tripwire” forward presence for peace-time shaping operations.

2.) Increase presence during crises through “flexible deterrent operations (FDOs).”

3.) Rely on basing access and overflight from allies, partners, and other states in the theater.

4.) Exploit sanctuary in the homeland and other theaters to deploy forces without threat from enemy attack.

5.) Build up and sustain expeditionary forces in the theater over weeks or months, and marshal forces at concentrated land and sea bases and staging locations close to enemy territory.

6.) Conduct extensive intelligence preparation of the battlespace.

7.) Commence offensive operations at the time and place the United States chooses.

8.) Attack regime targets and command, control, communications, computing, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR).

9.) Establish aerospace, information, and maritime dominance throughout the theater.

10.) Attack the adversary’s fielded forces and critical infrastructure to degrade its forces, erode its will to fight, and systemically disrupt the cohesion of the regime and its military.

11.) Conduct ground operations once enemy forces are heavily outnumbered, degraded, and disorganized.

12.) Combine precision firepower with rapid maneuver—enabled by information dominance and mostly secure lines of logistics—to fix and annihilate enemy forces and seize key terrain with minimal U.S. casualties.

13.) Exploit other levers of power (diplomacy, information and economics) for coercive leverage (think sanctions).

This model of war has worked well in the post-Cold War era when most of America’s adversaries were rogue states that were relatively weak militarily, particularly when compared to the United States.  This model may not work as well in the case of a war fought with a larger and more powerful military peer since it will require the Joint Force to deploy large forces to deter its much larger adversary in a scenario where there is competition for the status of a “great power”.  The author notes that this is particularly evident in the very rapid modernization of China’s People’s Liberation Army which now presents an even more striking challenge to America’s global dominance.  

He also states that both China and Russia have developed strategic counterpoints to America’s preferred model of warfare. that of the expeditionary model which requires the marshalling of hundreds of thousands of military personnel and accompanying materiel over a period of weeks or months.  As well, the mere presence of U.S. forces in a particular region of the world will no longer deter aggression.   It has become a rather subtle change; rather than “will the United States intervene” it has become a “can the United States intervene?”. 

Given the close and lasting economic, political and cultural relationship between Russia and China as well as between both nations and their geographic neighbours, the situation has become far more complex than it was three decades ago when the Soviet Union imploded.  The United States military is no longer the only “big kid on the block” and cannot count on its traditional allies to back it in a war against one of the great powers given the interrelationships between Russia, China and the rest of the world.

Here is a summary of what a war with China or Russia would look like:

Absent changes to U.S. force posture and operational concepts, the opening rounds of war with China or Russia are likely to have more in common with 1941 than 1991. China and Russia have witnessed the folly of ceding the initiative to the United States and will orient their strategy and operations toward preventing an effective U.S. response. Both likely will attempt to leverage non-military aspects of power—particularly information operations—and covert, clandestine, and sub-conventional forms of coercion to confound U.S. indications and warning and set the battlespace and terms of engagement to their advantage. Should these efforts succeed, China and Russia may be able to achieve their objectives without resort to combat, or at least direct conflict with the United States. Should these efforts fail, China and Russia would be able to dictate the terms of the fight to a large extent, at least initially.

Rapid, and possibly preemptive attacks against U.S. and allied C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) would leave U.S. commanders scrambling for situational awareness and a means to coordinate an effective response. These attacks may be limited and non-kinetic to avoid escalation, or they may be broader and destructive to achieve a knockout blow or, failing that, signal willingness and capability.In any case, the United States would not be dictating the scope, scale, location, or timing of the conflict. Amid the resultant chaos, China and Russia may seek to seize key objectives and offer to negotiate an end to hostilities in order to undermine the political will of the United States and its allies and partners. Both powers may contrast this diplomatic offer with implicit or explicit threats of escalation to further strain a U.S.-led coalition.

As opposed to methodically building a coalition and marshaling overwhelming force as in the Gulf War, U.S. political leaders and commanders might resemble their World War II counterparts—looking to stem the bleeding, keep critical allies and partners onside, and counterpunch until they can stabilize the situation. The ability of China and Russia to expand and escalate these conflicts using both military and non-military means would complicate U.S. efforts to seize the initiative through vertical or horizontal escalation.”  (my bolds)

It sounds rather grim, doesn’t it?

Let’s close with this quote from the author:

Today, the global order is weakening. Many in the United States and allied and partner nations only see the costs and burdens of this order in the form of military obligations, regulations, and multilateral organizations. The benefits are often diffuse and the original catastrophes that spurred its creation are increasingly lost in the mists of history. Meanwhile, China seeks to create an alternative Sino-centric order in Asia, and Russia seeks to undermine the U.S.-led order at every turn. Should these efforts prove successful, it could mark a return to the harsh zero-sum competitions between political-economic blocs that led to global cataclysms in the past. To paraphrase Mark Twain, the history of the early 20th century may not be repeating itself today, but it certainly appears to be rhyming.

There is one thing that we can count on; we are entering a new multipolar geopolitical reality, a reality that could well mean the defeat of the world’s current leading military power.  The old ways of fighting a war are no longer valid and, until Washington comes to the realization that their strategy no longer works, there is a great risk that the United States could find its position at the top of the world’s “military heap” under significant threat.  

The flame burns on: Leonard Cohen has the last word in his posthumous book – by Ian McGillis (Montreal Gazette) 6 Oct 2018

Leonard 4For the Montreal musical icon, the collection — which spans six decades of notebook excerpts, lyrics, poems, even sketches — “was what he was staying alive to do, his sole breathing purpose at the end.”
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If you’ve got it handy, pull out your copy of Songs of Leonard Cohen — LP or CD, though the former is better, being bigger — and look at the back cover. The image there, often assumed to depict Joan of Arc being burned at the stake, is in fact a piece of Mexican religious folk art, chosen by Cohen to represent, in his words, “the triumph of spirit over matter — the spirit being that beautiful woman breaking out of the chains and fire and prison.”
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Leonard 6
Fire and flame are multi-purpose motifs throughout Cohen’s writings and songs — so much so that when it came time to choose a title for the book of poems and other writings on which he was working feverishly right up until his death on Nov. 7, 2016, son Adam Cohen was in no doubt.
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“He lit the flames and he tended to them diligently,” writes Adam in his introduction to the book that now sees the light of day as The Flame: Poems and Selections from the Notebooks (McClelland & Stewart, 275 pp, $32.95).
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“It was a state of emergency,” said The Flame’s co-editor Alexandra Pleshoyano, talking about Cohen’s determination, at age 82, to get the project finished in the face of pain from spinal stress fractures and the effects of leukemia, a combination that weakened him to a state where a fall in his Los Angeles home proved fatal.
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“But it was that way all his life, really. Even when there were long gaps (between albums and books), he was always, always writing.”
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leonard 9
It’s a truth underlined further by Adam Cohen, whose introduction tells how, for his father, the book “was what he was staying alive to do, his sole breathing purpose at the end.”
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And it all chimes with the artist himself. He frequently claimed that nothing made him happier than the act of leaving a previously white page “blackened” with his poetry and prose.
Many self-portraits were chosen for the book, including one of Leonard Cohen looking heavily pomaded – à la I’m Your Man.
Université de Sherbrooke professor and Montreal native Pleshoyano came to her role in The Flame via an unconventional route: she’s the first to admit she got out of the Cohen blocks uncommonly late. And that was despite spending parts of her youth at her father’s house on Cedar Ave. in Westmount, just a couple of streets from where Cohen grew up on Belmont Ave. And despite being of the generation that stoked Cohen’s late-1980s comeback. She was only marginally aware of him until, in 2004 at age 42, a chance encounter with some Dutch Cohen fans converted her.
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“A bunch of young people were coming out of a bar, singing a Cohen song in Dutch, although I didn’t know that. We got talking and they said ‘What? You’re from Quebec and you don’t know Leonard Cohen?’ I felt like an idiot.”
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Leonard 8
Six years later, Pleshoyano had secured a grant to write about Cohen and Jewish mysticism, and was doing graduate work in Strasbourg, France, when Cohen’s Grand Tour came to town. Through a connection with a Swiss Cohen scholar, she found herself having dinner with him. The two spoke of their common interest in the Kabbalah and the Israeli philosopher and scholar Gershom Scholem.
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In the ensuing years, Pleshoyano’s standing as a Cohen expert grew. She served, for instance, as a consultant to the Musée d’art contemporain’s A Crack in Everything exhibition, a tribute to Cohen.
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She came to the attention of Cohen’s manager, Robert Kory, the man instrumental in reviving Cohen’s finances after the embezzlement he suffered at the hands of his previous manager, Kelley Lynch. Six months after Cohen died, when the time came to organize his vast archive of papers and sketchbooks, and to craft them into a book, Pleshoyano got the call along with co-curator Robert Faggen.
Self-portraits were often accompanied by words expressing the first thoughts that came into his mind upon waking up.
It was a job that could fairly be described as Herculean. It involved transcribing thousands of pages of archives gathered over six decades — a task that fell mostly to Faggen, who dealt heroically with Cohen’s not especially neat handwriting. Then there was the matter of putting it all in some kind of order, an undertaking complicated by Cohen’s idiosyncratic approach to dating the material: jumping around by years from page to page, sometimes literally having the work of separate eras side by side. Not entirely surprising, given that he was known to work on a single poem or song for years, it still invites a bit of speculation. Might it all have been a deliberate ploy to throw future scholars off the trail?
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“He was into mischief — and mystery,” said Pleshoyano. “So that’s certainly not inconceivable.”
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Leonard 7
In the end, the determining factor was mostly the order in which the writings appeared. Clearing the technical hurdles, Pleshoyano and Faggen put together a sequence of previously unpublished poems, lyrics for the late-period albums (often slightly but enticingly different from what ended up being sung), reproductions from the notebooks, and other late-life documents. Resisting the temptation to provide extensive marginalia and footnotes — “That would have made it an academic book, and that’s the last thing he would have wanted,” Pleshoyano said — they have assembled an illuminating and seamlessly readable volume that will be manna to Cohen fans worldwide.
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What’s likely to cause the most surprise, though, is the visual component of The Flame. More than a hundred drawings and paintings from Cohen’s sketchbooks enhance the text, chosen by Pleshoyano from among roughly 400 provided. Many are self-portraits, though the designation doesn’t indicate their range: in 2003 alone Cohen did a self-portrait every day, in a variety of media, often with accompanying words expressing the first thoughts that came into his mind upon waking up.
Nothing made Leonard Cohen happier than leaving a white page “blackened” with his words.
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Pleshoyano placed them in thematically appropriate places alongside the poems and lyrics, creating combinations that are sometimes poignant, sometimes funny, and always complementary.
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Next to a poem in which Cohen writes “I feel ridiculous / in my grey suit / and my pomaded hair” appears a line drawing of the artist looking heavily pomaded, à la I’m Your Man.
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The lyrics to the Anjani song Thanks for the Dance are accompanied by a painting done in a style evocative of Toulouse Lautrec.
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More than once, Cohen presents himself staring at his own reflection, though the effect is somehow never narcissistic.
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“Mirrors are very important to Cohen,” said Pleshoyano, who often slips into referring to her subject in the present tense. “When he first auditioned for (Columbia Records executive) John Hammond he had to stand in front of a mirror in order to perform. (Hammond signed Cohen in 1967.) They appear all through his work. He was an insecure person, and I think for him mirrors were a way of being sure he hadn’t disappeared.”
He needn’t have worried about that.
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Adam Cohen has confirmed that a posthumous album is in the planning stages. It will comprise Cohen’s fifteenth studio collection, consisting of songs post-dating You Want it Darker, the 2016 album previously assumed to be his last musical testament.
And in the pages of The Flame, Leonard Cohen feels more present than ever.

In 1961, the Montreal Gazette said of Leonard Cohen’s writing: “We are witnessing the rise of an excellent poet.
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Instalments in a lifelong project: A set collects the Cohen books neatly

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To coincide with The Flame, McClelland & Stewart is providing a fine corrective for those whose Cohen shelves are in mismatched disarray: a uniform edition, sold in separate volumes, of his first six poetry collections and two novels. While each is its own beast, it’s striking how they can also be read as a single entity, instalments in an unbroken lifelong project. Add to these The Flame, and the collections Book of Mercy and Book of Longing, and you’ll pretty much have the lot.

Let Us Compare Mythologies, 1956

Bearing traces of a young man’s earnestness — the poems were written between the ages of 15 and 20, so let’s not judge — Cohen’s debut nonetheless contains enough of what was to come that you can imagine the excitement among the few who saw it when new. Besides, it’s often the simplest poems — see Rites, about a boy grieving for his father — that are the most affecting.
Leonard Cohen, circa 1964.MONTREAL GAZETTE

The Spice-Box of Earth, 1961

The Montreal Gazette said: “We are witnessing the rise of an excellent poet.” All things considered, it wasn’t a bad call. Cohen, the conflicted aesthete and seeker, torn between the worldly and the monastic, emerges fully here.

The Favourite Game, 1963

If Cohen had never written anything else, this audacious coming-of-age novel would still stand proud as a Canadian classic. A Montreal novel to stand alongside the best of Gabrielle Roy, Mavis Gallant, Hugh MacLennan and Mordecai Richler.

Flowers for Hitler, 1964

The title, and the epigraph from Primo Levi, hint at what would be a Cohen trademark: a compulsion to visit the darkest places of history, and a perfect willingness to risk offence. Cohen himself called this a masterpiece on publication. From the beyond, he dares us to disagree.

Parasites of Heaven, 1966

No one had any idea of it at the time, but within a year and a half Cohen would be a celebrated singer-songwriter. His last pre-fame collection is thus a goldmine for readers seeking to chart how the poems bled into the songs and vice versa. For example, an untitled poem beginning “Suzanne … ” evolved into a song of that name you may have heard.

Beautiful Losers, 1966

A novel with a higher experimental quotient than most readers might normally accept found its way into the world as a trashy-cover mass-market paperback after Cohen’s breakthrough as a musician. It was a true Trojan Horse operation, insinuating the name of Kateri Tekakwitha into world literature and leaving Cohen batting a perfect 1.000 on the novel front.
At the Isle of Wight Festival, 1970.

The Energy of Slaves, 1972

As with so much Cohen, this collection is powered by paradox: poems about the loss of the poet’s poetic powers attain their own poetic power. Cohen is at his most concentrated and economical here — there’s lots of white space, but every word counts.

Death of a Lady’s Man, 1978

Maybe people have been scared off by the title’s close resemblance to that of Death of a Ladies’ Man, the most problematic album in the Cohen catalogue. Whatever the reason, you sense that we are still catching up with this book. Its mix of verse with prose poems and Nabokov-like self-commentaries will be fodder for Cohen nation in perpetuity.
Leonard 10

Iranian Long Game: Avoid Dependence on Russia, China as Conflict With US Looms – by Elijah J. Magnier – 14 June 2019

Ayatollah Khamenei recommends four steps to keep the US at bay

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In a private meeting with the Iranian leadership, the Leader of the Revolution, Sayyed Ali Khamenei, recommended a four-step plan to confront US sanctions and US threats to Iran.

The first step suggested by Sayyed Ali Khamenei is for Iran to develop its resources and reduce imports to a minimum level in the years to come. Iran’s imports range from 40 to 65 billion dollars a year (in 2010, Iranian imports reached $65.4 billion while in 2017, they amounted to $51.6 billion). These imports are mainly related to machinery, computers and phone system devices, pharmaceuticals and medical instruments, electrical machinery, wheat, cereals and corn, rice and soya beans, transport vehicles, iron and flat-rolled steel, and organic chemicals. The United Arab Emirates and China are Iran’s main import partners, along with South Korea, Turkey and Germany. EU exports to Iran are worth around $10 billion per year.

Iranian President Rouhani attends National Army Day in Tehran, April 2018

The second recommendation is for Iran to behave on the premise that it has no loyal and established friends. The Leader of the revolution indicated that relationships with countries should be based on mutual interest rather than strategically established. Iran should count on its capabilities to defend its existence and continuity, without isolating itself. Countries may stand with Iran for their common benefit and interest, but such alliances should be considered related to circumstances and opportunities rather than taken for granted.

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The third recommendation would be to ease domestic pressure on all political parties, including reformers (Mehdi karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rafsanjani). The Iranian leadership considers national unity of paramount importance in this period of crisis that may last for another five years if Donald Trump is re-elected. Moreover, Iran has taken a unified stand against US sanctions; moderates such as President Hassan Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Jawad Zarifhave adopted hard-line positions, similar to those of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. 

The Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s fourth recommendation is that Iran relies much less on oil export revenues in the future. Iran’s annual crude petroleum shipments are worth 21 to 27 billion dollars, representing 4.3% of the world market share. The Iranian leader suggested increasing and diversifying other domestic products Iran could export, mainly but not exclusively to neighbouring countries. This measure is meant to lessen the effect of US sanctions on Iranian energy exports, in place not only under the Trump administration but also under previous US administrations throughout the life of the “Islamic Revolution” (1979).

The Iranian leadership believes the US does not sincerely aim to severely weaken Iran, but rather is using Tehran’s growing military capabilities as a sales argument to increase deals of weapons to US Middle Eastern allies who consider themselves Iran’s enemies.

It is also believed that the US would not be happy to see Iran totally in bed with China and Russia as its two main strategic commercial and military partners. The US would instead seek a comprehensive agreement to have its share of the Iranian market and relationship.

There is no doubt –the Iranian leadership agrees- that Tehran could eventually accept a US request to sit around a negotiation table and tackle the issue of Iran’s presence in Syria and its influence in other Middle Eastern countries (i.e. Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen). However, nothing can happen before Trump lifts the sanctions and acknowledges the nuclear deal. 

However, Iran is aware that Trump cannot walk back on his decision due to electoral reasons. The US President climbed up a tree and can’t find his way down. Iran can help Trump if he will look the other way as Iran sells two million barrels of oil daily, as he is doing with over 30 million cubic feet of gas Iran is currently selling to Iraq. Iran’s leaders are following Deng Xiaoping’s precept : “I don’t care if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice”. If Trump grants anything less, Iran will not help Trump win his second term in 2020 but will instead contribute to his failure to do so.

Notwithstanding Iran’s willingness to negotiate and lower current levels of tension, it seems there are non-negotiable red-lines: its capability to continue developing its missiles capabilities and its obligation to support its partners in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan.

Two tankers suffered explosions in the Gulf of Oman June 13th. Predictably, the US is blaming Iran.

On the forthcoming  7th of July, the 60 days warning ends and Iran is already preparing to withdraw from the nuclear deal gradually. Europe seems – so far – unready to step in and stand against US hegemony and sanctions. It is unlikely that the Old Continent’s leaders will choose to antagonise the US in exchange for 10 billion dollars’ worth of commercial exchange with Iran. However, the issue involves more than finance: it would be unprecedented for European countries who, unlike the US, profess adherence to norms of law and justice, to dishonour a  deal of their own making and to revoke international agreements signed by their leaders. Moreover, Europe’s INSTEX monetary mechanism to facilitate trade between Europe and Iran in the face of US sanctions has not been implemented. Iran has expressed its discontent with Europe’s lack of commitment. 

Yukiya Amano, the International Atomic Energy Agency chief, announced that Iran has increased its levels of enrichment uranium, and Iran concurred. US sanctions are leading Iran to accumulate centrifuges (due to the lack of exportation rights); Iran is upgrading them from IR1 to IR6 and is threatening to go to “cascades of IR8”. Although the US claims to be unconcerned about the nuclear deal and has unilaterally abandoned it to the displeasure of signatory countries, triggering military tension in the Middle East, the US Ambassador to Vienna Jackie Wolcott found the courage to accuse Iran of “violating the deal, causing great concern to all of us”. 

Everything indicates that the Middle Eastern Summer will be hot, although war seems unlikely. The bras-de-fer is expected to remain high on the US and Iran’s agenda with neither side willing to stand down and ease tensions. The 7thof July is not far away and will undoubtedly disclose more surprises. Iran has the initiative on its side and Trump and his neo-cons can only wait for the next step.

Trump’s Trade Threats Are Really Cold War 2.0 – by Michael Hudson • 13 June 2019

 

President Trump has threatened China’s President Xi that if they don’t meet and talk at the upcoming G20 meetings in Japan, June 29-30, the United States will not soften its tariff war and economic sanctions against Chinese exports and technology.

Some meeting between Chinese and U.S. leaders will indeed take place, but it cannot be anything like a real negotiation. Such meetings normally are planned in advance, by specialized officials working together to prepare an agreement to be announced by their heads of state. No such preparation has taken place, or can take place. Mr. Trump doesn’t delegate authority.

He opens negotiations with a threat. That costs nothing, and you never know (or at least, he never knows) whether he can get a freebee. His threat is that the U.S. can hurt its adversary unless that country agrees to abide by America’s wish-list. But in this case the list is so unrealistic that the media are embarrassed to talk about it. The US is making impossible demands for economic surrender – that no country could accept. What appears on the surface to be only a trade war is really a full-fledged Cold War 2.0.

America’s wish list: other countries’ neoliberal subservience

At stake is whether China will agree to do what Russia did in the 1990s: put a Yeltsin-like puppet of neoliberal planners in place to shift control of its economy from its government to the U.S. financial sector and its planners. So the fight really is over what kind of planning China and the rest of the world should have: by governments to raise prosperity, or by the financial sector to extract revenue and impose austerity.

U.S. diplomacy aims to make other countries dependent on its agricultural exports, its oil (or oil in countries that U.S. majors and allies control), information and military technology. This trade dependency will enable U.S. strategists to impose sanctions that would deprive economies of basic food, energy, communications and replacement parts if they resist U.S. demands.

The objective is to gain financial control of global resources and make trade “partners” pay interest, licensing fees and high prices for products in which the United States enjoys monopoly pricing “rights” for intellectual property. A trade war thus aims to make other countries dependent on U.S.-controlled food, oil, banking and finance, or high-technology goods whose disruption will cause austerity and suffering until the trade “partner” surrenders.

China’s willingness to give Trump a “win”

Threats are cheap, but Mr. Trump can’t really follow through without turning farmers, Wall Street and the stock market, Walmart and much of the IT sector against him at election time if his tariffs on China increase the cost of living and doing business. His diplomatic threat is really that the US will cut its own economic throat, imposing sanctions on its own importers and investors if China does not acquiesce.

It is easy to see what China’s answer will be. It will stand aside and let the US self-destruct. Its negotiators are quite happy to “offer” whatever China has planned to do anyway, and let Trump brag that this is a “concession” he has won.

China has a great sweetener that I think President Xi Jinping should offer: It can nominate Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. We know that he wants what his predecessor Barack Obama got. And doesn’t he deserve it more? After all, he is helping to bring Eurasia together, driving China and Russia into an alliance with neighboring counties, reaching out to Europe.

Trump may be too narcissistic to realize the irony here. Catalyzing Asian and European trade independence, financial independence, food independence and IT independence from the threat of U.S. sanctions will leave the U.S. isolated in the emerging multilateralism.

America’s wish for a neoliberal Chinese Yeltsin (and another Russian Yeltsin for that matter)

A good diplomat does not make demands to which the only answer can be “No.” There is no way that China will dismantle its mixed economy and turn it over to U.S. and other global investors. It is no secret that the United States achieved world industrial supremacy in the late 19th and early 20th century by heavy public-sector subsidy of education, roads, communication and other basic infrastructure. Today’s privatized, financialized and “Thatcherized” economies are high-cost and inefficient.

Yet U.S. officials persist in their dream of promoting some neoliberal Chinese leader or “free market” party to wreak the damage that Yeltsin and his American advisors wrought on Russia. The U.S. idea of a “win-win” agreement is one in which China will be “permitted” to grow as long as it agrees to become a U.S. financial and trade satellite, not an independent competitor.

Trump’s trade tantrum is that other countries are simply following the same economic strategy that once made America great, but which neoliberals have destroyed here and in much of Europe. U.S. negotiators are unwilling to acknowledge that the United States has lost its competitive industrial advantage and become a high-cost rentier economy. Its GDP is “empty,” consisting mainly of the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) rents, profits and capital gains while the nation’s infrastructure decays and its labor is reduced to a part-time “gig” economy. Under these conditions the effect of trade threats can only be to speed up the drive by other countries to become economically self-reliant.

What a US War With Iran Would Look Like – (US Military Times) 4 June 2019

What war with Iran could look like

Scenario

Late at night somewhere not far from the coast of Iran, U.S. sailors sleep on board ship when suddenly a dull thud reverberates through the hull and shocks them awake.

An Iranian mini-submarine or possibly a drone has wound its way through layers of defenses, struck the side of the warship and water is flooding in. In the hours following the incident, Iranian leaders say it wasn’t an intentional attack. Some of their naval personnel went rogue. U.S. strikes on key missile defense positions along the Iranian coast are already underway. Those strikes signal salvos for some a country away, armed and ready to hit U.S. troops in short notice.

 

Near dawn at a dusty outpost along the Syria-Iraq border a handful of U.S. Marines, soldiers and special operations forces are awakened to a barrage of rockets and mortar fire like they’ve never seen on this or any other recent deployment. So far, a full-scale conflict between the U.S. and its allies and Iran and its proxies remains in the realm of wargaming at the moment. But with tensions rising between the U.S. and Iran, and as the U.S. moves more troops and military assets into the region, Pentagon planners and top U.S. intelligence officials have begun taking a closer look at what such a conflict might entail.

Iranian coastal defenses would likely render the entire Persian Gulf off limits to U.S. Navy warships. Iran’s advanced surface-to-air missile defenses would be a significant threat to U.S. pilots. And Iran’s arsenal of ballistic missiles and cruise missiles put U.S military installations across the U.S. Central Command region at risk. The cost in U.S. casualties could be high.

Iran has developed a wide range of missiles, from the Shahab 1 ballistic missile, with a range of 300 kilometers, to the Soumar cruise missile with a reported range of 2,500 kilometersthat could strike targets anywhere in the Gulf, Israel, Egypt, Afghanistan, parts of southern and eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Iran has developed a wide range of missiles, from the Shahab 1 ballistic missile, with a range of 300 kilometers, to the Soumar cruise missile with a reported range of 2,500 kilometersthat could strike targets anywhere in the Gulf, Israel, Egypt, Afghanistan, parts of southern and eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Beyond that, it’s unclear what victory might look like. Nobody is advocating a large-scale occupation like the one that followed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. And many experts caution against hoping or assuming that a massive U.S.-led military invasion will prompt Iranians to overthrow their Islamic regime and transform Iran into an American ally.

Iran’s military forces total roughly 545,000 active personnel and 350,000 reserve personnel, including about 125,000 men within the IRGC, according to the Strauss Center at the University of Texas, Austin. But while its total force strength is quite large, the quality is limited by an inability to purchase Western technology and severe economic sanctions.

 

Military Times interviewed more than a dozen military experts, including current and former U.S. military officials, about how a conflict might begin and how it could play out.

This is what they said could happen:

 

There are Iranian commando strikes at key transit points such as the Suez Canal and the Straits of Hormuz. The waters off of Yemen are inundated with sea mines, making ship travel throughout the region a slow, almost suicidal process.

Leaders from both the United States and Iran broadcast their bellicose rhetoric via a host of platforms, each pointing the finger at the other, each saying that neither wants war but that the aggression cannot stand without a response.

 

Crowds gather, seething angrily at U.S. and coalition sites in Iraq, first throwing stones before a car bomb bursts open a hole in the side of the walled compound. Evacuations ensue, U.S. forces simultaneously flood into key battle positions as others are pulled back to reinforced bases in partner nations.

 

Electronic attacks volley across cyberspace, leading to entire power grids shut down. Electronic jamming floods the airwaves, degrading communication and control across military networks as commanders battle to see what’s happening in real time in a way they’ve not had to contend with for more than a generation, if ever.   All the while the network of proxy Iranian special forces cells, from the Middle East to Central America find novel and makeshift ways to poke, prod and provoke the United States by hitting soft targets whenever and wherever possible.

Thousands die.

 

The few U.S. and allied boots on the ground inside of Iran belong to clandestine special operations forces and other government agencies who surreptitiously locate and destroy key targets or shuttle key insiders out of the war-torn country of Iran.  Weeks, perhaps months later, ammunition stocks depleted, no more major targets to hit, smoke and dust subside and an uneasy stasis emerges.

 

More likely than not, the leadership regime in Iran remains in place as a weakened nation strives to put itself back together. And a nuclear program begins anew.

Earlier this month, Iran’s leaders announced that they would restart uranium processing unless other signers of the 2015 nuclear deal made between them, the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the European Union, could find ways to ease the harsh sanctions imposed by the United States when it pulled out of the deal last year.

 

What followed was leaked reports of war plans being drawn up that could include as many as 120,000 U.S. troops headed to the region, a number similar in size to the 2003 Iraq invasion. What followed also included leaders of both Iran and the United States claiming they didn’t want war, yet each preparing in many ways for exactly that outcome. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan followed that up by saying about 900 additional troops were headed to the region, on top of those manning Patriot batteries already shipped out.

The United States sent a carrier battle group and long-range bombers to the region.

Reports allege that the head of the Iranian proxy groups have been ordered to prepare for a range of strikes against U.S. and allied targets across the Middle East. Those involve some Shia groups in the region, but not all, as some are aligned with Iran but others operated based on their own, local needs.

 

Could this all be political saber-rattling? Or could provocations unsheathe that saber?

As one expert told Military Times, with thousands of troops in the region and more headed that way, there is, “the opportunity to miscalculate and watch this spiral out of control is always there.”

 

Maritime

Instead of competing directly with the U.S. Navy, Iran uses swarming small boats, drones and sea mines to deter and harass the fleet, especially at choke points such as the Strait of Hormuz, a key corridor that connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman. To counter maritime harassment, the United States military would use surface vessels and airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to detect, avoid or eliminate those threats, experts said.  But to be clear, there isn’t any publicly reported substantive evidence that total “unsafe” or “unprofessional interactions between U.S. Navy and Iranian ships, drones have increased.

 

There had been 22 such incidents in 2015; 36 in 2016; 14 in 2017 and as of early May there hadn’t been an “unsafe encounter” since 2017, according to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

 

That said, one threat to U.S. forces in the region is the Fateh, an Iranian semi-heavy submarine armed with subsurface-to-surface missiles with a range of about 2,000 kilometers.

President Hassan Rouhani and other dignitaries attend the inauguration of Fateh,

President Hassan Rouhani and other dignitaries attend the inauguration of Fateh, “Conqueror” in Persian, Iranian made semi-heavy submarine in the southern port of Bandar Abbas, Iran, in February. The Fateh has subsurface-to-surface missiles with a range of about 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), capable of reaching Israel and U.S. military bases in the region. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Another threat is the Iranian Ghadir-class minisub, a fleet of about 23 115-ton submersibles that are operated by a handful of crew and are capable of firing a couple of torpedoes. But renewed attacks by small vessels are still a serious threat.  “It’s small, so it’s able to operate submerged in the [shallow] Persian Gulf pretty easily. It’s hard to find on sonar because it’s pretty quiet when its running on battery and because of its size, active sonar doesn’t give you a great return,” Bryan Clark, a former submariner and senior aid to chief of naval operations, now an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

 

The constrained geography of the Gulf also gives ships short warning times to respond to such attacks, he said.  The Iranian Ghair-class has been somewhat of a success but lacks the staying power of U.S. vessels.“They can’t go more than a couple of days underway, it’s more like a patrol boat,” Clark said. “You’re limited by supplies, fuel, and just human endurance operating on a platform that isn’t designed to support long-term operations. But it doesn’t really need to because you’re talking about the Persian Gulf.”

As a sneak-attack capability, it’s one of Iran’s better options. As with anti-ship cruise missiles, Iran might not make a direct hit on a U.S. target, but even minor damage is a major public relations victory.  In a confrontation with Iran, systems such as the Rolling Airframe Missile, Standard Missile and Evolved Sea-Sparrow Missile are more than capable of handling Iran’s inventory of anti-ship cruise missiles.

 

If the U.S. would want to use force in the Strait of Hormuz, it is more likely to do so with smaller ships such as the littoral combat ship, knowing that the point-defense systems on board can combat the air threat, Clark said.  In the 2003 Iraq invasion, the United States sent an armada – five carrier battle groups, amphibious ready groups and two amphibious task forces. That kind of operation wouldn’t be as likely for Iran, Clark said.

But any large-scale conflict would likely still require three carrier strike groups, Clark said, to free the U.S. from the kinds of restrictions host nations put on the usage of aircraft launched from their facilities.

Unlike with the Iraq War, you can conduct strikes from the Arabian Sea rather than from the Persian Gulf, so you’d focus on the southern coast of Iran, near the Strait of Hormuz opposite Oman.  “That would be the area you’d focus your attacks to clear out the cruise missile batteries and air defenses. And once you clear out the air defenses there would be a corridor you could use from the south to go engage coastal defense cruise missiles from the east, from behind,” Clark said.

 

Ground

 

The Army will have a vital role in any conflict in the region, but with no plans yet to invade Iran, their part won’t look like it did in Iraq with Strykers, Abrams tanks and Humvees rolling across the desert.  Instead, the Army will be orchestrating a vast logistics network bringing Patriot missile batteries, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and attack helicopters to bear on Iranian systems.

U.S. soldiers assigned to the 65th Field Artillery Brigade fire a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) during a joint live-fire exercise with the Kuwait Land Forces, Jan. 8, 2019, near Camp Buehring, Kuwait. The Army's future precision strike missile will initially be fired from a HIMARS launcher. (Sgt. Bill Boecker/Army)

U.S. soldiers assigned to the 65th Field Artillery Brigade fire a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) during a joint live-fire exercise with the Kuwait Land Forces, Jan. 8, 2019, near Camp Buehring, Kuwait. The Army’s future precision strike missile will initially be fired from a HIMARS launcher. (Sgt. Bill Boecker/Army)

Another key piece of work for soldiers will be providing protection and defense to key U.S. and allied installations from not just Iranian missiles but also from proxy groups who’d attack those areas in Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, among others.

And those proxy groups can hit U.S. units and allies across the region. There’s a host of groups that must be considered far from Iran’s borders in Syria, Yemen and Iraq among others.

 

Philip Smyth, Soref Fellow at the Washington Institute, told Military Times that the proxy groups go beyond amateur IED planters in rural regions of Iraq. They include battle-hardened groups such as Hezbollah, with deep ties to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

 

“If you’re out there at a FOB just on the Iraq-Syria border there are at least 10 very (Iran) loyal Shia militias,” Smyth said. “Not just the run of the mill but the nastiest out there. They really made their bones bombing our guys.”

 

And they have weapons from advanced explosively formed penetrators that defeated some of the best counter-IED tech to rockets and other ways to harass U.S. troops, he said.

“If you are going to see a conflict, it is going to be conducted with massive amounts of precision air-delivered weapons, with some special ops forces, and a large dose of offensive cyber-attacks,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, dean for the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.  The U.S. intelligence community has a good understanding of where the Iranian centers of gravity are located in Iran and the force required to take them out, a former chief of staff with U.S. Central Command said on background.

 

But not everything is known.

 

“There may be buried facilities or tunnels somewhere that we don’t know about, but I do think we have a significant amount of good intelligence on where their assets are,” the former CENTCOM official said.  There has been widespread reporting in the Western and Iranian press about underground bunkers and depots to protect the country’s assets, which are still targetable, the official said.

Any work that would be done behind enemy lines to disable missile threats, breaking supply lines or taking out nuclear fuel development sites would be taken on by special operations forces across the services.  That would include targeting, securing high risk areas such as nuclear sites, establishing forward airfields inside Iran conducting deep reconnaissance on the ground. It would look similar to work they did did during the Persian Gulf War where teams hunted down SCUD launchers being moved around Iraq to strike at Israel, hoping to pull them into the war and ignite a regional conflict.

 

Air

 

Any air campaign against Iran would be vastly different from past U.S. Air Force operations, mostly because Iran’s air defenses are more modern than past foes.

To defeat their air defense and early warning systems, the United States would have to physically destroy them or disrupt them through electronic warfare. To get close to advanced air defenses, aircraft must decrease their radar signature as much as possible.

Bombing Iran would therefore require stealth aircraft to circumvent its Russian-made S-300 missile systems air defense systems, and domestically produced Bavar 373 surface-to-air missiles.  The weapons system is more challenging, which would require the F-22 and F-35s due to their stealth capabilities, he said.

Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team pilot, performs over Miami Beach, Fla., May 25, 2019. (Staff Sgt. Jensen Stidham/Air Force)

Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team pilot, performs over Miami Beach, Fla., May 25, 2019. (Staff Sgt. Jensen Stidham/Air Force)

But, Iran’s more lethal air defenses would not necessarily curtail a U.S. air campaign.

The air defenses “could be dealt with,” he added, the strikes would be “rapid, violent, and decisive,” lasting for “a period of days and weeks, not months and years.”  Strategic surprise is difficult to achieve these days, Deptula said, meaning the movement of necessary aircraft into theater would be well-known. But operational and tactical surprise remain.

 

The U.S. Air Force would likely be launching a strike campaign more similar to Desert Storm, than its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.  “During Desert Storm, we averaged over 1,200 strike sorties a day,” Deptula said. Even the Iraq War in 2003 involved about 800 strike sorties per day. That’s compared to between 10 and 50 strike sorties per day during the anti-ISIS campaign, depending on the battles being looked at.

“This is not a single strike. This is a campaign,” Deptula said.

 

Missiles

 

Iran has the region’s largest and most diverse arsenal of ballistic missiles, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies Missile Defense Project. The country also possesses increasingly sophisticated cruise missiles, an array of shorter-ranged anti-ship missiles and challenging air defense systems. Those missile have ranges that run from 300 kilometers up to 2,500 kilometers, giving them the ability to reach targets as far away as Italy, according to a CSIS Missile Threat report.

 

Just as important as pure hardware is Iran’s creativity in operational concepts.

“For instance, using UAVs to target Patriot radar,” said Tom Karako, the director of the CSIS Missile Defense Project. “Now think that through. Using a UAV to target the radar for something that is designed to defend against a missile.”  The Iranians have put a lot of time and energy into missile systems as opposed to other items such as advanced attack aircraft.

While Iran already has a ballistic missile range in excess of 2,000 kilometers, it may soon have a cruise missile to layer on top of that bubble.

 

“They reportedly tested a Soumar cruise missile with a reported range of 2,000 kilometers,” Karako said. “If you have a cruise missile, you can go around ballistic missile defenses and attack them from behind.”  That would allow Iran to potentially strike Israel, anywhere in the Gulf, any base in Afghanistan and parts of Egypt.

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the Arab Spring in 2011, Iran began exporting its missile capabilities to various groups, marrying its older export of Islamic revolution to militant groups, with its strategy of missile defense.

 

“These things basically solidify the proxy strategy for Iran,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at FDD focused on Iranian security and political issues.  In the Persian Gulf, coastal defense missiles help prop up an anti-access, area denial bubble. While not as sophisticated as Russia or China, they may achieve their localized aim of making adversaries think twice about any kind of action against the Iranian homeland, he said.

Anti-ship ballistic or anti-ship cruise missile pose a significant threat to U.S. warships and civilian commercial ships in the Persian Gulf, Taleblu said. In 2016, for instance, the U.S. destroyer Mason was the target of an unsuccessful cruise missile attack off Yemen’s coast.

 

While any strike or combat action could be the result of reacting on the part of either the United States or Iran, the outcome is far from set.  Though the current administration has recently backed off from openly supporting regime change in Iran, it’s not clear that military action could even accomplish such a goal.

 

As Aftandilian said in his recent paper, while some believe that strikes on Iran would lead to upheaval to cause that regime change, “they are likely to be disappointed.”

“Under that scenario, Iranians of most political persuasions would likely rally around the flag and support the regime against ‘the aggressor’ as they would term it,” he wrote.

 

‘1984’ at Seventy: Why Read Orwell’s Book of Prophecy – By Louis Menand (The Atlantic) 8 June 2019

George Orwell’s1984,” published seventy years ago today, has had an amazing run as a work of political prophecy. It has outlasted in public awareness other contenders from its era, such as Aldous Huxley’sBrave New World(1932), Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” (1953), and Anthony Burgess’sA Clockwork Orange(1962), not to mention two once well-known books to which it is indebted, Yevgeny Zamyatin’sWe” (1921) and Arthur Koestler’s “Darkness at Noon” (1940). “1984” is obviously a Cold War book, but the Cold War ended thirty years ago. What accounts for its staying power?

Partly it’s owing to the fact that, unlike “Darkness at Noon,” Orwell’s book was not intended as a book about life under Communism. It was intended as a warning about tendencies within liberal democracies, and that is how it has been read. The postwar Sovietization of Eastern Europe produced societies right out of Orwell’s pages, but American readers responded to “1984” as a book about loyalty oaths and McCarthyism. In the nineteen-seventies, it was used to comment on Nixon and Watergate. There was a bounce in readership in 1983-84—four million copies were sold that year—because, well, it was 1984. And in 2016 it got a bump from Trump.

The fundamental premise of the novel was its most quickly outmoded feature—outmoded almost from the start. This is the idea that the world would divide into three totalitarian superstates that were rigidly hierarchical, in complete control of information and expression, and engaged in perpetual and unwinnable wars for world domination. This was a future that many people had contemplated in the nineteen-thirties, the time of the Great Depression and the rise of Stalinism and Fascism. Capitalism and liberal democracy seemed moribund; centralized economies and authoritarian regimes looked like the only way modern mass societies could be governed. This was the argument of a book that is now almost forgotten, but which Orwell was fascinated and repelled by, James Burnham’sThe Managerial Revolution (1941).

It’s true that, after 1949, the world did divide into superstates—not three, but two—and their forty-year rivalry did a lot of damage around the world. But they were not twin totalitarian monsters, the Fasolt and Fafner of twentieth-century geopolitics. They may often have mirrored each other in tactics, but they were different systems defending different ideologies. Orwell, who had little interest in and no fondness for the United States, missed that.

There are some parts of the novel whose relevance seems never to fade, though. One is the portrayal of the surveillance state—Big Brother (borrowed from Koestler’s No. 1) and the telescreen, an astonishingly prescient conception that Orwell dreamed up when he had probably never seen a television. Another is Newspeak, a favorite topic of Orwell’s: the abuse of language for political purposes.

But “1984” is a novel, not a work of political theory, and, in the end, it’s probably as literature that people keep reading it. The overt political material—such as “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism,” the (very long) book that the commissar O’Brien gives to Winston and Julia as he lures them into the trap—is likely now skipped by many readers. (The book’s analogue is “The Revolution Betrayed,” Leon Trotsky’s attack on Stalinism, published in 1937, but it is also a parody of “The Managerial Revolution.”)

O’Brien’s interrogation of Winston, though meant to be the climax of the book, and though people still invoke it, is not completely satisfactory. How does O’Brien convince Winston that two plus two equals five? By torturing him. This seems a rather primitive form of brainwashing. In “Darkness at Noon,” which also ends with an interrogation, the victim, Rubashov, though he is worn down physically first, is defeated intellectually. (Both novelists were attempting to understand how, in the Moscow Trials, Stalin’s purge of the Old Bolsheviks, between 1936 and 1938, the defendants, apparently of their own free will, admitted to the most absurd charges against them, knowing that they would be promptly shot. After Stalin’s death, it turned out that those defendants had, in fact, been tortured. So Orwell was right about that.)

But who can forget this moment: “ ‘You are the dead,’ said an iron voice behind them”? Orwell created a story that had suspense and had characters whom readers identify with.

When the book came out, some people assumed that the character they were meant to identify with (with horror) was O’Brien. That’s probably what Orwell had in mind, too. O’Brien was the type he wanted to warn people against: the intellectual who becomes sadistically fascinated by power. The O’Brien figure corresponded to a popular understanding of the lure of totalitarianism at the time: that it tapped into some dark corner of the human psyche. “There is a Hitler, a Stalin in every breast,” as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., put it in his liberal manifesto, “The Vital Center,” which was published the same year as “1984.”

Much later, Schlesinger changed his mind and rejected what he called Orwell’s “mystical theory of totalitarianism.” For we are not all O’Briens, waiting for the chance to torture the Winstons of the world. We are more likely all Winstons, knowing that something is wrong, that we are losing control of our lives, but also knowing that we are powerless to resist.

A trivial example is when we click “I Agree” on the banner explaining our app’s new privacy policy. We did not know what the old privacy policy was; we feel fairly certain that, if we read the new one, we would not understand what has changed or what we are giving away. We suspect everyone else just clicks the box. So we click the box and dream of a world in which there are no boxes to click. A non-trivial example is when your electoral process is corrupted by a foreign power and your government talks about charging the people who tried to investigate this interference with treason. That’s Orwellian. And it’s no longer a prophecy. It’s a headline.

Archive

1984 – Orwell – Old Time Radio Style Dramatization with David Niven – (50:43 min)

A World War Is Coming – Next Democratic Party President Will Start A War With Russia or China – by Frederic Pieraccini (Strategic Culture Foundation) 11 June 2019

 

Those who are familiar with my articles would be aware that I am not given to catastrophism or alarmism. But perhaps the time has come to reflect on who will be president after Trump (whether after this or the next term) and what this will mean for relations with Russia and China.

What will the United States’ relations with Russia and China be like when the 46th president of the United States takes office in 2025? This is a question that I often ask myself, especially in light of Trump’s political choices regarding international arms-control treaties (INF Treaty), nuclear proliferation, economic war with China, a financial crisis that is artificially postponed thanks to QE, out-of-control military spending, an increasingly aggressive NATO stance towards the Russian Federation, and continuous provocations against the People’s Republic of China. Where will we end up with after another five years of provocations? For how much longer will Putin and Xi Jinping maintain the “strategic patience” not to respond to Washington with drastic measures?

<figcaption>A US Navy destroyer passes Istanbul on its way into the Black Sea</figcaption>
A US Navy destroyer passes Istanbul on its way into the Black Sea

Let us imagine we are in 2025

The four current global hot spots – Iran, Syria, Venezuela and DPRK – have maintained their resistance to Washington’s diktats and have emerged more or less victorious. Syrian territory in its entirety is now under the control of Damascus; Iran has established enough deterrents not to be attacked; Pyongyang continues in its negotiations with Washington as the reunification of the two Koreas continues along; the Bolivarian revolution still lives on in Venezuela.

Putin is preparing to leave the Russian Federation as president after 25 years. Xi Jinping could see his mandate expire in a few more years. Washington is about to appoint a new president, who in all probability will be the opposite of Trump, in the same way Obama was the opposite of Bush and Trump a reaction to Obama.

So let us imagine someone emerging in the Democratic Party completely committed to advancing the view of the US deep state and the military-industrial complex – someone like Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright or any of the 2019 Democratic candidates for the 2020 elections (the ones with anything to commend them do not count). Such a person would be committed to reinvigorating the idea of American exceptionalism following eight years of a Trump presidency that has mostly focused (the neocons notwithstanding) on domestic issues and the policy of “America First”.

Now let us think about what has been, and will be, dismantled internationally by Trump during his presidency, namely: the suspension of the INF Treaty and an indication not to extend the New START treaty (on nuclear-arms reduction), deployment of troops on the Russian border in Europe, sanctions, tariffs and economic terrorism of all kinds.

Ask yourself how likely it is that the next US president will want and be able to improve relations with Russia and China as well as accept a multipolar world order? The answer to that is zero, with the Trump presidency only serving to remind us how every administration remains under the control of the military, industrial, spy and media apparatus, expressed in liberal and neocon ideologies.

Trump has increased military spending considerably, singing the praises of the military-industrial complex and promising to modernize the country’s nuclear arsenal. Such a modernization would take two decades to be completed, a detail always omitted by the media. For Trump it is a case of “America First”. For the deep state the project is long term and ought to be far more alarming for the global community.

Russia, China and the US all appear committed to further militarization, with Russia and China strongly focussing on defending their strategic interests in the face of US aggression. Beijing will focus on building a large number of aircraft carriers to defend her maritime borders, while Moscow seeks to seal her skies against missiles and stealthy aircraft (a land campaign against Russia, as history teaches us, has little chance of success).

Experts predict that any great-power conflict in the near future may consist exclusively of conventional and/or nuclear missiles, combined with robotic technology, drones, artificial intelligence, cyber warfareA2/ADhypersonic weapons and sabotage. In addition to nuclear weapons, the platforms from which they are launched, missiles and interceptors, a country’s computational power will be decisive, with quantum computers already a reality in China.

The US, China and Russia will no longer have any restrictions on the production of nuclear weapons after (absent any new negotiations or agreements to extend it) the New START treaty expires in 2025. The situation regarding cyberspace and near-earth space is certainly alarming, with no explicit treaties between the great powers being in place. The few agreements in force are routinely violated, especially with regard to near-earth vehicles, as Subrata Ghoshroy informs us when discussing the US X-37B military vehicle:Backdoor weaponization of space?‘:

“Discussions about how to prevent an arms race in space started long ago; the UN Conference on Disarmament even started negotiations on a treaty, but the United States prevented it from going any further. And at the 2008 Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, China and Russia introduced an actual space arms control treaty, popularly known as the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space treaty (PAROS Treaty, 2012)”

X37 B

Adding to this alarming situation is the growing US commitment to the doctrine of a preventive nuclear first strike. One wonders how much longer the world will be able to prevent itself from being bombed back to the Stone Age.

wrote an article in 2016 dismissing the possibility of a nuclear war as absurd and impossible. But while a lot has changed in the meantime, my opinion has not. Nevertheless, I struggle to understand how such an eventuality can be avoided when the US remains on a collision course with China and Russia.

Trump appears unwilling to go down in history as the president responsible for kicking off nuclear Armageddon. But what about the next president? The deep state in control of US politics would surely be able to place into office someone who would advance the final justification for a headlong confrontation with Moscow and Beijing.

If you think I am exaggerating, take Pompeo, a representative of the deep state, and his recent answer to the question of whether Trump was sent by God to save Israel from Iran. “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible”, he responded. If the US elects someone influenced by the messianic vision of American exceptionalism, a vision that refuses to accept the realpolitik of multiple geopolitical poles and great-power competition, then hang on to your hats, for the chances of a nuclear winter will increase dramatically. Just remember that the alternative to Trump was Hillary Clinton, who was calling for a no-fly zone in Syria – that is, for the possibility of the US shooting down Russian fighter jets!

What would be needed if faced with such a presidency is a healthy, grass-roots internal opposition throughout Europe and the US. As things stand now, there is no longer an anti-war movement, the public disoriented by the mainstream media feeding them a constant stream of lies, misinformation and propaganda. Assange is unjustly imprisoned and Yemeni civilians are continuously bombed, and yet the media tells us that Julian works for the Kremlin, that Moscow wants to destabilize and destroy Europe, that China intends to subjugate the whole world, that Kim Jong-un is seeking the nuclearization of half of Asia, that Assad has massacred hundreds of thousands of civilians, that Saudi Arabia is a country undergoing full reform, and that al-Qaeda is fighting for freedom in Syria!

In such a current situation, truth is malleable, able to be fashioned and shaped according to the needs and requirements of the military-industrial complex, which needs justifications for its endless wars. The situation can only get worse over the next six years, with citizens less and less able to understand the world around them. The further advances in technology will only help governments and corporations to control information and decide what is right and wrong in a process of mass lobotomization. The Internet will hardly continue to be free, and even if it were to continue in its current state, the ability to offer counter-narratives will be limited by a lack of advertising revenue to expand businesses and reach more people for independent media platforms.

To avoid the possibility of nuclear annihilation we have to rely on the cool heads and leadership qualities of those who will succeed Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping (it is unclear when Xi Jinping will leave office).

Only those who assiduously keep themselves informed are able to appreciate the forbearance that the Sino-Russian leadership has and will continue to have in the face of continuing US provocations.

But what will happen when these two even-tempered leaders are no longer in power while the means to inflict a devastating blow to the US remain available to their successors? Will the same forbearance remain in the face of ongoing US provocations?

Moscow will be deploying all sorts of hypersonic weapons that the US cannot intercept, together with a hundred state-of-the-art Su-57 fighters. China will have about six to seven aircraft carriers, escorted by numerous destroyers, each with 112 vertical launch system (VLS) cellshypersonic missiles, anti-satellite and electromagnetic weapons.

The S-500 systems will be scattered throughout Russia (and presumably also in China and Belarus), armed with hypersonic interceptors. In addition to this conventional deterrence, the current Chinese and Russian nuclear arsenal is already capable of wiping out the US in the space of a few minutes.

Washington will continue to raise the temperature vis-a-vis China and Russia, even after Putin and Xi have left the office. It is therefore likely that their successors will come from their country’s most hawkish and intransigent wings.

In 2025 Putin and Xi will hopefully have succeeded in avoiding a conflict with the US through the skillful employment of diplomatic, economic and often military means, playing a moderating role that stands in contrast to that played by the West, which, not understanding this approach, brands it as extremist.

Imagine that the tensions between these three countries continues to steadily increase over the next five years at the same rate as it has over the last 10 years. How will the respective deep states of Russia and China react? Imagine in these two countries the appointment of two intransigent personalities ready to respond to US provocations.

Washington continues its inexorable decline relative to other powers as a result of the new multipolar reality, which evens out the distribution of geopolitical weight over a wider area of the global chessboard. We must hope, for the sake of humanity, that Washington’s decline will accelerate to such an extent under the Trump presidency that the US will be forced to focus instead on its own internal problems. Reaching such a point would require the collapse of the global economy that is based on the US dollar; but this is another story altogether that could also end in bloodshed.

Trump is appreciated by a part of the deep state for his efforts to reinvigorate Washington’s military-industrial complex by practically offering it a blank check. This is without considering Trump’s economic-financial assault on allies and enemies alike, which seems to be an attempt to squeeze the last drops out of any remaining advantage to the dollar-based system before it collapses.

The long-term plan of the US elites sometimes seems to be to provoke a great-power conflict in order to gain victory and then construct a new global financial order atop the rubble.

 

Putin, Xi to Cut US Dollar Out of Eurasian Trade – US Elites Panic – by Pepe Escobar (Consortium News) 12 June 2019

After a stroll, they took a boat on the Neva River, visited the legendary Aurora cruiser, and dropped in to examine the Renaissance masterpieces at the Hermitage. Cool, calm, collected, all the while it felt like they were mapping the ins and outs of a new, emerging, multipolar world.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was the guest of honor of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was Xi’s eighth trip to Russia since 2013, when he announced the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

First they met in Moscow, signing multiple deals. The most important is a bombshell: a commitment to develop bilateral trade and cross-border payments using the ruble and the yuan, bypassing the U.S. dollar.

Then Xi visited the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia’s premier business gathering, absolutely essential for anyone to understand the hyper-complex mechanisms inherent in the construction of Eurasian integration. I addressed some of SPIEF’s foremost discussions and round tables here.

In Moscow, Putin and Xi signed two joint statements – whose key concepts, crucially, are “comprehensive partnership”, “strategic interaction” and “global strategic stability.”

Xi and Putin cruising into a multipolar world: Aurora Cruiser Museum (Wikipedia)

In his St. Petersburg speech, Xi outlined the “comprehensive strategic partnership”. He stressed that China and Russia were both committed to green, low carbon sustainable development. He linked the expansion of BRI as “consistent with the UN agenda of sustainable development” and praised the interconnection of BRI projects with the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). He emphasized how all that was consistent with Putin’s idea of a Great Eurasian Partnership. He praised the “synergetic effect” of BRI linked to South-South cooperation.

And crucially, Xi stressed that China “won’t seek development to the expense of environment”; China “will implement the Paris climate agreement”; and China is “ready to share 5G technology with all partners” on the way towards a pivotal change in the model of economic growth.

So what about Cold War 2.0?

It was obvious this was slowly brewing for the past five to six years. Now the deal is in the open. The Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership is thriving; not as an allied treaty, but as a consistent road map towards Eurasia integration and the consolidation of the multipolar world.

Unipolarism – via its demonization matrix – had first accelerated Russia’s pivot to Asia. Now, the U.S.-driven trade war has facilitated the consolidation of Russia as China’s top strategic partner.

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs better get ready to dismiss virtually everyday statements coming, for instance, from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, when he alleges that Moscow aims to use non-strategic nuclear weapons in the European theater. It’s part of a non-stop process – now in high gear – of manufacturing hysteria by frightening NATO allies with the Russian “threat.”

Moscow better get ready to dodge and counteract reams of reports such as the latest from the RAND corporation, which outlines – what else? – Cold War 2.0 against Russia.

In 2014, Russia did not react to sanctions imposed by Washington. Then, it would have sufficed to merely brandish the threat of default on $700 billion in external debt. That would have killed the sanctions.

Now, there’s ample debate inside Russian intelligence circles on what to do in case Moscow faces the prospect of being cut off the CHIPS-SWIFT financial clearing system. 

A 1936 map of Eurasia. (Flickr)

With few illusions about what may pass at the G20 in Osaka later this month, in terms of a breakthrough in U.S.-Russia relations, intel sources told me Rosneft’s CEO Igor Sechin is prepared to send a more “realistic” message— if push eventually comes to shove.

His message to the EU, in this case, would be to cut them off, and link with China for good. That way, Russian oil would be completely redirected from the EU to China, making the EU completely dependent on the Strait of Hormuz.

Beijing for its part seems to have finally absorbed that the current Trump administration offensive is not a mere trade war, but a full fledged attack on its economic miracle, including a concerted drive to cut China off from large swathes of the world economy.

The war on Huawei – the Rosebud of China’s 5G supremacy – has been identified as an attack on the dragon’s head. The attack on Huawei means an attack not only on tech, mega-hub Shenzhen, but the whole Pearl River Delta: a $3 trillion yuan ecosystem, which supplies the nuts and bolts of the Chinese supply chain for high-tech manufacturers.

Enter the Golden Ring

Neither China’s technological rise, nor Russia’s unmatched hypersonic know-how have caused America’s structural malaise. If there are answers they should come from the Exceptionalist elites.

The problem for the U.S. is the emergence of a formidable peer competitor in Eurasia – and worse still, a strategic partnership. It has thrown these elites into Supreme Paranoia mode, which is holding the whole world hostage.

By contrast, the concept of the Golden Ring of Multipolar Great Powers has been floated, by which Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and China might provide a “stability belt” along the South Asia Rimland.

I have discussed variations of this idea with Russian, Iranian, Pakistani and Turkish analysts – but it sounds like wishful thinking. Admittedly all these nations would welcome establishing the Golden Ring; but no one knows which way Modi’s India would lean – intoxicated as it is with dreams of Big Power status as the crux of America’s “Indo-Pacific” concoction.

It might be more realistic to assume that if Washington does not go to war with Iran – because Pentagon gaming has established this would be a nightmare – all options are on the table ranging from the South China Sea to the larger Indo-Pacific.

The Deep State will not flinch to unleash concentric havoc on the periphery of both Russia and China and then try to advance to destabilize the heartland from the inside. The Russia-China strategic partnership has generated a sore wound: it hurts – so bad – to be a Eurasia outsider.


Source: Consortium News

Picturing Perspective

p 2

I have a quick method of doing perspective, but I don’t have the scanner to put the drawing here right now.  It is on the table in the parlor at this very moment.  Perhaps a drawing from 1979.

p 11

I collected a few drawings to illustrate perspective.

p 9p 5

p 0

p 00p 8p 20

Isometric Drawings – Making Sense of the Physical World – Length, Depth, Width – X Axis Y Axis Z Axis

Isometric Front Side Back

I first learned of isometric drawing when I was in technical high school learning technical drawing.  We did a few isometric drawings, as I recall.  I loved the simplicity and how I could just flip around my thirty degree/ sixty degree triangle with the t-square tight against the tool and simply measure the distance with a scale.  How much easier than perspective drawings.  Honestly, at that point all I could do of perspective was artistic imitations and approximations. 

With isometric I could be as accurate as Frank Loyd Wright.  Everyone’s drawing should follow the same rule.  A square is a square.  An isometric cube should be the same for everyone.  What a system.  Isometric Basis

Of course, in reality when one looks down a railroad track or at telephone poles along a highway stretching towards the horizon – things should get smaller and closer together.  That’s the visual reality.  Of course the railroad tracks follow the isometric rule and stay the same width apart, that’s why the trains work.  So, being confined to an isometric understanding of the world gives one a mechanical advantage even if it is visually false. 

Isometric blocks

When I was in my late twenties I got a chance to teach technical drawing at the same high school I had been a student at.  I had taken technical drawing for four years in high school.  I enjoyed the drawing time four classes a week.  But, I had not taken any classes after that, so I was not prepared when I got a substitute teacher position teaching technical drawing.  The teachers in the technical drawing department told me that it was set up to be all freshman classes as someone retired in the middle of the year. 

“Just stay a chapter ahead of the kids,” I was admonished.  So, I did.

I began taking technical drawing classes at night at Boston State College on Mass Ave near the Museum of Fine Art.  I took other classes to get an additional certification as an Industrial Arts teacher.  There was a shortage of technical drawing teachers, and I loved teaching the high interest subject to the students. 

 

One of the things I bumped into quickly was the chapter on isometric drawings.  I was taking over for someone who retired in the after the year had begun.  A lot of the basic board drawing routines and paper layout exercises with pencil and t-square had been taught. 

Isometric drafting board

We came to the chapter on isometric drawings.  I had a drawing board set up in my living room and would draw in the evening while my girlfriend watched television or listened to music near by.  I loved the beauty of isometric drawing.  I had done a few in high school years earlier, but, now I had a book with twenty exercises in front of me.  I loved the way some books presented a puzzle of an orthographic projection of two sides of an object and the challenge was to then produce the object in isometric three dimension graphic representation.  Like a visual Sherlock Holmes mystery. 

 

So, when I was a teacher of technical drawing I extended the number of isometric drawings the students did.  Some students began to race through the drawings and delighted in solving the ‘puzzle’ of what the thing looked like.  I had some students rushing into the drawing room as soon as the bell rang and getting their tools and draw out of the big old wood cabinet open at the back of the room.  We had two heavy wooden drawing desks that looked decades old and made to last.  They were high, and the students sat two by two on high stools to lean forward at the angled drawing surface with their drafting boards.  T-squares and triangles provided the support for the lead pencil lines on manila paper. 

Isometric Icons

I started to increase the number of drawings the students did and added a lot of isometric drawings as the first approach to a more complicated drawing.  I had a handful of students who had 180 drawings in their personal folder at the end of the school year that was 180 days.  We did not have class everyday.  

 

I met two of these students a few years later and they were both in architectural college programs.  One I met in a movie theater as he was working as an usher; the other I met in the Chinese restaurant he worked at on week-ends as he was a student.  I got an extra container of chicken tenders in that order that I did not pay for, thank you!

 

I did have students draw things that were more ‘artistic’ than actually technical drawings.  My drafting department head looked at some of the simplified isometric building drawings I assigned and remarked, “Interesting geometrical shapes.”  

He was right.  I did create some drawings for my students that were realistic as buildings.  But the drawings got them to draw quickly, and they could see where the lines where going visually to see if they were correct. 

I was going for a high rate of response.  I wanted the students to learn to technical drawing by doing a lot of technical drawings, even if a lot of the drawings were actually simple. 

In the Latin admonition: Repetitio mater studorium est –  repetitio studorium est mater – Repetition is the mother of learning. 

A person who does lots and lots of isometric drawings starts to have a familiarity with the world…. Everything graphically is composed of these five shapes.  Learn to draw them and one can draw anything. 

Isometric - Five Shapes

After one masters isometric one can easily move on to perspective, one can draw a kind of approximate perspective drawing by picturing an isometric rendering and just squeezing the sides as the object moves away. 

Such beauty and simplicity.  The physical world understood in two types of drawing – orthographic and isometric.  Who needs more?  Not me!

Isometric from orthographic

Today I have been looking through pictures online that are isometric.  I put many of the pictures I found on the Reddit subreddit I created called r/HowToDraw101.  Just the fun of uploading the drawings gives me pleasure.  I look at the drawings in a different way, almost, since I am sharing them.  Even if no one else actually sees the drawings. 

So I used almost all the drawings I found in this post, and I made a slideshow movie. 

 

I put the video on Youtube and just chose a random music from Youtube to fit the length of the video – I can’t hear the sound on the computer I do the video editing and uploading on.  The Youtube video sounds ominous and strangely meaningful.

Subliminal Language Learning Sardinian on Spotify – Does It Really Work? No!

Sardinian

(Poster: I was curious about Sardinian after reading that it is the closest to Ancient Roman Latin – When I looked up the language on Spotify the only lessons they had where ‘Subliminal Learning.’  I listened, but I don’t believe these programs work at all.  How could they?)

Subliminal Language Learning: Does It Really Work?

Pop on a pair of headphones before bed and learn Italian in your dreams. Play Vietnamese radio while you cook and absorb vocabulary while chopping onions. Turn on an Arabic TV show without subtitles and let the colloquialisms wash over you. In no time, you’re guaranteed to be fluent.

Right?

Endless websites, podcasts and even YouTube playlists promise that you can learn a language subconsciously just by passively exposing yourself to it, without any effort. Sit back, relax and let your subconscious do the trick. It sounds almost too good to be true. So…is it?

What is subliminal language learning?

The concept of picking up a language without trying is called subliminal language learning; even if you’re not paying attention to anything being spoken, your brain will automatically remember commonly repeated words and form connections between those words and their definitions in your native tongue. At least, that’s the idea.

In theory, this should work. After all, babies pick up their mother tongue this way. They don’t cram flashcards or glue themselves to the latest language-learning app. They silently absorb the world around them. Sure, adults’ brains are a little less malleable, but they should still be able to pick up common phrases through sheer exposure.

Can you learn in your sleep?

The most famous example of subliminal language learning is hypnopaedic learning—that is, learning while sleeping. A quick search for products promising to make listeners bilingual turns up dozens of get-fluent-quick products in everything from Spanish to Tamil.

There is a precedent for achieving fluency while unconscious, as dozens of people have emerged from comas completely fluent in another language. In 2010, a thirteen-year-old Croatian girl awoke speaking German like a native. In 2014, a twenty-two-year-old Australian man woke up with a perfect command of Mandarin. While comatose, they weren’t doing vocabulary drills and diagramming grammar, so some sort of hypnopaedic learning must have occurred. However, those are extreme cases. Can sleep-learning take place over the course of a single night?

The Swiss National Science Foundation is convinced that it can.

In 2014, Swiss psychologists at the University of Fribourg tested this with sixty German-speaking students. At 10 p.m., all of the students were taught a list of Dutch words that they had never seen before. Afterward, half of the students were directed to go to sleep while a recording of the new vocabulary played, and the other half listened to the same recording again while awake. At 2 a.m., the psychologists woke everyone up and tested both groups. Those who absorbed the new vocabulary while sleeping did significantly better at recalling the words than those who attempted to learn solely while awake. This, according to the psychologists, proves that hypnopaedic learning is not just viable—it’s more effective than conscious learning!

Or not.

Sleep-learning has severe limitations.

“People can’t learn any new verbal information while they’re asleep,” says Anat Arzi, a neuroscientist and sleep-learning specialist at the Weizmann Institute of Science. “It’s too complex for the brain.”

Opponents of subliminal language learning qualify or even outright reject the results of the study, citing numerous alternative explanations for the psychologists’ findings. For example, all of the German students had heard the vocabulary words at least once before, so while sleeping, the participants weren’t truly taking in any new information. If anything, their brains were just mapping connections among the words that they learned while awake.

Furthermore, it’s possible that they didn’t learn while they were asleep—they learned because they were asleep. Students allowed to rest will almost always perform better than exhausted students who have been forced to listen to the same monotonous vocabulary recording drone on and on until 2 a.m. According to skeptics, that’s not groundbreaking science as much as it is common sense.

Wanting to test hypnopaedic learning for themselves, linguists at the language website MosaLingua ran their own study in 2016. They chose one hundred thirty-six participants as young as eighteen and as old as over sixty.

First, the participants took control tests: memorization tests on sets of foreign vocabulary words they’d studied before and on sets they hadn’t. Then, over two weeks, they listened to recordings of words and phrases during the early stages of sleep, when the brain supposedly has its highest sensitivity to external stimulation. Every day, participants alternated between hearing words they had already attempted to memorize and hearing words that were brand new, and they completed tests when they woke up.

MosaLingua compared each participants’ daily results with the results of their control tests. After listening to recordings of words they’d never seen before, seventy-two percent of participants experienced absolutely no change to their test scores. They retained none of the new vocabulary from the recording. MosaLingua’s conclusion? Hypnopaedic learning is not nearly as effective as its supporters claim it is, and learning new words while sleeping is nearly impossible.

Keyword: new. Learning new words while sleeping is nearly impossible.

Sleep-learning is a great tool to solidify familiar vocabulary.

After listening to recordings of words they’d previously seen, nearly seventy percent of MosaLingua participants improved their test scores. Fifty percent of those who improved their scores did so by over forty percent. These results complement the findings of the Swiss study, where participants learned the vocabulary prior to hearing the recordings at night.

Remember the American man who woke up fluent in Mandarin and the Croatian girl with a German silver tongue? Prior to becoming comatose, the man studied Mandarin in high school and the girl took a German course. They were by no means fluent before their comas, but they had previously been exposed to the vocabulary that now came so easily to them; the prolonged sleep just solidified what they’d already learned. Clearly, sleep is the key to strengthening the recall of familiar vocabulary.

Are other subliminal language learning strategies effective?

Although it’s the most talked about, sleep isn’t the only method of subliminal language learning; some people swear by the power of playing a language in the background while you go about your daily life. Long commute? Turn on a Turkish podcast. Lazy Sunday in bed? Cozy up to a Spanish telenovela. Doing chores? A little Swedish pop music should do the trick. By just hearing your target language, even if you’re not paying much attention, you’re bound to pick up something, right?

This is true—to a point. Hearing your target language may help you become more comfortable with the way it sounds, so that the first time you find yourself surrounded by native speakers, you won’t feel (as) overwhelmed. And when you finally attempt to speak it yourself, you might subconsciously imitate those shows or radio hosts, allowing you to achieve a slightly more natural-sounding accent.

However, this method can only go so far. That is, not far at all.

If you’re not learning actively, you’re not learning much.

Simply put, passively listening to a language won’t help you parse what’s being said. Until you sit down and actively listen to the words—preferably with a dictionary handy—you can’t comprehend the meaning, so you might as well be listening to gibberish. Yes, you’ll become familiar with the way the language sounds, but you won’t truly grasp how to employ the words you keep hearing.

On its own, passive listening won’t magically perfect your pronunciation either. Sure, you may be able to subconsciously imitate a certain cadence, as I mentioned above, but if you want to truly speak like a native, you have to do more than just listen. You have to learn, repeat and practice what you hear.

Passive listening also has the downside of making you feel like you’ve productively studied your target language…even if you haven’t. After listening to a Cantonese podcast for an hour, you might feel accomplished and even a little tired, believing that you must have improved because of the sheer amount of time that you “invested,” even if you’ve actually learned nothing at all. In all honesty, you might have picked up more with five minutes of focused flashcard practice than with an hour of unfocused passive listening.

Subliminal language learning will never be as effective as active language learning.

Subliminal language learning alone cannot make someone completely fluent, whether they’re wide awake or fast asleep. And, let’s be honest: That’s disappointing. After all, who wouldn’t want to pick up a second language while eating breakfast or taking a nap?

Fortunately, even though you can’t rely solely on subliminal language learning, you can still take away important lessons from it.

1. Play vocabulary when you sleep.

Just be sure to study the vocabulary on your own first. Both MosaLingua and the Swiss study proved that if you listen to familiar vocabulary playing while you sleep, you’ll retain it better. So review the words once or twice before popping on the headphones.

2. Be strategic about when you learn.

In the Swiss study, participants who studied at 10 p.m., right before bed, did significantly better than participants who stayed up cramming into the wee hours of the morning. Find the time that’s best for you. Maybe you work efficiently at night, when you’re free of distractions. Maybe you prefer to learn new vocabulary as soon as you wake up, so that you can keep it at the tip of your tongue all day. Run your own experiments.

3. Listen actively, not passively.

What’s the difference? To be frank, passive listening is easy. Active listening is hard.

Passive listening doesn’t require any attention. Active listening requires full attention. Passive listening lets the words just wash over you. Active listening makes you wrestle with every syllable. Passive listening won’t get you far, but active listening will do wonders for your comprehension.

Instead of passively listening to something in the background for an hour, take ten to fifteen minutes to actively listen, tuning in closely to what’s being said.

As you do this, grab a highlighter and a dictionary. Research unfamiliar idioms. Keep a journal of new vocabulary, and use each word in an original sentence.

Repeat everything you hear, and record yourself to polish your pronunciation.

If you’re listening to a song, learn the lyrics and belt them alongside the lead singer.

If you’re watching a show, translate it as you go along, and then hop on an online forum to discuss it with other fans.

You have to make an effort, but it will pay off!

Keep going.

Sadly, subliminal language learning doesn’t really exist, at least not to the extent that people hope it does. However, even though it’s impossible to become completely fluent in your sleep, you can still use sleep, coupled with other learning strategies, to strengthen your vocabulary recall.

Active learning is hard, but don’t give up. Be intentional with when and how you study, and you will master your target language in no time.

US State Department Funds Online Accounts Critical of Anti-War Voices – by Derek Davison – 31 May 2019

Considerable evidence emerged late this week connecting the U.S. State Department to a Twitter account that has engaged in online attacks against human rights organizations, Iranian-American activists, journalists, and others advocating against the escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran. The revelation is raising questions about whether the Trump administration is using federal funds to propagandize in favor of a potential Iran war.

The story began to develop on Thursday, when Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch’s executive director for the Middle East and North Africa, flagged a tweet made last month by the “Iran Disinformation Project” (@IranDisinfo):

“This is a US State Department funded account,” Whitson tweeted. Journalist Negar Mortazavi followed up, tweeting, “so the State Department uses taxpayer money to fund online attacks on HRW because the organization is researching the human cost of US sanctions in Iran. Is this even legal?”

That the “Iran Disinformation Project” is State Department-funded is unquestionably true. The organization’s own “About Us” webpage reads as follows (emphasis added):

Iran Disinformation Project exposes and counters the nefarious influence of one of the world’s few remaining totalitarian regimes. Daily in Persian, Arabic and English languages, the initiative brings to light disinformation emanating from the Islamic Republic of Iran via official rhetoric, state propaganda outlets, social media manipulation and more.

We provide near real time counter narratives and truth telling through our social networks as well as longer, investigative reports. Iran Disinformation Project’s documentaries and other video productions, profiles of disinformation nodes and personalities, translations of scholarly works on disinformation and more provide to Iranian, Arab and international audiences an educative perspective on how Ayatollah Khamenei’s theocracy ensures regime survival not only through aggression but also through the soft power of its lies about itself, about Iran and about our world. The regime’s external terror, imperial wars and financial power are a focus, as are its internal repression, corruption and incompetence. Throughout our work, we amplify the voices and civic actions of courageous Iranians who reveal the regime for the evil it truly is.

Iran Disinformation Project was launched in late 2018 and is funded by the US Department of State’s Global Engagement Center.

The target of the project’s April tweet, HRW researcher Tara Sepehri Far, expressed some dismay that the Iran Disinformation Project’s attack on her was at least in part financed with taxpayer money:

Lobe log state dept

By late Friday, presumably embarrassed by the attention the Iran Disinformation Project was suddenly attracting, the State Department suspended its funding. NPR journalist Michele Keleman reported that the department is requiring “the implementer” to take “necessary steps to ensure that any future activity remains within the agreed scope of work.” But questions remain. What is that “agreed scope of work”? Who is “the implementer” behind the project? How long has the State Department been aware that the project was using public funds to attack, repeatedly, journalists and human rights activists for propagandistic purposes? And perhaps most importantly, did anyone in the Trump administration direct the project to conduct those attacks?

So far, the State Department has offered no clarification about its relationship with the Iran Disinformation Project or the type of work it had been funding the project to carry out. But evidence has surfaced suggesting it may be linked to one of the most prominent Iran hawk think tanks in Washington. As highlighted by LobeLog contributing editor Eli Clifton, one of the project’s main researchers appears to be Saeed Ghasseminejad, the “Senior Iran and Financial Economics Advisor” at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). His writings for the project are featured on FDD’s website. FDD’s role in shaping the debate on Iran in DC and in hyping concerns about Iran in the mainstream press is clear, as is its institutional preference for a U.S.-Iran military conflict. Its close ties to the Trump administration are similarly well-attested.

Additional evidence appears to show that the Iran Disinformation Project is being operated in connection with Tavaana, an organization established in 2010, using State Department seed money, to help build Iranian civil society primarily using distance learning technologies. Tavaana’s co-founder, Mariam Memarsadeghi, highlights an unspecified connection to the Iran Disinformation Project in her Twitter bio.

Without more information on the intended scope of the Iran Disinformation Project’s work, it is impossible to say whether its State Department funding was legally (or ethically) justifiable. But as former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Joel Rubin noted, “We American taxpayers don’t fund our government to attack our fellow citizens. If there was any direction given by State Dept officials to the grantee – which Americans to target, what message to use or even just a nod of approval – then we have a scandal.”

Is the Trump administration funneling public funds to organizations dedicated to regime change in Tehran? Are those organizations using those funds to impugn their ideological adversaries online? Has anybody in the Trump administration directed those organizations to undertake such attacks? Given that the funds in question are public, the State Department owes U.S. taxpayers a fuller explanation as to how their money is being spent.

Archive

The Lingerie Designer – Siobhan McKenna

I bumped into this woman’s work while looking up her name.  What a game she has written about. Women’s clothing industry. The Lingerie Designer gives readers an inside look at the clothing trade, as most people will never have seen it before. It addresses topical issues such as ethical trading, second chances, reinventing ourselves in the face of adversity and age difference relationships. Of course I haven’t read the book.  I was attracted by the author’s smile in the picture I stumbled upon.  The subject also intrigued me.

Something about defying the laws of physics to manipulate and drape the female body in a way to get a certain look to attract the gaze of another.

I love to draw and design, and I love to see women in lingerie. Here is one of the earliest designs

howard hu 2

                                           Marie Tucek’s “Breast Supporter”

 

Howard Hughes was a famous designer and manufacturer who also tried his hand at designing women’s support foundations.  He made a movie with his woman Jane Russel staring along with her breasts.  Hughes was unhappy with the way her breasts were showing on film.  He wanted more.  He designed a cantilever bra that was in effect the first underwire bra that would push up the breasts and allow more cleavage to be displayed at the top.  Jame Russel was the star and

To promote the movie, Hughes came up with saucy taglines like “What are the two great reasons for Jane Russell’s rise to stardom?”  As he aged Hughes obsession with women’s breasts became less of a fixation.

……………

But Siobhan does not seem to be having any problems as she makes designs on women’s bodies and stories.

Syria: Trump Wants Ceasefire as Russians, Syrians ‘Bomb the Hell out of’ US-Armed Islamists – by Finian Cunningham

05f28-syrian2bcivil2bwar2baug2b2018

Remember when Donald Trump was running for president back in 2016, and he bragged he would “bomb the hell out of” terrorists in Syria. Now, in a reversal, Trump is calling on Syrian and allied Russian forces to stop bombing Idlib, the last redoubt of terror groups in Syria.

Trump urged Syria, Russia and Iran to “stop bombing the hell out of Idlib” claiming that civilians were being indiscriminately killed in the offensive to retake the renegade northwest province.

It seems like a strange plea from the American president. Idlib is unquestionably a stronghold for internationally proscribed terror groups, mainly Jabhat al Nusra (rebranded as Hayat Tahrir al Sham). Syrian government forces backed by Russian air power say it is their sovereign right to rout the militants, who have reportedly broken ceasefire agreements to launch attacks on civilian areas in government-controlled areas, as well as on the Russian air base at Hmeimim.

Moscow rejected Trump’s characterization of indiscriminate killing of civilians, saying that its operations along with Syrian forces are being directed at defeating illegally armed militants.

Moreover, the offensive to retake Idlib comes as new evidence emerges of the massive – albeit covert – international military support given to the various terror groups during Syria’s nearly eight-year war. Syrian state media this week reported arsenals of weaponry recently recovered in Damascus countryside and further south in the Daraa area.

The arsenals included rows and rows of heavy machine-guns, sniper rifles and US-made TOW missiles. Much of the weaponry was also of Israeli-origin, according to reports.

A separate find showed tonnes of C-4 plastic explosive, which Syrian military intelligence said was “US-made”. Up to four tonnes (4,000 kgs) were recovered this time around. Half a kilo of this lethal material is enough to kill several people.

This is not, of course, the first time that such huge caches of US, Israeli and NATO-origin weaponry have been recovered from territory formerly held by terrorists in Syria. There have been numerous such finds, which also included industrial chemicals made in Germany and Saudi Arabia, capable of producing sarin and other highly toxic munitions. That implies military-grade logistics and technical knowhow.

Taken together, the unavoidable conclusion is that internationally proscribed terrorist groups have been systematically weaponized by the US, its NATO allies, Israel and the Arab regimes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The array of weaponry indicates international and state-level organization, not haphazard procurement from disparate private arms dealers.

A plausible configuration for how the weapons into Syria were delivered and paid for is the following: most likely through smuggling routes from Turkey, Jordan and Israel. The oil-rich Arab monarchs would have footed the bill. The American CIA and Britain’s MI6 managed the logistics and weapons handling. The circuitous supply chain was sufficiently obscure to avoid oversight by the US Congress and European parliaments. But the bottomline is that terrorist organizations were evidently weaponized by Washington and its allies for the objective of regime change in Damascus.

That is why President Trump and other Western leaders do not have any moral authority whatsoever when they make belated calls for a ceasefire in Idlib province.

Syria has faced an international criminal conspiracy to destroy its nation. Washington and other NATO states have been fully complicit in directing that conspiracy by arming terror groups to the teeth. Western corporate news media have served as propaganda cover for the entire criminal enterprise, lionizing the terrorists as “rebels”, and continually demonizing the Syrian army and its allies in their efforts to liberate the country from the foreign-sponsored scourge. Recall the disgraceful Western media distortion over the liberation of Aleppo by the Syrian army and Russia in 2016-2017, endeavoring to portray that defeat of besieging terror groups as a “massacre”. The Western media never followed up their hysterical charade with subsequent reports of how Aleppo citizens actually rejoiced in their liberation from Western-backed “rebels”.

The infernal problem of conflict and violence in Syria is the direct consequence of Western states embarking on a criminal scheme years before the war started in 2011 in order to overthrow the government of President Bashar al Assad.

Fascist? Trump Isn’t Mussolini or Hitler Yet – But He’s Not Far Off – by Patrick Cockburn (Independent) 8 June 2019

Is Donald Trump a fascist? The question is usually posed as an insult rather than as a serious inquiry. A common response is that “he is not as bad as Hitler”, but this rather dodges the issue. Hitler was one hideous exponent of fascism, which comes in different flavours but he was by no means the only one.

The answer is that fascist leaders and fascism in the 1920s and 1930s were similar in many respects to Trump and Trumpism. But they had additional toxic characteristics, born out of a different era and a historic experience different from the United States.

What are the most important features of fascism? They include ultra-nationalism and authoritarianism; the demonisation and persecution of minorities; a cult of the leader; a demagogic appeal to the “ignored” masses and against a “treacherous” establishment; contempt for parliamentary institutions; disregard for the law while standing on a law and order platform; control of the media and the crushing of criticism; slogans promising everything to everybody; a promotion of force as a means to an end leading to violence, militarism and war.

The list could go on to include less significant traits such as a liking for public displays of strength and popularity at rallies and parades; a liking also for gigantic building projects as the physical embodiment of power.

Hitler and Mussolini ticked all these boxes and Trump ticks most of them, though with some important exceptions. German and Italian fascism was characterised above all else by aggressive and ultimately disastrous wars. Trump, on the contrary, is a genuine “isolationist” who has not started a single war in the two-and-a-half years he has been in the White House.

It is not that Trump abjures force, but he prefers it to be commercial and economic rather than military, and he is deploying it against numerous countries from China to Mexico and Iran. As a strategy this is astute, avoiding the bear traps that American military intervention fell into in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is an approach which weakens the targeted state economically, but it does not produce decisive victories or unconditional surrenders.

It is a policy more dangerous than it looks: Trump may not want a war, but the same is not true of Mike Pompeo, his secretary of state, or his national security adviser John Bolton. And it is even less true of US allies like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who have been pushing Washington towards war with Iran long before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took control in Riyadh in 2015.

Trump’s aversion to military intervention jibes with these other influences, but it is erratic because it depends on the latest tweet from the White House. A weakness, not just of fascist leaders but of all dictatorial regimes, is their exaggerated dependence on the decisions of a single individual with God-like confidence in their own judgement. Nothing can be decided without their fiat and they must never be proved wrong or be seen to fail.

Trump has modes of operating rather than sustained policies that are consequently shallow and confused. One ambassador in Washington confides privately that he has successfully engaged with the most senior officials in the administration, but this was not doing him a lot of good because they had no idea of what was happening. The result of this Louis XIV approach to government is institutionalised muddle: Trump may not want a war in the Middle East but he could very easily blunder into one.

Of course, Trump is not alone in this: populist nationalist authoritarian leaders on the rise all over the world win and hold power in ways very similar to the fascists of the inter-war period. What is there in these two eras almost a century apart that would explain this common political trajectory?

Fears and hatreds born out of the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the Great Depression propelled the fascists towards power. When old allegiances and beliefs were shattered and discredited, people naturally looked to new creeds and saviours. “The more pathological the situation the less important is the intrinsic worth of the idol,” wrote the great British historian Lewis Namier in 1947. “His feet may be of clay and his face may be blank: it is the frenzy of the worshippers which imparts to him meaning and power.”

Is the same thing happening again? Fascism was the product of a cataclysmic period in the first half of the 20th century that is very different from today. The US failed to get its way in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but these were small-scale conflicts in no way comparable to the First World War. The recession that followed the 2008 crash was a blip compared to the Thirties.

Many of the better off reassure themselves with such thoughts. But they underestimate the destructiveness of de-industrialisation and technological change for great numbers across the globe. Inequality has vastly increased. Economies expand, but the benefits are skewed towards the wealthy. Metropolitan centres plugged into the global economy flourished, but not their periphery.

The distinction between winners and losers varies from country to country but governments everywhere underestimated the unhappiness caused by social and economic upheaval. Beneficiaries of the status quo invariably downplay the significance of fault lines that populists are swift to identify and exploit.

Philip Hammond, the British chancellor of the exchequer, contemptuously dismisses claims by the UN that great number of people in Britain were living in “dire poverty” and saying that, in so far as deprivation existed, the government was acting effectively to address the problem. The new wave of Trump-like leaders springing up all over the globe do not have to do very much to do better than this.

Such overconfidence on the part of the powers-that-be is becoming rarer. Democrats who had convinced themselves that Trumpism would be exposed and discredited as a conspiracy wished on America by the dark powers in the Kremlin have seen their fantasy evaporate.

But there is probably worse to come: experience shows that populist authoritarian nationalism – what Namier called “Caesarian democracy” – is not a static phenomenon. It may not begin with all the fascist characterisation listed above, but its trajectory is always in their direction. Regimes become more nationalistic, authoritarian, demagogic, shifting from intolerance of criticism or opposition to a determination to extinguish it entirely.

A case study of this process is Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is reinforcing his one-man rule by overturning an opposition victory in the election to choose the mayor of Istanbul. Many Americans deny that the same process is happening in the US, but they tend to be the same people who did not believe that Trump could be elected in the first place.

 

(Republished from The Independent )

Priceless, or Worthless? – Phony da Vinci Painting On Saudi Yacht (Artnet.com) 10 June 2019

Disputed Da Vinci painting shows up on Saudi crown prince’s superyacht — report
A purported Leonardo Da Vinci painting, bought for claimed $450 million in 2017, allegedly on behalf of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been seen on a massive yacht owned by the prince himself.

The mysterious auction was conducted by telephone and Christie’s didn’t confirm the buyer’s identity — but later, the ‘Salvator Mundi’ was “whisked away in the middle of the night on MBS’ plane” and relocated to his yacht, the Serene, two unnamed sources told the website Artnet.com.

The sources also said that the painting had been paid for, despite rumors circulating in the art world that the bill had only been partially settled.

The painting, which was expected to be exhibited at the Louvre in France later this year, disappeared after suspicions were raised that the work had come from “the workshop” of Da Vinci and may not have been painted by the artist himself — something which its new guardians knew could downgrade its value significantly.

The superyacht in question was originally owned by Russian tycoon Yuri Shefler, but was sold (reportedly on the spot) to MBS for $500 million in 2016 — not before having been rented out to Bill Gates for $5 million a week, however. Much like the yacht, the painting was also previously owned by a Russian billionaire, who bought it for a measly $127.5 million in 2013.

Floating around at sea might not be the most appropriate location for an artistic masterpiece, but it looks like that is where the ‘Salvator Mundi’ is set to stay for the foreseeable future. At least until the Saudis open a new cultural hub in the country’s Al-Ula region, Artnet said.

As of May 26, the Serene was located in the Red Sea off the coast of Egyptian resort town Sharm el-Sheikh, according to Bloomberg.

The ‘Salvator Mundi’ dates from around 1500 and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes with his right hand raised in blessing and carrying a crystal sphere in his left hand.

Leonardo

AI will reduce construction site injuries and deaths – by Andy Baryer (Futur-ithmic) 16 April 2019

young woman working on construction site roof

In the coming years, the construction industry will undergo serious disruption. The advancement of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and robotics will soon provide solutions to the industry’s greatest challenges –  overcoming cost/schedule overruns, risk mitigation and boosting productivity.

While many industries – like financial services and telecommunications – have embraced AI, the construction industry has been slow to adapt. McKinsey compared the construction industries to twelve other industries such as tourism, health and automotive and assemble and found that ten of them were ahead in the implementation of AI.

Graph from “What AI can and can’t do (yet) for your business” McKinsey & Company (Exhibit 1) (January 2018)

There’s plenty of room for improvement and first movers will set the direction of the industry and reap the benefits of artificial intelligence.

Preventing cost overruns

A recent IBM study found that AI has already proven beneficial within retail and consumer products for demand forecasting, supply chain planning and production planning. To help reduce costs, logistical burdens and manage cash flow, the same AI practices can be used in the construction industry to enhance supply chain coordination for materials and inventory management.

For this to happen, a significant investment is required in the digitization of the construction workflow. In the past, blueprints and drawings expressed information about a particular building plan but many companies are adopting a Building Information Modeling (BIM) approach, and this market is expected to reach 4210 million USD by the end of 2024.

Not only does the BIM approach allow multiple stakeholders (i.e. architectures, engineers, project managers) to collaborate within a single 3D digital model, the collected data can be used by AI to make decisions before and after a building is constructed for use in future projects.     

McKinsey estimates that construction projects currently lose up to one-third of their value to waste.

Constant real-time analysis by AI will forecast issues before they occur, and automate distribution of how materials and workers are distributeon a worksite to prevent cost overruns. McKinsey estimates that construction projects currently lose up to one-third of their value to waste. By using AI and machine learning to prevent cost overruns, construction companies will operate leaner, reduce delays and forecast problems and challenges for future projects.

Risk Mitigation

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are fast becoming an assistive tool to proactively identify risks and help stakeholders make decisions before it impacts their projects. AI-supported cameras can continuously monitor all areas around a job site and allow project engineers and superintendents to analyze activities in real time when issues are detected. AI can use the camera data to assess equipment use, truck arrivals/departures and worker presence on-site at any given time.

As they capture more data and analytics, AI-supported cameras can track progress and alert users about potential bottlenecks or delays before they occur.

pie graph showing causes of death in construction in 2017
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that in 2017, one-fifth of worker deaths were in construction.
The leading causes of death are known as the “Fatal Four” and account for 59 percent of deaths in private sector sites.

Health and safety issues within the construction industry can also benefit from the use of AI. Workplace injuries and fatalities on construction sites remain an ongoing issue occurring at alarming rates. The U.S Department of Labor reported that in 2017 one in five worker deaths were in construction.

AI has already proven effective in helping construction workers perform tasks safely. Research conducted at the University of Waterloo found that motion sensor suites and AI software helped expert bricklayers learn new techniques to limit the loads on their joints while working faster than colleagues with less experience. With the help of AI, bricklayers learned to maximize their output while minimizing the wear and tear on their bodies.

Boosting Productivity

Despite advancements in computer-aided designs, fabrication and project management software, the construction industry remains highly inefficient. Large construction projects routinely come in over budget and behind schedule. On the job site, the challenge for project managers is digitizing how much work on a job site occurs daily, and if that work was of high quality.

A new AI company Doxel uses drones equipped with LIDAR and HD cameras on job sites both indoors and outdoors. It applies deep learning algorithms to recognize objects, assess the quality of installed work and quantify how much material has been used. A cloud-based dashboard then provides project managers real-time feedback on productivity, and actual costs and time spent when compared to the original budget and schedule.

Out of all emerging industrial technologies, AI and machine learning will impact the sector the most by mitigating cost/schedule overruns, preventing health and safety issues and boosting the productivity on job sites.

Archive

Five of the biggest challenges facing 5G – by Ted Kritsonis (Futur-ithmic) 26 Feb 2019

5G challenges graphic

It’s expected that 5G, the much-discussed upcoming broadband cellular mobile communications standard, will have a big impact once the network rollout is here.

The speed and bandwidth of 5G would be such that it could effectively replace home internet connections currently using Wi-Fi. The Consumer Technology Association has reported that 5G will reach speeds of 10 Gbps, making it 100 times faster than 4G. This means that a two-hour that would take six minutes to download on 4G, would take less than four seconds to download on 5G.

Making it a reality comes with some challenges along the way. Here are five that will figure prominently throughout the process.

1 Frequency bands
Though 4G LTE already operates on established frequency bands below 6GHz, 5G requires frequencies —  all the way up to 300GHz. Some are better known as mmWave. Those bands can carry far more capacity and deliver ultra-fast speeds that deliver a 20-fold increase over LTE’s fastest theoretical throughput.

Wireless carriers still need to bid for the higher spectrum bands as they build and roll out their respective 5G networks. In the US, bidding in the 28 GHz spectrum alone reached $690 million by December 2018.

2 Deployment and coverage
Despite 5G offering a significant increase in speed and bandwidth, its more limited range will require further infrastructure. Higher frequencies enable highly directional radio waves, meaning they can be targeted or aimed — a practice called beamforming. The challenge is that 5G antennas, while being able to handle more users and data, beam out over shorter distances.

Spreading out access to rural areas will be as much of a challenge as it was with LTE.

Even with antennas and base stations getting smaller in this scenario, more of them would likely have to be installed on buildings or homes. Cities will probably need to install extra repeaters to spread out the waves for extended range, while also maintaining consistent speeds in denser population areas. It’s likely carriers will continue to use lower-frequency bands to cover wider areas until the 5G network matures.

In the future, it may mean that modems and Wi-Fi routers are replaced with 5G small cells or other hardware to bring 5G connections into homes and businesses, thus doing away with wired internet connections as we know them today. Spreading out access to rural areas will be as much of a challenge as it was with LTE.

3 Cost to build, cost to buy
Building a network is expensive, and carriers will raise the money to do it by increasing customer revenue. Much like LTE plans incurred a higher initial cost, 5G will probably follow a similar path. And it’s not just building a layer on top of an existing network — it’s laying the groundwork for something new altogether.

According to Heavy Reading’s Mobile Operator 5G Capex, total global spending on 5G is set to reach $88 billion by 2023. Once it becomes truly viable, certain device segments will be connected in entirely new ways, particularly vehicles, appliances, robots and city infrastructure.

it’s not just building a layer on top of an existing network — it’s laying the groundwork for something new altogether.

4 Device support
There’s plenty of talk about 5G-enabled smartphones and other devices, but their availability will hinge on how expensive they are for manufacturers to make, as well as how quickly ubiquitous the network becomes.

Some carriers in the US, South Korea and Japan, among other countries, have already launched 5G pilots in select cities, while manufacturers have confirmed compatible mobile devices are coming in 2019. Autonomous vehicle technology is already in the market in limited forms, but fully autonomous vehicles are years away, and would otherwise drive blind without a super fast network like 5G to communicate.

The concept behind the Internet of Things (IoT) is predicated on a fast network that can tie devices and services together. That is one of the promises analysts have forecasted for 5G’s potential, but people will first want to see how much the additional speed will enrich their lives.

5 Security and privacy
This would be a challenge with any data-driven technology, but the 5G rollout will have to contend with both standard and sophisticated cybersecurity threats. Though 5G falls under the Authentication and Key Agreement (AKA), a system designed to establish trust between networks, it would currently be possible to track people nearby using their phones.  They could even eavesdrop on live phone calls.

Much like it is now, the onus will be on the carriers and network consortiums to provide a digital safety net for customers, except user complacency could be equally problematic.

With data speeds expected to be magnitudes faster than current levels, so too will connectivity increase. It will force cloud-based and data virtualization services to be as airtight as possible to protect user data and privacy. On the same token, their users will have to be more careful and vigilant as stewards of their data.

Archive

Algeria: Prison Visit to Leftist Labor Union Leader Louisa Hanoune Reveals Deteriorating Health – Free Louisa Hanoune Now! (HuffPoMaghreb) 6 June 2019

Louisa Hanoune

The state of health of the National Secretary of the Workers Party (PT), Louisa Hanoune incarcerated since May 9, has deteriorated significantly, according to a party executive, Ramdane Youcef Taazibt, a party executive.

The Political Bureau of the PT, reports Maghreb Emergent, will hold this June 08 meeting to discuss the political situation of the country in general and to discuss the Chanoune affair in particular.

The leader of the party kept in pretrial detention “suffers from several chronic diseases and has seen her state of health deteriorate very rapidly. She lost about seven pounds in four weeks. Louisa Hanoune’s lawyers and her family have expressed concern about her health, “said Taazibt. He added that the political bureau of the PT will take steps to demand her release as soon as possible.

(Translated from the HuffPo Maghreb French to English)

……………

L’état de santé de la secrétaire nationale du Parti des travailleurs (PT), Louisa Hanoune incarcérée depuis le 09 mai dernier, s’est sensiblement détérioré, selon un cadre du parti, Ramdane Youcef Taazibt, un cadre du parti.

Le Bureau politique du PT, rapporte Maghreb Emergent, tiendra ce 08 juin une réunion pour discuter la situation politique du pays en général et pour parler de l’affaire de Hanoune en particulier.

La chef du parti maintenue en détention provisoire “souffre de plusieurs maladies chroniques et a vu son état de santé se détériorer très rapidement. Elle a perdu environ sept kilos en quatre semaines. Ses avocats et sa famille ont exprimé leur inquiétude par rapport à son état de santé”, a précisé M. Taazibt. Il a également ajouté que le bureau politique du PT prendra des mesures pour exiger sa libération dans les plus brefs délais.

…………….

Free Louisa Hanoune!

On Thursday, May 9, Louisa Hanoune, General Secretary of the Algerian Workers Party (PT), was called before the military tribunal of Blida as a witness in the scope of an inquiry against Saïd Bouteflika – brother of the deposed President – as well as of two former heads of the secret police, Mohamed Mediene (alias “Toufik”) and Athmane Tartag alias “Bashir”. However, she was then placed in preventive detention accused of being somehow involved in “attacks on the authority of the army” and “conspiracy against the authority of the state.” This arbitrary arrest is a direct attack on the rights of millions of people who have demonstrated in recent weeks and presages a hardening of the military power. The League for the Fourth International demands that Louisa Hanoune be immediately released!

To be sure: the social democratic reformists of the PT have often enough been bootlickers for the generals, and Hanoune herself has rubbed elbows with all manner of unsavory elements – not only the Bouteflika gang, but also high officials of the International Monetary Fund and the Islamic reactionaries of the FIS! But the PT is now attempting to distance itself from Bouteflika and have workers believe that the corporatist UGTA federation can become a veritable organ of the working class.

General Gaïd Salah’s very selective arrests of supporters of the regime, of which the general was one of the main props for 15 years, are cosmetic measures to reinforce the “system.” Of course, anyone opposed to the hurried presidential elections slated for July 4 and organized by other Bouteflika cronies can and will be accused of “attacking the authority of the state.”

Moreover, on May 4, Hanoune rejected the army high command’s offer of “dialogue,” recalling how General Al Sissi in Egypt called for dialogue with “civil society” before and after he overthrew the president Morsi, and then arrested members of political parties who had supported him. She pointed as well to Sudan, where the army took power amid popular protests and installed a transition council to last for two years (El Watan, 5 May). Shortly after her speech, the orders were given summoning her to the military tribunal. The arrest of Hanoune is thus a threat against the entire left and working class.

After the police attacks on workers in Algiers on May Day and after mass protests against the regime have continued across the country for the 12th consecutive Friday, there is the danger of massive military repression. The Algerian masses need an authentic leftist working class leadership that combats the illusions being spread about winning the officer corps to a peaceful “revolution.”

From Four Years Ago – DailyMotion Video

How to Draw a Girl’s Body

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How to Draw a Girl’s Body

(Editors Note: Somehow the original drawings disappeared from this page, yet some of them showed up online linked to this page – here are some replacement examples to go with the text till I can find the originals.)

I also created a new video with all the new line drawings I found

Step 1.

It all starts with drawing a circle, this circle is important because this will be the basis on which we create the proportions of our character does not matter whether male or female. Once you do that we must draw eight circles in a vertical way then the other, it is said that the proportions of the perfect human body are based on the measurement of a person’s head, and this is eight times that measured his head, so we get the final height of our character.

Step 2.

The following is to create the skeleton of the character based on the measurements of the circles as shown in the picture, so get pleasing proportions and with little distortion, if you want her character is that man alone should increase the width ofshoulder and decrease the width of the hips.

Step 3.

Now it is easier to draw our character based on the skeleton is only a matter of creating the volume as shown in the image using as guides the shoulders, hips, elbows, etc.

Step 4.

In order to create characters in different poses all you have to do is take the measurements obtained earlier skeletal, and manipulate their position to obtain the required position, ie it can move the knee, the hip angle or twist the spine to create a variety of positions.

Step 5.

Another tip is before you draw the real complexion of character is preferable to test first drawing ovals to simulate the volume of limbs and body of the character, this will give us a better idea of the volume and also gives us the opportunity to make corrections in position

Step 6.

Now you can start making the final line of our character, thanks to the previous strokes this is a very easy task to simply draw on the skeleton.

Step 7.

It’s time to start adding details on the face started, the easiest way to get a good proportion of the face is to draw a line across the face which define which is the center of it. Then draw another horizontal Line roughly in the middle of the face, this line sets the height to which we must draw the eyes. The next line is drawn between the eye line and chin and her nose is placed. The last line is positioned between the line of the nose and chin and mouth are drawn there.

Step 8.

This should be the location of facial features also must take into account that the height of the ears is the same as that of the eyes.

Step 9.

Now what follows is to continue the hair the first thing is to define the line of hair growth as this is defined on the direction of the hair, it is also important to draw the lines that represent the volume of hair.

Step 10.

Now continue drawing the rest of the hair, depending on the context of the characters must decide if the hair will move or not, either way it should draw the line consistently follow the line of hair growth and respect the lines of hair volume.

Step 11.

Now we have almost ready our character, but is still naked.

Step 12.

Now it’s time to dress our characters, you can choose the dress of your choice but most important is to take into account the volume of the body of the character so that the clothes look like part of it.

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Step 13.

Now if you are ready the characters with the correct proportion and a nice view.

Step 14.

Now it’s time for the colored tips, the first is to decide the colors we use, it is important to choose them from the beginning as it helps us to visualize a little better the finished drawing, it is also advisable to choose them is taken into account make a nice contrast and combinations are not exaggerated as these are unpleasant at times.

Step 15.

The following is the most important step at the time of coloring, which is to define the point of light, you can put more than one point of light but this time with a single work. It should display like a light bulb and it lights up your character, you should try to imagine where the light is more intense, where there are dark shadows. For example, the brighter lights would go over the heads of our characters but the hair and folds of clothing create dark shadows, the study well this volume will give us more members in our characters. There are two types of light and dark, heavy and soft lights and soft shadows are those that are general and perceived smoother and more diffuse, light and leftovers where the light is stronger or more intense the shade even to the white and black.

 

xv 30

Step 16.

As a final touch add a touch of light in specific areas to emphasize some details and drawing more enjoyable, such as the eyes add points to make them more attractive light and bright light in the hair or legs.

7 Steps to Genius – Ideas from ‘How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci’

What do geniuses do differently?

Do they have a unique morning routine? Interesting daily rituals?

To answer these questions, let us turn to one of the most brilliant minds in history: Leonardo da Vinci.

You might know Da Vinci as an artist, but he was also an architect, scientist, musician, mathematician, inventor, anatomist, geologist, astronomer, cartographer, botanist, historian and writer. He didn’t just excel in one area, but rather he flourished across disciplines and created concepts that have lasted for centuries. Da Vinci had a very specific approach to life that anyone can learn. In this post, I will show you how:

You can develop your essential elements of genius.

Michael J. Gelb excavated Da Vinci’s notebooks, writings and creations to figure out how he thought and lived differently. He found:

The 7 Da Vincian Principles

how to think like leonardo da vinci book summary, michael gelb book summary, how to think like leonardo da vinci michael gelb book overview, how to think like leonardo da vinci book summaryI chose How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci for our Science of People book club because I thought it was a fascinating look into the daily habits of a genius. Gelb explores how Da Vinci approached life and, most importantly, lays it out for readers in a practical framework for self-improvement.

If you didn’t get a chance to read the book–which I highly recommend since it is filled with Da Vinci’s original drawings and illustrations, I have outlined the 7 Da Vincian Principles for you here:

#1: Curiosità

Curiosita is an insatiably curious approach to life and unrelenting quest for continuous learning.

Da Vinci is not the only one who embodied a seemingly infinite supply of curiosity. Many of history’s great inventors and leaders had the desire to unlock the mysteries of life. If you’re like me, this one seems fairly obvious and something you already know is important. So, I think about curiosity in 2 basic questions:

  1. What if?
  2. How come?

I know I am embracing curiosity if I ask myself these 2 questions multiple times each day.

What If: Asks your brain to project into the future. It helps you see opportunities where you might have missed them, it helps you make connections and it is a sneaky way to get your brain more goal-oriented. What if I started a conversation with this person? What if I tried this new activity? What if I started that new workout program? What comes after ‘what if…’ is typically magical.

How Come: How come gets you into ‘why’. Instead of passively observing the world or going into automatic responses, ‘how come’ helps you question both your actions and other’s motives. I believe this question keeps me honest and alert. It forces me to live more purposefully. Da Vinci didn’t waste a second of his life. He was always creating and guessing and tinkering. ‘How come’ helps you use every second of your life with a mission.

Here are some ways you can capture more Curiosita:

  • A Hundred Questions: Write down 100 questions that are important to you. These could be questions you wish to answer yourself such as, “What is my purpose?” or “What is the meaning of life?” or questions you want to know about everyone you meet like, “What is your passion? or “What makes you happy?” This is the ultimate ‘what if’ and ‘how come’ exercise.
  • Ten Power Questions: After you have brainstormed a list of 100 questions, select the 10 that have the most powerful impact when you read them. Which ones spark a feeling of motivation or achievement? These are your catalyst questions. For example:
    • When am I most naturally myself?
    • What is my greatest talent?
    • What is my heart’s deepest desire?
  • Daily Themes: Da Vinci was an avid writer and note taker. He had a journal everywhere he went. I have a journal at my desk AND at my bed to take notes when all kinds of ideas pop into my head. Carry a journal with you everywhere and write down your ideas and observations. Each day, choose a theme or word. You can do this at the beginning of the day to set the intention or at the end of the day as a cool down or wrap-up.

#2: Dimostrazione

Dimostrazione is a commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

I love this principle, because it is empowering. Dimostrazione is the embodiment of taking your life into your own hands. This principle tells us:

Test every idea.

Don’t take anything for granted.

Experience life first hand.

I believe life should be an experiment. That we should have a series of amazing hypotheses every day, and we should be testing them. A hypothesis consists of a 2 part statement:

If…, then…

For example, if I take this personal development class, then I hope to be happier. Or as small as if I reorganize my closet, then it will be easier to get ready in the morning. The ‘If…, then…’ exercise puts you into opportunity-hunting mindset, so you are always looking for and testing solutions.

Here are some ways you can capture more Dimostrazione:

  • Find Your Greats: You have probably heard of all the most popular artists and authors, but who are your favorites? Set out to find your greats. Don’t take anyone else’s word for it. Start your own search for the artists, classical musicians or writers that inspire you. Go to a museum and look at the paintings without glancing at the names.
  • Be Devil’s Advocate: Try playing devil’s advocate against yourself.Try making the strongest possible argument against one of your own beliefs just for the mental exercise. Write at least 3 points against yourself.

#3: Sensazione

Sensazione is the continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.

Fill in the blank:

___is so beautiful.

I love the way _____ smells.

What a lovely _____.

I adore the feeling of ____ on my skin.

The sound of ____ is music to my ears.

We forget to savor and sensualize our experiences. We have all heard ‘stop and smell the roses,’ but when was the last time you actually stopped and smelled the roses? Sure, literal roses, but also metaphorical roses. When was the last time you stopped to savor an experience? Da Vinci was incredibly inspired by the world around him and the more he honed his senses, the more heightened his genius became.

Here are some ways you can capture more Sensazione:

  • A Sense a Day: Plan out 5 experiences in the next few months where you practice honoring each of your senses.
    • For smell, go to the local botanical gardens, make your own perfume or cologne and learn to recognize herbs by their scent at the local grocery store.
    • For taste, (this one is easy!) eat a bunch of your favorite foods and try one new cuisine. Figure out your favorite spice.
    • For sight, go to your local museum, then hike to a vista or view point and learn some new photography techniques.
    • For touch, go to your local animal shelter and volunteer petting pups and kitties. Go through your closet and organize it by fabric. Go shopping and try to buy one new fabric you have never owned before — suede? Velvet? Flannel?
    • For hearing, go to a concert, stop by your local music store and try to play an instrument you have never heard before. If you are really ambitious, try to learn bird mating calls or spend some time trying to draw sound. For example, if you had to draw the sound of a trumpet, how would you do it? (mine looks like a messy swirl).

#4: Sfumato

Sfumato is a willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty. Da Vinci had a very unique ability to understand the extreme opposites of opinions and phenomenon. He was also able to explore unknowns and revel in the uncertainty. Most of us are uncomfortable with not knowing or unanswerable questions, so we avoid anything out of our control. We stick to what we know and immediately do a Google search the moment we don’t know something.

A Story:

The other day, I was hiking with some friends in Columbia Gorge (one of the most beautiful places in the world) and we began passing all of these old wagons–like really, really old wagons. Now, I live in Oregon very close to the end of the Oregon Trail where Lewis and Clark explored, so we started to wonder if the wagons were somehow connected to the Oregon Trail. The more wagons we passed, the more perplexed we got. We had no service where we were hiking, so we couldn’t just whip out our phones and consult Google. This began to drive us crazy. We are so used to knowing things or being able to figure things out almost instantly, that it was driving us nuts to not know. But a cool thing happened. We started to brainstorm all of the different reasons that all of these wagons were on the trail–a massive flood carried them across the plains, a wagon cult lived in the woods nearby, etc. And that was a really hilarious and fun exercise. It reminded me of the Sfumato principle that not knowing is actually the best mental activity. You search, you think, you create.

*We eventually Googled it and found out we had stumbled upon a 1900 wagon trail that used to transport apples.

Here are some ways you can capture more Sfumato:

  • Stop Googling: For the next week, anytime you need to look up a word or trivia fact, try to guess the answer instead. You can phone a friend for help as well, as long as they brainstorm with you too!
  • Embrace Your Ambiguity: List some situations from your life where you are confused or feel ambiguous about an outcome and explore the feelings that come up.
  • Cultivate Confusion Endurance: Tap into your own paradoxes by asking questions like, “How are my strengths and weaknesses related?” or “What is the relationship between my saddest moments and the most joyful ones?”

#5: Arte/Scienza

Arte/scienza is the development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination.

Although Da Vinci wasn’t around for the research on right and left brain thinking, this concept speaks directly to the idea of whole brain thinking. Mark the statements that sound like you:

Right Brained:

___ I like details

___ I am almost always on time

___ I rely on logic

___ I am skilled at math

___ I am organized and disciplined

___ I like lists

Left Brained:

___  I am highly imaginative

___ I am good at brainstorming

___ I love to doodle

___ I often say or do the unexpected

___ I rely on intuition

___I often lose track of time

Which one had more statements that you agreed with? Were you balanced? Da Vinci was a big believer in using both parts of your brain. He did this in his notebooks by tying ideas with drawings. Specifically, he was the original mind-mapper. Here is a cool overview on mindmapping:

Here are some ways you can capture more Arte/scienza:

  • Warm-up by mind-mapping the main ideas in your favorite TED Talk. Here is one of my favorites:

Cameron Russel:

  • Create a mind map of your life: Have you ever thought about how the different parts of your life are connected? Make a mind map of your major life moments and how they are connected.
  • Here is a pretty cool mind map of the book:

Leonardo Da Vinci Mind Map

#6: Corporalitá

Corporalita is the cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness and poise. Da Vinci was incredibly athletic in addition to his mental prowess. From early on, he realized that if he wanted his mind to perform at optimal levels, his body also had to be in top shape.

I couldn’t agree with this more. If I have a bad night’s sleep, my work suffers. If I don’t eat well, my energy slows. If I don’t get enough movement, my back kills me.

Here are some ways you can capture more Corporalita:

  • Learn the Science of Eating: I did a whole post on the science of eating on some really easy ways to make your food intake more purposeful.
  • Get on a Sleep Schedule: Everyone has different sleep needs and different sleep rhythms. For the next week, track your sleep times and hours and see which days you have the most energy. Are you a night worker? A morning person? Learn your cycles and then honor them by building a sleep routine.
  • Cultivate Ambidexterity: Da Vinci used both his right and left hands as he worked. You can do this by trying to brush your teeth with your non dominant hand or get a really patient person to play a game of pool, tennis or catch where you switch hands!

#7: Connessione

Connessione is a recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena.

I think this is one of the most complex and interesting Da Vincian principles. It has to do with something called ‘systems thinking’. Systems thinking is when you are able to take vast amounts of information and create routines, lists and organization. It also has to do with pattern recognition. I LOVE connessione. As many of you know, I have a number of courses and books–my favorite part of the curriculum creation process is taking huge amounts of research and condensing it down into an outline. I also love hunting for patterns. In our human behavior research lab, I am constantly looking for patterns in body language, thinking and relationships. For example:

  • In my School of Happiness course, I had 128 pages of research and notes to condense into a 10 week program.
  • For my Master Your People Skills course, we had over 7,000 people take our body language and personality surveys. We had to pour over the data to find patterns to make the course.
  • For our next book, I will be using 9 years of research, over 2,400 studies and 356 in-depth interviews!

When you can create systems and recognize patterns in your life, you are able to cultivate true genius.

Here are some ways you can capture more Connessione:

  • What’s Your Book Outline? If you had to create a table of contents for a book about your life, what would it be if you couldn’t make it chronological?
  • 3 Objects: Pick 3 random objects in your house. If you had to find connections between them, what would they be? For example, I chose my blender, my garage clicker and a bottle of nail polish. Can you think of three connections? I thought: With all three of these things, the faster they work, the better. The faster the blender, the better the smoothie, the faster the garage door opens, the faster I get home and the faster my polish dries, the less risk there is of my mushing up my toe nails. This is a great one to play with kids!

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Oscars Committee Announces New Host: Jordan Peterson

HOLLYWOOD, CA—The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has reversed course from previous reports that they would forego a host for their 92nd Oscars ceremony, instead tapping popular psychologist, author, and professor Jordan Peterson to host the awards show.

“None of us here at the Academy have ever heard of Dr. Peterson, but judging by sheer number of books he sells, coupled with his popularity as a professor and speaker, we felt that he would be the perfect candidate,” AMPAS revealed in a press release Wednesday. “Plus, we have been informed that Dr. Peterson is a thought leader on the cutting edge of social issues such as intersectionality, patriarchy, transgenderism, white privilege, and socialism, making him an outstanding choice.”

The professor and author reportedly responded to the invitation by saying, “Who chooses who hosts the Oscars? I’ll tell you who: a bureaucracy, staffed with precisely the type of people you would not want to be making those decisions. Did you see what happened to Kevin Hart? It’s not good.”

Peterson ranted for a few more minutes before acquiescing with “Sure, I’ll host the bloody thing.”

See Also: DailyMotion Video on Jordan Peterson (12:00 min)  – https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6njsy5

Glenn Greenwald rips liberals who ‘beg for censorship’ after YouTube ‘Adpocalypse’ (RT) 7 June 2019

Glenn Greenwald rips liberals who ‘beg for censorship’ after YouTube ‘Adpocalypse’
Journalist Glenn Greenwald blasted ‘liberal’ reporters who push for deplatforming and censorship of political opponents. “Imagine going into journalism and begging corporations to silence people,” he told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

Speaking to Carlson on Thursday, after YouTube demonetized hundreds of accounts for posting content even remotely linked to controversial topics, Greenwald excoriated Vox journalist Carlos Maza, whose clamoring against conservative shock-jock Steven Crowder triggered the crackdown.

“YouTube caved in defense of the powerful,” Greenwald claimed. “That’s what they will always do. Defend the mob and the powerful at the expense of those who are marginalized.”

“It would never occur to me to run to social media companies to beg for censorship,” he said. “In part, it comes with the territory of being a public figure. I don’t want to live in a world where our discourse is policed and determined by overlords who run Silicon Valley companies and will always cater to the most powerful faction.”

A gay Latino journalist with the ultra-liberal outlet Vox, Maza’s year-long feud with Crowder was the genesis of the latest round of deplatforming and demonetizing. Crowder had publicly insulted Maza with homophobic slurs, calling him a “lispy queer,” among other schoolyard taunts. Maza demanded YouTube take action, and although the streaming giant said Crowder didn’t break its rules, Maza tweeted up a storm and the company eventually complied, stripping his channel of ad revenue on Wednesday.

The demonetization didn’t satisfy Maza, who called on YouTube to fully ban Crowder from the platform. Though Crowder’s videos are still online, scores of other controversial figures had their videos deleted – including perpetual liberal bogeymen Milo Yiannopoulos and Gavin McInnes.

Carlos Censorship

Though Maza is a particularly loud advocate of censorship, he is not the first journalist to demand Silicon Valley blacklist people whose opinions he finds offensive. CNN spearheaded the campaign to hound right-wing polemicist Alex Jones off virtually every social media platform last year, and just last month BuzzFeed’s Joseph Bernstein rallied a Twitter mob to force YouTube to block a 14-year-old vlogger who said mean things about Muslims.

Muslim real

Greenwald made a point of mentioning his own same-sex marriage and homophobic insults he faced while living in Brazil, calling Crowder a “contemptuous cretin,” but he defended his right to free speech and slammed the journalists pushing tech companies to restrict it.

Youtube vs Freedom

“In reality, this power to censor was not one they (the companies) wanted,” he explained. “It was one that was foisted upon them largely by journalists who were demanding that they remove voices from the Internet. Imagine going into journalism and begging corporations to silence people.”

Seemingly unmoved by Greenwald’s defense of free speech, the same liberal journalists took issue with the outlet where he chose to present it, calling him out for appearing on Carlson’s show, which Vox’s Aaron Rupar described as “the white power hour.”

Youtube creo

Youtube 2

Greenwald himself hit back on Friday, tweeting, “Liberals are so attached to their fantasy about the goodness of authority that they actually convince themselves that Silicon Valley giants – who they’re otherwise willing to malign – are exercising censorship powers in defense of marginalized people against the powerful.”

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My night in a tube home, low-cost concrete pipe housing concept – cosy, but noisy – by Alkira Reinfrank – 14 March 2018

Architect had brainwave on a building site; the result is the OPod, a 100 square foot, US$15,000 home formed from two lengths of concrete drainpipe and envisioned as temporary accommodation for a family. The Post is first to give it a try

The exterior of the OPod, designed by James Law Cybertecture as an experimental, low-cost, micro home to ease Hong Kong’s affordable housing shortage. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
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The exterior of the OPod, designed by James Law Cybertecture as an experimental, low-cost, micro home to ease Hong Kong’s affordable housing shortage. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

When I told friends I was planning to spend a night in a renovated water pipe, some were understandably concerned. They needn’t have worried; their image of me sleeping rough in a rusty, old sewer pipe had no bearing on reality. I was booked into an OPod.

.

 

A 100 square foot (9.3 square metre) experimental, low-cost home made from two repurposed concrete water pipes, the OPod is the brainchild of Hong Kong architect James Law. Equipped with a small bathroom, tiny kitchen, shelving and a couch that converts into a bed, the micro flat is an example of how the city could tackle its lack of sufficient affordable housing.

Still at the prototype stage, the OPod had never accommodated anyone overnight, I was told, so I nominated myself to be its first guinea pig.

 

Law, founder of James Law Cybertecture, dreamed up the OPod while on a construction site. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be funky if I could get some of these tubes and convert them into an experimental house’,” he says. “That’s how the OPod came about – seeing these construction materials and also constantly worrying, like everyone else, how to save for a place to live in Hong Kong.”

The OPod costs around US$15,000 – the cost of purchasing the mass-produced pipes and fitting them out – and Law bills it as an affordable option to help ease the city’s housing crisis. He says the durability of the pipes means they can be stacked on top of each other in tight, unused spaces in the city.

Since 2003, Hong Kong’s housing prices have risen by 430 per cent, making it one of the world’s least affordable cities, according to the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.

Reporter Alkira Reinfrank relaxes before bedding down for the night in an OPod, built from two lengths of concrete drainpipe. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
Reporter Alkira Reinfrank relaxes before bedding down for the night in an OPod, built from two lengths of concrete drainpipe.

A family earning HK$300,000 (US$38,000) a year, before tax, would have to save their entire salary for about 18 years to pay for a mid-range home, which currently costs, on average, HK$5.5 million (US$700,000). And that would only buy a flat of less than 500 square feet in many parts of the city.

Some families have resorted to extreme measures to find housing in Hong Kong, living in so-called coffin homes, which can be as small as 25 square feet. The OPod is about four times that size.

“I really made OPod as a little piece of inspirational creativity. I want young people to see architects are not just creating commercial buildings but are also experimenting with novel ideas that tackle some of the things they are facing,” Law says.

So is this tube home a pipe dream or could it become a reality? I packed an overnight bag and headed to the OPod on public display in Kwun Tong, an industrial part of East Kowloon, to find out.

The OPod feels quite roomy, with a good amount of floor space. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

The OPod feels quite roomy, with a good amount of floor space.

With a diameter of 2.5 metres (8 feet), the tube home felt quite roomy, despite its limited floor space. Thanks to curved walls and built-in furniture, the space was cosy and not at all claustrophobic.

Also, Law has employed a few lighting tricks to make the interior feel less cramped; light points upwards and into the curve, which streamlines the walls.

At one end of the tube is a wet room containing a toilet and a shower built into the wall. The kitchen is within the main compartment and consists of a small sink, micro fridge and microwave. I made instant noodles for dinner; cooking something more substantial would have been challenging because there is no bench space.

With no bench space, the OPod’s cooking options are limited. Instant noodles were the answer for reporter Alkira Reinfrank. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
With no bench space, the OPod’s cooking options are limited. Instant noodles were the answer for reporter Alkira Reinfrank. :
Dinner time in the OPod. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
Dinner time in the OPod.

A clothing rack and a number of shelving units can be removed, or moved around. There is also a couch that opens into a large single bed to fit one tall person comfortably.

Law has added no insulation to the thick concrete walls. Unfortunately, the night I chose to stay was one of the chilliest in Hong Kong this year, and with no heater provided, I was cold! It was eight degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit) outside, and 11 degrees inside, which is why the security guards took pity and gave me hand warmers.

The OPod has an air conditioner but no heater, and lacks insulation, which made for a cold night in January. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
The OPod has an air conditioner but no heater, and lacks insulation, which made for a cold night in January.

Had there been a heater, however, I’m sure the thick slab would have kept the heat in and made it more comfortable. In summer an air conditioner helps cool the room.

At both ends of the tube are glass doors. If the OPod is taken to the next stage and mass-produced, I would suggest double glazing for insulation and noise purposes. Traffic and the group of 20 men outside my window playing Pokemon Go (yes, apparently that is still a thing) until the early morning kept me awake.

Reporter Alkira Reinfrank on the OPod’s couch, which folds out into a bed. Double glazing in the glass doors at the ends of the tube home would keep out most external noise. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
Reporter Alkira Reinfrank on the OPod’s couch, which folds out into a bed. Double glazing in the glass doors at the ends of the tube home would keep out most external noise.

Law has suggested OPods could provide a temporary home for up to two years for people on a waiting list for a public housing flat or saving for a home deposit. Despite the cold and the noise disturbing my sleep, I found its design to be innovative and believe it can provide temporary accommodation. However, I would say people could only live in one for a few months, rather than two years, because of its lack of storage space.

Living in an OPod, or any prefabricated home, in Hong Kong would land occupants in a legal grey area. Law hopes the authorities will “allow for a new class of building which is transient or modular”.

Architect James Law poses inside the OPod prototype. Photo: Reuters
Architect James Law poses inside the OPod prototype.

He would be happy for his design to be taken forward by other organisations with his design help.

“There is a need for us to be innovative in terms of how we design and build our cities,” he says. “So people can have a better environment, a more affordable environment. And I think that leads to a new generation of architecture.”

 

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Alt Lite, Just Lite, Or Anti-AltRight – YouTube Is Basically Removing Everyone With Strong Political Views – by Anatoly Karlin • 6 June 2019

(1) So yes, basically everyone Alt Right OR Alt Lite is now getting their channels deleted, demonetized, or at least having some of their videos deleted.

I don’t closely follow the vlogosphere, but here is a Twitter thread that seems to be pretty comprehensive.

It’s worth pointing out that demonetization is nearly as bad as an outright ban, as it demoralizes creators, and in some cases, cuts off their main source of income. Relying on Patreon or Subscribestars (a recent and less PC Russian alternative) is a bandaid – while we greatly appreciate the exceptions, anonymous readers are rarely very generous, and you need to be really big to make even a decent living off public donations. And they can always shut you down as well. Patreon is more than happy to kick controversial people off by itself, while Subscribestars had to cease operations for a period of time after PayPal cut them off.

(2) Guess the Alt Lite and BASED conservatives should have protested more when this started i.e. when Andrew Anglin (Daily Stormer) got deplatformed in the wake of Charlottesville almost two years ago. Now it’s too late.

(3) I am assuming that Trump is continuing to monitor censorship… all the way to losing in 2020 and going to prison soon afterwards.

At that point, most likely everything else will be shut down.

(4) I have a blog post ready to go about how the vlogosphere has superseded the old blogosphere over the past few years. Obviously, it will now have to be substantially rewritten.

But the main point to take from here is that YouTube is not going to become the center of anti-Establishment dissidence that we thought it might be, just as similar delusions about the power of Twitter and other social media were dispelled from around 2017*.

YouTube will become a repository for cat and unpacking videos.

(5) Yes, alternatives exist, but by and large, people are not going to bother going to Bitchute or RuTube. Three reasons why.

First, they are much smaller than YouTube, which is a de facto monopolist in this sphere, and so derives vast benefits from network effects.

Second, YouTube operates on an annual loss of a billion dollars. It is something that Alphabet subsidizes for presumably political reasons. No other site can afford to be a YouTube. Videos take up a lot of storage space, and HDD’s don’t come free!

Third, let’s be honest, many of the people driven off are not so much dissidents as assorted freaks and weirdos. Their presence will deter “normies” from migrating over. We already have a perfect example of that with Gab (Twitter alternative) and Voat (Reddit alternative).

(6) There are increasing signs that Alt Leftists are going to be progressively shut down as well – some of those deplatformed today were outright anti-Alt Right.

Moreover, apart from institutionalizing blank slatism, YouTube is also committing to fighting “falsehoods” such as 9/11 or Sandy Hook conspiracy theories. While I do not buy into those two in particular, imagine if YouTube had existed in the 1960s, and it censored “conspiracy theories” portraying the Gulf of Tonkin incident as the “false flag” it turned out to be. And we don’t even have to look decades back. The Saudis are clearly going out of the way building a case for war with Iran, with those ridiculous “Iranian attacks” on their oil tankers. Fortunately, false flagging is an O-Ring task, and Saudis are apparently too low IQ to accomplish that. And half of the US political elites don’t have it out for Iran anyway, so there is institutional resistance.

But what if there were similar attempts to false flag a war with Russia? Or with China, whose demonization has also become increasingly bipartisan? The inability to debunk false flags – or rather, to have it catch fire – may well result in avoidable wars.

(7) Prediction: The last dissident resources in the West to remain standing will be technically adept websites financed by moneyed individuals or groups, or true cyberpunk “samizdat” outfits lurking in the deep web and kept afloat with crypto donations.

Silver lining: Filtering out the more r-selected content?

(8) The one happy thing about all this is that more and more restrictions and censorship means higher quality output.

First, it weeds out the grifters – no point to grifting when you are blacklisted and deplatformed from everything.

Second, it may also impose a certain discipline on content producers, forcing them to pick their words with care while making the same points they used to. Note that most of the greatest “subversive” literature was produced in moderately repressive ancien regimes, not democratic republics with strong freedoms of speech. When everything has been banned, the novels of Houellebecq, for instance, may have that much more weight and resonance.

Assuming they don’t go full Stalinist and turn everything into a wasteland, anyway.

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Why We Should Think Twice About Colonizing Space – by Phil Tores (Nautilus) 28 July 2018

We’re getting closer and closer to the final frontier. What could go wrong?

 

There are lots of reasons why colonizing space seems compelling. The popular astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson argues that it would stimulate the economy and inspire the next generation of scientists. Elon Musk, who founded SpaceX, argues that “there is a strong humanitarian argument for making life multiplanetary … to safeguard the existence of humanity in the event that something catastrophic were to happen.”  The former administrator of NASA, Michael Griffin, frames it as a matter of the “survival of the species.” And the late astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has conjectured that if humanity fails to colonize space within 100 years, we could face extinction.

To be sure, humanity will eventually need to escape Earth to survive, since the sun will make the planet uninhabitable in about 1 billion years. But for many “space expansionists,” escaping Earth is about much more than dodging the bullet of extinction: it’s about realizing astronomical amounts of value by exploiting the universe’s vast resources to create something resembling utopia. For example, the astrobiologist Milan Cirkovic calculates that some 1046 people per century could come into existence if we were to colonize our Local Supercluster, Virgo. This leads Nick Bostrom to argue that failing to colonize space would be tragic because it would mean that these potential “worthwhile lives” would never exist, and this would be morally bad.

But would these trillions of lives actually be worthwhile? Or would colonization of space lead to a dystopia?

In a recent article in Futures, which was inspired by political scientist Daniel Deudney’s forthcoming book Dark Skies, I decided to take a closer look at this question. My conclusion is that in a colonized universe the probability of the annihilation of the human race could actually rise rather than fall.

The argument is based on ideas from evolutionary biology and international relations theory, and it assumes that there aren’t any other technologically advanced lifeforms capable of colonizing the universe (as a recent study suggests is the case).

Consider what is likely to happen as humanity hops from Earth to Mars, and from Mars to relatively nearby, potentially habitable exoplanets like Epsilon Eridani b, Gliese 674 b, and Gliese 581 d. Each of these planets has its own unique environments that will drive Darwinian evolution, resulting in the emergence of novel species over time, just as species that migrate to a new island will evolve different traits than their parent species. The same applies to the artificial environments of spacecraft like “O’Neill Cylinders,” which are large cylindrical structures that rotate to produce artificial gravity. Insofar as future beings satisfy the basic conditions of evolution by natural selection—such as differential reproduction, heritability, and variation of traits across the population—then evolutionary pressures will yield new forms of life.

But the process of “cyborgization”—that is, of using technology to modify and enhance our bodies and brains—is much more likely to influence the evolutionary trajectories of future populations living on exoplanets or in spacecraft. The result could be beings with completely novel cognitive architectures (or mental abilities), emotional repertoires, physical capabilities, lifespans, and so on.

In other words, natural selection and cyborgization as humanity spreads throughout the cosmos will result in species diversification. At the same time, expanding across space will also result in ideological diversification. Space-hopping populations will create their own cultures, languages, governments, political institutions, religions, technologies, rituals, norms, worldviews, and so on. As a result, different species will find it increasingly difficult over time to understand each other’s motivations, intentions, behaviors, decisions, and so on. It could even make communication between species with alien languages almost impossible. Furthermore, some species might begin to wonder whether the proverbial “Other” is conscious. This matters because if a species Y cannot consciously experience pain, then another species X might not feel morally obligated to care about Y. After all, we don’t worry about kicking stones down the street because we don’t believe that rocks can feel pain. Thus, as I write in the paper, phylogenetic and ideological diversification will engender a situation in which many species will be “not merely aliens to each other but, more significantly, alienated from each other.”

But this yields some problems. First, extreme differences like those just listed will undercut trust between species. If you don’t trust that your neighbor isn’t going to steal from, harm, or kill you, then you’re going to be suspicious of your neighbor. And if you’re suspicious of your neighbor, you might want an effective defense strategy to stop an attack—just in case one were to happen. But your neighbor might reason the same way: she’s not entirely sure that you won’t kill her, so she establishes a defense as well. The problem is that, since you don’t fully trust her, you wonder whether her defense is actually part of an attack plan. So you start carrying a knife around with you, which she interprets as a threat to her, thus leading her to buy a gun, and so on. Within the field of international relations, this is called the “security dilemma,” and it results in a spiral of militarization that can significantly increase the probability of conflict, even in cases where all actors have genuinely peaceful intentions.

So, how can actors extricate themselves from the security dilemma if they can’t fully trust each other? On the level of individuals, one solution has involved what Thomas Hobbes’ calls the “Leviathan.” The key idea is that people get together and say, “Look, since we can’t fully trust each other, let’s establish an independent governing system—a referee of sorts—that has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. By replacing anarchy with hierarchy, we can also replace the constant threat of harm with law and order.” Hobbes didn’t believe that this happened historically, only that this predicament is what justifies the existence of the state. According to Steven Pinker, the Leviathan is a major reason that violence has declined in recent centuries.

The point is that if individuals—you and I—can overcome the constant threat of harm posed by our neighbors by establishing a governing system, then maybe future species could get together and create some sort of cosmic governing system that could similarly guarantee peace by replacing anarchy with hierarchy. Unfortunately, this looks unpromising within the “cosmopolitical” realm. One reason is that for states to maintain law and order among their citizens, their various appendages—e.g., law enforcement, courts—need to be properly coordinated. If you call the police about a robbery and they don’t show up for three weeks, then what’s the point of living in that society? You’d be just as well off on your own! The question is, then, whether the appendages of a cosmic governing system could be sufficiently well-coordinated to respond to conflicts and make top-down decisions about how to respond to particular situations. To put it differently: If conflict were to break out in some region of the universe, could the relevant governing authorities respond soon enough for it to matter, for it to make a difference?

Probably not, because of the immense vastness of space. For example, consider again Epsilon Eridani b, Gliese 674 b, and Gliese 581 d. These are, respectively, 10.5, 14.8, and 20.4 light-years from Earth. This means that a signal sent as of this writing, in 2018, wouldn’t reach Gliese 581 d until 2038. A spaceship traveling at one-quarter the cosmic speed limit wouldn’t arrive until 2098, and a message to simply affirm that it had arrived safely wouldn’t return to Earth until 2118. And Gliese 581 is relatively close as far as exoplanets go. Just consider that he Andromeda Galaxy is some 2.5 million light-years from Earth and the Triangulum Galaxy about 3 million light-years away. What’s more, there are some 54 galaxies in our Local Group, which is about 10 million light-years wide, within a universe that stretches some 93 billion light-years across.

These facts make it look hopeless for a governing system to effectively coordinate law enforcement activities, judicial decisions, and so on, across cosmic distances. The universe is simply too big for a government to establish law and order in a top-down fashion.

But there is another strategy for achieving peace: Future civilizations could use a policy of deterrence to prevent other civilizations from launching first strikes. A policy of this sort, which must be credible to work, says: “I won’t attack you first, but if you attack me first, I have the capabilities to destroy you in retaliation.” This was the predicament of the US and Soviet Union during the Cold War, known as “mutually-assured destruction” (MAD).

But could this work in the cosmopolitical realm of space? It seems unlikely. First, consider how many future species there could be: upwards of many billions. While some of these species would be too far away to pose a threat to each other—although see the qualification below—there will nonetheless exist a huge number within one’s galactic backyard. The point is that the sheer number would make it incredibly hard to determine who initiated a first strike, if one is attacked. And without a method for identifying instigators with high reliability, one’s policy of deterrence won’t be credible. And if one’s policy of deterrence isn’t credible, then one has no such policy!

Second, ponder the sorts of weapons that could become available to future spacefaring civilizations. Redirected asteroids (a.k.a., “planetoid bombs”), “rods from God,” sun guns, laser weapons, and no doubt an array of exceptionally powerful super-weapons that we can’t currently imagine. It has even been speculated that the universe might exist in a “metastable” state and that a high-powered particle accelerator could tip the universe into a more stable state. This would create a bubble of total annihilation that spreads in all directions at the speed of light—which opens up the possibility that a suicidal cult, or whatever, weaponizes a particle accelerator to destroy the universe.

The question, then, is whether defensive technologies could effectively neutralize such risks. There’s a lot to say here, but for the present purposes just note that, historically speaking, defensive measures have very often lagged behind offensive measures, thus resulting in periods of heightened vulnerability. This is an important point because when it comes to existentially dangerous super-weapons, one only needs to be vulnerable for a short period to risk annihilation.

So far as I can tell, this seriously undercuts the credibility of policies of deterrence. Again, if species A cannot convince species B that if B strikes it, A will launch an effective and devastating counter strike, then B may take a chance at attacking A. In fact, B does not need to be malicious to do this: it only needs to worry that A might, at some point in the near- or long-term future, attack B, thus making it rational for B to launch a preemptive strike (to eliminate the potential danger). Thinking about this predicament in the radically multi-polar conditions of space, it seems fairly obvious that conflict will be extremely difficult to avoid.

The lesson of this argument is not to uncritically assume that venturing into the heavens will necessarily make us safer or more existentially secure. This is a point that organizations hoping to colonize Mars, such as SpaceX, NASA, and Mars One should seriously contemplate. How can humanity migrate to another planet without bringing our problems with us? And how can different species that spread throughout the cosmos maintain peace when sufficient mutual trust is unattainable and advanced weaponry could destroy entire civilizations?

Human beings have made many catastrophically bad decisions in the past. Some of these outcomes could have been avoided if only the decision-makers had deliberated a bit more about what could go wrong—i.e., had done a “premortem” analysis. We are in that privileged position right now with respect to space colonization. Let’s not dive head-first into waters that turn out to be shallow.

Phil Torres is the director of the Project for Human Flourishing and the author of Morality, Foresight, and Human Flourishing: An Introduction to Existential Risks.

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Presidential Candidate Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Pushes No War Agenda – and the Media Is Out to Kill Her Chances – by Philip Giraldi • 6 June 2019

Tulsi Gabard

Voters looking ahead to 2020 are being bombarded with soundbites from the twenty plus Democratic would-be candidates. That Joe Biden is apparently leading the pack according to opinion polls should come as no surprise as he stands for nothing apart from being the Establishment favorite who will tirelessly work to support the status quo.

The most interesting candidate is undoubtedly Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is a fourth term Congresswoman from Hawaii, where she was born and raised. She is also the real deal on national security, having been-there and done-it through service as an officer with the Hawaiian National Guard on a combat deployment in Iraq. Though in Congress full time, she still performs her Guard duty.

Tulsi’s own military experience notwithstanding, she gives every indication of being honestly anti-war. In the speech announcing her candidacy she pledged “focus on the issue of war and peace” to “end the regime-change wars that have taken far too many lives and undermined our security by strengthening terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda.” She referred to the danger posed by blundering into a possible nuclear war and indicated her dismay over what appears to be a re-emergence of the Cold War.

In a recent interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, Gabbard doubled down on her anti-war credentials, telling the host that war with Iran would be “devastating,” adding that “I know where this path leads us and I’m concerned because the American people don’t seem to be prepared for how devastating and costly such a war would be… So, what we are facing is, essentially, a war that has no frontlines, total chaos, engulfs the whole region, is not contained within Iran or Iraq but would extend to Syria and Lebanon and Israel across the region, setting us up in a situation where, in Iraq, we lost over 4,000 of my brothers and sisters in uniform. A war with Iran would take far more American lives, it would cost more civilian lives across the region… Not to speak of the fact that this would cost trillions of taxpayer dollars coming out of our pockets to go and pay for this endless war that begs the question as a soldier, what are we fighting for? What does victory look like? What is the mission?”

Gabbard, and also Carlson, did not hesitate to name names among those pushing for war, one of which begins with B-O-L-T-O-N. She then asked “How does a war with Iran serve the best interest of the American people of the United States? And the fact is it does not,” Gabbard said. “It better serves the interest of people like [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Bibi Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia who are trying to push us into this war with Iran.”

Clearly not afraid to challenge the full gamut establishment politics, Tulsi Gabbard had previously called for an end to the “illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government,” also observing that “the war to overthrow Assad is counter-productive because it actually helps ISIS and other Islamic extremists achieve their goal of overthrowing the Syrian government of Assad and taking control of all of Syria – which will simply increase human suffering in the region, exacerbate the refugee crisis, and pose a greater threat to the world.” She then backed up her words with action by secretly arranging for a personal trip to Damascus in 2017 to meet with President Bashar al-Assad, saying it was important to meet adversaries “if you are serious about pursuing peace.” She made her own assessment of the situation in Syria and now favors pulling US troops out of the country as well as ending American interventions for “regime change” in the region.

In 2015, Gabbard supported President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran and in 2016 she backed Bernie Sanders’ antiwar candidacy. More recently, she has criticized President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. Last May, she criticized Israel for shooting “unarmed protesters” in Gaza, a very bold step indeed given the power of the Israel Lobby.

Tulsi Gabbard could well be the only genuine antiwar candidate that might truly be electable in the past fifty years, and that is why the war party is out to get her. Two weeks ago, the Daily Beast displayed a headline: “Tulsi Gabbard’s Campaign Is Being Boosted by Putin Apologists.” The article also had a sub-headline: “The Hawaii congresswoman is quickly becoming the top candidate for Democrats who think the Russian leader is misunderstood.”

The obvious smear job was picked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, television’s best known Hillary Clinton clone, who brought it up in an interview with Gabbard shortly thereafter. He asked whether Gabbard was “softer” on Putin than were some of the other candidates. Gabbard answered: “It’s unfortunate that you’re citing that article, George, because it’s a whole lot of fake news.” Politico the reported the exchange and wrote: “’Fake news’ is a favorite phrase of President Donald Trump…,” putting the ball back in Tulsi’s court rather than criticizing Stephanopoulos’s pointless question. Soon thereafter CNN produced its own version of Tulsi the Russophile, observing that Gabbard was using a Trump expression to “attack the credibility of negative coverage.”

Tulsi responded “Stephanopoulos shamelessly implied that because I oppose going to war with Russia, I’m not a loyal American, but a Putin puppet. It just shows what absurd lengths warmongers in the media will go, to try to destroy the reputation of anyone who dares oppose their warmongering.”

Tulsi Gabbard had attracted other enemies prior to the Stephanopoulos attack. Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept described how NBC news published a widely distributed story on February 1st, claiming that “experts who track websites and social media linked to Russia have seen stirrings of a possible campaign of support for Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard.”

But the expert cited by NBC turned out to be a firm New Knowledge, which was exposed by no less than The New York Times for falsifying Russian troll accounts for the Democratic Party in the Alabama Senate race to suggest that the Kremlin was interfering in that election. According to Greenwald, the group ultimately behind this attack on Gabbard is The Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), which sponsors a tool called Hamilton 68, a news “intelligence net checker” that claims to track Russian efforts to disseminate disinformation. The ASD website advises that “Securing Democracy is a Global Necessity.”

ASD was set up in 2017 by the usual neocon crowd with funding from The Atlanticist and anti-Russian German Marshall Fund. It is loaded with a full complement of Zionists and interventionists/globalists, to include Michael Chertoff, Michael McFaul, Michael Morell, Kori Schake and Bill Kristol. It claims, innocently, to be a bipartisan transatlantic national security advocacy group that seeks to identify and counter efforts by Russia to undermine democracies in the United States and Europe but it is actually itself a major source of disinformation.

No doubt stories headlined “Tulsi Gabbard Communist Stooge” are in the works somewhere in the mainstream media. The Establishment politicians and their media component have difficulty in understanding just how much they are despised for their mendacity and unwillingness to support policies that would truly benefit the American people but they are well able to dominate press coverage. Given the flood of contrived negativity towards her campaign, it is not clear if Tulsi Gabbard will ever be able to get her message across. But, for the moment, she seems to be the “real thing,” a genuine anti-war candidate who is determined to run on that platform. It might just resonate with the majority of Americans who have grown tired of perpetual warfare to “spread democracy” and other related frauds perpetrated by the band of oligarchs and traitors that run the United States.

‘In Gold We Trust’: Waning confidence in US dollar sends world’s central banks on buying spree – by Darius Shahtahmasebi (RT) 6 June 2019

‘In Gold We Trust’: Waning confidence in US sends world’s central banks on buying spree
Governments around the world have recently been on a “gold-buying spree.” These countries have a tactful reason for doing so, and this reason is directly tied to the anticipation of the inevitable end of US hegemony.

Central banks are among the largest purchasers of gold. So far in 2019, they have bought 145.5 tons of gold, which is more in a quarter of a year than central banks have purchased in the preceding six years. To put it bluntly, this figure represents a 68 percent increase from the year before. Last year, central banks increased their reserves by 651.5 tonnes compared to 375 tonnes in 2017. Reportedly, this is the largest net purchase of gold since 1967.

Most interesting, however, is the class of countries that we find are turning to hoarding more and more gold, many of which are deemed to be adversaries of Washington.

As always, Russia is the largest buyer of gold. In 2018, Russia’s Central Bank purchased 274.3 tons of gold. It also dumped 84 percent of its US treasury debts (we will come back to why this is important later.)

Turkey, another country which has signalled a shift away from the US-EU alliance and a greater willingness to cooperate with US economic and military rivals such as Russia, China, and even Iran, has sold off around 38 percent of its US debt and purchased more and more gold.

Other notable nations increasing their gold supply include Kazakhstan , Ecuador, Qatar, Serbia and Colombia, according to recent statistics. Even the Philippines has joined the gold-bandwagon, increasing its gold holdings in foreign reserves, as well as passing gold-specific legislation to assist small-scale miners in the country.

Why gold?

As a commodity, gold is interesting for a number of reasons. While many countries may have a vested interest in moving away from the stranglehold of the US and rely less and less on the dollar, we still have to ask ourselves: why would gold provide a meaningful solution in the interim?

Well, as Incrementum AG’s annual “In Gold We Trust” report explains:“trust looks to the future, forms itself in the present, and feeds itself from the past. As monetary asset, gold can look back on a successful five-thousand-year history in which it was able to maintain its purchasing power over long periods of time and never became worthless. Gold is the universal reserve asset to which central banks, investors, and private individuals from every corner of the world and of every religion and every class return again and again.

You see, this isn’t just about a secret, twisted desire of a handful of nations who seek the destruction of the United States economy. In fact, I would venture to say it is the complete opposite. It is about the erosion of trust. The United States can no longer be trusted to act fairly on the international stage. It imposes its will on other nations, using the leverage it maintains over the US dollar to strongarm countries into submission. As Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a recent interview:

This is what I believe is happening to the international community…that is people think twice before they talk to the United States because the know that what they agree today may not hold tomorrow.

Essentially, gold gives people “comfort.” You don’t have to go too far to see this type of thinking spreading to nations which once were regarded as close allies of Washington. According to a Malaysian outlet called Free Malaysia Today, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently called for the formation of a new currency backed by gold, which he believed would protect East Asian economies from trader manipulation.

He also reportedly spoke about the influence of the US and how it was not advantageous for the international financial markets to be tied to a single currency belonging to a nation state.

You [the US] are not democratic,” Mohamad said. “That is not for any single power to decide. If you want to live in a united world, a stable world, we must resort to sustainability through agreement between all nations that have a stake in that problem.”

Washington’s economic Achilles heel

Once upon a time, the US dollar was backed by the gold standard in a framework known as the Bretton-Woods agreement. The system ended up being short-lived, as President Richard Nixon announced that the US would be abandoning the gold standard in 1971. Instead, the Nixon Administration reached a deal with Saudi Arabia which became known as the Petrodollar Recycling system as the nations involved would have to invest excess profits back into the US. Sooner or later, every single member of OPEC had begun trading oil in US dollars.

While typically written off as a conspiracy theory, a widely undervalued economic theory stipulates that Washington’s ability to dominate the global financial markets is predominantly explained by the fact that all oil exports are conducted in transactions involving the US dollar on the international market (with only a small number of exceptions). The US dollar is also the world reserve currency, meaning most global transactions are done using the dollar anyway.

Even mainstream magazines who reject the theory – such as Foreign Policy – are forced to note that:

It does matter slightly that the trade typically takes place in dollars. This means that those wishing to buy oil must acquire dollars to buy the oil, which increases the demand for dollars in world financial markets.”

Those people who write this arrangement off as a conspiracy theory just aren’t reading the right commentaries. As far back as 1989, writing in his book The Roaring ‘80s, former Rhodes Scholar, Emmy Award-winning TV host, and Wall Street insider George Goodman (a.k.a. Adam Smith) brilliantly explained why the US dollar was so strong and had yet to have had its bubble popped:

First, we have a large reservoir of moral credit from our position as a world military leader and from our past as an investor and lender. Second, the dollar is the key currency. Dollars are what the world banks in, insures in, denominates. Before the dollar, it was the pound sterling, and the British got an extension on the tenure of their empire because the world hadn’t found another currency in which to denominate. If you operate in the key currency, it takes longer for the whistle to blow.” 

Even if it was a crazy, baseless conspiracy theory for fringe YouTube communities, these are the terms in which the rest of the world certainly views this one-sided financial arrangement. This line of thinking also explains why the US uses its stranglehold over the dollar to bully other countries into submission through the use of sanctions. It also explains why other nations see Washington’s power over the global financial sector as its Achilles heel ultimately.

As stated by the head of Russia’s second largest bank Andrei Kostin in a speech last year:

The reign of the dollar must end…This whip that the Americans use in the form of the dollar would then, to a great extent, not have such a serious impact on the global financial system.

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Trump Urges Scotchland to Declare Independence – Re-Build Hadrian’s Wall – Make Mexico Pay For It! – 6 June 2019

Had w 33

London, England: In another of the seemingly endless parade of silly ideas US President Donald Trump has suggested that Scotland should re-build Hadrian’s Wall which was constructed during the time of the Roman Empire to keep the northern barbarians out of Roman civilization.

hadrians weeeee

“Scotch people have a right to independence, they should exercise that right,” Trump told a gaggle of reporters as he strolled out of a meeting in Buckingham Palace.  “The UK is always sticking its nose into other countries and saying national groups should break away, from Tibet to Syria and wherever.  People in Scotchland should have the same rights.”

Had wall 2

When a reporter pointed out that no one uses the term “Scotch” anymore because being Scottish became a fad for upper class English people in the 1930’s.  Using the term was considered archaic anachronistic and a bit of an insult to the people of Scotland.

Trump responded curtly, “More politically correct nonsense.  Why do we have Scotch whiskey?  In America we have Scotch tape.  Have you ever seen scotch plaid, or had scotch broth?  Did these words come from another planet, or are you like some Globalist Liberal Maoist Red Guard purging the old ideas and hounding anyone who doesn’t get in line?”

Reporters shook their heads, rolled their eyes, and clucked their tongues.  How did this man become president?

…………………..

Vimeo: Trump Turnberry Scotland Wedding Video By White Balloon Films

‘Velvet Rage’ Childhood Rejections Lead to a Lifetime of Anger Alcoholism Abuse of Drugs for Some Gay Men – by Paul Flynn and Matthew Todd (Guardian) 19 Feb 2011

Pride and prejudice for gay men

Gay men are four times more likely to suffer from depression than straight men. The reason? According to therapist Alan Downs, it’s a toxic cocktail of anger and rejection, which he calls “velvet rage”. Here, he discusses his controversial self-help manual – plus, starting right, we hear five very personal “coming out” stories

 

velvet rage andy goff
“I couldn’t accept that I could be with a fella”: Andy Goff in his pub in Redhill, Surrey.

The window of Alan Downs’s therapy practice overlooks Santa Monica Boulevard and the heart of Los Angeles’s glossy gay ghetto, West Hollywood. The psychologist can stare out at the gay gym he uses and the “very gay” restaurant he dined at the evening before we talk. In the distance is the Hollywood sign. Downs is at the heart of LA’s gay community, yet the book that has made his name completely reassesses the modern gay experience, holding up an unsparing mirror to it.

Downs’s spry self-help manual is called The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World. It is becoming a touchstone in gay culture just as Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin was in the 30s, Larry Kramer’s Faggots in the 70s and Edmund White’s A Boy’s Own Story in the 80s. But The Velvet Rage is not fiction: it addresses the myth of gay pride and, after three decades of post-Aids concentration on gay men’s physical health, turns inward to their mental wellbeing.

Its snappy title is slipping, sometimes ironically, into the gay lexicon. Man orders fifth pint at the bar: “It’s OK, it’s just my velvet rage.” Boyfriend finds partner trawling through the thousands of profiles on sex-on-demand website Gaydar: “But it’s my velvet rage.”

Downs coined the phrase to refer to a very specific anger he encountered in his gay patients – whether it was manifested in drug abuse, promiscuity or alcoholism – and whose roots, the book argues, are found in childhood shame and parental rejection. “Velvet rage is the deep and abiding anger that results from growing up in an environment when I learn that who I am as a gay person is unacceptable, perhaps even unlovable,” he explains. “This anger pushes me at times to overcompensate and try to earn love and acceptance by being more, better, beautiful, more sexy – in short, to become something I believe will make me more acceptable and loved.”

 

It is a controversial theory, but for a book whose only marketing campaign has been word of mouth, it is having a profound impact. The Velvet Rage was first published in 2005, but it has been a slow-burn success – in each of his royalty statements Downs has noticed that sales have markedly increased. On the last, the figures doubled. And his appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show hasn’t hurt his cause. Downs’s invitation, as he understands it, came after the boyfriend of one of the show’s producers left her for a man. She picked up a copy of the book in the aftermath and begged Oprah to put the author on the couch. Winfrey took the book home and became one of The Velvet Rage’s first and most powerful advocates.

Downs’s argument is that feelings of worthlessness can be created in childhood quite unintentionally, and these lead gay adults to search for an unachievable perfection. “We have created a gay culture that is, in most senses, unlivable. The expectation is that you have the beautiful body, that you have lots of money, that you have a beautiful boyfriend with whom you have wonderful, toe-curling sex every night… none of us have that. To try to achieve that really makes us miserable. The next phase of gay history, I believe, is for us to come to terms with creating a culture that is livable and comfortable.”

Downs’s belief is shared by other mental-health professionals. Therapist David Smallwood, who is the former head of addiction treatment at the Priory, and a blunt-speaking recovering alcoholic, goes one step further. “Gay pride is an adaption,” he says, “a way of dealing with something we can’t deal with. We put on this TV picture and what we show is: ‘I’m proud to be gay.’ Underneath that, we might be dying inside.”

Downs identifies a litany of compulsions as adult manifestations of “velvet rage”. “If you give people in pain an anaesthetic they make use of it,” says Tim Franks, from the British gay charity Pace. “They may then become habitual users of that anaesthetic.”

Less problematic gay issues, but ones that struck a deep chord with me, include the unusually sophisticated knowledge of superficial cultures – pop music, fashion or film, for example – among many gay men. These can be seen as inauthentic compensations for the rejection we felt as children. Downs notes the high numbers of gay men working as stylists, hairdressers and fashion designers. “Because of our childhoods we’re good at these jobs. It is a specific gay talent because of invalidation. We are talented at stepping into something that’s a mess and cleaning it up and putting a fabulous facade on it.”

velvet rage alan downs
All the rage: Author and therapist Alan Downs.

The Velvet Rage also deals with depression, self-harm and suicide, body dysmorphia and eating disorders – four times as likely in gay men as their straight counterparts. Conspicuous consumption and a culture of exhaustive gay acquisition – that absolute need to have the newest and shiniest and best of everything – is deconstructed. If Downs seems to penetrate to the centre of the modern gay condition with almost preternatural ease, it is because he’s writing from confessional as well as professional perspective. His research was drawn from treating patients in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and from his own upbringing in a small-town, conservative Pentecostal church family in Louisiana.

“Clearly, because I was Pentecostal, I was going straight to hell for being gay,” says Downs. “Hence my own experience with shame. I often say the God of my childhood had anger-management problems.” Churches are particularly culpable, believes Tim Franks, for velvet rage. “Some gay men grow up in cultures where they will be told in no uncertain terms that God hates them. That’s a very significant message to grow up with.” Educational establishments don’t acquit themselves too well, either, he adds. “Homophobic bullying in schools in this country is still epidemic. It’s absolutely rife. Most British schools are not safe places to be gay.”

By putting the more celebrated, creative aspects of gay culture in the spotlight, and suggesting that beneath them lurk serious psychological issues, the book has caused a stir, and Downs himself has drawn criticism. “It’s a minority of readers, but it’s a sizable minority,” he says. “Probably somewhere around 15% of readers will get quite angry. The question I get a lot is, ‘If I want to have as much sex as I want then what is the problem with that? Why pathologise that?’ I am not, in fact, pathologising that, but people have interpreted it as such. My response to that is if that’s working for you, if that’s bringing you lasting fulfilment and creating a life that you feel really is the life that you want to live, then go for it.”

Is this all about rebranding self-loathing for a new era? “Only if you buy the argument that the cause of our problems is being gay,” says Downs, “and not the invalidation we went through as children. I do fear that as the book becomes more popular those who would like to misinterpret it or to take some small piece of it and take it out of context could do so. But what I’m saying is that it’s invalidation – not being gay – that creates the problems.”

Everyone WHO I speak to about Velvet Rage insists it is important to remember, amid the hype around the book, that, as Franks puts it: “Many gay men are able to grow up and have happy, successful adult lives with meaningful relationships, friendships and sex. I don’t want us to get into this idea that we’re all broken.”

You imagine that if the book brings greater awareness of gay mental-health issues, that can only be a good thing. Franks began his work at Pace with a systematic review of National Institute for Mental Health research. “What they found was that lesbian and gay people were up to two-and-a-half times more likely to become alcohol or drug dependent, over two-and-a-half times more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression disorders. Gay men particularly were up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. The report concludes by saying that ‘lesbian, gay and bisexual people are at significantly higher risk of mental disorder, suicide ideation, substance abuse and deliberate self-harm than heterosexual people.’ This is a very, very serious issue.”

The report further says: “It is likely that the social hostility, stigma and discriminations most LGB people experience is at least likely to be part of the reason for the higher rates of psychological morbidity observed. Prejudice against homosexuality is unlike other intolerance in that it can reach into families. Rejection by parents of their own children because of their sexual orientation is likely to have a severe emotional impact.”

The government welfare cuts are not good news here. “By default rather than by design we are going to be massacred,” says Franks. “We’re in deep trouble. Less than a third of mental-health services in this country monitor sexual orientation. Our needs are invisible. When mental-health charities are planning what to provide for we are not on the radar. Nobody is looking.”

Franks is setting up a research project in association with Brunel, Southbank, Aston and Greenwich Universities into mental-health issues for gay people. Working with David Smallwood, he is also in the planning stages for running velvet rage workshops around the country in conjunction with Attitude magazine. Editor Matthew Todd dedicated a whole issue to the subject last year “and received more mail from readers than we have had on any subject in the 15 years I have been here”.

If gay men are going to have to self-diagnose and treat their own mental-health issues, lending a well-thumbed copy of The Velvet Rage might present the first Elastoplast to the problem. “When you read it, it all seems so very obvious,” says therapist David Smallwood, “but no one had written it down before. I don’t want it to seem like I’m a single-issue fanatic. All I’m saying is that when I see someone that is troubled in this way I will bet my next 20 years’ salary on where it started. I start dealing with gay men that have issues around sex or drugs or alcohol and within five minutes I know that we are into their childhood. So I think that every gay man to some extent will have been affected by velvet rage.”

Downs has assumed an almost messianic place in the lives of those who have absorbed his thinking. He has broken the implicit language of half a century’s gay culture and flipped it on its head. The central axis of an individual’s gay narrative, one that used to concentrate on the coming-out story either as a teenager or later, has been shifted back into childhood. The result is that gayness appears to be a psychological as much as sexual condition. Historically, gay culture has been underpinned by the word “pride”. Now Downs has identified a clear relationship with shame.

“I do think that a lot of the issues in The Velvet Rage have pushed gay men and gay culture to create thoroughly wonderful things,” says Downs, “but the question that each of us must ask is: ‘Is this the life that I want for myself?’ When you read the biographies of most people who have been incredibly successful in the creative world, they haven’t always achieved a personal life that is satisfying and fulfilling. That is my concern as a psychologist.”

Downs is currently writing his follow-up book. It will be called Peter Pan Becomes a Man. “The subtitle is The Eternal Boy Grows Up. The new book really delves into our emotional adolescence and how we seem to be stuck in a cycle and how it stops us leading deeply attached and healthy relationships.”

For now, though, Downs is delighted he got his publishers to change the artwork on the paperback edition of The Velvet Rage from the original bland illustration of a man in a suit. It now features a black-and-white photograph of young schoolboys in a row – one standing out in his shocking-pink tie.