Thursday, August 24, 2017

Korean War Cancelled

Let us Markey this day down as a turning point in the Pacific:

"Senator Ed Markey wants to see tougher sanctions on North Korea aimed at bringing the rogue nation to talks with the United States. “I appreciate China’s support for the latest rounds of sanctions,” said Markey, speaking from a military base in Japan after a tour of Asia with other members of Congress. “I still don’t think it goes far enough.” Markey’s trip included a visit to the China-North Korea border, where he witnessed a truckload of fuel heading to North Korea. Fuel imports are among the goods that still can be imported to North Korea under the current rules. Markey, who is the top Democrat on a Senate foreign relations panel that oversees Asia, is in the final stretch of a congressional trip to the region that included stops in Japan and South Korea, where he met with President Moon Jae-in. The trip comes amid a rocky period for US relations with North Korea, which has angered the United States. At one point President Trump seemed to threaten nuclear war. That kind of language has caused deep concerns in the area, Markey said. “They do not want a second Korean war to be fought,” Markey said after meeting with regional leaders. “And they want for there to be a diplomatic resolution to the issue.” However, they’re also worried about crossing Trump, Markey said. “The leaders have decided to not publicly criticize President Trump,” Markey said. Instead, Markey said Asian leaders are taking their cues from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has been less bombastic....."

Well, that's Exxon, right?

Markey sounds a lot like Bannon, doesn't he?

"China on Wednesday urged the United States to withdraw new sanctions it imposed on Chinese companies that Washington says are supporting North Korea as it carries out increasingly ambitious missile tests. On Tuesday, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on 16 mainly Chinese and Russian companies and people for assisting North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and helping it to make money to support those programs. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular briefing that China opposes unilateral sanctions and ‘‘the long-arm jurisdiction taken’’ by the United States against Chinese entities and individuals. Meanwhile....."

Typhoon Hato moves through southern China?

No, "The 'threat' posed by China to America is that it will win the economic war, become the world economic leader, and not being first is inconceivable to American supremacists."

Interesting in light of all the race-baiting in AmeriKa right now, and quite perceptive.

"Navy relieves admiral in charge of 7th Fleet in wake of deadly disasters at sea" by Dan Lamothe The Washington Post  August 23, 2017

The collisions have shocked the Navy, where good seamanship and avoiding collisions are a fundamental expectation and demand. Admiral John M. Richardson, the chief of naval operations, announced Monday that he is ordering an ‘‘operational pause’’ across the globe in which commanders take a day or two each to make sure that sailors understand the fundamentals of good seamanship. He also directed a four-star officer, Admiral Phil Davidson of Fleet Forces Command, to launch a separate review of the 7th Fleet over the next few months to assess its culture, operations, and readiness for missions.

The 7th Fleet has headquarters in Yokosuka, Japan, and is responsible for an area that spans 36 maritime countries and 48 million square miles in the Pacific and Indian oceans, according to the Navy. The fleet has about 50 to 70 ships assigned to it, including about a dozen at sea at any time. The force’s missions range from responding to natural disasters to countering North Korean threats and Chinese audaciousness in the South China Sea, where Beijing has established new military bases.

‘‘I think it’s important to note that the 7th Fleet is out there all the time, and it has been since World War II ended,’’ said retired Vice Admiral Peter Daly, the chief executive officer of the US Naval Institute. ‘‘It has been heel-to-toe. It has been ships there all the time, and ships deploying there all the time to augment the ships that are already there.’’


Daly said the recent accidents have highlighted what appears to be a disparity between how well ships that are based in Japan perform, as compared with ships that are based in the continental United States or Hawaii and set sail from there. The difference, Daly said, has sparked ‘‘a healthy concern’’ about why there is a difference between the two.

The unusual nature of the accidents has prompted senior Navy leaders to rebut speculation that sabotage or a cyber attack may have caused them. There is no indication either occurred, Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, said Tuesday.

The fact that they would feel the need to address such a thing means those espousing such are on the right track.

The scrutiny comes as the Navy remains mired in a corruption scandal in which Malaysian defense contractor Leonard Francis offered prostitutes, cash, gifts, and other favors in exchange for information as he made hundreds of millions of dollars of business from the Navy. At least 19 defendants have been convicted, with at least 10 more cases pending.


"A commander is the 12th Navy official to be charged in a wide-ranging bribery case involving a Malaysian defense contractor. Mario Herrera is accused of accepting prostitutes, luxury trips, and $1,800 in steaks from Leonard Glenn Francis in exchange for classified information. Herrera could not be reached for comment. According to the complaint, Herrera and other US Navy 7th Fleet officers who helped Francis called themselves the ‘‘Band of Brothers’’ and the ‘‘Wolf Pack.’’ Francis pleaded guilty to fraud involving his ship supply company. Prosecutors say the firm, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, bilked the Navy out of $35 million."


Globe must have missed the boat, huh?

But there’s another issue at play. Daly and another 7th Fleet veteran, Scott Cheney-Peters, said that years of the Navy reducing its number of ships has taxed the crews of those on the remaining vessels, as the Navy does more with less..... 

As if the war machine wasn't going to be getting enough money, now we will also need a draft!

That means women, too!


"Malaysian leader in billion-dollar scandal is invited to White House" New York Times  August 23, 2017

Gee, all of a sudden Malaysia pops up.

WASHINGTON — President Trump has invited Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia to visit the White House in September despite Najib’s reported involvement in a billion-dollar corruption scandal.

The White House said in a statement Wednesday that the visit was intended to “strengthen and broaden our bilateral relationship and expand regional cooperation with one of America’s closest partners in Southeast Asia.”

The invitation represents a significant boost to Najib’s international standing and is likely to put to rest rumors in Malaysia that he would be arrested the next time he stepped on US soil.

In July, the Justice Department filed a civil complaint in a money-laundering case outlining how Najib, identified as “Malaysian Official 1,” received $731 million from a government fund he oversaw.

Investigators around the world are reportedly tracking the money trail to his bank accounts.

Critics say the visit, scheduled for Sept. 12, also demonstrates that the Trump administration places concerns about corruption well behind other issues. 

Same as what successive U.S. governments have been doing for decades. What's your point?

Najib is yet another visitor to the Trump White House with a history of suppressing free speech and intimidating the political opposition, said Robert G. Berschinski of the advocacy group Human Rights First.

Well, he ought to feel right at home in Bo$ton after this last weekend.


"Cambodia shutters independent radio, boots out US NGO" Associated Press  August 23, 2017

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Two independent Cambodian radio stations that allowed rare criticism of the government said Wednesday they are being forced to shut down, further limiting opportunities for political activity and expression ahead of next year’s general election.

The radio stations announced the closures the same day the foreign ministry ordered foreign staff members of the Washington-based National Democratic Institute to leave the country within a week. The government accused of group, which gets US government support, of violating laws on nongovernmental organizations and taxes.

The institute, affiliated with the US Democratic Party, promotes democracy and election monitoring worldwide. 

It's a CIA front, folks. The Republicans also have one.

The moves appeared to be part of an effort to rein in media and public watchdogs ahead of the polls, in which the ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen is expected to face a strong challenge.

Hun Sen has held power for three decades, employing authoritarian methods in a nominally democratic framework. After being shocked by the strong challenge he faced in 2013’s general election, he moved to undermine the opposition, using pliant courts and a rubber-stamp legislature to neutralize opposition leaders with a series of politically motivated lawsuits and criminal charges. Still, the opposition made gains in nationwide local elections this past June.

Yeah, we were warned about Hun Sen, and think the Southeast Asian version of Venezuela -- although Hun Sen certainly seems like he has more control than Maduro.


He must be cozying up to China.

"At least seven people were killed Wednesday in southern Afghanistan when a Taliban suicide car bomber struck an Afghan National Army convoy, Afghan officials said. It was the first major attack since President Trump announced his strategy for Afghanistan in a speech Monday night. The explosion killed two women and a child as well as four soldiers. Another 38 people were wounded, most of them civilians, said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand province. The Taliban claimed responsibility....."

Just following in father's footsteps.

"Saudi teen danced the ‘Macarena.’ Then he was arrested" by Sudarsan Raghavan The Washington Post  August 23, 2017

CAIRO — It was a rare and subversive action in Saudi Arabia.

A 14-year-old is seen in a video dancing to the 1990s hit ‘‘Macarena’’ in the middle of a street in the Saudi city of Jiddah.

He’s wearing black headphones, a striped shirt, Nike shorts, baby blue crocs — and a wide, happy smile. The video has gone viral.

On Tuesday, Saudi authorities arrested the teen. His crime, according to Colonel Atti bin Attia Al-Qurashi, a police spokesman, is that the dancing was ‘‘a disruption of traffic and violation of public morality,’’ the government-linked Sabq news site reported.

The arrest comes at somewhat of a crossroads for the Sunni kingdom. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, is trying to modernize the conservative society and make it less stifling culturally.

He has encouraged art and food festivals and live music concerts that have in the past been banned.

The fun in the sun is only for certain people.

But the teen’s arrest underscores the strong traditional influences that still grip society in a nation where Western dancing and music is frowned upon.


Related: Air strike on hotel outside Sanaa 'leaves 30 dead'

That's the future of war before the celebratory barbecue.

"Egypt’s leader, Kushner meet after cut in American aid" by Menna Zaki Associated Press  August 23, 2017

CAIRO — Egypt’s president and foreign minister met with White House adviser Jared Kushner on Wednesday, just hours after the Trump administration cut or delayed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Cairo over human rights concerns.

Kushner, who is also President Trump’s son-in-law, was in Cairo as part of a Middle East tour aimed at exploring ways to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Bannon called him a green kid (I'm being polite).

A modified version of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s schedule had earlier showed the meeting with Kushner cancelled, which was widely seen as a snub in protest at the aid cuts. But Shoukry later sat in on Kushner’s meeting with President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi and met with the American delegation separately at the Foreign Ministry.

Kushner’s delegation includes Jason Greenblatt, the US envoy for international negotiations, and Dina Powell, the deputy national security adviser.

The Trump administration on Tuesday cut nearly $100 million in military and economic aid to Egypt and delayed almost $200 million more in military financing, citing Egypt’s poor human rights record and its crackdown on civic and other nongovernmental groups.

The move came as a surprise to many, given the close ties forged since Trump took office. The president has repeatedly hailed El Sisi as a key ally in the fight against terrorism.

Not me! Afghanistan was only the first about face!

In a statement, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Cairo regretted the US decision, calling it a ‘‘misjudgment of the nature of the strategic relations that have bound the two countries for decades.’’

It said the move ‘‘reflects the lack of careful understanding of the importance of supporting the stability and success of Egypt as well as the size and nature of the security and economic challenges faced by the Egyptian people.’’ The decision, it warned, may have ‘‘negative consequences for the realization of common US-Egyptian interests.’’ It did not elaborate. 

I will: Russia!

Egypt is among the top recipients of US military and economic assistance, receiving about $1.5 billion annually. The $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic aid is linked to Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel, and underpins a US-Egyptian security relationship that is now mostly aimed at fighting terrorism.

We all know that, and that was where the print ended and the web adders begin.

Egypt is like Turkey now, all about its own national interest even though Sissi has been our thug on the sly.

In recent years, Egypt has clamped down on civil society, particularly human rights groups and other organizations that receive foreign funding. Such groups played a central role in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, and progovernment media often present them as part of a conspiracy to undermine the state. 

Sissi is worse than Mubarak, but at least the Arab Spring gave you a fresh-faced dictator (like Yemen).

The authorities have arrested thousands of people since El Sisi led the 2013 military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist who won the country’s first freely contested election.

Morsi's mistake was throwing open the gates to Gaza.

Most of those in detention are Islamist supporters of Morsi, but a number of prominent liberal and secular activists have also been jailed.

Trump made no public mention of human rights when he warmly welcomed El Sisi to the White House in April, an omission that many took as a sign that the issue was not a priority for the administration.

But two months later, two senators from Trump’s Republican Party slammed as ‘‘Draconian’’ a new Egyptian law that effectively bans the work of nongovernmental organizations and urged its repeal.

They are angry because the Egyptians are kicking out the CIA.

Egypt has defended the law, which provoked an international backlash, saying it was drafted and approved according to its constitution.

Egypt is grappling with an insurgency by Islamic militants in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, an ailing economy, and a rapidly growing population of 93 million. The militants, led by a local affiliate of the Islamic State, have in recent months targeted Egypt’s large Christian minority, killing scores in a spate of attacks.

Kushner has meanwhile been trying to revive Middle East peace talks, which last collapsed in 2014. He has made little evident progress, and has yet to lay out a clear vision for what Trump has called the ‘‘ultimate deal.’’

He and his delegation traveled to Jordan on Tuesday, where they met with King Abdullah II. They also visited Saudi Arabia and Qatar, according to local media reports.

On Thursday, the delegation is expected to hold separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but no major breakthroughs are expected. 

He has been over there a lot.

Trump has yet to fully endorse a two-state solution, which has been at the heart of US policy for nearly two decades. He has said it’s up to Israel and the Palestinians to decide the shape of a final settlement. 

He didn't visit Egypt last time around, did he?


Related: Egypt arrests 'organ trafficking ring' 

It's related to tourism and the Globe must have missed those.

Suspects were in France before terror attacks in Spain

And before then?

Sorry, no repentance.

You know what is the solution, and never mind those self-driving suicider hackers?

Time to go down for a while.