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24-Feb-17 World View -- Malaysia - N. Korea relations turn toxic over assassination of Kim Jong-un's half brother

BBC reporter Mike Embley is completely full of crap

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Malaysia continues investigation of Kim Jong-nam's death, despite N. Korea objections


North Korea's ambassador Kang Chol tells the press on Monday that Malaysia is 'colluding with hostile forces,' referring to South Korea.  (Reuters)
North Korea's ambassador Kang Chol tells the press on Monday that Malaysia is 'colluding with hostile forces,' referring to South Korea. (Reuters)

Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un, died last week in Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia. Malaysian investigators have determined that two women used a handkerchief to apply poison to Jong-nam in the middle of the airport, and he died several minutes later from the poison on the way to the hospital. The two women are in custody.

Malaysia's police have identified either North Koreans in connection with the assassination, two of whom are in custody, while two others have fled the country.

Two other North Koreans wanted for questioning are hiding out in the North Korean embassy. One is a senior diplomat, Hyon Kwang Song. The other works for the state-owned Air Koryo airline. Malaysia has asked North Korean officials to make both of them available for questioning, a request that has not been granted and may never be granted. Straits Times (Singapore) and NBC News

North Korea blames the assassination of Kim Jong-nam on South Korea

North Korea's state-run news agency KCNA published its own version of "a citizen of the DPRK [North Korea]" died. The KCNA report does not give his name (Kim Jong-nam), and does not say that he's related to the president. Here are some excerpts from the KCNA report:

"Pyongyang: A citizen of the DPRK bearing a diplomatic passport suddenly fell into a state of shock before boarding an airliner and died on the way to a hospital in Malaysia on February 13.

At that time the Foreign Ministry of Malaysia and the hospital side informed the DPRK embassy in Kuala Lumpur exercising the right to consular protection of DPRK citizens that they confirmed he died of heart stroke and decided to transfer his body to the embassy and get it cremated.

So the DPRK embassy confirmed his identity and asked the Malaysian side to transfer his body.

However, no sooner had south Korean conservative media published a false report that he was “poisoned to death”, citing it as “source from the government” that night, then the Malaysian secret police got involved in the case and recklessly made it an established fact, only to make matters complicated.

The DPRK embassy made it clear that autopsy is not necessary as his death had already been confirmed as the one due to heart stroke and autopsy should never be done as he enjoyed extraterritorial right according to the Vienna Convention as a carrier of diplomatic passport.

Nevertheless, the Malaysian side, in disregard of the DPRK’s just demand and international law, made an autopsy of the body without any prior agreement with the DPRK side and its presence. Moreover, the Malaysian side clamored for the second autopsy without publishing the results of the first autopsy."

The KCNA goes on to say that the whole thing was a plot of the South Korean government:

"What merits more serious attention is the fact that the unjust acts of the Malaysian side are timed to coincide with the anti-DPRK conspiratorial racket launched by the south Korean authorities. ...

On February 14, a day after his death, Chongwadae of south Korea kicked up a fuss over it and the south Korean authorities were busy holding a ministerial meeting on February 16, showing an excessive response. Moreover, they openly discussed the issue of THAAD deployment though it has nothing to do with the death of a DPRK citizen.

This proves that the south Korean authorities has long expected the case since it worked out a scenario for it."

So, if I understand the KCNA report, it's accusing South Korea of having planned the entire scenario for this "citizen's" death via "heart stroke."

The report concludes, "The DPRK will never allow any attempt to tarnish the image of the dignified power of independence and nuclear weapons state but make a thorough probe into the truth behind the case." Free Malaysia Today / KCNA (Pyongyang)

Relations between Malaysia and North Korea become vitriolic

It appears that Malaysia and North Korea have had close relationships in the past. Citizens of Malaysia are able to travel to North Korea and visit without a visa. However, relations have been on a downward trajectory for some time, particularly as North Korea has been testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

A major turning point in relations occurred in March 2016, with the unanimous adoption by the Security Council of resolution, which imposed stringent international sanctions on North Korea following a nuclear hydrogen bomb test. Malaysia seriously implemented the sanctions requirements, as did many other nations, serious souring relations between the two countries.

The assassination of Kim Jong-nam has added a new level of vitriol. North Korea's Ambassador Kang Chol demanded that Malaysia immediately turn the body to the North Korean embassy without conducting an autopsy. When Malaysia refused, Kang denied that Jong-nam is related to Kim Jong-un, and said Malaysia is "colluding with hostile forces," referring to South Korea.

Kang's accusations are a major insult to Malaysia. Malaysia recalled its ambassador to North Korea "for consultation," and foreign minister Anifah Aman said Kang's allegations "are culled from delusions, lies and half-truths."

Malaysian officials are refusing to release the body except in accordance with international law and Malaysian law. This means fully investigating "the cause of death together with its motive as it happened in our country."

The investigation is turning into a Shakespearean drama, with royal family members bumping each other off. Malaysian officials are demanding that a family member of the dead man come to Malaysia to identify the body and to undergo a DNA test, in order to that it's really Kim Jong-nam. Malaysian media are saying that some family member is expected to arrive on Saturday. Speculation is that it will be his son Kim Han-sol, though police are denying that report. The Diplomat and Straits Times (Singapore) and Sin Chew (Malaysia)

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BBC reporter Mike Embley is completely full of crap

As I'm writing this, I just heard BBC reporter Mike Embley state as a fact that Steve Bannon "is a white supremacist, anti-Semitic, and ran a news web site specializing in fake news."

I've worked with Steve Bannon, and I've been cross-posting on Breitbart since 2010, and none of this is even remotely true.

Mike Embley, if you're reading this: You're completely full of crap. It's hard for me to believe that anyone as stupid as you is on the air.

In 2005, the BBC suffered huge budget cuts after the Hutton Report found that they purposely lied all the time. The BBC calling anyone else "fake news" is laughable.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Feb-17 World View -- Malaysia - N. Korea relations turn toxic over assassination of Kim Jong-un's half brother thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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23-Feb-17 World View -- China preparing to install long-range missiles in South China Sea

China's ASEAN neighbors express increasing anxiety over China's illegal militarization

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China preparing to install long-range missiles in South China Sea


Chinese military activity around Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, May 21, 2015 (US Navy)
Chinese military activity around Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, May 21, 2015 (US Navy)

China has built artificial islands and military bases, annexing regions belonging to other countries, all in violation of international law, and specifically declared illegal by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague last year, but that isn't stopping China from continuing its massive illegal and dangerous military buildup in the South China Sea.

On Wednesday, reports emerged from unnamed US intelligence officials that China has built on its artificial islands more than twenty buildings designed to hold long-range surface-to-air missiles. The buildings are concrete structures with retractable roofs. The structures appear to be 20 meters (66 feet) long and 10 meters (33 feet) high.

When asked, China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang evaded the issue by saying, "China carrying out normal construction activities on its own territory, including deploying necessary and appropriate territorial defense facilities, is a normal right under international law for sovereign nations."

It's always so depressing to have to write these stories where China claims protection under international law when it's wildly violating international law and repeating the acts of the Nazis by annexing other countries' territories. This could only have led to a world war then, and it's going to lead to a world war now.

This week, China also announced that it will revise its 1984 Maritime Safety Law, with the purpose of barring selected foreign ships from passing through the South China Sea, which China claims. It's believed that the changes are intended to target the United States.

Foreign ships that enter without approval will be fined 300,000-500,000 yuan ($43,706-72,844) and those violating Chinese laws will be expelled, presumably by means of military force. "China's waters are open to foreign ships as long as they do not damage the waters' safety, order, or China's sovereignty," according to a Chinese official.

These actions come as an American aircraft-carrier strike group led by USS Carl Vinson conducting "routine" naval and air operations in the South China Sea this week similar to activities that have been performed for years to protect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion worth of trade passes each year. However, China calls these operations a "threat to China."

The two Chinese actions this week -- installing long-range surface-to-air missiles and planning to military action targeting foreign ships in the South China Sea -- bring the region and the world closer to war.

Reuters and VOA and Global Times (Beijing) and Lawfare and Asia Times

China's ASEAN neighbors express increasing anxiety over China's illegal militarization

Chas Freeman, a former assistant secretary of defense, said that China's apparent installation of long-range surface-to-air missiels is an "unfortunate, but not (an) unpredictable development," and said that the purpose of these buildings is not to signal President Trump, as some journalists are suggesting:

"There is a tendency here in Washington to imagine that it's all about us, but we are not a claimant in the South China Sea. We are not going to challenge China's possession of any of these land features in my judgment. If that's going to happen, it's going to be done by the Vietnamese, or ... the Filipinos ... or the Malaysians, who are the three counter-claimants of note."

Indeed, China's neighbors in ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations) are increasingly expressing concerns about China's military activities. Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said on Tuesday:

"The ASEAN ministers have been unanimous in their expression of concern about what they see as the militarization of the region. In so far as certain reclamation of certain features built on the South China Sea that had been completed, they (ASEAN ministers) have noticed, very unsettlingly, that China has installed weapons systems in these facilities that they have established."

The complaints by the Philippines are particularly telling, because president Rodrigo R. Duterte last year made a very public spectacle of "throwing the United States" out of the Philippines, and seeking to replace the US with China. As it's turned out, Duterte has been unable to eject the US because of opposition within his own government, and because of anxiety over China's increasingly hostile activities in the South China Sea.

The Philippine government is becoming particularly anxious over Scarborough Shoal, which has been a Philippine fishing ground for centuries. China has taken military control of the region around Scarborough Shoal, but has not yet built an artificial island or military base there, as it has in the Spratly Islands. An attempt by China to build a military base in that region could generate a strong nationalist backlash in the Philippines, with unpredictable political results.

A military base on Scarborough Shoal would effectively sit on the doorstep of Subic, where US and Philippine forces are based. China could extend its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities into the eastern reaches of the South China Sea by placing an over-the-horizon radar system at Scarborough as it has done on some of its possessions in the Spratlys. The shoal also commands the northeast exit of the sea, so a Chinese military outpost there could stop other countries' navies from traveling through the South China Sea.

Vietnam is well aware that its military stands little or no chance in a naval battle versus China, having already lost a naval battle to China in 1988. Vietnam has been adopting an asymmetric strategy of sea-denial. This strategy uses missiles and submarines to deny China access to the same South China Sea regions where China is denying access to the Vietnamese.

Vietnam has just received a fleet or Russian-build diesel-electric submarines, equipped for sea denial in the traditional sense with torpedoes and mines, as well as Russian-made Klub-S sea-launched land-attack cruise missiles (SLCM) that can hit targets as far away as three hundred kilometers.

India is in talks with Vietnam to sell them short range surface-to-air missiles. Nearly half of India's trade passes through the South China Sea, and its government is taking steps to maintain freedom of navigation and overflight.

Increasingly, we've been seeing an alliance among several countries -- India, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan, and Russia -- to take steps to guarantee that the South China Sea remains open to everyone.

The populations of China and all of these countries today are in a highly emotional, nationalistic state, and this military buildup on all sides cannot end up in any way but a major war.

Asia One (Singapore) and CNN and The Diplomat (2-Feb) and Reuters and New Indian Express

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Feb-17 World View -- China preparing to install long-range missiles in South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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22-Feb-17 World View -- China clamps down on Uighurs in Xinjiang province

China commands Xinjiang Uighurs to install tracking devices in all cars

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China commands Xinjiang Uighurs to install tracking devices in all cars


Thousands of armed police, public security officers and militia fight terrorism in the city of Hotan in Xinjiang province last week on Thursday (Global Times)
Thousands of armed police, public security officers and militia fight terrorism in the city of Hotan in Xinjiang province last week on Thursday (Global Times)

Officials in northwest China's province of Xinjiang on Tuesday ordered that all car owners install devices that will permit authorities to track the cars at all times. The cars will be tracked by means of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, which is China's homegrown system to reduce reliance on the US global positioning system (GPS).

The devices will have to be installed by June 30. After that date, owners will be unable to purchase petrol for their cars. Installation of the devices is free, though the owners will be charged for the devices' internet access that continually reports the car's position to the Chinese authorities.

According to a Chinese official explaining the demand, possibly making a little joke:

"All vehicles must install the system, so that they can be tracked wherever they go. It also helps car owners to find their cars quickly if it's been stolen or taken [by terrorists]."

This is only the latest in a series of seemingly desperate attempts by China's authorities to bring the region's ethnic Uighurs under control.

The Uighurs are a Turkic ethnic group who are almost all Sunni Muslims. Since 1949, when China crushed the short-lived state of East Turkestan, China has been promoting large-scale immigration of Han Chinese from other parts of China into Xinjiang province. In addition, Chinese authorities have marginalized the Uighurs, giving the best homes and jobs to the Han Chinese. Today, the Uighurs make up about 45% of Xinjiang's population, while 40% are Han Chinese.

This forced massive migration of Han Chinese into their cities, marginalizing the Uighurs in their own homeland, has infuriated the Uighurs, and has led to a jihadist separatist movement.

In July, 2009, thousands of Uighurs rioted and demonstrated against Chinese rule. The riots were triggered when two Uighur migrant workers, working in a toy factory in southeast China, were accused of raping a Han woman, a charge which appears to have been fabricated. The two Uighurs were killed in a Han Chinese mob attack on their dormitory. In Xinjiang, Chinese officials Chinese officials accused the Uighurs of attacking Han Chinese in their home, and struck back against the Uighurs brutally. Shanghaist and BBC and Global Times (Beijing)

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China stages massive show of military force in Xinjiang

In a massive show of military force, thousands of black clad, heavily armed troops have paraded through cities in Xinjiang province. On Saturday, hundreds of troops staged a mass "anti-terror rally" in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang.

Zhu Hailun, the region’s deputy Communist party chief, promised an unflinching campaign against the Islamic terrorists and separatists:

"We shall load our guns, draw our swords from their sheaths, throw hard punches and relentlessly beat, and strike hard without flinching at terrorists who must be brought down a peg or two.

With the caring and strong leadership of the Communist Party Central Committee, where President Xi Jinping serves as the core … the strong support of 23 million people from all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, and with the powerful fist of the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, all separatist activities and all terrorists shall be smashed to pieces."

On Thursday of last week, a similar military parade was held in the city of Kashgar. A special forces operative said, "We are ready for [combat] and we definitely will win."

This massive show of force, as well as the demand to install tracking devices in all cars, follows two terror attacks in Xinjiang in recent weeks. Two weeks ago, three militants attacked Han Chinese with machetes, killing five and injuring five more, before they were shot by police. In December, five people were killed when attackers drove a vehicle into a government building.

It's possible that the terror attacks were triggered by a program by China's government in the last three months of 2016 to destroy thousands of mosques in Xinjiang under the pretense of protecting the public from unsafe buildings. One police officer was quoted as saying:

"Convincing the people that one of the purposes for demolishing the mosques was for the safety of the worshipers was a bit difficult. Some of them laughed at us when we explained the purpose, and some of them stared at us to show their disagreement."

Government officials in Kashgar confirmed that 70% of the mosques that city were demolished. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Guardian (London) and Radio Free Asia (19-Dec-2016)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Feb-17 World View -- China clamps down on Uighurs in Xinjiang province thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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21-Feb-17 World View -- Pakistan artillery pounds terrorist 'safe havens' in Afghanistan

Pakistan blames Afghanistan after a week of multiple terror attacks

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan blames Afghanistan after a week of multiple terror attacks


People and trucks wait for the Pak-Afghan border to be reopened, as Pakistan's army moves heavy artillery to the border
People and trucks wait for the Pak-Afghan border to be reopened, as Pakistan's army moves heavy artillery to the border

The number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan had been falling in 2015 and 2016, compared to previous years, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had promised that the year 2017 would be a further improvement. That's why a new surge in terror attacks in Pakistan has shocked the nation and is a personal embarrassment to Sharif.

Six terror attacks occurred in the space of four days:

There were other terrorist attacks earlier in the year, including a bomb in a vegetable market in Pakistan's tribal region on January 21, kill 25 civilians and injuring 87 more.

In 2014, Pakistan's military launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which attacked Taliban militants hiding in the tribal region (FATA) between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistani government officials have credited Zarb-e-Azb as the reason why terror attacks in Pakistan fell in 2015 and 2016.

On February 13 of this year, the day of the terror attack in Lahore, Pakistan's UN ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the UN Security Council:

"This comprehensive approach [Operation Zarb-e-Azb] has succeeded in expelling terrorist organizations from our territory and greatly constrained their ability to carry out lethal attacks, as evident from the dramatic decline in the number of such attacks, despite the cowardly attack in Lahore."

There's a certain irony to this claim: As the number of terror attacks in Pakistan declined in 2015, the number in Afghanistan increased. The two figures may well be linked, because Operation Zarb-e-Azb caused thousands of Pakistani Taliban militants hiding out in the FATA to flee across the border into Afghanistan, where they could have linked up with the Afghan Taliban.

The rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2015 had special geopolitical significance, because the resurgent Taliban forced President Barack Obama to reverse his promise to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan. BBC and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Al-Jazeera

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Pakistan army pounds militant hideouts in Afghanistan

Tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan are rising sharply as Pakistan is essentially blaming Afghanistan for the recent surge in terror attacks. Pakistan's army is taking these steps following Thursday's terror attack on the Sufi shrine in Sehwan:

Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry in Kabul summoned Pakistan's ambassador to protest the border shelling.

Pakistan's military chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, said on Monday that the army was fighting the "common enemy" of terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and he called "for more effective border coordination and cooperation" to prevent cross-border movement of terrorists.

Last week, Pakistan handed over to Afghanistan a list of 76 fugitive militants hiding in Afghanistan, and demanded that immediate action be taken against them.

On Monday, Afghanistan handed over to Pakistan a list of 32 training centers and 85 militant leaders involved in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, and demanded that immediate action be taken against them.

There have been similar lists in the past, and little or no action has been taken on either side. Whether this time will be different remains to be seen.

Dawn (Pakistan) and Pak Observer and Tolo News (Afghanistan) and VOA

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Feb-17 World View -- Pakistan artillery pounds terrorist 'safe havens' in Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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20-Feb-17 World View -- US-backed Iraqi army launches major new offensive in western Mosul

US aircraft carrier renews challenge to China in the South China Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bombing in Somalia kills 50, said to target Somali-American president


Aftermath of car bomb attack on market in Mogadishu Somalia on Sunday (Reuters)
Aftermath of car bomb attack on market in Mogadishu Somalia on Sunday (Reuters)

A terrorist car bomb exploded in a marketplace in Somalia's capital city Mogadishu on Sunday, killing 39 and injuring dozens more.

No one has claimed responsibility, but the al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in Somalia. Although al-Shabaab did not claim responsibility, a senior al-Shabaab official threatened more attacks targeting any clans that collaborate with the new president, saying "We will fight against him during his four-year term."

The new president, who took office on February 8, is Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed — nicknamed Farmajo. Farmajo holds a dual Somali-American citizenship. In 1988, as a Somali government employee working in the Somali embassy in Washington, he feared for his life after criticizing the Somali government, and applied for asylum in the U.S. Since then, he earned several college degrees and settled in Buffalo, NY, as a civil servant in the New York Department of Transportation.

His ambition was to return to Somalia and help bring peace to the violent country. After meeting with and impressing Somalia's president in 2010, he became prime minister of Somalia. His fight against both al-Shabaab and corruption made him very popular in his home country. Five years later he ran for president, winning a surprise victory, and took office two weeks ago, on February 8.

Beyond terror attacks, Farmajo will have to deal with many other severe problems facing Somalia. Somalia's clans have been fighting in a civil war since 1991, and a severe drought puts the country at risk of famine.

Farmajo's popularity, his American dual citizenship, and his education in American values and governance apparently have made him a huge threat to al-Shabaab, and we can apparently expect more terror attacks targeting people and clans cooperating with Farmajo. AFP and VOA and Politico

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US aircraft carrier renews challenge to China in the South China Sea

In a new challenge to China's illegal construction of artificial islands and military bases in the South China Sea, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and the Carl Vinson Strike Group entered the South China Sea on Sunday to perform "routine" freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs).

As in previous operations, the Carl Vinson will simply transit the South China Sea, establishing the right of all nations to do the same, and especially for commercial ships to do so freely. Chinese media claim, without providing a reason, that these freedom of navigation operations are a military threat to China.

These operations have been going on for years, but there's a question about whether there will be a change in policy under the administration of president Donald Trump. The issue is how close the Carl Vinson will navigate to China's artificial islands and military bases. In the Obama administration, the American ships stayed at least 12 nautical miles from any of China's artificial islands. There is some speculation that, in the Trump administration, the American ships will travel closer than 12 nautical miles. This would be fully justified under international law, since the artificial islands are illegal, but it would infuriate the Chinese, and possibly trigger some kind of military confrontation. VOA and Navy Times (12-Feb) and Global Times (Beijing)

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US-backed Iraqi army launches major new offensive in western Mosul

Iraq's army, backed by American-led coalition warplanes, launched a major new military offensive on Sunday with the objective of recapturing western Mosul from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Iraq had hoped to recapture the entire city by the end of 2016, but only recaptured the eastern portion last month.

Analysts are giving several reasons why recapturing western Mosul is going to proceed very slowly:

Humanitarian agencies are gearing up to aid 250,000 to 400,000 civilians who may flee because of the fighting. AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Feb-17 World View -- US-backed Iraqi army launches major new offensive in western Mosul thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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19-Feb-17 World View -- China announces it will block imports of North Korea's coal

Assassination of Kim Jong-un's half-brother in Malaysia threatens relations with China and North Korea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China announces it will block imports of North Korea's coal


Kim Jong-nam (L), the assassinated half-brother of Kim Jong-un (R) (AP)
Kim Jong-nam (L), the assassinated half-brother of Kim Jong-un (R) (AP)

Two events in the last week -- North Korea's test of a long-range ballistic missile and the assassination, possibly by North Korean agents, of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of president Kim Jong-un -- have infuriated and embarrassed China's leaders, since they enormously complicate China's foreign policy.

The ballistic missile test is particularly troubling to China's leadership for several reasons:

China's announcement on Saturday that it would suspend all coal shipments from North Korea was a surprise, but not totally unexpected. On Monday of last week, the day after the ballistic missile test, China prevented a North Korean ship from unloading a shipment of 16,295 tons coal, worth about US$1 million, at a Chinese port, and ordered that it be returned to North Korea. However, China blamed the rejection not on the ballistic missile test, but instead on a claim that the coal contained higher-than-permissible level of mercury.

China's announcement could have significant economic impact on North Korea. In order to import foreign goods, North Korea needs foreign reserves. In order to get foreign reserves, it needs to export goods. About 90% of North Korea's exports go to China, and most of that is coal. So this announcement will severely limit the foreign goods that North Korea can import.

The intent is that by limiting North Korea's ability to import, the country will be unable to import that equipment required for further development of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. It's not clear that this objective is realistic, as Kim Jong-un has previously been willing to allow his people to starve rather than to allow his nuclear weapons program to starve. No matter what the intent, Kim will let his people starve and will torture, jail and execute anyone who objects.

China implemented a partial ban on coal imports from North Korea last year, but left open a loophole that would allow some coal imports if they would benefit the North Korean people. The partial ban turned out to be a joke, because North Korean manipulated the loophole and actually increased coal imports to China by 12-14% after the partial ban was announced, which was extremely embarrassing to China.

China criticizes other nations for destabilizing the region, even though China continually destabilizes the region by confiscating other countries' territories and building illegal military bases in the South China Sea, while threatening Japan in the East China Sea. This entire political strategy is being thrown into chaos by the actions of North Korea.

China has the ability to bring North Korea to its knees economically, but both China and Kim Jong-un are well aware that doing so is a very high-risk strategy. A government coup in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital city, could bring to power someone that favors peaceful reunification with South Korea -- something that's quite possible now that three or four generations have grown up since the end of World War II and the Korean War. Or an even worse scenario is that a retaliatory act by Kim Jong-un might be directed at either China or South Korea (or Japan or the US), and this could lead to a war on the Korean Peninsula that would draw in the Chinese military and would result in millions of North Korean refugees pouring into China.

The point is that China is rapidly running out of choices. Allowing Kim Jong-un to continue ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development is extremely dangerous to China, but trying to stop that development with economic sanctions is also extremely dangerous. One can only speculate what China might try next -- perhaps some sort of military action or commando raid on North Korean military targets. But this is just one more area, like the situations in Taiwan and Hong Kong, where China's leaders are running out of time and they know it, and may become desperate enough to do something stupid. Yonhap News (Seoul) and BBC and Washington Post

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Assassination of Kim Jong-un's half-brother in Malaysia threatens relations with China and North Korea

Police in Malaysia have arrested four suspects believed to be linked to the assassination on Wednesday Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of Kim Jong-un, the president of North Korea.

A woman tentatively identified as 28-year-old Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam has been positively identified as the assassin from CCTV footage from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. She allegedly covered Kim Jong-nam's face with a cloth laced with poison, causing his death within minutes. Before being captured, she changed her appearance several times. On Wednesday, she was wearing a white shirt with the large letters "LOL" on the front. A second woman said that they both thought that the whole thing was a prank sponsored by a reality TV show.

It has not been proven whether North Korea is responsible for the assassination, and there are other actors that might have wanted him dead. Jong-nam was playboy, and one can even imagine that the assassination might have been launched by a former girlfriend. But most people believe that Kim Jong-nam was killed under orders of his half-brother, Kim Jong-un, North Korea's child dictator.

This is not the first execution of a family member. On New Year's Day 2014, Kim Jong-un announced that he had ordered the execution of his uncle and mentor Jang Song-thaek, calling him "factionalist scum." According to unconfirmed reports at the time, Kim had his uncle thrown into a room with several ravenous dogs that hadn't eaten in several days. So although Kim Jong-nam wasn't eaten by ravenous dogs, the execution of Jang Song-thaek provides a recent precedent for the execution of close family members.

Malaysia has always gone out of its way to maintain good relations with China, but the assassination of Kim Jong-ang in Kuala Lumpur airport, whether ordered by North Korea or not, is causing a rift in relations between the two countries.

North Korea demanded the immediate return of the dead body to North Korea. Malaysia responded that the death occurred on Malaysian soil, and a full series of autopsies would be performed first. Furthermore, Malaysia would not return the body to North Korea until a DNA sample from Kim Jong-un was provided, in order to complete the autopsy.

On Friday, close to midnight, North Korea's ambassador to Malaysia, Kang Chol, stood in front of the morgue where the body was lying and gave a hysterical rant:

"We strongly urge and demand the Malaysian side not to be entangled with a political plot by the hostile forces towards the DPRK [North Korea] who want to damage image of our republic. And, to release the body immediately. ...

The Malaysian side forced the post-mortem without our permission and witnessing. We will categorically reject the result of the post-mortem conducted unilaterally excluding our attendance. They are colluding with the hostile forces towards us who are desperate to harm us of malice."

It's not clear who the "hostile forces" are, but they're assumed to be China or South Korea.

On Saturday, Malaysia's Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam responded to the North Korean ambassador:

"North Korea can reject or show disapproval. But we are doing things according to our law. Something happened in our country. We don't do it according to their law. If murder or death (occurs) in our country, there is a process we go through. There is no short cut in forensics as far as we are concerned. ...

We will release [the autopsy result] once it is ready, and hope to release it within this week. We are currently waiting for the toxicology report, which is an important test to confirm. Once it is done, the results will be given to the police as early as we can and it is up to the police to release it. We want to get correct results before releasing it."

It's very easy to get the feeling that both sides are hiding things, and that there's a lot more to come out.

The assassination of Kim Jong-nam has also further strained relations between China and North Korea, beyond the amount they were already strained by the long-range ballistic missile test.

Kim Jong-nam had been exiled from North Korea in 2001 after he was discovered using a phony passport. He's been living in Macau in China under Chinese protection. On Wednesday, he was at Kuala Lumpur airport preparing to fly back to Macau. If North Korea performed the assassination, it would be a new major humiliation to China.

China's state media Global Times published a story on Wednesday saying that "It is sincerely hoped that [North Korea] will step up and provide answers to a world that right now can only patiently wait." That story also criticized North Korea for using assassination at all:

"Regardless of how intense a country's political struggle might be, there is no doubt that it should never rely on assassination methods as means for its advancement. Human civilization is now in the 21st century, and such a savage and outdated political device should be cast into the museums of history."

This is an interesting point. Assassination is so old, so savage, so outdated, so twentieth-century. It's better to use more modern methods. If China doesn't like someone, they like to use more modern techniques -- kidnapping, and years of being thrown into a hole and starved, and receiving daily beatings and torture. For China in the 21st century, that's so much more thoroughly modern and stylish. AFP and The Star (Malaysia) and Global Times (China)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Feb-17 World View -- China announces it will block imports of North Korea's coal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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18-Feb-17 World View -- Britain's Tony Blair calls for the people 'to rise up' and reverse Brexit

Ireland demands a 'soft border,' while Scotland contemplates independence

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's Tony Blair calls for the people 'to rise up' and reverse Brexit


Tony Blair on Friday
Tony Blair on Friday

Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair called for the people "to rise up in defense of what we believe – calmly, patiently, winning the argument by the force of argument; but without fear and with the conviction we act in the true interests of Britain," to persuade the electorate to change their minds and decide that Britain should remain in the European Union after all.

Blair's speech comes two weeks after Britain's House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to authorize Prime Minister Theresa May to invoke "Article 50," which means that the real negotiations will begin between Britain and the EU. According to the relevant treaty, Britain will officially leave the EU exactly two years after Article 50 is invoked. It's now expected that Article 50 will be invoked early in March.

Blair is an extremely controversial figure, even though he won three elections and was Prime Minister for a decade. The people on the right hate him because he's in the Labor Party. The people in the Labor Party hate him because he defended Britain's participation in the Iraq war. So I suppose he reasoned that when you're hated that much, then you really have nothing to lose by taking an unpopular stand on an issue.

Blair is concerned that the far right is so dominating the Brexit issue that millions of people who are against Brexit have no way to articulate their feelings:

"They will claim we’re dividing the country by making the case. It is they who divide our country – generation from generation, North from South, Scotland from England, those born here from those who came to our country precisely because of what they thought it stood for and what they admired."

Blair is referring to the fact that younger generations, who voted against Brexit, believe that they are being left without a future because of the selfish pro-Brexit vote of the older generations. He refers to the fact that while England and Wales voted for Brexit, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against it, and they're being forced out of the EU against their will. And of course the last sentence refers to the bitter immigration issue.

Boris Johnson, one of the leaders of the pro-Brexit campaign, and current Britain's Foreign Secretary, was his usual colorful self in responding to Blair. He said:

"This is a discussion we had most of last year and it came out very firmly in favor of leaving the EU.

We heard all these arguments last year - not a thing has changed - and I think it really is insulting the intelligence of the electorate to say that they got it wrong."

He called Tony Blair the "Remoaner-in-chief" (playing on the word "remain"), and said that people should turn off the TV when Blair appears. Tony Blair's speech - transcript and Daily Mail (London) and Telegraph (London)

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Ireland demands a 'soft border,' while Scotland contemplates independence

Of the four nations in the United Kingdom, England and Wales voted in favor of Brexit, while Scotland and Northern Ireland opposed it. People and politicians in both regions are furious that they're being forced to leave the European Union against their will.

On September 18, 2014, Scotland held a referendum on the question of whether Scotland should leave the UK and become an independent country. This would have dissolved the 1707 union between England and Scotland that came out of the War of the Spanish Succession. Voters rejected the referendum, with 55.3% voting no. Many in Scotland are bitter that they are going to be forced to leave the European Union even though they voted 62% against Brexit.

In his speech, Tony Blair said that Scotland's demands for independence from Britain are "more credible" because of Brexit, and that a new referendum was "back on the table."

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, and leader of Scotland's pro-independence movement has always been a bitter political enemy of Tony Blair, but on this issue she says, "There’s a quality of analysis & argument in Blair's speech today that has been totally lacking from Labor to date." She added:

"The argument is now very different than it was in 2014 and is even more compelling than it was in 2014. Because what Brexit has shown is that within the UK Scotland’s voice isn’t listened to and doesn’t appear to count for much, so the argument for taking control, taking charge of our own society and our place in the world becomes ever more strong."

However, several Scottish ministers disagreed with Sturgeon, saying that only about 25% of the people of Scotland want a new referendum. Scottish politician Willie Rennie said:

"The case for independence is weaker, not stronger, now, especially with the pounds 15 billion black hole in the Scottish public finances that would hit our NHS and schools."

For Northern Ireland, the reality of Brexit goes well beyond economic issues. Once Britain leaves the EU, Northern Ireland will also leave the EU, while the Republic of Ireland (Southern Ireland) will remain in the EU. At that point, they will no longer be part of the same country, but will be two separate countries. The border between the two will be the only remaining land border between the UK and the EU.

Ireland has a long bitter history of religious and factional wars, and it's only in recent years that the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland has been open for free travel of people and goods. So many people are opposed to the idea of jeopardizing the open border and, as in the case of Scotland, are furious that London is making decisions that will deeply affect the lives of the Irish.

Enda Kenny, the prime minister of the Republic of Ireland, said that avoiding a "hard border" is essential for the people on the entire island.

"[L]et me be absolutely clear on one point. It is a matter of vital national interest for Ireland that we do not return to the days of a hard border that we knew only too well. Or indeed create a new one in the future.

The European Union has always been about removing barriers, about bringing people together in peace and prosperity. The treaty of Rome, which we will celebrate on its 60th anniversary next month, is one of the greatest peace agreements in history. Without it, there could have been no Good Friday Agreement.

So, I am in absolutely no doubt that the European Union, which has done so much to support reconciliation on this island, will defend the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement. I am confident that the European Union will not bring us back to a border of division."

Unfortunately, Kenny and the other Irish politicians will have little to say about it. An open border would permit anyone to migrate from Europe to the UK simply by passing through Ireland. Similarly, goods could be transferred from Europe to the UK by traveling across the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. With most UK and EU politicians deeply nationalistic and deeply angry with each other, there may be little charity available for the Irish people, who have already learned that their wishes carry little weight in London. Telegraph (London) and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Feb-17 World View -- Britain's Tony Blair calls for the people 'to rise up' and reverse Brexit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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17-Feb-17 World View -- Pakistan promises to avenge 'each drop of blood' after multiple terror attacks

Pakistan again in shock as Sufi shrine bombing is fifth terror attack in a week

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan again in shock as Sufi shrine bombing is fifth terror attack in a week


A Pakistani covered with blood sits with the body of a blast victim on Thursday (AFP)
A Pakistani covered with blood sits with the body of a blast victim on Thursday (AFP)

The people of Pakistan are once again expressing shock at the continuing string of violent terrorist attacks that target specific religious groups, including Sufis, Shia Muslims, and Christians.

On Thursday, a suicide bomber blew himself at a Sufi shrine, the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan, just north of Karachi, killing 76 people and injuring several hundred more. The shrine was targeted during a a Sufi ritual called Dhamaal, when hundreds of devotees were present inside the premises of the mausoleum of the saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, which is the reason for huge numbers of casualties.

Jamaat ul-Ahrar (JuA, Assembly of Freedom) claimed responsibility. JuA has long been one of the terrorist groups under the umbrella group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). JuA split off from TTP in the middle of 2014 in a disagreement caused by TTP's plans to hold peace talks with Pakistan's government. JuA rejoined TTP in 2015, but has also declared allegiance to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). For that reason, ISIS is also claiming responsibility for the attack.

On March 15, 2015, JuA claimed responsibility for suicide bombers at two churches, one Catholic and one Protestant, also in Lahore, killing 15 people and injuring 70. Dawn (Pakistan) and BBC and AP

Monday's terror attack in Lahore Pakistan kills dozens

On Monday, a strong explosion at Chairing Cross in Lahore, Pakistan, killed at least 16 people and injured 73 more. The incident occurred as hundreds of pharmacists were gathered to protest a new regulatory law. Some analysts claim that the intended target was not the pharmacists but the police guarding the protest. Jamaat ul-Ahrar (JuA, Assembly of Freedom) took credit for Sunday's explosion in Lahore.

On March 27 of last year, JuA took credit for the Easter massacre of Christians in Lahore in a terror attack. That attack killed more than 69 people, mostly women and children, and injured more than 300. That attack was supposed to kill Christians, but as it turned out, most of the people killed were Muslims. At the time, a JuA spokesman issued a statement: "Members of the Christian community who were celebrating Easter today were our prime target. [However,] we didn't want to kill women and children. Our targets were male members of the Christian community."

There have been several terror attacks in the last week. On Sunday a newsman was killed when his van was attacked. On Wednesday, three suicide bombers killed seven people when they targeted villages around Peshawar in northwest Pakistan. Daily Pakistan and Geo TV (Pakistan)

Pakistan's government promises that each drop of blood will be avenged

In what has become a regular ritual, the government of Pakistan is once again declaring war on the Taliban. According to critics, the government only follows through half-heartedly on such announcements, distinguishing "the good Taliban," which attacks targets in India, from "the bad Taliban," which attacks targets in Pakistan. Often, the same group is involved in both kinds of attacks.

Speaking on Thursday, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa promised that each drop of blood will be avenged:

"Each drop of nation’s blood shall be avenged, and revenged immediately. No more restraint for anyone. ...

The active cooperation among the valorous citizen of the country, the Army, Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and intelligence agencies is cornerstone of Pakistan’s success against terrorism.

The terrorists are trying to regroup in safe havens in Afghanistan and are attempting to spread doubts and despondency in the society, hence we all collectively shall fail their desperate maneuvers.

Hostile agencies should avoid playing with regional peace and stability as we reserve the right to respond, despite our current policy of restraint."

After a terror attack, many Pakistan Taliban terrorists flee across the border into Afghanistan, where Pakistan's security forces are not permitted to follow. Many Pakistanis blame India for providing safe havens in Afghanistan to Pakistani Taliban terrorists. The News (Pakistan) and Pakistan Observer and India Today

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Feb-17 World View -- Pakistan promises to avenge 'each drop of blood' after multiple terror attacks thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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16-Feb-17 World View -- Obamacare and Britain's NHS continue in financial 'death spiral'

Obamacare follows Nixon's wage-price controls in financial 'death spiral'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Obamacare follows Nixon's wage-price controls in financial 'death spiral'


President Richard Nixon announces wage-price controls on August 15, 1971
President Richard Nixon announces wage-price controls on August 15, 1971

In July 2009, a couple of days after President Barack Obama's health plan was announced, I wrote "Obama's health plan, a proposal of economic insanity, appears to be losing support", in which I said the following:

" Politicians say that our health system is "broken," and perhaps it is. Politicians say that health-related costs have been rising faster than inflation, and they say that some people (the poor, the unemployed, the minorities, the sick, etc.) don't have health insurance.

In other words, the worst of what the politicians say is wrong with our health care system may well be true, but the insanity is believing that you can just pass a law and the problems will be solved. As bad as things are now, passing a 1,000 page law will make things much, much worse. ...

President Obama's health care plan amounts to price controls and rationing. This is a recipe for total disaster."

I knew this because I'd seen the same thing happen before, in the 1970s with President Richard Nixon's wage-price controls. Nixon's program was supposed to bring the inflation rate from 4% down to 2%. This is exactly the kind of thing that liberals really love. But within three years, Nixon's controls had cause inflation to surge to 12%.

Like many liberal economic programs, including Obamacare, Nixon's controls were an utter disaster for the economy, and the economy didn't recover for almost a decade. Whatever you think of Watergate, at least Nixon had the decency to agree to end wage-price controls after three years, after enough damage had been done

The signs that Obamacare was collapsing have been clear now for almost two years, as several large insurance companies, UnitedHealthCare, Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield, and others, have announced partial or complete pullouts from Obamacare because of massive financial losses.

On Wednesday another company, Humana Inc., announced that it will leave the Obamacare exchanges at the end of 2017. According to the company's statement:

"Regarding the company’s individual commercial medical coverage (Individual Commercial), substantially all of which is offered on-exchange through the federal Marketplaces [Obamacare], Humana has worked over the past several years to address market and programmatic challenges in order to keep coverage options available wherever it could offer a viable product. This has included pursuing business changes, such as modifying networks, restructuring product offerings, reducing the company’s geographic footprint and increasing premiums.

All of these actions were taken with the expectation that the company’s Individual Commercial business would stabilize to the point where the company could continue to participate in the program. However, based on its initial analysis of data associated with the company’s healthcare exchange membership following the 2017 open enrollment period, Humana is seeing further signs of an unbalanced risk pool. Therefore, the company has decided that it cannot continue to offer this coverage for 2018. Through the remainder of 2017, Humana remains committed to serving its current members across 11 states where it offers Individual Commercial products. And, as it has done in the past, Humana will work closely with its state partners as it navigates this process."

Humana's announcement refers to the "2017 open enrollment period," which is the period when people can enroll for 2017 coverage. In Tennessee, for example, 15% fewer people signed up in the 2017 open enrollment period than in the previous year.

Humana's announcement also refers to an "unbalanced risk pool." This means that the reason that fewer people are signing up is that healthy people are not signing up, which sick people continue to sign up at the same rate. This means that fewer healthy people are available to pay for health care for sick people.

Health insurer Aetna lost $450 million in Obamacare exchanges last year. It has already pulled out of most Obamacare markets, but hasn't announced yet whether it will pull out of the remaining ones. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said that the "death spiral" of Obamacare is going to continue:

"It’s not going to get any better; it’s getting worse. You saw my friend, Bruce, at Humana say, 'We're out.' ...

That logic shows just how much the risk pool is deteriorating in the ACA [Obamacare] and how poorly structured the funding mechanism and premium model is. I think you will see a lot more withdrawals this year of plans. ... My anticipation would be that in '18, we’ll see a lot of markets without any coverage at all."

Supporters of Obamacare point to statistics that millions more people are insured than before Obamacare. Well of course they are. That's because over 80% of all Obamacare customers receive big subsidies. Give people something for free and they'll take it.

Even so, fewer people are signing up because being "insured" with Obamacare often means paying big monthly premiums and then not really being insured at all. Many people with Obamacare have Medicaid and can't find a doctor to treat them, or they have something like a $10,000 deductible, so they have to pay their entire bills anyway. My guess is that millions more people today are effectively uninsured than were uninsured before Obamacare.

This is exactly the kind of thing that I predicted would happen when I wrote my article in July 2009. This isn't rocket science. This is common sense. But when policymakers in the Obama administration are too stupid to understand even Economics 1.01, then there is no common sense.

Obamacare is an economic disaster of epic proportions, worse than Nixon's wage-price controls. Congress is now considering various "repeal or replace" options to salvage something from the Obamacare disaster, but as in the case of Nixon's wage-price controls, the destruction is so deep that it will take years to repair it, and things will get worse before they get better. Human Press Release and The Hill and Business Insider and The Tennessean

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Britain's National Health Service continues its own death spiral

As I've been reporting since 2015, Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is facing an existential crisis, with a huge and accelerating deficit expected to reach 22 billion pounds ($32 billion) by 2020.

The NHS is massively cutting services, with hospitals reducing the number of beds, and more than one-third closing their maternity units and their Accident & Emergency departments (known in America as Emergency Rooms).

Since surgery is extremely expensive, the NHS is taking several steps to reduce the amount of surgery:

With NHS in its own "death spiral," supporters are demanding huge tax increases before 2018 in order to maintain the current levels of service. Whether taxpayers can afford those huge increases remains to be seen. Guardian (London) and Belfast Telegraph and London Express and Guardian (21-Apr-2015)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Feb-17 World View -- Obamacare and Britain's NHS continue in financial 'death spiral' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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15-Feb-17 World View -- Cameroon shuts down internet for English-speakers protesting French-speakers

Brief generational history of Cameroon

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cameroon shuts down internet for English-speakers protesting French-speakers


Anglophone protesters use catapult against police in Bamenda, Cameroon (RFI)
Anglophone protesters use catapult against police in Bamenda, Cameroon (RFI)

In the hope of quelling protests by the Anglophone (English-speaking) population of Cameroon, the government shut down all internet access to to the Anglophone regions of the country, beginning on January 17. The shutdown has been going on for five weeks, and covers 20% of the population.

The activist group Internet Without Borders has estimated that small businesses have lost over $700,000 because they are no longer able to conduct much of their business without the internet. They add that the outage had blocked entrepreneurs who are an important part of the economic activity of the country. The UN has said that the termination of Internet services was an "appalling violation" of the right to freedom of expression, because it's a clear attempt by the government to stifle citizen protest actions.

It's interesting that the internet didn't even exist not too many years ago, and now it's said to be a basic human right. Africa News and IT News Africa and Newsweek

Brief generational history of Cameroon

(See this 23-Nov-16 World View article for the early history of Cameroon.)

Historically, Cameroon was colonized by a variety of European countries, but by the end of World War two there were two colonies, the Anglophone "British Cameroons" colony and the Francophone "French Cameroun" colony.

The last generational crisis war was the "UPC Revolt," 1956-1960, which was a bloody civil war by communists attacking the French government in the Cameroun colony. The outcome was independence in 1961, when the British Cameroons colony and the French Cameroun colony were merged into a single country, and the Anglophones became a disadvantaged and marginalized minority. Today, the Anglophone regions are known as the "Southern Cameroons."

By 1995, an Anglophone secessionist movement had begun under a group called the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC). This was a generational Awakening era, like America in the 1960s, that splits the population along generational lines, characterized by widespread student riots and demonstrations. The government cracked down on the protesters, though not as violently as in some other countries in Awakening eras (Syria, Burundi, for example). Those protests are continuing today, with younger protesters demanding complete independence, and older Anglophones advocating a semi-autonomous region, but still within the nation of Cameroon. Deutsche Welle and Dibussi Tande Blog - pro-Anglophone (1-Nov-2006)

English-speaking activists face death penalty for separatist protests

The trial of three English-speaking protesters facing the death penalty opened at a military court in Cameroon on Monday. The protesters, Felix Agbor Balla, Fontem Aforteka'a Neba and Mancho Bibixy, pleaded not guilty to charges of acts of terrorism, complicity in acts of terrorism, insurrection, propagation of false news, calling for civil war and calling for a return to the federal system. However, the trial was postponed until March 23 to give the prosecution time to gather more evidence.

The defendants are being tried under a 2014 law created to help combat militants from Nigeria-based Islamist militant group Boko Haram whose fighters regularly launch attacks in Cameroon.

The internet shutdown was a government response to protests that began in November, along with a strike by English-speaking teachers, lawyers and students over alleged government bias in favor of French-speaking Cameroonians. At times, the protests have turned violent.

Shutting down the internet to the Southern Cameroons region is the kind of thing that looks like an act of desperation and backfires during a generational Awakening era. Does anyone seriously believe that young protesters are going to stop protesting because the internet has been shut down? It's much more likely that all the protesters, young and old, will be infuriated by the shutdown, and protest more vigorously, or even become more violent. RFI and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Feb-17 World View -- Cameroon shuts down internet for English-speakers protesting French-speakers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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14-Feb-17 World View -- America's likely response to N. Korean test: THAAD, Aegis missile defense systems

China's foreign policy becomes complicated by North Korean test

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN Security Council condemns North Korea missile tests


South Korean TV coverage on Sunday of North Korean missile test (AFP)
South Korean TV coverage on Sunday of North Korean missile test (AFP)

The United Nations Security Council met in emergency session on Monday, and issued a statement strongly condemning North Korea's ballistic missile launches.

The missile was launched on Sunday from North Korea’s Banghyon air base in the western North Pyongang Province. It reached an apogee of 344 miles and traveled out to about 313 miles before splashing into the Sea of Japan. Analysts say that the missile test is significant because the new missiles use solid fuel, and because it can be launched from vehicles traveling over rough terrain, both of which make them harder to detect than liquid-fuel-based missiles.

The missile test shows that it could reach targets in South Korea, China and Japan, and that North Korea is getting close to developing a nuclear missile that could reach the United States.

The UN Security Council statement said:

"The members of the Security Council deplore all the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ballistic missile activities, including these launches. ...

[We call] upon all member states to redouble their efforts to implement fully the measures imposed on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by the Security Council."

Some Security Council members have called for imposing additional economic sanctions on North Korea, but are few choices left beyond those that have already been imposed. Furthermore, it's pretty clear that North Korea will continue developing nuclear and missile technology irrespective of any imposed sanctions. Reuters and Defense News and Deutsche Welle

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China's foreign policy becomes complicated by North Korean test

On Monday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang had to answer questions about North Korea's ballistic missile test. The exchanges became fairly testy, illustrating how anxious China is about the situation, and about how complicated it's making China's foreign policy. Here are some excerpts showing the testy exchanges (the DPRK is North Korea, and the ROK is South Korea):

Q: The DPRK allegedly tested a new type of nuclear-capable missile yesterday. ...

A: We have noted relevant reports and are closely following the developments. The Security Council resolutions contain clear provisions on launches using ballistic missile technology by the DPRK. China is opposed to the DPRK's launch which violates the Security Council resolutions.

Given the current circumstances, relevant parties should not engage in mutually provocative moves which could heighten regional tensions. All parties need to exercise restraint in a joint effort to maintain regional peace and stability. ...

Q: There is sort of a saying that China has leverage over the DPRK. Has the US communicated with China over the missile test and asked China to do more? Analysts speculate that the missile test is an opportunity for China to tie up its greater cooperation on the Korean nuclear issue with US cooperation in keeping peace and stability of the South China Sea. Is that a valid speculation?

A: The root of the DPRK nuclear and missile issue lies in the differences between the DPRK and the US and between the DPRK and the ROK. As a permanent member of the Security Council and a responsible member of the international community, China has always enforced the Council's resolutions in their entirety, promoted peace talks, and made unremitting efforts to facilitate the settlement of the issue of Korean Peninsula. China's efforts have been widely acknowledged and acclaimed by the international community. ...

Q: You just mentioned that the root of the DPRK nuclear and missile issue lies in the differences between the DPRK and the US and between the DPRK and the ROK. Could you be more specific as to how the differences between the DPRK and the ROK lead to the nuclear and missile issue?

A: What I said just now was that the root of the DPRK nuclear and missile issue lies in the differences between the DPRK and the US and between the DPRK and the ROK. This is not the first time for us to say so. This is a viewpoint that has been repeatedly emphasized.

Q: Does China believe that Washington should take the initiative on tackling the issue of missile test by the DPRK?

A: The root of the DPRK nuclear and missile issue lies in the differences between the DPRK and the US and between the DPRK and the ROK. ...

Q: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that China, who has complete control of what sustains the government of the DPRK, should play a bigger role. Do you agree with him?

A: I have actually given the answer when addressing other journalists' questions. The root of the DPRK nuclear and missile issue is the differences between the DPRK and the US and between the DPRK and the ROK. Given that, we hope that relevant parties make more efforts to resolve the DPRK nuclear and missile issue."

As you can see, an exasperated Geng Shuang answered several questions the same way, essentially blaming the United States and South Korea. I'll bet he was happy when that press conference was over. AP and China Foreign Ministry

America's likely response: More THAAD and Aegis missile defense systems

Last year, the US and South Korea announced the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea. It's considered to be the most advanced anti-missile system available anywhere today because it can blast incoming missiles out of the sky with 100% success rate. The stated purpose of the deployment would be to protect South Korea from a North Korean ballistic missile attack.

China has expressed enormous fury over the installation of THAAD in South Korea. When the announcement was made last year, Chinese media have attacked South Korea with inflammatory rhetoric, and recommended harsh economic sanctions against South Korea. China has even been calling for anti-THAAD demonstrations in South Korea.

The reason that China has been freaking out over THAAD is that it also protects South Korea from a ballistic missile attack launched by China. Furthermore, THAAD's advance detection systems would provide early warning for a Chinese missile attack on the United States.

Sunday's ballistic missile test by North Korea severely complicates China's foreign policy with regard to this issue, because it makes a THAAD system in South Korea even more necessary. According to Chinese media:

"Establishing THAAD on the Korean Peninsula has always been part of Washington’s plan to expand and enhance its anti-missile network in the region. Aside from anti-missile cooperation with allies such as Japan and Australia, the US has also deployed the THAAD system in Hawaii and Guam, destroyers with missile interceptors in the Sea of Japan, and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors on the Japanese soil. ...

However, inviting the ROK to join the game being played by the US and Japan does not just respond to the DPRK’s nuclear threats but also places more countries including China under US military surveillance. Keeping Japan and the ROK committed to its Asian policy would be another boon to the US. ...

However, the two allies are yet to offer any solid evidence to reassure Beijing that the anti-missile battery does not target any third party. Nor have they taken any action such as removing radars that might be used to spy on China to prove their point. China will not sit idle while Washington and Seoul press ahead with THAAD in the name of handling the “DPRK threat”."

Another system is the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system. It's a centralized, automated, command-and-control (C2) and weapons control system that was designed as a total weapon system, from detection to kill. The high-powered radar is able to perform search, track, and missile guidance functions simultaneously, with a track capacity of more than 100 targets. There are currently 84 U.S. Navy ships in service with the AEGIS Weapons System installed: 22 Cruisers and 62 Destroyers. There are an additional three new construction Destroyers with the AEGIS Weapon System installed that will enter service in FY 2018.

The North Korean missile test is going to substantially increase demand for additional THAAD and Aegis systems, and pose additional problems for China's planned missile attack on the US and its allies. China Daily and Global Times (Beijing) and US Navy

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Feb-17 World View -- America's likely response to N. Korean test: THAAD, Aegis missile defense systems thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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13-Feb-17 World View -- After Syria's so-called ceasefire, tensions grow over the future of Bashar al-Assad

Hezbollah keeps on fighting, but says it will honor Syria ceasefire

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hezbollah keeps on fighting, but says it will honor Syria ceasefire


Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah on Sunday (al-Manar)
Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah on Sunday (al-Manar)

On Sunday, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran's puppet terrorist organization, gave a major televised speech to his followers insisting that Hezbollah fully supported the ceasefire agreement that had been negotiated three weeks ago by Russia, Iran and Turkey. He said that he was responding to reports in the Arab press that there were major disagreements between Iran and Russia, and claimed that he wanted the forces of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad to keep on fighting, and to continue to eliminate as much of the Sunni population as possible. Nasrallah contradicted those reports in his televised speech:

"We [support] an agreement that ends the bloodshed and paves way for a national reconciliation [in Syria]. Hezbollah and Iran support the ceasefire, the reconciliation, and the political settlement in Syria, while some Arab states are still backing the military option.

Hezbollah strongly supports, not just the Astana ceasefire, any ceasefire agreed upon in Syria [in order to] prevent bloodshed and pave the way for political solutions."

Nasrallah was referring to the peace talks that were held last month in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan.

Nonetheless, there is currently no ceasefire. Hezbollah forces took the lead in fighting in the region called Wadi Barada in the suburbs of Damascus, under control of anti-Assad rebels who are theoretically supposed to be protected by the ceasefire agreement. According to Nasrallah, Hezbollah is continuing to fight "terrorists" in Syria.

In fact, none of the groups fighting in Syria -- Iran, al-Assad, Hezbollah, Russia, Turkey -- is honoring the ceasefire. The next round of peace talks is scheduled for February 20.

As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be on one side, and the US, Russia, India and Iran will be on the other side. Reuters and Press TV (Tehran)

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Tensions grow over the future of Bashar al-Assad

Reports of disagreements between Russia and Iran began with last month's Astana peace talks because they didn't go as planned. There was sharp disagreement over the participation of the United States in the negotiations, which Russia favored and which Iran considered to be unacceptable.

The final statement produced by the Astana talks called for a ceasefire, but no Syrians were party to the statement, as it was signed only by Turkey, Iran and Russia. The negotiators for the anti-Assad rebels wouldn't sign it unless it called for al-Assad to step down. Al-Assad's negotiators wouldn't sign it because they objected to Turkey's participation, and to Turkish forces in northern Syria where they're fighting ISIS.

The catalyst for all these disagreements is al-Assad himself. It's now widely agreed that al-Assad is so divisive that there will never be peace in Syria as long as he's in power. At the very least, he would have to step down and be replaced by someone from his own Alawite clan.

The anti-Assad rebels want him gone. The Turks want him gone too, but are willing to put up with him if it means an end to the Syrian war. The Russians want their military bases to lie within a stable Syria, but they're not tied to al-Assad, and are willing to consider having him step down at some time in the near future.

But Iran is adamant that al-Assad must stay, and cannot even be replaced by someone with similar policies. According to one analysis, the cause springs from the fact that Iran is quite isolated in the region, as the only Shia Muslim state, but surrounded by Sunni Muslim and Christian states. Thus, Iran is forced to rely on non-state alliances -- the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, the Badr Organization in Iraq, Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and Shia/Alawite Bashar al-Assad in Syria -- forming the "Shia Crescent." According to this analysis, if Iran is not completely loyal to al-Assad, then all the other non-state groups in its coalition will receive a signal that they're expendable as well, which would destabilize the entire coalition. Instead, Iran sees that it must remain completely loyal to al-Assad, and Hezbollah militias must remain in Syria to protect Iran's interests there -- including from the Turks and the Russians.

During the peace talks in Astana, Turkey demanded that Hezbollah's militias be pulled out of Syria, and Iran rejected that demand for the reasons just given.

In fact, according to Debka, Iran is planning for a much more aggressive role for Hezbollah in Syria. As long-time readers know, I like to reference Debka's subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber), which is written from Israel's point of view, because they have military and intelligence sources that provide valuable insights. However, as usual, I have to warn readers that they definitely do get some things wrong. The information that I'm presenting here from their newsletter is not confirmed by any other sources I've seen, but it's generally consistent with other reports.

According to the newsletter, Iran is developing an "unacknowledged cold war" with Russia, by taking control of assets within Syria that give it enough influence to challenge both Russia and al-Assad. Some of these steps are as follows:

According to the newsletter, Iran can use these assets as leverage in any future peace negotiations for Syria, in order to guarantee that its interests are fully protected. The National (UAE, 28-Jan) and Reuters (25-Jan) and Middle East Eye and Debka

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Feb-17 World View -- After Syria's so-called ceasefire, tensions grow over the future of Bashar al-Assad thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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12-Feb-17 World View -- Iraq: Supporters of al-Sadr and al-Maliki turn again to violence in Baghdad

Iraq's army poised to begin Battle of Mosul in the west

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iraq: Supporters of al-Sadr and al-Maliki turn again to violence in Baghdad


Security forces stand guard as supporters of Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr protest on Saturday.  The protests turned violent later.  (AFP)
Security forces stand guard as supporters of Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr protest on Saturday. The protests turned violent later. (AFP)

Seven people were killed on Saturday during protests that turned violent after thousands of people flooding into central Baghdad to protest Iraq government corruption.

Several hours later, at least seven Katyusha rockets were launched from northern Baghdad, landing in the heavily protected Green Zone.

The huge protests were called by the powerful Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whom some of you may remember as playing a highly contentious role in the Iraq war ten years ago, challenging US forces with his Mahdi militias. He's very closely linked to the clerics in Iran.

Al-Sadr's political enemy is former prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki. He became prime minister in 2006 with America's help, and remained in office for eight years. In 2008, al-Maliki ordered the Iraqi army to clean out the city of Basra, the stronghold of al-Sadr's militias. Some of you may remember al-Maliki as the person in charge when President Obama withdrew all American forces from Iraq in December 2011. Al-Maliki's first action was to purge Sunnis from Iraq's government.

Al-Maliki's reign was so destructive and divisive to Iraqi society that he was forced out in 2014. The current prime minister is Haider al-Abadi, who has been trying to bring the country together again, but who is being charged by al-Sadr with corruption, and with supporting the return of al-Maliki in elections scheduled for September. At the same time, al-Abadi is head of the Iraqi army which is attempting to recapture Mosul from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

The protests and violence between supporters of the al-Sadr and al-Maliki are Shia versus Shia Muslim violence. That violence is expected to increase as the September elections approach. But one-third of Iraq's population are Sunni Muslims, and their role in the September elections is still to be fully defined. Middle East Eye and BBC and Washington Post

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Iraq's army poised to begin Battle of Mosul in the west

Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi had hoped that the army, heavily backed by US and coalition warplanes and logistics, would have completed its recapture of Mosul from ISIS by the end of 2016, but the battle is taking far longer than expected. According to Iraq's government, east Mosul with a population of 500,000 has been taken and cleared of ISIS fighters, and the army is now poised to begin a decisive battle to retake western Mosul, with a population of 750,000.

The urban style fighting is extremely nasty. ISIS has laid hundreds of booby-trapped explosive devices in buildings throughout the city. The ISIS fighters move around in tunnel systems that have been built in preparation for this battle.

The government now estimates that the Battle of Mosul will take about two more months. Air Force Times and CBS News and Washington Post (13-Jan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Feb-17 World View -- Iraq: Supporters of al-Sadr and al-Maliki turn again to violence in Baghdad thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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11-Feb-17 World View -- Grexit risk: Greece may refuse a new round of austerity

Greece will evacuate 75,000 people in Thessaloniki to defuse WW II bomb

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Grexit risk: Greece may refuse a new round of austerity


Hundreds of firefighters in uniform in Athens protest working conditions on Wednesday (AP)
Hundreds of firefighters in uniform in Athens protest working conditions on Wednesday (AP)

Years before the term "Brexit" was invented, referring to Britain leaving the European Union, people were talking about a possible "Grexit," referring to Greece leaving the euro currency and returning to its old drachma currency. As Greece enters new negotiations with its lender for another bailout loan, some people are suggesting that Grexit may be a reality this time.

Greece faces a €7.5 billion debt repayment in July. In order to meet that payment, Greece's lenders -- the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission (EC), and the International Monetary Fund(IMF) -- will have to lend Greece more money. (This is like borrowing from your MasterCard to pay your Visa.)

So there's plenty of time to negotiate an agreement by July, and that's why the lenders are meeting with Greece now. Unsurprisingly, a meeting on Friday in Brussels failed to reach an agreement after five hours.

According to Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem:

"We made substantial progress today and are close to common ground for the mission to return to Athens in the coming week. [All sides have] a clear understanding that a timely finalization of the second (bailout) review is in everybody’s interest."

So there'll be more meetings next week in the hope of reaching a breakthrough by the next meeting of eurozone finance ministers on February 20, but no really expects that either. In fact, it's unlikely that the impasse will be broken before the very last moment, and that would be just before the debt payment is due in July.

However, there are other kinds of deadlines that come sooner. There will be elections in the Netherlands on March 15 and in France in April through June. It would be nice to get a final settlement before those elections, since the election results may force the negotiations to start from the beginning.

The creditors are demanding that Greece increase its budget surplus from 2% of GDP in 2017 to 3.5% in 2018. This would require more tax increases, broadening the tax base, and more cuts in pensions. But many in Greece's government are saying enough is enough. Pensions have already been cut 11 times since the onset of the crisis in 2010, and the government is refusing to cut them further.

The Greek people may be unwilling to tolerate any more austerity. If Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras goes along with the pension cuts, then his government may lose a vote of confidence, forcing new elections before July. Greece's bond yields are also beginning to spike up to crisis levels, indicating that investors are getting very nervous about Greece again, just like the old days. And in that case, Grexit may really occur this time.

So things are still pretty calm, but don't be surprised if the old days come back, and there are several weekly crises to navigate. Kathimerini and AP and Nasdaq

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Greece will evacuate 75,000 people in Thessaloniki to defuse WW II bomb

A state of emergency has been declared in Thessaloniki and surrounding municipalities after a 500-pound unexploded World War II bomb was found during work to expand underground fuel storage tanks.

The bomb was dropped during an air raid in the city on September 17, 1944, around lunchtime. It was dropped by British and American planes targeting rail facilities held by the Nazis.

Around 72,000 residents will be subjected to a forced evacuation before the bomb disposal unit will start its operation on Sunday morning. The evacuation zone will be 2 km (1.2 miles) around the bomb. This will be the biggest evacuation in Greece since World War II. At first the team will remove the detonator and will then transport the bomb to a firing range for controlled explosion. AP and Russia Today

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Feb-17 World View -- Grexit risk: Greece may refuse a new round of austerity thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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10-Feb-17 World View -- Kenya's High Court blocks attempt to close Dadaab refugee camp

Closure of Dadaab demanded after 2015 Garissa University attack in Kenya

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kenya's High Court blocks attempt to close Dadaab refugee camp


Somali refugees in the Dadaab refugee camp (Reuters)
Somali refugees in the Dadaab refugee camp (Reuters)

Attempts by the government of Kenya to close down Dadaab refugee camp, the world's largest refugee camp, have been set back by a decision by the country's High Court ruling that closing the camp is unconstitutional. According to judge John Mativo:

"The government's decision specifically targeting Somali refugees is an act of group persecution, illegal discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional."

Dadaab was set up in 1991 to house families fleeing conflict in neighboring Somalia, including the lawlessness and recurrent droughts. (Recall that 1993 was the year of the famous "Black Hawk Down" incident, where Somali militia fighters shot down two American helicopters using rocket-propelled grenades. Mobs then hacked the fallen pilots to death with machetes and dragged their mutilated bodies through the streets as trophies.)

At its peak in 2012, the Dadaab refugee camp housed nearly a half-million people. Many children had been born there and grown to adulthood without ever leaving the camp. Since then, some Somalis have left the camp and returned home voluntarily, and today Dadaab is home to some 256,000 people.

A government spokesman said that Dadaab had become a haven for al-Shabaab terrorists from Somalia, and that the court decision would be appealed:

"The key reason for closure of the camp was that it had become a launch pad for various terrorist attacks by al-Shabaab. The camp has lost its humanitarian nature and become a haven for terrorism and other illegal activities.

The lives of Kenyans matter. Our interest in this case, and in the closure of Dadaab refugee camp, remains to protect the lives of Kenyans.

The closure of Dadaab camp has always drawn varying interest and opinions, both nationally and internationally however, the lives of Kenyans matter. It is for this reason that we shall be strongly appealing the decision by the High Court."

In 2013, Kenya, Somalia and UNHCR signed a tripartite agreement that all refugees should leave the camp and UNHCR would repatriate them all voluntarily to Somalia by November 2016. However, the UNHCR effort failed, and only 20,000 were repatriated.

Amnesty International called Wednesday's High Court ruling "historic":

"Today is a historic day for more than a quarter of a million refugees who were at risk of being forcefully returned to Somalia, where they would have been at serious risk of human rights abuses. This ruling reaffirms Kenya's constitutional and international legal obligation to protect people who seek safety from harm and persecution."

The Star (Kenya) and BBC and AFP

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Closure of Dadaab demanded after 2015 Garissa University attack in Kenya

The plans for Dadaab changed dramatically in April 2015, when the Somalia terrorist group al-Shabaab killed over 147 people, mostly Christian students, at Garissa University College in Kenya. The students were massacred in their dormitories. Christians were singled out and shot dead. 79 were injured, and 587 were led to safety.

The Garissa attack had an effect on Kenya's public not unlike the effect of the 9/11/2001 attack on Americans. Kenya announced numerous changes to improve security, and one of them was that the Dadaab refugee camp should be closed within three months.

The date for closure kept getting pushed back. In May of last year, Kenya said that would close down the camp by the end of the year. In November, the date was pushed into 2017.

The problem is that most of the refugees in Dadaab were born there and have spent their whole lives there, so they have no place to go. Kenya's government has tried "bribing" the refugees by offering $200 apiece to leave voluntarily. But with 260,000 refugees still remaining in the camp today, it's pretty clear that the effort to close the camp is failing and, according to some people, will never succeed.

At any rate, Wednesday's High Court decision means that the attempt will end completely, at least for the time being. The Nation (Kenya)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Feb-17 World View -- Kenya's High Court blocks attempt to close Dadaab refugee camp thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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9-Feb-17 World View -- Mainstream media frets over Steve Bannon, the Fourth Turning, and Donald Trump

China-Philippines détente unravels over Scarborough Shoal

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China-Philippines détente unravels over Scarborough Shoal


China's now-famous 'nine-dash line' illegally claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, including territories belonging to other nations (Reuters)
China's now-famous 'nine-dash line' illegally claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, including territories belonging to other nations (Reuters)

When Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte announced last October that he was throwing the US military out of the Philippines and would be turning to China instead, I wrote that this flip-flop could not last for long, because the Philippine people had an overwhelmingly favorable view of the U.S., and a far less favorable view of China. It's a core principle of Generational Dynamics that, even in a dictatorship, major decisions are made by masses of people, by generations of people. The attitudes of politicians are irrelevant, except insofar as they represent the attitudes of the people.

Last October, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the country would not allow the US military to use its base in the Philippines even for its freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea. Since then, Duterte has already been forced to backtrack on his threat to throw the US military out.

Now Duterte's own ministers are expressing alarm that China may be building a new military base on Scarborough Shoal, which has been a fishing ground for Philippine fishermen for centuries.

Now the very same Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is now saying that China should not be permitted to build military facilities on Scarborough Shoal because, in combination with China's other illegal military bases, this would give China complete military control of the entire South China Sea:

"They encroached. They occupied three islands [in the Spratlys] plus they are trying to get Scarborough. So to us that is unacceptable.

If we allow them, they will build. That’s very, very disturbing. Very much [more] disturbing than Fiery Cross because this is so close to us. ...

"The Americans, that’s their red line. Red line meaning you can’t do that there, so they [China] did not do it.

If we had a strong military presence [in the South China Sea], we can stop them [China] but we don’t. I am still hoping in the future some reasonable guy there in Beijing will come to see the light that this is ours. That is shooting for the moon but who knows?"

The "red line" refers to a warning that President Barack Obama gave to China's President Xi Jinping last year against building an artificial island at Scarborough Shoal. A Chinese military base on Scarborough Shoal would put Chinese fighter jets and missiles within easy striking distance of US forces that are stationed in the Philippines, as well as the Philippines' own forces. The shoal also commands the northeast exit of the sea, so a Chinese military outpost there could stop other countries' navies from traveling through the South China Sea.

Early last month, during his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson said that China's artificial islands and military bases in the South China Sea were an "illegal" activity and added:

"We're going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building stops and second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed."

Chinese media have responded that the US cannot implement this threat without waging a large-scale war. On Wednesday, China's foreign ministry promised Peace In Our Time: "We are absolutely not interested in conflicts with other countries and call for maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea as this is in the interests of all states." International Business Times and AFP and Tass (Moscow)

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Mainstream media frets over Steve Bannon, the Fourth Turning, and Donald Trump

Needless to say, I'm fascinated by the sudden interest by the mainstream media in Steve Bannon and The Fourth Turning. An article last week about Steve Bannon in Time mentioned the Fourth Turning.

A more important article came out this week in the form of an analytical article by Linette Lopez in Business Insider. Unfortunately, she has no idea what she's talking about, and knows absolutely nothing about generational theory, although she thinks she does.

Her thesis is that Steve Bannon wants to use this theory to bring about a world war. That's crazy. What generational theory does is predict that a world war is coming, whether we like it or not, and tells us to prepare for it.

The Fourth Turning was the foundational work for generational theory. It was a brilliant work when it was written by Neil Howe and William Strauss in the early 1990s, but they applied it only to English and American history since the 1400s, and today their work is badly out of date.

In 2003 I took over further development of generational theory, corrected a number of the early errors, and expanded it to all countries and places at all times in history. I launched the website http://GenerationalDynamics.com, which has been a platform of continuing development of generational theory. There are now almost 4,000 articles on the website containing hundreds of analyses and predictions, all of which have come true or are trending true. None has been proven wrong. No web site, analyst, journalist, or politician has come even close to the analytical and forecasting success of GenerationalDynamics.com. It's a truly historic development.

It's true that generational theory predicts a new world war. But it makes no difference whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton had won the presidential election, because no politician can either cause or prevent a world war.

However, to use an analogy, if your boat is sailing through a storm, then the boat captain can neither cause nor prevent a storm, but if a storm is coming, then one captain may do a better job than another in guiding the boat through the storm. The crazy thing would be for the boat captain to know that a storm is coming, but ignore it completely, and make no preparations whatsoever.

My personal belief is that America will be best guided through the coming storm by a president who has the benefit of an understanding of Generational Dynamics, because that's the only methodology that describes what's actually going on in the world.

So the reason that Linette Lopez is completely wrong is that she has no understanding whatsoever of generational theory. She has no clue. Lopez would tell a boat captain not to prepare for a storm, even if the weather forecast says that a storm is coming. She thinks we should just all be Pollyannas and pretend that nothing bad will ever happen. Linette Lopez is recommending the path to total disaster.

Ironically, Neil Howe himself has almost completely abandoned his own Fourth Turning theory by supporting views similar to those of Linette Lopez. This is explained by the fact that Howe supports Democrats, and so is committed to opposing anything from Donald Trump, even when it's his own Fourth Turning theory. This is just one more of the bizarre twists that are common in today's world.

Generational Dynamics says that a world war is coming, and that no politician can either cause or prevent it. But what politicians can do is prepare for it, and that's what we can hope that Steve Bannon and Donald Trump are doing, to the benefit of all of us. Business Insider and Time

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Feb-17 World View -- Mainstream media frets over Steve Bannon, the Fourth Turning, and Donald Trump thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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8-Feb-17 World View -- Investigation reveals depraved new atrocities by Syria's Bashar al-Assad

Epicenter of Syrian conflict moves from Aleppo to Idlib and al-Bab

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Investigation reveals depraved new atrocities by Syria's Bashar al-Assad


Each week, up to 50 people at the Saydnaya prison were taken out of their prison cells for arbitrary trials, beaten, then hanged (AFP)
Each week, up to 50 people at the Saydnaya prison were taken out of their prison cells for arbitrary trials, beaten, then hanged (AFP)

Just when you think you know all the depraved atrocities that Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has committed, new evidence leaks out that shows even more grotesque actions by this psychopathic killer and war criminal.

These actions began in 2011, when there were thousands of people peacefully demonstrating against al-Assad. They took place in secret in Saydnaya Prison, a facility that al-Assad turned into a "human slaughterhouse," according to Amnesty International, based on interviews with 84 people, including 31 former inmates, four former guards, three former judges and three doctors. Thousands of these peaceful demonstrators were brought to Saydnaya for extreme torture and execution.

The prisoners were people who were perceived to oppose the government in some way. They came from all sectors of Syrian society. Many are demonstrators, long-time political dissidents, human rights defenders, journalists, doctors, humanitarian aid workers and students.

According to one former inmate, they were tortured from the moment they arrived:

"You are thrown to the ground and they use different instruments for the beatings: electric cables with exposed copper wire ends — they have little hooks so they take a part of your skin — normal electric cables, plastic water pipes of different sizes and metal bars. Also they have created what they call the “tank belt”, which is made out of tire that has been cut into strips. ... They make a very specific sound; it sounds like a small explosion. I was blindfolded the whole time, but I would try to see somehow. All you see is blood: your own blood, the blood of others. After one hit, you lose your sense of what is happening. You’re in shock. But then the pain comes."

Prisoners are stripped naked and thrown into cells for months. Prisoners were severely beaten regularly. Prisoners were forced to rape each other. There were starved and given little food and water. The only escape was death, with regular mass hangings of up to 50 at a time. At least 17,723 people were killed in government custody between March 2011 and December 2015, an average of 300 deaths each month.

As far as is known, these actions are still going on today, in Saydnaya and other Syria prisons.

This is not the first time al-Assad's horrors have leaked out into the public. In 2014, an al-Assad defector supplied 55,000 photos of about 11,000 men whom al-Assad had tortured using electrocution, eye-gouging, strangulation, starvation, and beating on prisoners on a massive "industrial strength" scale. Al-Assad was so pleased and proud of this torture that he made sure each act was photographed.

Throughout my lifetime, I've heard people describe the Holocaust and say, "Never again!" But al-Assad is a man who gets obvious pleasure from gouging out people's eyes or pulling out their fingernails, or sending missiles into school dormitories to kill children, or dropping barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons on civilian neighborhoods, or using Sarin gas to kill large groups of people. He considers all Sunni Muslims to be cockroaches to be exterminated. Bashar al-Assad is the greatest genocidal monster in today's world, comparable to Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong and Stalin from the last century. There is no mass weapon of destruction, nor any gruesome form of torture, that he won't use to satisfy his psychopathy. Amnesty International and CNN and Vox

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Epicenter of Syrian conflict moves from Aleppo to Idlib and al-Bab

The destruction of East Aleppo was supposed to be the shock and awe that brought Syria's civil war to an end, but that hasn't happened yet. Tens of thousands of residents of Aleppo have fled to Idlib, which is now being controlled by a combination of "moderate" anti-Assad rebels, fighters from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and and fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front, now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham or JFS).

Once again you have air strikes killing civilians. Although the air strikes appear to be from Russian warplanes, once again you have Russia denying that it's conducting air strikes. In Aleppo that would have meant that Syria's warplanes were conducting the airstrikes, but in Idlib there's the complication that US warplanes are attacking ISIS targets.

There's also continued fighting in northern Syria, led by Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield. The fighting is now centered around the city of al-Bab. At the beginning of the operation in August of last year, the main fighters were the Free Syrian Army (FSA) of "moderate" anti-Assad rebels. But now in al-Bab, it's elite Turkish army fighters leading the effort, supported by Turkish fighter jets.

This situation is a time bomb for several reasons:

BBC and AP and Al Jazeera

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Feb-17 World View -- Investigation reveals depraved new atrocities by Syria's Bashar al-Assad thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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7-Feb-17 World View -- Tensions rise between China and Trump administration

China sails warships near Japan's Senkaku Islands

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China sails warships near Japan's Senkaku Islands


Senkaku Islands
Senkaku Islands

In a show of military force, China sailed three warships past the Senkaku Islands on Monday, just two days after Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis visited Japan and reaffirmed the US commitment to defend the islands if attacked by China.

Although the Senkaku Islands are just a collection of large, barren rocks, it's believed that they lie in a region with vast oil and gas reserves. Japan says that the islands have been their sovereign territory since the 1800s. China says that they've been their sovereign territory since "ancient times," and that their claims are "indisputable," but China says exactly the same things about any other country's territory that it wants to confiscate. China's claims in the South China Sea are not only "disputable," they're also illegal according to a ruling by a United Nations court in the Hague. Some of China's "ironclad proof" was investigated by the BBC and found to be a hoax.

The United States has taken no position on whether Japan or China own the Senkaku Islands, but have agreed that Japan is currently administering the islands. During the early part of the administration of President Barack Obama, there was some question whether Obama would agree to defend the islands under the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security that was signed in 1960. The issue was cleared up in April 2014 during a visit by Obama to Japan, he announced, "The policy of the United States is clear -- the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands."

The administration of President Donald Trump once again reaffirmed the US defense of the Senkaku Islands last week when ]US Defense Secretary James Mattis visited Japan and said:

"I made clear that our long-standing policy on the Senkaku Islands stands -- the US will continue to recognize Japanese administration of the islands and as such Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Treaty applies."

China's Foreign Ministry responded quickly:

"Diaoyu [Senkaku] and its affiliated islands have been Chinese territory since ancient times. These are historical facts that cannot be changed. The so-called US-Japan security treaty was a product of the Cold War, and it should not harm China's territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights

We urge the US side to adopt a responsible attitude and stop making wrong remarks on the issue of the sovereignty of Diaoyu Islands."

It's getting very tiresome to hear that China always describe their empty claims as indisputable facts, but the real concerns is that the Chinese are becoming so angry and frustrated that they'll take real military action. Sending three warships near the islands, as they did on Monday, is harmless as far as it goes, but with nationalistic feelings high in both China and Japan, a miscalculation leading to a military clash is a real possibility. CNN and Fox News

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Tensions rise between China and Trump administration

US-China tensions have been growing steadily for years, especially as China has built illegal artificial islands and illegal military bases in the South China Sea. But these tensions seem to have taken a major spurt since Donald Trump became president, because of Trump's willingness to go much farther than Obama in challenging "politically correct" norms.

Even before taking office, Trump accepted a phone call from Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen. Tsai has refused to endorse the "one-China policy" that precludes Taiwan's independence, and Trump has said that the one-China policy is open for negotiation. Younger generations in Taiwan increasingly favor independence, and it's clear to China that time is not on their side.

Early last month, during his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson said that China's artificial islands and military bases in the South China Sea were an "illegal" activity and added:

"We're going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building stops and second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed."

An editorial in Chinese state media said, "Unless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the islands will be foolish."

This talk of war has led to some media questions about how ready China is for war.

China has only one aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, but it's much smaller than US aircraft carriers, having been purchased from the Soviet Union in 1988.

The Liaoning can carry up to 24 fighter jets and about 12 helicopters, while U.S. Navy’s current Nimitz-class warships, such as the USS Ronald Reagan, stationed in Japan, can handle more than 60 aircraft. An even larger carrier, the USS Gerald Ford, will be put into service in 2017.

That would indicate that China is far behind the United States in sea power, but the first of two new all-Chinese aircraft carriers, the Shandong-1, is expected to begin sea trials this year.

People frequently point out to me that China would not attack the United States because the US has a superior military. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that makes sense for most wars, but not for generational crisis wars. When America's South attacked Fort Sumter, launching the American Civil War, it was predictable that the North would win because it was three times as big, but the South attacked anyway. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, it was predictable that America would win because it was five times as big, but Japan attacked anyway.

As a population, China is in a highly emotional state right now. They've become extremely nationalistic. Their younger generations are looking for action, believing that China is strong enough to beat the US. On the US side, most people believe that President Trump means business in a way that President Obama never did, and that Trump may well take some military action to fulfill Rex Tillerson's threat to prevent China from accessing its artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the US and China are going to war. It's impossible to predict what will trigger that war, or when it will begin. But whether it begins next month, next year, or thereafter, it will be part of the greatest world war in history. VOA and The Diplomat and The Statesman

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Feb-17 World View -- Tensions rise between China and Trump administration thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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6-Feb-17 World View -- Trump will honor Australia refugee deal, despite calling it 'worst deal ever'

Australian politics in turmoil over refugee deal

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Trump will honor Australia refugee deal, despite calling it 'worst deal ever'


Australia's refugee detention center on the Pacific island of Nauru
Australia's refugee detention center on the Pacific island of Nauru

Australian officials, led by Australia's prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, have said that the plan to resettle up the 1,250 refugees from Australia in the United States had been "confirmed several times over" by Donald Trump administration officials.

The deal was made in November by President Barack Obama in the waning days of his administration. The US will take 1,250 refugees that Australia has sent to two "detention centers" on Pacific islands, one on Papua New Guinea's (PNG's) Manus Island, and one on the island nation of Nauru, under agreements reached with both countries. The reason that they had been sent to detention centers is not because they were known to have committed crimes, but because they had arrived by boats run by human traffickers. Australia has refused to let them resettle on Australian soil in order to discourage human trafficking, and the policy has actually been very successful in that regard.

Nonetheless, the detention centers are considered to be violations of international law for several reasons, including the fact that they're described as filthy and rat-infested, with numerous stories of beatings, torture, and sexual abuse.

Although the deal was announced in November, it's been mostly ignored until last week when president Donald Trump held a phone conversation with Australia's president Malcolm Turnbull. The mainstream media described the phone call as contention, and claimed that Trump had hung up on Turnbull, something that both Trump and Turnbull have derided as "fake news."

Trump characterized the refugee deal as "the worst deal ever," and there was speculation that Trump would cancel the deal. However, Trump took the position that he was bound by the international agreements made by the previous administration, and he has confirmed that the US will take in up to 1,250 of these refugees, after subjecting each of them to "extreme vetting." Australian Broadcasting and Business Insider and CNBC

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Australian politics in turmoil over refugee deal

Australian politics were already pretty toxic over the use of the Pacific island refugee detention centers, but the news about the Trump-Turnbull phone call and the new attention given to the US-Australia refugee deal has caused additional turmoil:

With regard to the last point, the Trump-Turnbull phone call was not the only event in the last week to reignite the refugee debate.

A 37 year old woman refugee known only as "Dee" had requested in December to be flown from the Nauru detention center to Australia to care for a high-risk pregnancy. Australia refused, infuriating activists, but finally was forced on Friday to permit her to come to a hospital in Brisbane.

Ironically, citizens of Nauru may be approved for transfer to Australian hospitals, but since Dee was a refugee, her transfer was not approved (until Friday). Canberra Times and Special Broadcasting Service (Australia) and Stuff (New Zealand) and BBC and Red Flag

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Feb-17 World View -- Trump will honor Australia refugee deal, despite calling it 'worst deal ever' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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5-Feb-17 World View -- Egypt accused of 'dirty deal' to sabotage an Ethiopian dam project

Egypt's air force accused of bombing rebel targets in South Sudan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt's air force accused of bombing rebel targets in South Sudan


Egypt's al-Sisi (L) and South Sudan's Kiir are said to have agreed to a 'dirty deal' (Getty)
Egypt's al-Sisi (L) and South Sudan's Kiir are said to have agreed to a 'dirty deal' (Getty)

Anti-government rebels in South Sudan are accusing Egypt of conducting bombing raids on rebel targets. A statement published by the rebels accuses South Sudan's president Salva Kiir of risking a regional war.

South Sudan is the world's youngest nation, having gained independence from Sudan in 2011. The region's last generational crisis war was an ethnic war mainly between two tribes, the Nuer and the Dinka. That war climaxed with the "Bor Massacre," which began on November 15, 1991, killing tens of thousands of people and displacing hundreds of thousands of people over a three month period.

A new conflict began on December 15, 2013, led by the president Salva Kiir, of the Dinka tribe, fighting against forces led by vice president Riek Machar, of the Nuer tribe. Kiir and Machar signed a peace agreement in August 2015, but that did little good.

South Sudan is in a generational Awakening era, and this renewed war between the Dinkas and the Nuer would have fizzled out, except that both sides have been importing weapons, often using funds meant to fight poverty. The situation in South Sudan is similar to the war in Syria, which would have fizzled out long ago if it weren't for massive military aid from Russia, Hezbollah and Iran.

The rebels are accusing Egypt of replicating the situation in Sudan by playing the part that Russia is playing in Syria, and bombing rebel targets on behalf of the government.

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid denied the alleged air strikes, saying: "Egypt does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries." Reuters and South Sudan News Agency

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Egypt accused of 'dirty deal' to sabotage an Ethiopian dam project

The statement by anti-government rebels accusing Egypt of bombing rebel targets in South Sudan says that Egypt and South Sudan are in a "dirty deal" between Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and South Sudan's president Salva Kiir, and that the deal involves involving weapons sales and sabotage of an Ethiopian dam project:

"There is a dirty deal going between Kiir and El-Sisi. the issue of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is one of the main deals being finalized in Cairo. Our intelligence sources in Kampala and Juba confirmed that Egypt wants South Sudan and Uganda to be her regional allies so that she can advance its covert sabotage campaign against the Ethiopian Dam. The man [Kiir] is a double agent; he will cause many problems for the entire East Africa region."

The statement refers to a Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project that Ethiopia has been trying to get built for years. Ethiopians see as is a great national project and a means of overcoming poverty.

There is considerable opposition to the dam project in Egypt because it would affect the flow of water along the Nile river. Egypt depends on the Nile river to supply most of Egypt's drinking war, to irrigate the Nile Delta, and to generate half of the country's electricity through the operation of Egypt's Aswan High Dam.

Egypt's long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak was able to block development of the Ethiopian dam, but after the "Arab Awakening" in 2011, and the coup that overthrew him, Ethiopia began building the dam. It's expected to be completed in July. Egypt and Ethiopia have signed an agreement saying that Ethiopia guarantees that Egypt's water supply will not be affected, but that hasn't fully reassured many Egyptians.

The South Sudan rebel statement, if true, would indicate that Egypt's al-Sisi and South Sudan's Kiir covertly sabotaging the dam in a "dirty deal" that will keep Kiir in power. Egypt Independent and Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Sudan Tribune

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Feb-17 World View -- Egypt accused of 'dirty deal' to sabotage an Ethiopian dam project thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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4-Feb-17 World View -- Devastating UN report on Burma shows scale of ghastly atrocities by Buddhists targeting Muslim Rohingyas

Generational Dynamics interpretation of Burma (Myanmar) atrocities

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Devastating UN report on Burma shows scale of ghastly atrocities


File photo of Rohingyas fleeing violence (Reuters)
File photo of Rohingyas fleeing violence (Reuters)

A devastating new report by the UN office of human rights shows a huge scale of ghastly atrocities committed by Buddhists targeting ethnic Rohingya Muslims.

For months, Burma (Myanmar) police and soldiers have been committing ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State by scorched earth attacks, burning down their villages, and committing massacres, rapes and other atrocities that have forced tens of thousands to flee for their lives across the border into Bangladesh.

Burma has tacitly admitted guilt by forbidding any journalists or humanitarian groups from entering Rakhine State to investigate. As we've reported in the past, evidence of atrocities keeps leaking out, despite desperate and laughable attempts to hide them. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented the ethnic cleansing through a series of "before and after" satellite images. Burma's government agrees that the satellite images show that Rohingya villages are being burned down, but they make the laughable claim that the Rohingyas are burning down the villages themselves in order to embarrass the government. There have also been dozens of videos showing Burma's police beating and raping Rohingya civilians, but Burma's government claims that all of these videos are phony and have been fabricated.

So to get around Burma's restrictions, the UN office of human rights conducted extensive interviews of hundreds of the tens of thousands of refugees who had been forced to flee across Burma's border into Bangladesh, and were living in filthy refugee camps such as Cox's Bazar. In addition, the UN team interviewed numerous representatives of UN system agencies, NGOs, health professionals and other experts.

The interviewers heard one story after another of killings, beatings, rape, sexual violence, shootings, stabbings, and wholesale destruction of home and property. 52 of the 101 women interviewed reported being raped or subjected to sexual violence. Seven of them were girls who had been gang-raped. Some of the raped girls and women were killed afterwards.

The report contains many personal stories. A woman said, "They killed the baby by stomping on it with their heavy boots. Then they burned the house."

A 12-year-old boy said: "I was at home with my 13-year old uncle, when the army broke into the house. They beat us with sticks, metal rods and kicks. We were crying, pleading for mercy. An army officer hit me hard with a metal rod on my right arm, causing severe injury. We were dragged out of the house, which was set on fire. My uncle, who attempted to flee was caught, beaten and thrown into a burning house." Independent (London) and UN human rights report on Burma and BBC

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Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma's government may have to respond to the report

Burma's government has refused to allow any international journalists or investigators into the region, and has used every possible disinformation technique for months to deny that the atrocities are taking place. These include the laughable technique of claiming that the Rohingyas are killing each other and burning down their own villages to embarrass the government.

However, this new report has been so devastating that Burma's government has been forced to acknowledge it. Even so, U Zaw Htay, the spokesman for Burma's president Htin Kyaw, said on Friday that they hadn't seen the report, and added, "We will review the report from the UN and we will respond, either in an official statement or in an individual response (to questions)."

Later on Friday, the spokesman said, "These are extremely serious allegations, and we are deeply concerned. We will be immediately investigating these allegations through the investigation commission led by Vice-President U Myint Swe Where there is clear evidence of abuses and violations, we will take all necessary action."

International pressure is building on Aung San Suu Kyi, who is believed to be the most powerful politician in Burma today. When she was under arrest for many years by the army, she won the Nobel Peace prize, and now she's considered to be some kind of human rights hero (heroine). But this slaughter of Muslims by Burmese Buddhists has been going on for years, and has become far worse in the last few months, but she continues to deny that there are serious crimes being committed.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein said on Friday, "I did speak to Aung San Suu Kyi about an hour and a half ago. I called upon her to use every means available to exert pressure on the military and the security services to end this operation."

We'll have to see whether anything gets done or can get done. This is a growing problem that will destabilize the region, and lead to new hostilities, possibly triggering a major regional generational crisis war. Irrawaddy Times (Burma) and Reuters

Generational Dynamics interpretation of Burma (Myanmar) atrocities

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these atrocities are coming out of deep hatred by Buddhists of Muslims, based on numerous generational crisis wars between the two groups over the centuries.

Every time I post a story about Burma, some commenters apparently get confused and think that it's the Rohingya's that are killing, torturing and raping the Buddhists. But no it's not. For the last few years, the Buddhists have been the perpetrators, and the Rohingya Muslims have been the victims.

In fact, as I've described several times in the past, the actions being taken by Buddhists against Muslims today are very similar to actions taken by Nazis against the Jews. These kinds of atrocities are standard fare for all religious and ethnic groups.

One commenter in the past pointed out that Muslims conducted atrocities against Buddhists in previous wars, decades and centuries ago. That's undoubtedly true. That's part of how the generational cycle works, with new generations in each side vowing revenge for atrocities committed against their grandfathers. Each side vividly recalls the atrocities committed by the other side, but strangely enough have no memory whatsoever of atrocities committed by their own grandfathers.

Some people believe that Buddhists are such peace loving people that they never fight or never rape or never commit atrocities. Any ethnic or religious group that really lived that way would not survive for long, but would be exterminated by some other ethnic or religious group before long. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, all religious and ethnic groups act the same way, and in fact use religion to justify their actions.

The Buddhist xenophobic hatred of Muslims in Burma goes very deep. The root of the violence is xenophobic attacks by Buddhists led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his "969 movement," against the Rohingya Muslims, including rapes, torture and other atrocities committed by Buddhists, targeting the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas have a darker skin than Burmese, and they speak a Bengali dialect.

What is clear is that the current situation is becoming increasingly dangerous for the entire region.

The Buddhist atrocities started to become significant worse since October 9 of last year, when nine Myanmar border police were killed in an attack blamed on Rohingya militants. This was the first act of violence by Rohingyas in revenge.

CNN has reported on an interview with members of Harakat al-Yaqeen, or "Faith Movement," who are claiming responsibility for the October 9 attacks, and who are the first armed insurgency to emerge from the Rohingyas. The leader Atah Ullah said in the interview:

"We, the vulnerable and persecuted people, have asked the international community for protection against the atrocities by the government of Myanmar, but the international community turned its back on us. Finally, we cannot take it anymore."

This armed insurgency is only the beginning. The government of Muslim-majority Malaysia is furious, and is condemning the government of Burma, violating the regional rule of not interfering in the internal affairs of neighbors. And the situation is ripe for infiltration and recruitment by jihadists, such as al-Qaeda or the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). CNN and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Feb-17 World View -- Devastating UN report on Burma shows scale of ghastly atrocities by Buddhists targeting Muslim Rohingyas thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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3-Feb-17 World View -- Hundreds of thousands of people protest left-wing corruption in Romania

Massive Romanian protests linked to 1989 ouster of violent dictator

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hundreds of thousands of people protest left-wing corruption in Romania


Around 150,000 people protested in Romania's capital city Bucharest on Wednesday (Al Jazeera)
Around 150,000 people protested in Romania's capital city Bucharest on Wednesday (Al Jazeera)

Hundreds of thousands of people turned out on Wednesday in cities across Romania to protest a new decree by the center-left Social Democratic Party (PSD). The new decree permits corruption by government officials.

Although the PSD holds a parliamentary majority after winning an election last month, leaders of the party are currently facing corruption charges that bar them serving as ministers. In particular, PSD chairman in Liviu Dragnea would become prime minister, but in April 2016 he received a two-year suspended jail sentence for vote rigging.

The new decree would change the law so that Dragnea would be cleared of his suspended jail sentence, allowing him to become prime minister. The law would also free dozens of his left-wing cronies, such as Dan Voiculescu, currently serving 10 years for abuse of power and money laundering. Euro News and Reuters

Massive Romanian protests linked to 1989 ouster of violent dictator

The protests are the biggest since the 1989 revolution. At that time, the country was in the grip of a vicious Stalinist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. Few dared to protest because the Secret Police would jail, torture and kill them. However, a spontaneous protest of hundreds of thousands of people began to demand the ouster of Ceausescu, forcing him to try to flee with his wife Elena. They were quickly captured, tried, and then executed on Christmas Day 1989.

Since then, the government has been one of the most corrupt in the world, with the politicians governing the country having stolen as much as possible, with the help of people from the former communist party and the former secret police of Ceausescu's reign.

When Romania joined the European Union in 2007, it was under the condition that Romania would institute severe reforms in the administration of justice and in government corruption. The European Commission has been closely monitoring Romania each year since then, to chart progress in judicial reform and the fight against corruption.

The most recent EC report, issued just two weeks ago, documented progress in many areas, but still concluded: "Corruption prevention is still weak and is not yet established as a core obligation of public administration."

Romania's government announced the new changes in the law just as the EC report was published. The new law is a major reversal of Romania's programs to reduce corruption. Since Romania was admitted to the EU on the condition that judicial and government corruption be reduced to international norms, Romania's membership in the EU might be in jeopardy, if it weren't for the fact that EU leaders are more concerned in today's post-Brexit world that the EU might fall apart anyway. Deutsche Welle and European Commission and Transparency International and The 1989 Romanian Revolution and the Fall of Ceausescu

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Feb-17 World View -- Hundreds of thousands of people protest left-wing corruption in Romania thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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2-Feb-17 World View -- Israel expels residents of Amona West Bank settlement, testing rule of law in Israel

Israel approves large settlement -- first new settlement in West Bank in decades

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel expels residents of Amona West Bank settlement, testing rule of law in Israel


Jewish settlers lock arms inside a house as Israeli security forces try to evict them. (EPA)
Jewish settlers lock arms inside a house as Israeli security forces try to evict them. (EPA)

Under court order, Israeli security forces began on Wednesday the forced eviction of settlers from the Amona settlement in the West Bank.

In 2014, Israel's High Court ruled that the Jewish settlement had been built on private Palestinian land, and that the settlement was illegal. The court ordered the government to evacuate and demolish the community by December 25, 2016. But under fierce pressure from settlers and their Knesset supporters, the government in late December secured a 45-day extension from the court until February 8.

Israel's government had hoped that the expulsion would go smoothly, as they had made an agreement that the evacuated settlers could move to an adjacent plot of land on the same hilltop as Amona. However, local Palestinians objected to this plan, saying that the adjacent plot was also privately owned by Palestinians, and an Israeli human rights group Yesh Din petitioned the court on behalf of the Palestinians to prevent this agreement. Last month, the court agreed with the Palestinians, and issued a temporary injunction halting the construction of the new settlements.

So Israel's government had to back off from the offer of the adjacent settlement, and replaced it with an offer to move to the Ofra settlement, which was farther away but was considered legal under Israeli law. This new offer was considered unacceptable by Amona residents, although it was finally accepted on Wednesday.

Amona activists set up makeshift roadblocks and other defenses, as an army of thousands of unarmed police officers on Wednesday came to Amona to carry out the evacuation and demolition orders. By Wednesday evening, 20 police officers were injured and 12 protesters were arrested.

Pinchas Vallerstein, who represents the Jewish settlers, was unhappy about the evacuation, but said that it was necessary:

"If you want to live in a democratic society and that’s important to you, you can disagree with a decision that the court makes, but at the end of the day, you have to live by it."

However, Abdulrahman Saleh, the mayor or a nearby Palestinian town, has little faith in Israel's legal system. He says,

"I feel the democracy in Israel is just for their people. But for Palestinians, either in [historical Palestine] or here – it is like [Syria's president] Bashar al-Assad, it’s dictatorial. And for their people, it is 100 percent democracy."

Times of Israel and CS Monitor

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Israel approves large settlement -- first new settlement in West Bank in decades

For the first time in 20 years, Israel announced that it will build a new settlement in the West Bank. Previous announcements of new settlers' homes in the West Bank have been homes added to existing settlements.

The new settlement will have 3,000 homes. This is the third announcement of this type since Donald Trump became president on January 20. The previous announcements were for 2,500 housing units in the West Bank, and 550 in East Jerusalem. At the time that the 2,500 housing units were approved, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the expansion was just a "first taste."

Many people believe Netanyahu is pursuing an extremely aggressive new settlement building policy because Trump is more sympathetic to settlement construction than Barack Obama. According to Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi:

"The silence of the new American government, including those who actively support the settlements in the White House and the administration as a whole, has emboldened Netanyahu to persist with his settlement activities."

Israel claims that the new West Bank settlements are legal under international law, but many in the international community disagree, saying not only that they're illegal but also that they're a barrier to a "two-state" peace deal. This refers to the fantasy that there will be some kind of negotiation that will lead to an agreement that Israel and a Palestinian state will exist side-by-side in peace and harmony. Generational Dynamics predicts that Arabs and Jews will re-fight the 1948 genocidal war between Arabs and Jews that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. BBC and CNN and Jerusalem Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Feb-17 World View -- Israel expels residents of Amona West Bank settlement, testing rule of law in Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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1-Feb-17 World View -- New fighting between Ukraine and Russia flares up in eastern Ukraine

Thousands of US troops in Poland conduct joint drills with Polish troops

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New fighting between Ukraine and Russia flares up in eastern Ukraine


Soldiers and tank in eastern Ukraine
Soldiers and tank in eastern Ukraine

After almost two years of stalemate in the fighting in Donbass in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian army and Russian anti-government militias, the fighting has suddenly flared up again in the last three days. Heavy artillery shelling on both sides has killed at least 33 civilians, and has left thousands of people in the government-held town of Avdiivka without water and electricity, at a time when temperatures at night fall to -20C (-4F).

Several analysts are saying that the renewed fighting is a reaction to the new Trump administration. Kiev-based independent political analyst Vadim Karasyov said an escalation in the east could be beneficial to both the separatists and the Ukrainian government:

"Kiev is eager to win support of the new Trump administration, and for this they need to show that separatists and the Kremlin are derailing the peace accords. For the Kremlin, it's important to show that it holds war and peace in its hands — if the new U.S. administration wants peace in Ukraine, it needs to offer something in return."

Russian troops invaded eastern Ukraine after anti-Russian protesters in Kiev, Ukraine's capital city, forced the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich to step down, after he reneged under pressure from Moscow to to sign a trade agreement with the European Union.

Russia always denied that there were Russian army troops in Ukraine, and when it was proven there were, the Russians claimed that they were just "volunteers." That also turned out to be disinformation, as 80% of Russia's army is a volunteer army. America has an all-volunteer army. So saying that Russian troops in Ukraine are "volunteers" is like saying that America's troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are "volunteers."

The worst occurred in July 2014 when the Russians in eastern Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 passenger plane with a Russian Buk 9M38 missile that was transported by a Volvo truck from Russia.

After Russian troops annexed Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in 2014, the war in eastern Ukraine became stalemated, as Russia moved its troops and supplies away from Ukraine to Syria. But now the fighting is escalating again, and there are fears that a larger war may result again. AP and Al Jazeera and EurActiv

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Thousands of US troops in Poland conduct joint drills with Polish troops

About 3,500 American troops conducted live-fire exercises with Polish troops on Tuesday. Poland's president Andrzej Duda welcomed the US commitment of troops, calling it a "historic moment":

"We welcome our allies here today with open arms. I do believe that this presence is going to further strengthen the transatlantic bond and our collective security."

The US commitment of troops came about because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation Crimea. Anxieties were raised in Poland other countries that they might be next. That explains the effusive praise that the American troops are receiving. Many Poles consider the threat from Russia real, and believe that the Russians will not invade Poland if it meant firing on American soldiers.

After the military exercises, the soldiers are to be distributed across Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, and the Baltic countries. The headquarters unit will be stationed in Germany. Radio Poland and Russia Today

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Feb-17 World View -- New fighting between Ukraine and Russia flares up in eastern Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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31-Jan-17 World View -- US will upgrade Philippines military bases, despite Duterte's threats

Philippines war on drugs in chaos after murder of S. Korean businessman

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Philippines war on drugs in chaos after murder of S. Korean businessman


Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte

The "war on drugs" launched by Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has been extremely popular, even as it's resulted in the deaths of more than 7,000 people at the hands of the police in extrajudicial killings. Duterte had vowed to eradicate the country's drug problem by March of this year, but now says that it will continue until his term ends in 2022.

Those same police had further abused their power by kidnapping Jee Ick-joo, a South Korean businessman, apparently to collect a ransom. The kidnapping was botched, and the victim was killed by strangulation inside the grounds of the national police headquarters, Camp Crame. Some suspects in the murder are still at large, and Duterte has given them 48 hours to turn themselves in, or have a dead-or-alive bounty on their heads of 5 million pesos ($100,000).

The murder has infuriated the South Korean public, and has embarrassed Duterte to the extent that he's begin forced to suspend his war on drugs in order to conduct a war on "corrupt police." He will disband all the anti-drug units in the police. In a press conference on Sunday, Duterte said,

"You policemen are the most corrupt. You are corrupt to the core. It's in your system. Cleanse your ranks. Review their cases. Give me a list of who the scalawags are."

Instead, he plans to create a "narco police" command under the existing Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency that will target police involved in the drugs trade.

Philippines National Police Chief Gen. Ronald dela Rosa said on Monday, "We will cleanse our ranks. . .then maybe after that, we can resume our war on drugs. Rogue cops, beware! We no longer have a war on drugs; we now have a war on scalawags."

Human Rights Watch is dismissing the new policy as a stunt and a "cynical PR gesture." Foreign Policy and Sydney Morning Herald

US will upgrade Philippines military bases, despite Duterte's threats

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte was infuriated when President Barack Obama criticized the violations of human rights in the "war on drugs" when he took office in June. In response, Duterte called Obama "the son of a whore," and threatened to scrap the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) that had been signed in 2014, a move that was opposed by Duterte's own ministers.

The EDCA agreement allows the expansion of rotational deployment of U.S. ships, aircraft and troops at five bases in the Philippines as well as the storage of equipment for humanitarian and maritime security operations at the five locations.

At a news conference on Monday, Duterte said:

"Now, here is my worry: The United States is building depots. They are unloading arms in Palawan, in Cagayan de Oro, and in Pampanga. I am serving notice to the Armed Forces of the United States: Do not do it. I will not allow it."

However, Philippines military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla said, "There was no confirmed incident of this nature." He said that only rubber boats, generator sets and materials for building shelters would be stored in Philippine facilities.

Duterte's disgust with the United States has been matched by his fawning over China and Russia. He's asked China to supply two to three fast boats, two drones, sniper rifles and a robot for bomb disposal, in a $14 million arms donation. Russia has offered hardware such as ships, submarines, planes and helicopter.

As I've written many times, it's a core principle of generational theory that even in a dictatorship, major policies and events are determined by masses of people, entire generations of people, and not by politicians.

The relevance to Duterte is that the United States is overwhelmingly viewed favorably by the people of the Philippines, while the people of China and Russia are viewed far less favorably. In particularly, there is an enormous mutual hostility between the Chinese and Filipino people. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be on one side, and the US, Russia, India and Iran will be on the other side. The popularity of the United States among the Filipino people means that Duterte's dalliance with China will be short-lived, and that the Philippines will side with the United States against China in the approaching war. Manila Times and Reuters and The Diplomat

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Jan-17 World View -- US will upgrade Philippines military bases, despite Duterte's threats thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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30-Jan-17 World View -- Ethnic cleansing of Myanmar's Rohingyas threatens regional stability

Trying to keep up in a world in a state of hysteria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Trying to keep up in a world in a state of hysteria

This weekend, the mainstream media is in total hysteria, with reporters screaming like babbling idiots, almost unable form a complete sentence without saying something that's incredibly fatuous or stupid.

As always, in my daily Generational Dynamics World View articles, I try to report what's really going on in the world, which is what the tens of thousands of my readers count on. While reporters are screaming obsessively at each other about the executive order, there are really significant things going on in the Mideast, Africa and Asia that are far more important to our future than one political story.

Unfortunately, I'm only one person, who has limited time beyond the exigencies of having to earn a living, at a time when the number of real international crises keep growing, even if the mainstream press ignores them for the cotton candy of political partisanship. But I hope that you'll bear with me, Dear Reader, and I'll continue to do my best to apply the Generational Dynamics methodology and to inform you of the really important events in the world.

Leading Muslim government advisor in Myanmar (Burma) is assassinated


A Rohingya woman and child in a refugee camp in Bangladesh (Reuters)
A Rohingya woman and child in a refugee camp in Bangladesh (Reuters)

Ko Ni, a legal adviser to Myanmar's (Burma's) government was shot to death by a gunshot to the head as he walked out of the arrival gate at Rangoon's airport, after returning from a flight overseas. Ko Ni was a Muslim who was ethnically Burmese. He was the most prominent Muslim member of the government. He was also an advocate for human rights as regards Muslims, and ran a law firm that aided Muslims. No motive for the assassination is yet known, but it's believed that motive is related to this Muslim human rights connection.

Ko Ni was particularly an adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto head of Burma's government, after her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won the elections in November 2015. Suu Kyi won a Nobel Peace prize years ago when she was under house arrest, and her ascension to power gave hope not only to citizens of Burma but also to the international community who were hoping for stability in the country.

However, Suu Kyi's refusal or inability to stop the rapes, beatings, torture and slaughter of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State by the army has caused Suu Kyi's reputation to plummet, and the assassination of Ko Ni will only further complicate the situation. Myanmar Times and Independent (Ireland) and International Business Times

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Ethnic cleansing of Myanmar's Rohingyas threatens regional stability

The ethnic cleansing and violence by Myanmar's (Burma's) mostly Buddhist army targeting Muslim Rohingyas has been worsening in recent months. Myanmar has essentially admitted guilt by refusing to permit international journalists or investigators into the region, as stories beatings, rape and torture continue to leak out, and as satellite pictures show entire villages burned down by the army.

Concerns are growing that the ethnic cleansing of Myanmar's Rohingya population is threatening the stability of the entire region.

Since October 9 of last year, after nine Myanmar border police were killed in an attack blamed on Rohingya militants, some 65,000 Rohingyas fled across the Myanmar border to Bangladesh to escape the violence by Myanmar's army. The total number of Rohingyas in Bangladesh is estimated to be around 400,000, mostly living in filthy refugee camps.

Bangladesh is under international human rights pressure to allow more Rohingyas to enter Bangladesh, but they place a heavy burden on Bangladesh's resources. As one journalist wrote, "in the conditions which prevail today, morality suggests that Rohingya fleeing persecution in their country be let into Bangladesh. At the same time, a sense of reality points to the terrible burden that could be put on Bangladesh’s resources if they are allowed entry, with hardly any guarantee that they will soon, or ever, go back home."

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak called an emergency meeting of the 57 countries in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation two weeks ago in Kuala Lumpur. Najib said at the conference:

"The killing must stop. The violation of women and girls must stop. The persecution of your fellow men and women, simply on the grounds that they are Muslim, must stop."

Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country, and it's for that reason that Najib chose to interfere in the internal affairs of Myanmar, something that would otherwise be unthinkable among the southeast Asian countries.

The fear is that with the swelling population of Rohingyas that have fled to Bangladesh and other countries, they present an easy target for recruitment by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), which is trying to get a foothold in the region, or by other jihadist groups.

It's feared that unless Myanmar ends the ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas, the result will be terror attacks and instability throughout the region. Institute of South Asian Studies and Reuters (20-Jan) and Indian Express (9-Dec)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Jan-17 World View -- Ethnic cleansing of Myanmar's Rohingyas threatens regional stability thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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29-Jan-17 World View -- Protests grow over Trump's executive order to restrict immigration

Iran promises retaliation against Americans

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Protests grow over Trump's executive order to restrict immigration


Protests at San Francisco International Airport on Friday (Getty)
Protests at San Francisco International Airport on Friday (Getty)

President Donald Trump on Friday fulfilled some of his campaign promises by signing an executive order to limit immigration. In brief, the terms of the executive order are:

Those opposing the executive order made the following points:

There have been growing anti-American government protests, particularly at international airports around the world, where chaos is at a maximum since no one is sure who's going to be admitted to the US. Late on Saturday, a federal judge issued an order blocking the federal government from deporting people detained at the airports because of the executive order.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, America is joining a worldwide trend that I've been writing about for years. In this generational Crisis era, nationalism and xenophobia have been increasing in countries around the world, and the same is true in America. Those who blame Trump for this have it backwards. As regular readers know, it's a core principle of generational theory that even in a dictatorship, major policies and events are determined by masses of people, entire generations of people, and not by politicians. The growth of nationalism and xenophobia around the world is not caused by Trump or by any politician; it's driven by the current generations of people, now that the survivors of World War II are gone. CNN - Full text of executive order and Saudi Gazette and CNN

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Iran promises retaliation against Americans

A statement by Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs promises retaliation against American nationals for the effects of Trumps executive order on Iranian nationals. According to the statement:

"The decision of the Government of the United States to impose restrictions on the travel of Muslims to the United States – though temporarily for three months – is a clear insult to the Islamic world, and especially the great nation of Iran; and despite claims of being made to combat terrorism and protecting the people of the United States, it will be recorded in history as a great gift to extremists and their supporters. ...

The decision of the Government of the United States to target the people of Iran and clearly insult all sections of this great nation has put on clear display the baselessness of the U.S. claims of friendship with the Iranian people while only having issues with the Government of Iran. It also shows the rancor and enmity of some in the US government and influential circles both within the United States and abroad towards all Iranians around the world: The Iranian nation who, benefiting from an ancient and rich civilization and religious beliefs founded on humanitarian values, has always promoted the message of constructive engagement, not only resisted domination but also the temptations to dominate others, and fought extremism and violence; a resilient nation which has stood firm in the face of extremist terrorists and which was among the first victims of organized terrorism; a great people which has had no presence in any extremist terrorist operation, but instead in all societies in which it has traveled or resided as scientists, students, entrepreneurs, tourists or immigrants, has been known as one of the most law abiding, cultured, educated and successful communities, thus representing its Iranian and Islamic culture and civilization in the most dignified and peace-loving manner.

To ensure respect for the dignity of all members of the great Iranian nation at home and abroad, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran will engage in a careful assessment of the short and medium-term impact of the decision of the U.S. Government on Iranian nationals, and will take proportionate legal, consular and political action and while respecting the American people and differentiating between them and the hostile policies of the U.S. Government – will take reciprocal measures in order to safeguard the rights of its citizens until the time of the removal of the insulting restrictions of the Government of the United States against Iranian nationals."

This is the usual delusional stuff you hear from Iran. They say that Iranians are "a great people which has had no presence in any extremist terrorist operation," but they ignore their massive funding of terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah and Hamas, and their own sponsored terrorism in countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, Iran is a terrorist country to its own people -- peaceful student protests are met with murder, torture and jailings of innocent civilians.

The most delusional of the Iranians are the old geezers left over from the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979, still dreaming of the erotic days of the revolution when they could torture or rape or kill anyone they want with impunity, and see nothing wrong with the same thing today. This includes the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei. On Friday, another old geezer Iranian cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani said that "those individuals who defend their lives, honor, and country are not terrorists." To these people, an innocent girl peacefully holding up a protest sign in Tehran's "Freedom Square" is an enemy that the security police can torture, rape or kill because doing so defends the country's honor.

One thing that really infuriates hardline Iranian officials is any equivalencing of Sunni jihadist terror to Iranian terror. We saw this particularly a year ago when Saudi Arabia executed 47 people on charges of terrorism. 46 of them were Sunni jihadists, and the 47th was Mohammad Baqir Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia terrorist from Iran. In response, there were widespread riots in Iran, including burning down the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

There is one additional significant quote from the Foreign Ministry statement:

"The decision of the Government of the United States incorporates certain requests that are illegal, illogical and contrary to international law. Considering the absence of relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States, those requests are not applicable to and cannot be accommodated by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

It's possible that these "certain requests" refer to the need for countries to provide "adequate information" for its citizens to be issued visas to enter the US, as stated in Trump's executive order. If that is what is being referred to, then it's possible that Iran will refuse to provide "adequate information," and the ban on Iranian's entering the US could become permanent. Obviously that situation will not be sustainable, and one side or the other will have to back down. Tasnim News (Tehran) and Pro Publica and Tasnim News (Tehran) and Fars News (Tehran - trans)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Jan-17 World View -- Protests grow over Trump's executive order to restrict immigration thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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28-Jan-17 World View -- Furious Turkey threatens migrant deal over Greece's failure to extradite

Desperate EU officials still try to shut down Mediterranean migration route

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Furious Turkey threatens migrant deal over Greece's failure to extradite


Turkish soldiers after landing in Greece on July 17 of last year (Reuters)
Turkish soldiers after landing in Greece on July 17 of last year (Reuters)

Greece's Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the extradition of eight Turkish military officers sought by Ankara over the failed coup of July 15 of last year.

On July 16, the day after the coup attempt, a Turkish military helicopter landed unexpectedly in the Greek town of Alexandroupoli, close to the Turkish border. Eight Turkish soldiers emerged from the helicopter, asking for political asylum.

Turkey said that the eight soldiers were traitors, and demanded their extradition.

It's been six months since then, and the asylum request is still pending. However, on Friday, Greece's Supreme Court ruled against extraditing them back to Turkey. The court said that there was on evidence that they were involved in the coup attempt, and that they were unlikely to get a fair trial in Turkey. The soldiers claim that they would be killed if they returned to Turkey.

Turkey, on the other hand, claims that they provided documents and other evidence that proves that the eight soldiers were involved, and that Greece's refusal to extradite is a violation of international law.

Turkish officials are furious:

"We will carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of this decision - which we believe has been taken with a political motive - on our bilateral ties, co-operation in the fight against terrorism and on other bilateral and regional issues. ...

There is a migration deal we signed, including a readmission deal with Greece, and we are evaluating what we can do, including the cancellation of the readmission deal with Greece."

The readmission deal is one part of the EU-Turkey migrant deal signed last year. Turkey agreed with the EU to take back all migrants and refugees who cross to Greece illegally. In return, Turkey would receive financial aid, visa-free travel for all Turkish citizens in Europe, and an acceleration of negotiations for Turkey to join the EU. Turkey and Greece also have an agreement on the readmission to Turkey of illegal migrants.

The EU-Turkey deal has been extremely successful, in that it's reduced the flow of migrants from Syria and Iraq into the EU from a torrent into a trickle. The EU so far has refused to grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens, or to accelerate negotiations for Turkey to join the EU.

Turkey has sometimes threated the "nuclear option" of cancelling the entire deal. However, on this occasion, the threat appears to be far less substantial -- just canceling the portion of the deal that permits Greece to send refugees back to Turkey for readmission.

The EU is trying to play a balancing act with Turkey. The EU desperately needs the migrant deal, since another influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants would threaten the cohesion of the EU itself. On the other hand, Turkish authorities have fired or jailed hundreds of thousands of people since July, accusing them of supporting the coup, while not supplying any evidence. These arrests have particularly targeted journalists, teachers and police officers. These massive firings and jailings have caused astonishment among EU officials, raising human rights concerns to the point where visa-free travel and EU membership are strongly rejected by many EU officials. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Greek Reporter and BBC (19-Jul-2016)

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Desperate EU officials still try to shut down Mediterranean migration route

Even if the EU-Turkey migrant deal remains intact, there could still be hundreds of thousands of migrants traveling from Libya to Italy by crossing the Mediterranean. The technique used by human smugglers is to pack 40 migrants in a rubber dinghy that's supposed to hold no more than 10 people, and send them out to sea off the coast of Libya. They're told to call the Italian coast guard once they're in international waters and ask to be saved.

Because of the instability in Libya, it's clear that there's no hope of an EU-Libya deal as effective as the EU-Turkey deal.

Instead, EU officials are moving ahead with a plan to establish refugee camps in Africa. When migrants are picked up from dinghies in the Mediterranean, they'll be taken to these African refugee camps rather than to Europe.

According to Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, "The people taken up by the smugglers need to be saved and brought to a safe place. But then from this safe place outside Europe, we would bring into Europe only those who require protection." RFE/RL and Russia Today and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jan-17 World View -- Furious Turkey threatens migrant deal over Greece's failure to extradite thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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27-Jan-17 World View -- China places missiles on Russia's border -- to gain respect and attack America

Centuries-old Russia-China border dispute could lead to another war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China places missiles on Russia's border -- to gain respect and attack America


Battery of Chinese DF-41 missiles
Battery of Chinese DF-41 missiles

China has deployed a brigade of Dongfeng-41 nuclear ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) systems near the Amur River, which separates China from Russia's Far East. China's Global Times describes the deployment, and also gives some insight into the what China's leadership thinks:

"Before Trump took power, his team showed a tough stance toward China, and in turn, Beijing will ready itself for pressures imposed by the new US government. It is logical that Beijing attaches particular importance to the Dongfeng-41 as a strategic deterrence tool. With China's rise, China's strategic risks are growing. China bears the heavy task of safeguarding national security. Nuclear deterrence is the foundation of China's national security, which must be consolidated with the rising strategic risks.

The US has the world's most powerful military strength, including the most advanced and powerful nuclear arsenal. But Trump has called for a nuclear arms build-up many times. Even Washington feels that its naval forces and nuclear strength are lacking, so how can China be content with its current nuclear strength when it is viewed by the US as its biggest potential opponent?

China's nuclear capability should be so strong that no country would dare launch a military showdown with China under any circumstance, and such that China can strike back against those militarily provoking it. A military clash with the US is the last thing China wants, but China's nuclear arsenal must be able to deter the US.

The US has not paid enough respect to China's military. Senior US officials of the Asia-Pacific command frequently show their intention to flex their muscles with arrogance. The Trump team also took a flippant attitude toward China's core interests after Trump's election win. Enhancing communication and mutual understanding is not enough. China must procure a level of strategic military strength that will force the US to respect it."

China has had missiles deployed on Russia's borders for decades, but the deployment of the new DF-41 missiles is causing anxiety in Russia, who fear that the new missiles are meant for Russian targets. Russia's state media have been full of articles to reassure the public. Russian military expert Konstantin Sivkov says that the missiles could not possibly be targeting Russia:

"China has deployed inter-continental ballistic missiles near Russia with the aim to be able to reach targets in the US, Canada and Europe.

This is an inter-continental class missile with an effective range of 10,000 to 12000 kms. The missile's dead zone is no less than three thousand kms. A large territory of Russia, practically the entire Far East and West Siberia are not within the missile's reach.

If that were the purpose, the missiles should have been stationed deep inside mainland China or on its southern border."

The last statement is somewhat ironic, since apparently two additional brigades of DF-41 missiles have been deployed, and those brigades are deep inside mainland China, and presumably could strike much of Russia. Even the brigade on Russia's northeastern border could still strike Moscow, which is in the west.

Each DF-41 ICBM can carry ten independently targetable warheads, with a maximum speed close to 20,000 mph. By deploying an ICBM brigade on the Amur River, the missiles could attack the US by going over the North Pole, and could hit any target in the US, while remaining out of range of the defensive Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system that the US is deploying in South Korea. The nominal purpose of the THAAD system, according to the US, is to protect the US from a North Korean missile launch. However, everyone believes, undoubtedly correctly, that the bigger purpose of the THAAD system is as a first line of defense to a Chinese missile attack on the United States, but the THAAD system could not defend against China's new missile deployment. Global Times (Beijing) and Sputnik News (Moscow) and Daily Mail (London) and Russia Today and Japan Times

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Centuries-old Russia-China border dispute could lead to another war

The Amur River that forms part of the border between China and Russia's Far East has been the site of wars between the two people for centuries.

The first conflict began in 1628 when the Russians invaded a territory inhabited by a Mongol-related ethnic group. The Russians and the Mongols had already fought many long, bitter wars following the conquests of Genghis Khan in the 1200s, but that wasn't the motivation for this invasion. The motivation for the 1628 invasion was fur, gold and silver.

The most recent war in this region occurred in the 1960s, and is known as the Damansky Incident. On March 2, 1969, border units of the Soviet Union and China clashed on Damansky Island, gaining control of the island.

Militarily, the Damansky Incident was a small operation, but symbolically and politically it's been extremely important. The fighting generated worldwide concern, over fears that China and Russia would escalate the fight into nuclear war. The United States sided with China in the clash, causing China to have much more favorable relations with the US. In fact, this incident is thought to be the trigger that led to President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger successfully developing diplomatic relations with China in 1971.

As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, Russia and the United States will be allied against China. I've given many reasons for this, but the tensions along the Amur River provide another one.

Russia's Far East is a vast sparsely populated region. Across the Amur River is heavily populated northeast China. By some estimates, there are about 5 million illegal Chinese immigrants living in Russia's Far East, with the number increasing by a million or so each year. The 1969 border war is well remembered by both sides, so the new DF-41 missile deployment is stoking strong nationalistic feelings on both sides.

Since 2012 China has increased spending on infrastructure along the Amur River border region, to make it easier for Chinese businesses to operate. This supports the rapid growth of Chinese trade in the thinly populated Far East and confirms Russian fears that Chinese businesses and Chinese migrants will take over Russia's Far East before long.

In 2014, Russia held the massive Vostok military exercises in the Far East, explaining that the military drills were necessary to prepare for war with the United States. And yet, the assets deployed during this exercise were more consistent with preparing for a defense of the Far East, a region that America would be unlikely to invade if it wanted to invade Russia at all. The only state actor that against which such a defense is needed is China. And so it appears that Russia and China claim that they're each preparing for war with the United States, but in reality they're preparing for war with each other. Russia Behind the Headlines (2-Sep-2015) and American University and Strategy Page and The Diplomat

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Jan-17 World View -- China places missiles on Russia's border -- to gain respect and attack America thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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26-Jan-17 World View -- Dow surges past 20,000, further expanding dangerous Wall Street bubble

China desperately imposes controls on capital outflows

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Dow surges past 20,000, further expanding dangerous Wall Street bubble


S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 24.71 on Jan 20, indicating a huge and growing stock market bubble (WSJ)
S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 24.71 on Jan 20, indicating a huge and growing stock market bubble (WSJ)

President Donald Trump and the "Trump effect" are being given credit for pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average past 20,000 on Wednesday, for the first time in history. The credit is being given to Trump because of the excitement generated by his election victory and his divisive moves in the direction of rolling back regulations that have hampered businesses and job creation.

The operative word is "excitement." There's little or nothing of real economic fundamentals that justify this continually growing stock market bubble. Central banks around the world have been printing money and pumping it into the banking system. Investors borrow that money and use it to buy stocks and sell them to each other, pushing up stock prices and stock market indexes.

Furthermore, this was going on in the Barack Obama administration as well as the Trump administration. Stock market bubbles have no connection to politicians, either conservative or liberal.

According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations index) on Friday morning (Jan 20) was at an astronomically high 24.71. This is far above the historical average of 14, indicating that the stock market bubble is still growing, and could burst at any time. Generational Dynamics predicts that the P/E ratio will fall to the 5-6 range or lower, which is where it was as recently as 1982, resulting in a Dow Jones Industrial Average of 3000 or lower.

There's a lot of Schadenfreude going around about the election night New York Times blog entry by Paul Krugman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics because of his hatred of President George Bush. After Donald Trump's election victory, Krugman wrote:

"It really does now look like President Donald J. Trump, and markets are plunging. When might we expect them to recover?

Frankly, I find it hard to care much, even though this is my specialty. The disaster for America and the world has so many aspects that the economic ramifications are way down my list of things to fear.

Still, I guess people want an answer: If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.

Under any circumstances, putting an irresponsible, ignorant man who takes his advice from all the wrong people in charge of the nation with the world’s most important economy would be very bad news. What makes it especially bad right now, however, is the fundamentally fragile state much of the world is still in, eight years after the great financial crisis."

What this goes to show is what an idiot Krugman is, but not because he's wrong about "fundamentally fragile state" of the world. He's actually right about that, and that's consistent with the Generational Dynamics view of the world.

And that's particularly ironic, because Krugman is agreeing the thrust of Trump's inauguration speech, which linked America today to the economic hardships of the 1930s.

What makes Krugman a total idiot is that he thinks that he can time the market. You'd think that the Nobel prize winner in economics would know that he can't write a column late at night predicting stock prices the next day and expect to get them right. But then again, Krugman didn't get his Nobel prize in economics because he's a good economist. The loons in Sweden gave it to him because they hated Bush and they wanted to give it to someone else who hated Bush as much as they did. So Krugman and the loons in Sweden deserve each other.

An economist would /should know that you can't predict the timing of a stock market panic and crash. I always like to point out that even today, 87 years after the stock market panic of October 1929, nobody knows why it happened at exactly that time, and not three months earlier or five months later, and what triggered the 1929 panic. It's still a mystery.

A P/E ratio of 24.71 is astronomically high. And since stock prices have surged since Friday morning, the P/E ratio after Wednesday's close is probably now above 25.

We can't predict exactly when a stock market panic will occur, or what will trigger it, but we can predict with 100% mathematical certainty that a panic and crash will occur, and by the Law of Mean Reversion, the Dow Jones Industrial Average will fall from its current level of 20,000 to a low below 3,000, wiping out millions of people's savings. CNBC and Bloomberg and NY Times (9-Nov-2016)

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China desperately imposes controls on capital outflows

With the world's economies interlocked, the trigger for a Wall Street panic and crash needn't necessarily come from the United States. A financial panic in any major world economy could create a chain reaction that would affect all world economies.

In China, there's already a panic of sorts going on, as wealthy Chinese have been converting their fortunes from China's yuan currency into dollars or other foreign currencies, and then using those dollars to purchase assets outside China. In that way, Chinese investors protect themselves from a currency or stock market crash within China.

This has resulted in huge outflows of China's yuan currency, as much as $1.3 trillion in the last four months of 2016. As more and more investors sell their yuan currency, the yuan weakens and its exchange rate becomes less and less favorable against the dollar. The value of the yuan lost 7% against the dollar in 2016. In the last few months, the yuan fell at its fastest rate since 1994.

Chinese investors, seeing the yuan weaken, then become anxious and convert more yuan into dollars in order to preserve value. This can create a vicious cycle that leads to a full-scale currency panic that would affect China's entire economy.

As a result, China at the beginning of January issued regulations designed to clamp down on currency outflows. Chinese investors will be strictly limited in the amount of money that they can convert to dollars, and even then they must sign a pledge that the funds "will not be used for overseas purchases of property, securities, life insurance or any other insurance of an investment nature."

China's government says that these are not really capital controls, but are meant to prevent investment in terrorist activities abroad.

However, these new regulations are having a chilling effect on international investors considering investments in China. A person is not going to be willing to send dollars into China to invest in a business if they're concerned that they'll lose all their money because Chinese regulators won't let them take it out of China later.

China's new capital outflow limitations are a move of desperation that will not work forever. China Daily (5-Jan) and Radio Free Asia and Business Insider and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Jan-17 World View -- Dow surges past 20,000, further expanding dangerous Wall Street bubble thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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25-Jan-17 World View -- Russia, Iran, Turkey sign farcical Syria peace agreement

Syria peace conference sees a return to 'proximity talks'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia, Iran, Turkey sign farcical Syria peace agreement


Politicians shake hands and congratulate each other at Tuesday's conclusion of the Syria peace negotiations (AP)
Politicians shake hands and congratulate each other at Tuesday's conclusion of the Syria peace negotiations (AP)

What's wrong with this picture: There's a civil war in Syria between the Shia/Alawites versus the Sunnis. On Tuesday, Russia, Iran and Turkey signed a peace agreement.

The thing that's wrong with this picture is that nobody from Syria signed the agreement. It was an agreement among outsiders, and did not include any parties who are nominally the opponents in Syria's civil war.

The peace talks were held in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan. Syrian civil war peace talks in the past were held in Geneva, so having these talks in Astana gives that "this time it's different" feeling to the meeting.

Another reason it's different is that the United States was not invited to the peace talks, largely because Iran opposed having the US present. However, the US was permitted to have an observer, and sent George Krol, the U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan. The US issued a statement saying that it welcomed any "actions that sustainably de-escalate violence and reduce suffering in Syria."

However the main reason, according to analysts, that this time it's different is that Russia is making it clear that it's willing to enforce a peace in Syria, so that it will get the credit for bringing about peace.

In fact, Russia is so eager to enforce a peace that on Tuesday, for apparently the first time ever, Russia publicly bashed Syria's president Bashar al-Assad for breaching the ceasefire and lying about it.

This has to do with a region called Wadi Barada in the suburbs of Damascus, that's under the control of anti-Assad rebels. Al-Assad's forces, aided by Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah forces, have been breaching the ceasefire, attacking the anti-Assad rebels around Wadi Barada. Al-Assad claimed that it was al-Qaeda forces that were attacking the rebels, but the Russians called him out, essentially calling him a liar.

Readers may recall that in 2015, al-Assad's army was close to complete collapse, and was only saved by massive Russian intervention. This was confirmed on Tuesday by Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who said that al-Assad and Damascus itself were only three weeks away from falling, which was prevented only because the Russian air force came and saved him.

So the Russians have hallucinatory belief that they're going to enforce a ceasefire across Syria, including al-Assad's army, the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front, recently renamed Jabhat Fateh al-Sham or JFS), and any of the numerous anti-Assad rebel groups in Syria. Russia is going to enforce a ceasefire among all those groups, Syria will return to "normal," and Russia will get all the credit for bringing peace to the land. It's hard not to laugh. Washington Post and Guardian (London)

Syria peace conference sees a return to 'proximity talks'

It's almost hard to believe, but we're seeing "proximity talks" again.

In Astana, the al-Assad representatives were supposed to meet face to face with the anti-Assad rebel representatives. On Monday, they all sat around a nice oval table, so they could negotiate. So then the lead rebel negotiator, Mohammed Alloush, called the Syrian government a "bloody, oppressive regime" that forced Syrians to choose between "the terrorism of Bashar and the terrorism of ISIS," implying that al-Assad is worse terrorist than ISIS. Syria's lead negotiator, Bashar Jaafari, responded by calling Alloush the head of the "armed terrorist groups’ delegation." So that was the end of the face to face talks between the al-Assad and rebel representatives. After that, they were put into separate rooms, and the farcical "proximity talks" started.

I described how this works in the context of the January 2014 peace negotiations. Instead of talking to each other, a mediator carries messages back and forth between the two sides, in the hopes of reaching an agreement that way.

So you have people saying that the Astana talks are a "breakthrough" because the two sides are finally talking to each other, but in fact they aren't talking to each other. AP and The Diplomat and ARA News (Syria)

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The aftermath of the destruction of Aleppo

Let's review. Last year, al-Assad's military, supported by overwhelming destructive force provided by Russia and Iran, was going to destroy the city of Aleppo. That was going to end the war because it would demoralize the opposition groups and jihadists so they would lose interesting in fighting, and would go home.

At the time, Bashar al-Assad called it "history in the making":

"[The liberation of Aleppo was] history in the making and worthy of more than the word congratulations.

History is being written in these moments. Every Syrian citizen is taking part in the writing. It started not today, but years ago when the crisis and the war on Syria began.

I think that after the liberation of Aleppo we’ll talk about the situation as ... before the liberation of Aleppo and after the liberation of Aleppo."

Well, nobody is talking about the destruction of Aleppo as "history in the making" any more. It was pure fantasy by al-Assad. Al-Assad destroyed Aleppo, but nobody seems to have gone home. There's a ceasefire in effect, but how long before it falls apart?

I've been writing about this war for years. Syria is in a generational Awakening era, and this war should have fizzled within a year. But Bashar al-Assad's goal is extermination of Syria's Sunnis, as I've been describing for years.

It's worth remembering how we got here. The civil war in Syria was caused by al-Assad when he unleashed his army and air force against peaceful protesters in 2011. Up to that point, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were friendly with al-Assad. Things really turned around in August 2011, when al-Assad launched a massive military assault on a large, peaceful Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia, filled with tens of thousands of women and children Palestinians.

Al-Assad's unprovoked attack on this refugee camp, and the slaughter of thousands of Palestinian women and children, drew young jihadists from around the world to Syria to fight al-Assad, resulting in the formation of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Sunnis in Syria itself turned against al-Assad, forming either "moderate" rebel militias or joining the jihadist Al-Nusra Front. Al-Assad is responsible for displacing millions of Syrians, including over a million that have flowed into Europe as refugees.

So let's suppose that the Astana peace negotiations "succeed" in some sense, and the ceasefire continues for a while. What's going to happen when Syrians begin peacefully protesting again? Is al-Assad going to ignore it this time? How long will Russia's military be willing to continue spending blood and money to enforce the ceasefire?

A ceasefire cannot work unless both sides want it to work. In this case, neither side wants it to work. What has always been clear to me is that al-Assad started this war and is the driving force behind continuing the war. As long as al-Assad is in power, the war will continue. ARA News (Syria) and LA Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Jan-17 World View -- Russia, Iran, Turkey sign farcical Syria peace agreement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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24-Jan-17 World View -- Russia will build major naval base in Tartus Syria

Trump may permit US military cooperation with Russia in Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Trump may permit US military cooperation with Russia in Syria


Port of Tartus, Syria, to become a major Russian naval base (Reuters)
Port of Tartus, Syria, to become a major Russian naval base (Reuters)

The prize for bizarre story of the day on Monday had to do with whether the US and Russian militaries were cooperating in Syria to fight the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

According to Russian reports, US military intelligence was providing the Russia military with coordinates that Russian warplanes could use to strike ISIS targets.

However, soon after the Russian claims were made, American officials were calling them Russian disinformation, and an American military spokesman called the Russian statement "rubbish."

Next, President Trump's press secretary said that the US is willing to "work with any country that shares our interest in defeating ISIS," including Russia.

The problem is that the Russians really don't care much about ISIS, as their only interest is to keep Syria's president Bashar al-Assad in power, while Trump's only interest is in keeping his campaign pledge to destroy ISIS.

So it's an interesting development that the door has been left open for the US and Russia to cooperate militarily in Syria.

However, it is true that Russia and Turkey have been coordinating air strikes against ISIS targets.

As readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that the US, Iran and Russia will be allies in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, and Turkey will not be an ally. AP and Russia Today and International Business Times

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Russia will build major naval base in Tartus Syria

For the first time in decades, Russia is coming back as a major military naval power in the Mideast, now that Russia and Syria have signed a long-term agreement to build a large naval base in Tartus, Syria, on the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, the agreement allows Russia to expand its Hmeymim airbase in Latakia in Syria.

According to the agreement, Russia can station up to 11 warships, including nuclear-powered warships, at Tartus. The facility will be completely controlled by Russia. It is immune from "search, requisition, arrest or executory measures" by Syrian officials.

According to Andrey Krasov, head of the State Duma's Defense Committee, the only purpose of the naval base is to fight terrorism:

"Russia needs this base to be present in this region. Unlike NATO, the Russian Federation is the guarantor of security in the world. In Syria, we fight against international terrorism not only by words, but also by deeds. Both Russian Aerospace Defense Forces and Russian Navy’s ship groups demonstrate their professionalism, high qualifications in supporting the Syrian Armed Forces in the fight against terrorism. We are doing everything possible in order for long-suffering Syria to be cleansed from this plague international terrorism.

When in the 1990s we did not hold any drills and closed our bases one by one in Cam Ranh (Vietnam), in Cuba no one cared about this, everybody was clapping their hands. And now, when we rose from our knees, when we started to actively train our forces - and we are doing this on our own territory - our defense-industrial companies produce the most modern weapons, and no other army in the world has such equipment and such weapons - this worries someone. We are worried, however, that NATO is approaching our borders. We do not get closer to anybody, but by these actions, we are returning the positions lost earlier, we are returning our presence in this region."

However, Krasov was contradicted by Igor Korotchenko, a Russian military expert, who says that the base will actually have a much larger purpose than just fighting terrorism: "It will make it possible for Russia to keep control of the entire Mediterranean region, i.e. the Middle East, North Africa and NATO’s southern borders. In terms of military strategy, it gives big possibilities for control over the most important geopolitical processes in the region. ... The mere fact of the presence of Russian warships and submarines, especially those armed with Kalibr cruise missiles, will make it possible to keep control of the entire region and repel any threats." Deutsche Welle and Tass and Straits Times and Tass

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Jan-17 World View -- Russia will build major naval base in Tartus Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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23-Jan-17 World View -- Explosive Israeli policy decisions reportedly put on hold at Trump's request

Israel prepares for the Palestinian 'Oslo Generation'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Explosive Israeli policy decisions reportedly put on hold at Trump's request


Israeli Arabs in the Oslo Generation (Reuters)
Israeli Arabs in the Oslo Generation (Reuters)

Two potentially explosive policy decisions related to Israel and the Mideast have been put on hold, reflecting the recognition by both the American and Israeli administrations of the need for caution:

Internationally, the pressure on Israel is in a bit of a lull right now. The knife and car attacks and other attacks by young Palestinians on Israelis that were surging in 2015 have subsided, while the tensions over the so-called "peace process" have subsided because the international focus is on the wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

So the delay in implementing these two explosive policy decisions is welcome because it continues this relative lull for a while longer.

Decisions like these should not be implemented without two things:

NBC News and AP

Israel prepares for the Palestinian 'Oslo Generation'

As long-time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. There is no guarantee that Israel will survive this war.

Politicians often get confused about who's in charge, and believe that they control events. As I've written many times, it's a core principle of generational theory that, even in a dictatorship, major decisions are made by masses of people, by generations of people, and that politicians are irrelevant except insofar as they're implementing the wishes of the masses of people. In the case of the Palestinians, the average age is less than 20 years old, meaning that major events will be determined not by the 80 year old politicians, but by the masses of teens and 20-somethings.

This is the "Oslo generation" that I've described in the past. These kids were all born after the 1993 Oslo accords that were supposed to bring peace to the Mideast, but are perceived as accomplishing nothing. These kids feel angry and frustrated, they do not trust their leaders, and they are willing to do what they can to "get things done."

Nationalist feelings are extremely high at the present time among both the Palestinians and Israelis. This is exactly the kind of climate that leads to both sides setting red lines and taking harsh steps that lead to tit-for-tat reprisals and revenge. That's why the best policy now is the cautious policy, one that is least likely to result in retaliation and revenge, and to use the time available to prepare for the inevitable war that cannot be prevented. Arab News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jan-17 World View -- Explosive Israeli policy decisions reportedly put on hold at Trump's request thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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22-Jan-17 World View -- India begins deploying its 'Cold Start' military strategy against Pakistan

Russia and India declare their love for each other

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India begins deploying its 'Cold Start' military strategy against Pakistan


Indian Army T-90S tanks on parade
Indian Army T-90S tanks on parade

Reports indicate that India is preparing to deploy 460 high-tech battle tanks along its border with Pakistan, in order to implement its "Cold Start" military strategy.

The Cold Start strategy has been discussed for years, although India has wavered between denying it and acknowledging it at different times.

The Cold Start strategy would be used when India wants to perform lightning "Blitzkrieg" military operation with conventional (non-nuclear) on Pakistani soil for whatever reason -- such as to retaliate for a jihadist terror attack.

In its current configuration, could not mount such an attack in less than a few weeks, giving Pakistan time to a nuclear counterattack, which would force India to back down in most cases.

In the Cold Start scenario, India's army would be prepared to launch an invasive attack almost immediately. The objective would be to meet the military objective within a week, before Pakistan would have time to launch nuclear retaliatory strikes.

Despite years of discussion and denial, the Cold Start strategy hasn't been implemented because it's too expensive. It requires such things as high-tech armor including tanks, attack helicopters, and multiple rocket launchers with a 100 km range, and they have to be on alert at all times. It also requires sophisticated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that India does not currently have. India already maintains a sizable tank force along the Pakistan border, but with decades-old technology.

The reported purchase of hundreds of high-tech Russian tanks suggests that India is finally moving ahead with its Cold Start strategy. Relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated significantly during 2016 because of repeated violence during anti-India protests in India-controlled Kashmir. India blamed the violence on Pakistan, while Pakistan denied responsibility. Russia Today and The Diplomat

Unintended consequence: Cold Start strategy may trigger nuclear war

The objective of the Cold Start strategy is to be able to complete attain a military objective quickly with a "Blitzkrieg" attack using conventional weapons, without risking a nuclear war.

However, some India analysts are saying that the strategy may have the unintended consequence of making a nuclear war more likely.

According to defense analyst Nitin Mehta:

"The Cold Start doctrine essentially will prepare for the next wars, which will emerge on short notice, will be of short duration, and will be fought at high tempo and intensity. The doctrine would mean combined operations by air, land and sea forces, which will require greater coordination headed by a senior military official."

Gurmeet Kanwal, also a retired Indian Army brigadier and defense analyst, said:

"Indian political and military leaders and strategic analysts believe that there is clear strategic space for a conventional conflict below the nuclear threshold because nuclear weapons are not weapons of war fighting. They are convinced that for Pakistan, it would be suicidal to launch a nuclear strike against India or Indian forces, as it would invite massive retaliation."

Both of these analysts advise caution because of the assumptions being made in the context of a very high risk and very costly strategy. The strategy is based on the questionable assumption that a rapid military action by massive armored attacks will deter Pakistan from launching nuclear counter strikes in retaliation.

In fact, Pakistan's Defense Minister Khawaj Asif completely rejects those assumptions:

"We will destroy India if it dares to impose war on us. Pakistan's army is fully prepared to answer any misadventure of India. We have not made atomic devices to display in a showcase. If a such a situation arises we will use it (nuclear weapons) and eliminate India."

China Topix and Defense News

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Russia and India declare their love for each other

India's prime minister last week said in a speech:

"Russia is an abiding friend. President Putin and I have held long conversations on the challenges that confront the world today. Our trusted and strategic partnership, especially in the field of defense has deepened."

At a meeting in October of last year, Sergei Chemezov, CEO of Russia's Rostec State Corporation and a close aide to Russia's president Vladimir Putin, said that Russia will always stand by India:

"We are ready not just to deliver the most serious weapons, and the most important weapons, but continue to give our state of art technology.

Russia is a friend, an ally [of India] and not a business partner. Russia stood by India during its darkest hours. Next year will mark 70 years of our relationship. It has been a long time. In the not so recent past, when India was under sanctions, we were pretty much the only partner for India.

Russia has been a partner not only in every day military supplies but also in the most sensitive and most important supplies, including a nuclear submarine which was rented to India for you to use."

China and Pakistan also have a deep love relationship. As I've reported in the past, China and Pakistan describe their relationship as "all-weather friends," "deeper than the deepest ocean," "sweeter than honey" and "dearer than eyesight."

As I've been writing for many years, Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a Clash of Civilizations world war, where China's allies will include Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries, and America's allies will include India, Russia and Iran. Russia and India Report and India Today (23-Oct-2016)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jan-17 World View -- India begins deploying its 'Cold Start' military strategy against Pakistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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21-Jan-17 World View -- President Trump's inauguration speech links today's America to the 1930s

The Gambia's leader steps down, after his army chief deserts him

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

President Trump's inauguration speech links today's America to the 1930s


Friday's inauguration in Washington
Friday's inauguration in Washington

After the end of World War II, world leaders decided that the root causes of the war were nationalism and xenophobia in the 1930s, as I've been writing about for years, as well as American isolationism.

President Donald J. Trump's inauguration speech combined strong nationalism and isolationism with just a tiny smidgen of xenophobia, much less of the latter than we've heard from him in the past. It seemed to me that he struck the right balance, but even so, his speech was a return to the mood of the 1930s.

His appeal to nationalism and isolationism was at its strongest when he firmly declared that "it's going to be only America first, America first." All of these themes can be identified from the following excerpts:

"We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America first, America first.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs. ...

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow."

The invocation of nationalism and isolationism was not the only link in Trump's speech to 1930s America. His description of today's America could have come right out of a history book describing the Great Depression:

"At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public.

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now."

MSNBC's Chris Matthews made the truly idiotic statement that Trump's inauguration speech was "Hitlerian." Actually, it was much more "Rooseveltian," because it describes a national mood today that's very similar to the national mood in the 1930s -- not Germany's mood, but America's mood.

Perhaps, in drafting this speech, Trump was influenced by his chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is very knowledgeable about Generational Dynamics and about history in general. But however it came about, Trump's view of America today is remarkably similar to the Generational Dynamics view of America that I've been writing about for years. And Generational Dynamics predicts that the world his headed for a Clash of Civilizations world war, pitting China and its allies against America and its allies. This is what America and the Trump administration should be preparing for. Washington Post and The Hill

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The Gambia's leader steps down, after his army chief deserts him

There was a lot of talk on Friday comparing the United States to the Gambia. America has had orderly transitions of power every four years since 1792, even during the American Civil War -- a remarkable feat possibly unparalleled by any other country in history.

By contrast, in many countries in Africa, when a leader comes to power, he refuses to step down, and directs violence and torture to any opposition figures who object. I've written extensively about this in Zimbabwe and Burundi for example, as well as in Syria (not an African country).

The Gambia was on exactly the same path, when the dictator Yahya Jammeh, who took power in a 1994 coup, refused to step down after losing the December election for president to businessman Adama Barrow. Jammeh's mandate ended on January 19, and troops from several of The Gambia's neighbors in the ECOWAS confederation (Economic Community of West African States) sent troops into The Gambia and threatened to force Jammeh to step down.

What's remarkable about this situation is the unanimity of international opinion. In any similar situation, some countries would side with Jammeh and others would side with his opponent. But in this case, every country that made any statement at all sided against Jammeh.

On Friday, the leaders of Mauritania and Guinea flew into The Gambia's capital city Banjul to convince Jammeh to leave without bloodshed. According to reports, Jammeh refused to give up power until late Friday evening, when his army leader General Ousman Badjie defected, and joined the calls for Jammeh to step down.

Late reports indicate that he's agreed, but it's not known what the terms are or where he would be going.

Meanwhile, on Friday, President Obama left office and President Trump entered that office. No threatening troops from any foreign country were required for that change to occur. Vanguard (Nigeria) and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jan-17 World View -- President Trump's inauguration speech links today's America to the 1930s thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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20-Jan-17 World View -- Senegal's troops enter The Gambia to force the ruler to step down

Why you have to say 'The Gambia', rather than just 'Gambia'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Senegal's troops enter The Gambia to force the ruler to step down


Supporters of president-elect Adama Barrow celebrate his inauguration at Gambia's embassy in Dakar, Senegal on Thursday (Reuters)
Supporters of president-elect Adama Barrow celebrate his inauguration at Gambia's embassy in Dakar, Senegal on Thursday (Reuters)

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with Senegal in the lead, sent a military force into The Gambia on Thursday to begin traveling to the capital city Banjul, in order to force the long-time dictator Yahya Jammeh to step down, having lost the last election in December. Nigeria has sent aircraft and troops to Senegal, and deployed a warship. Jammeh has been dictator since a 1994 coup, but with his election loss, his mandate ends on Thursday, January 19. If Jammeh steps down without bloodshed, then he will be permitted to go into exile in the country of his choice.

On the same day, the winner of December's election, Adama Barrow, was sworn in as president at Gambia's embassy in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal. That makes Barrow the legitimate leader of The Gambia, with the international authority to approve the ECOWAS military force. The United Nations Security Council immediately approved the ECOWAS military action.

Analysts are mixed in their assessments of whether the military action will succeed. Jammeh is becoming increasingly isolated, in that many people in his government have resigned, and some army soldiers have indicated that they will not defend Jammeh. However, there are still some soldiers that are loyal to Jammeh, and a battle with Senegalese soldiers could go either way.

As of this writing on Thursday evening ET (Friday morning in The Gambia), ECOWAS announced that it was halting its military operation in order to permit weekend negotiations for a mediated settlement. ECOWAS will send a team led by Guinea's president, Alpha Conde, and including the presidents of Liberia and Mauritania to Banjul on Friday. Reuters and BBC and AP

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Why you have to say 'The Gambia', rather than just 'Gambia'

There are two reasons why "The Gambia" has "The" in front of its name:

Other geographic locations that demand the definite article are The Bahamas and The Hague.

And let's not forget the immortal words of Ogden Nash who, in 1931, said "The Bronx? No thonx." Later in life, as an "older and wiser man," he apologized and wrote, "The Bronx? God bless them." Africa News and NAIJ (Nigeria) and Blogden Nash

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jan-17 World View -- Senegal's troops enter The Gambia to force the ruler to step down thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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19-Jan-17 World View -- European anger and British self-delusion follow Brexit plan speech

Brexit becomes more real after Theresa May's speech

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Brexit becomes more real after Theresa May's speech


Theresa May
Theresa May

Britain's prime minister Theresa May gave a speech on Tuesday outlining her plans for how Britain will leave the European Union, following the Brexit referendum of June 23 of last year.

The speech did not provide much hard information that wasn't already known, but the speech was important nonetheless because it made the Brexit concept a lot more real.

Some of the major parts of the plan are as follows:

Although May laid out her Brexit plans for the first time, she didn't really provide any details beyond what was already known. For example, she wants to allow travel between Ireland and Northern Ireland. How is that possible, if Ireland is in the EU, while Northern Ireland is not? UK Government - speech transcript and Telegraph (London)

European anger versus British self-delusion

The combination of two of the items, trade and immigration, are the most explosive. They're also the one causing the most fury in the EU, and the ones about which the UK is most self-delusional.

Today, as part of the EU, the UK freely trades with the EU countries, with goods flowing freely in both directions. That's one of the EU's "four freedoms": freedom of movement for people, goods, capital and services.

Mrs. May and a number of other UK leaders seem to believe that the EU will be so anxious to continue trade relations with the UK, they'll be willing to agree to a trade agreement that would be as good as the one if the UK were still part of the EU Single Market, but without all the obligations of EU membership, such as freedom of movement for people.

This attitude infuriates many EU leaders. That's not surprising because they've been furious with Britain ever the results of the June 23 Brexit referendum were announced, particularly because the Brexit referendum has stirred anti-immigration sentiment across the EU, and given rise to populist anti-EU politicians.

May addressed this sentiment in her speech as follows:

"So I believe the framework I have outlined today is in Britain’s interests. It is in Europe’s interests. And it is in the interests of the wider world.

But I must be clear. Britain wants to remain a good friend and neighbor to Europe. Yet I know there are some voices calling for a punitive deal that punishes Britain and discourages other countries from taking the same path.

That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe. And it would not be the act of a friend. Britain would not – indeed we could not – accept such an approach. And while I am confident that this scenario need never arise – while I am sure a positive agreement can be reached – I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain."

Joseph Muscat, the prime minister of EU member nation Malta, said that "European rules and institutions cannot be compromised," and added:

"We want a fair deal for the UK but that deal necessarily needs to be inferior to membership. This should not come as a surprise to anyone — indeed thinking it can be otherwise would be a detachment from reality."

So you have anger on one side, and "detachment from reality" on the other side.

May has not yet "invoked Article 50," which would launch two years of negotiations between Britain and the EU over the terms of the separation. She has promised to do that by the end of March, but there's also a pending court case, to be decided in next week, where a decision might take away May's power to invoke Article 50 without a vote from the Parliament. and Reuters and The Sun (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jan-17 World View -- European anger and British self-delusion follow Brexit plan speech thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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18-Jan-17 World View -- The Gambia's leader, refusing to step down, declares state of emergency

Burundi's leader, refusing to step down, withdraws peacekeeping troops fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The Gambia's leader, refusing to step down, declares state of emergency


 Supporters of incumbent President Yahya Jammeh sit at a campaign rally prior to the 1-Dec-2016 election that Jammeh lost to businessman Adama Barrow (Getty)
Supporters of incumbent President Yahya Jammeh sit at a campaign rally prior to the 1-Dec-2016 election that Jammeh lost to businessman Adama Barrow (Getty)

Britain is withdrawing almost 1,000 tourists from The Gambia, after president Yahya Jammeh declared a state of emergency two days before Jammeh's term in office ends. Like many other African leaders, Jammeh is refusing to step down when his term in office officially ends on January 19.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been mediating in the crisis hoping to convince Jammeh to step down peacefully on Thursday, something that now appears will not happen. There has been an implied threat that Senegal and other ECOWAS countries will send in a military force. Meanwhile, thousands of Gambians are fleeing the country or sending their children abroad, fearing a possible war. However, it's not clear what the mission of such a military force would be, as some and perhaps most of The Gambian army is remaining loyal to Jammeh. Independent (London) and Guardian (London) and The Point (The Gambia)

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Burundi's leader, refusing to step down, withdraws peacekeeping troops fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia

Burundi's president Pierre Nkurunziza is withdrawing his troops from the African Union peacekeeping force, over a pay dispute with the European Union. The EU pays the salaries of the Burundi peacekeeping troops, but they don't want to pay the money to Nkurunziza out of fear that he'll just put the money into his overseas bank account, or use the money to buy weapons to be used against his political opponents.

Like many African leaders, Nkurunziza is refusing to step down, and instead is remaining in office in violation of Burundi's constitution. As usual in Africa, this is about tribal violence. Nkurunziza is an ethnic Hutu, he's conducting torture, sexual violence, arbitrary jailings, targeted assassinations and summary executions against his political opposition, almost all from the Tutsi tribe.

So the EU doesn't want to pay the soldiers' salaries, around $5.3 million per month, to the Nkurunziza government, but instead want to pay it directly to the soldiers. The peacekeeping force is really badly needed in Somalia, to fight the jihadist terror group al-Shabaab. Nkurunziza is now pulling out his troops from the peacekeeping force, hoping that he can extort the money out of the EU and use it to bash more political opponents. Vanguard (Nigeria) and Africa News and All Africa

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jan-17 World View -- The Gambia's leader, refusing to step down, declares state of emergency thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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17-Jan-17 World View -- European leaders shocked and surprised at Trump's foreign policy comments

China threatens to 'take off the gloves' with Donald Trump

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China threatens to 'take off the gloves' with Donald Trump


Trump interview on Monday (dpa)
Trump interview on Monday (dpa)

A kind of war of words continues to grow between by president-elect Donald Trump and China's media over Trump's repeated comments appearing to challenge the "One-China Policy," which states that there is one China, not two, but leaves it to mainland China and Taiwan to interpret it differently.

Recently, an editorial in China's Global Times threatened "revenge" against Trump over his comments. Although Global Times is Chinese state media, it is the most nationalistic of the state English-language publications, and its editorials are sometimes ignored just ravings.

So it's worth noting that the latest editorial with a threat is in China Daily, which is a more mainstream state media outline. The editorial appears to be carefully worded, talking about China's "warm heart" at the beginning, and leaving the threat of taking the "gloves off" almost to the end.

According to the editorial, because Trump is making repeated comments, he's now "showing intent" to challenge the policy:

"When it comes to tolerance, it is our tradition to display a big heart. That is why one can normally get away with making the same mistake twice, as one will be given the benefit of the doubt.

But one will seldom be given the benefit of the doubt twice, because doing the same wrong for a third time shows intent.

When United States president-elect Donald Trump broke his country's longstanding diplomatic protocol and answered a "congratulatory call" from Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen, the Chinese foreign minister merely responded by calling it a "petty trick" by Taipei.

When, just nine days later, Trump told Fox News Sunday the US would not "be bound by the one-China policy", Beijing simply reiterated that acknowledgement of one China is fundamental, and non-negotiable, for healthy ties.

To many, that was a mistake Trump made twice. ...

It seems wishful thinking to assume Trump and his team's remarks on Taiwan have been based on bluster or miscalculation. On the contrary, it appears the next administration is intending to use the one-China policy as its trump card. ...

If Trump is determined to use this gambit on taking office, a period of fierce, damaging interactions will be unavoidable, as Beijing will have no choice but to take off the gloves."

The latest Global Times editorial says that "China cannot and will not offer anything in exchange for the one-China policy, and Trump must understand that." It adds that China will be closely watching what Trump does as president rather than what he has been saying. China Daily and Global Times (Beijing)

European leaders shocked and surprised at Trump's foreign policy comments

European leaders are expressing shock and surprise at comments made by president-elect Donald Trump in a pair of newspaper interviews.

Trump expressed great support for Brexit, referring to the plans underway for Britain to leave the European Union:

"I think Brexit’s going to end up being the great thing. And I predicted it – but the heat I took was unbelievable. And I said – it’s because people don’t wanna have other people coming in and destroying their country. I thought the UK was so smart in getting out."

Trump said that NATO is obsolete:

"And I said long time ago that NATO had problems and the one of them it was obsolete because it was designed many many years ago. And, number two, the countries weren’t paying what they were supposed to pay."

Trump's attitudes on immigrants are well-known, after his campaign remarks about Mexican immigrants being rapists and murderers and about deporting all Muslims. He's highly critical of the 2015 remarks by Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel which many people blame for much of the refugee crisis in Europe. In the interview, Trump said:

"I have great respect for her (Merkel), I felt she was a great great leader. I think she made one very catastrophic mistake – and that was taking all of these illegals, taking all of the people wherever they come from – and nobody really knows where they come from."

European leaders have expressed shock and dismay at Trump's remarks, but were careful not to inflame the situation further. Some pointed out that not all immigrants are illegals.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the question is: How are these remarks affecting the course of events? As long-time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a new world war, and that this will be brought about by a worldwide renewal of nationalism, racism and xenophobia, as the survivors of World War II continue to die off, and memories of the horrors of WW II are forgotten.

My own belief is that Trump's remarks will have no effect at all on the course of events, except to create a flurry of global political posturing. The events of the next year may prove or disprove that belief. Euro News and Deutsche Welle and France 24

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jan-17 World View -- European leaders shocked and surprised at Trump's foreign policy comments thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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16-Jan-17 World View -- With Libya in chaos, migrant deal with Italy collapses

Over 100 migrants drown in Mediterranean after their dinghy sinks

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Over 100 migrants drown in Mediterranean after their dinghy sinks


Migrants in a dinghy rescued on Thursday of last week (AP)
Migrants in a dinghy rescued on Thursday of last week (AP)

Italy's Coast Guard was able to rescue only four people after a rubber dinghy with 110 migrants sank in rough waters in the Mediterranean Sea about 30 miles off the coast of Libya.

These situations are brought about by people smugglers. They charge desperate migrants thousands of dollars each. Typically, the people smugglers put hundreds of migrants into a single large rubber dinghy, and give the migrants enough fuel to leave Libyan waters and a cell phone to use to call the Italian coast guard.

The four who were rescued were among 550 who were rescued on one day, Friday.

It's expected (or feared) that, like last year, hundreds of thousands of migrants will attempt to cross from Libya to Italy this year. According to Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat:

"Come next spring, the number of people crossing over the Mediterranean will reach record levels. The choice is trying to do something now, or meeting urgently in April, May ... and try to do a deal then."

It's also expected that there will be thousands of migrants departing from Egypt, with the same objective. Libya Herald and Reuters and Telegraph (London) and AP

With Libya in chaos, migrant deal with Italy collapses

Italy reopened its embassy in Libya's capital city Tripoli last week, the first Western country to do so since 2015. Italy had hoped that doing so would lead to an agreement with the government of Libya to slow the flow of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.

Unfortunately, the agreement was never signed by the government of Libya because the phrase "the government of Libya" is meaningless. There are several governments in Libya:

None of these three governments recognizes either of the others, and so there's no hope of getting any agreement.

In fact, the Beida government last week accused Italy's Coast Guard of violating Libyan sovereignty with its rescue program. Italy had received the approval of the Government of National Accord, but in a note last week, the Beida government said,

"An Italian military vessel loaded with soldiers and ammunition has entered Libyan territorial waters. It is a clear violation of the UN charter and a form of repeated aggression."

One other government could be mentioned -- the so-called National Salvation Government, led by Khalifa Ghwell, who claimed several days ago that his forces had seized several ministries in Tripoli, and that the Government of National Accord (GNA) had been defeated. His claims could not be confirmed. VOA and Libya Herald and North Africa Post and Libya Herald

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15-Jan-17 World View -- Poland welcomes biggest deployment of American tanks and troops in decades

US troop deployment in Poland angers Russia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Poland welcomes biggest deployment of American tanks and troops in decades


Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szydlo and Maj. Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, commander of Poland's 11th Armored Cavalry Division, conduct a review of U.S. and Polish troops during an official ceremony in Zagan, Poland (DVIDS)
Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szydlo and Maj. Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, commander of Poland's 11th Armored Cavalry Division, conduct a review of U.S. and Polish troops during an official ceremony in Zagan, Poland (DVIDS)

People across Poland are celebrating "Operation Resolve," the arrival to Poland the largest US military deployment to Europe in decades. The deployment includes about 4,000 troops and also 2,400 pieces of military equipment, including tanks and Humvees.

The deployment is a reaction to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. Other countries in eastern Europe are concerned that they will be the next victim of a Russian invasion, and it's hoped that the presence of US troops will deter Russia.

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said,

"Welcome to Poland. ... The presence of American soldiers in Poland is another step in our strategy to ensure safety and security for Poland and the region. ...

It's a great day today when we can welcome, here in Zagan, American soldiers who represent the best, the greatest army in the world."

Poland's Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said:

"We have waited for you for a very long time. We waited for decades, sometimes feeling we had been left alone, sometimes almost losing hope, sometimes feeling that we were the only ones who protected civilization from aggression that came from the east."

The American troops will be part of a Nato contingent that will include troops from Britain and Canada. The troops will be rotated every nine months through Poland, the Baltic countries, Bulgaria and Romania in order to provide a technical workaround to a promise made to Moscow after the fall of the Soviet Union that Nato would not permanently base large numbers of forces east of Germany. Deutsche Welle and CNN and AFP

US troop deployment in Poland angers Russia

Russia's president Vladimir Putin is always calling everyone he dislikes "Nazis" and "Fascists," but he doesn't like to admit that Russia's were also "Nazis and Fascists" prior Adolf Hitler's invasion of Russia. Hitler and Josef Stalin had signed a treaty (the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact) in 1939 where they split up Poland between them. The agreement also divided Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Romania between the Nazis and the Communists. It was only in 1941, when the Nazis invaded Russia, that Stalin finally learned being a Nazi is not a good thing. Even so, after Hitler was defeated, Stalin's Soviet forces occupied Poland and other east European countries for decades.

These events are far ancient history to today's young generations in America and Western Europe, but they're still very raw memories to the people of Poland and other East European countries. They've seen Russia invade and annex parts of Georgia and Ukraine, and they have no doubts that Russia would invade their countries, as has happened in the past.

Putin press spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the US troops in Poland would be "a threat to Russia's national security."

It's hard to believe that 5,000 American troops would be a threat to Russia's security, inasmuch as Russia has something like 330,000 troops along its western border. Furthermore, Russia has long-range Iskander cruise missiles in Kaliningrad that can be made nuclear.

The US deployment is being described as a "tripwire" force, designed to prevent Russia from getting away with an easy invasion of some other country, as they did with Georgia and Ukraine. It's thought that Russia would not be willing to risk a larger war by attacking an American force of any size.

Russian military expert Vladimir Kozin says that another reasons for the deployment is that outgoing President Obama wants to box in Donald Trump:

"According to the German military, some 900 railroad cars will be needed to deliver all this equipment to the deployment sites. But what is the reason? First, [US President Barack] Obama wants to play a mean trick on President-elect Donald Trump who won the election."

It's worth mentioning that there's one other possible theory why Obama did this in the last few days of his administration: It's possible that Trump asked Obama to do it before leaving office, so that he wouldn't have to do it.

Kozin said that the deployment is unprecedented since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and that the US is forcing Europe to accept it:

"Finally, the US wants to maintain tensions around the world and particularly in Europe. They want to turn the region into another tinderbox ready to ignite. This number one priority. ...

The US and NATO plan to increase aerial, anti-submarine, missile defense and intelligence activities with the use of heavy military equipment. In order to justify sanctions, the situation needs to be tense all the time. Europe is becoming a prisoner of this new Cold War initiated by Obama."

Sputnik News (Moscow) and Deutsche Welle (14-Nov-2016) and Sky News

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14-Jan-17 World View -- Syria says that Israel bombed al-Mazzeh military airport near Damascus

Israel's motive was probably to prevent weapons from reaching Hezbollah

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria says that Israel bombed al-Mazzeh military airport near Damascus


Huge explosions could be seen above the buildings of Damascus
Huge explosions could be seen above the buildings of Damascus

The Syrian army said that Israel has launched a missile strike on the al-Mazzeh military airport west of Damascus early on Friday morning. The army said it was a "flagrant attack" by Israel with the purpose of aiding the "terrorist groups" in Syria. According to the army statement:

"Syrian army command and armed forces warn Israel of the repercussions of the flagrant attack and stresses its continued fight against (this) terrorism and amputate the arms of the perpetrators."

Syrian state television quoted the army as saying several rockets were fired from an area near Lake Tiberias in northern Israel just after midnight. The report said that the rockets landed in the military compound of the airbase, causing explosions and a large fire. Other reports were contradictory, saying that the Israeli attack was from missiles launched from Israeli warplanes.

Syria says that there have been several such attacks in the past, and that they all coincided with defeats for the armed terrorist groups in Syria, especially Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), which recently changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS, Front for the Conquest of Syria). Syria said that the purpose of the attack was to "raise morale" of the terrorist organizations who are attempting to overthrow the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

Syria has sent letters to the United Nations demanding international retaliation against Israel:

"The new Israeli missile attack on Mazzeh military airport west of Damascus comes within a long series of Israeli attacks since the beginning of the terrorist war on the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Syria which has been planned in the Israeli, French and British intelligence agencies and their agents in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other countries that wanted to impose control and hegemony on Syria and the region."

Iran's media added to the charges by claiming that Israel was attempting to prevent Syria's army from restoring water supplies to Damascus. SANA (Syria) and Jerusalem Post and Press TV (Tehran)

Israel's motive was probably to prevent weapons from reaching Hezbollah

As is their usual practice, Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that the attack took place. Some analysts are saying that the large explosions occurred because the target of the attacks was several large weapons stores. Syria's army was using to those weapons to attack rebels in Syria, but it's possible that Israel believed that some of those weapons were to be transferred to Lebanon's Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a war in 2006 that largely ended in stalemate. However, it's known that Iran has been supplying rockets and other weapons to Hezbollah in preparation for the next war. Israel has taken steps where possible to prevent other weapons from reaching Hezbollah. Missiles and chemical weapons from Syria are particular concerns.

In statements to Israel's parliament (Knesset) in December, Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman described Israel's policy in Syria:

"Israel has no interest in intervening in the civil war in Syria. Our policies and our positions are very clear and are based on three red lines: we will not allow any harm to come to Israeli citizens, we will not allow any harm to the sovereignty of the State of Israel and we will not allow the smuggling of sophisticated weapons or chemical weapons from Syria to Lebanon for Hezbollah."

Hezbollah’s major arms supply route between Damascus and Lebanon's border has been targeted on several occasions in recent years by Israeli air strikes. This has included strikes on warehouses and convoys of weapons. Reuters and Israel National News and Middle East Monitor

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jan-17 World View -- Syria says that Israel bombed al-Mazzeh military airport near Damascus thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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13-Jan-17 World View -- Peace conference to reunite Cyprus adjourns without a deal

History of Cyprus suggests that there is little hope for permanent reunification

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Peace conference to reunite Cyprus adjourns without a deal


A Turkish army tank passes through the Turkish section of Nicosia in 1974. (AP)
A Turkish army tank passes through the Turkish section of Nicosia in 1974. (AP)

Negotiations in Geneva to reunite Cyprus ended on Thursday evening without a deal, but with plans to resume after January 18.

Almost two years of peace talks between leaders of Greek side and the Turkish side of the island of Cyprus have led to what Europe and Turkey will be the final negotiations leading to a united Cyprus.

Cyprus has been bitterly divided since a 1974 war, with Greek Orthodox Christian Greeks governing the south, and Muslim Turks governing the north. The two sides are partitioned by a "no-man's land," a strip that stretches 112 miles across the entire island.

The capital city Nicosia is in the center of Cyprus and is partitioned as well. While partitions of other cities, including Beirut, Belfast and Berlin, have disappear in the last few decades, the partition remains in Nicosia.

It's not known whether Thursday's negotiations brought the two sides close together, but the two most difficult issues are these:

According to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, the talks on Thursday showed progress, but there is no "quick fix." Cyprus Mail and AP and Cyprus Mail

History of Cyprus suggests that there is little hope for permanent reunification

Because of its strategic location in the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus has been repeatedly conquered throughout history by different groups, including the Greeks, the Assyrians, the Egyptians and the Persians. It was annexed by the Ottoman Empire in 1571, but was conquered by Britain in 1878 and annexed in 1914.

Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960 under a power-sharing agreement between the Greeks and the Turks. Three countries -- Britain, Greece and Turkey -- would be responsible for guaranteeing security in the new country.

Violence erupted soon after. In 1974, Greece's military junta backed a coup against the president of Cyprus, leading to a civil war. Turkey responded by invading northern Cyprus. About 165,000 Greek Cypriots fled or were driven from the Turkish-occupied north, and about 45,000 Turkish Cypriots left the south for the north.

Since ancient times, at least as far back as the time around 1200BC that the face of Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships, Greece and Turkey (Anatolia) have been at war repeatedly, in one of the most violent ethnic fault lines in history. Turkey's greatest victory over Greece occurred in 1453, when the Ottoman's conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) and destroyed the Greek Byzantine Empire. None of these wars has been forgotten by the participants. Guardian (London) and BBC

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12-Jan-17 World View -- Pakistan: Four secular anti-military activists vanish over the weekend

Pakistan's army accused of dumping over 1,000 bodies in Balochistan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan: Four secular anti-military activists vanish over the weekend


Demonstrators in Pakistan rally to protest the abduction of Salam Haider and others
Demonstrators in Pakistan rally to protest the abduction of Salam Haider and others

In separate incidents, four secular anti-military activists in Pakistan have disappeared within the last few days, apparently kidnapped by the army. All of them actively post on social media, to the discomfort of the army.

Asim Saeed, who was abducted from his home in Lahore on Friday, and Ahmad Waqas Goraya, who was abducted the same day, both help run the Mochi Facebook page critical of the military.

Another man, Ahmed Raza Naseer, was taken from his family's shop on Saturday. Naseer suffers from polio.

The disappearance on Saturday of Salman Haider, a lecturer at Fatima Jinnah Women University, was brought all four abductions to national attention. Haider frequently wrote about how troubled Pakistan's society it, with government security forces targeting Shias and ethnic Hazaras in Balochistan. Haider also wrote about other people whom the army the abducted, and that perhaps angered the army the most.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called for country-wide protests against the abductions:

"HRCP is greatly alarmed by Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed disappearing on January 4, Salman Haider on Friday and Ahmed Raza Naseer on Saturday. All four are known for airing their views, sometime critical of authority, extremism and intolerance, on social media.

Pakistan has never been a particularly safe country for rights activists. Many have been killed, injured, abducted and threatened for their work… The events of the last week demonstrate that the dangers already extend to digital spaces. We cannot be sure if the four cases are connected but expect that would be worth looking into as well.

Threats and violence have never deterred Pakistan’s activists from speaking their mind and flagging issues that conscious citizens must raise in a civilized society. We know that the events of the last few days, will not change that. At the same time, however, HRCP also implores the government to wake up to its obligation to provide a safe environment for human rights defenders and activists."

The abductions seem to be working. In the last two days, several activists have closed down their online accounts.

Last year, Haider wrote a poem about the abductions. The following is a translated excerpt from the Urdu:

"Now friends of my friends are going missing,
Then it will be my friends, and then,
It will be my file [of me missing] that
my father will take to the courts."

Unfortunately, Haider's prediction came true on Saturday. Dawn (Pakistan) and Guardian (London) and The Diplomat

Pakistan's army accused of dumping over 1,000 bodies in Balochistan

According to Pakistan's Human Rights ministry, over 1000 dead bodies of suspected armed separatists and political activists have been found in Balochistan over the past six years.

The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) says it has recorded 1,200 cases of dumped bodies and there are many more it has not been able to document. VBMP says that most of the bodies were activists who, one day, were picked up by authorities and were never seen again.

However, Pakistan's government claims that they had nothing to do with the killings. According to one provincial official: "There are several explanations. Sometimes insurgents are killed in a gunfight with law enforcement agencies but their bodies are found later. Militant groups also fight among each other and don't bury their dead fighters. Then there are tribal feuds, organized crime and drug mafia." BBC and International Business Times (London) and India Times

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11-Jan-17 World View -- China threatens Trump with 'revenge' over one-China policy

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-Wen meets with Senator Cruz in Texas

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-Wen meets with Senator Cruz in Texas


Tsai Ing-wen (standing) meets with Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday
Tsai Ing-wen (standing) meets with Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday

Ignoring demands that the US forbid Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen from making "transit stops" in Houston and San Francisco en route to and from meetings with Central American leaders, Tsai met with both US Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott during a stopover in Houston.

China's foreign ministry spokesman made this statement about the visit:

"I have taken note of relevant reports. I want to reiterate that we are firmly opposed to the Taiwan leader's contact with any US officials in any form and engagement in actions that disrupt and undermine China-US relations during the so-called transit. We once again urge relevant people from the US to abide by the one-China policy and the principles of the three Joint Communiqués, and cautiously handle Taiwan-related issues so as not to harm the overall interests of China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits."

As I've said before, it really amazes me that the US is supposed to bow to demands from China not to speak to or meet with people that China tells us not to speak to or meet with, and yet we're supposed to accept without question China's right to build military bases in the South China Sea, in clear violation of international law as decided by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague in July of last year, while annexing other countries' territories as Hitler did just prior to World War II.

Prior to the meeting, China's Consul General Li Qiangmin of Houston sent a letter to Cruz:

"For U.S. leaders in administration and legislature, not to make any contact with Taiwan leaders nor send any implication of support of ‘Taiwan Independence’ are in the interests of China, the U.S. and the international community. So, dear Senator, I sincerely hope that you will neither meet, nor have any contact with Tsai during her upcoming visit to Houston, and continue to play a significant role in promoting mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples of China and the U.S."

After the meeting, Cruz issued a statement saying the US doesn't dictate to China whom its leaders can meet with, and China should not dictate to the US:

"Shortly before our meeting, the Houston congressional delegation received a curious letter from the Chinese consulate asking members of Congress not to meet with President Tsai, and to uphold the ‘One-China policy’.

The People’s Republic of China needs to understand that in America we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves. This is not about the PRC. This is about the U.S. relationship with Taiwan, an ally we are legally bound to defend. The Chinese do not give us veto power over those with whom they meet. We will continue to meet with anyone, including the Taiwanese, as we see fit.

The US-Taiwan relationship is not on the negotiating table. It is bound in statute and founded on common interests. I look forward to working with President Tsai to strengthen our partnership."

Governor Abbott said, "It was an honor to meet with President Tsai and discuss how our two economies can expand upon our already prosperous trade partnership." Houston Press and China's Foreign Ministry

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China threatens Trump with 'revenge' over one-China policy

The "One-China Policy" states that there is one China, not two, but leaves ambiguous exactly what that means. Beijing interprets it to mean that Taiwan is province of China, to be completely governed one day by Beijing. Taiwan interprets it to mean that they are the official government of all of China. By not speaking these interpretations out loud, everyone is supposed to get along by saying "there is only one China."

China's politicians have made it clear that they will use military force against Taiwan and the United States if there is any threat that Taiwan will declare independence. In 2005 Beijing passed an "anti-secession law" requiring China to take military action even if Taiwan's leadership simply makes plans or gives speeches about independence. President Tsai has refused to confirm the "1992 consensus" which is the vehicle that reaffirms the One-China policy.

Under these circumstances, it's not surprising that China is becoming increasingly belligerent towards Taiwan. Arguably, Taiwan has already met the conditions set forth in the anti-secession law.

The reaction from China's Foreign Ministry, quoted above, states China policy, but is fairly non-belligerent. However, an editorial in the state run Global Times promises revenge if Donald Trump abandons the one-China policy after taking office:

"The US passed bills that allow serving officers to visit Taiwan, while Chinese fighter jets patrolled around Taiwan and China's aircraft carrier passed the island. It is widely expected that the mainland will impose further military pressure. Tsai needs to face the consequences for every provocative step she takes.

Trump is yet to be inaugurated, and there is no need for Beijing to sacrifice bilateral ties for the sake of Taiwan. But in case he tears up the one-China policy after taking office, the mainland is fully prepared. Beijing would rather break ties with the US if necessary. We would like to see whether US voters will support their president to ruin Sino-US relations and destabilize the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Beijing does not need to feel grateful to Trump for not meeting Tsai. The one-China policy is the basic principle reiterated in the three Sino-US joint Communiqués. It is also the foundation of the profound bilateral relationship. Sticking to this principle is not a capricious request by China upon US presidents, but an obligation of US presidents to maintain China-US relations and respect the existing order of the Asia-Pacific. If Trump reneges on the one-China policy after taking office, the Chinese people will demand the government to take revenge. There is no room for bargaining."

This article threatens to break relations with the US if Trump does not reaffirm the one-China policy, and hints at unspecified military action against Taiwan.

Trump has said that his administration will review the one-China policy, but in view of the real possibility that China will end diplomatic relations, I'm going to assume that Trump will adopt the one-China policy, or some close variant.

But completely apart from anything the US administration does, it's the attitude of the Taiwanese people that is most important. Time is not on China's side, and Chinese officials know it, as the Taiwan's population become more pro-independence every year. The Chinese people are highly nationalistic with regard to Taiwan, and it won't be too much longer before Chinese officials decide that time has run out. Global Times (Beijing) and Xinhua

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10-Jan-17 World View -- Thousands of migrants trapped in deep freeze temperatures in Greece and Balkans

European Commission resettlement plan appears to be a disaster

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands of migrants risk freezing to death as deep freeze spreads across Europe


Screen grab from viral video showing migrant tents on Lesvos island
Screen grab from viral video showing migrant tents on Lesvos island

Europe's migrant crisis has been mostly out of news since March 18 of last year, when the EU and Turkey signed their migrant deal, in which Turkey agreed to police the flow of migrants from Turkey across the Aegean Sea to Greece.

Even though it's been out of the news, severe problems still remain. There are about 60,000 migrants still in Greece. When migrants travel from Turkey across the Aegean Sea, they usually stop at Greece's Lesvos Island, because it's close to Turkey, and because they've been welcomed by the Lesvians in the past. There are over 6,000 migrants at the Moria refugee camp on Lesvos Island, far over its capacity of 3,500, and the number is still increasing by a few dozen every day, since the Turkey blockade isn't completely effective. About 1,000 are living in tents covered with snow.

There are 15,600 migrants on all the Greek islands put together. Last week, Greece's Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said:

"There are no refugees or migrants living in the cold anymore. We successfully completed the procedures for overwintering."

So a volunteer worker posted a video showing migrants on Lesvos living in extremely harsh conditions, with no heat and their tents buckling under the heavy snow.

European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud called the situation "untenable," but that the Commission was ready to help:

"We can no more dictate policy in Greece than we can in any other member state.

I have to be quite clear here, the commission is aware that the situation is untenable but we also have to be clear as I was saying that ensuring adequate reception conditions in Greece is a responsibility of Greek authorities. ...

We are pursuing a dual strategy of political pressure and financial and technical support to the Greek authorities to improve the situation."

She explained that by "political pressure," she meant a continued series of recommendations by the EC in its reports to Greece. Greek Reporter and EU Observer and EurActiv

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Migrants in eastern Europe trapped in deep freeze temperatures

When the so-called "Balkan route" was closed to migrants last year, it left thousands of them stranded. More than 7,500 people are currently stranded in Serbia, living in overcrowded camps and informal settlements. In Belgrade, around 2,000 young people, mainly from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria are currently sleeping in abandoned buildings in the city center, while temperatures plummet to as low as -20°C (-4°F). Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Deutsche Welle and Reuters

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European Commission resettlement plan appears to be a disaster

During the first week of 2017, 373 refugees and migrants crossed the sea from Turkey to Greece, an average of 53 per day. Most arrivals were from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Most arrived on the islands Chios and Lesvos.

During the same week, 1,080 people arrived by sea to Italy, mostly as a result of Italian and European search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea. Most arrivals were from Nigeria, Eritrea, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, and Gambia, with lesser numbers from . Senegal, Mali, Sudan, Somalia and Bangladesh.

In September 2015, the European Commission adopted an "emergency relocation scheme," whereby 160,000 refugees, mostly in Greece and Italy, were supposed to be relocated to other EU countries.

However, the program has been something of a disaster. Out of the 160,000, only 8162 people were relocated since the beginning of the scheme. Austria, Denmark, Hungary and Poland have refused to take any migrants at all. The Czech Republic has taken 12, and Slovakia has taken 9.

With the rise of far-right, anti-migrant and even anti-EU populism growing in Europe, it seems unlikely that any of these problems will be resolved soon. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and European Commission (PDF) and Daily Sabah (Turkey)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jan-17 World View -- Thousands of migrants trapped in deep freeze temperatures in Greece and Balkans thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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9-Jan-17 World View -- Iran's 'moderate pragmatist' Hashemi Rafsanjani dies at age 82

Is Rafsanjani's death a victory for Iran's hardliners?

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran's 'moderate pragmatist' Hashemi Rafsanjani dies at age 82


Hashemi Rafsanjani (L) shares a laugh with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, under a photo of the original Supreme Leader, Rouhollah Khomeini.  All three fought together in the 1979 revolution.
Hashemi Rafsanjani (L) shares a laugh with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, under a photo of the original Supreme Leader, Rouhollah Khomeini. All three fought together in the 1979 revolution.

Iran is mourning the death of 82 year old Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, born in 1934, and a key figure in Iran's Great Islamic revolution of 1979. He was jailed several times by the Shah of Iran during the 1960s-70s for his political activism, and then after the revolution he became the second most powerful man in Iran, behind Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, who ruled Iran as Supreme Leader until his death in 1989.

Khomeini's chosen successor was Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader. After Rafsanjani was passed over for Supreme Leader, his star began to fade, although he was elected to the presidency from 1989 to 1997.

Politicians in Iran are generally categorized into three groups:

There was a serious split between Rafsanjani and Khamenei after the 2009 presidential elections, when young people were protesting, and there was blood running in the streets because Iran's security forces were massacring students and other protesters. Khamenei wanted the security forces to be completely unleashed, so they could kill, torture, rape, jail and bash anyone they wanted, with impunity. Rafsanjani wanted to permit peaceful protests, and wanted the jailed protesters to be released. As a result of the split between Rafsanjani and Khamenei, two of Rafsanjani's children were jailed on separate charges. Rafsanjani's daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, got herself into even more legal trouble while on leave from prison by visiting a leader of Iran's persecuted Bahai religious minority. Mehr News (Tehran) and BBC (28-May-2016)

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Is Rafsanjani's death a victory for Iran's hardliners?

Many analysts are calling Rafsanjani's death a victory for Khamenei and the hardline principlists, because he will no longer be able to exert moderating pressure on them. That's one way of looking at the situation.

The other way of looking at it is that it's a victory for the young reformists, because he will no longer be able to exert a moderating pressure on them. In other words, in this view Rafsanjani was a powerful buffer between the two extremes, and without him they will both be free to pursue more radical policies. His death might even be the trigger for an Awakening era climax.

Generational Dynamics cannot predict short-term politics, but in many cases it can predict long-term trends, and in this case the long-term trend is clear. The old hardline geezers are dying off, and the young reformists are growing in number and gaining power.

As I've pointed out many times, Iranian college students started holding pro-Western and pro-American protests in the late 1990s, and continuing into the 2000s. These protests were quashed by Khamenei, who ordered the security forces to bash any students that expressed any opposition opinions.

But by the year 2017, those students are now 30-40 years old, and they're increasingly in positions of power, making reformist decisions and implementing reformist policies. And by the way, this is also true within the ranks of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

By contrast, the old geezer hardliners are dying off or are becoming senile, and are less and less able to exert decisions as they used to. Rafsanjani was a moderate and a pragmatist, but he was also well-respected by everyone, and could influence moderation in both extremes. Without his moderating influence, we can expect the generational differences between the reformists and the principlists.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Iran is in a generational Awakening era, like America in the 1960s, characterized by a "generation gap," and a generational clash between the hardline survivors of the last generational crisis war (WW II in America's case) and the generations growing up after that war. This political clash almost always ends up in a victory for the younger generation, as the older generation retires and dies off. In America, the Awakening era climax was the resignation of Richard Nixon, which signaled a victory of the Boomers over the GI and Silent generations that had survived WW II. In Iran, no such Awakening era climax has not yet occurred, but it's 100% certain that it's coming.

As I've been writing for years, Iran will be the West's ally during the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, the US, Japan, India, Iran and Russia will be allied again China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries. Mehr News and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jan-17 World View -- Iran's 'moderate pragmatist' Hashemi Rafsanjani dies at age 82 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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8-Jan-17 World View -- Violent protests in Sri Lanka over China's takeover of Hambantota seaport

Britain's hospitals run out of beds as Red Cross declares NHS in 'humanitarian crisis'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's hospitals run out of beds as Red Cross declares NHS in 'humanitarian crisis'


About 6,000 patients per week are being left in ambulances because the hospital is too crowded to admit them (Evening Standard)
About 6,000 patients per week are being left in ambulances because the hospital is too crowded to admit them (Evening Standard)

The British Red Cross is declaring the National Health Service (NHS) to be in "humanitarian crisis," because 6,000 patients per week are being left in ambulances outside of hospitals that have run out of beds. When patients are left in ambulances, then the ambulances can no longer be used to transport new patients in medical emergencies. So the NHS has asked the Red Cross to help out by providing volunteers and use Land Rovers to transport patients.

Red Cross chief Mike Adamson said:

"The British Red Cross is on the front line, responding to the humanitarian crisis in our hospital and ambulance services across the country.

We have been called in to support the NHS and help get people home from hospital and free up much-needed beds.

This means deploying our team of emergency volunteers and even calling on our partner Land Rover to lend vehicles to transport patients and get the system moving.

We call on the UK government to allocate immediate funding to stabilize the current system and set out plans towards creating a sustainable funding settlement for the future."

Not surprisingly, a politician like Adamson is simply calling for more money. I've been writing about the NHS for years, and the problem is that there's no more money.

As we reported a year ago, Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is facing an existential crisis, with a huge and accelerating deficit expected to reach 22 billion pounds ($32 billion) by 2020.

The system is corrupt, with doctors falsifying records, claiming for work that was never done, or putting in for bogus overtime. Dentistry services are so bad that people are buying "do-it-yourself (DIY) dentistry kits" to take care of their whole families, as was done centuries ago.

In desperation to save money, many hospitals have had bed cuts, or have closed their Accident & Emergency departments (known in America as Emergency Rooms). Many maternity units have also been targeted for closure.

One of the biggest farces of the 2016 was perpetrated by the "Leave European Union" camp of the Brexit campaign. They promised that if the UK left the EU, then £350m-a-week that is currently being sent to Brussels would not be invested in the NHS. It was a total lie, and it was retracted soon after the referendum passed, but it's typical of the lies we hear from politicians on a daily basis.

It would be nice if it were possible to give free health care to everyone, but it isn't. In America, both the Veterans Administration and Obamacare are financial disasters. At least the NHS was designed carefully enough that it was financially healthy for fifty years of its life, but Obamacare was so poorly designed that it's a financial disaster within five years of its life. Jonathan Gruber said that Obamacare passed because of "the stupidity of the American voter," and that same stupidity is continuing, in both America and Britain. London Evening Standard and Reuters and British Red Cross and Guardian (London, 10-Sep-2016)

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Violent protests in Sri Lanka over China's takeover of Hambantota seaport

Thousands of Sri Lanka's Buddhist monks and anti-government protesters held demonstrations on Saturday that turned violent, protesting China's takeover of Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport by the Chinese in repayment of a debt to the Chinese incurred by the government.

In 2009, China invested $1.2 billion in the port as part of its "string of pearls" strategy to surround India. Sri Lanka had expected to repay the debt through profits earned by the port, but the slowdown in trade throughout the entire region in the last few years has meant that Sri Lanka has been unable to repay the debt.

Now Sri Lanka's government has been forced to give China a 99-year lease to take over the port. In addition, China will lease 15,000 acres in the region for an industrial zone for Chinese factories. China is expected to invest another $5 billion in Sri Lanka for industrial development.

At least 21 people were injured on Saturday in violent clashes between government supporters versus those opposed to the plan, the latter led by Buddhist monks. The two groups threw rocks at each other, and police responded with water cannon.

Opponents of the plan say that thousands of people will lose their homes because of the project. They say that China will establish a "Chinese colony" on Sri Lankan soil that will grow and can never be removed.

Supporters of the plan say that China will invest $5 billion in the region, and the new industries will generation 100,000 new jobs.

There are other international implications. China will have responsibility for security at the port, which means that it the port will host the Chinese military, including warships and submarines.

China already has similar seaports in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and India is concerned that it's being surrounded by China's military and warships. Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) and AP and News First (Sri Lanka) and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jan-17 World View -- Violent protests in Sri Lanka over China's takeover of Hambantota seaport thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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7-Jan-17 World View -- The Gambia's president prepares for war with Senegal on January 19

Congo's president Joseph Kabila refuses to step down after losing election

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The Gambia's president prepares for war with Senegal on January 19


The Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh (Reuters)
The Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh (Reuters)

The Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh is joining the ranks of national leaders, mostly African, who refuse to give up power after their terms are up, violating their national constitutions, and inflicting violence by the country's armies and security forces on any opposition figures that protest.

Yahya Jammeh came to power through a military coup in 1994. Jammeh's reign was authoritarian, intolerant and violent, with executions of political opponents. There were subsequent elections, and Jammeh always won them, but suspicions were great that Jammeh had rigged the elections.

So it was with some surprise that Jammeh lost the recent presidential election last month on December 1 to Adama Barrow, a businessman.

An even more shocking event occurred: Jammeh called Barrow and conceded the election, congratulating Barrow on his victory. Jammeh said that Barrow would become president on January 19, as called for in the constitution. This concession caused dancing in the streets in the capital city Banjul, and enormous relief in the international community, particularly among The Gambia's neighbors in West Africa.

A week later, Jammeh reneged on his concession, declared that the election had been a fraud, and said that there would have to be a new election.

ECOWAS is the Economic Community of West African States, with 15 member states: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte D'ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

ECOWAS is meeting on Saturday to decide what to do. Senegal in particular has vowed that ECOWAS must do all it can to enforce an orderly succession of power on January 19, and has put forces on alert.

In a New Year's statement on January 1, Jammeh called the ECOWAS statement a "declaration of war":

"‘‘What is clearly incontrovertible is the decision of ECOWAS to implement the results of the December 1st 2016 election results by whatever means possible. It is totally illegal as it violates the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states, which is an entrenched clause in the ECOWAS treaty.

It is in effect a declaration of war and an insult to our constitution. It is therefore absolutely unacceptable. This blatant, impartial and one-dimensional approach clearly indicates that the role of ECOWAS is not predicated on the pursuit of justice in the resolution of this stalemate."

According to Alexander Yearsley, Managing Director of Martello Risk, with 20 years of experience conducting field and forensic investigations across Africa, Jammeh is recruiting mercenaries to fight in a possible with ECOWAS. Yearsley refers to Charles Taylor, the former dictator of Liberia, who was convicted of war crimes during the Sierra Leone civil war for terror, murder and rape. Yearsley says that the same people who fought for and against Charles Taylor are now being recruited as mercenaries by Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia (my transcription):

"From what we're being told by people who are attending some of these recruitment meetings, a senior figure who used to be in the Taylor fighting setup - they will phone their own contacts, their networks, and they will explain the situation, how much money will be offered on a daily rate, what fighters they need. And they're recruiting across the boards - their former enemies - they are happy down differences and for $100 a day, they will be getting some very experienced fighters that know how to operate."

Yearsley's claims are supported by a former Liberian army commanded who used to fight for Charles Taylor: "Jammeh is ready to fight to the teeth and spend money to stay in power." Reuters and Africa News and Jollof News (The Gambia) and Deutsche Welle

Congo's president Joseph Kabila refuses to step down after losing election

Joseph Kabila became president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2001, when his father was assassinated. He's been reelected to office, but his final term in office ended last month on December 19.

Joseph Kabila pulled a stunt that can only be described as mind-boggling. He claims that he can't step down because there haven't been any elections to select a president to replace him. There were supposed to be elections in November but they weren't held. His political opponents said that they weren't held because Kabila refused to budget the money to hold the elections.

So that's the situation. He'll do everything he can to prevent elections from being held, and so he won't have to step down because there's no replacement.

African leaders are always complaining the Europeans and Americans don't take them seriously, but they have only themselves to blame when you see this kind of nonsense occurring almost every week. Whether in Zimbabwe, Burundi, South Sudan, or The Gambia -- and let's not forge Syria, which is not an African country -- leaders use everything from torture and rape and jailing to wholesale genocide to stay in power.

In DRC last month, there was a threat of civil war, but the Catholic Church intervened and brokered an agreement: Elections will be held in December of 2017 to choose Kabila's successor, and this time, Kabila will really, really, really, really have to step down. This farcical agreement was signed by members of Kabila's government, but it wasn't even signed by Kabila himself. All Africa and Daily News (Zimbabwe)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jan-17 World View -- The Gambia's president prepares for war with Senegal on January 19 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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6-Jan-17 World View -- New armed militia emerges in Central African Republic: Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R)

Central African Republic crisis war continues to spin out of control

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New armed militia emerges in Central African Republic: Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R)


A UN convoy with Moroccan peacekeepers like this one was attacked on Wednesday
A UN convoy with Moroccan peacekeepers like this one was attacked on Wednesday

The Central African Republic (CAR) has been riven since 2013 by a civil war mainly between the Muslim Séléka militias and the Christian anti-Balaka militias. However, there are numerous other ethnic militias, including vigilante groups made up of nomadic, predominantly Muslim Fulani herders, as well as others specializing in highway robbery. All of these groups have been guilty of massacres, rapes, scorched earth attacks, and other atrocities, often in revenge for similar attacks by a militia on the other side.

One of the Muslim Fulani herder groups, the Peul tribe, has emerged as a relative new militia group inflicting horrors on civilians in the northwest of CAR, particularly near the borders of Cameroon and Chad. Although they have been mainly allied with the Muslim Séléka militias, fighting against the Christian anti-Balakas, they also claim on occasion to have fought against Séléka militias for the protection of their own Peul tribe.

The Peul armed militia is calling itself "Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation" or "3R". The group appeared in December 2015, and throughout 2016 they burned down villages, causing tens of thousands of civilians to lose their homes. They've killed and raped civilians, and committed other atrocities.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) conducted interviews in November, and documented numerous atrocities and murders. One 30-year-old woman said that 3R fighters broke into her home:

"One said, “Where is your husband?” I said that he was not there. ... One of them cocked his gun and pointed it at me and said, “We are going to have sex with you.” He threw me on the ground and [one of them] raped me. Another was waiting for his turn, but there was shooting outside while the first one was finishing, so when he was done they both left. ... [M]y two younger children were right beside me, crying."

I wish that I could tell you, Dear Reader, that this kind of atrocity was rare, but it's common fare during a generational crisis war, such as the war in Central African Republic. Rape and extermination of opponents is part of the human DNA, and all people of all races and religions are susceptible, often in a cycle of escalating tit-for-tat revenge. Human Rights Watch and Reuters

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Central African Republic crisis war continues to spin out of control

On Wednesday, a convoy of United Nations peacekeepers in Central African Republic near the Cameroon border was attacked unknown assailants who killed two Moroccan peacekeepers and then escaped. It's not known whether the attackers were from the 3R militias, but this attack shows that the UN peacekeepers have almost no control in the country outside the capital city Bangui.

A month ago, Ban Ki-moon, the outgoing Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that he was "deeply concerned over renewed violence last week in the Central African Republic." A UN Special Adviser Adama Dieng added, "Given the country’s recent history, this kind of targeted violence is extremely dangerous and must be stopped."

It's good to hear UN officials making the hard-hitting statements, which are sure to convince both the Muslims and the Christians in CAR to put down their weapons, because other actions by the UN have been useless, and in a sense may have made things worse.

After a coup in March 2013, Muslim Séléka militias began committing atrocities, particularly targeting the Christians. In December 2013, French Foreign Legion peacekeeping troops arrived to disarm the Séléka militias.

The actions of the French troops backfired. When the Muslim Séléka troops were disarmed, the Christian anti-Balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities in 2014, for revenge against the Sélékas. Since then, both Christians and Muslims have been committing atrocities, and it's become a full-scale generational crisis war. Thousands have been killed, and millions have been displaced.

The French peacekeepers were supposed to remain in CAR for just six months, until a United Nations force could take over. However, they remained in CAR for much longer than six months, and their withdrawal was only announced in October of last year, after several years of almost total failure. In addition, some of the French peacekeepers were charged with raping some of the CAR civilians that they were supposed to be protection. There is now a UN peacekeeping force of 12,500 troops known as MINUSCA, but as Wednesday's attack illustrates, it hasn't been any more successful.

Actually, I've written about this many times in the last four years. CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis civil war has already started.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a generational crisis war cannot be stopped by "peacekeeping troops." It begins when the traumatized survivors of the previous crisis war are no longer around, and are no longer able to prevent the younger generations from starting another crisis war. Massacres and atrocities by both (or all) sides continue to grow and worsen on a tit-for-tat basis, usually for five years or more, until there's an "explosive climax," some genocidal massacre that's so horrific that it brings the war to an end, and causes the traumatized survivors, both winners and losers, to vow that they will never let such a war occur again.

UN peacekeeping forces have been more or less successful in minimizing the violence in one city, the capital city Bangui, but everything outside of Bangui is completely lawless, and completely out of control of the peacekeepers. The rise of the 3R militias, and the new atrocities that it's perpetrating show how far the CAR civil war has yet to go. United Nations and International Business Times and RFI

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jan-17 World View -- New armed militia emerges in Central African Republic: Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R) thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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5-Jan-17 World View -- Israel polarized over conviction of soldier for manslaughter

Comparison to Pakistan murder of Salman Taseer

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel polarized over conviction of soldier for manslaughter


Screen grab from video of March 4, 2016.  Israeli soldier reloads his gun just before shooting dead the Palestinian lying wounded and bleeding (AP)
Screen grab from video of March 4, 2016. Israeli soldier reloads his gun just before shooting dead the Palestinian lying wounded and bleeding (AP)

Israelis appeared to be deeply polarized in reaction to a verdict handed down by a military court on Wednesday convicting an Israeli soldier, Elor Azaria, of manslaughter, for having shot and killed a Palestinian who was lying on the ground wounded.

On March 24 of last year Abdel Fattah al-Sharif and Ramzi Qasrawi Tamimi, two 21-year-old Palestinians, stabbed an Israeli soldier in Hebron, a majority Palestinian city in the West Bank. Tamimi was shot and killed immediately.

Al-Sharif was also shot. The shot did not kill him, but left him wounded and bleeding, lying on the ground. Almost 15 minutes later, one of the soldiers, Elor Azaria, shot al-Sharif in the head, killing him. The entire situation was videoed, and the video was posted on the internet and went viral.

In Wednesday's court hearing before three military judges in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The lead judge, IDF Col. Maya Heller, spent almost three hours reading the decision that concluded with a conviction on a charge of manslaughter. Azaria had claimed in his defense that he felt he was in danger because al-Sharif might be wearing a concealed explosive vest. The judges rejected that claim, and pointed to the testimony of Azaria's friend, who testified that Azaria originally said Sharif needed to be killed out of revenge for stabbing a fellow soldier. 24-Mar-2016 and Jerusalem Post

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Protesters clash with police to protest the verdict

Some 400 protesters clashed with police to protest the guilty verdict. One protester wore a shirt saying, "The people of Israel don't abandon a soldier during battle." Others referred to him as a hero.

A number of protesters threatened violence by chanting, "Gadi, Gadi beware, Rabin's looking for a friend." The protesters were threatening to assassinate IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. Yitzhak Rabin was prime minister of Israel until November 4, 1995, when he was shot dead by an Israeli nationalist who opposed Rabin's support of a peace treaty with the Palestinians.

Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah said that Palestinians don't expect anything to change as a result of the verdict:

"[The verdict is] divisive in Israel because there is a widespread view that Israeli soldiers should be able to kill Palestinians with complete impunity. ...

Thousands of Palestinians have been killed in the past 15 years by the Israeli army and there has been no accountability. I think, if you ask practically any Palestinian, they will tell you that even though there was a guilty verdict in this case, in all likelihood he will receive a very light sentence."

The sentence will be handed down on January 15. The maximum sentence that Azaria could receive for manslaughter is 20 years. However, because of the circumstances -- al-Sharif had just stabbed an Israeli soldier before being shot -- it's expected that the sentence will be considerably lighter than 20 years. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the military to grant Azaria a pardon. Ynet and Radio France Internationale

Comparison to Pakistan murder of Salman Taseer

As we described yesterday, Mumtaz Qadri was showered with roses and treated as a hero in 2011 after brutally murdering Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province.

Elor Azaria was also treated as a hero after murdering a wounded Palestinian who lay bleeding.

The circumstances are different in that the Palestinian had just stabbed another soldier. But what both cases have in common is that they both show how polarized societies around the world have become in this generational Crisis era.

As I've been saying for several years, nationalism, xenophobia and racism have been growing in countries around the world. Those who suffered the horrors of World War II and survived realized that nationalism, xenophobia and racism had been the core reasons for the war, and vowed to make sure that they were permanently extinguished. But now, with the survivors of WW II almost gone, and young generations having grown up after WW II not understanding the dangers, nationalism, xenophobia and racism are returning and are a strong as ever. Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a new world war, the worst war in world history, and the rise of nationalism, xenophobia and racism is one of the reasons that war occur. Vice News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jan-17 World View -- Israel polarized over conviction of soldier for manslaughter thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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4-Jan-17 World View -- Pakistan's bizarre blasphemy laws lead to death threats for son of slain governor

Pakistan's Imran Khan forced to apologize after being accused of blasphemy

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan's bizarre blasphemy laws lead to death threats for son of slain governor


Shaan Taseer, threatened with death for Christmas greeting (Pakistan Daily)
Shaan Taseer, threatened with death for Christmas greeting (Pakistan Daily)

Shaan Taseer, the son of governor Salman Taseer, who was brutally murdered in 2009 for questioning Pakistan's blasphemy laws, is receiving death threats for, again, questioning Pakistan's blasphemy.

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province in Pakistan, was shot 28 times in broad daylight in an open marketplace on January 4, 2011. The killer was his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri. The motive, as described by Qadri, was to punish Taseer for objecting to Pakistan's blasphemy laws, and for calling for the release of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who was in jail facing execution for violating the blasphemy laws.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws are totally bizarre and are almost completely meaningless except as a political weapon, similar to sexual harassment laws in the United States, but with much greater consequences. In Pakistan, a politically connected person can manufacture a charge of blasphemy to have a political enemy or hated former friend put into jail or even executed.

In the case of Asia Bibi, there was an altercation between her and another woman in 2010. Bibi drank water from a Muslim cup (whatever that is), and since the other woman was politically connected, Bibi was charged with blasphemy and thrown into jail, scheduled for execution.

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, spoke out in defense of Bibi, and criticized the blasphemy laws. This triggered mass hate rallies against Taseer and Bibi, with many religious clerics calling for the immediate execution of Bibi. Finally, Mumtaz Qadri, Taseer's bodyguard, shot and killed Taseer. He shot Taseer in the back 28 times just to make sure.

Qadri immediately became a national hero. The next day, when Qadri was brought to court to face charges of having assassinated Taseer, the other lawyers in the court showered him with roses. A statement by 500 Pakistan religious scholars praised Qadri for keeping alive a "tradition of 1,400 years in Islam" which they claim requires the killing of anyone committing an act of blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed.

Qadri was convicted of murdering Taseer, and much to everyone's surprise, Qadri was put to death by hanging on February 29 of last year. This triggered new violent protests across Pakistan. One terror group, Sunni Tehreek, demanded the immediate execute of Asia Bibi, and demanded that all five million members in Pakistan of the Ahmadi branch of Islam be expelled from the country.

So now, on Christmas, the Shaan Taseer, the son of the murdered Salman Taseer, posted a video message on his Facebook page, wishing a happy holiday to Christians, and calling for prayers for Asia Bibi and for others victimized by blasphemy laws.

One can reasonably question Shaan Taseer's sanity for doing this, but if his objective was to be threatened with death, he got his wish, and now says that he's received "very credible death threats," adding:

"They are sending me Mumtaz Qadri’s photos with messages that there are several Mumtaz Qadris waiting for me."

It's expected that we will hear more about this story. Daily Pakistan and Reuters and Daily Pakistan (29-Feb-2016) and BBC

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Pakistan's Imran Khan forced to apologize after being accused of blasphemy

Imran Khan was one of Pakistan's greatest cricket players of all time, and was once voted as the "Sexiest Man of The Year" by Australia Magazine Oz. He turned to politics in the 1990s, and has become an extremely colorful and extremely anti-American politician. He refers to Pakistan's relationship with America as "client and master."

Now the same cleric that's threatening Shaan Taseer death for blasphemy is also demanding apology from Imran Khan because one of Khan's speeches contains "blasphemous sentences for the Prophet Mohammed," adding:

"If the state fails to execute Imran Khan, it wouldn’t be a crime if any ‘aashiq-e-Rasool’ (lover of prophet P.B.U.H) kills him. He will be exempt from Qisas and Diyat (blood money)."

I've read several news stories trying to find out exactly what Khan is accused of saying, but I can't find it anywhere. I suspect that Pakistani editors are afraid to quote him, for fear of being targeted for death themselves.

It's ironic that Khan is being charged with blasphemy, because he's used charges of blasphemy against others when it was politically convenient. At any rate, Khan apologized, saying, "It was a mistake, and I assure that it won’t happen ever again." Daily Pakistan and Daily Pakistan

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jan-17 World View -- Pakistan's bizarre blasphemy laws lead to death threats for son of slain governor thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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3-Jan-17 World View -- Syrian opposition groups suspend negotiations of peace talks

Video emerges from Burma (Myanmar) showing police beating Rohingya Muslims

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Video emerges from Burma (Myanmar) showing police beating Rohingya Muslims


Screen grab from video. Dozens of Rohingyas on the right are being forced to watch the beating
Screen grab from video. Dozens of Rohingyas on the right are being forced to watch the beating

For months, Burma (Myanmar) police and soldiers have been committing ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State by scorched earth attacks, burning down their villages, and committing massacres, rapes and other atrocities that have forced tens of thousands to flee for their lives across the border into Bangladesh.

Burma has forbidden any journalists or humanitarian groups from entering Rakhine State to investigate, which many people consider to be an implied admission of guilt by Burma's government.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented the ethnic cleansing through a series of "before and after" satellite images. Burma's government agrees that the satellite images show that Rohingya villages are being burned down, but they make the laughable claim that the Rohingyas are burning down the villages themselves in order to embarrass the government. There have also been dozens of videos showing Burma's police beating and raping Rohingya civilians, but Burma's government claims that all of these videos are phony and have been fabricated.

So now a new video has emerged showing police beating and kicking a civilian, and forcing dozens of other Rohingyas to watch as the beating takes place. The video was taken by a policeman smoking a cigarette. Other policemen obviously knew that he was taking the video, suggesting that taking videos of policemen beating, killing and raping Rohingyas is some kind of standard procedure.

The mystery is how this video became public. It's thought that some dissident official with access to the video, and shocked by the behavior of his fellow policeman, published the video on the internet surreptitiously, where it has gone viral.

The second remarkable thing, beyond the fact of the video itself, is that Burma's government is acknowledging that the video is portraying a real event. The policemen appearing the video have been arrested, and the government says that there will be an investigation for police brutality.

Nobody seriously believes that anything will change. The investigation may lead to the conviction of one or two policemen, but the Buddhist xenophobic hatred of Muslims in Burma goes very deep. The root of the violence is xenophobic attacks by Buddhists led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his "969 movement," against the Rohingya Muslims, including rapes, torture and other atrocities committed by Buddhists, targeting the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas have a darker skin than Burmese, and they speak a Bengali dialect.

There are about a million Rohingyas living in Rakhine State, where they have lived for generations, but Burma's government refuses to recognize them as citizens. They are, for all practical purposes, a stateless ethnic group, living on the Bangladesh-Burma border for generations, but rejected by both countries. In fact, Burma refuses to identify the Rohingya as a unique ethnic group, preferring to call them Bengali, and referring to them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. In the last few years, large mobs of Buddhists have massacred entire neighborhoods of Muslims in various regions of the country, mutilating, raping and killing hundreds, and displacing thousands from their homes. We're used to hearing about atrocities committed by Muslim jihadists in the Mideast, but in Burma the situation is reversed -- it's the Buddhists who are committing the atrocities, while the Muslims are, for the most part, innocent victims. Russia Today and Bangkok Post and YouTube: Rohingya beating video

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Syrian opposition groups suspend negotiations of peace talks

The Free Syrian Army (FSA), a coalition of "moderate" groups opposing Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, have suspended peace talks because of repeated ceasefire violations by al-Assad's warplanes and by al-Assad's ally, the Iran-backed Lebanon militia Hezbollah.

The ceasefire was announced last week, brokered by Russia, Iran, and Turkey, and was to lead to peace talks soon, taking place in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan. The United States, the United Nations, and the European Union were all excluded from negotiations about the ceasefire and peace talks, which presumably was supposed to make them more likely to succeed.

Al-Assad has always been the most volatile of the participants in any of these discussions. Al-Assad started the civil war in 2011, when his bombers started targeting innocent women and children, including Palestinians in a refugee camp near Latakia, which drew young jihadists from around the world to Syria to fight al-Assad, resulting in the formation of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

So the question that I've asked repeatedly for months and years is how can any "peace deal" ever succeed in view of al-Assad's evident determination to exterminate as many Sunni women and children as he can?

The FSA has issued its statement suspending its participation in the peace talks because his warplanes have been bombing civilian targets in a region near Damascus in which the city's water supply is located. Hezbollah and Syrian army troops are also headed for the same region. According to the FSA, "Any (advance) on the ground goes against the (ceasefire) agreement and if things don't return to how they were before, the accord will be considered null and void."

It's been assumed that Russia and Iran would control al-Assad and force him by any means necessary to honor the ceasefire, but it appears that assumption is wrong. Unless Russia and Iran find a way to control al-Assad, then the "ceasefire" will collapse completely within a few days. France 24 and VOA

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jan-17 World View -- Syrian opposition groups suspend negotiations of peace talks thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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2-Jan-17 World View -- Istanbul Turkey New Year's terror attack compared to Paris and Orlando attacks

Terror attacks expose deep divisions in Turkey's society

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Istanbul Turkey New Year's terror attack compared to Paris and Orlando attacks


Reina nightclub in Istanbul on Sunday morning, several hours after the attack (EPA)
Reina nightclub in Istanbul on Sunday morning, several hours after the attack (EPA)

The people of Turkey were once again traumatized by a new terror attack, this time on a well-known Reina night club in Istanbul, where crowds of 700 people, both Turks and foreigners, were celebrating the New Year. At around 1:15 am on January 1, a gunman opened fire on people in the packed nightclub, killing at 39 people and injuring 65 others. The gunman fled and is still at large.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it's believed to be the work of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), because of the similarity to attacks in Paris and Orlando, where attackers killed civilians indiscriminately in entertainment venues.

In Paris on November 13, 2015, three suicide bombers detonated themselves at a football (soccer) game. Then terrorists targeted three cafes and restaurants with gunfire, and then attacked the Bataclan theatre, where three gunmen opened fire on a large crowd. In all, 130 people were killed. These attacks were planned and carried out by an ISIS terror cell in Brussels.

In Orlando on June 12, 2016, 49 people were killed by a gunman at a local gay nightclub. The assailant had sworn allegiance to ISIS, but no concrete links were found.

Turkey has suffered dozens of terrorist attacks in the past 18 months, killing hundreds of people. The perpetrators have been both ISIS and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), including the PKK offshoot Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK). There have been four previous terrorist attacks in just the five weeks:

The Turkish people have been traumatized not only by the endless stream of terrorist attacks, but also by the July 15 failed coup attempt. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and AP

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Terror attacks expose deep divisions in Turkey's society

Ever since the July 15 coup attempt, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been fired or jailed well over 100,000 people. Erdogan has particularly targeted journalists that write dissenting articles, but the targeted people also include members of parliament and other politicians, judges, police, and teachers.

Since many of the people targeted are from the political opposition or are dissenters from Erdogan's policies, many people believe that Erdogan is using the coup attempt to eliminate his political enemies by force, including violence. This view is supported by the fact that Erdogan had already begun targeting the political opposition when he shut down the opposition newspaper Zaman several months before the coup attempt. These attacks have enormously polarized the Turkish people, with about half supporting Erdogan, and half despising him.

One analyst, Soner Cagaptay of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute says that Turkey's population is sharply divided into two approximately equal groups:

Another analyst, Simon Waldman, notes that Erdogan's reaction to the New Year's attack was different from his reaction to other attacks in that, unlike other times, Erdogan did not refer to the people who were killed as "martyrs." This word is almost always used by Erdogan with the death of a Turkish citizen in a terrorist attack or from military combat. But in this case, Erdogan said, "I offer my condolences to our citizens’, to our foreign guests’ and to our security officer’s families."

Waldman speculates that the reason is that the attack was on a nightclub where alcohol was served, and the people were celebrating not only the New Year but also Christmas, as these two holidays are often conflated by Muslims. These are secular things that are strongly condemned by hardcore conservative Muslim clerics, and indeed it's suspected that the terrorist attack was inspired by opposition to Christmas and New Year's parties. Indeed, the attacker was wearing a Santa Claus hat.

In fact, Hurriyet columnist Murat Yetkin suggests that the "poisonous" atmosphere in Turkey is because by "rising nationalist and religious chauvinism":

"Another question surrounds the political atmosphere in Turkey, which is getting more poisonous every day with rising nationalist and religious chauvinism. Religious Affairs Directorate head Mehmet Görmez was quick to make a statement after the attack, saying there was “no difference” between terror attacks targeting places of worship and attacks targeting entertainment sites, and they should be equally condemned. That statement followed cheering after the attack among certain social media users who believe that celebrating the New Year is un-Islamic and something to be despised.

Görmez’s statement was welcome. But just two days before, the Friday sermon prepared by Görmez’s Diyanet and read in more than 80,000 mosques across Turkey harshly criticized New Year celebrations as illegitimate and having no place in Islam or Turkey’s cultural traditions. Only a few days ago, members of an ultranationalist group made headlines by performing street theater in the Western province of Aydin by pointing a pistol at the forehead of another militant dressed in a Santa Claus costume. Unlike the cases frequently opened against critical media in Turkey, the police and the courts took no action against them for “praising crime” or “stirring hatred among the people.”"

In fact, many commentators are pointing out that Turks are now fighting each other as much as they're fighting ISIS and the PKK. CNN and Globe and Mail (Canada) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jan-17 World View -- Istanbul Turkey New Year's terror attack compared to Paris and Orlando attacks thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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1-Jan-17 World View -- Taiwan's president responds to military threats from China

Did Taiwan's president say that Taiwan is 'an independent, sovereign country'?

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In New Year's address, Taiwan's president responds to military threats from China


Tsai Ing-wen at news conference on Saturday
Tsai Ing-wen at news conference on Saturday

In the aftermath of the 10-minute phone conversation with president-elect Donald Trump and Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen, tensions between Taiwan and China have been substantially increasing.

Reports indicate that China's military, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), has become increasingly alarmed by this phone conversation, since they feel that it threatens additional steps towards attempts by Taiwan to become an independent nation, not a province of China.

Since then, China's military has been stepping up military drills near Taiwan, in a show of military force. China sent its aircraft carrier and a naval fleet into waters near Taiwan, and also sent military jets to circle the airspace near Taiwan. Taiwan's defense minister has warned that enemy threats were growing daily.

In a New Year press conference on Saturday, president Tsai addressed a range of issues, including relations with China. She accused China of threatening Taiwan, and said that "we will not bow to pressure":

"Since [we took office on] May 20, we have endeavored to maintain peaceful and stable relations across the Taiwan Strait in accordance with the people’s will and consensus in Taiwan. Driven by our respect for history and the spirit of seeking common ground while setting aside differences, we have continuously expressed goodwill towards the other side across the strait. We hope that the two sides can gradually reduce confrontations and differences through positive interactions.

But in the past few months, it has been the general feeling of the Taiwanese people that the rational and calm position that both sides have worked hard to maintain has seen certain changes. Step by step, Beijing is going back to the old path of dividing, coercing, and even threatening and intimidating Taiwan. We hope this does not reflect a policy choice by Beijing, but must say that such conduct has hurt the feelings of the Taiwanese people and destabilized cross-strait relations.

For the sake of safeguarding regional peace and prosperity, I want to once again reiterate that our commitments will not change, and our goodwill will not change. But we will not bow to pressure, and we will of course not revert to the old path of confrontation.

Whether cross-strait ties can take a turn for the better in the coming year will depend on our patience and resolve. But it will also depend on how Beijing sees the future of cross-strait relations, and whether it is willing to assume its share of the responsibility for building new models for cross-strait interactions. This is necessary to answer the collective hope for peace from the people on both sides of the strait, as well as the different parties in the region."

Tsai added, "In 2017, our society is going to face some turbulence and face some uncertainties. It’s going to test our whole national security team, as well as the whole government’s ability to handle change. We need to face this matter calmly."

Reports indicate that China is planning retaliatory measures against Taiwan, such as conducting war games near Taiwan or imposing trade sanctions.

It never ceases to amaze me that China gets away with illegally annexing huge regions in the South China Sea, in violation of international law by the international tribunal in the Hague, but then considers a ten-minute phone call an act of war. AFP and Office of Taiwan's President and Reuters

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Did Taiwan's president say that Taiwan is 'an independent, sovereign country'?

The excerpt from Tsai's press conference quoted above is the official translation of Tsai's statement from a Taiwan government web site.

However, other news reports say that Tsai also said the following:

"The Republic of China is an independent, sovereign country."

This is a highly inflammatory statement by the president of Taiwan, and so it's not surprising if it was removed from the official text. (Republic of China is the full official name of Taiwan.)

In a press conference two weeks ago, President Obama said:

"China views Taiwan as part of China, but recognizes that it has to approach Taiwan as an entity that has its own ways of doing things.

Taiwanese have agreed that as long as they’re able to continue to function with some degree of autonomy, that they won’t charge forward and declare independence."

Obama's description of Taiwan as an "entity" has angered some Taiwanese activists, saying "Taiwan is an independent state, not an entity."

Some activists claim that Taiwan is already a de facto independent state, because "Taiwan has already cut through the mire of its troubled history to become recognized by humanity, irrespective of official diplomatic relations." In fact, these activists claim that calling Taiwan an "independent nation" does not contradict the One-China principle.

That may be the reason why President Tsai felt that it was OK to refer to Taiwan as "an independent, sovereign country." Bloomberg and Reuters and Taipei Times and China Post (Taiwan)

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Taiwan president's planned US visit angers China even more

Taiwan has confirmed that president Tsai Ing-wen will make a foreign visit to Central America, and will visit Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras between January 7-15.

The part of the trip that's further infuriating the Chinese is that Tsai will make "transit stops" in the US before and after the trip to Central America. She will make a stopover in Houston en route to Central America and San Francisco on her return trip to Taiwan.

There has been media speculation that Tsai will meet with representatives of Donald Trump during one of the stopovers, but Tsai's office has refused to confirm or deny these speculations.

China has repeatedly demanded that Washington not permit Tsai to visit the US during her trip. However, a Tsai spokesman says, "These transit stops are undertaken out of consideration for the safety, comfort, convenience and dignity of the traveler. President Tsai's transits will be private and unofficial." China Post (Taiwan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jan-17 World View -- Taiwan's president responds to military threats from China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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